Connecting state and local government leaders

2 Florida State Employees Fired Over Missing a Critical Federal Deadline

Tallahassee, Florida

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Chinese investors vs. South Dakota; legal victory for Minneapolis mayor; and a conservative state network targets employee unions for “mortal blow.”

Due to the ongoing Texas flood emergency, we are offering an abbreviated roundup of state and local government news ...

DISASTER RECOVERY | Two Florida Division of Emergency Management employees were fired over the agency’s failure to meet a federal deadline for submitting county appeals of denied requests for financial aid to repair Hurricane Matthew damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency may no longer consider the appeals, a few of the 26 DEM has failed to file since 2004. Brevard County could lose up to $300,000, and Flagler and Volusia counties’ appeals were also involved. "FEMA should not penalize local governments for the state of Florida's failure to submit the appeal," wrote U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to the federal agency in a letter. "I strongly urge you to extend the appeals deadline to ensure recovering communities in Florida are given their due process to receive federal aid." [Tallahassee Democrat]

CITY BUDGETS | A judge in Minneapolis gave Mayor Betsy Hodges a victory on Thursday when it quashed a petition that asked the courts to force the mayor to file the city budget immediately or force her to explain why not. Hodges released a budget summary on Aug. 15, which the mayor’s administration argues meets a deadline required by the city charter. Hodges said that she’ll release the full budget on Sept. 12, as originally planned. [Star Tribune]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Thirty-five Chinese investors want the state of South Dakota kept in a lawsuit over $18.55 million they lost in a failed economic development project as part of the federal EB-5 immigrant-investor program. The state won a dismissal from the case in Circuit Court that the investors want the South Dakota Supreme Court to reverse. Foreigners investing $500,000 or more in a U.S.-based project creating at least 10 jobs receive an employment-based, fifth-preference visa followed by a permanent-residency green card for participating in the program. The investors each paid $530,000 to build a Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen that went bankrupt, their biggest complaint being former state EB-5 center manager Joop Bollen, also being sued, led them to believe the factory would begin operation almost immediately upon investment. [Rapid City Journal]

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES | The State Policy Network, an alliance of state-based conservative think tanks around the U.S., is targeting public employee unions as part of an effort to deal “the mortal blow,” to the “failed policies of the American Left.” The group’s objectives are outlined in a fundraising letter, which The Guardian published Wednesday. The 10-page letter is dated April 22 and signed by the group’s president and CEO, Tracie Sharp. It describes public employee unions as the biggest source of muscle and funding for “the Left” and says that “to win the battle for freedom, we must take the fight to the unions, state by state.” [The Guardian]

Meanwhile, in Maine, two of the state’s largest public sector labor unions have agreed to eliminate a requirement for all employees to pay union fees, regardless of whether they are members. This marks a win for Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, who has sparred with the groups. The Maine State Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, opted to nix the fees in exchange for higher pay raises than the state was otherwise offering as part of contract negotiations. [Bangor Daily News]

With Labor Day approaching, an informal survey of Pennsylvania state agencies found that the ways agencies celebrate workers’ efforts and service vary. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, for instance, recognizes years of service in five-year increments with a certificate in a blue folder. The cost: about 37 cents each. The state’s transportation department, on the other hand, holds a luncheon for about 30 top-performers at the Governor’s Residence. That event cost roughly $7,100 this year. The agency has other perks as well, like a $500 ice cream social for central office staff. [PennLive]