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Govs On Deck – December 16, 2020

Govs on Deck

And now, it’s Wednesday. Time for your midweek edition of “Govs on Deck!” As a reminder, your favorite newsletter comes out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 

As always, questions or suggestions? Send me a note at You can find us all on Twitter too – @A_Tall_Turner@CEAmestoy, and @andersonkayjay.

We want this to be helpful, so let us know what other info/what other formats you’d like to see for these updates.

Dem Govs Get It Done: 

NOTE: This is an overview of recent actions, not a comprehensive roundup of everything our incredible governors are doing. Want more examples? Send me an email and I can help you track down answers.

COVID-19 response:

That feeling of hope:

  • Democratic governors across the country, including COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS, welcomed the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, prompting messages of hope and joy. Can you see that? There’s some light breaking over the horizon. 

Emergency declarations:

  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ extended the peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to the pandemic, including safely and effectively distributing the vaccine.

Legal actions:

  • NEVADA Gov. Steve SISOLAK issued a statement expressing disappointment in response to the Ninth Circuit reversal of a lower court ruling on the State’s restrictions on houses of worship. 

New mitigation efforts:

  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ will announce he is extending his current month-long ban on indoor bar and restaurant service through the year-end holidays as the state works to stem the spread of COVID-19.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced updated COVID-19 micro-cluster focus zones in New York State. Niagara County’s Yellow Precautionary Zone will be expanded. New Yellow Precautionary Zones will be added for Batavia, Genesee County, and for Rome and Utica, Oneida County.
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER, Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, and Secretary Erik Hooks wrote a letter to local elected officials imploring them to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities by considering additional enforcement measures.
  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN announced updates to county risk levels under the state’s new public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. Effective Dec. 18 through Dec. 31, there will be 29 counties in the Extreme Risk level, one county at Moderate Risk, and six counties at Lower Risk. 

Face coverings:

  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS amended an executive order requiring individuals to wear a mask. The purpose of the amendment is to clarify a common question that individuals in a public indoor space must wear masks, even if standing or sitting still. It also clarifies that individuals who are completely alone in a room do not need to wear a mask. 

Business restrictions:

  • NEW MEXICO’s emergency public health order was amended to accommodate slightly increased capacity inside essential retail spaces, such as grocery stores and certain other large “big box” retailers that generate a percentage of their revenue from consumable food and drink products, as cold weather grips most of New Mexico.

Business support:

  • CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM issued an executive order allowing the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to offer a 90-day extension for tax returns and tax payments for all businesses filing a return for less than $1 million in taxes. Small businesses will have until the end of July to file their first-quarter returns.
  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN announced new measures the Oregon Department of Revenue will take to provide tax relief to Oregon small businesses suffering from the economic impacts of COVID-19. These measures will eliminate penalties and interests on 2019 income tax due from Oregon businesses who are struggling to pay tax bills amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Schools and students:

  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS and the State of Colorado released the “Roadmap to In-Person Learning,” a report detailing research around the importance of in-person learning, and strategies and tactics the State is taking to assist with safe, consistent in-person learning at P-12 schools this semester.
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced new public health guidance for Kentucky schools. 
  • RHODE ISLAND’s Department of Education announced a staggered return of students in January 2021.

Health care:

  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE put a pause on most efforts to terminate agreements creating health districts and combined city-county health departments throughout the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Testing, tracing, and vaccination:

  • CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM launched “Vaccinate All 58”, California’s campaign for a safe, fair, and equitable vaccine for all 58 counties in the state. 
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has officially activated the federal government’s pharmacy distribution program for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Worker support: 

  • CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM issued an executive order allowing migrant farm labor centers managed by the Department of Housing and Community Development to continue housing agricultural workers and their families beyond the statutory occupancy period, which for several would be this month. It also suspends the requirement that these workers reside outside of a 50-mile radius from the migrant farm labor center for three months of the preceding six months.
  • NEW MEXICO’s Human Services Department is partnering with the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to provide services to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families participants who qualify for the New Mexico Works employment programs, Career Link and Wage Subsidy. These two programs provide employment opportunities to TANF participants that will give them the work experience needed to obtain full-time unsubsidized employment.

Relief funds:

  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ applauded the bipartisan passage of a $216 million economic relief package that includes direct support for small businesses and a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits. The bill includes $88 million in direct payments to restaurants, bars, and gyms; $14 million for convention centers and movie theaters; and $114.8 million for local economically significant businesses and organizations, including non-profits, that will be distributed by counties.
  • MONTANA’s Arts Council has announced a total of $718,804 to be awarded in the first rounds of Montana’s CARES Individuals and CARES Recovery programs.
  • NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY, Senate President Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Coughlin, and bill sponsors, Senator Ruiz and Assemblywoman Pintor Marin announced an agreement on a comprehensive economic recovery plan and tax incentives reform legislation.

State budgets:

  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER announced more than $700 million in spending reductions for fiscal year 2021. The plan is the result of a months-long and ongoing review of agency spending under the Executive branch. The plan includes a hiring freeze, grant reductions, and operational savings.
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM addressed the Joint Money Committees of the General Assembly to share his proposed amendments to the 2020–2022 biennial budget. The governor’s proposed budget provides funding for Virginia’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bolsters the Commonwealth’s economic recovery, and continues restoring the bold, progressive agenda advanced during the 2020 legislative session. 

Special sessions:

  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN will convene a Special Session of the Oregon Legislature at 8:00 a.m. Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, to address Oregonians’ most pressing needs given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which have only been compounded by Oregon’s horrific wildfires. The governor is asking the legislature to consider both critical policies and $800 million in relief to support Oregonians during a one-day special session on COVID-19 and wildfires.

Public communications:

  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER, MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen WHITMER, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR, MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS joined together in a social media video to encourage everyone across the region to remain safe heading into the holiday season.

Beyond COVID-19 

Climate change and environmental protections:

  • LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS signed an executive order creating the Atchafalaya River Basin Restoration and Enhancement Task Force to address long-standing issues in the basin and raise public awareness of the critical nature of these concerns.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the finalization of regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide and implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. As the first regulatory requirement of the Climate Act, the adoption of these regulations marks a critical milestone in realizing New York’s nation-leading clean energy and climate agenda.
  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE outlined his climate policy package for the 2021–2023 biennium. The governor’s legislative and budget proposals would create a comprehensive climate program to ensure the state meets its climate goals. 

Racial justice and equality:

  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER released a statement on the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice’s policy recommendation report.
  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE announced a historic equity policy package for the upcoming 2021 legislative session, including $365M for equity-related decision packages and budget items. For the first time, the governor directed state agencies to center budgetary decision packages and legislation around equity.

Economic development:

  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced a $1.5 million Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot program grant for site work linked to the construction of a 65,000-square-foot building project in the EastPark Industrial Park in Greenup and Boyd counties.
  • KENTUCKYGov. Andy BESHEAR announced that iwis-Daido LLC, a new joint venture between iwis engine systems LLC and Daido Corp. of America, is expected to add 37 well-paying jobs in Murray with a $2.7 million investment for the production of high-quality automotive engine chains.
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced that Span Tech LLC, which designs and produces plastic chain conveyor systems for manufacturers, plans to expand in Barren County with a $13.2 million investment expected to create 40 full-time jobs over the next 10 years.
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced that DHL Supply Chain will invest $72 million to establish a state-of-the-art distribution operation for its Real Estate Solutions unit in Stafford County’s Venture Business Park. The company will build a 500,000-square-foot high-bay facility with highly mechanized equipment for material handling to serve the Mid-Atlantic region. Virginia successfully competed with Maryland for the project, which will create 577 new jobs. 
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced Expert Institute LLC, a legal software company that connects attorneys with subject matter experts, will locate its Midwest office in Milwaukee.


  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO signed the Protect Our Courts Act to ensure New Yorkers can freely access the justice system without fear of being targeted by federal immigration authorities.

Other efforts:

  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced her intention to appoint David Toland, Secretary for the Kansas Department of Commerce, to become her Lieutenant Governor when current Lieutenant Governor Lynn Rogers vacates the position in January.
  • MINNESOTA’s Board of Pardons, of which Gov. Tim WALZ is one of three members, voted to immediately release Burrell from a life prison sentence in the 2002 fatal shooting of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards, who was killed when a stray bullet penetrated her Minneapolis home.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO signed legislation to strengthen penalties against the illegal disposal of construction debris, demolition debris, and other hazardous substances. 
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM ceremonially signed legislation establishing the ‘Marcus Alert,’ a statewide mental health alert system to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement.

Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands. We’ll see you on Friday!