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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/7

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/7

IL: Illinois judge rules for parents objecting to governor’s school mask mandate

chicagotribune.com 

Hundreds of students at Chicago Public Schools and at scores of districts across the state may be freed from wearing a mask in the classroom, with an Illinois judge ruling that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 mandate was authorized illegally. 

UT: Utah halts state, on-site rapid testing due to false negatives

sltrib.com

Data analyzed by the Utah Department of Health raised questions about the reliability of rapid antigen test results offered at sites run by the department’s mobile test teams. An analysis of about 18,000 Utah residents who received both GenBody rapid tests and PCR tests found that, of those who tested positive on a PCR test, more than half tested negative on the GenBody tests.

GA: Bill backed by Georgia Republicans seeks internet filters for schools

ajc.com

Georgia lawmakers will consider a proposal to make schools use technology that filters pornography and other material deemed obscene from school internet services and devices. School districts could lose a portion of their state funding for failing to implement the required measures.

NJ: 15 nursing homes in New Jersey continually got bad ratings and remained open

nj.com

Year after year, the New Jersey nursing homes scored poorly on federal and state assessments.

Some have been fined tens of thousands of dollars for violations. Yet none have faced consequences that could force them to make changes, the Office of the State Comptroller said in a new report.

AR: Arkansas public defenders challenged by COVID, lack of resources

arkansasonline.com

Public defenders in Arkansas are juggling up to four times the number of cases they handled before the pandemic. A recent legal opinion on attorney workloads in Arkansas raised concerns among public defenders about the ability to provide effective counsel in the face of current demands.

ID: Idaho’s biggest lobbying efforts sprang from secretive national network

idahostatesman.com

A fight against Idaho vaccine mandates. Efforts to repeal the grocery tax. A push to increase education grants for families. The lobbyists who led these initiatives can all trace their funding back to the same network of donors, Donors Trust, that helps fund conservative policy around the country.

FL: Bill changing Florida nursing home standards was written by the industry, emails show 

tampabay.com 

A bill to loosen staffing standards at Florida nursing homes was initially drafted with the help of one of the state’s most powerful long-term care lobbying interests, emails show. Under the measure, nursing homes that fail to meet state-mandated staff requirements would no longer be barred from admitting new residents.  

WA: Washington tenants could get six months' notice of big rent hikes

seattletimes.com

A bill under consideration in Washington would require landlords to offer tenants at least six months’ notice—but not more than 220 days’ notice—of rent increases of more than 7.5%. State law currently requires two months’ notice for all rent increases.

WI: Wisconsin governor vetoes bill that would have barred school lessons on systemic racism

jsonline.com

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed legislation that would have barred Wisconsin schools from teaching students and staff lessons on systemic racism and sexism—a bill written as part of a national effort by conservatives to scrutinize an academic concept known as critical race theory. 

NM: New Mexico voting bill stalls in Democratic-led Legislature

apnews.com

A state Senate panel delayed action for a second time on a Democratic-backed bill to expand voting access in New Mexico with provisions to further automate voter registration, streamline mail-in voting, turn Election Day into a state holiday and more.

MN: Minnesota leaders debate how to tackle state's workforce shortage

startribune.com

Minnesota legislators are proposing sweeping solutions: connect every home to the internet, invest in higher education and workforce training, streamline hiring and sweeten benefits packages.

OR: Oregon governor makes historic push to release prisoners

oregonlive.com

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has become the busiest governor in modern Oregon history to use her power to grant mercy to criminal defendants, offering clemency to 1,204 people so far. But her decisions to commute sentences or pardon people altogether have often left out crime victims and their families.

TX: As culture wars envelop schools, North Texas sees a superintendent exodus

texastribune.com

Several North Texas school superintendents have stepped down after months of contentious fights over teaching about slavery, requiring pandemic precautions and limiting what books kids can access.

MI: Michigan governor's budget to propose billions extra for schools

freep.com

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, will propose billions more in spending on K-12 education in the 2023 state budget, including a 5% increase in the per-pupil grant school districts receive.

KS: Odds improve for legalized sports betting in Kansas

kansas.com

Kansas has 11 casinos and a statewide lottery, but there’s no place and no way in the state to legally bet on the Super Bowl. Some legislators want to change that and think this could be the year.

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