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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Pennsylvania’s naloxone distribution … PG&E scrutiny in California … and mapping climate change attitudes on the Jersey Shore.
Good morning, it’s Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. Governors-elect lead Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Gainesville, Florida; Lehigh Township, Pennsylvania; and Phoenix, Arizona. … ALSO IN ROUTE FIFTY … A federal watchdog offers a gloomy outlook for state and local government budgets … California moves another step toward open-source government … the farm bill expands funding for rural broadband … the reason why Kentucky’s pension-reform law was struck down by the state Supreme Court
Let’s get to it ...
TRANSITIONS | A bipartisan group of 13 governors-elect traveled to the nation’s capital on Thursday to meet with President Trump at the White House to discuss their policy priorities. But Kansas Gov.-elect Laura Kelly, a Democrat, was not among them, citing the need to remain in her state to deal with her administration’s transition into office. “Kansas faces many challenges and the Governor-elect’s first priority is to draft a balanced budget and lay the groundwork to rebuild Kansas,” Kelly spokeswoman Ashley All said. On Wednesday night, Kelly told gathering hosted by the Kansas News Service just how bad the fiscal mess in Kansas is. “No surprises … but I am disappointed that the devastation was even worse than I thought. The problems are broad and they’re deep.” [The White House; Chicago Sun-Times; Wichita Eagle; KCUR]
PUBLIC HEALTH | The number of Hepatitis A cases in Ohio continues to climb. [Dayton Daily News] … In Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a “steady stream of visitors” left a state health department office with doses of naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug that’s being distributed statewide. [Tribune Review] … The Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday approved a measure that would raise the age to purchase tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. [WKRC] …
WILDFIRES | In a letter sent to the California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric officials reported that they found bullet holes and damage on a transmission tower near the spot where the deadly and destructive Camp Fire started. As the cause of November’s fire continues to be investigated, the utility is facing numerous lawsuits alleging its equipment is to blame for the fire. [KCRA; Bay Area News Group via Chico Enterprise-Record]
WATER | Despite a looming official water shortage in the Colorado River and having some of the lowest average water costs for a large U.S. city in the nation, leaders in Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday rejected a request from Water Services Director Kathryn Sorensen to raise water rates by 12 percent over the next two years. [Phoenix New Times] … Due to ongoing retirements, attrition and a worker shortage, there’s a great need for water and wastewater operators in Texas. [Texas Tribune]
LAW ENFORCEMENT | Police chiefs in Minnesota are facing a shortage of potential law enforcement recruits and met recently to discuss strategies to meet their needs. “Quite frankly we are at a point of crisis, in terms of public safety, and men and women joining this very honorable profession,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. [Star Tribune]
AUDITS | Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has “thrown out a decade’s worth of audits” from the Lehigh Township Volunteer Fireman's Relief Association as a criminal investigation continues to the association’s former treasurer. The audits are “now clearly null and void because we cannot have faith in any of the information the VFRA gave us,” according to DePasquale. [The Morning Call]
IT MANAGEMENT | Ohio Inspector General Randall Meyer’s investigative report into state IT contracting suggests that two consultants should be barred from future work with the state after suggesting they improperly rigged the process. [Columbus Dispatch] … Hawaii Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy is stepping down at the end of the year. [Civil Beat]
ENVIRONMENT | Looking at Yale University’s Climate Opinion Map project for some coastal counties in New Jersey, a majority of residents are worried about the impacts of climate change but don’t think it will impact them directly. They do, however, think it will affect their children. “We see a general trend of counties in coastal areas having residents that are more worried about this topic,” said Peter Howe, a Utah State University assistant professor who worked on the project. [The Press of Atlantic City] … In Oregon, the state legislature is considering a ban on plastic straws and introduce fees for single-use plastic bags. [KGW] … City commissioners in Gainesville, Florida are scheduled to take final votes in January on proposed bans on styrofoam and single-use plastic bags. [WUFT]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.