Connecting state and local government leaders
STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | New Orleans nixes Mardi Gras parades due to Covid … Mississippi governor calls for axing state’s income tax … Leaders in both parties urge against out-of-state political supporters moving to Georgia ahead of special election.
President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday announced that Julie Chavez Rodriguez will direct the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, a key point of contact for state and local government officials. Chavez Rodriguez most recently served as a deputy campaign manager for the Biden-Harris ticket. Earlier, she was the national political director and traveling chief of staff for then-Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign and prior to that was California state director for Harris’ senate office. During the Obama administration, Chavez Rodriguez was a senior deputy director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. In that role, she worked on issues related to immigration, veterans services and health care. Chavez Rodriguez is the granddaughter of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez. She’s from California and graduated from University of California, Berkeley. Biden named a number of other senior White House staff on Tuesday as well, including deputy chief of staff and White House counsel. [Biden-Harris Press Release]
MARDI GRAS | New Orleans will not allow parades during the 2021 Mardi Gras season due to coronavirus concerns, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s office confirmed on Tuesday. “Parades of any kind will not be permitted this year because large gatherings have proven to be super spreader events of the Covid-19 virus," a city web page explains. City Hall spokesperson Beau Tidwell said he did not think the move should come as a surprise to anyone. Covid-19, a highly contagious respiratory illness, is now flaring up badly around the country. But some Mardi Gras enthusiasts did appear to be taken off guard. "It’s a total shock," said Dan Kelly, president of the Krewe of Endymion, which holds one of the largest parades the weekend before Mardi Gras. "Hopefully it’s a mistake," he added, "because it means a lot to the city and it means a lot to the people of New Orleans.” [nola.com]
VACCINE DISTRIBUTION | Maine health officials are worried that without more federal funding, the state could run into difficulties swiftly rolling out a Covid-19 vaccination program. Two drug companies, Pfizer and Moderna, have recently announced promising experimental vaccine results. In Maine, officials say additional federal money is needed to help cover the cost of workers to administer vaccines, computer systems needed to track who’s been inoculated, and also the cost of storing and handling the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine presents special complications because it must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures. [Bangor Daily News]
TAX POLICY | Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, on Monday proposed that the state phase out its individual income tax over the next decade as part of an effort to lure new residents and businesses to the state. “Let's eliminate the income tax, which is one huge speed bump to long-term economic growth and recovery for Mississippi," Reeves said. The tax is one of Mississippi’s largest sources of state government revenue. During the fiscal year that ended in June, the state collected about $5.8 billion in taxes and fees and other revenue, of which about $1.8 billion was from individual income taxes. “We, as a state, need to think big,” said Reeves. “What can we do to make a splash?” [Associated Press]
GEORGIA SPECIAL ELECTION | Democratic and Republican leaders alike in Georgia are urging people against moving to the state in order to vote or lend other support in an upcoming special election that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. A story earlier this week in a San Francisco newspaper about Californians preparing to “descend” on Georgia to assist with Democratic campaign efforts drew attention from Republicans. But members of both parties have talked about going to the state ahead of the Jan. 5 contest. “Please stay home,” Seth Bringman, an aide to Stacey Abrams—who narrowly lost a bid for Georgia governor in 2018 and is now an influential Democratic figure in the state—said referring to out-of-staters. “If you are not a Georgian or you don’t have a specific role with an organization on the ground, you can help from where you are,” added Bringman. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Bill Lucia is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.