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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Surge in Ohio, Ky. HIV cases … Colo.’s pollination corridor … and Maine Gov. LePage digs in his heels.
Good morning, it’s Friday, July 13, 2018. Some really intense city council acrimony in Minnesota leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup, which includes stories from Seattle, Washington; Burnt Mountain, Vermont; and Tampa, Florida.
CITY HALLS | In northwestern Minnesota, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office has turned over investigative materials to the county attorney from an incident at Thief River Falls City Hall, where council members fought during an Administrative Services Committee meeting on Tuesday—a scuffle where a chair was reportedly thrown in addition to punches. There are various accusations and denials of what exactly happened and there’s no video of the altercation. “I’m not prepared to make any comments on that stuff until this is all over,” said one of the council members involved, Josh Hagen. “The truth will come out.” [Grand Forks Herald]
PUBLIC HEALTH | Two years ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had warned that 65 counties in Ohio and Kentucky were among 220 nationwide identified as being at higher risk for a jump in HIV rates due to the surge of heroin abuse locally. That uptick in new HIV cases has materialized in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati and elsewhere in the region. In 2017, Hamilton County’s public health department saw three times more HIV cases than in 2016. Public health advocates are fuming at the region’s slow response to implement local needle-exchange programs to limit the spread of HIV. [Cincinnati Enquirer / Cincinnati.com]
MOBILITY | The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners OK’d a proposal on Thursday that would allow trial speed regulations on certain bike trails in a city where dockless bikeshare and electric-assist bicycling has really taken off. The Seattle Department of Transportation, which is preparing recommendations for its bikeshare program before a July 23 city council vote, reports that there were 208,849 rides in May using Lime, Ofo and Spin bikes in the city, authorized under the city’s dockless bikeshare program, which launched a year ago. The department put together a chart comparing ridership in Seattle with Portland BikeTown, which uses docked stations and allows riders to lock to a public bike rack for a small fee. Seattle ridership has really taken off compared to Oregon’s largest city. [The Urbanist; SDOT Blog]
- Raleigh, North Carolina: There’s been precious little news from Amazon’s second headquarters selection process recently, which is leaving officials in many of the finalist cities and regions, like the Raleigh-Durham area, on tenterhooks. “We have not heard back from them,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said recently of Amazon HQ2 and a similar search Apple has undertaken for a new campus. “I think they are still working through all of the places that they’ve visited.” [WRAL Tech Wire]
- Burnt Mountain, Vermont: A 5,500-acre parcel of forestland in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, under the stewardship of The Nature Conservancy, will be the state’s “first carbon storage project to enroll in California’s cap and trade program.” [VTDigger]
- Westbrook, Maine: Digging in his heels, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said he would rather risk jail before expanding Medicaid eligibility in his state without funding, which has been at the center of an ongoing battle between Maine lawmakers. “I will go to jail before I put the state in red ink,” LePage said in a radio interview. [Portland Press-Herald]
- Denver, Colorado: The Colorado Department of Transportation is shifting its mowing practices along Interstate 76 between Denver and the Nebraska border in order to support pollinators that are vital to the agricultural areas the highway—a designated pollinator corridor—cuts through. [CDOT]
- Charleston, West Virginia: With more than two years left in his term, State Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum announced his retirement on Thursday, just as West Virginia lawmakers have been considering impeachment proceedings against members of the state’s high court. While Ketchum isn’t under an ethical dark cloud, one of his colleagues on the court, Allen Loughry, is. Loughry was recently indicted on federal charges of fraud, lying to investigators and witness tampering. [Charleston Gazette-Mail]
- Tampa, Florida: Mayor Bob Buckhorn has jumped aboard the regional effort to resurrect the Cross Bay Ferry service in the Tampa Bay area. [Tampa Bay Times]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.