Connecting state and local government leaders
Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Delaware’s end-of-life decision proposal; Tacoma declares a homelessness emergency; and oil-and-gas pipeline inspection order in Colorado.
OPIOID EPIDEMIC | Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared the state’s opioid-abuse epidemic a public emergency on Wednesday, a declaration that will help free up $54 million in federal funding for treatment and recovery response over the next two years. Florida, like so many other states, have been struggling to deal with the opioid-abuse epidemic and some local leaders have been calling on the governor to take more decisive action. In 2015, nearly 4,000 died of overdoses in Florida. In 2016, Broward County and Palm Beach County, north of Miami, saw 582 and 592 deaths, respectively,attributed to opioid overdoses.[Times / Herald Tallahassee Bureau; Sun Sentinel]
CITY HALLS | Tacoma, Washington will develop an “emergency temporary aid and shelter program” to address its homelessness crisis. “Our goal here is to make sure that no one who’s in Tacoma has to sleep on a street, in a park, beneath an overpass or outside, and the message we want to send is help is available,” said Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Now we have to figure out what that means, because the questions we have to answer for folks if we’re clearing out encampments is where do I go then? We have to have an answer to where do I go and we don’t have that answer right now, and we know it’s a very complicated, complex problem.” [The News Tribune]
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski outlined a budget proposal on Tuesday that would up funding for homeless services and affordable housing. The spending plan also calls for using $400,000 in general funds to support a municipal golf course—one of six expected to lose money as of earlier this year. Biskupski is recommending that the city put off borrowing money for street upgrades until next year, when existing capital improvement debts are set to be payed off. [The Salt Lake Tribune]
PUBLIC SAFETY | Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered oil and gas operators in the state to inspect wells and pipelines, following a deadly home explosion last month. Officials have blamed the explosion on odorless gas that leaked from a severed, 1-inch pipeline connected to a nearby well owned by Anadarko Petroleum. State Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat said Tuesday: “As more information has come to light, it has become clearer that these oil wells, pipes and tanks are simply too dangerous to be in close proximity to homes, businesses, and schools.” [The Denver Post]
STATE LEGISLATURES | Delaware State Rep. Paul Baumbach introduced a measure on Tuesday that would allow terminally ill patients to use medication to end their life. "This is an issue about allowing adults facing a terminal illness to make critical decisions about their life," said Baumbach. "Many people in the last stages of life wish to retain their dignity, including the ability to make decisions regarding their life and their suffering." Under the Delaware End of LIfe Options Act, a patient would have to attain a doctor’s evaluation, confirmation from a second doctor, psychiatric counseling and pass through two waiting periods before being able to obtain the medication. [Newsworks]
When New York state legalized the use of medical marijuana in 2014, a panel was formed to chose the companies that would receive exclusive licenses to the distribute the drug. The identities of the panel members was kept secret, but it was said the panel was made up of experts in relevant fields. On Monday, after nine delayed Freedom of Information Act requests by The New York Times, the health department has decided to disclose the names of the 17 evaluators. It turns out all 17 are state employees and most have little or no prior professional experience with medical marijuana. [The New York Times]
DEFENSE | President Trump has appointed Alaska Gov. Bill Walker to the 10-member National Council of Governors. The panel advises the White House on military and defense issues. Walker is currently the only Independent governor in the U.S. [Alaska Dispatch News]
LAW ENFORCEMENT | Eight people protesting a pending court case concerning an altercation between a juvenile and police officer last summer were arrested, after taking control of Greensboro, North Carolina City Council’s chambers during a meeting and blocking traffic outside. The protesters seek a review of the officer’s body camera. [WGHP-TV / MyFox8]
Editor's Note: This blog post was updated to correct the number of deaths attributed to the opioid abuse epidemic in Palm Beach County, Florida.