Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Idaho is the only state that hasn’t signed up for a pandemic food program … Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan rejects a county’s temporary prohibition on in-person classes for private school … Nevada to send out mail-in ballots to all registered voters.
Iowa public school districts that only provide remote learning to students without state approval will find their students don’t get school credit, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday. The state legislature this summer passed a law that Reynolds said means that at least 50% of school time must include in-classroom instruction unless the state approves a waiver. "Schools that choose not to return to school for at least 50% in-person instruction are not defying me, they are defying the law," the governor said. Two school districts so far have resisted that requirement. Urbandale School Board, which runs a year-round elementary school, had asked to continue online only for at least several more weeks, but the state rejected that request. That would require the school to start in-person learning on Friday. “I think morally we are all feeling that it's really not right to think that students can be in school Friday in a building with what we know about community (coronavirus) spread,” said Crista Carlile, Urbandale director of teaching and learning. The board then voted Monday to continue with online despite the state mandate. Another school district also put out a statement saying they dispute the state can mandate how school is offered, saying that is a matter for local control. Several school districts have requested waivers from the state, saying they want to remain online until coronavirus rates are lower. Des Moines Superintendent Tom Ahart said he eventually wants to offer in-person instruction, but the transmission rate first must be lower. If the state rejects his request for a waiver, they might sue or “roll the dice” on a quicker return, he said. [Des Moines Register; Iowa City Press-Citizen]
NO LUNCH IDAHO | Idaho is the only state that didn’t sign onto a program to expand food benefits to families whose children had been getting free or reduced price lunches at school. All of the other states and the District of Columbia signed up for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pandemic EBT program. A spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said the agency is still evaluating the program and should decide on whether to participate this week. [Idaho Statesman]
SCHOOL CLOSURES | Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order banning blanket closures of private schools in response to one county’s order that would require all private schools to close through at least October 1. (The public schools in Montgomery County had already decided to do only remote learning through January 2021.) “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines. The blanket closure mandate … was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer,” Hogan said. [Yahoo News]
MAIL-IN VOTING | Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill to send all eligible voters a mail-in ballot for the November election. "This bill will help prevent Nevadans from experiencing the long lines at polling locations they faced during the primary election, which will protect their safety, safeguard their right to make their voices heard, and help reduce the spread of Covid-19," he tweeted. President Trump threatened to sue the state over the action, calling the bill an “illegal late night coup.” But Nevada’s move follows a handful of other states, including neighboring Utah, that for years have successfully allowed universal mail voting. [The Hill]
MURAL PERMITTING | A mural painted on the streets in Tampa in support of the city’s police department did not go through the proper permitting process. The mural, which reads "Back the Blue," was painted by volunteers unaffiliated with the city’s mural program, said Mayor Jane Castor. “Any tribute to honor their service is welcome. It’s unfortunate they didn’t see the permitting process through,” said Castor. [Tampa Bay Times]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.