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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/11

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 2/11

US: Biden administration will reverse Medicaid changes that Trump had OK’d in some states

npr.org

The Biden administration will force Arkansas and Montana to phase out Medicaid premiums by the end of 2022. Federal health officials have indicated they may do the same in six other states allowed to charge premiums—Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

NV: Governor lifts Nevada mask mandate effective immediately, points to case drops

thenevadaindependent.com

Nevadans can shed their face masks as the state lifts its mandate days ahead of what is expected to be a busy Super Bowl weekend in Las Vegas. The shift—announced by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak—follows other Democrat-led states easing pandemic mitigation measures.

AZ: Arizona House advances bill that overrides school mask mandates

azcapitoltimes.com

An Arizona House panel voted on a bill that would override mask mandates that exist in some public schools around the state. The bill would allow schools to require masks of anyone younger than 18 only if they have “express consent of the person’s parent or guardian.”

UT: Utah governor to sign $200M tax relief package

sltrib.com 

Utah GOP Gov. Spencer Cox said he would sign into law a nearly $200-million tax relief package that would lower the state’s income tax rate from 4.95% to 4.85% for residents and corporations.

IA: Iowa bill would penalize landowners who sell property for public use

iowacapitaldispatch.com

Proposed legislation that was advanced by an Iowa Senate subcommittee would limit the amount of money the state and its counties can pay for timber, pasture and cropland to use for public parks and other amenities.

MN: Minnesota cities end vaccination-or-test order for bars, eateries

mprnews.org

As COVID-19 spread rapidly in Minnesota during January, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul ordered a requirement that people show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to enter public places serving food and drink. They just rescinded the controversial order.

FL: Florida contractors didn’t report 230K COVID tests on time during omicron wave 

tampabay.com  

The Florida Department of Health reprimanded two companies for failing to report more than 230,000 COVID-19 tests taken in December and January. The missing tests could mean that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Florida was even higher than reported during the state’s omicron wave.

ID: Idaho House advances bill to increase grocery tax credit

idahostatesman.com

House members approved a bill to increase Idaho’s grocery tax credit, despite facing opponents from both sides of the aisle who said it didn’t go far enough. GOP Rep. Jim Addis’ bill would increase the food tax credit for Idaho residents by $20—from $100 to $120 for most people, and from $120 to $140 for anyone over age 65.

ME: Maine governor to unveil $20M plan for free community college tuition

pressherald.com 

Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills will propose a $20 million plan to pay for up to two years of community college for qualified students who were part of high school graduating classes from 2020 through 2023, according to a state official with direct knowledge of the governor’s plan.

CO: Colorado’s governor backs crime-prevention package

coloradosun.com

Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is backing a package of bills that will tackle an array of public safety issues through early intervention strategies and support for mental health. The package also includes more funding for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to investigate serious crimes.

SC: South Carolina’s new congressional map challenged as unconstitutional, racially discriminatory

thestate.com

South Carolina’s new congressional districts perpetuate the state’s “persistent legacy of discrimination against Black voters” in violation of the U.S. Constitution and must be redrawn, an amended lawsuit charges.

WA: Washington long-term care facilities to free up hospital beds with new non-COVID units

seattletimes.com

To ease omicron’s strain on Washington hospitals, 10 long-term care facilities will open new units to treat non-COVID-19 patients who no longer need acute care. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services announced that it has also contracted with a temporary nurse agency to staff 250 nursing professionals at the sites.

CT: Connecticut House votes to extend 2 emergency declarations to guarantee federal money 

courant.com 

After a sometimes-passionate debate, the Democrat-controlled Connecticut House voted along mostly party lines to extend public health and civil preparedness emergencies so that the state can continue to receive more than $50 million in critical federal funds. 

AK: Alaska faces significant trial backlog as courtrooms reopen from COVID closures

adn.com

As the Alaska Court System resumes jury trials after a pandemic-enforced suspension, it is facing a major backlog and asking for supplemental funding to meet the demand. Almost 20,000 criminal cases are awaiting trial, a figure that has risen by 27% since the start of 2020.

CA: California sues Tesla, alleging ‘pervasive’ racism at Fremont factory

latimes.com

California’s civil rights regulator said it’s suing Tesla for racial discrimination after finding widespread harassment of Black workers at the electric-car maker’s factory near San Francisco.

MO: Missouri pauses Medicaid cutoffs after reports of inaccurate address information 

kansascity.com 

The Missouri Department of Social Services is pausing an effort to remove recipients with out-of-state addresses from the Medicaid rolls after reports surfaced it mistakenly was flagging some eligible residents for removal.  

AL: Alabama House passes bill that would allow drive-thru beer, wine sales

al.com

The Alabama House of Representatives advanced a bill that would allow any licensed retailer that sells alcoholic beverages to offer beer and wine at a drive-thru or walk-up window. 

VA: Virginia Senate panel backs compromise on grocery tax repeal, kills gas tax suspension

richmond.com

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s ambitious tax cut package isn’t what it used to be in the Virginia Senate, but the governor salvaged a portion of his proposal to repeal the sales tax on groceries.

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