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Wisconsin Judge Blocks Laws Limiting New Governor's Powers

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 23, 2019.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 23, 2019. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A program for claiming property taxes in Ohio ... Mayor announces a new police chief in Little Rock, Arkansas ... Climate agency proposal in Oregon.

A Wisconsin judge halted laws Thursday that constrained the authority of the state’s new governor and attorney general. Gov. Tony Evers and AG Josh Kaul, both Democrats, quickly moved to pull the state out of a lawsuit brought by states against Obamacare—a lawsuit joined by their Republican predecessors. After the election of Evers and Kaul in the fall, state Republican lawmakers in a lame-duck session approved a series of bills aimed at limiting their ability to make particular policy changes. One example was the state’s participation in the Obamacare lawsuit, which both Democrats had pledged to exit during the campaign. Issuing a temporary injunction, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess on Thursday agreed with groups like the League of Women Voters that the short legislative session in December when the laws were passed wasn’t called in the way specified by the state constitution. State Rep. Robin Vos and state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the legislature’s GOP leaders, vowed to appeal. This is the second court loss for Republicans on laws passed during the special session, as a federal judge previously stopped a law that limited the days for early voting. [Journal Sentinel; NPR]

PROPERTY TAXES | A pilot program that threatens to cut off companies from Cuyahoga County contracts if they owe property taxes collected $813,000 last year, Inspector General Mark Griffin said. []

POLICE | Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. announced a new police chief. Keith Humphrey, who previously served as chief in Norman, Oklahoma, took the job. Scott has also called for a citizen review board for the police department after a public outcry in response to a February fatal shooting of a Little Rock man by an officer.  [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]

FIRE | Investigators are beginning to look at a chemical fire that burned for 60 hours at a petroleum storage facility at Intercontinental Terminals Co. in Deer Park, Texas. [Houston Chronicle]

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to correct how long the Deer Park fire burned. 

CLIMATE | Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is urging legislators to create a state climate agency to oversee a cap-and-trade program they are considering. [The Oregonian]

Laura Maggi is Managing Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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