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 Louisiana Illuminator. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Cassidy, Kennedy join Senate GOP to torpedo U.S. government funding bill

By: - September 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats on Monday evening to begin debate on a broad bill that would avert multiple looming fiscal crises for the federal government. The measure to briefly keep the government operating past the end of the fiscal year on Thursday, as well as to increase the borrowing limit […]

Who will get a booster shot? A Q-and-A about what the feds are saying

By: - September 23, 2021

WASHINGTON — Booster shots soon will begin rolling out to some Americans who received the two-shot vaccine made by Pfizer—after a contentious and confusing federal approval process that isn’t over yet. Determining who exactly should be rolling up their sleeves for an additional dose was tricky. The Biden administration had leapfrogged federal regulatory panels in […]

Lake Charles after Hurricane Laura

U.S. House Dems propose $28.6B in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes, wildfires, floods

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats unveiled a short-term spending measure on Tuesday that would keep the federal government operating through Dec. 3 and provide $28.6 billion for costs related to recent natural disasters. The bill was passed by the House on a party-line vote Tuesday night, 220-211. But it faces a battle in the evenly divided […]

U.S. Supreme Court schedules Dec. 1 oral arguments in major abortion case

By: - September 21, 2021

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1 in a case that threatens to overturn decades of abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. The upcoming case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, stems from a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. It has been […]

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

By: - September 20, 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 that states could begin rolling out a wide national booster shot […]

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

By: - September 20, 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 […]

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

By: - September 17, 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 […]

Nursing home vaccine

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

By: - September 15, 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 […]

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

By: - September 13, 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 […]

Insurance commissioner doubles down as State Farm refuses evacuation expenses

White House seeks at least $24B to aid Louisiana, other 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, 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 […]