Connecting state and local government leaders

N.M. Ranch Owner on Mexico Border Has Tough Message for Trump



Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Weekend Digest: Florida pre-emption proposal rankles local officials; California’s new cigarette taxes; and fed-up citizens in St. Paul take action on trash.

BORDER SECURITY | Building a massive border wall, as envisioned by President Trump, will be a logistical challenge, especially when it comes to acquiring privately-owned land along the border. That includes rancher William Hurt, who is among the largest landowners along the New Mexico border with Mexico. His warning to the White House: “Don’t even come down here and think about starting building a wall until you get input from the landowner,” he said. “… The best way to just absolutely get no cooperation is tell me what I’m gonna have to do to make you happy.” [The Albuquerque Journal]

STATE AND CITY RELATIONS | A legislative proposal would give Florida’s governor more power to remove local government officials in jurisdictions operating under a state financial emergency declaration, like the cash-strapped city of Opa-locka. “The state has spent a great deal of time and resources on trying to help the city [of Opa-locka],” state Rep. Dan Raulerson, a Republican. “The response has been delay, delay, delay by the city in working toward financial stability.” John Riley, a city commissioner and former mayor in Opa-locka, says the proposal is “bad policy” and contends that the current oversight board operates like a “dictatorship.” [The Miami Herald]

PUBLIC SAFETY | Although including sprinkler systems in new residential construction is part of a national model building code, nearly all states—California and Maryland are two exceptions—have either exempted themselves from the rule, have banned local governments from requiring sprinklers in private residences or leave it up to cities and counties to decide. The National Association of Home Builders says that requiring sprinklers makes construction more expensive and says government shouldn’t dictate rules, a position that fire safety advocates say is misinformed. [The Kansas City Star]

SANITATION | A group of fed-up citizens in St. Paul, Minnesota, took matters into their own hands on Sunday when they cleaned up trash from a parcel of land controlled by the Minnesota Department of Transportation after months of frustrating complaints to the city and state to remove the accumulated garbage. According to a Facebook post documenting their intervention: “It took 60 bucks, 2 1/2 hours, three adults and two children to do what the City of Saint Paul and the State of Minnesota could not and would not do for over four months … pick up garbage!” [Pioneer Press]

PUBLIC HEALTH | An approved state ballot initiative that hiked taxes on cigarettes in California is now in effect. Smokers in the Golden State are now paying an extra $2 per pack. The measure, Proposition 56, was pitched to voters as a way to convince smokers to give up their unhealthy habit. “Absolutely, I’m quitting. I refuse to pay it,” one smoker from Citrus Heights said. California now has the ninth-highest cigarette tax in the nation. [The Sacramento Bee]

HOUSING | The already tight housing market in Portland, Oregon, is expected to get worse. According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, housing construction hasn’t kept pace with the demand. Translation: Good luck, renters. [Willamette Week]

LAND USE | A proposal to allow urban agriculture in areas of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been gaining steam. “I haven’t heard anyone [on City Council] say anything negative about this,” said City Councilmember David Brennan. The proposal would amend current zoning ordinances to permit small crop farming on residential properties and vacant lots. [Erie Times-News]