Connecting state and local government leaders

Is Seattle ‘Holding Its Gunpowder’ in Legal Fight With Trump?

Seattle, Washington.

Seattle, Washington.


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Repairing Ferguson’s ‘tattered’ image; Philly mayor’s plan hits roadblock; and Alaska may give green light to Uber and Lyft.

CITY HALLS | There’s a bit of legal intrigue at Seattle City Hall. Last month in his State of the City report, Mayor Ed Murray demanded that the White House formally define what a “sanctuary city” is and gave the Trump administration 20 days to respond, threatening to sue under open records laws if it didn’t. Those 20 days passed and thus far, there’s been no lawsuit. But the city may be “holding its gunpowder for a broader fight against the Trump administration’s attack on sanctuary cities.” Stay tuned. [Crosscut]

The next mayor of Ferguson, Missouri, will have a long list of challenges to deal with, in particular, “repairing the city’s tattered image” following the controversial officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown that touched off civil unrest and brought the international spotlight to the struggling St. Louis-area municipality. “The margin of error moving forward is very narrow,” said Mayor Jim Knowles, who is facing a reelection challenge from a city councilmember in the April 4 vote. [St. Louis Public Radio]

TRANSPORTATION | Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to lead an independent panel to study the ongoing governance and fiscal troubles facing the multi-jurisdictional Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the regional Metrorail and Metrobus system in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. On Thursday, the Metro board passed an “austerity” budget that will raise fares while cutting service. “Simply put, much more needs to be done to address the funding needs and control costs that management actions alone cannot solve,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said. [The Washington Post; WAMU News]

State lawmakers in the Colorado House passed a bill out of committee Wednesday with only Democratic support that would ask voters to decide on a sales tax hike to help cover a $3.5 billion transportation bond package. The measure would raise the statewide sales tax to 3.52 percent from 2.9 percent, generating an estimated $702 million a year. Debate about the bill has sparked intense interest, lasting seven hours yesterday, with nearly 80 people signing up to offer testimony. [The Denver Post]

Ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft would be allowed to start operating across Alaska under legislation now under consideration in the state’s House and Senate. As proposed the bills would exempt people who drive for the app-based services from being covered under the state’s workers’ compensation policy. The measures would also generally prevent municipalities from creating or enforcing ride-booking ordinances. [Alaska Dispatch News]

TAXES | The Philadelphia Rebuild project—Mayor Jim Kenney’s $500-million investment in recreation centers, libraries and public parks—has hit a roadblock. It’s dependent on a small but critical amount of funding from Kenney’s other blockbuster initiative, the soda tax. Roughly 12 percent of the sweetened beverage tax revenue has been allocated for Rebuild. Pennsylvania’s appellate court is set to hear arguments in early April in the lawsuit challenging the tax, and the case could wind up in the state’s Supreme Court by the end of the year. Any judicial decision that negates the soda tax would create a ripple effect that will touch neighborhood projects all over the city. [PlanPhilly]

POPULATION GROWTH | The urban-rural divide in North Carolina continues. New U.S. Census Bureau population information shows that counties in and around Charlotte and Raleigh continue to lead the state in growth, while many rural counties showing meager population growth, stagnation or declines. [The Charlotte Observer]

PREEMPTION | Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Corpus Christi residents he wants a “broad-based law” allowing the state to preempt local environmental and equal rights regulations. "If you really want to talk about local control, you reduce it to the lowest common denominator and that is the individual," he said. "We retain the right as individuals for our own local control, for each of us, to be able to chart our own course, chart our own destiny based upon our own DNA." [San Antonio Current; Caller-Times]