Connecting state and local government leaders

Okla. Lawmakers Want Federal Balanced Budget Amendment; Assessing Ohio’s Prison Food Contract

Oklahoma State Capital

Oklahoma State Capital


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Iowa state workers face black mold problem; public works heroes save ducklings; and a Portland pothole lawsuit.

STATE AND FEDERAL RELATIONS | Lawmakers in the Oklahoma Legislature have lended their support for a resolution that calls for a U.S. constitutional convention—something that has never been held since the Constitution was drafted in the late 18th century—to consider a federal balanced budget amendment and congressional term limits. “The only way to get back control of the federal government is action by individual states to create a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution,” one Tulsa-area Republican, State Sen. Mike Mazzei, said. The resolution passed the State Senate on Tuesday. According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, a convention of states can be called if 34 of the 50 states request one.  [Tulsa World]

CORRECTIONS | Last year, the state of Michigan cut its $145 million prison food services contract with Aramark Correctional Services due to a string of problems and bad headlines for the Philadelphia-based contractor. How’s Aramark doing south of the Michigan border in Ohio? A new report from a legislative watchdog group, the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, says that while the state is saving $10 million annually from contracting out prison food services, complaints from inmates about food have increased. There have also been problems with Aramark personnel having inappropriate relationships with prisoners. (That was also a problem in Michigan.) [Detroit News; Columbus Dispatch]

FLOODWATER MANAGEMENT | City Park in New Orleans is a major 1,300 acre expanse north of the Central Business District near Lake Pontchartrain. It’s home to cultural institutions like the New Orleans Museum of Art plus is a venue for recreational activities like golf. But the park is also being transformed into an important part of the city’s floodwater mitigation infrastructure. A new floodwater control gate will allow City Park’s lagoons to be emptied before a hurricane or forecasted heavy rainfall approaches New Orleans. That way, floodwater that accumulates in the city can be held in the park, reducing the pressure on city neighborhoods. [The Times-Picayune /]

WATER CONTAMINATION | The public school system in Washington’s third-largest city notified parents of students at four elementary schools this week that previous tests have showed there are isolated spots in those facilities with high levels of lead in drinking water. The new announcement comes on the heels of an announcement from Tacoma’s school system that disclosed that high-lead levels were discovered at two other elementary schools. Additional testing of the water quality has been approved by the school district. [The News Tribune]   

PUBLIC WORKS HEROES | Unfortunately, urban stormwater infrastructure can sometimes be hazardous to ducklings. But in one neighborhood in Grand Rapids, quick action by residents to alert the city’s Environmental Services Department helped save four ducklings, who were able to extract the creatures and reunite them with their “anxious” mother. [The Grand Rapids Press /]

PARKS AND RECREATION | The Chattanooga area is known for its easy access to the great outdoors and its Civil War battlefields. And the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which includes Lookout Mountain, is an important local economic driver. In 2015, the national military park supported 979 jobs locally and pumped $77 million into the Chattanooga-area economy, according to a new report from the National Park Service. [Nooga]

LAWSUITS | Potholes can be annoying for everyone. They can also be legal liabilities for a muncipal government. In Oregon’s largest city, the municipal government is facing a lawsuit for $49,999 over injuries one woman sustained after stumbling and breaking her foot in a downtown pothole. [The Oregonian /]  

WORKPLACE CONDITIONS | Gov. Terry Branstad has checked out a state-owned building just outsie Des Moines that’s home to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, a building that has developed a problem with black mold. “I’m not aware that it’s made people sick at this point, but I think it’s important that we do everything we can to remediate the mold situation and take appropriate action so people don’t become sick,” the governor said. It’s not yet known what the state’s next move is but academy leaders want to move out of the building. [Radio Iowa]

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | Texas politicians often like to point out that the Lone Star State is a good place to do business and encourage businesses to relocate. One California aerospace company, California Composites, is planning to leave the Los Angeles area and will resurface in Fort Worth, Texas. The president of the company says California’s future $15 minimum wage, plus layers of state and local rules on worker compensation, is giving him few reasons to remain in the state. [Southern California Public Radio / KPCC-TV]

MEDICAL MARIJUANA | Members of the Montana Supreme Court ruled Monday that new restrictions on medical marijuana in the state will not be enforced, at least through the end of August. Earlier this year, the court ruled that a state law that has various restrictions on medical cannabis can stand, but a group representing medical marijuana providers has challenged the rules, saying they’re overly restrictive and will leave patients without access to medical marijuana, which was authorized in the state in a 2004 ballot initiative. [Associated Press via Missoulian]

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

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