Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A giant middle finger sculpture rises in Vermont … Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee’s “clean energy smart deal” … and speeding up N.Y.’s sluggish subways.
PUBLIC SAFETY | Among the most difficult decisions school superintendents have to make are the tough calls to close schools during inclement weather, especially in places that aren’t necessarily used to dealing with snowstorms. That’s been the case in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the Wake County Public Schools System on Monday defended its decision to shutter all schools countywide amid a storm that dumped many inches of snow on parts of the region while mostly sparing other areas. (The storm wasn’t particularly bad—I’ve been in Raleigh the past few days—but then again, I grew up in lake-effect snow country in Michigan while many North Carolinians cower in fear when it snows.) But as the Wake County schools noted on Twitter, the countywide school assignments—where many students are bused long distances to boost diversity—is the result of ending segregation in and around Raleigh in the 1970s. "Without countywide school assignments, we would have school segregation," the district tweeted. "Segregated schools are bad for students and bad for our community." [WTVD; @WCPSS]
ENERGY | Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled a new package of legislative proposals on Monday he’s calling “a clean energy smart deal” aimed at putting the Evergreen State “on track to meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035.” Included in the governor’s proposals are new clean-fuels standards, electric vehicle incentives and converting the diesel engines of state ferries to hybrid batteries. [The Seattle Times] … Both chambers of the Michigan state legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that authorizes the replacement of the highly controversial Enbridge-owned Line 5, an oil and gas pipeline that passes through the Straits of Mackinac. The aging pipeline has prompted fears of a potential environmental disaster in the Great Lakes. [Michigan Advance] … A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled last week that a property owner opposed to a controversial 120-mile natural gas pipeline must “must provide PennEast access to her Carbon County property for a land survey and possible construction.” [The Morning Call]
STATE GOVERNMENT | New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy hasn’t said whether six of his top staffers will testify before a special legislative committee that’s investigating allegations that a former administration official raped the chief of staff of the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. [NJ.com] … Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has indicated he’s supportive of efforts to create a “stand your ground” law in his state. [Omaha World-Herald] … While Minnesota has a $1.5 billion budget surplus, there’s some trouble on the horizon: “the tight labor market caused by retiring baby boomers is an immediate problem, and its pinch on growing businesses is only going to get worse.” [MinnPost]
LOCAL GOVERNMENT | A resident of Westford, Vermont who was denied a permit to build an 8,000 square-foot garage on his property has erected “a seven-foot-tall sculpture of a raised middle finger, carved from a 700-pound block of pine and perched atop a 16-foot pole.” [Burlington Free Press] … There’s a inter-jurisdictional battle in western New York state between the town of Aurora and the village of East Aurora over who is responsible for repairing and maintaining a small bridge, a dispute that ended up in the state’s Court of Appeals. [The Buffalo News]
TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY | There may be some hope for the routinely annoyed and delayed straphangers of the New York City subway system. Andy Byford, the chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has launched a new initiative to speed up trains through some slow-speed zones implemented years ago. [The New York Times; Second Avenue Sagas] … After revoking Ofo’s license to operate a dockless bikeshare system for a second time in College Station, Texas, new bikes from a new company, VeoRide, will be deployed in and around the campus of Texas A&M University during the spring semester. [The Eagle] …
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | A “devastating report” released by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee paints a dismal picture of foster care in the commonwealth, finding “that the state’s 120 foster care programs don’t do a good job of recruiting foster parents, especially relatives; working to reunite children with birth parents; or finding them permanent homes.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch] … In northern New Jersey, an deadly outbreak of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is over but state oversight will continue. [Bergen Record / NorthJersey.com]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.