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.

Biden administration launches civil rights investigations of 5 GOP-led states banning school mask requirements

By: - August 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal education officials have launched civil rights investigations in five 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. […]

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

By: - August 30, 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 […]

Rep. Steve Scalise blasts budget resolution as House moves toward final vote

By: - August 25, 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 […]

Louisiana nursing home workers have a low vaccination rate. Biden mandate should change that.

By: , and - August 19, 2021

Nursing homes will be required to ensure their staffers are vaccinated against COVID-19, or risk losing billions of federal healthcare dollars in the Medicaid and Medicare programs, the Biden administration announced Wednesday. The president’s new mandate is likely to have a big impact on Louisiana, which has persistently had one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination […]

Trump allies’ lingering election ‘audits’ spark public skepticism, concerns in Congress

By: - August 5, 2021

WASHINGTON — The months-long, Republican-led investigation in Arizona into the results of last year’s presidential election has cost millions of dollars and produced no evidence yet of major issues in tallying Maricopa County ballots.  Yet supporters of former President Donald Trump are still attempting to follow Arizona’s lead by pushing for so-called audits in several […]

Feds order new eviction ban in counties with highest COVID-19 infection rates

By: and - August 3, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Tuesday announced a new, narrower moratorium on evictions through Oct. 3, which would protect struggling renters in areas of the U.S. that have been hit hardest by soaring COVID-19 infection rates. The targeted eviction ban comes days after a federal moratorium in place since September expired on Saturday. The […]

Federal eviction ban to expire Saturday after attempt to extend it fails

By: - July 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats unsuccessfully scrambled on Friday to extend federal legal protections against eviction that will expire on Saturday. The end of the eviction moratorium jeopardizes housing security for millions of Americans who are struggling both to pay their rent and to access billions of dollars in slow-moving federal rental assistance funds. Top Democrats in […]

Congress clears $521M to pay for National Guard costs tied to Jan. 6 attack

By: - July 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday overwhelmingly passed $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for providing 26,000 troops to protect the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot — an unexpected expense that was poised to result in training cutbacks for Guard units across the country. The National Guard Bureau used its budget to pay for the […]

Bipartisan senators and Biden strike a deal on $550B in new infrastructure spending

By: - July 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators say they have worked through the sticking points on a major infrastructure package, and the Senate agreed on a procedural vote on Wednesday night to advance to debate on the proposal. That announcement came a week after Republicans blocked a test vote on the deal, with GOP senators […]

CDC says the vaccinated should wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates

By: - July 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials on Tuesday urged Americans in areas of the country with the highest surges in COVID-19 infections to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the agency’s guidance in May that […]

Louisiana has one of the country’s highest COVID-19 rates this week

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 percent of all cases nationwide.  […]

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 housing advocates have […]