TagState executive

Thirteen states prohibit proof-of-vaccination requirements

In 13 states, governors have issued orders or signed bills prohibiting some or all levels of government from issuing COVID-19 vaccine identification cards or requiring proof of vaccination as a condition for people to enter premises or receive services.

A proof-of-vaccination requirement can be a private or government requirement that people prove they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive business or government services. Vaccine identification cards or apps, which can be used to verify a person’s vaccine status, are sometimes referred to as vaccine passports.

All 13 states have a Republican governor.

In Alabama, Iowa, Montana, Texas, and Florida, bans on proof-of-vaccination requirements extend to some private businesses.

Governors in eight states—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas—banned proof-of-vaccination requirements through executive orders. Governors in five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Utah—signed legislation banning proof-of-vaccination requirements.

While several states have prohibited proof-of-vaccination requirements, New York and Hawaii have facilitated the creation of a vaccine status identification system or implemented policies allowing fully vaccinated individuals to bypass some COVID-19 restrictions.

In Hawaii, fully vaccinated individuals can travel between islands without quarantining or presenting a negative COVID-19 test if they can prove they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) launched the Excelsior Pass, an app that allows people to upload their vaccine status. Users can present the Excelsior App at events like sports games to sit in vaccinated sections that don’t require social distancing.

In Oregon, businesses and venues that verify vaccine status can allow fully vaccinated people to go without masks while indoors.



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, May 25-29, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout that spring, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened May 25-29, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, May 25, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • Judge J. Michelle Childs, of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, issued a preliminary injunction barring election officials from enforcing South Carolina’s witness requirement for absentee ballots in the June 9 primary and subsequent runoff elections. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • Delaware Gov. John Carney Jr. (D) announced that he would end travel restrictions on out-of-state visitors on June 1.
  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) banned foreign travelers who had been in Brazil in the last 14 days from entering the United States. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • The Texas state supreme court ruled that a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability under the state’s election laws and, therefore, cannot be cited as an excuse for voting absentee.
    • The Montana Supreme Court voted 5-2 to halt a lower court order that had extended the absentee ballot receipt deadline for the June 2 primary election to June 8.
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense (DoD) said it would gradually lift limits on deployments, redeployments, and movement of military and civilian personnel within the United States and between countries on a geographic basis. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced she was modifying the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers to permit some business travel.

Friday, May 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Northern Virginia (NOVA), as well as Richmond and Accomack County, moved into Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, ending the stay-at-home order in that region. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) previously ended the statewide stay-at-home order for all counties except those in the NOVA region on May 15. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire. He issued the order on March 20, and extended it on March 31 and April 23. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced he was extending the 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers and residents returning to the state through June 5. According to Dunleavy, travelers who could prove they tested negative for COVID-19 before coming to Alaska could bypass the 14-day quarantine requirement. Dunleavy asked travelers to get tested at least 72 hours before arriving in the state.
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) issued an updated travel advisory that asked visitors to follow CDC guidelines, which included social distancing and wearing a face covering. 
  • Mask requirements:
    • Virginia Gov. Northam issued an order requiring people 10 and older to wear a mask when indoors. 

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



State FOIA request response times

Each state has different laws governing the release of information by public entities. Often called open records laws, public records laws, or FOIA laws after the federal Freedom of Information Act, these laws regulate the process through which a person can request public records. Those laws often set the length of time within which a public body must respond to a records request.

As of May 2021, 13 states do not have a mandated response time. Of the 37 states that have response time limits, 10 allow agencies to extend response times in certain cases, while 27 states allow no exceptions. Eight states require responses in 3 days or less, 10 in 5 days or less, 13 in 10 days or less, and 6 in 20 days or less. The longest possible response times are in Iowa and South Carolina, which both require responses to be made within 10 days but allow extensions of up to 20 days. The shortest possible response times are in Indiana and Mississippi, where public entities must respond to most requests within 24 hours.

Some states do not specify a required time to respond to a FOIA request and only require that responses be prompt or made within a reasonable amount of time. State statutes with clear response time limits either require all responses to be made before a certain number of days or allow a range of response time based on certain circumstances. For example, California law states that a response must be given within 10 days for most requests, but also allows responses within 14 days under unusual circumstances.

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Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina end mask requirements

Three states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 14 and May 20.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) ended the statewide mask requirement on May 14. Masks are still required for unvaccinated visitors to nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals, and in certain school settings. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still comply with federal law, which requires masking on public transportation and at public transportation hubs like bus stations and airports.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) ended the statewide mask mandate on May 15. The state still requires vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in schools and hospitals, as well as on public transportation.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) ended the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated people on May 14. Masks are still required for all people, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation and in healthcare settings.

Additionally, at least eight more states amended their existing mask orders to align with the CDC guidance issued May 13, exempting fully vaccinated individuals from most indoor mask requirements. Those states are Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Twenty-one states had statewide mask orders at the time of this writing, including 17 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and four out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of those 21 states, six required masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Fifteen states exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 18 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 12 have Republican governors, and six have Democratic governors. Fifteen states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



Nevada legislature refers minimum wage amendment to 2022 ballot

In November 2022, Nevada voters will decide on an amendment to increase the minimum wage for all employees to $12 by 2024. The state legislature voted on Friday to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot that would change the current minimum wage, which is set at two different rates depending on whether the employee receives health benefits or not. The amendment would also remove the existing annual inflation adjustments to the minimum wage, which are currently capped at 3% of the prior year’s rate, and allow the legislature to pass a minimum wage law setting the rate higher than the constitutionally mandated minimum.

In 2019, the Nevada State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 456 (AB 456), which enacted a minimum wage increase beginning in 2020 at a rate of $8.00 for employees that received health benefits and $9.00 for those who did not. The rate is set to increase incrementally until July 2024 when it reaches $11 and $12 for the respective employee tiers. 

As of January 2021, the minimum wage in Nevada was $8.75 for employees with health benefits and $9.75 for employees without health benefits.

Twenty-five states and D.C. increased or will increase their minimum wages in 2021. Across the country, the average state minimum wage in 2021 is about $9.59, up from $9.17 in 2020.

To refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot, a majority vote is required in both chambers of the Nevada Legislature in two successive sessions. The amendment was introduced as Assembly Joint Resolution 10 (AJR 10) during the 2019 legislative session. The amendment passed in the Nevada State Legislature along party lines with Democrats in the majority and Republicans in the minority. The Assembly passed the amendment in a vote of 28-12 with one Republican member excused. The State Senate passed the amendment in a vote of 12-8 with one Democratic member excused.

During the 2021 legislative session, the State Assembly passed the amendment along party lines with a vote of 26 Democrats in favor and 16 Republicans opposed. The Senate passed the amendment largely along party lines with a vote of 13-8, with one Republican joining the Democratic majority.

The amendment is the fourth ballot measure to qualify for the 2022 ballot. The legislature also referred a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the denial or abridgment of rights on account of an individual’s race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin. Voters will also be deciding two indirect initiatives that would increase gaming and sales taxes and dedicate revenue to education and tourism.

Between 1996 and 2020, Nevada voters approved 60.7% (51 of 84) and rejected 39.3% (33 of 84) of the ballot measures that appeared on statewide ballots.

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A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, May 18-22, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout that spring, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened May 18-22, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, May 18, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) allowed the stay-at-home order to expire. He issued the order March 23 and renewed it on March 31 and May 4. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) replaced the state’s stay-at-home order with the “Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory.” The order eased the requirement that most residents stay at home, but kept the 10-person gathering limit in place.
  • Election changes:
    • Judge Samuel Frederick Biery, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, ordered that all eligible Texas voters be allowed to cast absentee ballots in order to avoid transmission of COVID-19. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a temporary stay against Biery’s order later that day.
    • A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court decision reinstating New York’s Democratic presidential preference primary on June 23.
    • Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) announced that all registered voters in the August 4 primary and November 3 general election would receive mail-in ballot applications automatically.
  • Federal government responses:
    • President Donald Trump (R) issued an executive order directing federal agencies to remove regulatory barriers to economic activity as part of a coronavirus pandemic recovery effort.
    • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced the U.S. would extend travel restrictions in place at the Canadian and Mexican borders another 30 days. The Department of Homeland Security enacted the restrictions in late March in cooperation with both countries, and extended them for an additional 30 days on April 20. The orders prohibited travel for tourism or recreation but allowed travel for trade and commerce.
    • The White House announced that the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, had awarded a $354 million contract to Phlow Corp., a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, to manufacture generic medicines and ingredients used to treat COVID-19. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) allowed the statewide stay-at-home order to expire, beginning the first phase of a four-phase reopening plan. The first phase allowed some businesses—like offices and retail stores—to reopen with restrictions. 
  • Election changes:
    • Lamont issued an executive order extending absentee voting eligibility to any registered voter in the August 11 primary if there is no “federally approved and widely available vaccine for prevention of COVID-19” at the time he or she requests an absentee ballot.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

  • Travel restrictions
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ended the requirement that out-of-state travelers quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the state. Abbott first issued the travel restriction on March 26. 
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense ended a ban on new recruits who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 at any point in the past. Matthew Donovan, the under secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, said the military would evaluate recruits who had recovered from the disease on a case-by-case basis.

Friday, May 22, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) replaced the statewide stay-at-home order with a “Safer at Home” order. The order allowed restaurants to open to indoor dining at 50% capacity, but kept bars and playgrounds closed. 

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



At least 7 states amend mask requirements to align with updated CDC guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) amended its mask guidance May 13. The new guidance says fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor public settings, regardless of the number of people gathered.  

The guidance still recommends fully vaccinated people wear masks and social distance at doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Masks are also recommended in congregate settings (like homeless shelters and prisons), when traveling on public transportation (like on planes and buses), and at transportation hubs like airports and bus stations.

At least 7 states amended their existing mask orders to align with CDC guidance and exempt fully vaccinated individuals from most indoor mask requirements, as of May 14 at 1:00 p.m. EST.

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Kentucky
  3. Nevada
  4. Oregon
  5. Washington
  6. Vermont
  7. West Virginia

Ballotpedia tracked four other changes and announced changes to state mask requirements:

  1. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) fully ended the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated residents on May 14. 
  2. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced May 13 he would amend the state’s mask requirements to align with CDC guidance starting May 19. 
  3. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced May 13 he would amend the state’s mask requirements to align with the CDC guidance but did not say when he would update the order.
  4. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he will lift the statewide indoor mask mandate once 70% of adult residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. At the time of the announcement, that figure stood at 65%.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Twenty-four states had statewide mask orders at the time of this writing, including 19 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and five out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of those 24 states, 17 required masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Seven states exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 15 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 11 have Republican governors, and four have Democratic governors. Twelve states have ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) have ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) has ended its mandate through court order.

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Alaska legislature confirms Treg Taylor as attorney general

A joint session of the Alaska Legislature voted 35-24 to confirm Treg Taylor as the state’s attorney general on May 11. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) appointed Taylor as acting attorney general on Jan. 29 after Ed Sniffen resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Before Dunleavy appointed Taylor attorney general, Taylor served as deputy attorney general in charge of the civil division at the Alaska Department of Law. In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Anchorage Municipal Assembly.

The two previous attorneys general of Alaska both resigned due to allegations of misconduct. Kevin Clarkson resigned after an investigation revealed that he had sent inappropriate text messages to a junior employee. Sniffen resigned after a former member of a high school mock trial team coached by Sniffen alleged that she and Sniffen had a sexual relationship when she was 17 years old.

The attorney general is a state executive office in all 50 states and is the chief legal advisor for state government. Attorneys general are empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes, and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature. 

Nationwide, 26 states have Republican Party-affiliated attorneys general, and 24 states have Democratic Party-affiliated attorneys general. Virginia is the only state electing its attorney general this year. Thirty states will elect an attorney general in 2022.

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Winsome Sears wins convention to become Republican nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor

The Republican Party of Virginia nominated Winsome Sears (R) for lieutenant governor at their May 8 convention. Sears defeated Puneet Ahluwalia (R), Lance Allen (R), Glenn Davis (R), Tim Hugo (R), and Maeve Rigler (R). She was announced as the winner on May 11 after she defeated Hugo in the fifth round of ranked-choice voting with 54.4% of the vote to Hugo’s 45.6%.

Due to coronavirus crowd-size restrictions, the 2021 Virginia Republican convention was an unassembled convention held across 39 satellite locations. Unlike previous conventions in the state, there was no limit on how many delegates could cast votes, which were weighted according to the number of delegate votes allocated to each locality.

Delegates cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting instead of holding multiple rounds of voting. In a ranked-choice vote, voters rank their preferred options rather than picking one. Ballot-counting takes place in rounds, with each voters’ first-place preference receiving their vote in the first round. If one candidate has more than 50% of votes, they win the election outright. Otherwise, the last-place finisher is eliminated and their votes redistributed among their voters’ next choices. The process is repeated until one candidate wins more than 50%.

Sears is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, serving from 2002 to 2004. She served on the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as vice president of the Virginia Board of Education, and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Virginia State Senate and may cast tie-breaking votes. The lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession to the governor. In the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor. Of the four lieutenant governors who have been elected since 2002, three were Democrats and one was a Republican.

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Glenn Youngkin wins Republican nomination for governor of Virginia

The Republican Party of Virginia selected Glenn Youngkin as its nominee for governor in an unassembled convention on May 8. Youngkin received 55% of the delegate vote in the sixth and final round of vote-counting, which ended on May 10.

Incumbent Ralph Northam (D) is unable to seek re-election due to term limits, leaving the position open.

Youngkin is the former president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm. He defeated six other candidates, including business owner Pete Snyder, state Sen. Amanda Chase, and former House Speaker Kirk Cox. Peter Doran, Octavia Johnson, and Sergio de la Pena also ran in the convention. The Republican Party chose to use ranked-choice voting in 2021. Results from each round of the vote-counting are shown below:

Youngkin submitted a Candidate Connection survey to Ballotpedia ahead of the convention. In it, he said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.”

Youngkin led the field of Republican candidates in fundraising. According to campaign finance reports, he raised $7.7 million as of March 31. Youngkin was also the largest target of satellite spending during the convention. Two organizations, Patriot Leadership Trust and Virginia Cornerstone PAC, spent a combined total of roughly $459,000 on advertisements and mailers opposing his candidacy.

The general election for Governor of Virginia will be held on Nov. 2, 2021. Youngkin will face the winner of the June 8 Democratic primary and independent candidates Princess Blanding, Paul Davis, and Brad Froman.

The last Republican to win the governorship in Virginia was Bob McDonnell (R), elected in 2009. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in the state for the first time since 1994.

To learn more about the Republican convention for Governor of Virginia, click here.