Connecting state and local government leaders

Federal Dam Managers Choose Not to Flood Boise

Boise River Diversion Dam in Idaho

Boise River Diversion Dam in Idaho

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Connecticut state government readies for layoffs; N.Y.C. eyes nation’s highest cigarette taxes; and lack of transparency in Jefferson City.

WATER MANAGEMENT | Federal and Idaho state officials are carefully monitoring flows on the Boise River. Reservoirs are already filling up, and vast amounts of snow are expected to melt in the surrounding watershed in the weeks ahead. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Damon Delarosa acknowledged Wednesday that federal dam managers were taking a chance by not raising flows. “We have made a very calculated decision to this point,” Delarosa said. “We absolutely could have released enough water to match up with the record runoffs, but the result would have been absolutely flooding Boise.” [Idaho Statesman]

LAYOFFS | Connecticut government agencies received notices to prepare for cuts as early as next week because of a $3 billion deficit the next two years, stoking fears of additional employee layoffs. Gov. Dannel Malloy could also just be employing the tactic to bargain over the budget. [WVTI-TV]

PUBLIC HEALTH | New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has introduced a proposal that would hike cigarette taxes to $13 per pack, the highest in the nation. The mayor’s plan aims to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 people. "There will be a fight over it. Big Tobacco watches New York City very carefully," de Blasio said. [WNBC-TV; New York Daily News]

INFRASTRUCTURE | Legislation in the Montana state Legislature that would authorize $98.8 million in borrowing for state buildings and local infrastructure projects is still awaiting a vote in the House Appropriations Committee, as the current session nears its end. The committee’s chair, Rep. Nancy Ballance, said Wednesday she will ask the committee to take action on the bill “when we can find 67 people who can agree on what they want. Otherwise, we’ll hold it where it is.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]

ABORTIONS | Wisconsin Republicans don’t want government workers using their health insurance to cover abortions and are pushing legislation similar to a bill that failed three years ago to stop the practice. Cases of rape, incest or protecting the mother’s life would be exceptions, but not women who experience complications late in their pregnancies. "Leave these decisions to the physicians and families who are suffering, and they are suffering when they have a wanted pregnancy that goes wrong," said state Rep. Chris Taylor, a Democrat. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

TRANSPARENCY | Arguing Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration hasn’t been cooperative with tax refund audits, State Auditor Nicole Galloway issued a subpoena to the Department of Revenue to turn over information on how they’re handled. “There is a lack of transparency that has fallen over state government at the direction of the governor,” Galloway, the lone Democrat in office in Jefferson City, said. “This isn’t the first wall that we’ve run into, so we’re finding a trend here.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

SUBSIDIES | A $3 billion fertilizer plant in Wever, Iowa that received $109 million of state tax subsidies is drawing praise and scrutiny. “This is one of the best investments we've ever made,” said Gov. Terry Branstad as the plant opened on Wednesday. The facility generated about 3,500 construction jobs and 220 permanent jobs. It’s also getting roughly $30 million in local tax abatements over two decades. "We asked back at the time of this offer, 'Is there a limit on what we will pay for a good job?'" said Mike Owen, executive director of the Iowa Policy Project. "Five years later, we don't have an answer." [The Des Moines Register]