Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Rare polio-like disease spreads to 22 states … Tornado Alley’s eastward shift … and disaster unemployment insurance in Florida.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 17, 2018. Leading Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup is an interesting study of state pension plans, but scroll down for more from places like Bakersfield, California (where a realigned high-speed rail alignment has been adopted); Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (where the state House won’t be shrinking); and Anchorage, Alaska (where there was a brutal moose fight on a bike trail).
PENSIONS | A recently released study from North Carolina State University finds that “state pension plans would be better off avoiding external asset managers when investing their plans’ assets—and would carry substantially smaller unfunded liabilities if they had simply invested in a conventional index fund.” The coauthors of the N.C. State study, Jeff Deibold and Jerrell Coggburn looked at data from 49 state-administered pension plans in 30 states and evaluated performance from 2001-2014. “Unfortunately, higher fees did not lead to better performance,” Diebold said. “There was no positive relationship between what plans paid in fees and how they performed. You don’t always get what you pay for.” [NCSU News]
PUBLIC HEALTH | The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that there have been 62 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis—a rare and mysterious disease with polio-like symptoms—in 22 states. “Parents need to know that AFM is very rare, even with the increase in cases that we are seeing now,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. [CDC; Enquirer / Cincinnati.com] … Hospitals in Chicago are sending drug overdose patients home with naloxone, the medication that can reserve an overdose. [Chicago Tribune] … Seventeen Nebraska state senators are making the case for expanding Medicaid in the state. [Lincoln Journal-Star]
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | A newly released study published in Climate and Atmospheric Science shows that while tornadic activity has been declining in the Great Plains corridor traditionally known as Tornado Alley, there’s been an eastward shift in activity over the past 40 years. Tornado activity is “increasing most in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and parts of Ohio and Michigan.” While Texas and Oklahoma may be seeing fewer tornadoes, those states still see the most. “It’s not that Texas and Oklahoma do not get tornadoes,” according to Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini, a co-author on the study. “They’re still the number one location in terms of tornado frequency, but the trend in many locations is down over the past 40 years.” But it’s unclear what precisely is leading to the shift. “Clearly, there is a climate change signal here,” Gensini said. “What’s causing the change is still an open question.” [Climate and Atmospheric Science / Nature; AP via Rapid City Journal; Northern Illinois University]
DISASTER RECOVERY | People in Florida who are now unemployed due to Hurricane Michael’s destruction in the state’s panhandle are now able to apply for disaster unemployment assistance through mid-November. [Tallahassee Democrat] … The Federal Emergency Management Agency has expanded the number of hurricane-impacted counties in Georgia that are eligible for the Individual Assistance program. [Albany Herald]
INFRASTRUCTURE | Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is on a 13-city tour to promote Proposition D, a state ballot measure that would increase the gas tax. [KY3] … The California High Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday voted to move its alignment through the city of Bakersfield, which sued the agency four years ago over its plan to situate a station downtown. A rerouting north of downtown will reduce construction costs by $200 million. [Fresno Bee] … Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport is “the airport that gets the job done without being flashy.” [Curbed DC] … Concerns from Portland, Oregon Commissioner Amanda Fritz will delay hearings for proposed alignment of the planned Southwest MAX light rail line. [Portland Tribune] … Public works crews in Herrin, Illinois are using smoke tests to find leaks in the city’s sewers. [KFVS]
LAW ENFORCEMENT | In Federal Way, Washington, attorneys say that a key witness in an officer-involved shooting was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Crosscut] … The former police chief in Fishers, Indiana was sentenced to probation after he pleaded guilty for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. [The Indianapolis Star] … Baltimore police union leaders are “disappointed” in how officers were portrayed in a “Saturday Night Live” skit. [WJZ]
STATE GOVERNMENT | The California Public Utilities Commission has issued $13 million in fines against two state utilities, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., in incidents from “safety violations and faulty equipment” that injured several people and in one instance caused an explosion. [Los Angeles Times] … Iowa Department of Management Director David Roederer said he’s “confident budget cuts will not be needed in the middle of this fiscal year, as they were in each of the last two years.” [Iowa Public Radio] … An effort to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives died this week “not with a bang, but with a procedural vote.” [WHYY]
CITY HALLS | Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered his final budget address on Wednesday. [WLS] … In Fort Collins, Colorado, city council members decided to not take a stance on Proposition 112, a statewide ballot initiative that would prohibit oil and gas wells within 2,500 feet of homes, schools, hospitals and other locations [Coloradoan] … Officials in Miami Beach, Florida passed rules on Wednesday that would make it more difficult for minors to get their hands on e-cigarette devices. [Miami Herald] … Renters in West Hollywood, California helped shift their City Council’s vote on a seismic safety measure. [LAist]
WILDLIFE | An unexpected scene recently played out on a bike trail in Anchorage, Alaska: A “brutal” fight between two moose. “I've never seen anything like the stark scene of wild violence that unfolded a few days ago, there within view of Northern Lights Boulevard in the middle of urban Anchorage.” [Anchorage Daily News] … Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission vets rescued three stranded manatees at the Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve. [WFLA]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.