Florida Officials Keep Eye on Isaias as Tropical Storm Moves Toward State

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, speaks during a news conference as Vice President Mike Pence and Henri Ford, right, dean of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, speaks during a news conference as Vice President Mike Pence and Henri Ford, right, dean of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Texas AG offers opinion on health departments’ authority to close schools … ALEC lawmakers say they don’t want more federal Covid aid … D.C. mayor says businesses should call police on maskless people.

Some of the areas of Florida dealing with high coronavirus caseloads are now directing their attention to Tropical Storm Isaias, which is expected to grow to a Category 1 hurricane by Friday or Saturday. The current track of the storm’s “cone of uncertainty” has it possibly brushing the east coast of Florida as it heads north over the weekend. Gov. Ron DeSantis urged people to stock up. “While we can’t be certain of the exact track of the storm, and we certainly can’t be sure about the intensity it’s expected to reach, we do expect to see impacts to the state of Florida, even if the storm remains off our shore, which is the current forecast,” he said. Given the complications of opening up shelters during the pandemic, officials in south Florida said they aren’t expecting to need them for this storm. They also aren’t ordering evacuations. “We have 20 shelters basically on stand-by. We’ve sent the equipment that’s needed to open them,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said. The potential size and strength of the storm will depend in part on what happens as it moves over Hispaniola, where mountains in the Domincan Republic have had a history of breaking up hurricanes. [Miami Herald; Orlando Sentinel]

CLOSING SCHOOLS | Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that local health authorities can not close all schools in their area when Covid-19 cases rise. The Texas Education Agency, which had told school officials that they did have the authority to do so, changed their guidelines after Paxton’s announcement to say that the agency will not fund districts that close schools because of a local health mandate. But they can receive money if they get the TEA’s permission to close. [Texas Tribune]

‘NO THANKS’ | About 200 state lawmakers have signed onto a letter opposing a federal "bailout" for states. States and localities around the U.S. have been grappling with lower than expected tax and fee revenues, and unplanned costs, due to the coronavirus crisis. And many city, state and county leaders, both Democrats and Republicans, have been urging Congress to provide their communities with assistance as part of a federal relief package that's now under discussion on Capitol Hill. The letter was organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which generally supports limited government. It raises concerns about rewarding states that have made poor financial decisions in the past and also about the ballooning federal debt, which now exceeds $20 trillion. "While the economy has produced record revenues in recent years, sadly, states have also continued to accumulate massive amounts of debt and unfunded financial liabilities. A federal bailout would only encourage this cycle of debt and spending to continue," the letter states. [American Legislative Exchange Council]

DEFUNDING POLICE | The Seattle City Council’s budget committee held a marathon listening session about a proposal to cut half the remaining funding for the year that was allocated to the city’s police department, with over 300 citizens weighing in. About 90% of the speakers supported the proposed $85 million cut. [KOMO News]

MASKLESS RESIDENTS | D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser this week advised businesses and residents of the city to call the police when they see someone without a mask, a violation of the city’s mask mandate. Bowser didn’t say what actions officers would take if they find someone without a mask, including whether fines or arrests would be issued. [FOX 5 DC]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

NEXT STORY: The States With the Worst Public Sector Job Losses During the Coronavirus Crisis