Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | State AGs sue over Trump administration’s rules on sexual assault hearings at colleges … Ohio water parks sue to open … New Mexico creates a new “racial justice” council.
Tapping Washington’s mural budget, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Friday oversaw “Black Lives Matter” painted in prominent yellow letters on 16th Street NW right near the White House grounds. The city also erected a sign renaming the area near Lafayette Square where federal agents used smoke grenades and chemical spray on protesters last week as “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” At the scene on Friday, Bowser said, “We’re here peacefully as Americans on American streets.” It was a message not only in support of protesters demonstrating against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, but also a rebuke of President Trump, who has lambasted the mayor on Twitter. But on Saturday, protesters had their own message, adding “= Defund the Police.” As of Sunday, the full message read, “Black Lives Matter = Defund the Police.” Kiki Green, a local Black Lives Matter organizer, said, “It’s also our responsibility to let you know what we are fighting for, who has the power to change things and that power concedes nothing without demand.” [Washington Post; DCist; New York Times]
TITLE IX | A group of more than a dozen state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' policy changes regarding how colleges handle cases of sexual assault. The Education Department said that the new rules, which bolster the rights of the accused and allow them to question their accusers at in-person hearings, “protect all students by requiring schools to follow a reliable, transparent, and fair process in handling complaints of sexual misconduct.” The lawsuit argues that the changes weaken the protections Title IX provides to protect students from discrimination based on sex. “Title IX’s mandate is simple: Our schools must give women and men equal access to education, which means no one should experience sexual harassment,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is leading the suit. “But instead of making it easier for students to report, and for schools to respond, to sexual harassment, Secretary DeVos has unlawfully narrowed Title IX’s reach.” [New Jersey Law Journal; New York Times]
AMUSEMENT PARKS | Three of the largest amusement and water parks in Ohio—Cedar Point, Kalahari Resort and Kings Island—filed a lawsuit against the director of the Ohio Department of Health over the closures of their businesses. The parks argue that the state does not have the authority to keep them closed as other attractions like zoos and museums are allowed to open. [Cleveland.com]
ADVISORY COUNCIL | New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state would be launching a new “Advisory Council for Racial Justice” that will “monitor state institutions and hold them accountable for ending systemic racism and ensuring that all persons receive fair and equal treatment and opportunities.” The governor said that the state is “seizing on this moment” to make changes. [KRQE]
MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESSES | The mayor of Akron, Ohio released a report outlining how the city plans to make the city contracting process more accessible to minority- and women-owned businesses. The plan includes hiring a diversity and inclusion director for the city’s business dealings. Mayor Dan Horrigan said that minority-owned businesses received only 5% of the city’s purchasing budget in 2019. [Cleveland.com]
Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.