Connecting state and local government leaders
Also: New Mexico doubles down on fight against drunk driving and flush Salt Lake transit authority plans to expand services.
Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today…
RALEIGH, North Carolina: Add another elections administration lawsuit onto the pile in the Tar Heel State. Three voter rights groups filed a federal suit Tuesday alleging that state agencies were failing to fully implement the 1993 Voter Registration Act, which makes it easy for people applying for drivers licenses and public assistance to register, reports The News and Observer. The groups noted that, after 2012 when Republicans took control of the government, voter registration applications tied to the 1993 program declined sharply—by more than half. Agency staffers said the drop off was due to computer coding problems. [The News and Observer]
TALLAHASSEE, Florida: The Sunshine State is one of four states bucking a trend across the country that sees states moving away from the death penalty, reports the Tampa Bay Times. The newspaper cites research published this week by the Death Penalty Information Center, which reports that executions and the number of new death sentences have tumbled from already historic lows. The Times:
According to the report, 93 percent of the 28 executions this year came from four states: Texas (13), Missouri (6), Georgia (5) and Florida (2). Oklahoma and Virginia had one each. The two executions in Florida were down from eight in 2014, largely because Florida, like other states, held off on executions during most of the first part of 2015 until the Supreme Court determined whether Oklahoma's controversial lethal injection cocktail — containing the drug midazolam — was constitutional. Florida's lethal injection mixture also includes the drug. The court upheld use of it in a June ruling.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have outlawed the death penalty. Twelve states have not carried out an execution in at least nine years. [Tampa Bay Times]
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico: Gov. Susan Martinez is spearheading a multi-front effort to limit the scourge of drunk driving in New Mexico, reports the Albuquerque Journal. State police will flood the deadliest highways looking for offenders and track which bars and restaurants are serving drunk drivers. Court monitors will spy how judges are handling drunk driving cases. “There’s nothing worse than to hear that knock by somebody at the front door and it happens to be a police officer at two in the morning to tell you that your daughter or son was killed by a drunk driver,” Martinez told reporters. [Albuquerque Journal]
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: The state transit authority adopted a budget for next year that will expand services by 5 percent without hiking fares or limiting popular rider discounts, reports The Salt Lake City Tribune. The agency has enjoyed high revenue from sales taxes and happy savings from low diesel fuel prices. [The Salt Lake City Tribune]
BOISE, Idaho: Still reeling from 2015, the worst fire season on record, the Idaho Land Board voted unanimously to boost the state’s wildfire fighting budget by 10 percent, reports The Spokesman-Review. The vote will translate to a little less than $1 million, which will pay for three more full-time staffers and retain firefighters throughout the fire season. The goal is to better respond to small fires and prevent them from flaring and spreading. [The Spokesman-Review]
John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Boulder, Colorado.