Connecting state and local government leaders

Michigan State Lawmakers Experience a Very Rare Bipartisan Moment

The Michigan State Capitol.

The Michigan State Capitol.

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Maryland city to relocate controversial Roger B. Taney bust; N.C. lawmakers propose more tax cuts; and a Pennsylvania borough’s big skunk problem.

STATE LEGISLATURES | State legislators in Michigan, which ranked dead last in the Center for Public Integrity’s most recent state transparency rankings, took an important step toward a more accountable government. State House lawmakers, in a “rare string of unanimous votes” voted to approve a package of bills that will make the legislature and governor subject to open records laws, with some carve outs for certain exceptions. The "No one here should boast to anyone that we run a translucent state government. We need to embrace full transparency," state Rep. Jeremy Moss, a Democrat, said. [Center for Public Integrity; MLive.com]

New York state lawmakers, who will be entering budget negotiations, will be making changes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ambitious plan to offer free tuition for middle-class students at the state’s public colleges and universities. “I’m sure there’s going to be tweaks, changes and enhancements to that program,” Jim Malatras, who has been working on the governor’s free-tuition plan, said. Private colleges and universities in the state have warned that their finances could be hit hard. “It’s really hard to compete with free,” said Mary Beth Labate, who leads the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities. [WRVO Public Media]

Lawmakers in the North Carolina House and Senate proposed competing tax plans on Thursday that would bring more personal and corporate tax cuts. The Senate plan, which is seen as more aggressive than the House’s version, would benefit North Carolina’s poorer, more rural counties. Residents in those areas could see income taxes drop by an average of 40 percent. More urban jurisdictions, like Wake County, would see income taxes drop by 7 percent on average. [@NCCapitol / WRAL-TV]

CITY HALLS | The city of Frederick, Maryland, has announced that it will remove a busts of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision, and former Gov. Thomas Johnson from the grounds of city hall and relocate them to a local cemetery. [City of Frederick]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | Lee Baca, the former sheriff of Los Angeles County was found guilty on Wednesday of charges associated with obstructing a federal investigation into misconduct in jails. He now faces the possibility of time behind bars, himself. Speaking on the outcome of the trial, Acting U.S. Atty. Sandra Brown said, “this verdict sends a clear message that no one is above the law ...” [Los Angeles Times]

IMMIGRATION | In late January, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez reversed his locality’s decision to ignore detainer requests by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. More than 50 requests have been received since that change in policy. The Miami Herald has filed a request to view those “detainer” documents, but ICE lawyers have insisted they cannot be made public. The mayor, however, objects to this level of secrecy. He sent a memo to the County’s legal department Thursday saying, “I strongly believe that the release of the forms is consistent with the County’s practice of disclosure and transparency, and this information should not be withheld from the public.” [Miami Herald]

STATE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES | About half of California’s state workers will be receiving raises and bonuses following Gov. Jerry Brown signing a handful of labor contracts on Wednesday. The pay increases won’t come immediately since the State Controller’s Office has to wait for an order from the state’s Human Resources Department. [The Sacramento Bee]

WILDLIFE | The borough of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, is experiencing a sudden spike in its population of skunks. “They showed up in about the last two years, out of the blue,” said borough Mayor Jack Kobistek. Now, for the first time ever, Carnegie’s officials have allocated $2,000 of the 2017 budget for skunk removal—it’s the first time a line item has existed for this odiferous mammal. This may actually be a case of the personal becoming political—last summer, the mayor says, a family of four skunks took up residence under the house next his. [TribLIVE.com]