Govs On Deck – February 24, 2021
What a lovely Wednesday (at least in D.C.)! Welcome to today’s edition of “Govs on Deck!” As a reminder, your favorite newsletter comes out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
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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.
Joint state efforts:
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY, PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF, and WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS delivered a letter to Congressional leaders urging the federal government to provide immediate funding for states to fast track IT modernization and provide a permanent source of funding to ensure states are prepared for future crises.
- CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM announced that the state is partnering with OptumServe and local counties to open up to 11 vaccination sites within the next week to serve some of the hardest-hit or most at-risk communities in the Central Valley, in addition to other steps to bolster vaccination efforts in the region.
- CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that the state will continue with an age-based approach to expanding eligibility for the vaccine. PreK-12 school staff and teachers, and professional childcare providers will be eligible to receive the vaccine in March at dedicated clinics that will be set up specifically for those sectors. In addition, the governor announced that he is directing the Connecticut Department of Public Health to set numerical targets and work with vaccine providers to ensure that vaccines are administered to people living in the highest-risk communities in proportion to their population.
- ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER announced the launch of two additional state-supported mass vaccination sites in Rockford and Collinsville. The sites launched on Tuesday, February 23, and each will ramp up to provide up to 1,350 doses per day at full capacity. The governor is also activating additional members of the Illinois National Guard to support Winnebago and Madison counties in standing up additional mobile vaccination sites to reach rural and underserved communities.
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY issued an executive order allowing temporary authorization for additional vaccinators during Kansas’ state of disaster emergency. The order allows state healthcare professionals such as pharmacy students, dentists, paramedics, and others who may administer injections or inoculations within their scope of practice to administer a coronavirus vaccine that is approved or authorized by the FDA.
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR is working with the Lexington chapter of the NAACP to advance his commitment to providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations across Kentucky.
- MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced that Hy-Vee will be added to the expanding network of pharmacies vaccinating Minnesotans across the state. Hy-Vee joins two other retail pharmacies in Minnesota — Walmart and Thrifty White — that are participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program that launched earlier this month.
- NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the opening of the New York State-FEMA mass vaccination site at York College in Queens and Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. These sites will vaccinate 3,000 New Yorkers each day.
- PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced that more than 600 skilled nursing facilities have received first and second doses of the vaccine, and in total, more than 315,000 doses of vaccine administered among all long-term care facilities being vaccinated by CVS and Walgreens.
- WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced the locations of four additional community-based vaccination clinics. The vaccination clinics will be located in La Crosse County, Racine County, Marathon County, with the last clinic split between Douglas and Barron County. Locations will open within the next two months.
- NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY announced an executive order that increases capacity limits for religious services and large sports and entertainment venues. Additionally, limited spectators will be allowed at collegiate sporting events, mirroring last week’s announcement on youth sporting events.
- NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced new, expanded guidelines for visitation of residents in nursing home facilities in accordance with CMS and CDC guidelines to begin on February 26. The Department of Health recommends that visitors take a rapid test before entry into the facility, and DOH will provide rapid tests to nursing homes to facilitate their ability to test visitors on-site and at no cost. Visitation continues to depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.
- OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN announced that 16 counties improved in risk level, with 10 of those improving from Extreme Risk.
- VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1.
- COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS amended and extended an executive order establishing directives for the COVID-19 Dial Framework. The order was amended to add level Red into certain restrictions the Colorado Department of Public Health can set by Public Health Order.
Testing and tracing:
- COLORADO’s Department of Public Health and Environment announced that Abbot Binax rapid tests will be administered by medical professionals for the legislative session.
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced that funding provided to Kansas’ hospitality industry through the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund has been converted from bridge loans to grants. Originally established as a working capital loan program through NetWork Kansas, these funds will no longer need to be paid back. Businesses that have made repayments will be reimbursed.
Schools and students:
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced he is issuing a new executive order that recommends all school districts, including private schools, offer or expand some form of in-person instructional opportunities beginning March 1.
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR authorized the Kentucky Department of Education to administer $40,817,799 in emergency assistance to non-public schools for reimbursement of COVID-19 related costs or to provide COVID-19 related services.
- ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER announced that beginning next month, approximately one million children across Illinois will receive additional federally funded food benefits, valued at up to $110 million per month. Following a state request to expand eligibility for the program, the additional food support, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, is expected to reach about 200,000 more eligible children this school year compared to last year.
- CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM signed into law a comprehensive package of immediate actions that will speed needed relief to individuals, families, and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship due to COVID-19.
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY issued an executive order extending the deadline for Kansas rural water districts to hold their annual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order will suspend previous provisions to allow rural water districts until October 1, 2021, to hold their annual meetings.
- COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS encouraged the PUC to more clearly define a specific set of actions utilities must take to protect Coloradans from excess costs resulting from fluctuating commodity prices, as a precursor to any consideration of passing along excess costs to customers.
- ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER called on the Illinois Finance Authority to develop a $15 million low-interest loan program to help small municipalities that have been financially impacted by record-high natural gas prices due to extreme weather conditions.
- LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS issued a statement thanking President Biden following his orders that the federal share for Public Assistance related to Hurricane Laura, including direct federal assistance, to be increased to 90 percent of the total eligible costs, except for assistance previously authorized at 100 percent.
- MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS delivered her State of the Budget address. In it, the governor announced a “Back to Work” bond proposal to accelerate Maine’s economic recovery, diversify & strengthen the economy. The governor underscored the importance of her administration’s focus on health care, education, and the economy, highlighting proposed investments in Maine’s public health infrastructure and education funding to support Maine children. She rejected calls for sweeping budget cuts or efforts to reach into the State’s savings.
- NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY delivered his fourth annual budget address on Tuesday, outlining a responsible spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 that includes critical investments to help New Jersey emerge from the pandemic stronger, fairer, and more resilient while making a full pension payment for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, providing the highest level of school funding in history, delivering direct tax rebates to over 760,000 middle-class families, and providing $200 million in relief for small businesses.
- WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced $2.38 billion in recommended Capital Budget investments in his 2021-23 Capital Budget. The announcement represents one of the strongest investments to-date for Wisconsin’s facility infrastructure and continues to leverage historic low bond rates. The governor’s capital budget supports major projects across the state in 31 counties.
Criminal justice reform:
- ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER signed landmark legislation that transforms Illinois’ criminal justice system. This landmark legislation ends a pretrial detention system that benefits the wealthy, expands training and wellness programs for law enforcement, modernizes sentencing laws, and prioritizes treatment and rehabilitation for low-level drug crimes.
- NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY signed historic adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession. The governor also signed a bill clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old.
- VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM issued a statement praising the passage in both houses of the General Assembly of legislation banning capital punishment in the Commonwealth.
- OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN detailed her support and the need for legislation that addresses access to capital, specifically for businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and people of color, Tribal members, and other underserved entrepreneurs. This need was identified by the Governor’s Racial Justice Council’s economic opportunity committee, who worked to identify ways to support the long-term economic success of populations who experience systemic economic disadvantages in business creation and access to traditional capital and wealth creation.
- OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN detailed her support for House Bill 2166, which proposes equity-centered reforms for the early learning and K-12 education systems in Oregon, with a focus on creating culturally-responsive education settings for all Oregon children. The bill builds on the work of the Racial Justice Council’s Education Recovery Committee.
- NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY signed legislation that requires the Department of Health to license certain hospitals to provide full-service diagnostic cardiac catheterization, primary angioplasty, and elective angioplasty services. This will expand access to these critical preventative measures and put them within reach of more New Jerseyans.
- NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the Department of Financial Services has issued guidance requiring New York health insurers to cover fertility services for all New Yorkers regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced that a total of $4,645,070 has been awarded to 12 nonprofit organizations throughout the commonwealth. The grant awards are primarily focused on addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome by offering comprehensive residential treatment services to pregnant and parenting women.
- MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced his 2021 Local Jobs and Projects Plan – his capital investment recommendation for the current legislative session. The plan invests $518.086 million in infrastructure projects across the state to maintain existing buildings, invest in communities, and ensure that the state can leverage available federal funds. Nearly half of the plan will support asset preservation projects at state agencies and higher education institutions.
- VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced that Charlotte County, Grayson County, and Page County will each receive a grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture initiatives.
- COLORADO’s Workforce Development Council, in partnership with the Trailhead Institute and the Colorado Public Health Workforce Collaborative, has launched newly-developed career pathways in public health on the My Colorado Journey platform. The pathways aim to address the demand for a skilled public health workforce heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthen continued career development, as well as raise awareness of the field.
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced the launch of the newly redesigned KANSASWORKS.com website to provide a more user-friendly experience for job seekers and employers.
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR congratulated the University of Kentucky and its partners on breaking ground for a high-tech building at UK’s Coldstream Research Campus, a $15 million development to provide office and laboratory space for early-stage, high-tech companies.
- NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced $282 million in loans and grants to help pay for 94 drinking water and wastewater projects statewide.
- MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen WHITMER is testifying at a hearing today with a U.S. Senate committee on road repair needs, a spokesman confirmed.
- DELAWARE Gov. John CARNEY signed legislation that, based on recommendations of the Local Service Functions Task Force, more fairly allocates the costs of service delivery across local governments in New Castle County.
- KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced that to promote financial health and encourage Kansans to build personal and household savings, she has proclaimed the week of February 22 through 26 as America Saves Week in Kansas.
- KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR invited Kentuckians to lend their artistic talents to a new Team Kentucky Gallery, which will be located in a main hall of the state Capitol in Frankfort.
- MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS expressed “grave concern” about the draft Biological Opinion for ten fishery management plans in the Greater Atlantic Region, focusing on the North Atlantic Right Whale, warning it will be economically devastating and will fundamentally change Maine’s lobster fishery.
Stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands. See you all on Friday!