Federal Lawsuit Targets Facebook-Blocking Mayor

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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Okla.’s rape-kit deadline; La.’s 10 most distressed water systems … Mich. village may convert paved roads to gravel ones … and more Harvey-like hurricanes await us.

Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty’s attention ...

  • National City, California: A man blocked on Facebook by Mayor Ron Morrison has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the mayor of First Amendment violations. While the mayor tolerates some criticism on his Facebook page, Morrison says the very vocal critic who brought the lawsuit has crossed over the line. “I don’t think you should be able to harass people on their page,” Morrison told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “I put up with this for several years. It was just getting so obnoxious,” he said of the criticism coming from Andrew McKercher, an organizer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The suit is similar to one filed against President Trump where a federal judge recently ruled the president’s action to block a critic on Facebook violated First Amendment protections. In April, the American Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for his actions to block critics on Facebook, which required Hogan’s administration to design a new social media policy. [The San Diego Union-Tribune; Bloomberg News; ArsTechnica]
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma have until Thursday to comply with an executive order from Gov. Mary Fallin that mandates that they report the number of untested rape kits in their possession. Fallin’s executive order, signed in April 2017, originally set a Dec. 30, 2017 deadline, but as of last week, 125 law enforcement agencies hadn’t responded. [The Oklahoman / NewsOK.com]
  • Seattle, Washington: A federal judge handed the Trump administration another legal defeat on Tuesday, ruling that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unlawfully ended a sexual health education grant used by King County, Washington. “We sued the federal government because they are attempting to eliminate funding for programs based on science and evidence in favor of right-wing ideology that is out of touch with reality,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “We stood up for our youth and for teachers who depend on the FLASH curriculum, one of the most respected sexual health education programs in the nation." [King County, Washington]
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana: While there are hundreds of “dysfunctional drinking water systems” in Louisiana, a special panel convened by Gov. John Bel Edwards has identified the 10 that are the “most distressed,” which are located mostly in the central part of the state. Eight of those 10 are “under state administrative orders for not addressing the problems inspectors have found.” [The Advocate]
  • Brooklyn, Michigan: Local government finances for this village in Jackson County are so bad that officials are considering converting paved streets into gravel ones. [Stateside / Michigan Radio]
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: The devil is in the details, as State Highway Patrol personnel in North Carolina are discovering. Republican budget writers may be touting salary increases for troopers, but “a less-talked-about provision that could leave new troopers on the hook for hefty student loans if they leave the patrol within three years.” [@NCCapitol / WRAL-TV]
  • Miami, Florida: With the official start of Atlantic hurricane season just about here, there’s important news regarding Hurricane Harvey, the unprecedented storm that dumped record amounts of rain in and around the Houston area last year. Recently released research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research shows “what some researchers have long suspected about hurricanes of the future: climate change will make storms stronger, slower and much rainier,” just like Harvey. [Miami Herald]
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota: A stretch of unseasonably warm weather in Minnesota has brought unhealthy air quality levels for four days in a row to the Twin Cities, something that hasn’t happened in the month of May since 2012. [Star Tribune]

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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