Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: New free feature at the Minnesota State Fair and taxi medallion compensation?
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading this weekend …
FARMINGTON, New Mexico: There’s a terrible mess to clean up in southwest Colorado and northwestern New Mexico following the release of 1 million gallons of toxic, metal-laden, orange-colored water from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mine clean-up site into the Animas River, a tributary of the San Juan River. As the Daily Times reports, during a town hall meeting on Saturday, New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary Ryan Flynn said: "We will not allow EPA to leave until they have compensated us." State and local officials have been highly critical of how the EPA has handled the spill response, with Flynn describing the agency being “cavalier and irresponsible.” [Daily Times]
FAIRBANKS, Alaska: Who is moving to Alaska? Plenty of Texans. As the Fairbanks Daily Miner reports, a review of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development around 3,172 Texans moved to the Last Frontier per year from 2009 to 2013, more than any other state. But that might be a factor of Texas being the nation’s second-largest state. [Fairbanks Daily Miner]
AUSTIN, Texas: On Sept. 1, a smorgasbord of new state laws go into effect after Gov. Greg Abbott approved 1,200 bills that came to his desk for his signature or veto. Among the new laws, as the Houston Chronicle reports, include measures that slashes student aid, bars undocumented immigrants from working in state government, boosts state assistance for veterans and recruits more mental health professionals. [Houston Chronicle]
BOSTON, Massachusetts: With the rise of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, the value of taxi medallions, the expensive permits that allow taxi drivers to legally pick up passengers, has plummeted. As Jack Newsham explores in The Boston Globe, do cities owe medallion holders anything now that their huge investments—last year in Boston, taxi medallions were valued around $700,000 a piece—are being undermined? Says Adrian Moore of the libertarian Reason Foundation: “[Medallion owners] made their bets on how the world was going to be based on a set of laws, not on the marketplace,” said Moore. “Maybe we bear part of the blame, too.” [The Boston Globe]
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: This year at the Minnesota State Fair, there will be a new addition that will be free for visitors: sunscreen. As MinnPost reports, the idea came from a doctor whose father died of melanoma. The free sunscreen will be distributed at dispensaries positioned at 11 information booths. [MinnPost]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.