Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE & LOCAL ROUNDUP | Michigan governor says pipeline isn’t at risk for imminent failure; fake flu information in Oklahoma; and a step closer to paying every city employee at least $15 an hour in Cleveland.
Here are recent state and local government stories from around the U.S. that caught Route Fifty's eye.
STATE BUDGETS | Word that the University Press of Kentucky, highly regarded for its strong scholarship in Appalachian history and culture and Civil War history, is being targeted for elimination by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in the Republican leader’s forthcoming state budget cuts has raised caused alarm among academics and scholars. The University Press, which is based at the University of Kentucky but works with all of the state’s public universities and many of its private colleges, “punches above its weight and of its track record in publishing up-and-coming authors, its books have won 12 Frederick Jackson Turner awards …” [Lexington Herald-Leader; Inside Higher Education; Civil War Memory]
INFRASTRUCTURE | Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has rejected a recommendation from the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that an oil pipeline that crosses through the Straits of Mackinac be temporarily shut down for safety inspections to examine gaps in the external coating of the Enbridge Inc.-owned Line 5. Environmentalists, who want the pipeline shut down, have warned of a potential major environmental catastrophe in the Great Lakes should the aging pipeline ever fail. Snyder, in rejecting the advisory board’s recommendation, said there would likely be propane shortages this winter if the pipeline were shut down and that Line 5 isn’t at risk of “imminent failure.” [Michigan Public Radio; MLive.com]
Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Transit Authority announced the preferred alignment for a planned extension of the CTA’s Red Line southward from its current terminus at 95th Street more than five miles through the city’s Far South Side to 130th Street. [City of Chicago / Office of the Mayor; Curbed Chicago]
Although the planned expansion of Interstate 30 through Little Rock, Arkansas has been slowed down in the environmental review process due to concerns in an adjacent historic district, the Arkansas Department of Transportation says a delayed start in construction won’t delay its planned 2023 completion. The plan to widen the expressway, which currently has three lanes in each direction, through downtown Little Rock has been controversial. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / ArkansasOnline; Arkansas Times]
Construction continues on Sound Transit’s Northgate Link light-rail subway extension under the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, which required the tracks be built on floating slabs in the twin-bored tunnels. When rail service is inaugurated in 2021, commuters from the University District will have an eight-minute trip into downtown Seattle. The flyover above shows how the route passes under the campus. [Sound Transit / YouTube via Seattle Transit Blog]
CITY HALLS | The Cleveland City Council on Monday approved three contracts that will move Ohio’s second-largest city “a step closer toward Mayor Frank Jackson's goal of paying every city employee at least $15 an hour.” [Cleveland.com]
Members of the Tucson City Council will be discussing future tax increases after “rather anemic” revenue forecasts from City Manager Mike Ortega. During a council retreat on Friday, members discussed possible options for raising new revenue, including creating special taxing districts. [Arizona Daily Star]
And Allentown, Pennsylvania Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who is faces public corruption charges, is in week two of his trial. In last week’s testimony, “meatballs” was a major point of discussion. [WFMZ-TV; The Morning Call]
STATE GOVERNMENT | State workers in Idaho will begin moving into the former Hewlett-Packard campus about seven miles northwest of downtown Boise as part of an effort to consolidate office space currently leased around the area. The state bought the HP campus for $110 million and is spending $29 million on renovations, including asbestos removal, which is underway. [KTVB-TV]
PUBLIC HEALTH | State lawmakers in Indiana are considering a legislative proposal that would increase the age to purchase cigarettes to 21. [The Indianapolis Star]
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that the ranks of state and local public health employees will see significant losses due to retirement and other turnover in the coming years. At least 65,000 public health employees will leave their organizations from fiscal year 2016 to 2020. That figure grows to 100,000 employees if all planned retirements happen. [Clinical Pain Advisor]
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health met with parents of high school students in Burbank after a student was recently tested for a possible case of tuberculosis. [Los Angeles Times]
The Oklahoma State Department of Public Health has warned residents to be on the lookout for “inaccurate flu guidelines circulating on social media” that credits its sourcing to a local county government and the OSDPH. [OSDPH via Facebook; KFOR-TV]
LOCAL DISPUTES | Squabbles over the local rules for keeping backyard hens have popped up in various cities in recent years. The latest has been playing out in one Anchorage neighborhood and has prompted city officials to examine local rules. "For some people, the sound of hens doing what they do is a great atmosphere, and they love it. For other people, it's like the biggest nuisance on the planet," according to Steve Brown, an extension agent for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension. [Anchorage Daily News]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.