Connecting state and local government leaders

Texas Lt. Gov. Not Worried About N.C.-Style Backlash; Delaware Ex-Mayor’s Email Surprise


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: More state legislative updates; a bad audit for a Florida state agency’s IT; L.A. County’s one-stop shop for immigration defense

STATE LEGISLATURES | Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he isn’t worried about an economic backlash for his state if lawmakers in Austin adopt a so-called “bathroom law” like North Carolina did. The Republican said that North Carolina’s economy has been very strong despite loud condemnation from the business community. [Texas Tribune]

New York state lawmakers from the Albany area introduced a bill on Wednesday that would mandate that the governor deliver the annual State of the State address from the State Capitol. This year, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo held six regional addresses instead of speaking before the legislators. [Gannett Albany via Rochester Democrat & Chronicle]

In South Carolina, capping state worker pension contributions at 9 percent of their pay for the foreseeable future is a key provision in a bill taking shape in the legislature. That contribution level is now set at 8.66 percent, and is set to increase to 9.2 percent on July 1 if lawmakers don’t act. South Carolina’s public employee pension system has about $20 billion in unfunded obligations. “We’re going to have to infuse a large amount of money into [the S.C. retirement] system one way or another,” said Republican state Sen. Kevin Bryant. [The State]

The longtime Illinois House Speaker, Democrat Michael Madigan of Chicago, was re-elected to a 17th term as his chamber’s leader on Wednesday in Springfield. [Chicago Tribune]

A freshman Republican state senator in Idaho plans to introduce legislation that would classify abortion as first-degree murder for the mother and doctor, except when the mother’s life is in danger. [Lewiston Tribune]

The Colorado legislature, which started its new session on Wednesday, is hampered by constitutional restrictions on how the state can raise revenue and by term limits, which is draining the Colorado State Capitol of institutional knowledge and policy expertise. [Colorado Springs Gazette]

Wyoming Gov. Matt Meade has a message for state lawmakers: Don’t squirrel away money when the state has been hit by $300 million in cuts. [Casper Star Tribune]

CITY HALLS | Dennis Williams, the former mayor of Wilmington, Delaware, did not write a single email from his official city account when he was in office, according to a public records request. [The News Journal]

Members of the Warren, Michigan, city council won’t take any action against Mayor Jim Fouts, who has been caught up in a controversy involving secret recordings released by a political rival. Fouts has denied being the man in a recording who can be heard denigrating disabled people, sparking outrage in the Detroit suburb. There is now a petition campaign circulating to reinstate mayoral term limits. [WDIV; Detroit Free Press]

A New Jersey mayor saved a young woman from a house fire on his way to Gov. Chris Christie’s State of the State address on Tuesday. [WCAU / NBC10]

IMMIGRATION | Los Angeles County commissioners on Tuesday approved the creation of the Office of Immigrant Affairs, a “one-stop shop” for immigrants seeking legal representation in deportation cases and other social services. “I want to remind our communities that the county will continue to stand against hate and provide exceptional aid for our immigrant individuals,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, highlighting activists’ clashes with President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters. [Los Angeles Times]

STATE GOVERNMENT IT | The Florida Department of Financial Services’ aging accounting system just got a poor bill of health from the state auditor, pointing out security control problems with the existing system. The department has been trying to replace its roughly three decade-old “Florida Accounting Information Resource Subsystem” with a new “Planning, Accounting and Ledger Management” system, which is expected to be completed in 2018. The Department of Financial Services is attempting to update the legacy system, while asking the state legislature for funds to complete its replacement. [Florida Politics]

SHORT-TERM RENTALS | The city of Portland, Maine is taking heat from residents over how zoning rules are getting enforced for short-term rentals, like Airbnb. “Essentially, you have commercial businesses moving deeply into residential areas,” said resident Celeste Bard. “The city is allowing this to happen without enforcing their own code of ordinances.” [Portland Press Herald]

NUCLEAR SAFETY | There’s a ticking nuclear time bomb that many people may not realize poses a major threat to Seattle and the Puget Sound region. The largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. is at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Of top concern? “possibility of an accident involving Trident rocket motor propellant while loading and unloading the nuclear-equipped D-5 missiles at the Explosives Handling Wharf.” [Crosscut]

STATE POLITICS | In Pennsylvania, Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner Wednesday became the first candidate to formally announce a 2018 gubernatorial bid against incumbent Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf. Wagner came out swinging. “Governor Wolf is a failed governor,” he said. “That's why I am officially announcing my candidacy.” Wolf’s first term began in 2015 and will end in January 2019. []

CRIMINAL JUSTICE | County prosecutors in the Portland, Oregon, area have agreed to stop most prosecutions for TriMet transit riders who are caught not paying their fare. Research into MAX light rail fare evasion showed that African-Americans were banned from the transit system at rates higher than white riders. Fare evaders can still be fined administratively by TriMet. [The Oregonian / OregonLive]

MENTAL HEALTH | Leaders in Douglas County, Kansas, have asked the state legislature for more local health department funding, Medicaid expansion and an end to easement management in addition to mental health funding, as it attempts to reduce incarceration in its jail. “The tax lid legislation understands law enforcement is a critical and necessary public need,” said county Commissioner Nancy Thellman. “We’re saying mental health should be looked at the same way.” [Lawrence Journal-World]

PUBLIC FACILITIES | Porter County, Indiana will pay $112,000 to redesign the crumbling front steps of its administration center in an effort to improve visitors’ “sense of arrival.” [The Times of Northwest Indiana]