Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | D.C. voters approve measure to eliminate tipped minimum wage … Del. blood emergency … and a Calif. mayor ends up with 5,000 purple water bottles.
Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty’s attention.
- Houston, Texas: City officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, are reviewing their options to delay or stop a Trump administration contractor from opening a facility that would house children the Department of Homeland Security forcibly separated from their families as they’ve crossed into the U.S. from Mexico. “I do not want to be an enabler in this process. I do not want the city to participate in this process,” Turner said at a press conference Tuesday. “The health department has yet to provide a food permit or shelter permit. … If we don’t speak, if we don’t say no, then these types of policies will continue.” In addition to “‘tender age’ children younger than 12,” the downtown Houston shelter would house pregnant and nursing teenagers. [Houston Chronicle; Texas Tribune]
- Washington, D.C.: Voters in the District of Columbia approved Initiative 77 on Tuesday, a controversial measure that will eliminate the tipped minimum wage for restaurant workers, parking attendants and nail salon workers in the nation’s capital by 2026 and instead institute a $15 minimum wage. Although D.C. voters gave Initiative 77 a thumbs up, the D.C. Council could step in and alter the measure or eliminate it. So too could Congress, which under the D.C. Home Rule Act, has 30 days to block local legislation. If the initiative survives intact, there are various scenarios that could play out, including a doomsday one that predicts that restaurants across the city will struggle financially and be force to close. Restaurateurs in D.C. have said that raising prices is unavoidable under Initiative 77. [WAMU; The Washington Post; Washingtonian]
- Augusta, Maine: Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is fighting a judge’s order to take action to implement a voter-approved measure to expand Medicaid in the state, which the governor refuses to do until the legislature funds the measure. “The executive branch’s refusal to act and follow the will of the people … has the potential to engender disrespect for duly enacted laws,” Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy wrote in a ruling last week. [WAGM; Portland Press-Herald]
- Tallahassee, Florida: In a new lawsuit, officials in Broward and Volusia counties are seeking to have Amendment 10 pulled from the November ballot, arguing “that the proposal unconstitutionally misleads voters because it fails to explain that if approved, voters in Broward and Volusia counties would be stripped of their right to govern themselves.” [Tampa Bay Times]
- Phoenix, Arizona: Opponents of a 6-mile light-rail extension south from downtown along the Central Avenue corridor are asking the Phoenix City Council to stop the project, which they say will harm businesses along the route. Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith says that any delay on the project could jeopardize $500 million in federal funding for the project. [Arizona Republic / AZCentral.com]
- Montpelier, Vermont: As Vermont lawmakers face a July 1 budget deadline, when the state government would head into a shutdown if a compromise if not met, there are concerns about the Green Mountain State’s “sterling” credit rating. But according to major credit ratings agencies, there may not be too much to worry about as long as the shutdown is not long lasting. “The bottom line is these shutdowns, very often these things come down to the last minute, that’s not unusual,” said David Jacobson, a spokesman for Moody’s Investor Services. “Every year somebody has a shutdown and they rarely last very long.” [VTDigger.com]
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: State House lawmakers approved a $32.7 billion budget proposal that doesn’t raise taxes or fees and provides more funding to public education, early childhood education and special education. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has called the GOP spending proposal “responsible and bipartisan,” which means that finalizing a state budget in Pennsylvania will likely be considerably easier than it has been in recent years. [The Inquirer / Philly.com; The Morning Call]
- Wilmington, Delaware: Blood banks on the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes the state of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, are asking for new donations amid a “blood emergency.” Reserves have fallen below a minimum that’s considered safe. [Delaware News Journal / DelawareOnline.com]
- National City, California: Mayor Ron Morrison has 5,000 purple water bottles sitting in his garage that were supposed to go to local school children to use this summer. Morrison personally covered some of the cost of the water bottles and solicited donations to pay for the remainder. But the school district, which had given its blessing for the water bottle purchase and distribution, deemed the word choice on the bottles—“Ron Morrison Mayor” instead of “Mayor Ron Morrison,” as too political. “Semantics is the issue here. The matter if whether it’s deemed political does depend on small things like the order of the words and the perceptions that come from that. Our attorney said these cases are decided on semantics,” according to the school district superintendent. [NBC San Diego]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.