Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Texas anti-tax activist wants higher taxes … Casper, Wyo.’s massive sale tax error … and a frozen “blob” prompts an Alaska highway relocation.
Good morning, it’s Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Hurricane Florence leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more stories from places like Fairbanks, Alaska; Casper, Wyoming; and Fort Smith, Arkansas.
STATE GOVERNMENT | With meteorologists forecasting that Hurricane Florence will gain strength as it approaches the coasts of North and South Carolina in the coming days, state emergency management teams, with their federal and local partners, are urging residents to start making preparations now. "Everyone in North Carolina needs to keep a close eye on Florence and take steps now to get ready for impacts later this week," Gov. Roy Cooper, who declared a state of emergency on Friday, said in a statement this weekend. "State emergency management, transportation, health experts and others are making sure North Carolina is prepared for the storm, and I urge the public to review your emergency plans and gather your supplies now." The risk isn’t only from coastal flooding, storm surge and high winds. Florence is likely to cause major inland flooding, too. On Sunday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster submitted a request for a federal disaster declaration ahead of the storm. [The News & Observer; @NCGovernor; @SCGovPress]
- Sacramento, California: The bill recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown that would effectively end the use of cash bail in the California’s criminal justice system, “could spell doom for not only bail agents, bounty hunters and surety companies across the state, but also a $2-billion bail industry nationwide,” and could prompt other states to take similar actions. [Los Angeles Times]
- Tarrytown, New York: Out of “an abundance of caution,” transportation officials in New York state delayed the opening of the second span of the new Mario Cuomo Bridge over the Hudson River this weekend due to concerns that the adjacent old Tappan Zee bridge span could collapse. [WNBC / NBC New York]
- Bismarck, North Dakota: Not much is known about two medical marijuana manufacturing facilities in North Dakota thanks to state law that “prevents any information about medical marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries from being released to the public, including names and locations.” [Bismarck Tribune]
- Fairbanks, Alaska: The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is relocating part of the Dalton Highway, which connects the Prudhoe Bay oil fields with Fairbanks, to get ahead of “a giant mass of frozen debris oozing down a hillside.” The move is expected to keep the road safe for about 20 years “before the blob can menace it again.” [Anchorage Daily News]
LOCAL GOVERNMENT | A long-time community activist who has fought for years to keep local taxes in Bedford, Texas extremely low is not only calling for average city taxes to increase by nearly 18 percent but says she’d increase it even more: “[N]ow we’re 11 police and firemen short. We’ve got bills. Things are coming apart because the city’s playing catchup,” according to 85-year-old Dorothy McWhorter. [Star Telegram]
- Casper, Wyoming: The director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue will speak to a Casper City Council work session on Tuesday to help local leaders better understand the “massive sales tax error that cost the city $1.7 million in revenue.” [Casper Star Tribune]
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: A pilot program launched on Friday where Philadelphia Police Department officers are bringing prospective employers to local street corners as part of Turning a New Corner, a new initiative that aims to “connect the people they see with information about jobs and workforce training opportunities.” [PlanPhilly / WHYY]
- Fort Smith, Arkansas: In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made $400,000 in brownfields funding available for environmental assessments of properties in west central Arkansas. But with a year left in the funding, the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District still has $370,000 left to spend. [Times Record]
- Meredith, New Hampshire: A man was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Friday after he drove his car off a road and into Lake Waukewan, which serves as the town’s drinking water supply. [Union Leader]
ALSO on Route Fifty:
- Rural Water Group Keeps Up Push for Changes to Lending Programs
- Engaging Teens With More Than Just a Summer Job
- This Florida Fire and Rescue District Changed Its Outlook on Drones
- Election Officials Tout 2018 Security Coordination As 'Miles' Ahead of 2016
- When the Beach Is Out of Reach—Coastal Access Becomes a Growing Concern
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.