Connecting state and local government leaders
Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Kentucky’s AG threatens lawsuit over education board reorganization; an obscure Texas election code; and Minnesota’s meth problem.
ARTIFACTS | Hamilton County, Indiana’s Parks Department agreed to return all artifacts taken from graves to the Miami of Oklahoma, an American Indian tribe. The county and the tribe have been at a five-year impasse over around 500,000 bone fragments, arrowheads and pottery unearthed between 2001 and 2011 by the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne archeological team and then handed over to the Parks Department. Federal law required the tribe be consulted first, which never happened. [The Indianapolis Star]
EDUCATION | Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, threatened to sue Republican Gov. Matt Bevin unless he rescinds an executive order reorganizing state education boards within seven days. The executive order creates a Charter Schools Advisory Council but dissolves and recreates several state boards, like the Educational Professional Standards Board, that the governor doesn’t control. “He cannot ignore laws passed by the General Assembly that create boards, lay out their structure and set mandatory terms for the members that are supposed to protect them from this type of governor’s influence,” Beshear said. “And he cannot rewrite laws he does not like simply by issuing executive orders.” Republicans accused Beshear of playing politics. [Insider Louisville]
VOTING | On Thursday the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will consider a legal challenge to an obscure rule in the Texas Election Code that requires language interpreters who assist voters be registered to vote in the same county in which they are providing that service. A federal district judge found the law to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act last year, and the law has been on hold ever since. The legal issue is in response to an instance in 2014 when Mallika Das, a Williamson County resident, was told at the polls that her son would not be able to provide translation help because he was registered elsewhere. [Texas Tribune]
BODY CAMERAS | Louisiana’s House of Representative removed every civil rights and government transparency advocate from its Louisiana Law Enforcement Body Camera Implementation Task Force, leaving just legislators and law enforcement. Members from the ACLU, NAACP, Louisiana Press Association, Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and the state public defender are out, thanks to an amendment from Democrat Rep. Denise Marcelle, who blamed “competing sides” for the change. "I was told by staff and legislators that they wanted it to be more of a legislative body because we'll be the ones that make the decisions," she said. "There seemed to be this path where this person couldn't agree with this person in terms of the press and what to do with public record requests and we couldn't get any traction on any real reports." [The Advocate]
DRUG ENFORCEMENT | In Minnesota, a focus on opioids may be obscuring another recent drug trend—seizures of methamphetamine are on the rise. Between January and March of this year, Violent Crime Enforcement Teams seized 188 pounds of meth. If seizures continue at the same rate, as many 750 pounds could be seized by the end of the year. And more people appear to be dying from use of the drug now, compared with the number of related deaths in 2010. [MinnPost]