Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Austin’s measles risk … former Little Rock mayor’s unused paid time off … and a Florida county’s understaffed 911 dispatch center.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Beer and dogs lead Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Hartford, Connecticut; Clark County, Washington; and Sarasota, Florida. ... ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Court Decision Doesn’t Guarantee Radical Changes to Fines and Property Seizures … Supreme Court Restrains States' Power to Seize Property … Pennsylvania Governor Says Workforce Training ‘Must Break From the Status Quo’ … For a Remote Workforce, Technology Builds Agency Culture … Using Data to Figure Out Where Transit Should Go … and Texas Estimates Hurricane Harvey Won’t Be an Overall Economic Hit
Let’s get to it ...
PUBLIC HEALTH | In Greensboro, North Carolina, craftbrewing fans and dog lovers decried a recent written warning that the Guilford County Health Department gave the Joymongers Brewing Co. for having dogs in their taproom. “Under state health code there is no category for taprooms so we fall under restaurant rules, even though we have no kitchen or food prep areas,” according to a Facebook post from Joymongers. North Carolina House Majority Whip Jon Hardister chimed in, saying he was “interested in clarifying this law, so taprooms don’t fall under restaurant rules.” [YES! Weekly; Joymongers Brewing Co. via Facebook] … The Clark County, Washington measles outbreak has now been linked to 63 confirmed cases. Public health officials have named additional exposure sites, including an elementary school and two health clinics. In Texas, where there is a smaller measles outbreak with eight confirmed cases in the state, health officials in Travis County, home to Austin, are on high alert since the county “has among the highest rates of conscientious exemptions from student vaccination requirements.” [The Columbian; KUT]
GOVERNORS | Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker introduced a $39 billion state budget on Wednesday during a joint session of the General Assembly, pledging a different course to governance than the one used by his predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner, whose administration was beset by acrimony and a two-year budget impasse. “Budgeting will not be done any more by taking the state hostage, or by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations but instead by debate and compromise and a return to regular order,” Pritzker said. … Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont presented on Wednesday a $43 billion two-year budget proposal to the legislature, which includes taxes on soda and single-use plastic bags and expanding the state’s sales tax to new services, including real estate and interior design work. Lamont, a Democrat, also presented two plans to introduce electronic tolling to state-controlled highways, one that would only impact tractor-trailer trucks and another for all vehicles. [Journal Inquirer; Hartford Courant] … Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed $49.5 billion two-year state budget will increase spending by $2 billion by tapping surplus funding and adding $1.3 billion in new taxes. “Minnesotans know they get what they pay for,” the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said on Tuesday. “They are willing to invest, but they want to know that their money is being spent wisely.” [Pioneer Press / TwinCities.com]
CITY HALLS | The Little Rock City Council on Tuesday approved paying former mayor Mark Stodola $160,000 for unused paid time off—2,281.53 hours of unused vacation and 211.73 hours of sick leave. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette via ArkansasOnline] … City Council members in Sandy, Utah have opened an investigation into the city’s response to a malfunctioning fluoride pump that brought “unsafe amounts of the mineral” to parts of the water system last week. [Salt Lake Tribune] … In Sarasota, Florida, Mayor Liz Alpert is angry with Commissioner Hagen Brody for “releasing his annual evaluations of the city’s top officials to the media before making them available to fellow board members.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
DISASTER RECOVERY | Houston-area residents whose homes were somehow allowed to be built within the footprint of reservoirs and subsequently flooded during Hurricane Harvey are suing the federal government for allowing their homes to flood. [Houston Public Media] … Butte County, California residents who lost their homes in recent wildfires and are trying to pursue damages from Pacific Gas & Electric are likely “near the bottom of the stack of priorities in PG&E’s insolvency proceeding” thanks to a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that “potentially would place the claims of the victims of the infernos of recent years at a lower priority than victims of any PG&E-caused wildfires that began after the company’s bankruptcy filing this year.” [Bay Area News Group via East Bay Times]
PUBLIC SAFETY | In Broward County, Florida, an audit has found that the 911 dispatch center is short staffed and spending millions on overtime. [Sun Sentinel] … A building that partially collapsed in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri more than six months ago is still standing as city officials and property owners deal with unresolved issues involving demolition. [KMIZ]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.