Author

Laura Olson

Laura Olson

Laura covers the nation's capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit outlets that includes Minnesota Reformer. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Biden pitches big boosts in education and health spending in budget request

By: - April 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration released a key portion of its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Friday, calling for increasing money for schools, public health programs, cancer research and other discretionary programs that it says have been underfunded for too long. The president’s $1.5 trillion request seeks to spend $769 billion on discretionary […]

Quest for D.C. statehood finds new friends and foes: Other states

By: - April 7, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress had yet to even schedule a hearing on a measure granting statehood to the District of Columbia when a panel of state lawmakers in Arizona voted in February to take a stand against D.C’s plea to become the 51st state. From their committee room some 2,300 miles from the nation’s capital, members […]

Special Report: Dozens of members of Congress are vaccinated against COVID-19, but some still hesitant

By: and - March 31, 2021

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress were among the first people in the U.S. to have access to the sought-after COVID-19 vaccine when the initial doses became available in December. Three months later, a States Newsroom survey across 22 states — making up a large swath of Congress — found at least 155 members of the […]

Rachel Levine confirmed as highest-ranking openly transgender federal official

By: - March 25, 2021

WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania’s former top health official, Dr. Rachel Levine, on Wednesday became the first openly transgender individual to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal position. The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm her as an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine […]

Collapsing union pension plans win long-sought help from rescue package

By: - March 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — Tucked in the Democrats’ massive coronavirus stimulus package was a long-awaited solution for a financial ticking time bomb: private pension funds on the brink of collapse, jeopardizing the retirement plans of millions of union members. The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measure included $86 billion that will be used for grants to help shore […]

CDC says it’s OK for students to sit 3 feet apart in classrooms

By: - March 19, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials have revised their guidance to schools on how far apart students should be spaced in a classroom, now saying desks can be placed 3 feet apart instead of 6 feet to limit the spread of COVID-19.  The updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes as schools […]

‘Vaccine passports’ that show you’re inoculated are on the way

By: - March 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — More than 70 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — and along with that shot, a small paper card with the CDC’s label detailing the timing and manufacturer of the dose. Those paper cards at the moment are the only proof readily available to Americans of their […]

Biden to states: Make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1

By: - March 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is directing states to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, according to a White House memo ahead of his first primetime address Thursday evening.  Biden’s COVID-19 advisers are projecting that enough Americans in priority groups will be able to access the vaccine by the end of […]

Biden COVID-19 relief bill passes; Minnesota to get $4.9 billion

By: - March 10, 2021

WASHINGTON — A sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk after the U.S. House passed the latest pandemic relief measure Wednesday on a party-line vote. Minnesota state and local governments are expected to receive $4.9 billion, radically changing the budget outlook at the state Legislature, as well for many cities […]

CDC: It’s OK for vaccinated grandparents to visit family if no risk for severe disease

By: - March 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — People who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can safely socialize inside with other vaccinated individuals without wearing masks or maintaining distance, federal health officials advised Monday in their first formal guidance for vaccinated Americans. Perhaps more critically at a time when more than 90% of Americans are still waiting to be fully vaccinated, […]

GOP opposition to state and local aid remains as Senate heads toward vote on COVID bill

By: - March 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — As Democrats seek to send President Joe Biden their latest $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill, federal lawmakers remain deeply divided on the question of whether state and local governments need another infusion of federal aid. Supporters of the bill — including numerous Republican mayors — say the answer is a clear “yes.” They argue […]

Census delay in releasing population data throws states into chaos

By: - February 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau won’t be releasing population data needed to redraw state legislative and congressional district boundaries until Sept. 30 — six months after that data is typically made available. The latest pandemic-spurred delay, announced by bureau officials on Friday, hugely scrambles the once-a-decade redistricting process for states with deadlines looming this […]