What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/9
CA: California unemployment department blasted for delays, improper denials
California’s unemployment insurance agency “caused hardship for unemployed workers and their families”’ during tough economic times and “mischaracterized” the extent of its problems to the state legislature, a blistering new report from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office said.
NE: Nebraska Republicans lack votes for more abortion restrictions
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican, said he would not call for a special session on stricter abortion restrictions, citing a lack of votes in support. A proposed law would have banned abortion after 12 weeks instead of the current 20 weeks.
US: Group of states urges appeals court to reject CDC ‘overreach’ on transit mask rules
A group of 23 state attorneys general led by Florida told a federal court that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacks the legal authority to impose a nationwide transportation mask mandate to address COVID-19.
IL: Some Illinois school districts to ditch COVID tests this fall
Despite the urging of the state’s health department to resume school-based COVID-19 testing for students this fall, officials at several Illinois districts said they are halting the program due to waning interest from parents and the availability of home tests.
MN: Evictions surpass pre-pandemic levels, strain shelters in Minnesota
Minnesota began phasing out pandemic protections for renters last summer. Since then, eviction filings have skyrocketed, with the number of families in shelters following a similar path. Statewide, evictions averaged 600 a week in June, 73% above the pre-pandemic average.
NJ: New Jersey governor puts $10M toward anti-violence services after calls for more money
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey would allocate $10 million in federal money to continue funding hospital-based violence intervention programs, relieving anxiety over concerns that funding would end next month.
MI: Michigan governor subpoenaed to testify in case preventing abortion-related prosecutions
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, may have to testify next week in a hearing that could decide whether Michigan prosecutors are allowed to criminally charge abortion providers under a state law that bans almost all abortions. Whitmer used this lawsuit to successfully obtain a court order that bars local prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 law that bans all abortions except those performed to save the life of a pregnant person.
GA: Georgia entertainment industry caught in crossfire over abortion, guns
Appeals by Democratic governors for companies to bypass Georgia over the state’s conservative policies have left workers in the local entertainment industry caught in the middle. They fear out-of-state calls for boycotts — or businesses pulling investment and jobs out — would do little more than punish Georgians.
WA: Expansion of electric vehicle grid hits roadblocks in rural Washington
In just the past few years, the number of electric vehicles registered in Washington more than tripled as new EV options became available. But “range anxiety” over getting stranded far from a charger continues to discourage rural adoption.
IN: Indiana companies to oppose abortion ban
Major Indiana companies that previously declined to publicly comment on a near-total abortion ban are now speaking out against the newly enacted restrictions, saying the move could inhibit business growth and make it harder to retain skilled workers.
OR: Teen depression, anxiety skyrocketed in Oregon during pandemic
Sixth, eighth and 11th graders throughout Oregon self-reported damaging effects on their mental health in a student health survey conducted by the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education. Nearly 50% of young people reported feeling sad or hopeless more than two weeks at a time, a marker for depressive symptoms.
TX: ACLU calls on feds to investigate Texas governor’s migrant policy
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the federal government to stop cooperating with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order authorizing state troopers to transport migrants back to the border ports of entry. Among other things, the group wants the federal government to stop taking migrants transported by state authorities into its custody.
KS: NDAs ban Kansas lawmakers from speaking about factory deal for years
Nondisclosure agreements bar Kansas lawmakers from publicly discussing details of the largest economic development deal in state history until 2024. Some details will remain secret indefinitely.
OK: Oklahoma issues record emergency certifications amid teacher shortage
Signs are pointing to an escalated teacher shortage in Oklahoma as the state set a record for emergency certifications while scores of classroom jobs remain unfilled days before many students' first day of school. The Oklahoma State Department of Education issued 1,473 emergency certifications in July, an all-time high for a single month, the agency said.
MD: Maryland hospitals face critical nurse shortage
Maryland hospitals are struggling to cope with a significant shortage of nurses, according to a report by the Maryland Hospital Association. One in four nursing jobs is vacant and the problem is likely to get worse.