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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Montana’s ‘worst ever’ drought; a new police chief in Dallas; and a Styrofoam ban proposal in Honolulu.
Our state and local news roundup is compiled by Route Fifty’s staff and is edited by Michael Grass. Help us crowdsource state and local government news from across the United States by flagging them on Twitter with these hashtags: #stategovwire and #localgovwire.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT | State and local agencies across Florida are preparing for Hurricane Irma, now a Category 5 storm that is expected to make landfall somewhere on the Florida Peninsula this weekend. “Every weather update brings more bad news.” While the entire peninsula can expect major impacts, there are special concerns about where the eye of the hurricane will come ashore. Public officials and emergency managers in the heavily populated and low-lying Tampa Bay area are worried about their worst-case scenario, a track that would bring Irma’s center up the Florida’s Gulf coast and “send water rushing over barrier islands and surging into Tampa Bay.” [Tampa Bay Times]
Visitors were ordered to leave Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, and evacuation orders were expected to come Wednesday for some coastal areas and barrier islands in Miami-Dade County. Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all of the state’s 67 counties and ordered 7,000 of the state’s National Guard to be ready to report for duty on Friday. [Miami Herald]
Miles City, Montana: Extremely dry conditions are hurting Montana’s agricultural sector. “This is the worst drought we’ve ever had,” said Fred Wacker, a third-generation rancher. As of late August, some areas in the eastern part of the state had recorded their lowest rainfall amounts in over a century. The drought comes after farmers and ranchers in Montana saw earnings fall steeply last year. “You can stand a down market, but you can’t stand drought,” Wacker said. “When you get to fighting drought, it just takes so much money.” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]
Juneau, Alaska: In the Last Frontier, marijuana businesses can now apply for “Made in Alaska” certification logos so long as a state marijuana license is submitted to the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. The logo features a white mother bear and black cub and is allowed on products at least 51 percent Alaskan-made. Advocates say it’s a sign the state is normalizing its attitude toward marijuana. [Juneau Empire via Peninsula Clarion]
Lincoln, Nebraska: Members of the City Council are expected to pass an anti-hate resolution advocating tolerance, rejecting bigotry and touting the city’s diverse immigrant population in response to recent white nationalist-led violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. The resolution has bipartisan support. “It seems like a lot of people are looking for reassurance from public leadership that their community has a respect for individual rights and will be safe-guarding all community members," said Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird. [Lincoln Journal-Star]
Dallas, Texas: The city is about to get its first ever female police chief. Ulysha Renee Hall comes to the city from Detroit, where she spent nearly two decades on the force. During her time there, Hall became known for her community engagement efforts and often attended neighborhood cookouts as a way to meet local residents. Hall’s new job will come with tough challenges. Dallas’ police force has been marked by an unusually high attrition rate for the past decade. More than 2,600 officers have departed the department in the last 10 years. [The Dallas Morning News]
Denver, Colorado: Most new buildings in Denver with at least 25,000 square feet would be required to have gardens, solar panels or other “green roof” features, under the terms of a voter initiative that qualified last week for the city’s Nov. 7 ballot. Environmentalists are backing the ballot measure, with the goal of offsetting the city’s “heat island” effect. [The Denver Post]
Ogunquit, Maine: Seasonal businesses in Maine are concerned that an executive order President Trump issued in April could curb the J1 nonimmigrant visa program, which has proven crucial for filling jobs in the tourism and restaurant industry. “In rural areas and for seasonal businesses, we have a problem recruiting a workforce for peak dates, from mid-June until Labor Day,” said Allyson Cavaretta, director of sales and marketing at the Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit. “The J1 program supplements that peak season, filling jobs that would go unfilled.” [York County Coast Star via Bangor Daily News]
Honolulu, Hawaii: The city-county government which has already banned plastic bags across Oahu, is turning its attention to Styrofoam. Councilwoman Kymberly Pine proposed an ordinance banning food vendors from using Styrofoam containers to serve food or for packaging. Disposable containers would have to additionally be made of compostable material. The Retail Merchants of Hawaii is worried about the financial impact on small businesses on tight budgets, which could be forced to raise the prices of meals to offset costs. [KHON2]