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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Court OKs eminent domain for pipeline in Iowa … Nebraska governor vetoes Census commission … Denver mayor’s race decided in run-off.
The Alabama state legislature passed a bill that would make it a requirement for sex offenders whose victims were 13 years old or younger to be chemically castrated in order to be released from prison. The bill would require that the individual pay for the injection, which would be a condition of parole, but would not deny people parole based on their inability to pay while in prison. Gov. Kay Ivey is reviewing the proposal, a staffer said Tuesday. Attorney Raymond Johnson said that he expects the law to be challenged, should the governor sign it. "They're going to claim that it is cruel and unusual punishment for someone who has served their time and for the rest of their life have to be castrated,” said Johnson. Republican State Representative Steve Hurst, who introduced the bill, said that the measure is justified. “They have marked this child for life and the punishment should fit the crime. I had people call me in the past when I introduced it and said, 'Don't you think this is inhumane?' I asked them what's more inhumane than when you take a little infant child, and you sexually molest that infant child when the child cannot defend themselves or get away, and they have to go through all the things they have to go through. If you want to talk about inhumane — that's inhumane," Hurst said. He also said that the bill would save children’s lives by deterring future crimes. [Newsweek; WDBJ; AL.com]
EMINENT DOMAIN | The Iowa Supreme Court ruled this week that the state was justified in using eminent domain to seize land needed to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Iowa farmer-landowners and environmental activists who brought the case expressed outrage about the decision.“We are devastated. How can a Texas company be allowed to seize my family farmland for their profit?" said Dick Lamb, a farmer who lost his land for the project. Bill Hanigan, the attorney who represented the landowners, said the ruling "sets a precedent for wealthy developers seizing Iowa farmland for private ventures that bring no measurable benefit to Iowans." But the court opinion stated that there were benefits to Iowans as a result of the pipeline. "While the pipeline is undeniably intended to return profits to its owners, the record indicates that it also provides public benefits in the form of cheaper and safer transportation of oil, which in a competitive marketplace results in lower prices for petroleum products," the court said. Land was first seized in Iowa in 2016, and the 1,172 mile pipeline was completed in 2017. It transports about 470,000 barrels of crude oil each day, cutting through 18 Iowa counties on its way from North Dakota to Illinois. [Des Moines Register; Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune]
CENSUS COMMISSION | Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed a bill that would have established a state complete count Census commission four days after the legislature adjourned, meaning there can be no override. In explaining his decision, Ricketts cited the local complete count committees that already exist in some cities, including Grand Island, Lexington, Lincoln, Omaha and Schuyler. Such committees are intended to prevent a miscount, which Census advocates have been warning for months will be likely, due to the new online response option and citizenship question. Civic Nebraska, a nonpartisan voting rights organization, expressed disappointment with the decision. "Around the nation, such commissions are considered best practices by the U.S. Census Bureau. For rural states like Nebraska, which can potentially have hard-to-count populations, an efficient count is especially important to our overall interests," the group said in a statement. [Omaha World-Herald; Lincoln Journal-Star]
DENVER MAYOR’S RACE | Results are in after a heated run-off election campaign in Denver between incumbent Mayor Michael Hancock and political newcomer Jamie Giellis. Hancock emerged victorious with a 12 point lead. The two candidates arrived in the run-off after a six-way race in May, and held six intense debates since then, focusing on the city’s growing population and need for housing. The debates also got personal, as Hancock suggested Giellis was racist because of a text she sent questioning why cities need to have Chinatowns, while Giellis suggested Hancock was unfit for the job given an incident in which he sent a series of sexually suggestive text messages to a female police officer. But in her concession speech, Giellis said "I hope the mayor and his team will thoughtfully consider the many issues raised during this campaign. The most important thing is that we changed the conversation in Denver.” Hancock, meanwhile, said that “this victory is for everyone in Denver, Colorado.” [Colorado Politics; CBS Denver]
FACEBOOK POST | The mayor of Carbon Hill, Alabama, a small city close to Birmingham, has issued an apology following the reveal of a homophobic Facebook post in which he suggested that LGBTQ people, abortion rights activists, and socialists should be killed. In his apology, Mayor Mark Chambers insisted that the comments were “taken out of context” and that he “was not targeting the LGBTQ community.” Chambers continued, saying “I am truly sorry that I have embarrassed our City, I love this City and while in office I have done everything in my power to make this a better place for our families.” The Human Rights Council issued a statement urging further action against Chambers. “We can and should expect our elected officials to represent all of us, or at the bare minimum, to protect us,” the statement said. “Despite his subsequent apology, this is wholly inappropriate behavior, and Mayor Chambers must be held to account.” [WBRC; Washington Post; NBC 15]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor of Route Fifty.
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