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 Kansas Reflector. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections, and campaign finance.

Protesters hold up signs at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Thousands of protesters came out in response to a new bill outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot. (Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

How a Mississippi court case could pave the way for new abortion bans across the U.S.

By: - October 17, 2021

WASHINGTON — A six-week abortion ban in Texas enacted in September forced those seeking abortion services in the Lone Star State to look across state lines for care. But the timing couldn’t have been worse for Texans living near the state’s eastern border. The law took effect as neighboring Louisiana was reeling from the destruction […]

Booster shot of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine recommended by FDA panel

By: - October 15, 2021

WASHINGTON — A federal vaccine advisory panel on Friday endorsed a second dose of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine, meaning millions more Americans are expected to soon join the line for booster shots. Anyone who received a J&J shot at least two months ago will be eligible for an additional dose, under the committee’s […]

FDA panel recommends booster shot of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

By: - October 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Millions of Americans who received Moderna’s two-shot COVID-19 vaccine are expected to be eligible soon for booster shots, after a federal advisory panel on Thursday recommended a third dose for older and higher-risk adults as well as certain workers. The unanimous recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration vaccine panel came a few […]

Misinformation abounds as U.S. House panel questions Arizona’s presidential election ‘audit’

By: - October 7, 2021

WASHINGTON — It didn’t take long for Thursday’s congressional hearing about a controversial ballot review in Arizona to demonstrate the persistent misinformation about the validity of last year’s presidential election. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, asked his colleague, Arizona Republican Andy Biggs, if he accepts the findings of the GOP-led review of ballots in Maricopa […]

Cyber Ninjas CEO refuses to testify at congressional hearing on Arizona ‘audit’

By: - October 6, 2021

WASHINGTON — When the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee holds a hearing Thursday to probe the so-called election “audit” in Arizona, the CEO of the company hired to conduct that controversial review will be absent. Doug Logan, CEO of Cyber Ninjas, was asked to testify but told committee officials ahead of the hearing that he […]

Why there’s such an impasse in Congress: Some questions and answers

By: and - October 2, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress may have kept the federal government operating with an 11th-hour flurry of votes on Thursday, but several key pieces of the Democratic agenda remain in limbo. Here are some questions and answers on where negotiations stand with two massive Democratic-drafted bills — and the status of other looming challenges for federal lawmakers:  President […]

Congress passes bill to prevent government shutdown, send out $28.6B in disaster aid

By: - September 30, 2021

WASHINGTON — Congress made a last-minute dash to avert a government shutdown on Thursday, with the U.S. Senate and House approving a short-term spending bill just hours ahead of a midnight deadline. Every Democratic and independent senator and 15 Republicans supported the bill in the 65-35 vote. The GOP senators in the “aye” tally included […]

‘Their tank is empty’: Local public health officials combat staff burnout, low pay, harassment

By: - September 29, 2021

WASHINGTON — Eighteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local public health departments that were already struggling with too few workers and too little money have been pushed to the brink — and for some, beyond the brink. “My staff is burnt out, overworked and underpaid,” Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner with the Columbus Public […]

Senate GOP torpedoes U.S. government funding bill, raising odds of federal fiscal crises

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 […]

COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees Celsius on Dec. 18, 2020, in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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

By: - September 24, 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 […]

Orphaned, infected, in crisis: How the pandemic is traumatizing kids

By: - September 22, 2021

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has brought heartbreaking consequences for millions of U.S. children, even as most avoided serious illness themselves, pediatric experts told Congress on Wednesday. Take, for instance, a young girl from Tennessee named Sophia, whose story was relayed by Dr. Margaret Rush, president of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University. Within […]

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. That disaster relief money is slightly more than the $24 billion that the Biden administration asked Congress to approve for extreme weather events during the […]