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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | New Jersey mandates panic buttons for hotel housekeepers … Florida allows paramedics to carry firearms … Mayor in Maryland resigns amid racist bullying.
Ohio was hit with 21 tornadoes in two days in May, prompting Gov. Mike DeWine to ask President Trump for federal disaster funding and a disaster declaration. "These storms resulted in a disaster of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capability of the State of Ohio and affected local governments. Federal assistance is necessary to supplement the efforts and available resources of the state, local governments, disaster relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses," DeWine said. DeWine has since been joined by Ohio’s two senators, Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, in asking the president for assistance to repair the 942 homes and buildings that were destroyed by the storms. Many of the affected areas are home to a high percentage of people who are low-income and lack homeowners insurance. “We need [help]. The damage was extensive, and hopefully the administration will respond quickly,” Portman said. When the storms happened in May, the president tweeted his support. “My administration fully supports the people of the great state of Ohio as they begin the cleanup and recovery,” he said. [WKBN; Columbus Dispatch; Zanesville Times Recorder; Dayton Daily News]
HOTEL PANIC BUTTONS | New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a measure that will require hotels to provide their housekeepers with wearable panic buttons that they can use to call for help in an emergency, making the state the first to take such steps. Murphy signed the bill surrounded by housekeepers from casinos in Atlantic City, a symbolic statement given that the bill was written in response to the 2018 sexual assault of a room cleaner at an Atlantic City casino. One of the housekeepers from Tropicana casino, Daksha Parikh, said the measure will help ease the fear that is present on the job. "Today the lawmakers in New Jersey stood up with my co-workers and I to say no more to guests exposing themselves to us, soliciting us for sex, and allowing us to be unsafe as we open the door to a guest room, with no idea what is waiting for us behind it. It's great knowing I'll be able to come home safe at the end of my shift. I can do my job without being worried,” she said. Some hotel chains, including Marriott and Hilton, are pre-empting government action and providing the buttons themselves. Similar legislative measures are being considered in Illinois, Florida, and Washington. [NBC News; NJ.com]
PARAMEDICS WITH FIREARMS | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that will allow paramedics to carry firearms with them when they respond to high-risk situations like mass shootings or hostage standoffs. The law also says that paramedics "are justified in the use of any force which he or she reasonably believes is necessary to defend himself or herself or another from bodily harm.". The Broward County Sheriff’s Department, which oversaw the response to the Parkland shooting in 2018, supported the bill, saying that medics shouldn’t be defenseless in risky scenarios. Last month, Florida also made it legal for teachers to carry firearms in the classroom if they go through specific training. Florida now joins Kansas and Ohio as the only states that have laws allowing paramedics to carry guns. [FOX 6 News; Orlando Sentinel]
RACIST BULLYING | The mayor of Upper Marlboro, a small town in Maryland not far from Washington, D.C., resigned this week amid a series of racist bullying efforts, though she said she is not resigning because of them. Tonga Turner is the first black mayor of the city, and received threatening emails and calls, had her tires slashed, and allegedly watched a former town commissioner draw swastikas all over his notepad during a town meeting, according to one resident. "It is no secret that the Town of Upper Marlboro has been plagued with a dark history and past, but my hope is that in the past two years under my leadership, each of you has seen the great promise for our future," Turner's resignation letter reads. Town spokesperson Ray Feldmann said that while racism was a challenge during Turner’s time as mayor, she is stepping down to spend more time with her family. “She is about not accepting the status quo, shaking things up, and that has not been acceptable to a lot of people. There have been some incidents that she's had to deal with, but those were not incidents that had anything to do with her resignation,” Feldmann said. [NBC Washington; Essence]
LEMONADE STANDS | Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed what he called a “common sense law” legalizing lemonade stands run by children in the state. "We had to pass a law because police shut down a kid’s lemonade stand," Abbott wrote in a tweet. The incident Abbott referred to happened in 2015, when two girls in Overton, Texas, were forced to shut down their lemonade stand when a police officer asked to see their permit, and they didn’t have one. Under the new law, minors can sell non-alcoholic beverages on private property and in public parks. State Rep. Matt Krause introduced the legislation in the House. The Senate added a provision that would allow homeowner associations to remove children if they don’t live in the subdivision, but that language was later removed. “Sometimes the Senate, although well intentioned, will send us over deficient language. Let’s call those lemons. When that happens, it is our opportunity, nay responsibility, to turn those lemons into lemonade,” Krause said on the House floor. The two girls whose lemonade stand woes inspired the measure say they plan to hold a lemonade-themed celebration in September, after the law goes into effect. [Caller Times; FOX 4 News; Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.