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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/28

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 3/28

NC: Staffing problems endanger thousands in North Carolina nursing homes

charlotteobserver.com

Nursing homes nationwide are struggling to hire and hold on to caregivers, but few states have problems as severe as North Carolina’s, according to an investigation by The Charlotte Observer.

OH: Ohio faces strict deadline for redistricting

cleveland.com

The Ohio Redistricting Commission is coming down to the wire as it faces a court-ordered deadline to draw new state legislative maps in time for the May 3 election. The commission and new consultants have been working almost continuously.

FL: Florida governor signs bill on book selection rules 

tampabay.com

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure setting added requirements for schools as they select books. In recent months, parents in several counties have urged their school districts to remove titles that they have deemed pornographic. 

WV: West Virginia governor signs bill increasing video surveillance of special ed classrooms

wvgazettemail.com

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, has signed legislation allowing public school administrators to regularly check the camera footage in special education classrooms and requiring a study of possibly letting parents do so, too. Justice said no one should fear cameras in these classrooms.

WI: Ambiguous laws leave Wisconsin clerks unsure of what's legal during absentee voting

madison.com

The more than 1,800 clerks tasked with running Wisconsin’s elections are at risk of violating the law when it comes to someone delivering an absentee ballot on behalf of another.

CO: Colorado fire evacuees return home

denverpost.com

Colorado officials allowed evacuated residents to return home after firefighters significantly hemmed in a nearly 200-acre wildfire as it burned along the southwestern edge of Boulder.

NE: Nebraska house member resigns after conviction

apnews.com

Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska resigned from office after a California jury convicted him of lying to federal authorities about an illegal campaign donation from a foreign national.

MN: 1st-in-the-nation state office takes on epidemic of missing, murdered Indigenous Minnesotans

startribune.com

Minnesota's new Office for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives is the first state office in the nation tasked with systemically trying to fix the problem. The office has a huge task ahead, including wrangling missing person reports across many agencies and databases.

MS: Mississippi lawmakers pass largest tax cut in state history

mississippitoday.org

The Mississippi legislature—in a bipartisan vote with very little debate—passed the largest tax cut in state history. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who is expected to sign it into law, although he favored going further and eliminating the state personal income tax.

NY: New York's Hudson River will rise because of climate change

timesunion.com

Climate change is projected to cause New York's Hudson River to rise up to six feet by 2100, affecting everything along its shoreline. State and local governments face a long path to adapt to the changes.

AK: Billions could be headed to rural Alaska communities to close the digital divide

adn.com

A “gold rush” is on for Alaska tribes and Native corporations that are trying to capture a surge of federal infrastructure money to provide city-quality broadband service in more than 200 villages statewide. Representatives for the groups say this could be their moment to transform lives and village economies.

CA: Southern California grocery workers authorize strike amid contract negotiations

latimes.com

Battered by two years of pandemic stress, tens of thousands of Southern California grocery workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if supermarkets don’t meet their wage demands as negotiations on a new contract resume in the coming weeks.

NV: Nevada National Guard wraps COVID response activation after two years

thenevadaindependent.com

The Nevada National Guard’s mission to support the state’s COVID-19 response is ending. Since its activation in April 2020, the Nevada Guard administered tests and vaccines and helped with traffic and paperwork.

GA: Georgia House passes bill barring schools from enforcing mask mandates

ajc.com

The Georgia House passed a bill that would prevent schools from enforcing mask mandates. The “Unmask Georgia Students Act” says schools could still mandate masks but would have to let parents decide whether to exempt their children.

IL: Illinois governor signs plan to use $2.7B in federal relief to reduce unemployment fund debt 

chicagotribune.com

Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a measure to use about one-third of the state’s federal coronavirus relief money to pay off more than half of a $4.5 billion debt in the state’s pandemic-depleted unemployment insurance fund. A plan to erase the remaining deficit is still being negotiated. 

VT: Vermont House passes $870M transportation package, investing heavily in electric vehicles

vtdigger.org

The Vermont House passed a massive transportation spending package, advancing two pieces of legislation that together would invest $866 million in the state’s bridges, roads and public transit and significantly expand electric vehicle incentives and infrastructure.

WA:  Sending students with disabilities out of state gets Washington state lawmakers' attention

crosscut.com

As schools in Washington state continue to ship students with disabilities to other communities, state lawmakers say they plan to find a way to keep kids closer to home.

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