What We're Reading: Top State Stories 7/21
NY: New York governor announces pandemic ‘after-action’ review
As questions surrounding New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to linger, Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that an independent review board will examine the state's response to the crisis.
CA: California is clawing back some COVID rent relief from tenants and landlords
California is demanding that thousands of tenants and landlords who were approved for emergency rental assistance during the pandemic return the money — often months after it has been spent — sometimes for vague or unspecified reasons.
WI: Wisconsin lawsuit seeks to recover $1B from 'forever chemical' contamination
Wisconsin is seeking reimbursement of the nearly $1 billion spent addressing "forever chemicals" across communities, including the remediation of water and soil and money spent on providing bottled water and filters. Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, argue companies knew about the harmful impacts but did not inform the public.
NJ: Top New Jersey law enforcement officials declare united defense of abortion rights
New Jersey’s top law enforcement official and the U.S. attorney for New Jersey vowed to use the tools of their offices together to protect the rights of pregnant people who seek abortions in the state, as well as their abortion providers.
ME: New Maine grant program aims to create rural health care worker pipeline
Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills announced that up to $1.6 million in funds are available for training health care professionals. Rural clinics can apply for grants to attract and support clinical supervisors as well as to support new or expanded graduate medical education programs.
WV: West Virginia governor calls special legislative session on income taxes
West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice called on the legislature to convene for a special session Monday to consider his proposal to reduce the state’s personal income tax rate by 10%. Justice notably did not include any language regarding the state’s abortion laws.
IN: Indiana lawmakers unveil plan for near-total abortion ban
Indiana Senate Republican leaders proposed a bill that would ban all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or where the patient’s life is in danger. The proposal of a near-total ban on abortion was a surprise for conservatives and progressives alike.
SD: South Dakota's first medical marijuana store to open
Patients enrolled in South Dakota’s medical marijuana program will have their first opportunity to buy cannabis from a state-licensed facility next week. It has been a year and a half since state voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana.
GA: Federal court allows Georgia’s abortion ban to take effect
A federal appeals court allowed Georgia’s restrictive abortion law to take effect. That means most abortions are no longer allowed once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many people know they are pregnant.
MT: Montana environmental agency levies fine over illegal mining
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has levied a $516,567 fine for alleged illegal mining activity at the former Zortman-Landusky Mining District, which is in the midst of long-term reclamation efforts to mitigate acid mine drainage. According to the order, the agency used drone footage and satellite imagery this spring to ascertain the extent of the alleged mining activities.
NC: North Carolina budget focuses on saving, not spending
With 2022 bringing the summer of inflation and a potential recession on the horizon, the North Carolina state budget was more defined by what wasn’t in it than what was. There were no new tax cuts, Medicaid expansion or major raises for state employees and teachers.
MI: Michigan governor signs $54.8B budget, vetoes anti-abortion provisions
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $54.8 billion state operating budget into law but vetoed roughly $27 million for pregnancy centers, adoption education and stem cell research because of concerns over anti-abortion conditions tied to some of the funding.
IL: Illinois children lag in COVID vaccines, worrying pediatricians
Only about 5.3% of Illinois children under 5 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine nearly a month after little kids first became eligible for the shots — a number that concerns local pediatric leaders.
KS: With help from Kansas hospital, FBI seizes about $500K in ransoms paid to hackers
The cooperation of a Kansas hospital with law enforcement after a cyberattack crippled their systems ultimately helped federal officials find and seize about $500,000 in ransoms paid by American health care providers to North Korean hackers. The unidentified Kansas hospital was hacked in May 2021, leaving health care workers unable to perform X-rays and diagnostic imaging.
LA: More people are dying in highway wrecks in Louisiana
A record high 971 people died in highway accidents in Louisiana last year, officials said. The state Department of Transportation and Development secretary said much of the blame stems from motorists using cell phones.