This Week in Federal Funding

In the July 20 edition we check in with the state and local lead for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a federal watchdog overseeing ARPA programs. Also: the outlook for broadband spending and updates from Massachusetts and Maine.

Maine Has a Dangerous, Small, and Very Itchy Problem

Climate change is keeping temperatures higher in the fall, setting up browntail-moth caterpillars to boom in summer.

As States Ease Covid-19 Mandates, (Some) Legislative Buildings Reopen

State capitols and legislative chambers are beginning to reopen their doors to the public amid increasing vaccination rates and shifting health guidelines.

One State’s Proposal to Regulate—or Recall—Obscene License Plates

Three bills under consideration in Maine would broaden the state’s authority to reject vulgar or obscene vanity license plates, and to recall those already on the road.

Pandemic-Paused Plastic Bag Bans Ripped Anew by Critics

Philadelphia’s bag ban was delayed due to the pandemic, which has derailed similar bans across the country. Eight states have anti-plastic bag laws on the books.

States Debate Improvements to Unemployment Systems

Tech upgrades are bipartisan. Increased benefits are not.

Lawyers Who Were Ineligible to Handle Serious Criminal Charges Were Given Thousands of These Cases Anyway

In the only state with no public defenders, people charged with murder and other serious crimes can get assigned attorneys who are legally ineligible to take on their cases. The state claims it was unaware.

As Coronavirus Continues, State Lawmakers Debate How to Meet Safely

Some state legislative bodies have convened outside, while others anticipate hybrid sessions of in-person and virtual hearings and votes. And at least some states will only be holding typical sessions, with adjustments.

Eleven States Join DOJ in Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Police in Colorado take off-road vehicles to homeless encampment to provide vaccines and Covid tests … Can city recoup cancelled RNC costs? … Colleges require flu shots.

Maine Hires Lawyers With Criminal Records to Defend Its Poorest Residents

Maine is the only state in the country with no public defender system. Instead, legal services for the poor are left to private attorneys, who face disproportionately high amounts of discipline, and an office that doesn’t supervise them.

Texas AG Says He Won’t Resign After Staff Accuse Him of Bribery and Other Wrongdoing

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Thousands of kids in Miami-Dade return to classrooms … Maine’s marijuana industry expected to get off to a sputtering start … de Blasio, Cuomo at odds over shutdown orders in some New York City neighborhoods.

Pandemic’s Uncertainties Hang Heavy Over Small City's Budget

Augusta, Maine has already resorted to layoffs and furloughs to slow spending. Looking ahead, there are still questions about what will happen with badly needed state aid and other revenues.

Court Ruling Clears Way for Ranked-Choice Voting in Presidential Contest in Maine

The state would become the first to allow for the voting method in a presidential election.

Roadkill Dropped During Coronavirus Shutdowns, Study Found

The study, which found a 58% decrease in mountain lions killed by cars, examined crash reports involving large animals and traffic patterns in three states.

Cities Turn to the Sewers to Track the Prevalence of Covid

Testing wastewater samples can give public health officials a heads up that an outbreak is looming, as people infected with SARS-Cov-2 shed the virus in their feces weeks before they begin showing symptoms.

Trump’s Food Aid Program Gives Little Funding to the Northeast, Where Coronavirus Hit Hardest

New York and New England have the most COVID-19 cases but received the second-lowest funding of any region. Maine can’t get any shipments because none of the selected contractors serve the state.

States Take the Reins in Resilience Planning

Governors say states are taking steps to assure their long-term resiliency in the face of worsening climate change—and in the absence of sweeping federal action.

Preventing Discrimination Against Preventive HIV Medication

A proposal before the Maine Legislature would forbid life insurance companies from denying coverage to people who take medication to prevent HIV.

Body Cameras May Not Be the Easy Answer Everyone Was Looking For

Four states last year considered requiring police body cameras.

On the Hunt for Lean Protein, Food Pantries Turn to Hunters

Across the country, hunters donate thousands of pounds of game meat to help stock food pantries in their communities.

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