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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/8

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What We're Reading: Top State Stories 9/8

US: US schools got millions in federal COVID funds, now the problem is finding staff, programs to spend it on

nytimes.com

The unprecedented crisis in education due to COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented wave of federal funding. For school-district leaders, the greatest hurdle to spending is having enough staff members to do it.

MI: Michigan judge rules 1931 law criminalizing most abortions is unconstitutional

freep.com

The 1931 law criminalizing most abortions in Michigan violates the tenets of the state Constitution, Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled. The order is not the final say on abortion access in the state — opponents will certainly appeal to a higher court that has already undermined previous Gleicher rulings. But it is the first time a Michigan judge has weighed in on the constitutionality of abortion in the state.

WA: 4 years later, voter-approved Washington gun law hasn't been implemented

crosscut.com

Nearly four years after Washington voters approved the gun law, state officials haven’t implemented annual checks of pistol and semiautomatic rifle owners — and they have no concrete plans to do so. Even as some Democratic lawmakers and state officials — including Attorney General Bob Ferguson — renew a push to ban the purchase of semiautomatic rifles, the annual background checks approved by voters have been left to languish.

CA: A text asked millions of Californians to save energy. They paid heed, averting blackouts

latimes.com

Millions of Californians’ cellphones lit up with a new type of emergency alert: “Conserve energy now to protect public health and safety.” That text message warning proved critical in helping avoid rolling blackouts during the grueling heat wave that has taxed the state’s power grid for more than a week, according to state officials.

AK: Legislative primary results encouraged some Alaska House and Senate candidates to quit

alaskabeacon.com

Alaska’s new top-four primary election didn’t eliminate a single candidate for state House or Senate, but several candidates withdrew from November’s general election before a Monday deadline, citing their performance in the primary. Most of the state’s House and Senate races now have fewer than three candidates, the minimum needed to trigger ranked-choice voting for those seats.

OK: ACLU lawsuit fights Oklahoma transgender bathroom law

oklahoman.com

The American Civil Liberties Union and three transgender students filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court seeking to overturn an Oklahoma law restricting school bathroom use by a person's birth sex. The lawsuit calls the measure discriminatory against transgender people and a violation of Title IX.

NY: New York governor lifts mask mandate on public transit

timesunion.com

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the state's longstanding mask mandate for public transit and in nearly all other locations, as cases and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 continue to remain relatively low. The state's mask mandate related to health care facilities remains in effect.

PA: Pennsylvania governor announces $100M program to curb gun violence

inquirer.com

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, announced more than $100 million in new funding for community groups working to curb gun violence across the commonwealth. The governor made the announcement in a Philadelphia neighborhood that has seen rapidly rising gun violence over the last two years.

HI: A ‘tremendous need’ for affordable housing in Hawaii leads to long waitlists

civilbeat.org

With many Hawaii residents priced out of the real estate market on Oahu, affordable housing projects are filling up as fast as they can be built. That means waitlists may be anywhere from six months to three years.

UT: New threat to Utah’s Great Salt Lake? Mineral company wants to extend its canals.

sltrib.com

Environmentalists worry that siphoning off more water is exactly what Utah’s shrinking Great Salt Lake doesn’t need.

WY: Sexually transmitted infection rates jump in Wyoming

trib.com

Sexually transmitted infection rates jumped in Wyoming in 2021, new figures from the Department of Health show. The state experienced a 33.5% increase in gonorrhea cases between 2020 and last year. It similarly saw a 35.5% rise in syphilis rates and a 23.6% increase in chlamydia infections.

WI: Wisconsin judge sides with GOP in absentee ballot fight

apnews.com

A Wisconsin judge ruled that state law does not allow election clerks to fill in missing information on witness certification envelopes that contain absentee ballots, delivering a victory to Republicans nine weeks before the election in the battleground state.

MT: Study finds Montana underpays Medicaid providers by tens of millions

montanafreepress.org

A new study, commissioned by the Montana legislature and supported by GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte’s appointed leadership at the state health department, has found that Montana Medicaid has underpaid providers for the care they provide to seniors in assisted-living facilities, people with disabilities, and children and adults with mental illnesses and addiction.

IA: Science scores spring to pre-pandemic levels on Iowa school assessments

desmoinesregister.com

Science scores for Iowa's elementary and middle school students have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, new statewide testing shows. But math scores declined during the height of the pandemic, while early literacy improved, according to the latest Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress.

SD: South Dakota settles lawsuit over voting rights

mitchellrepublic.com

The South Dakota secretary of state will implement a voting rights coordinator and train state agencies to comply with federal voting rights laws as part of a settlement with two Native American tribes.

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