Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: One-third of Louisiana’s uninsured fall into coverage gap and Seattle highway tunnel crews set to start enormous soggy drilling project again.
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today…
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin: A Jury sided with two wounded police officers on Tuesday, when it ordered a gun shop to pay $6 million in damages. The shop sold the weapon used to shoot the officers to a so-called straw buyer, who illegally bought the gun for the teenage assailant. Jurors ruled the shop was negligent, reports the Associated Press. The liability issues raised in the case gained national attention when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she would push to repeal a law that shields gun stores from liability lawsuits. Lawyers for the police officers anticipate years of appeals. [Associated Press]
BOSTON, Massachusetts: The state Senate is seeking to punish parents engaged in “re-homing,” the practice of arranging through the Internet to pass off unwanted adopted children, reports the Boston Globe. “You have those that will say, ‘Well, they’re well-intentioned people, they’re trying to help the child,’ ” said state Senator Jennifer Flanagan, the bill’s sponsor. “No. When you go through the adoption process, and you take in a child, one, you have a responsibility to find out what the child’s needs are, and two, you cannot just hand off a child to someone in a parking lot.” Flanagan’s bill would impose fines of $5,000 to $25,000 for advertising children and prison sentences of up to 20 years for passing off a child. [The Boston Globe]
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: Nearly 200,000 residents of the Pelican State fall into a health insurance “coverage gap” because the state has declined to participate in the “Obamacare” Medicaid expansion program, reports the Times-Picayune. The numbers come from a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis, which found that the residents don’t earn enough money to buy insurance, and they earn too little to qualify for the typical “Obamacare” subsidized coverage. There are roughly 600,000 residents of the state who lack health insurance. [The Times-Picayune]
SEATTLE, Washington: Crews digging a highway tunnel through wet soil using an enormous $80 million Japanese rotary cutter named Bertha are getting ready to start again after a terrifying wet and shaky start, reports the Seattle Times. Crew members are injecting grout into the soil to firm it up. The goal is to restart the Highway 99 tunnel dig to South Lake Union by November 23. Work on the project stalled more than two years ago:
The tunnel machine — 57 feet, 4 inches in diameter — overheated Dec. 6, 2013, as its seals failed around the main bearing. Several parts were replaced or reinforced this year…[E]ngineers plan to gradually turn off their temporary dewatering wells, allowing groundwater to return at up to four times atmospheric pressure — while striving to avoid sudden ground heaves or shifts that could threaten structures… Not quite a year ago, contractors building the repair vault were pumping huge volumes of groundwater away from Bertha, a change suspected of causing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and a city water main to sag 1¼ inches. Seattle Public Utilities has dug open Western Avenue to replace the water line.
Not the kind of work you want to rush. [The Seattle Times]
DUPAGE COUNTY, Illinois: Health department officials in this suburban Chicago county say it’s a pretty basic idea that has worked elsewhere: Make mental health institutions the kind of places people won’t dread spending time in by making them the opposite of the stereotypical white-washed cinder block buildings of the past, with their white walls and windowless cramped rooms. The county this week unveiled a new $11 million, 33,000-square-foot “community health center” with large windows, colorful walls, workout rooms and a spacious group kitchen. The Chicago Tribune calls the building a “sunlit oasis.” “It's intended as a first-level step, to avoid sending that person to the emergency room," said a spokesman. People have been reluctant to come to us for behavioral health issues. We're confident that's not going to be the case here." [The Chicago Tribune]
John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Boulder, Colorado.