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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Seattle City Council OKs employee head tax … prosecutor drops charges against Mo. governor … and Detroit sues downtown’s largest landowner.
Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty’s attention ...
- Providence, Rhode Island: A partnership between Mayor Jorge Elorza and the Providence Water Supply Board will create $1.2 million loan program to assist homeowners with replacing lead water pipes. The lending program will allow property owners to pay off the costs of the upgraded water lines over three years with no interest. "Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for young children and pregnant women," Elorza said. "By providing this incentive, we are working to reduce our residents' exposure to lead while significantly reducing the cost burden to homeowners." [The Providence Journal; WPRI-TV]
- St. Louis, Missouri: St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner unexpectedly withdrew felony invasion of privacy charges against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on Monday. Gardner pledged to have a special prosecutor refile charges. But attorneys for the governor said no prosecutor would revisit the case due to a lack of evidence. A spokeswoman for Gardner said the circuit attorney’s office believes there’s “sufficient evidence” to proceed. [St. Louis Public Broadcasting]
- Detroit, Michigan: City officials have brought a lawsuit against Bedrock Management Services, a real estate firm owned by Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert, who is the downtown area’s largest landlord. The city has sought tenant information from Bedrock as part of its effort to crack down on renters sidestepping local income taxes. [Michigan Radio]
- Seattle, Washington: The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a scaled-down proposal for an employee “head tax” for certain large companies in the city, like Amazon.com, Inc., that would raise revenue for affordable housing and homelessness services. Instead of a $500-per-worker tax for companies generating $20 million in revenue as had been originally proposed, the approved measure would assess $275 per worker for those large employers, raising $47 million annually. Mayor Jenny Durkan has said she will support the proposal. [Crosscut; The Seattle Times]
- Bend, Oregon: When Oregon launched its state health care exchange through the Affordable Care Act, the website failed spectacularly, prompting the state to abandon its IT platform to use the federal exchange instead. But with “rising fees to use the federal site and limited flexibility, state health officials are now mulling whether it might be time to relaunch the state’s own health care insurance exchange.” [Bend Bulletin]
- Miami, Florida: In the chaotic aftermath following the deadly collapse of a pedestrian bridge over a busy highway near Florida International University, few people noticed that a crane operator who was at the bridge site when the structure collapsed left the scene in the crane. While police “don't seem to believe the crane man fled the scene or caused the collapse,” they do think the unidentified person is a “close eyewitness who might help the investigation into the collapse.” [Miami Herald]
- Aurora, Colorado: After starting home hospice care last week following a cancer diagnosis, Mayor Steve Hogan died on Sunday morning. Hogan, who was 69 years old, had served as mayor since 2011 and as a councilmember for 24 years. [KMGH-TV / The Denver Channel]
- Lubbock, Texas: A large wildfire that has burned 73,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle created its own severe thunderstorm. “It’s a unique event and it doesn’t happen often,” according to a National Weather Service meteorologist. [Lubbock Avalanche-Journal]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.