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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Colorado pension reform bill approved … Louisiana special legislative session … and Michigan’s suburban growth.
Here are state and local government news stories that caught Route Fifty’s attention ...
- Bismarck, North Dakota: Scammers pretending to be from IRS called Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday threatening him with “immediate arrest” if he didn’t return their call within “twenty-four working hours.” The governor informed the state attorney general’s consumer protection division about the scam. “If you receive a recorded message threatening you with immediate arrest, please hit delete immediately. Then tell your friends about this scam, so they know to ignore it, too,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who recently received a similar scammer’s call. [MyNDNow.com; Forum News Service]
- Denver, Colorado: Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday approved pension-reform legislation that’s aimed to help improve the funded status of the Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association. Among the changes: Increasing the contribution rate for most participants by an additional 2 percent of pay phased in beginning July 1, 2019. "We understand that these changes will not be easy, but we believe shared impact across the membership and with employers was absolutely necessary," Timothy O'Brien, PERA chairman, said in a statement. The $44 billion pension system serves more than 586,000 current and former state and local government workers in Colorado and is “facing liability of as much as $51 billion.” [Pensions & Investments; The Daily Sentinel]
- Vacationland, Hawaii: Among the approximately 117 homes destroyed by Kilauea’s lava on the Big Island is one owned by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim. “Vacationland is almost totally destroyed,” according to Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman of the Hawaii County Civil Defense. [Honolulu Star-Advertiser]
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana: With a state budget compromise still elusive and the time ticking, Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to call “a short, concentrated special session” that “will end several days before the next fiscal year,” which starts July 1. [The Advocate]
- Boston, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts State Police overtime scandal has grown a bit larger as “five troopers recently flagged because of ‘alleged discrepancies between overtime pay received and hours worked’ filed paperwork to retire Monday.” Nearly 30 former and current patrol officers are currently under investigation. [MassLive.com]
- Grand Rapids, Michigan: While Michigan’s second-largest city is also the state’s fastest growing, much of the growth in the Great Lakes State has been in suburban areas outside Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing and Kalamazoo, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data. Developers are “targeting a ring of townships just beyond the inner ring of the state’s urban cores.” [BridgeMI]
- Boise, Idaho: State Fish and Game officials discovered an invasive shrimp in the Boise River that is “a common aquarium species and food species that can be found and purchased in pet stores” in the area. “Someone released them into the river live and they’ve been able to survive and there’s at least a small population of them in that part of the river," said regional fish biologist John Cassinelli. [Boise State Public Radio]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.