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.

Biden administration boosts COVID-19 aid to hardest-hit regions

By: - July 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — Amid a rise in infections and hospitalizations from the surging delta variant of COVID-19, the Biden administration is boosting money and other assistance to the hardest-hit areas of the country. This week, just three states with lower vaccination rates — Florida, Texas and Missouri — accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide.  One […]

States still lag in getting assistance to struggling renters, federal data shows

By: - July 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — State and local officials disbursed $1.5 billion in rental assistance during June — more than during the entire previous five months —to help households falling behind on rent and utilities, according to U.S. Treasury data released Wednesday. That progress in getting slow-moving federal dollars to struggling renters comes as the Biden administration and […]

U.S. Senate Republicans block advance of bipartisan infrastructure plan, but talks continue

By: - July 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats’ attempt to start debate on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan was blocked by Republicans on a party-line vote Wednesday, as lawmakers hustle to wrap up negotiations over drafting that legislation. In the 49-51 test vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., switched his vote to “no,” a procedural move that allows […]

Biden meets with mayors and governors on infrastructure package

By: - July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON —  President Joe Biden met with a group of governors and mayors on Wednesday as he seeks to build support for a massive federal infrastructure package awaiting action from Congress. The local officials joining Biden in the Oval Office included Mayors Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio; Kate Gallego of Phoenix, Ariz., and Michael Hancock, […]

Chuck Schumer: Congress should legalize weed on the federal level

By: - July 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate says decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level is a change that’s “long overdue,” and that he’s prioritizing that effort amid a growing number of states legalizing cannabis. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday unveiled a draft proposal for removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances […]

Mailboxes across from the Beaverdale post office in Des Moines.

USPS inspector general investigation targets mail delays in Baltimore and nationally

By: - July 13, 2021

WASHINGTON — Baltimore has seen some of the worst delays of the U.S. Postal Service’s national delivery woes, and the Office of Inspector General is taking a deeper look at why the city’s mail service has been particularly sluggish. During a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday on the Postal Service’s annual budget and the agency’s delivery issues, […]

How the new, expanded federal child tax credit will work

By: - July 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The most ambitious part of the pandemic stimulus package signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year is about to hit the bank accounts of millions of U.S. parents. Starting next week and ending in December, the vast majority of U.S. households with children will begin receiving monthly payments as a result of changes […]

Biden administration defends COVID ‘surge response teams’ after Missouri governor’s criticism

By: - July 8, 2021

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s key COVID-19 advisers on Thursday defended the administration’s strategies for boosting vaccinations in the states, after Missouri’s governor said federal door-to-door outreach efforts are not welcome there. Top Biden adviser Jeff Zients said anyone mischaracterizing the administration’s attempts is “doing a disservice to the country.” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson voiced […]

CDC study finds racial, regional disparities as schools reopened for in-person learning

By: - July 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — After last year’s abrupt shutdown of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, increasing numbers of students returned to in-person learning. But a new study shows that racial and geographic gaps persisted as K-12 students went back to their classrooms—with non-Hispanic white kids more often the ones attending a brick-and-mortar school full-time in most states. […]

‘We all have to do better’: White House urges locals to boost eviction diversion programs

By: - June 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — With a national moratorium on evictions set to expire at the end of next month and delays in federal assistance for struggling renters, the Biden administration says it wants to help state and local officials aid Americans on the brink of eviction. To that end, the administration on Wednesday highlighted efforts in Michigan and Philadelphia to […]

U.S. House votes to scuttle statues of Confederate leaders, bust of Dred Scott author

By: - June 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted Tuesday to remove from the Capitol a bust of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, a Marylander who wrote the despised Dred Scott decision — as well as evict statues and busts of men who fought for the Confederacy or served in its government. The legislation passed on a […]

Supreme Court affirms transgender rights in declining to hear Virginia school bathroom case

By: - June 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it will not hear a case of a transgender student in Virginia who was barred from using the boys’ bathroom, a decision that affirms lower-court rulings that said treating transgender students differently violates federal law. Justices on the top court offered no comment in declining to take […]