What We're Reading: Top State Stories 1/13
MI: Michigan to charge ex-governor in water probe
Former Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal. Snyder was governor when state-appointed managers switched Flint’s water to the Flint River in 2014.
NV: Nevada vaccination program cannot share personal information with feds
The Governor’s Office for New Americans released a statement saying that Nevada’s COVID-19 vaccination program cannot share personal information with federal agencies. The statement came in response to growing concerns in Nevada, notably among the immigrant community, over privacy protections provided by the program.
AZ: Arizona spent $6.68M readying a hospital for COVID-19 patients, but it sits empty
As hospitals across Arizona grapple with dwindling capacity because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state has no immediate plans to use 235 patient beds at St. Luke's Medical Center in Phoenix, though it has spent $6.68 million so far getting the shuttered facility ready.
WA: Some Washington state legislators come to the Capitol armed with guns
Some Washington state lawmakers chose to carry their own personal firearms for additional protection on the legislature’s opening day. House and Senate rules do not prohibit the concealed carrying of firearms by legislators.
OR: Oregon allocates $100M to commercial rent relief
Oregon business owners who have struggled to pay rent during the coronavirus pandemic will soon get some help from the state. The Oregon legislature’s Emergency Board voted to allocate $100 million toward a new commercial rent relief program.
DC: District of Columbia mayor to keep indoor dining, museums closed past Inauguration Day
District of Columbia Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered indoor restaurants and museums to remain closed until two days after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, in a mayoral fiat meant to both curb the rising coronavirus infections in the city and make Washington less hospitable to visitors considering traveling to see Biden sworn in.
IL: Illinois state legislators pass sweeping education measure
Both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly passed the Legislative Black Caucus’ broad education proposal that makes changes to statewide education laws from early to higher education. The first piece of the caucus’s wide-ranging social justice agenda is now just a signature from Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker away from becoming law.
MD: Maryland governor promises renewed push on redistricting
Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said he will launch “a sustained effort” to push for a less partisan redistricting process, an effort he has failed to get through the General Assembly for the past six years.
NJ: New Jersey Assembly offices closed after insurrection, future planned protests
In the wake of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and planned protests across the country, New Jersey Assembly Democratic district offices will be closed through Jan. 20, a spokesperson said.
MO: Anticipating violence, Missouri Capitol swells with police
A heavier police presence was in plain view at the Missouri Capitol, as officials responded to threats of violence triggered by President Donald Trump’s election loss. Officers from the Missouri Highway Patrol and other agencies patrolled the corridors, occasionally stopping in one of the chambers to view the proceedings of the House and Senate.
OH: Ohio prepares to begin COVID-19 vaccinations of older residents
Ohio hospitals have been instructed to complete their vaccinations of health care workers by this weekend to clear the decks to begin helping to administer doses to the 420,000 Ohioans age 80 and older beginning next Tuesday.
AR: Arkansas expands vaccine efforts to 70-plus age group, school workers
Arkansans age 70 and older and employees of schools and child care centers will be eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines starting Monday, GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced. The move will expand the state's vaccination efforts, which have so far focused on health care workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, and police and firefighters.
VT: Vermont governor urges would-be Capitol demonstrators not to be ‘played’ by extremists
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has some advice for Vermonters considering participating in armed rallies at the Statehouse: “Don’t be played.” He said extremists behind the armed rallies are taking advantage of people with “strong feelings” to further the insurrection.
NC: North Carolina governor expresses frustration with shifting vaccine guidelines
North Carolina will consider expanding the number of people eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said. But Cooper also expressed frustration with the timing of the new directive, and particularly with the shifting advice.
SC: Complaint filed against South Carolina attorney general for allegedly inciting riot
An attorney has filed a complaint against South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson for promoting legal “falsehoods” that allegedly helped lead to last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. A spokesperson for Wilson called the effort political, noting that he is a Republican and that the lawyer is a Democrat who works for a prominent Democratic law firm.
NH: New Hampshire tells businesses to call law enforcement if customers won’t wear mask
Now, at least when it comes to grocery and retail stores, the New Hampshire Department of Justice recommends calling local law enforcement if a customer refuses to wear a mask without a reason listed as an exception in the emergency order.
PA: Federal judge rules in favor of Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate GOP refused to seat
A federal judge has upheld the validity of hundreds of undated mail ballots cast in Allegheny County, ruling in favor of a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Senate whose win was previously certified by the state. GOP leaders in the chamber last week refused to seat the winner.
MN: Violent threats against Minnesota leaders on the rise
Violent threats against Minnesota's political leaders are growing in frequency and intensity, a trend that started long before last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol cheered on by a crowd in St. Paul. The rise came as lawmakers grappled with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last summer.
KS: Kansas House Dems move to oust member over issues with women
Kansas legislators began the process to oust a newly elected lawmaker over multiple issues that include the 20-year-old’s rhetoric on Twitter and allegations that he harassed and threatened girls and women.
ID: Idaho governor's emergency powers could shrink under new legislation
Idaho lawmakers will consider a bill that would prevent disaster declarations from shutting down businesses and qualify all workers as essential. It would also require that the governor’s emergency declarations expire after 30 days, with the option for state legislators to extend the emergency.
IN: Indiana law enforcement reform bill earns widespread support
A bipartisan bill aimed at increasing police accountability and enacting criminal justice reform received early support from Indiana’s legislators, law enforcement leaders and community groups, following calls for action from the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.
RI: Feds tell states to vaccinate all people 65 and older now, but Rhode Island disagrees
The Trump administration told states to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all people 65 and older, but Rhode Island doesn't intend to follow suit. Under the state’s plan, all adults 75 and older will not start getting vaccinated until February or March.
VA, MD, DC: Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia leaders urge residents not to attend inauguration
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, issued a joint statement urging residents not to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. They cited security and public health threats during the COVID-19 pandemic.