Connecting state and local government leaders

Police Lawsuit Aims to Make Milwaukee Gun Shop Pay; Major Kentucky ‘Obamacare’ Insurer Goes Belly Up

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Connecting state and local government leaders

Also: Salt Lake charter school teachers are ‘unqualified,’ not sticking around and judge orders Arkansas to reveal the identity of its execution-drug supplier.

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today…

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin: It’s the gun-shop lawsuit that already has made its way into the 2016 presidential campaigns, reports The Associated Press. It pits two Milwaukee police officers against Brew City Shooter’s Supply, Inc. The suit centers on a sale made to a so-called straw buyer, who gave the gun he bought to a teenager, who was too young to buy the gun himself. The teenager, Julius Burton, then shot up the two officers, Bryan Norberg and Graham Kunisch, shattering teeth and shoulders, destroying an eye and sending a bullet through a skull and a frontal lobe. Both officers survived with grave injuries. Lawyers told the jury that there were a series of telltale signs that the gun sale was illegal, even as it was taking place. The buyer acted furtively and filled out forms incorrectly. Yet the shop failed to verify the purchaser’s ID. Lawyers point out that more than 500 firearms recovered from crime scenes have been traced back to the Brew City Shooter shop, making it the “Number One crime gun dealer in America.” They are asking a jury to award $8.6 million in damages to the officers, a sum they say will send a message to gun shops across the nation. [Associated Press via The Washington Post]

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky: The largest private provider of health insurance policies on Kynect, the Kentucky “Obamacare” health exchange, has announced it’s going out of business, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. “A lot of people had pent up medical needs, and when they suddenly got health insurance, they began using their benefits,” explained Glenn Jennings, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative, the bankrupt insurer. The company was hoping for an infusion of cash from the federal government to pay for the plans it sold. Insurance plans sold by Kentucky Health Cooperative—51,000 plans across 120 counties—will expire December 31, but Governor Steve Beshear directed the company’s customers to go back onto the Kynect exchange to buy new plans over the next few months. He said many customers would likely find less-expensive options, noting that seven companies will offer plans on the exchange this year, which is four more companies than were offering plans on the exchange last year. From 2013 to 2014, Kentucky’s uninsured rate fell to 8.5 percent, the biggest drop in the country. [Lexington Herald-Leader]

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: Teachers at charter schools in the Beehive State aren’t properly licensed or endorsed, and they don’t stay in the job, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Out of 85 charters evaluated by the State Charter School Board in March, 14 met the standard of a fully qualified teaching staff. Those schools also had an average retention rate of 75 percent or a loss of 1 in 4 teachers each year. Ten schools were listed as being "far below" the qualification standard, meaning less than 85 percent of teachers had appropriate licensing and qualifications.

Charter school Good Foundations Academy in Riverdale lost 6 of 25 teachers last year, according to Executive Director Brent Petersen, partly due to the fact that Hill Air Force Base families left the area. “Goal Number One is to retain these teachers and get them qualified licenses ASAP,” he said, but he added that the best candidate for a teaching job isn't always a licensed educator. "We look for a very specific breed of person who comes through our doors that is passionate and willing to learn," he said. [Salt Lake Tribune]

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: A judge on Monday ordered the state Department of Corrections to release all information about drugs it plans to use in executions, including manufacturer and supplier's identities, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen’s order came just days after he halted eight scheduled executions in an inmate lawsuit that challenges the secrecy surrounding lethal-injection drugs. The department has until October 21 to release the information. The order is a development death penalty supporters in the state anticipated. In April, lawmakers passed a bill that protected the identity of execution-drug suppliers against disclosure, barring a court order, arguing the law was needed to safeguard drug makers from death-penalty opponents. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]

AUSTIN, Texas: Texas is beginning to look more like California, according to a report brought out this week by the state’s demographer. There are now more foreign-born Asian immigrants moving to the Lone Star State than ever before, and there are more foreign-born immigrants who are making their way to Texas after living somewhere else in the United States first. The Texas Tribune reports that they are mostly coming from California and Florida, drawn by job opportunities. While immigration from Latin America has decreased, the percentage of Asian immigrants to Texas has more than doubled. “In Harris and Dallas counties, the Asian community's share of the population exceeds both its state and national shares at 7 percent and 5.9 percent … The Texas population is more international today than at any time since it became a state in 1845.” [Texas Tribune]

John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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