Robocalls Jam MNsure Call Center; Alabama Gov.: ‘Our Education System Sucks!’

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Demolition begins on plutonium facility; more layoffs in Maine’s paper industry; Washington county tracks down unlicensed pet owners.

STATE HEALTH INSURANCE | Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton charged Tuesday that a call center for the state’s online health insurance marketplace, MNsure, had fallen victim to robocalls meant to tie up phone lines. “Somebody’s trying to jam the call center, and making robocalls to try to snafu the thing—which is deplorable,” the governor said. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

EDUCATION RANKINGS | Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley didn’t mince words on Tuesday at a Alabama Association of Regional Councils conference when he said: “Our education system sucks!” [WSFA-TV]

REMEDIATION | After 20 years of work to cleanup contamination at the facility, demolition began Tuesday afternoon at the Hanford Plutonium Finishing Plant in Washington state. Almost two-thirds of the plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program during the Cold War was processed there. [Tri-City Herald]

JOBS | Verso Corp. announced Tuesday it would idle machinery at a paper mill in Jay, Maine and lay off 190 workers. With about 5,000 residents, Jay experienced 300 layoffs at the mill last year. Verso’s move marks the latest blow in a series of layoffs and closures affecting Maine’s paper industry during recent years. [CentralMaine.com]

COAL | Miners in Wyoming extracted nearly double the amount of coal between July and September than they had dug up in the three months prior. Coal production in the state was up 42 percent in the third quarter, compared to the previous one. Wyoming’s economy and government revenues have been hit hard by a downturn in the industry. [Casper Star Tribune]

STATE BUDGETS | In West Virginia, state revenue collections for October, which fell 2 percent below estimates, “show that the state’s budget woes are worsening.” [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

COUNTY GOVERNMENT | King County, Washington, is using a new way to track down unlicensed pet owners—a direct-mail marketing company, which among other data, keeps track of grocery-store club card purchases. These types of companies lump consumers into lifestyle categories for advertising purposes, so the county used that data and sent the people in the “prospective pet-owners” category a threatening letter about dodging licensing requirements. [The Seattle Times]  

OBSCENITIES | A tweet from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s Twitter account Tuesday referred to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as the c-word. Miller said a staffer was responsible for the tweet, which drew criticism from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. "No true Texas gentleman would ever talk this way,” the governor said. [The Texas Tribune]

DATA | In Alaska, the Anchorage School District has debuted a brand new online database, called the “dashboard,” that features searchable information of school performance, student achievement, attendance, discipline and more. "This is a valuable flashlight, a valuable tool, for everybody in the district and the community," said School Board President Tam Agosti-Gisler. The data, she said, "will help us grow." [Alaska Dispatch News]

OVERDOSES | Connecticut’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will lose full national accreditation and be placed on probation as a result of the uptick in fatal drug overdoses across the state, as well as a decrease in the office’s budget. The move calls the office’s proper functioning and efficiency of medical and legal death investigations into question. More fatal drug overdoses meant more bodies needing examination and more pathologists needed, but the office is in a hiring freeze. [New Haven Register]