Connecting state and local government leaders

Outsourcing Proposal in Maine Worries Parks Advocates

The Maine State House in Augusta

The Maine State House in Augusta Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Ohio prisoner plan would pay county governments; Pa. Senate bill would undermine rules from Philly and Pittsburgh; and flu numbers jump in Connecticut.

WORKFORCE | A proposal from Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration to outsource two dozen seasonal jobs at Maine state parks, and to cut management positions involving historic sites and public lands, is stirring concerns among conservation advocates. “You’ll hear that they’re not laying anybody off, but (seasonal workers) are the meat and potatoes of park labor during the summer,” said Alan Stearns, executive director of the Royal River Conservation Trust and a former deputy director at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. “The administration will say they are replacing them with contractors. But the reality is … they are doing everything from parking management to crisis (response) and cleaning the toilets.” [Portland Press Herald]

STATE AND CITY RELATIONS | A bill in the Pennsylvania Senate would prohibit municipalities in the commonwealth from enacting rules that are different than the state that require employers to provide paid or unpaid employee leave. That would make local ordinances in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh “null and void.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

CORRECTIONS | The state of Ohio would pay its county governments to house low-risk inmates from state prisons as part of a diversion program. Under a plan from Gov. John Kasich, the state would pay Ohio’s counties $23 per day per inmate, which is less than half of the nearly $68 it costs to house inmates at state prisons. [The Columbus Dispatch]

PUBLIC HEALTH | Connecticut is among the states that has seen the number of flu cases jump. As of Feb. 18, the most recent date where data is available, there have been 3,093 positive test results this flu season in the state, a major increase over the 2,560 cases reported the week before. [Connecticut Post]

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT | Although the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has undertaken an extensive emergency feeding effort for deer and elk, it may be too late and far too limited. “I can’t tell you if it’s starvation or whether it’s from the cold, or a combination of both because they don’t have any energy to move,” one resident of Garden Valley said, who has encountered dead or dying animals. There are a lot of factors at play, including a noxious weed that has reduced the availability of other plants that the animals use as a food source. [Idaho Statesman]

TRANSPORTATION | There’s debate among lawmakers in the Montana Legislature over whether to increase the state’s fuel tax to help pay for state and local road work. State Rep. Frank Garner, a Republican, presented a bill to the House Transportation Committee last week that would raise the gas tax from 27 cents to 35 cents per gallon. The state’s fuel tax has not increased for 24 years, according to Garner. But 11 GOP state lawmakers have published an open letter calling Garner’s proposal a government “bailout” that would put “one more tax brick on the back of the Montana taxpayer.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]

CITY GOVERNMENT | The historic Municipal Building in Madison, Wisconsin, is slated for $30 million in renovations, but after two bids came in way over the city’s budget, the project could be delayed by two months. “I don’t think it was in any of our wildest nightmares that we would be $8 to $10 million over budget between the two bids,” Alderman Mike Verveer said. [The Capital Times /]