The American West’s megadrought is now the driest in at least 1,200 years and is a worst-case climate change scenario playing out live, a new study finds. The drought shows no signs of easing.
A bill in Washington would increase the statewide number of cannabis business licenses and reserve them for members of communities most hurt by the war on drugs. But the proposal has faced stiff opposition from lawmakers who don’t want to add more pot shops, as well as from owners of existing cannabis businesses.
Michigan homeowners behind on their mortgages and utilities can now apply to a new statewide program to help them stay in their homes. But unlike other programs and safety nets created to help homeowners and renters hurt economically during the COVID-19 pandemic, this program also will assist those with alternative financing situations known as land contract homes.
The District of Columbia has dropped its requirement that people show proof of vaccination to enter many businesses. Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser also said she’s allowing a mandate to wear masks in all indoor public spaces to be lifted starting March 1.
A bill blocking school boards from mandating masks in schools passed the GOP-controlled House on a party-line vote. GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he intends to tack on an emergency clause under which the law would take effect upon his signature.
After clashing for five hours, the Connecticut Senate voted to extend Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s mask mandate in schools and other executive orders that had been scheduled to expire. Democrats who control the chamber said the mask mandate will now expire Feb. 28—and local school boards will have the authority going forward on masks.
Florida sends only a tiny fraction of all positive COVID-19 tests to labs for genetic sequencing to learn their strain of coronavirus—only 1% over the entire pandemic. Some states, such as Washington, are sequencing up to 20% of all cases.
A Missouri state legislator has filed a bill that would lessen the burden on families by exempting diapers from sales taxes. Diapers aren’t covered by government assistance programs such as SNAP, WIC and Medicaid, and they’re taxed as luxury items in Missouri at 4.2%, the same as beer and jewelry.
Republican candidates for governor who want to dissolve the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission are proposing new plans to shift election oversight to partisan elected offices.
A pair of state lawmakers—one Democrat, one Republican—want to form a special legislative committee with subpoena power to investigate what led to thousands of COVID-19 deaths at New Jersey’s nursing homes.
With old age comes the need for more care, but Montana is short hundreds of in-home and respite caregivers while simultaneously leading the West in the silver wave. About 20% of Montana’s population is over age 65, higher than any other Western state.
California will keep its indoor mask mandate for K-12 schools in place at least through the end of the month, the state’s top health official said, even as it moves this week to relax face covering rules in other settings. The health department will then reassess conditions to try to give an end date for the mandate.
Victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii would receive $2,000 a month to leave the life in what proponents call the first pilot project of its kind through a bill in the legislature.
A pair of bills in the Maine legislature would require state-regulated health care plans to cover all prescription contraceptives while linking prescription drugs rates to lower costs paid in Canada.
Utah transgender students who want to compete in school sports corresponding with their gender identities would first have to secure permission from a commission tasked with evaluating their height, weight and other physical characteristics under a new bill.