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 Iowa Capital Dispatch. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

FDA panel backs COVID-19 booster shots only for elderly and high-risk Americans

By: - September 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal health advisory panel wrestled Friday with whether to widely authorize a booster dose of Pfizer’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine for most Americans, ultimately recommending that a third dose be offered only to older or higher-risk individuals. The Biden administration had hoped states could begin rolling out a wide national booster shot campaign […]

How House Democrats would expand Medicare and Medicaid and lower prescription drug costs

By: - September 16, 2021

WASHINGTON — New Medicare benefits for older Americans, like dental care. An expansion of eligibility for Medicaid for low-income people in Republican-controlled states that have declined to take that step. And potentially an historic effort to rein in prescription drug prices — if congressional Democrats can work through objections from moderates in their party. The massive […]

Putting on pandemic pounds: State obesity rates hit all-time highs

By: - September 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — The number of states with high obesity among residents has nearly doubled since 2018, according to new data Wednesday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were 16 states that had obesity rates among adult residents of at least 35% last year, with Iowa, Ohio, Delaware and Texas on that list for […]

Arizona attorney general first to sue over Biden vaccine mandate on private businesses

By: - September 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Tuesday filed the first lawsuit against the Biden administration’s upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private companies with at least 100 employees, arguing that the federal requirement violates the U.S. Constitution. In the legal complaint, Brnovich argues that the vaccine mandate President Joe Biden announced last week violates the Equal Protection Clause, claiming […]

Billions of dollars in federal rental aid remains stalled in slow-moving states, localities

By: - September 12, 2021

WASHINGTON — Make it simpler to apply for rental assistance money. Allow landlords to apply on behalf of unresponsive tenants. And consolidate two overlapping federal programs aimed at getting financial help to struggling renters. Those were among the proposals that U.S. House members weighed during a hearing Friday on how to better help states and localities […]

COVID-19 vaccines or weekly tests to be mandated for millions of U.S. workers

By: - September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — More than 80 million employees of private businesses in the U.S. will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing as part of the Biden administration’s latest strategy for combating the still-surging coronavirus pandemic. The upcoming vaccine rule for companies with at least 100 employees is one plank of an increasingly […]

Biden to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for federal employees and contractors, reports say

By: - September 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with no opt-out for testing under an executive order that President Joe Biden is expected to sign Thursday, according to several news outlets. The new requirement will be rolled out as Biden gives a major address Thursday afternoon on new national strategies for combating […]

White House seeks at least $24B to aid states struck by hurricanes, wildfires

By: - September 7, 2021

WASHINGTON — The White House is urging Congress to approve at least $24 billion — and likely more — for disaster relief costs, saying that the aid should be included in a short-term spending bill expected this month. That tally includes $14 billion for recovery costs related to extreme weather events including hurricanes, floods and wildfires during the last […]

States that borrowed from feds to cover unemployment comp checks are about to owe interest

By: - September 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — Ten states that struggled to pay the mounting costs of rising unemployment compensation claims during the COVID-19 pandemic will face yet another challenge starting Monday: interest accruing on federal loans they relied on to cover payments to the unemployed. Collectively, those states — which include Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — owe the federal […]

Biden administration launches civil rights investigations of Iowa and other states banning school mask requirements

By: - August 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal education officials have launched civil rights investigations in Iowa and four other Republican-led states that have prohibited school districts from mandating mask-wearing, saying those policies could amount to illegal discrimination against students with disabilities. The Biden administration notified the education chiefs in Iowa, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah and Oklahoma of the investigations through formal letters Monday. The new investigations […]

Supreme Court rejection of eviction ban increases pressure to dole out rental aid money

By: - August 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the Biden administration’s last-ditch effort to extend a federal ban on evictions has put hundreds of thousands of American renters at risk of losing their housing — and is increasing pressure on states and localities to get rental assistance dollars distributed faster. In an eight-page majority opinion […]

House Democrats advance budget resolution, overcoming standoff on timing of infrastructure vote

By: - August 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday muscled through a $3.5 trillion budget framework, overcoming a standoff with a handful of centrists who had demanded the House first approve the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate. That position by 10 House Democrats — including Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, […]