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Govs On Deck – March 3, 2021

Govs on Deck

Happy Wednesday 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.


What we’re talking about:


  • Congratulations, former RHODE ISLAND Gov. Gina RAIMONDO on her successful confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
  • Welcome to the team, RHODE ISLAND Gov. Dan MCKEE!


COVID-19 response:


Vaccine distribution:


  • CALIFORNIANEVADA, OREGON, and WASHINGTON’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup announced the authorization of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS announced that the state hit its goal of vaccinating 70% of Coloradans aged 70 and up by the end of February. 
  • CONNECTICUT’s COVID-19 vaccination program expanded to include residents between the ages of 55 and 64, in addition to school staff and early childcare professionals. As part of the Gov. Ned LAMONT’s administration’s continuing efforts to increase equity in vaccine distribution to residents of underserved communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is working with vaccine providers to commit to administering at least 25 percent of available vaccine supply to the residents living in zip codes that are in the top 25 percent of the CDC’s social vulnerability index. 
  • ILLINOIS’ United Center vaccine site will begin to administer vaccines to Illinois seniors on March 9th. 
  • NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil MURPHY announced the expansion of eligibility for more frontline essential workers and high-risk groups in New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Eligible groups include educators and staff in pre-k through 12th-grade settings, childcare workers, and transportation workers, among others.  
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER announced that additional frontline essential workers in Group 3 will be eligible for vaccinations beginning tomorrow, March 3. The expedited timeline follows the approval of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine and an expected increase in vaccine supply to North Carolina.
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF and the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force announced that Pennsylvania will use the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine for PreK-12 teachers and other school staff.


Reopening efforts:


  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced 18 industries can increase capacity to 60% as the state completes its seventh straight week of declining COVID-19 cases.
  • LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS announced that Louisiana will move forward to Phase 3.  This will bring most COVID restrictions back to where they were last September. Louisiana’s statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since last July, will remain in place. The governor’s new order will last for 28 days and will expire on March 31, 2021.
  • MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen WHITMER announced that starting Friday, restaurants and bars in Michigan can expand and be open until 11 p.m. Restaurants and bars can operate at 50% capacity. Visitations and nursing homes will now be allowed. 


Business support:


  • HAWAII Gov. David IGE signed legislation that allows businesses to pay unemployment taxes, on average, less than half of what they would have otherwise paid in 2021.
  • MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen WHITMER announced a three-month extension for liquor licensees to renew their 2021 licenses.   
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced that the hospitality industry will soon be able to apply for immediate relief through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program, a new grant program established by the Wolf Administration to support local businesses in the hospitality industry that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Schools and students:


  • CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin NEWSOM, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon highlighted an agreement on a $6.6 billion budget package to accelerate the safe return to in-person instruction across California and empower schools to immediately expand academic, mental health, and social-emotional supports, including over the summer.
  • MICHIGAN Gov. Gretchen WHITMER announced the expansion of the MI Classroom Heroes COVID-19 Grants to include a new grant program for Great Start Readiness Program, Head Start, adult education, and young adult (ages 18-26) special education classroom teachers. 
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced allocation plans for more than $303 million in federal funds received to support child care providers. The funds come from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021.


Worker support:


  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS urged Colorado’s federal Congressional delegation to extend several federal assistance programs, including the pandemic unemployment assistance program, and the emergency unemployment relief for government entities and nonprofits, before they expire in March. 
  • NORTH CAROLINA Gov. Roy COOPER issued an executive order that establishes a flexible work search requirement for all new claimants who apply for unemployment benefits on or after March 14, 2021. With the recent end of the Extended Benefits program for state unemployment under federal law, this step will ensure that out-of-work North Carolinians can access job-seeking assistance available through NCWorks and other state-sponsored job search programs.
  • OREGON’s OSHA is proposing to extend protective measures against COVID-19 for workers who rely on housing provided by employers, including as part of farming operations. The risk-reducing measures – which include new options and updates – cover everything from physical distancing and ventilation to face coverings and sanitation.


Family support:


  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced an additional $25 million has been directed to New York’s network of food banks and emergency food providers to support the Nourish New York program through July 2021. 


Housing support:


  • COLORADO Gov. Jared POLIS encouraged the nation’s governors to request federal energy assistance as part of the next COVID relief package, to hold utility customers harmless from increased heating and electricity costs due to recent severe storms across the country.


Travel restrictions:


  • WASHINGTON Gov. Jay INSLEE updated a proclamation regarding quarantine requirements for air travel. 


Beyond COVID-19 


Gender equality:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz announced legislative proposals they are introducing during the 2021 regular session that were developed by the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls and are aimed at helping to uplift women and families across the state and creating more opportunities for women and girls to succeed in school and in the workplace.


Housing support:


  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY encouraged Kansans to apply for funds available through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program to help pay high electricity bills caused by extremely cold temperatures. Due to extreme cold, Kansans may see higher than usual utility costs.
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced more than $24 million in Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans for 28 projects across the Commonwealth, creating or preserving 1,635 affordable housing units for low-income Virginians. The funding will help increase access to affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and provide permanent supportive housing options for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Community development:


  • KANSAS Gov. Laura KELLY announced the selection of Atchison, Baldwin City, and Junction City as the newest members of the Kansas Main Street program, bringing the total number of designated Main Street communities in Kansas to 28.
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced a grant totaling $305,986 from the Appalachian Regional Commission for the Breathitt County Museum Board. The board will use the funds to transform their historic former jail building into a tourist destination in downtown Jackson.
  • PENNSYLVANIA Gov. Tom WOLF announced nearly $2 million in low-interest loans through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority that will help companies in Bucks, Montgomery, and Westmoreland counties create and retain jobs and expand their operations.


Economic development:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT and Mohegan Tribe Chairman James Gessner Jr. announced an agreement that would allow the state to modernize gaming options available to state residents, including allowing for sports wagering and online gaming.
  • KENTUCKY Gov. Andy BESHEAR announced Wholesale Hardwood Interiors Inc is moving forward with plans to invest $7.1 million and create 100 full-time jobs, restoring the operation after a fire broke out in the facility, with additional space to accommodate recent and future growth.
  • VIRGINIA Gov. Ralph NORTHAM announced that Fresh Impact Farms will invest $137,500, create six new jobs, and more than double production at its Arlington County indoor facility. 


Workforce development:


  • LOUISIANA Gov. John Bel EDWARDS announced that a partnership of two Louisiana organizations to provide workforce training for entertainment industry jobs in Louisiana is the first recipient of a grant from the state’s new Entertainment Development Fund. 
  • NEW YORK Gov. Andrew CUOMO announced that 75 businesses, schools, and community-based organizations across the state have been awarded nearly $9.5 million as part of the state’s historic Workforce Development Initiative. 


Other efforts:


  • CONNECTICUT Gov. Ned LAMONT announced that the Connecticut DMV has launched a revitalized web portal for the agency that also increases the number of transactions customers are able to complete online. 


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