Calif. to Take on Gig Economy Labor Rights; Mo. Lawmakers Aim to Punish Student Athlete Protesters

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Connecting state and local government leaders

Also: Baltimore suburban officials feel blindsided by city’s long-running low-income-housing plan and local Florida governments see windfall in move toward cremation.

Here’s some of what we’ve been reading today…

SACRAMENTO, California: The labor dispute on slow-burn around the nation tied to the “gig” or “sharing” economy will be aired at the state Capitol in January in influential California, where the tech industry that has fueled gig-economy behemoths like ride-booking transportation company Uber holds enormous sway. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales, a San Diego Democrat and a former labor leader, will introduce the bill, which was brought to her by political consultant Richie Ross, “who got his start with Cesar Chavez in the United Farm Workers union.” Yet, as the newspaper also notes, the California 1099 Self-Organizing Act would bypass labor unions and allow the “independent contractors” doing gig-economy services to collectively bargain using a new app. [Los Angeles Times]

JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri: Show Me State legislators are officially recognizing the off-field power of student athletes with a bill that aims to diminish that power. The Associated Press reports that Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would strip athletes of scholarships for engaging in any protest strike. The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Rick Brattin. It would also require colleges and universities to fine coaching staffers who encourage student protest. The aim is to show school administrators that ”the response they've had has not been as strong as the Legislature would like," said co-sponsor Rep. Kurt Bahr, a St. Charles Republican, "and that we, the General Assembly, expect the leadership of this state institution to actually lead and not allow the students to call the shots." The state’s flagship university was the site of student and student athlete protests in November when a threatened football strike tied to alleged racial discrimination led the University of Missouri System president and chancellor of the Columbia campus both to resign. [The Associated Press]

BALTIMORE, Maryland: The program has been going on for eight years but Baltimore County officials feel blindsided, reports The Baltimore Sun. “Over the past eight years, the city housing authority spent $12 million to purchase nearly 30 houses in Baltimore County as well as 16 in Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties to serve as public housing for Baltimore residents,” an investigation undertaken by the paper found. In addition, “The city agency also has been providing $51 million in rent subsidies to nearly 3,100 families who have moved from city public housing to private apartments or houses in prosperous suburban neighborhoods, primarily in Howard and Baltimore counties.”

“This was being done in a subterranean manner," said County Councilman David Marks, who represents the city of Towson. "There should have been some level of notification."

[The Baltimore Sun]

TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Sunshine State local government coffers are benefitting from a general shift among the public away from burials and toward cremation. Local governments are “collecting millions of dollars in ‘cremation review fees’ that some funeral home and crematories say [are] unnecessary and merely a way to pad government budgets,” reports the Tampa Bay Times. The fees stand at around $25, county to county. In 2006, 50 percent of Floridians opted to cremate their deceased loved ones.  Today, that figure is about 66 percent, or two out of every three people. A special Route Fifty News Roundup Award goes to reporter Jeremy Wallace for his lede: “The only two certainties in life — death and taxes — are proving to be quite a windfall for county governments in Florida.”  [Tampa Bay Times]

AUGUSTA, Maine: The legislature in the Pine Tree State is the latest to consider how much of the psychoactive THC in cannabis drivers can take in before their powers of perception and judgment and their motor skills are dangerously significantly impaired, reports the Portland Press Herald. The working group established by lawmakers is weighing the same set of questions that dominated—and sometimes bedeviled—discussion in states like Colorado and Washington, which have led the way on pot legalization and regulation. Those questions include How much THC is too much THC? How do we best test the amount of THC in the blood? How much of what is detected is THC recently consumed and how much is the lingering product of regular cannabis use? [Portland Press Herald]

(Photo by focal point / Shutterstock.com)

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