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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Ore. governor signs statewide rent control bill … Ariz. governor is “pro-vaccination and anti-measles” … and Fla. toll road expansion
Good morning, it’s Friday, March 1, 2019. Pedestrian safety leads Route Fifty’s state and local government news roundup but scroll down for more from places like Birmingham, Alabama; Cincinnati, Ohio and Stevens County, Washington … ALSO ON ROUTE FIFTY … Democrats Lay Down a Marker on Drinking Water and Sewer Funding … Agriculture Secretary Optimistic States Will Recover From Trade War … Time to Try Something New: Parliamentary State Government … The Persistent Employment Gap Among Disabled Americans
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TRANSPORTATION & MOBILITY | A new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that “about 6,227 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018—a 4 percent increase over 2017 and the highest mortality rate since 1990.” Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia and Texas accounted for nearly half—46 percent—of all deaths. [National Public Radio] … Plans to rebuild and expand part of Interstate 5 north of downtown Portland, Oregon continues to face scrutiny from environmentalists for claims from the Oregon Department of Transportation that “the newer, bigger highway would be better for the environment.” [Slate] … The New Jersey Transit commuter rail line connecting Philadelphia with Atlantic City won’t restart service until May after it was shuttered to do federally mandated positive train control track safety upgrades. [WHYY] … Thursday evening’s commute in Chicago brought with it massive signal delays in and out of Union Station, stranding around 60,000 Metra commuter rail passengers. [Chicago Tribune] … Florida State Senate President Bill Galvano is “pursuing an aggressive transportation vision” that involves expanding two toll roads and building a third in mostly rural areas of the state. [News Service of Florida via Bradenton Herald]
GOVERNORS | Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday that he will veto any legislation that reaches his desk aimed at making it easier to for parents to exempt their children from vaccination requirements. “I’m pro-vaccination and anti-measles,” Ducey said. [Arizona Capitol Times; Capitol Media Services via Tucson.com] … Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has signed into the law the nation’s first statewide rent control requirements, which puts a statewide limit on rent increases— “no more than 7% plus the consumer price index during a one-year period.” Also included is a ban on no-cause evictions for the first year a person is renting a dwelling. [KOIN] … Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to propose new criminal justice and public safety initiatives during his State of the State address that’s scheduled for Monday, including expanding the recovery court system and recovery court programming; eliminating the $180 state expungement fee; and create more higher education opportunities for those in incarceration. [The Chattanoogan]
CITY HALLS | Officials in Birmingham, Alabama have declared gun violence a public health emergency. “We have been desensitized to gun violence,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said. [WBRC] … Mayor Nancy Shaver of St. Augustine, Florida is stepping down from her position effective immediately after she suffered from a stroke on Monday. “It appears my health will not allow me to continue to serve the city and people I love. I will be taking time to recover my health and wish the city leaders well as they do their very best for our city,” she said in a statement. [WJAX] … Mayor Shawn Morse of Cohoes, New York was arrested by federal authorities on Thursday and indicted with seven felonies related to allegations that he had “conspired with his former campaign treasurer to use thousands of dollars in political donations for personal expenditures, including vacations and home repairs.” [Times-Union] … Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has sent a letter to Congress asking members to support marijuana banking reform. [Westword]
WILDFIRES | Pacific Gas & Electric said Thursday it’s “probable” that its equipment served as an “ignition point” for what grew into California’s most destructive wildfire, the Camp Fire, which burned through the foothills community of Paradise in Butte County in November, killing 85 people. PG&E, which recently filed for bankruptcy protection, faces numerous lawsuits from wildfire victims and likely liabilities that could cripple the San Francisco-based utility. As The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, records show that since 2013, PG&E “repeatedly delayed upgrades to the high-voltage line” that ran through the Paradise area. [Los Angeles Times; The Wall Street Journal] …
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES | A recently released Washington state auditor’s report found that Stevens County Commissioners misspent $121,000 from a fund dedicated for homelessness services. [The Spokesman-Review] … The Denver Department of Public Health has reported a spike in kratom-related calls to poison control. [KDVR] … Among the places struggling with increases in Hepatitis A cases: the greater Cincinnati area, Louisiana and Boise, Idaho. [WCPO; WAFB; MyMagicValley.com]
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.