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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/17

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 6/17

CA: California lawmakers scrap plan for preteen vaccine access without parental consent

sfchronicle.com

California lawmakers amended a bill that would have let preteens be vaccinated against a range of health conditions without their parents’ consent, instead raising the proposed minimum age to 15. The bill that cleared the state Senate last month on a 21-8 vote would have allowed those age 12 and up to receive any vaccine that has been approved by federal regulators.

OH: Ohio Senate president says transgender sports ban will move forward, but without genital exams

cleveland.com

The most controversial part of Ohio bills banning transgender girls and women from playing women’s high school and college sports—genital exams—will be removed from the legislation, said Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, a Republican.

DE: Despite lawmaker promises, police changes have gone nowhere in Delaware

delawareonline.com

Amid the protests following George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, Delaware lawmakers said there would be sweeping changes to police accountability and transparency laws in order to combat systemic racism. But nothing of significance has come of those election-year pledges—and nothing is expected to occur before the General Assembly session ends June 30.

NY: New York’s mass-vaccination sites to close as COVID cases decline

timesunion.com

The New York Department of Health is closing its eight COVID-19 mass vaccination sites this month, as average daily infection levels in every part of the state dropped to a new low since the omicron surge began. Infections dropped approximately 20% since last week, according to state data.

AR: Arkansas ramps up efforts to eradicate feral hogs

arkansasonline.com

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture announced that additional grant funding is available for feral hog eradication efforts. Feral swine are an invasive species that are destructive to crops and will eat young domestic livestock, birds that nest on the ground, eggs and fawns. 

OK: Oklahoma prisons plagued with staffing shortages, operational inefficiencies, report finds

oklahomawatch.org

Severe staffing shortages and operational inefficiencies within Oklahoma’s prison system are placing a legal and financial burden on the state, examiners from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency wrote in a draft report. The 59-page operational assessment notes that several state prisons are regularly staffed below 50% of the recommended level.

MA: Federal agency blasts Massachusetts’ lack of oversight of failing public transit

wbur.org

The Federal Transit Administration is calling out the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for what it calls a "lax safety culture" following a series of train-car mishaps, injuries and deaths. The federal agency told reporters the MBTA needs to address a huge backlog of maintenance issues and adopt stronger safety procedures.

KY: Police can’t track people by pinging their phones without a warrant, Kentucky Supreme Court says

kentucky.com

Police cannot track people by pinging their cell phones without first obtaining a court-issued search warrant, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled. Citizens have a right to privacy under the U.S. and Kentucky constitutions that should protect their real-time cell-site location information, the high court said in a 4-to-3 opinion. 

MN: Minnesota says state unemployment hit record low 2% in May

twincities.com

Minnesota reported a record low monthly unemployment figure of 2% for May, citing records going back to 1976. The state gained a net 6,600 jobs in May, up 0.2% from May of last year on a seasonally adjusted basis, and following the addition of a revised 11,700 jobs added in April.

HI: Another $1.1B sought to address Hawaii naval base tainted water disaster

staradvertiser.com

The tab for the Navy’s Red Hill calamity could double to $2.2 billion, which includes estimated costs for repairing the Hawaii fuel facility so that it can be safely drained. Other costs include remediating the environment and reimbursing service members and their family members who were displaced last year when jet fuel contaminated their drinking water. 

KS: Heat wave kills thousands of Kansas cattle

kansas.com

Thousands of cattle died in Kansas in recent days due to sweltering heat and humidity. As many as 10,000 may have died in three days of triple-digit heat.

NC: North Carolina lawmakers to consider two sports gambling bills

wral.com

North Carolina lawmakers will consider two bills that would legalize online sports gambling in the state. 

NE: Rural Nebraska lacks health care professionals

nebraskaexaminer.com

Despite some recent statewide gains in nurse practitioners and pharmacists, health professionals are still lacking in many rural areas of Nebraska. Aging health care workers are also an issue. 

AZ: Internet, cellphone outage knocks rural Arizona offline

apnews.com

A telecommunications outage left swaths of rural northeastern Arizona without internet or phone connections, knocking out credit card processors and, in some cases, easy access to emergency services.

TN: Tennessee Supreme Court to hear felon voting rights restoration case

tennessean.com

Tennesseans with prior in-state felony convictions can restore their rights in a few ways, including by having their citizenship restored by fulfilling their obligations through paying court costs and restitution. But some newer Tennesseans with out-of-state felonies never had court costs to pay and court documents show they've struggled to prove their eligibility. 

TX: Texas agencies resist releasing public records that could help clarify Uvalde response

texastribune.org

The Texas Tribune and ProPublica have submitted about 70 requests to state and local agencies for emergency response documentation surrounding the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. Most records likely won’t be released publicly for months, if ever.

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