Connecting state and local government leaders
Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: IBM vs. Texas bathroom bill; the Utah Highway Patrol’s new tool to enforce texting-while-driving laws; and “spite fences” in California.
DRONES | The police chief in Deadwood, South Dakota, is confident that a local effort to ban the use of unmanned aerial vehicles above the historic downtown area of the former Black Hills mining town can stand up to legal challenges from drone hobbyists who say only the Federal Aviation Administration can regulate the airspace. The proposed ordinance, which passed the Deadwood City Council on first reading earlier this month, would make violations for adults a Class 2 misdemeanor. The proposed “drone no-fly zone” rules would prohibit drones from flying over various facilities, including law enforcement buildings, water treatment plants and schools -- plus flying over any cars or person not associated with the aircraft without their permission. It’s the latest regulatory flashpoint for drone aircraft. [Rapid City Journal]
CYBERSECURITY | South Carolina’s voter registration system experienced nearly 150,000 hacking attempts on Election Day, according to a new State Election Commission report. Automated computer bots were the likely culprits, though none are believed to have been successful. [The Wall Street Journal]
LAND USE | Californians lack a common-law right to a view or sunlight, so cities have to provide for one in their ordinances dealing with tree planting and trimming. State public resources code does allow for the removal of trees blocking solar panels, if they were planted after the panels were installed. “Spite fences,” rows of trees exceeding 10 feet planted to annoy neighbors, are also outlawed at the state level. [North Bay Business Journal]
VOLCANIC HAZARDS | In southwestern Alaska, a tiny postage stamp island called Bogoslof has erupted 58 times so far this year. These eruptions come with no warning and major risk. The ash the volcano spews can be enough to choke a jet engine and bring down an airplane. Twenty-eight years ago, another Alaska volcano nearly did just that. That’s where the Alaska Volcano Observatory comes in. It’s a joint project of the state’s Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey. The team at the Volcano Observatory are responsible for warning the public about eruptions. That means being on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. [Alaska Dispatch News]
- Minneapolis, Minnesota: During the National District Attorneys Association’s annual conference, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he’d be issuing a new directive this week that would open the door to more civic asset forfeitures by local law enforcement. [The Washington Post]
- Austin, Texas: As state lawmakers reconvene for a special legislative session where the debate over transgender bathroom access will be front and center, the New York City-based tech giant IBM has deployed 20 top executives to the Lone Star State and took out ads in major Texas newspapers fighting efforts to approve a “bathroom bill.” [Texas Tribune]
- Yakima, Washington: Fire districts in the Yakima Valley in central Washington state are dealing with strained budgets along with what’s shaping up to be another challenging year fighting wildfires. Adding to the difficulties: Some rural fire districts are having difficulties staffing their operations with volunteers.
- Salt Lake City, Utah: The Utah Highway Patrol is using troopers in a black passenger van as spotters on the lookout for drivers who are texting while behind the wheel. While the passenger van isn’t unmarked—it reads “stop the texts, end the wrecks”—it does blend in more with traffic. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
- Macomb County, Michigan: The county government and its former public works commissioner were added to a lawsuit filed by the city of Sterling Heights over a sewer collapse that caused a massive sinkhole. [Detroit Free Press]
- Chattanooga, Tennessee: The local chapter of the NAACP is leading an effort to remove a statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Alexander Stewart, from the grounds of the Hamilton County Courthouse. [Times Free Press]
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