Connecting state and local government leaders

State Rep. Gives ‘Worst Apology Ever’ Amid Formal Public Reprimand

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau Michael Grass / Route Fifty


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Another Confederate statue comes down in New Orleans; Vermont lawmakers legalize recreational marijuana; and Chris Christie’s controversial N.J. State House renovations.

STATE LEGISLATURES | In a rare move, the Alaska House of Representatives voted to issue a formal public reprimand against one of its own members—Wasilla Republican Rep. David Eastman—after he claimed last week that women in rural villages seek to get pregnant in order to get a free trip to the city to get an abortion. Just before the vote, Eastman gave a 20-minute apology speech, but also argued that "we will not solve the true, real problems of our state by finding people to silence." Fairbanks Democrat Scott Kawasaki later called it “the worst apology ever.” [Alaska Dispatch News]

MARIJUANA | Vineyard operators in Northern California’s wine country are taking an interest in cannabis cultivation, now that the state has legalized recreational pot use. “Winegrapes and cannabis have coexisted for decades, but we are now starting to see the reach of cannabis into wine country because it is a newly authorized agricultural crop here in the Golden State,” said state Sen. Mike McGuire, a Democrat. “Some winegrape farmers have begun to look at cannabis as a financial opportunity… Longtime vineyard managers have already started traveling to Colorado from Sonoma County to refine their cannabis farming practices.” [The Sacramento Bee]

In Vermont, the Legislature on Wednesday became the first in the nation to approve a recreational marijuana legalization bill. While other states have legalized recreational pot, they’ve done so through voter referendum processes. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 79-66, already has approval from the state Senate and will be sent to Gov. Phil Scott. It would legalize the possession by adults over 21 of small amounts of marijuana in 2018. It also sets up a commission to study the best way to regulate pot in the future. Scott, a Republican, did not say before the House vote whether he would veto the bill. [Burlington Free Press]

MONUMENTS | New Orleans removed the second of four monuments, the Jefferson Davis statue in Mid-City, that Council declared public nuisances. Plucking the statue away with a crane was easy, but removing the pedestal it was on required the closure of the nearby streetcar line. "Another historic monument was removed under the cover of darkness using amateur, masked workers in armor, unmarked vehicles and equipment, and with a heavy law enforcement presence,” said the Monumental Task Committee in a statement. “Mayor Landrieu says the removals are to make New Orleans more diverse, but Landrieu cannot be inclusive, tolerant, or diverse when he is erasing a very specific and undeniable part of New Orleans' history.” [The Times-Picayune]

OPEN GOVERNMENT | The reorganization consultant hired by the Clark County School District in Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, has been having trouble getting the school district to release financial records and is going another route to get them: a public records request. “I have clearly just run up against a wall,” the consultant said. [The Nevada Independent]

BEST EMPLOYER | Austin was the only city to make the top 10 of a new Forbes list of “best employers” ahead of No. 13 Facebook. The only other cities to make the list of 500 at all were Los Angeles at No. 182 and San Francisco at No. 285. [Austin American-Statesman]

RENOVATIONS | Bond funding for Gov. Chris Christie’s controversial push to spend an estimated $300 million on renovations to the New Jersey State House could get approval Thursday. That’s when the state’s Economic Development Authority is expected to vote on whether to issue the bonds. New Jersey’s State House is the second-oldest continually operating capitol building in the country and needs work. But the governor has been criticized over the cost of the project and for moving it forward without legislative or voter input. Democratic state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who is a candidate to replace Christie as governor when he leaves office, has said he will seek to block funding for the project in court. [The Record /]