Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Louisiana reinstates work search requirements for people on unemployment … NYC health commissioner resigns after months of conflict with mayor … Massive power outages on east coast after Tropical Storm Isaias ripped through states.
Missouri voters approved a Medicaid expansion plan that will make an additional 230,000 low-income people in the state eligible for the state- and federal-funded health insurance. Missouri is the 38th state to expand Medicaid and one of handful in recent years to do so by a ballot initiative. Republican state lawmakers had rejected pushes to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. The ballot measure was approved with 53% of the vote, although it was largely rejected by rural voters and embraced by those in the state’s cities. Proponents said expanding Medicaid during the pandemic will benefit the thousands of families dealing with job losses and economic uncertainty, as well as provide a new influx of federal dollars. But critics said it will create a new expense for the state at a time when tax revenues are down. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch; NPR]
WORK SEARCH | Louisiana is reinstating its requirement that out-of-work people apply for jobs each week and report their efforts to the state’s unemployment office in order to keep getting benefits. A state official said the goal is to get people back into the workforce. In Louisiana, the weekly benefit is one of the lowest in the nation, capped at $247. Critics said it is too soon to make unemployed people report what they are doing to find work. “This is not something the state should be doing in the middle of the worst economic crisis in modern history,” said Jan Moller of the Louisiana Budget Project. [The Advocate/The Times-Picayune]
RESIGNATION | New York City’s health commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, resigned on Tuesday following months of conflict with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, she disagreed with De Blasio’s decision to assign contact tracing responsibilities to the city’s public hospitals instead of to the health department, which has had that responsibility in the past. “I leave my post today with deep disappointment that during the most critical public health crisis in our lifetime, that the health department’s incomparable disease control expertise was not used to the degree it could have been,” Barbot said. City council member Mark Levine, head of the council’s health committee, said her resignation “reflects enormous frustration that global experts in infectious disease are being marginalized in the middle of a pandemic.” [New York Times]
POWER OUTAGE | More than 700,000 Connecticut residents lost power Tuesday following the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaias, which uprooted trees and severed power lines. One power provider in the state on Wednesday said that they are “restoring power but also assessing damage” by sending crews out “street-by-street, reaching out to our communities.” Utilities estimated that 3 million homes and businesses lost power along the east coast. [Hartford Courant; CNN]
MASK HARASSMENT | The mayor of an Oklahoma town filed a police report saying a state representative has been harassing her over her decision to impose a mask mandate for bar and restaurant workers. Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby also sent a letter to House Speaker Charles McCall about her allegations against Rep. Jay Steagall. Steagall said he only approached the mayor “to seek answers and address concerns” from constituents. [The Oklahoman]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.