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Govs On Deck – February 10, 2021

Govs on Deck

Happy Wednesday, folks and welcome to today’s 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 amestoy@dga.net. 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:


What we’re talking about:


  • NEW MEXICO Gov. Michelle LUJAN GRISHAM, our current DGA Chair, penned an op-ed in Newsweek describing Democratic governors’ work with the Biden administration to increase vaccine distribution.


Vaccine distribution:


  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS announced that Colorado’s vaccine allocation from the federal government will increase by 9,000 doses starting next week. 
  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that Connecticut residents over the age of 65 will be eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments starting on Thursday, February 11, 2021, as the state rolls into the next part of phase 1b of its vaccination program. 
  • DELAWARE Gov. John CARNEY announced updates to the State of Delaware’s COVID-19 vaccination program, with a focus on administering second doses for Delawareans who received first doses at state-operated vaccination events in January. 
  • ILLINOIS has added 134 new vaccination locations across the state since February 4, 2021. The new sites include 22 local health departments, medical centers, and hospital locations, two new mass vaccination locations supported by the local health department and Illinois National Guard, and 110 additional retail pharmacy stores.
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced the federal government increased Kentucky’s vaccine supply for the third time in three weeks, this time by 6%, for a total increase of 28%.
  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced that the state has expanded the level of detail available on its COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard to provide more granular information on doses shipped to and administered by each of the state’s vaccine providers. 
  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced a new community vaccination site to launch this week in Rochester. The large-scale, permanent site will be the third of its kind, joining sites in Minneapolis and Duluth that launched last week. 
  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced that Minnesotans will have expanded access to COVID-19 vaccinations through pharmacies across the state this week, as the state participates in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and the governor reallocates vaccine doses not scheduled for use this week to retail pharmacies. 
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced 11 community-based pop-up vaccination sites coming online this week at community centers, public housing complexes, and cultural centers.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced that New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions can make appointments at state-run mass vaccination sites beginning February 14, with the first appointments scheduled for February 15. Excess vaccine supply meant for hospital workers can be used to open eligibility for New Yorkers with comorbidities and underlying conditions.  
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER outlined how North Carolina is working to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Among the strategies that the state is implementing are requiring all vaccine providers to collect race and ethnicity data. The state is also prioritizing a portion of its weekly vaccines to events that focus on underserved communities and allocating a baseline weekly amount of vaccine based on county population to ensure geographic equity with vaccines available in all 100 counties. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has formed a dedicated team to track and provide technical assistance to vaccine providers to ensure they are hitting targets for speed and equity. 
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced that it is establishing a joint task force with members from each legislative caucus who can share vaccine information and communicate issues and solutions expediently on behalf of and to the broader General Assembly.


Reopening efforts:


  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced that New York City indoor dining can reopen at 25 percent capacity on February 12, Lunar New Year Day. The reopening was previously scheduled for Valentine’s Day, but restaurants requested an earlier reopening date to allow staff to prepare and the request has been granted.
  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN announced that 11 counties improved in risk level, with 10 improving from Extreme Risk for the first time since November, effective February 12.


Business support:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that the State of Connecticut’s online business portal – business.ct.gov – continues to add more features that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to find information and services that aid in the process of starting or managing their businesses in Connecticut. 
  • MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS’ Administration offered a solution to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) tax conformity issue that would extend full state tax relief to more than 99 percent of Maine businesses that received PPP. The proposal would match the Federal government’s double benefit on the first $1 million of PPP received, an approach that would result in full tax relief for Maine’s small businesses who need it most and partial relief to those Maine businesses that received more than $1 million in PPP.
  • NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY announced that New Jersey will follow the federal government’s lead in allowing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to be tax-exempt at the state level and enable recipients to deduct business expenses that were paid with the tax-exempt loan proceeds, thereby enhancing the tax benefits of the loans.
  • PENNSYLVANIAGov. Tom WOLF announced that $145 million in funding will be distributed to all 67 Pennsylvania counties through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program to help support the commonwealth’s hospitality industry. 


Schools and students:


  • NEVADA Gov. Steve SISOLAK called into the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees meeting to provide public comment and support for a safe reopening of schools.


Health care:


  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS extended an executive order permitting voluntary or elective surgeries and procedures under certain conditions in Colorado. 
  • NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY announced that health insurance signups through New Jersey’s new state-based marketplace surpassed the Open Enrollment Period for the previous two years in New Jersey. 


Worker support:


  • DELAWARE Gov. John CARNEY signed House Bill 65, which provides unemployment tax relief for Delawareans and businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation waives 2020 state income tax on unemployment benefits collected by Delawareans who lost a job or income over the course of the year.


Housing support:


  • HAWAII Gov. David IGE announced that the state is moving ahead with an Emergency Rent Assistance program with federal funds received as part of the December stimulus. This program assists households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state received $200 million for rent assistance and utilities and is currently working on agreements related to the administration of the program and distribution of funds.


Family support:


  • CONNECTICUT’s Department of Social Services announced that it will provide $19 million in Emergency SNAP benefits to more than half of Connecticut’s SNAP-eligible households on Thursday, February 18. The benefits add to the more than $197.4 million in emergency benefits that have been disbursed since the start of the pandemic.


Legislation:


  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER signed a COVID relief bill into law.
  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE signed legislation providing relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will increase minimum unemployment benefits for workers and provide significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years, to support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID shutdowns. 


Relief funds:


  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced a $380,000 donation from the Team Kentucky Fund to 19 qualified nonprofit organizations in equal shares of $20,000. Each nonprofit serves Kentuckians by preventing homelessness and/or assisting families impacted by the opioid epidemic.


Other efforts:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT signed an executive order that extends the duration of nearly all the COVID-19 executive orders that are currently in effect through April 19, 2021. Certain orders related to immunity from liability for healthcare facilities and suspension of certain operations of the Judicial Branch will remain in effect until March 1, 2021.
  • MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS signed an executive order to create a “Free Fishing License Week” from Saturday, February 13 – Sunday, February 21 when people who register may fish for free without a license on Maine’s waterways. Since the pandemic began, the governor and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso have strongly encouraged Maine people to enjoy the outdoors.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the launch of NY PopsUp – an unprecedented and expansive festival featuring hundreds of pop-up performances, many of which are free of charge and all open to the public — that will intersect with the daily lives of New Yorkers. This series of events is intended to revitalize the spirit and emotional well-being of New York citizens with the energy of live performance while jumpstarting New York’s struggling live entertainment sector.


Beyond COVID-19 


State budgets:


  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced that her administration, in conjunction with Democratic leaders in the Kansas Legislature, has crafted a proposed tax bill that would generate $97 million in additional revenue for Kansas, support small businesses, and give 94% of Kansans a tax cut – all with a neutral, balanced state budget.


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Health care:


  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF signed the 13th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration to help the state fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced his 2021-23 budget will invest more than $150 million in increasing access to care, strengthening student mental health support, expanding telehealth accessibility, addressing substance use disorders and the opioid crisis, and ensuring every Wisconsinite has access to affordable, accessible healthcare through expanding BadgerCare. 


Education:


  • MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS and NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced that the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils has selected their respective states for its 2021 DON’T QUIT! Campaign, a national effort to encourage physical fitness in youth. 
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced that the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia was awarded a grant of $725,000 from the Lumina Foundation to support efforts to advance equitable postsecondary outcomes across the Commonwealth’s institutions of higher education.


Family support:


  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced a proposal to establish the New York State Cares + Baby2Baby Diaper Bank as part of the 2021 Women’s Agenda. Through a partnership with Baby2Baby, a national nonprofit that provides basic essentials for children under the age of 18, 20 million donated diapers will be made available to New York’s Emergency Feeding Programs for distribution to food banks throughout the state at no cost to New York families. 
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced his 2021-23 biennial budget will include major investments in childcare for kids and families and in caregiving for aging and older adults and individuals with disabilities to help support Wisconsin families and caregivers, and ensure high-quality care for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable residents. 
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS signed an executive order renaming the existing Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and expanding its mission to include helping Wisconsinites build financial capability and identifying ways to improve the financial inclusion of all Wisconsin residents. In addition, the order increases the Council’s membership from 25 to 35 members bolstering the Council’s expertise in the areas of financial capability and inclusion.


Housing support:


  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced that $90.4 million in state funding has been awarded for 20 projects to house New Yorkers experiencing or at risk of homelessness and provide supportive services aimed at addressing the root causes of housing instability. 


Racial justice:


  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM recommitted to addressing the legacy of structural racism in Virginia’s laws, as his Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in the Law issued its second report outlining policy recommendations to confront the impacts of discriminatory laws. 


Economic development:


  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced that Gilead Sciences, Inc. has selected North Carolina’s Research Triangle region as the location for a major business services and information technology hub, creating 275 jobs and investing up to $5 million in Wake County.
  • PENNSYLVANIAGov. Tom WOLF announced that BNP Paribas is expanding its presence in southeastern Pennsylvania. 
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced $1 million in grants from the Port Host Communities Revitalization Fund will help Virginia’s oyster industry by making upgrades to the Menchville Marina in Newport News, revitalize the vacant and obsolete 57,792-square-foot Willis Building in Norfolk, and stimulate the local economy by redeveloping the derelict and abandoned 51-acre Lovett Point property in Portsmouth for industrial use.
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced that Vytal Studios will invest $6.8 million to relocate its corporate headquarters from Austin, Texas to the City of Richmond. The company will renovate the facility at 1802 Semmes Avenue to include studio space for filming content and office space for development and post-production functions. The project will create 155 new jobs. 


Workforce development:


  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced that the Pennsylvania State University Behrend in Erie County was approved for $200,000 in funding through Pennsylvania’s Manufacturing Training-to-Career program, a program that helps companies identify and train a skilled workforce through targeted programs and services.
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF renewed his call to increase the state’s embarrassingly low minimum wage to $12 per hour on July 1, with annual increases of $0.50 until reaching $15 per hour on July 1, 2027.


Other efforts:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that the Connecticut Department of Correction plans to close Northern Correctional Institution by July 1, 2021. The decision to close the facility is largely attributed to the significant drop in the state’s incarcerated population.
  • ILLINOIS Capital Development Board announced RATIO Architects will spearhead the design process for the expanded communications building on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus. 
  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced that the Historic Sites Board of Review awarded $1,168,492 for 15 historic preservation projects across the state as part of the 2021 round of Heritage Trust Fund grants.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the renewal of an agreement between the New York Power Authority and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to help Puerto Rico rebuild and reimagine its power grid, organize and maximize efficiencies in its utility operations, and prepare for future severe storms and geological events. 


Stay safe. wear a mask, and wash your hands. See you on Friday!