Claudette Colvin, port penalties, bay renewal: News from around our 50 states

·55 min read

Alabama

Montgomery: Months before Rosa Parks became the mother of the modern civil rights movement by refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus, Black teenager Claudette Colvin did the same, in the same city. Convicted of assaulting a police officer while being arrested, she was placed on probation but never received notice that she’d finished the term and was on safe ground legally. Now 82 and slowed by age, Colvin has asked a judge to end the matter once and for all. She wants a court in Montgomery to wipe away a record that her lawyer said has cast a shadow over the life of a largely unsung hero of the civil rights era. “I am an old woman now. Having my records expunged will mean something to my grandchildren and great grandchildren. And it will mean something for other Black children,” Colvin said in a sworn statement. Supporters sang civil rights anthems and clapped as Colvin entered the clerk’s office and filed the expungement request Tuesday. Her attorney, Phillip Ensler, said he was seeking all legal documents to be sealed and all records of the case erased. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey later said he agreed with the request to clear Colvin’s record, removing any doubt it would be approved. “I guess you can say that now I am no longer a juvenile delinquent,” Colvin told a crowd that included relatives, well-wishers and activists.

Alaska

Juneau: The Legislature is in special session, but it’s quiet at the Capitol, where many legislative offices have been dark, floor sessions in some cases have lasted seconds, and little progress has been made toward resolving the state’s fiscal issues. Since the session started Oct. 4 in Juneau, House committees have had five meetings on fiscal-related topics, all in Anchorage; the Senate has had no such hearings. “I don’t think it’s making a lot of sense to be here doing what we’re doing right now. So if we’re not going to do anything, gavel out,” said Rep. DeLena Johnson, R-Palmer, one of four House members present last week for a so-called technical floor session held to satisfy a meeting requirement but at which no business is taken up. Outside the first day, there has been one regular floor session. That was in the House, and after bill introductions, much of the time was spent on speeches, some memorializing people who died recently, others on topics like COVID-19 vaccines. There has been interest in finding a long-term solution to a yearly, divisive fight over what size dividend to pay residents from the state’s oil wealth. A legislative working group recommended a constitutional guarantee of a dividend as part of a package with elements including new revenue, budget reductions and a revised spending limit. The recommendations weren’t binding.

Arizona

Phoenix: Activists protested outside a wedding where U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was officiating over the weekend – the latest confrontation between demonstrators and the Arizona Democrat who opposes key parts of President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change package. A video posted to YouTube shows the bride’s mother tearfully pleading with protesters not to disrupt her daughter’s wedding, which was held at an outdoor venue separated by a wall from a public street in Bisbee, Arizona. Several demonstrators yell at the mother until one peacemaker suggests they walk quietly with their signs so the wedding can begin. At one point, the bride says: “Thanks for ruining my wedding. I really appreciate it.” Among the costumed guests at the wedding were people wearing Native American costumes with a headdress and face paint. “While the Senator knows the bride and groom, she does not know and did not interact with the wedding guests who wore disrespectful and racist costumes to the ceremony, and she strongly condemns such behavior,” Sinema spokeswoman Hannah Hurley said in an email to the Arizona Daily Star. Sinema has faced mounting pressure from Democratic activists over her refusal to eliminate the filibuster and her work to scale back a spending package that started at $3.5 trillion.

Arkansas

Springdale: Meatpacking giant Tyson Foods says more than 96% of its workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the company’s Nov. 1 deadline for them to do so. The Springdale-based company said the number of its 120,000 workers who have been inoculated has nearly doubled since it announced its mandate Aug. 3, when just 50% of Tyson employees had gotten their shots. “This is an incredible result – not only for our company, but for your families and our communities across the country, ” Tyson President and CEO Donnie King said in a note to employees Tuesday. Tyson, which has long been dealing with worker shortages, said employees who don’t get vaccinated before the company’s deadline will be fired, but the former employees will be welcomed back if they do get inoculated later. “Our doors are open,” King wrote. Spokesman Gary Mickelson said very few employees had left the company over the mandate. The industry was hit hard by the pandemic in spring 2020 when the coronavirus tore through meatpacking plants and forced many to close temporarily because so many workers became ill or had to quarantine. King said Tyson saw a significant decline in virus cases in its workforce as more employees got vaccinated. Tyson remains the only major company in the meatpacking industry to require vaccinations.

California

Los Angeles: In an effort to ease congestion at the nation’s busiest port complex, officials said Monday that they will start fining shipping companies whose cargo containers linger for too long at marine terminals. The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said in a statement that arriving containers scheduled to be moved by trucks will be allowed to stay for nine days before fines start accruing. Containers set to move by rail can stay at the ports for three days. After that, ocean carriers will be charged $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day, the statement said. The new rules will go into effect Nov. 1. “The terminals are running out of space, and this will make room for the containers sitting on those ships at anchor,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said in the statement. It’s the latest step aimed at relieving the logjam of cargo ships that has interrupted the global supply chain. The backlog prompted the Biden administration to allow the port complex to operate 24 hours a day to try to get goods unloaded and out to consumers. About 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S. come through the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Colorado

Leadville: After spending hours looking for a hiker who was unknowingly the subject of a search and rescue effort, a search team is urging people who are late in returning from the outdoors to answer their phones if they get repeated calls from an unknown number. According to the Lake County team, it made multiple unsuccessful attempts via cellphone to reach a person reported overdue from a hike on Mount Elbert on Oct. 18, leading rescuers to launch a search that night. Not long after rescuers resumed their search around daybreak the following day, the overdue hiker, who was not identified, was independently able to find a way off the mountain, the state’s tallest, and drive back to a lodging site, the team said in a Facebook post Thursday. The person who reported the hiker overdue notified authorities. The team said one takeaway was that the “subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number.” However, in response to questions from commenters, one team member acknowledged that it was not known if the hiker had the phone’s ringer and notifications turned off. The member said the team also sent texts to the hiker.

Connecticut

Bridgeport: A former marina owner was sentenced Monday to two years of probation and fined $45,000 for intentionally sinking abandoned boats in Long Island Sound. John Magness, 72, of Bristol, Maine, pleaded guilty last November to a federal charge of obstructing navigable waters by sinking a vessel. Magness was in the process of selling the Bluefish Cove Marina in Bridgeport in 2018 when he made a deal with an employee and another man to scuttle several sailboats and motorboats that had been abandoned at the marina, prosecutors said. Investigators discovered that at least five boats were sunk between Black Rock Harbor and the Pennfield Reef Lighthouse at Magness’ request between October 2018 and April 2019, prosecutors said. The two other men involved, Peter Albrecht, of Norwalk, and Carlos Santos, of Westbrook, each previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and were each sentenced to a year of probation. Prosecutors said Magness agreed to forgive Santos’ unpaid dockage fees in exchange for his help sinking the vessels.

Delaware

Wilmington: The death of an 18-year-old who was shot Sunday night marked a grim milestone for the city, bringing the total number of people killed by gunfire this year up to the level for all of 2017, Wilmington’s deadliest year on record. The teen, whom police identified Tuesday as Zion Davis-Shelton, was the 32nd person to die by gunfire this year in Wilmington, according to police. In 2017, the city’s deadliest year for gunfire, 35 homicides were recorded – one by stabbing and two by drowning. While the total number of people shot so far this year, 133, is down from 2017, which saw a total of 197 shot, 2021 is on track to be a deadlier year for gunfire. In a statement, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy in part blamed the number of illegal guns on the street for the violence. Already this year, he said, his officers have made more than 250 gun arrests, “on pace with last year’s record-breaking numbers and leaps and bounds over the totals we saw in years past.” Mayor Mike Purzycki said in a statement that he grieves for the victims’ families and that the two young men killed over the weekend – another 18-year-old was fatally shot about a day before Davis-Shelton – “are a grim reminder that while so much good is taking place in the city, there is too much isolation from healthy societal norms among our young men.”

District of Columbia

Washington: A coyote was recently spotted on a wildlife camera in Rock Creek Park, WUSA-TV reports. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo posted an image of the female coyote on its Facebook page, saying it was part of the Snapshot USA project, a nationwide study using camera traps in suburban, rural, wild and urban areas across all 50 states. The zoo said conservation biologist Tremie Greogry would upload images into the Wildlife Insights database, which is the world’s largest camera trap database. Anyone can upload analyze and share camera trap photos with the conservation community in order to sample mammal populations. The Smithsonian Zoo said the eastern coyote captured in the photo is a recent arrival to Rock Creek, migrating to the area around 2016. The National Park Service has said the first recorded sighting of a coyote in the park was in May 2004. Last year, a coyote was spotted on the National Mall, and another coyote had to be killed after it attacked three people in the Rockville area.

Florida

Miami: The state’s surgeon general said that conversations while wearing masks aren’t productive and that he offered to meet elsewhere when a state senator didn’t let him in her office without a mask, citing a serious health condition. Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in a statement released Tuesday that he offered to meet outside or in a hallway for his scheduled meeting last week with Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky. He said he doesn’t believe he can communicate clearly and effectively while wearing a mask. Polsky was not satisfied, he said. “Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist,” Ladapo said in a statement posted on Twitter. The incident drew broad attention over the weekend after Polsky revealed that she had breast cancer, though at the time of the meeting last Wednesday she hadn’t disclosed that publicly and told Lapado only that she had a serious health condition. Ladapo said in his statement that he’s “saddened” by that news and wished her “blessings and strength.” Polsky said in a statement that Ladapo’s excuse for not wanting to wear a mask was “absurd” and “insulting.” She said that after the meeting was abruptly canceled, Ladapo was heard saying to his aides that he was “having fun” arguing with the senator.

Georgia

Atlanta: Faced with deadlocked jurors, a judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case of three former sheriff’s deputies accused of murdering a Black man whom they had repeatedly shocked with stun guns during a 2017 arrest. Senior Judge H. Gibbs Flanders Jr. granted the defense motions for mistrials on the charges against Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott in the death of Eurie Martin, 58. The jury foreman told the judge that no jurors in the Sandersville courtroom had changed their minds since Friday, the first day of deliberations, and that more time was unlikely to lead to the unanimity needed for convictions or acquittals. Martin had a history of schizophrenia and was walking through the central Georgia town of Deepstep on a scorching day in July 2017, taking a 30-mile journey to see his relatives for his birthday. A resident called 911 to report Martin as suspicious after he approached the person and asked for a drink of water. Responding officers said Martin refused to stop walking, threw down a soda can and took an aggressive stance, prompting them to fire their stun guns when he didn’t follow instructions. Beyond murder, the fired deputies faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, simple assault and reckless conduct.

Hawaii

Honolulu: Some Native Hawaiians are objecting to President Joe Biden’s choice for U.S. attorney in the 50th state, saying Clare Connors treated dozens of elders like criminals when her office prosecuted them for blocking a road while protesting the construction of a mountaintop telescope. “She has acted aggressively towards the Hawaiian people during all of our stand for Mauna Kea,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the protest leaders. Pisciotta and other Native Hawaiians who oppose the telescope believe the summit of Mauna Kea is sacred. They say building the Thirty Meter Telescope on the state’s tallest mountain would further desecrate a place already defiled by a dozen other observatories. The 38 Native Hawaiian elders prosecuted for obstruction were in their 60s through 80s, and many of them are community leaders. Pisciotta said she’s concerned about Connors being named U.S. attorney because Native Hawaiians have been deprived of their land and their right to self-determination since the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. “I think of her as a danger to many situations in Hawaii because she doesn’t have to seem to have the compassion or the aloha that is needed considering our political situation,” Pisciotta said.

Idaho

Boise: A federal court has rejected a request by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, which argues its rights were violated while campaigning at a school on Election Day. The court last week denied the committee’s request to grant a permanent injunction that would have forced the Coeur d’Alene School District to allow groups to hand out election materials on school grounds even if they interfered with kids getting to school. The court didn’t rule on the merits of the case, which continues. But the court found that the group was unlikely to win the case because, among other things, it misinterpreted Idaho’s campaign-free-zone election law. Specifically, the committee argues that it can hand out election materials anywhere on school grounds as long as the group is more than 100 feet from the building where voting is taking place. While campaigning is allowed at schools, the district contends it can prevent electioneering within 100 feet of campus grounds if groups are interfering with kids going to class. “While Plaintiffs seemingly believe that Idaho (law) is meant to protect their right to electioneer 101 feet or more from the polling place, the language of the statute instead illustrates that it is meant to protect voters from interference,” Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye wrote.

Illinois

Springfield: The state Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a law requiring that parents or guardians be notified when girls younger than 18 are seeking an abortion. Building on momentum among abortion rights activists after September’s Texas “heartbeat” law banned most of the procedures there, Democrats who control the General Assembly in Illinois want to dump the 1995 law requiring notification, which both sides of the debate call the last restriction on abortions in the state. But with a 32-22 tally in favor of repeal, the count fell short of approval of all who make up the Democrats’ 41-18 advantage, showing the reticence among moderate Democrats on a law whose proposed repeal now moves to the House with two days left in the General Assembly’s fall session. Republicans have repeatedly pointed out that notification has the support of nearly three-quarters of Illinoisans responding to a poll conducted last spring. And they publicized the nearly 50,000 notices of opposition filed electronically before the vote. Opponents say the notification law, adopted by GOP majorities in 1995 but not in effect until 2013 amid legal challenges, is a means of denying abortion rights to teenagers by delaying the procedure. They say it’s a hindrance to those who live in abusive environments and are intimidated by an alternative process – pleading their case to a judge.

Indiana

Indianapolis: An external review of state police agencies found they need to bolster the recruitment and promotion of minority and female officers and increase training about racial bias. The findings are part of a 100-page report released Monday that was commissioned by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb following demonstrations across the country and state last year protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The consulting firm Hillard Heintze acknowledged attempts by Indiana State Police to recruit more diverse officer candidates, while citing that white men made up more than 80% of promotions and reassignments in 2018-20. One agency strategy of sending white officers to barbershops and restaurants in predominately Black communities to talk about the job was viewed as “offensive or patronizing” by some Black ISP officers, according to the report. “The ISP provides its members with cultural awareness education and training taught by command-level personnel, demonstrating its importance to the organization. However, this training does not include a discussion of implicit bias or actions officers could take to reduce the influence of implicit bias when interacting with their colleagues and community members,” the study said.

Iowa

Iowa City: A woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted at a University of Iowa fraternity is suing two men and the fraternity. The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges two members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, also known as Iowa FIJI, assaulted her at a party at the fraternity in September 2020. She also alleges the assault was filmed and photographed, with the images widely circulated. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the two men and the fraternity. It also names Mu Deuteron, the corporate entity under which FIJI’s chapter at the school operates, and the Phi Gamma Delta Educational Foundation, a nonprofit based in Kentucky. The two men were expelled from the fraternity. The lack of charges prompted several protests on the University of Iowa campus, including on Aug. 31, when about 1,000 people gathered outside the fraternity house and a second location calling for action on the case and to abolish the fraternity. An online petition making similar demands had more than 167,000 signatures as of Tuesday.

Kansas

Belle Plaine: A sheriff’s deputy caught on dashcam video running over a Black man who was fleeing shirtless across a field is now working at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility while under criminal investigation, according to the attorney for the injured man. Lionel Womack, a former police detective from Kansas City, Kansas, alleges in an excessive-force lawsuit filed last year that Kiowa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeremy Rodriguez intentionally drove over him during the Aug. 15, 2020, incident that was captured on dashcam video. Womack says he sustained serious injuries to his back, pelvis, and right thigh, knee and foot. In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, Rodriguez denied he intentionally swerved his truck to run over Womack. The deputy said he learned later that Womack did not possess a weapon. Rodriguez is currently under criminal investigation by federal and state authorities over the incident. Attorney Michael Kuckelman, who represents Womack, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Kansas Secretary of Corrections Jefferey Zmuda and Warden Dan Schnurr that he was “shocked” to learn in a deposition that they would employ Rodriguez, who works as a master sergeant at the facility.

Kentucky

Louisville: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library book gifting program is expanding throughout Kentucky, the state’s Department of Education announced Tuesday. With the goal of inspiring a love of reading, the voluntary program gives books each month to children from infancy to 5 years old, free of charge to families, through funding shared by Parton, Kentucky’s state government and community partners. “I’m so excited and want to thank everyone partnering with us to make more dreams come true for children and families in Kentucky,” said Parton, a country music icon, actress and philanthropist from neighboring Tennessee. State funding will help increase registration in existing Kentucky Imagination Library programs and find community partners to start new ones, the state said.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge: The state will receive $595 million in federal disaster block grant aid to help with housing restoration and other recovery needs from last year’s back-to-back blows of hurricanes Laura and Delta, Louisiana’s U.S. senators announced Tuesday. While welcomed by officials as critical to rebuilding efforts in southwest Louisiana, the money falls far short of the multibillion-dollar estimates of need, offering only about 20% of the $3 billion in assistance requested by Gov. John Bel Edwards. It also comes 14 months after Laura wrecked the Lake Charles region – a delay that had locals questioning whether the nation had forgotten them. “It has been over a year since Louisiana was hammered by Hurricane Laura and this relief has taken far too long,” Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said in a statement. “This funding is a welcome first step, but there is more work to be done to return southwest Louisiana to wholeness.” GOP U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said the money will provide “a helping hand as we rebuild” but said residents “are still reeling.” Edwards said Louisiana already is drafting its spending proposal for submission once the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issues its regulations. But the Democratic governor also suggested the state will be requesting more federal assistance.

Maine

Augusta: The governor has announced a series of programs including tuition forgiveness to help the state navigate a need for more health care workers. One of the programs will provide $4 million in tuition support via scholarships and student loan relief to help students pursuing careers in nursing and other health professions, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Monday. The state will also use $8.5 million for tuition forgiveness to provide money to health care employers and workers to help the workers gain new skills and earn advanced credentials, she said. Another program will use $1.5 million to create a public service campaign to promote health care professions and try to recruit people into the fields, Mills said. The Democratic governor said the state will implement the moves by the end of the year. Maine has lost jobs during the pandemic, and more than 10% of that loss has come in the health care workforce. Health care facilities across the state “have had to grapple with a shortage of workers, and the pandemic has only made the problem worse,” Mills said.

Maryland

Annapolis: A congressman announced Wednesday that he has deactivated his official congressional and campaign Facebook and Instagram accounts until their parent company and Congress make substantial reforms to protect children, health and democratic values. Democratic U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger said his decision follows disturbing whistleblower reports about the company’s own research revealing harm to democracy, the mental health of teens and the amplification of hate speech. In a news release, Ruppersberger cited a report in The Washington Post that Facebook’s algorithm at one time treated “angry” reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” disproportionately promoting content that was likely to include “misinformation, toxicity and low-quality news.” “Facebook’s basic business model sows division and disinformation and I can no longer use it – and promote it from my official mediums – in good conscience for the time being,” Ruppersberger said. “While Facebook must do better to police themselves, Congress must also act and pass reasonable social media reforms.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously disputed portrayals of the company as one that puts profit over the well-being of its users or pushes divisive content. Ruppersberger said his Twitter account will remain active. He also emphasized that he and his staff are available to take constituents’ calls, emails – even faxes.

Massachusetts

Boston: Officials are weighing creating a commission to account for the city’s role in slavery and potentially provide reparations to Black residents. The City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights held a hearing Tuesday to hear from Black community activists, academics and the public on how the city can approach the issue. Dr. Jemadari Kamara, a professor of Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, was among a number of people who spoke in favor of forming a commission on reparations, noting that San Francisco and other major cities have already taken similar steps. Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition that’s been pushing for years for the city to recognize its role in the slave trade, was among those who stressed that the Black community needs to drive the reparations process. “Any committee must be Black-led and Black-controlled,” he said. “Let Black people lead on the issue.” Many of those testifying said racist policies that persisted in Boston long after slavery ended have led to wide disparities in family incomes, homeownership and other measures between Black and white residents. The city was rocked by violent, racial protests in the 1970s and 1980s as public schools were forcibly desegregated through court order.

Michigan

Lansing: The state Senate on Tuesday passed legislation that would eliminate the so-called tampon tax on menstrual products, sending the bill to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign it into law. Michigan would join over 20 other states that have either ended the sales tax on menstrual products or never had one, according to Period Equity, a legal organization that advocates for making menstrual products tax-exempt. Though several bills to end the tampon tax were introduced in the Legislature in the past five years, none of those bills made it to a floor vote. Both chambers in the Republican-controlled Legislature have voted in the past month to approve lifting the tax. The Democratic governor has backed efforts to abolish the tax in Michigan. One of the sponsors of the bills passed Tuesday, Sen. Winnie Brinks, said it’s been a long road to get the elimination of the tampon tax this far, but she is thankful for everyone who has supported the effort in the past. “This is a commonsense move that will reduce an unfair tax burden that is placed on only half of Michigan’s population for a significant portion of our lives,” the Grand Rapids Democrat said. “These bills will move Michigan toward a fairer tax structure, which is a goal I think we all share regardless of which side of the aisle we sit on.”

Minnesota

Minneapolis: The case of a man who waited two days for an intensive care bed and later died is among several examples that have frustrated officials in rural hospitals whose facilities are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Bob Cameron, 87, spent two days in his hometown hospital in Hallock, Minnesota, where caregivers searched nonstop for space in a larger hospital that could find and fix the source of his severe gastrointestinal bleeding and treat his COVID-19. The bleeding exhausted the hospital’s blood supply, so state troopers shuttled new units 130 miles from Fargo, North Dakota, to Hallock to keep Cameron alive. A bed was secured Oct. 12 at Sanford Health in Fargo, but his condition worsened after surgery there to find the source of his bleeding. He died Oct. 13, the Star Tribune reports. “We can’t say for certain, of course, that if he got to an ICU bed sooner that he would have survived, but we just feel in our hearts that he would have,” said Cameron’s granddaughter, Janna Curry. During a three-week stretch this month, rural hospitals were caring for more COVID-19 patients than Twin Cities hospitals. “We’re playing tag back and forth between Aitkin, Crosby, Brainerd and Princeton,” said Dr. Arden Virnig, supervisor of a five-bed ER at Mille Lacs Health System in Onamia, Minnesota.

Mississippi

Madison: A racially diverse school in central Mississippi is honoring its namesake – a woman who was a leader in ensuring Black children received education when the state was deeply segregated. Descendants of Rosa Scott were on campus Monday at Rosa Scott High School, a campus for about 400 ninth graders in the Madison County School District. “Because of her, many African American children began to be educated,” Scott’s great-granddaughter, Maryann Gaylor Kennedy, told WLBT-TV. Scott was born in 1874, was educated at Fisk University, and worked as a teacher and principal in Madison County. She led an effort to raise money for a school that opened in Madison in the 1920s. Scott died in 1938, and her gravesite is part of the courtyard on the current campus. When a new school was built in 1959, it was named for Scott. During the ceremony Monday, principals, educators and alumni talked about the school’s impact and Scott’s mission of advancement. Her family gave the school a copy of Scott’s biography written by one of her granddaughters, Rose Mary Collum Gaylor. Students designed a flag for the school, giving replicas to the family. “Rosa Scott was a powerhouse,” another of her granddaughters, Margaret Bernstein, told WJTV-TV. “She really understood that education is the key to success, and she wanted to unlock that for Black children, so that’s why it was important to be here today.”

Missouri

St. Louis: A man alleges in a lawsuit that police officers punched, kicked and stomped on him before illegally searching the apartment he shared with his girlfriend after claiming he had committed a minor traffic violation. The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday on behalf of Tranell Stewart, 38, and his former girlfriend, Lisa Jones, against five Maryland Heights police officers and the city of Maryland Heights, a St. Louis suburb. It accuses the officers of unlawful seizure, excessive force and unlawful search. It also accuses the city of liability, charging that Maryland Heights has not addressed years of police stopping and searching Black motorists at rates far above their representation in the city. The city, the police department and the police union did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Stewart pulled into the parking lot of his apartment complex Oct. 26, 2016. Officer David Devouton pulled behind his car and told him he had failed to use his turn signal, which Stewart denied, according to the lawsuit. When Stewart tried to get out of his car to get to his infant son from the back seat, Devouton grabbed Stewart’s hair and tried to pull him to the ground, saying, “You’re going to die today,” the lawsuit says. Stewart said he suffered a fractured nose, a black eye, and emotional pain and fear.

Montana

Helena: A preliminary report on an Amtrak train derailment last month that killed three people and injured dozens more offered no clues about what triggered the accident but said that the train’s emergency brakes were activated and that Amtrak estimated the damage at more than $22 million. However, one attorney whose client is suing Amtrak and BNSF Railway said he wanted to learn more about the crashworthiness of the train’s observation car, and an attorney for a crew member said she reported seeing a 30-foot dip along the railroad, where it appeared the track bed had given way. The National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report Tuesday on the Sept. 25 derailment of the westbound Empire Builder just west of Joplin, in north-central Montana. It was mostly factual, saying that there were 154 people on board and that 44 passengers and crew were taken to area hospitals with injuries. Passengers without serious injuries were bused to the nearby town of Chester, where residents provided food and other aid. The train was traveling at between 75 and 78 miles per hour, just below the speed limit of 79 mph on that section of track, when its emergency brakes were activated. The two locomotives and two railcars remained on the rails, and eight cars derailed.

Nebraska

Omaha: Gov. Pete Ricketts has split with former President Donald Trump over which Republican candidate should become his successor as governor. Trump on Monday endorsed Falls City businessman Charles Herbster, a close political ally. Shortly after the announcement, Ricketts released a statement arguing that Herbster isn’t qualified to serve in the role. “While I agree with President Trump on many things, I strongly disagree that Charles Herbster is qualified to be our next governor,” said Ricketts, who can’t seek reelection in 2022 due to term limits. In a statement, Trump praised Herbster as “an extraordinarily successful businessman who will fight for our farmers and ranchers, support our military and vets, and protect and defend your under siege Second Amendment rights.” Ricketts hasn’t formally endorsed a candidate in the GOP governor’s primary race, but he has made several public appearances with University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, and several of his close political allies work on Pillen’s campaign. Several other other Republicans have launched campaigns, including state Sen. Brett Lindstrom, of Omaha, and Breland Ridenour, an information technology manager. Former Gov. Dave Heineman has said he may run as well, as has Herbster’s former running mate, former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau.

Nevada

Las Vegas: A private-public partnership has expanded a local program providing mobile shower trailers for homeless people through the Clean the World nonprofit, officials said. Clark County, Caesars Entertainment and the Caesars Foundation announced a three-year commitment Monday to split what Clean the World founder and CEO Shawn Seipler said is about a $250,000-a-year cost. Trailers offer four individual shower stalls with a toilet and sink, and users are provided hygiene kits including soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste. One stall is compliant with disability accessibility requirements. Visits usually last 20 to 30 minutes. Clean the World trailers have made the rounds in southern Nevada since 2017, providing some 28,000 showers and 30,000 hygiene kits, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Trailers typically park for about four hours at nonprofit service centers in and around the city. Seipler said shower users might also seek help with job placement, drug rehabilitation, mental health care or legal issues. “As folks come to us to shower on a regular basis, they start to build relationships with those that are there,” he said. Partner agencies sometimes also offer health screenings, vaccinations for hepatitis and COVID-19, along with other services.

New Hampshire

Concord: A drive-in theater and a bandstand are among the historic properties on this year’s “Seven to Save” list from the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. The list, announced Tuesday, highlights vulnerable historic resources and related threats to community life and economic well-being. The Weirs Drive-In Theater and surrounding land are on the list. It’s the largest of three remaining drive-in theaters in the state and is currently for sale. The theater stands on land that was heavily used by Indigenous people for fishing-related activities as much as 10,000 years ago. Also on the list is the Milford Bandstand, which was built on the town’s Oval in 1896 for the Milford Cornet Band’s summer concerts. “This significant Victorian bandstand now requires extensive renovation to continue to serve future generations as a focal point for community gatherings and activities,” the alliance said in a news release. Two Cornish Colony properties in transition share a spot on the list: the Blow-Me-Down Farm and the Percy MacKaye Home. Opera North is renovating part of the farm, and descendants of MacKaye are seeking new preservation/stewardship solutions for his home and studio. Also listed are the United Baptist Church in Laconia, built in 1892; the Wilder-Holton House in Lancaster, built in 1780; and the Newington Railroad Depot, built in 1873. The alliance also is featuring a thematic listing of the state’s historic theaters, many of which were already struggling when the pandemic struck.

New Jersey

Berkeley Township: Governments, academics and scientists are proposing an ambitious effort to improve the health of Barnegat Bay, a fragile waterway that “has been loved to death.” The Barnegat Bay Partnership, a constellation of groups dedicated to helping the bay, on Tuesday unveiled a detailed and far-reaching plan to improve water quality, increase the number of days that bay beaches are open for swimming, increase the amount of shellfish, and address an explosion of jellyfish in the bay that are making parts of it difficult to use. Officials from federal, state and local governments signed the pledge, but it remains to be seen what, if any, specific actions will be taken in furtherance of those goals. “The Barnegat Bay in its current state is a jewel of the Jersey Shore, but it has some serious problems,” said Stan Hales, director of the partnership. “The bay has been loved to death.” Environmentalists and government officials have long recognized threats to Barnegat Bay, including rampant development along its shorelines and interior watershed areas, as well as the resulting flow of pesticides and nitrogen from lawn fertilizer and agricultural uses that makes its way into the bay. That helps contribute to decreased oxygen levels, which harms fish, shellfish and plant life and can turbocharge jellyfish populations, which thrive in degraded water.

New Mexico

Albuquerque: It’s been years in the making, and now officials say the first leg of a major renewable energy transmission line has been energized. The New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority made the announcement Tuesday, saying the Western Spirit project is expected to be in operation by the end of the year. The transmission line will carry wind-generated power to the grid in New Mexico and other Western markets. The project involved a novel public-private partnership between the transmission authority and Pattern Energy, which is developing a collection of wind farms in the state. New Mexico’s largest electric utility, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, will acquire and operate the transmission line when it’s complete. State officials said the transmission line will be important as New Mexico aims to eliminate carbon emissions within the utility sector over the next two decades. RETA Board Chairman Robert Busch said in a statement that the successful development of the transmission line and the state’s energy policies are spurring interest from renewable energy and transmission developers. He said the line enables new investment of more than $1.5 billion in renewable generation and transmission in the state.

New York

New York: Mayoral candidates lobbed accusations at each other about palling around with gangsters and acting like children or clowns, but their second debate ended on a surprisingly tender note involving cats and veganism. A week before the city of 8.8 million people votes to pick a new mayor, Democrat Eric Adams and Republican Curtis Sliwa laid out their plans Tuesday for addressing rising violent crime and how to chart a path out of the pandemic’s deadly wake. It was the second meeting between Adams, the Brooklyn Borough president and former New York City police captain who is widely expected to win the election in the heavily Democratic city, and Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels anti-crime patrol who’s known for his signature red beret, streetwise proclamations and penchant for stunts. On the pandemic, Adams supports a mandate from outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio that city workers such as police officers and firefighters get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave. But Adams said he would have had more discussions with the workers’ unions before announcing the policy. The rivals were asked to pay each other compliments as they wrapped up the debate. Adams complimented Sliwa for adopting and rescuing cats, 16 of which he and his wife keep in their small Manhattan apartment. Sliwa praised Adams for promoting his vegan lifestyle, saying it “has already probably helped dozens, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of people.”

North Carolina

Raleigh: Dozens of residents have weighed in to say Republicans should shelve proposed congressional district maps that would likely give the GOP the most seats for the foreseeable future while needlessly fracturing the state’s largest counties. Republicans and Democrats have spent the past few weeks creating separate redistricting maps. During the first of two days of public hearings on them, speakers criticized GOP proposals that could make at least 10 of the state’s 14 U.S. House districts favorable to Republican candidates. Republicans currently hold an 8-5 advantage in the state’s congressional ranks, but North Carolina will get another member through at least 2032 because of population gains recorded by the 2020 census. Maps most favorable to Republicans would split predominantly Democratic Mecklenburg and Wake counties among at least three districts, some of which would spill into more conservative and rural surrounding counties, thereby making it harder for Democrats to win. “This is not fair, since North Carolina is a half-and-half state with the two parties,” Kathy Wheeler of Guilford County told redistricting committee members at the Legislative Building. “The maps proposed by Republican members dilute Democratic votes and deprive communities of effective representation.”

North Dakota

Bismarck: Enrollment declines at the state’s institutions of higher learning since the COVID-19 pandemic began haven’t been as steep as elsewhere, and some have bucked the trend entirely. According to a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, enrollment across the country at colleges and universities is down 6.5% compared to two years ago – the largest two-year enrollment drop in the past 50 years. North Dakota’s numbers haven’t been nearly so steep, and in the case of some universities, including Dickinson State University, enrollment has increased, KFYR-TV reports. “Students that are interested or deciding to go college, that number is kind of going down. But we, in this specific area of the country, don’t have that quite as much as other areas. So we still have a pretty good pool of students that are graduating and going to college,” said Stephanie Osborne, DSU’s admissions director. Overall, North Dakota colleges and universities experienced a 3.4% decrease in enrollment from 2019 and a 1.4% decrease from 2020. Other schools that have actually seen enrollment increases since 2019 include Dakota College at Bottineau, Valley City State University and the University of North Dakota.

Ohio

Columbus: The state is adjusting its quarantine recommendations for schools in hopes of keeping students and educators in class more even if they’re exposed to someone with the coronavirus in a school setting or activity. The guidance is optional for schools and applies only when direct exposure happens in a school environment, not outside school. Under the “mask to stay” part of the approach, even exposed students who were unmasked and unvaccinated could remain in class rather than quarantining at home as long as they wear a mask for 14 days after their last exposure, monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested if they have symptoms. If they don’t develop symptoms and test negative for the virus between the fifth and seventh days, they could stop those extra precautions. The other part of the guidance, dubbed “test to play,” allows asymptomatic contacts to keep participating in extracurricular activities if they wear a mask when able and get tested both when they’re notified they’ve been exposed to the virus and again between the fifth and seventh day. A negative result on that second test would allow them to resume normal activity after the seventh day. The guidance also encourages districts to consider same-day testing for athletic competitions with potential for school-to-school exposure.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: A federal judge ruled Monday that the state can move forward with scheduled lethal injections for five death row inmates, including Julius Jones, whose case has drawn international attention and who is scheduled to die Nov. 28. Judge Stephen Friot denied a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by the five inmates, paving the way for the state to proceed with seven lethal injections scheduled over the next six months. The state is scheduled to conduct its first execution in more than six years Thursday, when John Marion Grant, 60, is set to receive a lethal injection for the 1998 killing of a prison cafeteria worker. Grant, Jones and three other death row inmates were removed from a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s three-drug lethal injection protocol because none of the five offered an alternative method of execution. A trial on that challenge is scheduled before Friot in February. “The case is complete in this court as to these five plaintiffs,” Friot said. Twenty-six of the 32 Oklahoma death row inmates who were on the original challenge provided the court with an alternative method of execution, including the use of different drug combinations or firing squad. Attorneys for the five inmates vowed to immediately appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Oregon

Portland: The city’s school board ended an in-person meeting amid controversy over a proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children 12 and older after unmasked protesters showed up and refused to don face coverings. The board that oversees the state’s largest school district resumed its meeting with online streaming Tuesday after protesters refused to comply with requests from security guards to put on masks, according to a statement from Portland Public Schools. Some of the protesters were not from Portland but traveled from elsewhere in Oregon and Washington state, The Oregonian/OregonLive reports. Conversely, earlier in the day, about 500 students walked out of class in support of the proposed vaccine mandate. Rules to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in schools, such as a statewide school mask mandate for all children, have generated protests in other districts and school boards, and superintendents are often the focus of such actions. In Redmond, critics of state mandates have crowded board meetings and dominated public comment periods. In Adrian, school board members voted to fire Superintendent Kevin Purnell when he refused to buck state policy, the newspaper reports. The Portland school board is set to vote on the vaccine mandate for students older than 12 on Nov. 2.

Pennsylvania

Harrisburg: Prosecutors have dropped a felony theft charge against a man who underpaid for a bottle of Mountain Dew by 43 cents. Perry County prosecutors dropped the theft charge this month against Joseph Sobolewski, 38, and downgraded another charge, the Patriot-News reports. In August, Sobolewski went into an Exxon in Duncannon and saw a sign advertising two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles for $3, he said. He took one bottle, slapped $2 on the counter for what he thought was a $1.50 soda and walked out, not realizing the discount did not apply to a single bottle. The bottle really cost $2.29, so including tax, he owed the store 43 cents. State police found Sobolewski and arrested him on a felony charge. A judge ordered him held on $50,000 cash-only bond. He was in jail for seven days before his public defender successfully argued for his release, the newspaper reports. Sobolewski had twice in the past 10 years been charged with theft, once for not paying for a tank of gas and another time for stealing a pair of shoes from a store. Under Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law, a third theft charge must be a felony, regardless of the amount or value involved. He faced up to seven years in prison.

Rhode Island

Providence: The land where the Rhode Island Narragansett tribe survived near-annihilation in a battle with English colonists in 1675 has been transferred to the tribe. The transfer of the land from the Rhode Island Historical Society was finalized Friday. Tribal members gathered Saturday in the woods in South Kingstown at a monument commemorating what they believe to be the site of the Great Swamp Massacre, The Public’s Radio reports. They lit three fires representing the past, present and future and recognized the return of 5 acres of land they consider sacred. The tribe’s leaders in 1636 granted land to Roger Williams, an exile of the Puritan Massachusetts Bay colony who founded what became the city of Providence. Good relations with English colonists ended in the 1670s when the tribe was nearly destroyed in King Philip’s War. The battle was fought Dec. 19, 1675. Hundreds of tribal members were killed. In 1906, the family that owned the land gave it to the historical society to preserve it. The society has been working on the transfer for four years so the tribe itself could protect the land. It required court approval because the land was held in a trust. The Narragansetts are thankful, the tribe’s medicine man and historic preservation officer, John Brown III, told The Boston Globe. “For many years, the Narragansetts were visitors to a place that was theirs,” he said. “Now that this has happened, we know we can go back to a place of our forefathers, where there was happiness and sorrow, and we can go there as rightful owners.”

South Carolina

Columbia: The acting head of the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice says she faces a staffing crisis, with few applicants for hundreds of vacancies. Juvenile Justice corrections officers get $35,000 a year to start, but the shifts are grueling, and violence is an ever-present danger. Eden Hendrick, who was appointed after Freddie Pough resigned under fire a month ago, told legislators last week that she has more vacancies than working correction officers, The Post and Courier reports. “The applicant pool is the main problem,” she said. “There’s just no one that is applying right now,” The State newspaper reports. Hendrick told a state Senate corrections subcommittee that every recruiter in the office has left, so she plans to hire a recruiting company to find people interested in the 232 corrections officer vacancies. For now, she’s hired a part-time expert who used to recruit for the state Department of Corrections, The State reports. Hendrick also said she is stopping two programs started by Pough, who moved administrators to a building outside the main juvenile jail complex in Columbia and pushed to house juveniles with long sentences in regional facilities rather than the Broad River Road Complex. Regionalization is on indefinite hold because there isn’t enough staff or money, she said.

South Dakota

Belle Fourche: Plans are in the works to build one of the largest ramen-producing facilities in the country in a small Black Hills community. CEO Bill Saller of California-based Albany Farms said the complex in Belle Fourche will include a flour mill, production factories and packaging areas that would produce more than 100 million packages of ramen each year and eventually employ up to 900 people. Belle Fourche Rail Park and the state’s agricultural economy are part of the plan, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reports. Wheat will be brought to the factory, while ramen cups and packets will be shipped by train, Saller said. Albany Farms recently bought a building in Belle Fourche for its factory and is working on purchasing 11 of the surrounding acres, according to company spokeswoman Stephanie Magoon. The company manufactures its products overseas but decided it needed to switch gears once the pandemic hit. “With the onset of COVID, importing food became problematic. Transportation has become a major issue for food companies and certainly for us,” Saller said. Saller said the price for the company’s shipping containers has increased an average of $18,000 per container, doubling import costs. So the company decided to move all manufacturing to the United States.

Tennessee

Nashville: Two bills introduced by lawmakers would forbid state licensing officials from disciplining doctors for how they treat COVID-19 or what they say about vaccines, potentially undermining a new effort to crack down on doctors who spread misinformation in the midst of the pandemic. State Reps. Debra Moody, R-Covington, and Chris Todd, R-Madison County, introduced bills Tuesday that each bar the Board of Medical Examiners and Board of Osteopathic Examination, which license and discipline physicians throughout the state, from taking any punitive action against a physician for the recommendations they make about COVID-19 treatment, mitigation or prevention. Moody’s bill protects any recommendation made “so long as the physician exercised independent medical judgment and believes the medical treatment is in the best interest of the patient.” Todd’s bill outlaws disciplining a physician “relating solely (to their) prescription, recommendation, use, or opinion relative to a treatment for COVID-19.” Dr. Stephen Loyd, a member of the Board of Medical Examiners who reviewed Todd’s bill, said he did not believe the legislation as written would have a great impact but conceded it might open the door for a doctor to argue that false claims were opinions protected under the law.

Texas

Austin: Voting rights advocates are suing the state again, this time with support from a former U.S. attorney general, over newly redrawn congressional district maps that favor the GOP, claiming the maps dilute the vote of communities of color after growth in America’s largest red state came overwhelmingly from Hispanic, Black and Asian American people. The lawsuit was filed Monday by Texas voters and Voto Latino, a voter advocacy organization, in an Austin federal court just moments after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the redrawn districts into law. Texas was the only state to be allocated two new congressional seats earlier this year after U.S. census figures showed the state’s population grew by 4 million people, nearly half of whom were Hispanic. The latest lawsuit alleges the new U.S. House maps violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act by not giving people of color a fair opportunity to elect their representatives. The maps do not include any additional districts in which Black or Hispanic voters make up more than 50% of eligible voters. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., who leads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and whose affiliate organization, the National Redistricting Action Fund, is supporting the lawsuit, said the maps, which pave potentially safer paths for Texas’ majority GOP incumbents to remain in office, were a “desperate grasp for partisan political power.”

Utah

Salt Lake City: Former U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop abruptly quit the state’s independent redistricting commission after criticizing it for favoring urban areas. Bishop, a Republican, said Monday that the commission’s congressional map proposals favored Democrats. The commission will present its map proposals to the Legislature’s redistricting committee Nov. 1. “This is a metro-centric group,” Bishop said during the meeting. “When five of the seven are from the Wasatch Front … the majority are from Salt Lake County, we see things in a different way.” House Speaker Brad Wilson, who appointed Bishop to the panel, said he shared Bishop’s frustrations with the commission and does not plan to appoint a replacement. “His decision to step down at this point in the process is further evidence that the duly elected representatives of the people are best suited to redraw district boundaries, as the courts have repeatedly affirmed,” Wilson said in a statement. Better Boundaries, the group behind the 2018 ballot initiative that created the independent commission, said it was disappointed by Bishop’s resignation. “Moving forward, we are encouraged by the work of the remaining six commissioners to suggest objective and qualified maps to the state legislative redistricting committee through this fair and transparent process,” Executive Director Katie Wright said.

Vermont

Montpelier: Gov. Phil Scott said Tuesday that he wouldn’t reimpose a state of emergency that would authorize him to put a statewide mask mandate back in place as the delta variant has driven an increase in coronavirus cases. Speaking at a weekly briefing about Vermont’s response to the pandemic, Scott said he doesn’t want to overuse the emergency power he has as governor. “There’s a time and a place for a state of emergency, and I can assure you this isn’t it,” he said. “And I believe that we’ll get through this with all the measures, all the mitigation measures we put into place and doing all the right things and taking some self-responsibility.” Scott said he’s also more optimistic about the future of the pandemic than he has been in weeks: Booster shots have been approved for most people over 18 who have already been vaccinated, the federal government is expected to authorize in the coming weeks vaccines for children ages 5 to 11, and COVID-19 case numbers are starting to decrease across the country and in Vermont. Still, a group of lawmakers, school nurses, and other medical professionals on Monday urged Scott to reinstate the state of emergency and indoor mask mandate, saying school staff, parents, hospitals and health care workers are stressed coping with the pandemic, some to the breaking point.

Virginia

Portsmouth: Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy will partner with Dominion Energy on a $200 million factory making turbine blades for offshore wind projects, creating 310 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday. Virginia-based Dominion previously selected the Spanish company as its partner for its $7.8 billion energy generation project 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The Siemens Gamesa factory at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal will produce turbine blades for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project as well as other offshore wind energy generators around North America. The factory project includes more than $80 million in investments for buildings and equipment at the terminal, where about 50 new service jobs are expected to support the effort. Over the next 10 years, building and operating the offshore wind industry will be worth $109 billion to businesses in its supply chain, according to a recent report from the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind. That figure is up from the group’s $70 billion estimate just two years ago. “Virginians want renewable energy, our employers want it, and Virginia is delivering it,” Northam said in a statement. “Make no mistake: Virginia is building a new industry in renewable energy, with more new jobs to follow, and that’s good news for our country.”

Washington

Tacoma: An investigation headed by a former U.S. attorney has found a sheriff violated policies against bias-free policing and other standards during a controversial January encounter with a Black newspaper carrier. The 48-page report by Brian Moran, released Tuesday, faulted Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer’s late-night decision to follow a car driven by then-24-year old Sedrick Altheimer and subsequently call in a large emergency response with claims that Altheimer threatened to kill him. “We are unable to substantiate Sheriff Troyer’s claim that Mr. Altheimer threatened to kill or harm him during that incident,” a summary of Moran’s report said. “We also find that a reasonable person could conclude that Sheriff Troyer exhibited an improper bias in his confrontation with Mr. Altheimer.” The Seattle Times reports the findings, commissioned by the Pierce County Council, found Troyer, who is white, violated professional conduct policies against bias-free policing and engaging in law enforcement activities while off duty, among others. It concluded Troyer may not have known Altheimer’s race when he first began following him in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, but he did know when he called a 911 emergency dispatcher.

West Virginia

Charleston: Halloween is still days away, but the West Virginia Division of Highways is thinking ahead to keep drivers safe in snow and ice this winter. Drivers in the division’s District 1 just finished “dry runs” for winter snowplow routes. “We want to make sure that our trucks are well-maintained, greased and that all the equipment is working properly,” said District 1 Maintenance Engineer Kathy Rushworth. Running snowplow routes early allows drivers to familiarize themselves with their routes and get used to driving the plows. District 1 has 215 drivers assigned to drive plows in the snow and ice. They’re the same men and women responsible for cutting grass, trimming trees, cutting ditches and doing other maintenance work during spring, summer and fall. The district has plows dedicated to Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Mason and Putnam counties. Other snowplows are responsible for clearing snow and ice on U.S. 35 and interstates 64, 77 and 79.

Wisconsin

Madison: The Republican-controlled Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to a package of anti-abortion bills, many of which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed two years ago and is all but certain to reject again. Republicans do not have enough votes in the Legislature to override a veto. Republicans said they were trying again because the measures are a priority, and there’s a chance Evers will change his mind. Democrats, who all voted against the bills, accused Republicans of only taking up the bills to energize conservatives ahead of the 2022 midterm election. One bill, which Evers vetoed in 2019, would impose criminal penalties on doctors who fail to give medical care in the extremely rare circumstance in which a baby is born alive following an abortion attempt. Violators would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. The bill also would make intentionally causing the death of a child born alive as a result of an abortion a felony punishable by life in prison. Doctors insist the bill is a solution in search of a problem. They and other opponents say babies are almost never born alive during failed abortion attempts, and in the rare instances in which they are, doctors are already ethically and legally bound to try and keep them alive.

Wyoming

Cheyenne: Requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 would result in up to $10 million in fines and at least $500,000 in damages under bills state lawmakers will consider in a rare special session that began Tuesday. In all, they plan to look at 20 proposals – including a few having nothing to do with President Joe Biden’s plans to require COVID-19 vaccination for certain workers – over the next several days after legislators debated whether to adjourn without considering anything at all. The House and Senate voted to move ahead despite rejecting timesaving rules to limit testimony and debate and prohibit bills unrelated to COVID-19 vaccination in an effort to wrap up the session in just three days. “In five days we are going to have hundreds of people, potentially thousands, who are going to lose their jobs because of a mandate,” said Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, the lead sponsor of a bill that would allow people denied work because they’re not vaccinated to collect at least $500,000 in civil damages. A bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Fortner, R-Gillette, would fine any public servant who tries to enforce any COVID-19 vaccine mandate up to $10 million. Schools would be barred from enforcing student mask-wearing and vaccination against any disease under a bill sponsored by Rep. Ocean Andrew, R-Laramie. Wyoming has been one the most vaccine-resistant states, behind only West Virginia, and as a result has one of the highest case rates in the U.S. over recent months.

From USA TODAY Network and wire reports

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Claudette Colvin, port penalties: News from around our 50 states

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