Nebraska Gears Up for ‘Last Stand’ Protests Opposing Keystone XL Pipeline

Anti-pipeline activist Allen Schreiber of Lincoln, Nebraska, wears a shirt inscribed with slogans opposing the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally outside the State Capitol.

Anti-pipeline activist Allen Schreiber of Lincoln, Nebraska, wears a shirt inscribed with slogans opposing the Keystone XL pipeline during a rally outside the State Capitol. Nati Harnik / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

Also in our State and Local Daily Digest: Illinois treasurer sends governor a budget to-do list; Colorado lawmakers make mad dash to fix budget error; and Orlando seeks a poet laureate.

PIPELINES | Activists and law enforcement in Nebraska are preparing for possible large-scale protests in Lincoln in August when the state’s Public Service Commission has weeklong meetings that will include discussing matters to permits for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which has a planned alignment across the state. “Everybody across the country knows that this is the last stand where we can potentially be stopping the permit in Nebraska. So this is kind of the last opportunity to show a public display of opposition,” according to Jane Kleeb, head of the group Bold Alliance, which opposes the pipeline. Lincoln Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister’s message to protesters: “Bring your beliefs, share your beliefs, do so in a civil manner, and do not interject property damage or violence into our community.” One Nebraska rancher opposed to the project has erected solar panels across his land where TransCanada plans to route the pipeline. "Not only would they have to invoke eminent domain against us, they would have to tear down solar panels that provide good clean power back to the grid and jobs for the people who build them," Bob Allpress said. [NET; Inside Climate News]

BUDGET | Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, a Democrat, sent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner a to-do list urging him to set political rhetoric aside and back the state’s first budget in two years. Frerichs holds it’s Rauner’s job to convince Wall Street credit rating agencies the $36 billion budget has his support, in spite of his vetoes, if Illinois is to avoid a downgrade to “junk” status. “[H]e has never navigated the hallways of government, because he has never served in government; he made his fortune taking significant risks, but always with the ability to walk away,” Frerichs said of Rauner. "The nuance of legislating and budgeting was, is and remains foreign to him.” [Quincy Herald-Whig; AP]

ELECTION INTEGRITY | Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, received a letter from 17 Republican state representatives criticizing his refusal to cooperate with President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission has come under fire for holding private meetings—possibly a violation of federal law—seeking large amounts of sensitive voter information, and staffing itself with figures like Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach notorious for employing voter suppression tactics. “The right to vote is absolute, but only to citizens of our state who are legally permitted to do so,” the letter reads. “We have no confidence that you seek to protect Pennsylvanian voters who are properly exercising their right to vote by preventing those who should not be voting in our state from doing so.” [FOX 43]

LAW ENFORCEMENT | In Houston, Public Works Director Karun Sreerama paid Houston Community College trustee Christopher Oliver $77,143 over time to secure contracts while the former still ran a private engineering firm. Oliver faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery. Sreerama hasn’t addressed the federal court filing, but his lawyer painted events as a “shakedown” by Oliver, who pleaded guilty to avoid a second, extortion charge. "Oliver made it very clear if Karun refused to make the payments that are reflected in the indictment he wouldn't get the contracts," the attorney said. [Houston Chronicle]

A public defender in Montana is arguing that the state’s standard for the amount of marijuana in a person’s system that constitutes a DUI is “arbitrary.” The lawyer, Gregory Paskell, is representing a 20 year-old man, Roderick Jensen, charged with vehicular homicide while driving under the influence. Jensen’s blood was found to contain Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a primary chemical compound in marijuana, after a 2016 crash that killed a motorcyclist, according to authorities. Paskell is attempting to get the charge against Jensen dismissed. Montana is among 18 states with marijuana-specific impaired driving laws, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. [Billings Gazette]

SANITATION | City officials in Presque Isle, Maine are having conversations with local Amish community leaders to address complaints from residents about horse manure in roadways and other public areas. The grievances center on droppings left by horses towing Amish buggies to Presque Isle from Easton and Fort Fairfield. “Parents have found their kids with horse manure on them,” said city councilman Mike Chasse. No municipalities in Maine have established ordinances to regulate horse dung. But Auburn, Kentucky has enacted requirements for horses within the city limits to wear a diaper of sorts. [Bangor Daily News]


Seattle, Washington: Two King County Superior Court judges say conditions are unsafe and unsanitary outside the downtown courthouse where they work. The judges are asking for help to clean up an area around Third Avenue and James Street where they say two jurors and half a dozen employees have been assaulted. “I’ve never seen it this bad,” Judge Jim Rogers said. [The Seattle Times]

Denver, Colorado: An omission in a state spending bill is costing the Regional Transit District, the Denver Zoo and museums hundreds of thousands of dollars a month. Colorado state lawmakers are in a “mad dash” to rectify the error. “I do hope it can be a very easy fix,” according to state Rep. K.C. Becker. [The Denver Post]

Jefferson City, Missouri: A new law signed this week by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will allow citizens to get official identification that’s compliant with the federal Real ID Act, which mandates tougher standards for identification documents like a driver’s license. In 2009, Missouri lawmakers had banned compliance with the federal act, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to improve standards for IDs needed to fly or access military bases. [KY3]

Orlando, Florida: Attention poets who live in the City Beautiful: Mayor Buddy Dyer has announced that he is seeking to appoint the city’s first poet laureate. According to the announcement, the “selected poet will serve as a prominent fixture in the City’s cultural and literary arts community.” Applications will be judged by university, cultural, and community representatives. The mayor will interview finalists in September and announce the poet. [United Arts of Central Florida]