Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: New York City’s new sodium rules face litigation.
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today ...
AUSTIN, Texas: Like many other Republican governors, Greg Abbott has firmly stated that he does not want Syrian refugees in the Lone Star State, despite federal authority over refugee resettlement issues. And Abbott’s administration has sent a message loud and clear to aid organizations interested in resettling refugees in Texas.
As the Houston Chronicle reports:
Texas health commissioner Chris Traylor issued the first lawsuit threat over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in a letter to the Dallas branch of the International Rescue Committee, which said earlier this month that it supports accepting Syrian refugees.
"We have been unable to achieve cooperation with your agency," Traylor wrote in the letter, which was released to the Houston Chronicle late Sunday, adding that, "Failure by your organization to cooperate with the State of Texas as required by federal law may result in the termination of your contract with the state and other legal action."
The newspaper reports that despite declarations from Abbott’s administration to block refugee resettlement in Texas, "the federal government can simply work directly with local resettlement groups to place Syrians with them.” [Houston Chronicle]
BOLIVIA, North Carolina: In the Tar Heel State, law enforcement is getting tough on some horticultural crimes. The News & Observer reports on some tough penalties two men are facing, after being arrested by local sheriff’s deputies who found them with a sackful of rare and carnivorous Venus flytraps:
On Nov. 1, sheriff’s deputies charged these men with taking 1,025 Venus flytraps from Orton Plantation, the historic antebellum plantation that sprawls along the Cape Fear River. For this charge, which also included the theft of purple pitcher plants, they were jailed with bond set at $1 million–the amount more commonly reserved for murderers.
A new law enacted a year ago in North Carolina made such crimes of botany a felony. [The News & Observer]
NEW YORK CITY, New York: The National Restaurant Association has filed a lawsuit against New York City’s Board of Health over new rules to take effect Tuesday that require chain restaurants to post warnings next to food items that contain more than the daily recommended amount of sodium—more than 3,200 milligrams of salt, Politico New York reports. New York City faced similar litigation over previous Board of Health regulations limiting the size of sugary beverages. A state appeals court ruled the city had overstepped its regulatory authority. [Politico New York]
CASPER, Wyoming: Despite a big downturn in the extractive minerals industry, which had previously provided a strong economic base in the Cowboy State, Wyoming’s economy hasn’t been hurting as much as it could be. Why? As the Casper Star-Tribune reports, construction and tourism have helped offset the losses. Low gas prices and promotions efforts to boost Yellowstone National Park visits have paved the way for robust tourism. [Casper Star-Tribune]
TOLEDO, Ohio: A Toledo City Council member says that the city government’s accounting system is “in shambles” after a trust fund that’s supposed to pay for smoke detectors for residents was “used to pay for hotel rooms, conference costs, and dinners for fire department officials,” the Toledo Blade reports. There’s also a conflict over a meeting where Councilman Mike Craig planned to question city officials on the matter. A city spokesman, the Blade reports, said there wasn’t enough notice given, so the city didn’t have enough time to prepare testimony. “The city auditor got me the numbers I was looking for in two hours that apparently the administration couldn't get in a week,” Craig said, according to the newspaper. [Toledo Blade]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty.