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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Albuquerque’s troubled electric buses leave town … Wash. state plastic bag ban proposal … Dallas asset forfeitures ... and D.C.’s clean-energy shift.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, Nov. 19, 2018. Cybersecurity leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Syracuse, New York; Los Angeles, California and Bismarck, North Dakota. ALSO IN ROUTE FIFTY … Ben Carson on local housing regulations: “When it doubt, cut it out.” … U.S. Supreme Court hears Indiana civil asset forfeiture case … California attorney general vs. EPA chief … After the Wayfair ruling, states rush to collect online sales tax ...
Let’s get to it …
CYBERSECURITY | Federal authorities on Wednesday charged two Iranian nationals, Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, in connection with the malicious SamSam ransomware that locked down and disrupted municipal IT systems in Atlanta in March. “The defendants allegedly hijacked victims’ computer systems and shut them down until the victims paid a ransom,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said at a press conference in Washington, D.C. “Many of the victims were public agencies with missions that involve saving lives and performing other critical functions for the American people.” The two suspects are not in custody. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
STATE LEGISLATURES | Proposed legislation in Washington state would ban single-use plastic bags statewide if approved. [The Seattle Times] … Lawmakers in North Dakota are considering a proposal that would eliminate school make-up days from inclement weather and replace them with “virtual classrooms.” [Forum News Service via Bismarck Tribune] … In Texas, lawmakers “looking to realign the state's public school finances while also cutting local property taxes can't do both without a lot of money. They don't want to raise taxes, but they have nearly $60 billion in annual tax exemptions that might provide a solution.” [Texas Tribune]
CITY HALLS | The Dallas City Council on Wednesday chose to not pursue $250,000 in federal funding from controversial asset forfeitures. [Dallas Morning News] … In Syracuse, New York, a new city policy takes effect Dec. 1 that “will provide its non-union employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave that can be used for births, adoption, or foster placement.” [Syracuse.com] … A proposal from New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres would ban retailers in the nation’s largest city from not accepting cash as payment. [Gothamist] … In Belfast, Maine, “the City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to bar Mayor Samantha Paradis from publicly representing the council” due to a lack of trust. [Republican Journal via Portland Press-Herald]
INFRASTRUCTURE | The Federal Transit Administration has approved $100 million in New Starts funding for phase three of the Los Angeles Metro Westside subway extension to UCLA and Westwood. [The Source / LA Metro] … BYD, the manufacturer of the city of Albuquerque’s troubled electric buses, has taken 15 vehicles back to its manufacturing facility in California after the city canceled its contract. [The Albuquerque Journal] … A Philadelphia City Council committee has approved the purchase of a 15-acre property that will be used fo the expansion of Philadelphia International Airport. [WHYY] … Interstate 275 in Tampa, Florida will be expanded to eliminate a bottleneck at the Howard Frankland Bridge where the number of through lanes drop from four lanes to two. [Tampa Bay Times]
DISASTER RECOVERY | Local officials in Butte County, California said Wednesday that several evacuation zones will be reopened to residents and the public early next week as long as there aren’t “unforeseen circumstances that might arise” from heavy rainfall that’s moving through Northern California. The death toll from the Camp Fire remains at 88. [Chico Enterprise-Record]
ENVIRONMENT | In an initial vote, District of Columbia Council approved a measure that would require that within the next 15 years, all energy sold in the nation’s capital would need to come from renewable sources, “one of the fastest transitions to clean energy in the country.” [WAMU]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.