Connecting state and local government leaders

N.M. Gov: 'Now We’re Staring Down the Path of a Government Shutdown’

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: San Diego police deploy mouth-swab marijuana tests; tracking drowned snorkelers in Hawaii; and Georgia county weighs ‘tiny houses’ regulations.

STATE GOVERNMENT| After rejecting the budget proposed by the New Mexico legislature, Gov. Susana Martinez directed the Department of Finance to explore the possibility of a government shutdown. Martinez wants a balanced budget she can sign off on and has already scheduled a special session. “Many in the Legislature failed to do their job during the session. They took a my way or the highway approach and they actually squandered 60 days,” Martinez told reporters in Santa Fe shortly after the session gaveled to a close on Saturday. “Now we’re staring down the path of a government shutdown.” The governor said that furloughs of state workers are possible and that state parks may close. [KOAT; New Mexico In Depth]

In Illinois, where the state government has operated without an operating budget for 21 months, the political battles between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza have deepened and become more bitter, complete with allegations of sexism and collusion. “Relatively minor issues that could easily be worked out privately between the offices,” like how much money should be reserved for emergency payments for social service providers struggling to stay afloat, “have become the fodder of court action and dueling attack videos posted on Twitter.” [Chicago Tribune]

MARIJUANA POLICY | Several lawmakers in Massachusetts have floated the idea of stripping the treasurer’s office of its role in regulating the state’s pot industry, or significantly diluting its powers. But now, Deborah Goldberg, the state treasurer, is asking the legislature for $10 million to pay for the upfront costs of preparing to oversee marijuana retail. Goldberg says that her office has spent hundreds of hours learning about the industry, and her staff has traveled across the country to gather relevant research. Goldberg maintains that this amount is in line with what other states have budgeted for these initial start-up costs. [The Boston Globe]

San Francisco leaders are considering the creation of a Cannabis Department with a director and staff and a seven-member Cannabis Commission. The city anticipates strong interest from applicants seeking to sell recreational marijuana when it becomes legal in California next January. Board of Supervisors member Jeff Sheehy introduced legislation last week to create the department and the commission [San Francisco Examiner]

Police officers in San Diego will be using mouth-swab devices to test for the presence of marijuana and other drugs in impaired drivers. The Dräger DrugTest 5000 machines cost about $6,000 each. “It’s a huge concern of ours with the legalization of marijuana that we’re going to see an increase in impaired drugged driving,” Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said last week. Swab tests are in use in over a dozen states around the U.S. [Los Angeles Times]

INFRASTRUCTURE | Sound Transit, the regional agency that operates light rail, commuter rail and bus services in the Seattle area, has produced an initial estimate for the impact that proposed changes in the state’s formula for calculating motor vehicle excise taxes, which are a critically important for funding the agency’s transportation improvements in the Puget Sound region. In November, voters in Sound Transit’s taxing district, approved a $53 billion expansion of the growing Link light-rail system and other transportation improvements in Seattle and other jurisdictions in King, Pierce Snohomish counties. MVET changes, as proposed by state lawmakers in Olympia, could result in a revenue reduction of $6 billion. [Seattle Transit Blog]

The city of Topeka is working with the Kansas Department of Transportation to develop geographic information system database tools for tracking and mapping traffic crashes. [The Topeka Capital-Journal]

A mild winter means Decatur, North Carolina needs less road salt for next year, part of a $505,000 request for a state motor fuel tax allocation for general street maintenance. Traffic signal maintenance and concrete remain in high demand however. “We're in a period of what has been significant infrastructure work,” said Assistant City Manager Billy Tyus. [Herald & Review]

PUBLIC SAFETY | Maui lifeguards have begun tracking equipment used by snorkelers who have drowned there and other county governments in Hawaii appear interested in doing the same. “What was intriguing to me is we have no data on these,” said Colin Yamamoto, Maui County’s Ocean Safety battalion chief. “It’s something we never thought about.” [Honolulu Civil Beat]

BROADBAND | Telecommunications providers in Alaska plan to begin projects this year that would improve high-speed internet access for tens of thousands of people in rural parts of the state over the next decade. Doing so will enable the providers to meet the terms of agreements giving them access to millions of dollars in federal subsidies. [Alaska Dispatch News]

HOUSING | Walker County, Georgia is working on regulating tiny homes—consisting of a porch, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The county’s planning commission has suggested each home be limited to 500 square feet and restricted to specific clusters around the county. Sought after by minimalists and environmentalists, who want small carbon footprints, tiny homes are a headache for the county. "I'd hate for someone to put one of these things next to my home,” said board member Jack Michaels. [Times Free Press]