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Govs On Deck – February 26, 2021

Govs on Deck

Happy Friday, everyone, 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@SamNewton, 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:


Emergency declarations:


  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN extended her declaration of a state of emergency for COVID-19 for 60 days, until May 2. 


Vaccine distribution:


  • CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM announced that the state has dedicated a minimum of 10 percent of vaccine supply to K-12 school staff and child care workers or an estimated 75,000 vaccines per week. The vaccine distribution plan will build on county and local efforts to accelerate vaccine access for education workers, with a focus on communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic
  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that his administration was informed by the federal government that Connecticut is expected to receive 30,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine next week, pending approval of the vaccine by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which could come as early as this weekend.
  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER announced that a new federal vaccination site will open on March 10 at the United Center. The site will prioritize access for seniors and equity for the hardest-hit populations.
  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER and the Illinois Department of Health announced that Illinoisans with serious medical conditions can be vaccinated, in line with federal guidance. 
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced 119 new vaccination sites, bringing the state’s total number of vaccine providers to 410. Kentucky public transit agencies across the commonwealth are offering free or reduced-cost transportation to and from vaccine appointments.
  • MAINE Gov. Janet MILLS announced that Maine will adopt an age-based approach to expanding vaccine eligibility. As a result, beginning next Wednesday, March 3, 2021, Maine will expand eligibility for the vaccine to those 60 years and older.
  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced that Minnesota will remain focused on vaccinating most of the state’s seniors before expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. The governor issued guidance to vaccinate 70% of adults 65 years of age and older before expanding eligibility, and aims to reach this goal by the end of March.
  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced a new community vaccination site to launch at Mall of America in Bloomington. The large-scale, permanent site will be the fourth of its kind, joining sites in Minneapolis, Duluth, and Rochester that launched last week. The Mall of America will serve approximately 8,190 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 educators, school staff, and child care workers in its first week.
  • NEW MEXICO’s Department of Health announced the details of its vaccine equity plan – a statewide effort to ensure that vaccines go to the most exposed and vulnerable New Mexicans.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced 12 community-based pop-up vaccination sites coming online this week at community centers, public housing complexes, and cultural centers. These sites are expected to vaccinate more than 3,700 people throughout the week, with more sites coming online every week.
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced the establishment of a COVID-19 vaccination center in North Carolina, in partnership with the federal government. 


Reopening efforts:


  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced that the state will carefully ease some of its COVID-19 restrictions. A new executive order lifts the Modified Stay at Home Order requiring people to stay at home and businesses to close to the public between 10 pm and 5 am. The number of people who may gather indoors will increase from 10 to 25, while 50 remains the limit for outdoors. The curfew on the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption will be moved from 9 pm to 11 pm. Some businesses, including bars and amusement parks, will now be open for patrons indoors as they adhere to new occupancy restrictions. Many businesses, venues, and arenas will have increased occupancy both indoors and outdoors. 


Business support:


  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY and the Kansas Department of Agriculture announced that the COVID Relief Fund supported nearly $12 million of grants to help secure local food systems.
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER signed legislation extending the deferral of ABC permit renewal fees for bar owners. 


Worker support:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT applauded the Connecticut House of Representatives’ approval of legislation regarding issues of tax fairness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the launch of a new identity verification tool, ID.me, to fight unemployment benefit fraud and help New Yorkers with bona fide claims verify their identities and receive benefits faster.
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS legislation that takes a step toward modernizing Wisconsin’s antiquated unemployment system after more than a decade of inaction. The bill comes after the governor announced he would be calling a Special Session of the Legislature to fix Wisconsin’s broken unemployment system during his 2021 State of the State address. While SB 1 does not include any funding or a commitment from the Legislature to fund the system upgrade to completion as was proposed by Gov. Evers, the governor had previously called SB 1 “a step in the right direction.” This is the first bill to have been passed by the Legislature under a special session call of the governor. 


Housing support:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that his administration has filed an objection to motions under consideration at the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to approve plans submitted by Eversource Energy and the United Illuminating Company to begin allowing for the disconnection of customers for non-payment for the time since PURA first implemented a shut-off moratorium in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced more than $322 million in funding to help support Wisconsinites who have experienced income loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, administered by the Department of Administration, provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify.


Family support:


  • MINNESOTA Gov. Tim WALZ announced a new outreach campaign for Minnesotans struggling to afford nutritious food for themselves and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign will connect families with personalized assistance and information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.


Other efforts:


  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE extended the COVID-related commercial truck driver hour waiver to May 31, 2021, in alignment with federal waivers. 


Beyond COVID-19 


Federal actions:


  • LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS wrote to Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation, encouraging its members to support a meaningful increase in the federal minimum wage as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan for COVID-19 relief.


State budgets:


  • 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.


Climate change:


  • LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS’ Climate Initiatives Task Force published its “action proposal template” to solicit ideas from the public on ways Louisiana can reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide. All members of the public are invited to submit action ideas that apply to individual emissions sources, entire segments of the economy, or to cross-cutting or society-wide aspects of mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.


Anti-discrimination and racial justice efforts:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT applauded the Connecticut House of Representatives’ approval of legislation that will prohibit workplace discrimination based on hairstyles that are commonly associated with people of color, such as afros, Bantu knots, braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, and twists.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced New York State is partnering with nonprofit organizations to deploy undercover testers across the state to root out discrimination in home rental and sale transactions. 
  • OREGON Gov. Kate BROWN detailed her support for legislation that will codify into state law the Racial Justice Council (RJC). The Governor convened the RJC last summer to center the perspectives of Oregonians of many different backgrounds and life experiences. Members of Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Native American, Tribal, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and communities of color from across the state came together to create the Council; to focus on transformative change, and to build a better Oregon. 


Education:


  • NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY signed legislation permanently establishing the Community College Opportunity Grant Program, which will allow qualified students to attend any New Jersey community college without tuition or educational fees.
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced the approval of 78 Smart Schools Investment Plans aimed at improving school security and reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century. The approved plans, totaling $59.9 million, are part of the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act—a sweeping education technology initiative first proposed by the governor and overwhelmingly approved by voters.
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF unveiled a common sense and fair bipartisan plan that holds low-performing charter schools accountable to improve the quality of education, protects taxpayers by reining in skyrocketing charter school costs, and increases the transparency of for-profit companies that run many charter schools.
  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Public Service Commission announced the WEDC will provide a $100,000 Capacity Building Grant to the Forest County Economic Development Partnership for a pilot program testing a tethered, drone-based system to provide high-speed internet in rural areas. The six-month project will use Wisconsin TeleLift’s tethered drone platforms fitted with cell phone towers to provide high-speed internet access to the roughly 10 percent of district students who currently have none.


Workforce development:


  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER announced new investments to the Youth Career Pathways program that will expand training for Illinois youth who face barriers to education, training, and employment. Through a Notice of Funding Opportunity released by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois will expand access to training and support services for youth ages 16-24 and who are most at-risk for falling behind on career preparation. 


Economic development:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT applauded the Connecticut House of Representatives for approving legislation that will encourage the development of data centers in the state.
  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced cybersecurity company Novacoast’s investment in Wichita. Novacoast announced its intention to open a Security Operations Center in Wichita. The company plans to initially hire 60 employees with plans for continued growth.
  • NEVADA Gov. Steve SISOLAK will discuss the State’s Innovation Zone proposal today, first unveiled by the governor during his 2021 State of the State address. Innovation Zones will create an opportunity for companies, who commit to a significant investment into Nevada, the ability to develop new industries in the State centered around groundbreaking technologies. Innovation Zones will be done without tax abatements or financial incentives.


Community development:


  • ILLINOIS Gov. JB PRITZKER and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity awarded $11 million in Rebuild Illinois capital funds to support continued economic development across the state. Shovel Ready Infrastructure Capital Program grants will support 11 new capital development projects across the state, paving the way to projects that will create long-term investment in communities, while creating an estimated 824 construction jobs statewide.


Infrastructure:


  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster led a virtual conversation with U.S. governors and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.


Other efforts:


  • WISCONSIN Gov. Tony EVERS announced that he has granted another 13 pardons. The governor’s Pardon Advisory Board heard from applicants virtually on Feb. 12, 2021. Applicants whom the Board recommended for pardon were given to Gov. Evers for final consideration. To date, the governor has granted 157 pardons.


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