Connecting state and local government leaders

State and Local Daily Digest: Okla.’s Dismal Budget News; Conn. Lawmakers Look at Weaponized Drone Ban


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our news roundup: Floods shut bridges between Texas and Louisiana; pothole season is in full swing; Alabama city embraces higher municipal minimum wage.

STATE FINANCES | The downturn in Oklahoma’s energy sector continues to damage the finance of the Sooner State. A new report shows that in February, state revenues were nearly $50 million—or 18 percent—below what had been predicted by state budget planners. Across-the-board cuts have been made, and there’s an agreement to take nearly $79 million from the state’s rainy-day fund to plug budget holes. [The Oklahoman]

DRONES | Attaching firearms, contraband or weapons to an unmanned aerial vehicle is a bad idea. That should be common sense. But lawmakers in Connecticut want to codify a prohibition on drone vehicles that could be potentially used for evil purposes. Legislation was passed by the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday and now goes to the Judiciary Committee for consideration. [Connecticut Post]

PUBLIC EDUCATION | State lawmakers are considering a legislative proposal that would give the fiscally distressed Detroit Public Schools $48.7 million to keep teachers paid through the end of the current school year. The state-appointed manager of the Detroit Public Schools warned lawmakers that the schools may be forced to close in early April because the system will have no money to pay its teachers. [MLive Media Group]

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | Following a period of heavy rainfall, flooding along the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border has closed Interstate 10 between the two states. Other bridges have been closed, limiting travel across the river. It’s not known when I-10 will reopen. [Houston Chronicle]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | The Orange County Sheriff’s Department will be getting more oversight now that the Southern California law enforcement agency has gotten the thumbs up to hire a special attorney to examine “high risk” issues in the department. Orange County has been rocked by an ongoing jailhouse informant scandal, which has undermined the prosecution of six criminal cases and has prompted calls for reform. [Orange County Register]

GOOD IDEAS | As policy makers figure out ways to help curb the epidemic of drug overdoes that has been hitting states and localities across the nation, the Seattle Police Department has a six-to-eight month pilot project where 60 bicycle cops will be carrying nasal naloxone, which can help stop heroin overdoses in progress. [Capitol Hill Seattle]

MINIMUM WAGE | Local officials in this northeastern Alabama city have approved a measure that will increase the minimum wage for all current and future city employees to at least $10 per hour. Of the city’s 90-person, full-time workforce, eight employees were making $8.25 an hour, a wage that Mayor Bill Barker said was “barbaric.” [The Anniston Star]

WASTE MANAGEMENT | Mayor Jean Stothert and others in her administration want to make changes and improvements to the city’s trash, yard waste and recycling collection program, but proposals that have been suggested by the city’s contractor, Waste Management, may sit on unstable legal ground, according to the city attorney. The proposals would involve extending the standing contract with Waste Management, which currently sunsets in 2020. The city is required to put out bids on new contracts. The mayor hopes that waste collection program changes can be made within the current contract. [Omaha World-Herald]

PUBLIC WORKS | With winter in its waning days, many public works departments around the nation have been shifting gears to deal with pothole season. Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion annually. In Green Bay, municipal officials are asking the public to report pothole locations with as much detail as possible, so the city can make repairs. [Green Bay Press Gazette]

BENEFITS | County workers who go on parental leave will be getting new benefits starting in July. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to give six weeks of partial pay—66 percent of their regular salary—to mothers and fathers taking time off for a new baby. That expansion of benefits will cost Pima County taxpayers around $500,000 annually. [Arizona Daily Star]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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