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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Powerful Chicago alderman indicted … Maine governor signs Medicaid executive order … and Texas county’s new district attorney fires 15 people.
Good morning, it’s Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Recycling news leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like St. Paul, Minnesota; Boise, Idaho; Salem, Oregon and Fort Bend County, Texas. … ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Retiree Health Care Liabilities Keep Stacking Up for States … Shutdown Struggles Loom for Localities in Need of Infrastructure and Affordable Housing funding … and High-Tech Band-Aids for New York’s Deteriorating Subway.
Let’s get to it ...
WASTE MANAGEMENT | Among the local jurisdictions cutting back on recycling services due to ongoing upheavals in the global recycling sector—thanks to decisions by Chinese authorities last year to no longer accept foreign recycling due to contamination—is Lancaster County, South Carolina. Later this month, the county will no longer accept plastic and glass. "It's just gonna go into the household garbage, which will be disposed of in the landfill," according to County Administrator Steve Willis told WSOC. "If the market is not there, we just don't have anything else to do with the material. We can't have huge warehouses full of plastic just sitting there." The city of Lancaster already ended its recycling services. The silver lining: “The disruption to American recycling markets is in the long term going to be good for the United States from an economic and environmental perspective,” David Biderman, chief executive of the Solid Waste Association of North America, told the Christian Science Monitor. Reduced dependence on a foreign market for U.S. recycling will creating jobs and spurring innovation in the U.S. “I think it’s reinvigorated a discussion about reducing waste in the first place.” [WSOC; Christian Science Monitor]
CITY HALLS | A federal indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court on Thursday charged Chicago Alderman Edward Burke, a long-time local Democratic official and City Council finance chairman with “attempted extortion for allegedly using his position as alderman to try to steer business to his private law firm from a company seeking to renovate a fast-food restaurant in his ward,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Burke’s indictment has spilled into the mayor’s race [Chicago Tribune; WBEZ; Crain’s Chicago Business] … Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is lawyering up amid an ongoing federal probe into his administration. [Atlanta Journal Constitution] … During a contentious meeting on Wednesday, the San Bernardino, California City Council held off on approving a plan to add six new positions to the mayor’s office. [San Bernardino Sun]
STATE LEGISLATURES | A 52-page report released by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Civil Rights DIvision on Thursday into sexual harassment and hostile work environments at the State Capitol in Salem “paints an unflattering image of some legislators and a culture where power trumped law when it came to harassment of those working in the Capitol for legislators and their committees.” [Portland Tribune / Pamplin Media]
MEDICAID | Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who was sworn into office Wednesday night, signed an executive order on Thursday that directs the state Department of Health and Human Services to “swiftly and efficiently” start implementing the voter-approved Medicaid expansion, something her predecessor, Paul LePage resisted to carry out. [Bangor Daily News] … Idaho Gov.-elect Brad Little, who takes office on Monday, said this week that he’s interested in pursuing new work requirement for Medicaid, which will expand under a voter-approved measure. [Boise State Public Radio]
TRANSITIONS | Hawaii Gov. David Ige named Douglas Murdock, a former state comptroller and director of the Department of Accounting and General Services, as the state’s chief information officer in the Department of Enterprise Technology Services. [Big Island Now] ... Ohio Gov.-elect Mike DeWine on Thursday made more cabinet announcements for nominations to lead the Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, plus policy director, legislative affairs director and cabinet affairs director. [WCMH] … Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz has named seven more commissioners to serve in his cabinet ahead of his inauguration on Monday, including naming state Sen. Tony Lourey as commissioner of the Department of Human Services. Walz also named Minnesota Farmers Union lobbyist Thom Peterson as agriculture commissioner. [Star Tribune] … In Fort Bend County, Texas, the newly elected district attorney, Democrat Brian Middleton, fired 15 staffers, including 11 of the county’s 70 prosecutors. [Houston Public Media]
PUBLIC HEALTH | The Florida Department of Health did not immediately inform residents living near the State Fire College near Ocala that their well water could be contaminated with dangerous chemicals. [Miami Herald]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.