Feds Announce Relief Funding for Transit Agencies Impacted by 2017’s Hurricanes

November 9, 2017: Streets in the Ocean Park sector of San Juan remain flooded weeks after Hurricane María utterly devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico.

November 9, 2017: Streets in the Ocean Park sector of San Juan remain flooded weeks after Hurricane María utterly devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico. Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Fake cops in Michigan charged with felonies … Nashville’s e-scooter removal blitz … and Louisiana capitalizes on its coastal erosion.

Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty’s attention ...

  • Washington, D.C.: The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday announced $277.5 million in relief funding for transit systems that sustained damage during hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria last year. Of that funding, $232.3 million will be dedicated to response, recovery and rebuilding projects and $44.2 million will be used for resiliency-related projects. The Federal Transit Administration plans to allocate the bulk of the funding, approximately $223.5 million, for projects in Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Texas will get $23.3 million, while Florida will get $22.8 million. The U.S. Virgin Islands will receive $6.7 million in funding while Georgia will get $187,000. [USDOT]
  • Portland, Oregon: An independent police review has identified “numerous policy shortcomings” in how the Portland Police Bureau handled a protest against right-wing groups in June 2017, when officers detained 389 people, including members of local and national media outlets. Among the findings: “Despite reassurances that it would do so, the Portland Police Bureau failed to delete nearly 400 photos taken of protesters' IDs” during the bureau’s mass detention action. [Willamette Week]
  • Nashville, Tennessee: Public works crews have been fanning out across the city this week to confiscate Bird electric scooters parked on public rights of way, scooters that the Nashville Metro government considers to be illegal. The action taken follows a cease-and-desist deadline Nashville officials gave Bird to remove its scooters from public rights of way. "We will engage with city officials with the goal of developing a fair process to review the reasons for confiscating Birds and having them returned," a Bird spokesman said. [Tennessean]
  • Flint, Michigan: Prosecutors in Genesee County have filed felony charges against “a group of wannabe cops” who have been “fooling police, firefighters and the public for years.” The group called itself the Genesee County Fire and EMS Media-Genesee County Task Force Blight Agency. "We believe that on some occasions, they were the first to show up on crime scenes," said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton. "On some occasions, the real police would ask them to perform tasks at the scene, not realizing they were imposters." [The Flint Journal / MLive.com]
  • Sacramento, California: Gov. Jerry Brown OK’d a pair of bills on Thursday that will “set permanent overall targets for indoor and outdoor water consumption.” While the legislation is more flexible than California’s emergency drought mandate rules but “will eventually allow state regulators to assess thousands of dollars in fines against jurisdictions that do not meet the goals.” [The Sacramento Bee]
  • Trenton, New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy approved legislation this week that protects a part of the Affordable Care Act that Congress and the Trump administration repealed: the individual mandate. The New Jersey legislation creates a statewide individual mandate for residents to carry health insurance. State Sen. Joseph Vitale, one of the sponsors of the bill, said the state action "was needed to maintain a foundation for the insurance market and to allow the success of the ACA to continue." [The Star-Ledger / NJ.com]
  • Vermillion Bay, Louisiana: As Louisiana continues to see more and more of its coastline and marshes to erosion, an old state law means that it is “able to capitalize on one of its greatest threats” and in the process, “it's netting hundreds of millions of dollars in mineral royalty payments a year, records show.” [The TImes-Picayune / NOLA.com]
  • Washoe County, Nevada: Voters in this northwestern Nevada county, which includes the city of Reno, will consider a proposal in November that would increase property taxes for flood control projects on the Truckee River. New flood control funding is needed to help unlock federal funding. But there could be an uphill battle to convince some voters: “The trouble with raising money for floods is the people who haven’t been flooded are going to say, ‘why should I pay for that,’” said John Cobourn, a retired water specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative. [The Nevada Independent]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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