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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Ind. AG defiant as pressure to resign mounts … Maine gov.’s Medicaid expansion veto survives … and the high costs of homelessness services.
Good morning, it’s Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The record heat in Southern California—and the stresses it brought to the local power grid—leads our state and local government news roundup, which also includes stories from Albany, New York; Heyburn, Idaho; Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
INFRASTRUCTURE | As public utilities in Southern California work to finish restoring power to customers who lost electricity—and their air conditioning—in record-setting heat that baked the region on Friday, expect similar events in the years to come: “Climate scientists have known this was coming, and it may only be the beginning.” A warming planet will increase demand for air conditioning, which will strain power infrastructure that wasn’t designed for such levels of consumption. On Monday, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was working to restore the last few thousand customers who lost power, including the hard-hit Koreatown area. The department reported Monday morning that it had restored power to more than 76,000 customers since Friday. [The Washington Post; Los Angeles Times; @LADWP]
Facing the prospect of significant federal fines that could very well bankrupt their city, local officials in Heyburn, Idaho are trying to figure out a way to fund mandated wastewater treatment plant improvements that will cost $7 million to $8 million. “We have no choice, we have to do this,” according to City Manager Tony Morley. [Times-News / MagicValley.com]
STATE GOVERNMENT | A week after accusations that he groped four women at a bar became public, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill held a news conference Monday to defend himself. "I stand before you a condemned man. Condemned without trial. Condemned without notice. Condemned without the benefit of any basic rights that ensure fairness," Hill said. A state inspector general is looking into claims that Hill, a Republican, inappropriately touched four women at a bar in March. Since a memo describing the alleged incidents was written about by the Indianapolis Star last Monday, two women have come publicly forward. Hill’s fellow Republican leaders, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, have called on him to step down. During the news conference, Hill criticized the investigation and ongoing media coverage. "That protection, that standard of fairness, that benefit of the doubt, that presumption of innocence until proven guilty, has escaped my grasp," the attorney general said. [Indianapolis Star]
Lawmakers in Maine’s state House on Monday failed to override Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of funding to expand Medicaid. LePage, a Medicaid expansion critic, had rejected the legislature’s proposal to provide $60 million in surplus money and state tobacco settlement dollars to move forward with expanding the insurance program for the poor--a move that voters had approved last fall. But lawmakers were unable to muster the necessary two-thirds vote to overturn LePage’s veto. The governor has argued that a source of funding over the long term needs to be identified. [Portland Press Herald]
- Washington, D.C.: Members of the District of Columbia Council are planning a vote to repeal Initiative 77, a recently approved measure that would phase out the tipped minimum wage for restaurant workers. [DCist]
- Sacramento, California: According to a recently compiled list from the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, the county spent “$149,797.50 in jail, emergency response and behavioral health costs in a single year” on one homeless man, who is now in stable housing, addiction counseling and has a job. "I had no idea that my addiction cost the county so much money,” he said. “At the time, I wouldn't have cared." [The Sacramento Bee]
- Albany, New York: The acting police chief in New York’s capital city responded harshly to a now-deleted Facebook post written by a police union vice president that pointed fingers at the mayor and an anti-violence group following a particularly deadly weekend. "I would contend Greg McGee has done more to negatively impact morale than anyone else," Chief Robert Sears said in his statement, referring the Albany Police Officers Union official. "Greg McGee has damaged all the hard work that members of the department have done over the years with one misguided attempt to make himself feel superior." [Times Union]
- Austin, Texas: The Texas Tribune is tracking the movement of the supply of drugs used in executions, something that isn’t easy due to “increasing secrecy about the companies that provide them.” According to its accounting, Texas executioners have 22 doses in stock and seven executions that are scheduled. [Texas Tribune]
- Denver, Colorado: For a city that touts its environmental credentials, Denver Parks and Recreation doesn’t offer recycling in city parks, but a citizen-led effort pressed officials to let them try out a recycling pilot project in Confluence Park. [Westword]
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: In a state that’s been hit hard by Lyme disease, there’s some welcome news in the new state budget: $2.5 million for Health Department staff to implement 18 recommendations made by a Lyme disease task force. [WHTM]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.