National Security: Alabama
Columbiana: A proposed toll bridge over Lay Lake that could spur economic development in central Alabama is drawing concerns from some residents and environmentalists. Some who live near the site on the Shelby-Talladega county line are worried about noise and traffic should the bridge be built, and the Alabama Rivers Alliance has raised questions about issues with construction and the long-term impact of quality of life in the area. Businessman Tim James proposed the bridge, which would link the counties across the Coosa River. He told WIAT-TV some noise is a small trade-off for the historic economic development a toll bridge would bring. A public involvement meeting is scheduled for Tuesday on the bridge, which has become a topic of discussion for state lawmakers as well. Last Wednesday, a bill was introduced that would require voter approval in counties considering toll bridges.
National Security: Alaska
Juneau: More than 200 federally recognized tribes would also be officially recognized in the state under a bill that is gaining momentum with bipartisan support. The bill is largely symbolic and would not change how tribal governments already operate, as each of the 229 Native Alaska tribes is already federally recognized, lawmakers said. The legislation would instead enshrine in state law what has been the status of these tribes for years and formally recognize tribal sovereignty. “Just a simple act of recognition can heal decades of hurt,” said Richard Chalyee Eesh Peterson, president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. “One of the things that will happen for the larger community of Alaska, this will normalize the thought of tribes as sovereigns.”
National Security: Arizona
Tombstone: Doc Holliday’s Saloon has challenged the state liquor department’s ruling that the saloon didn’t adequately control firearms within its establishment. That claim, historians will note, was the also the chief concern of the bar’s namesake, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, when he lived in Tombstone in the late 1800s. That dispute, in which Holliday and three other lawmen looked to disarm a group of cowboys by the OK Corral, ended badly. In the current case, the liquor department ordered Doc Holliday’s to temporarily close its swinging doors for two weeks because of four incidents that it asserted violated liquor laws. Three involved weapons; two ended with someone being shot. After one shooting incident, the department’s report noted, the saloon seemed to celebrate with a sign outside that suggested beer was a necessity following a shooting. Doc Holliday remains open for business while it appeals the order.
National Security: Arkansas
Mountain Home: The city will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to discuss a proposed community center. Under a proposal presented to the City Council earlier this month, the facility would include an indoor aquatic center and an outdoor water park in addition to the community center. It would be built at McCabe Park along U.S. Highway 62 West. The plan includes upgrades or renovations – some big, some small – to almost every park under the City of Mountain Home umbrella and carries an estimated $38 million price tag. The proposed indoor aquatic center would be 22,300 square feet and include a competition lap pool, a heated therapy pool and a kids’ play pool. The proposed outdoor water park would feature a diving pool, a shallow play area for small children, water slides and a lazy river.
National Security: California
Lake Elsinore: Southern California’s dry winter isn’t good for wildflowers – and that’s OK with officials in this city where last spring’s “superbloom” of poppies drew huge crowds. Riverside County parks official Dustin McLain said the chances of a superbloom in Walker Canyon this year are small because January was dry, and February has started off the same way, The Press-Enterprise reports. Lake Elsinore Mayor Brian Tisdale is hoping the big bloom doesn’t occur. “That kind of attention – even though it’s probably the most beautiful thing in Southern California – has an overwhelming impact on the local community,” he told the newspaper. Last March, after a very wet winter, throngs of people flocked to Walker Canyon. Interstate 15 was jammed for miles in both directions, and streets of the small city were gridlocked. At one point, the city closed the canyon and then barred cars from the area, requiring visitors to pay for shuttle rides to the floral extravaganza.
National Security: Colorado
Denver: A ban prohibiting pit bulls in the city is expected to remain in place after the mayor announced plans to veto legislation that would have lifted the dog breed restriction. Mayor Michael Hancock said Friday that he expects to veto a repeal on the ban, citing concerns that the ordinance does not fully address the risk of injury resulting from attacks from these particular dog breeds, the Denver Post reports. “The reality is that irresponsible pet owners continue to be a problem, and it is the irresponsible owners and their dogs I must consider in evaluating the overall impact of this ordinance,” Hancock said. City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday and must acquire nine votes to override the veto, but the repeal measure only passed the council with seven votes when first introduced, city officials said.
National Security: Connecticut
New Haven: A female high school student defeated a transgender female athlete in a state championship race, just two days after a lawsuit was filed in an effort to block transgender athletes from participating in girls sports in the state. Chelsea Mitchell, of Canton High School, won the Class S 55-meter dash title Friday night with a time of 7.18 seconds, edging Terry Miller of Bloomfield High School. Miller, a transgender athlete, finished at 7.20 seconds. The families of Mitchell and two other female high school runners filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday, arguing that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived them of track titles and scholarship opportunities. The Hartford Courant reports Miller and Mitchell did not interact before or after the race. “I clapped because, for me, I’m not a hater,” Miller said. “When you take a win, you take the win. And even if you don’t respect me, I’ll respect you.”
National Security: Delaware
Wilmington: The air temperature was hanging around freezing when 130 people stepped out of the The Queen Wilmington over the weekend for the second annual Cupid’s Undie Run, most only in their skivvies. The outdoor portion of the event, the namesake run, took panty- or boxer-clad participants on a jog from 5th Street to 10th Street and back to the warm Queen on Saturday. “It’s a fun run, so people run in their underwear or a costume,” organizer Caroline Mouldsdale said, adding that the pre-run partying inside The Queen made the cold a little easier to handle. “It’s a little chilly, but we’ve been dancing and having fun.” The run is in its 10th year nationwide, Mouldsdale said. It’s earned $18 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which is seeking a cure for neurofibromatosis. “The founders who came up with the Cupid’s Undie Run decided if these children (with neurofibromatosis) were going to uncomfortable in their skin every day, then we can go out and be uncomfortable in our skin,” she said.
National Security: District of Columbia
Washington: Momentum is building in the nation’s capital for the creation of a museum dedicated to American women’s history, WUSA-TV reports. The House has passed a bill to establish the museum inside the Smithsonian network and take steps toward funding and construction. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.C., was the main sponsor of the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act. 374 Congress members voted for the House bill, while only 37 voted against it. A similar bill is working its way through the Senate. If approved, it could take a decade or more to finalize funding, design and construction of the museum.
National Security: Florida
Fort Lauderdale: Officials say 211.6 million gallons of sewage has spilled into city waterways in the past few months. The Sun-Sentinel reports that’s enough to fill 320 Olympic-sized pools. The city’s aging sewer pipes broke six times in December and spewed 126.9 million gallons of sewage – ranking as one of South Florida’s biggest spills ever. The spills fouled the Tarpon River, the Himmarshee Canal and streets in three neighborhoods. According to what officials told the state Department of Environmental Protection, 79.3 million gallons spilled into George English Lake over a 10-day period that began Jan. 30 and ended Feb. 8. Then an additional 5.4 million gallons flooded streets near a park right across from a popular mall. In recent weeks, crews also have rushed to fix another string of water main breaks, forcing the city to warn residents to boil their tap water before drinking, brushing their teeth or washing dishes.
National Security: Georgia
Atlanta: The demand for parking at the nation’s busiest airport has declined with the rise of Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services, airport officials say. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is shelving plans to demolish and rebuild its parking decks at the domestic terminal. The airport developed plans several years ago to double the size of the Terminal South and Terminal North decks, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. But airport officials eventually downscaled those plans. Airport parking revenue had begun to decline in 2019, Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager John Selden said at the time. Last week, Selden told a City Council committee that revenue has continued to decrease. Airport car rentals also have declined, he said. “People are just not parking,” he said.
National Security: Hawaii
Honolulu: Possession of small amounts of drugs that are considered dangerous would be decriminalized in the state under a proposed bill, potentially reducing the amount of money spent on enforcement. The legislation would make it a misdemeanor instead of a felony offense to possess less than 2 grams of dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, morphine and cocaine. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Friday, after which the bill was amended to increase the amount of drugs from one-sixteenth of an ounce to 2 grams, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. “Enforcement of the offense of promotion of a dangerous drug in the third-degree costs state taxpayers over $13 million each year to incarcerate low-level, non-violent offenders,” the bill says. “Hawaii’s experience corroborates mounting national data demonstrating that incarceration has no effect on rates of drug use or overdose deaths, but actually increases recidivism among those at low risk to reoffend.”
National Security: Idaho
Boise: An Idaho Transportation Department employee died as he worked along U.S. Highway 20 in southeast Idaho. Mark Reinke, 56, was killed Thursday when his backhoe was struck from behind by a semitractor about 5 miles outside Arco, the Idaho Statesman reports. The semi was traveling west. Reinke was wearing a seat belt but was fatally injured. He died about 7 a.m., the department announced in a press release. Reinke began working for the Idaho Transportation Department last summer. He is the 40th employee to die on the job since 1960.
National Security: Illinois
Chicago: Nearly a dozen public housing authorities in the area will receive $75 million in federal funding for development, financing and modernization, federal officials said. The money is coming through a capital program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Development. The bulk of the funding, nearly $65 million, will go to the Chicago Housing Authority. Other recipients including housing authorities in Joliet, Aurora, North Chicago, Waukegan, Kankakee and Oak Park. “This federal funding gives local agencies in the Chicagoland region the ability to offer safe and affordable housing to those who need it most,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said in a joint news release with U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth. “In addition, the local economy stands to benefit from this investment in infrastructure projects that will bring safety and modernization to the area’s public housing.”
National Security: Indiana
Indianapolis: Road crews are getting a new weapon in their endless task of filling potholes: special heaters that should make their road-patching chores easier, especially in cold weather. The city’s Department of Public Works recently acquired two infrared P200 asphalt heaters to assist with road repairs. The new machinery essentially heats up the asphalt, making it easier for crews to fix segments of pavement that are falling apart. The department says the machinery will heat dry pavement to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing crews to remove buckled or decaying asphalt and smooth it over more effortlessly. Workers will pull the heaters behind their trucks so they can cover long swaths at a time. “We’re excited to continue putting tools in the hands of our street maintenance crews that go above and beyond simple filling operations,” DPW Director Dan Parker said in a news release. The machinery is being tested and will be used on roads in the coming weeks.
National Security: Iowa
Clayton: A northeast Iowa company that wanted to withdraw 2 billion gallons of water annually from the Jordan aquifer to send to drought-stricken western states has pulled its permit request. Pattison Sand Co. notified the state Department of Natural Resources on Feb. 12 that it was pulling its permit request, which had garnered significant concern from lawmakers and environmental groups. Before the Pattison proposal, the agency had never received a request to move so much water outside of the state, the Iowa DNR said, although it has allowed rural water groups to serve communities across the border in neighboring states. The Iowa DNR wrote Pattison in a Feb. 4 letter that the agency planned to reject the request, saying it would have “a negative impact on the long-term availability of Iowa’s water resources.”
National Security: Kansas
Topeka: The state’s elections chief is pushing to make Kansas’ central voter registration database more secure by changing how counties tap into it, but some officials are nervous about what they see as a big project in a busy election year. Secretary of State Scott Schwab has told county election officials he wants them to use dedicated tablets, laptops or computers not linked to their counties’ networks to access the state’s voter registration database. He says Kansas is getting $8 million in federal election security funds that could be used to cover the costs. Schwab, a Republican and former Kansas House member from the Kansas City area who became the state’s top elections official last year, contends such a setup will decrease the likelihood of foreign nationals, foreign governments or domestic hackers gaining access to voter registration records. His idea has bipartisan support. But even some county election officials who agree Schwab’s initiative would make voter registration records more secure see it as a huge undertaking.
National Security: Kentucky
Frankfort: State transportation officials will be out more than $150,000 after losing a legal battle to a man who wanted to put “IM GOD” on his license plate. In November, a federal judge in Frankfort gave Ben Hart the OK to get the controversial license plate after a three-year legal battle against the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Hart applied for the license in 2016 but was denied because it didn’t “meet requirements.” Kentucky statute allows for personalized license plates as long as the letters do not discriminate against anyone because of their sex, race, color, religion or nationality. In Hart’s case, the court ruled that vanity plates were private speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. On Monday, a judge ordered the defendants in Hart’s case to pay out $150,715.50 in lawyer fees and another $491.24 for additional court costs.
National Security: Louisiana
Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow has a new honor to add to his long list of awards and achievements: He inspired the name of the newest male giraffe at the capital city’s zoo. A public naming competition selected the name Burreaux – a Cajun-inspired spelling of Burrow’s last name – for the giraffe calf born Dec. 26. The Baton Rouge Zoo announced the selection Friday, saying the public chose the winning name from three options: Romeo, Burreaux and Kiume, a Swahili word meaning masculine and strong. Zoo staff took nominations for the names and narrowed them to the finalists. The public voted with donations, which the zoo said raised more than $2,000 that will go to its conservation efforts. Burrow is LSU’s most decorated quarterback, leading the Tigers to a national championship victory earlier this year. He’s widely expected to be the top player taken in the 2020 NFL draft.
National Security: Maine
Bar Harbor: The new executive director of a museum dedicated to the indigenous people of Maine is a professional educator and member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor will be led by Christopher Newell, the museum’s trustees announced last week. The museum documents Wabanaki culture, history and art. Newell was born and raised in Indian Township, Maine, and worked for five years as education supervisor for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center in Connecticut. He also served as senior adviser on the documentary “Dawnland,” which focused on the Maine-Wabanaki State Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Abbe Museum was founded in 1926 and is also the site of the annual Abbe Museum Indian Market in Bar Harbor.
National Security: Maryland
Glen Burnie: Police have arrested a woman suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail into a place of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses, according to court records. Heather Meisel, 43, was charged Friday after she told investigators she damaged the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Glen Burnie to “send a message,” the Capital Gazette reports. Meisel, a Baltimore County resident, was arrested on charges including attempted murder and defacement of religious property. Anne Arundel County fire investigators found a door with broken glass and a Molotov cocktail made from an apple cider vinegar bottle inside the building Thursday morning. Police estimated the incident caused more than $1,000 in damage to the building’s front door and more than $1,000 in damage to property inside the building. Meisel resisted arrest and told officers she was “royalty,” charging documents said.
National Security: Massachusetts
Boston: A bill making its way through the Statehouse would require schools to provide free disposable menstrual products to students. Under the proposal, all “elementary and secondary public schools in the commonwealth serving students in any grade from grade six through grade twelve shall provide disposable menstrual products in the restrooms” of school buildings. The products would be provided at no charge. The bill also requires school districts to make sure the products “shall be available in a convenient manner that does not stigmatize any student seeking such product.” The bill has received the backing of the Legislature’s Education Committee but has yet to come up for a vote in either the Massachusetts House or Senate. Advocates say the availability of free pads and tampons in schools helps chip away at any stigma surrounding the products and makes the products available to students who may not be able to afford them.
National Security: Michigan
Lansing: Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is urging businesses to give their workers the day off on Election Day by making it a company holiday. Benson said she’s encouraging companies to give employees the day off work Nov. 3 so they can vote and work as poll workers. She praised Wayne State University for recently announcing such a move, MLive.com reports. “That’s the direction we should be moving in,” Benson said. State Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown, has a bill pending before the Legislature that would make regularly scheduled election days in May, August and November state holidays. When the state makes days like Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day state holidays, he said, “many other businesses end up following suit.” “I think that we want to make it as broad as possible, as easy as possible for people to participate in our elections,” Camilleri said.
National Security: Minnesota
St. Paul: The GOP minority in the state House announced a slate of bills Monday aimed at reducing violent crime in Minneapolis and St. Paul and on the Metro Transit system, drawing a sharp retort from Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. The proposals include higher penalties for gang members who use guns in crimes, boosting funding against gangs and drug trafficking, requiring major sports and entertainment venues to have sufficient police nearby, and increased enforcement on the light rail system. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, of Crown, and other Republican leaders said at a news conference that their constituents from greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities suburbs worry about their safety when attending sporting and entertainment events in the cities. Frey accused the Republican lawmakers of trying to make public safety a partisan issue and of spreading misinformation while providing too little financial assistance.
National Security: Mississippi
Biloxi: The first part of the state’s recreational red snapper season will run from May 22 through July 12. A midseason closure will let the Department of Marine Resources and the related commission analyze data and decide how to manage the remaining quota, officials said in a news release Wednesday. Mississippi is allocating 151,500 pounds of the popular sport and table fish – about 3.5% of the total quota for private anglers in the Gulf of Mexico, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. Private anglers with the appropriate Mississippi licenses can fish in federal waters off the state’s coast. Recreational charter boats with Mississippi licenses are restricted to state waters because federal authorities still regulate for-hire boats in federal waters.
National Security: Missouri
Springfield: The Missouri Pork Association and Missouri Farm Bureau say they support the state conservation department’s approach to trying to eradicate feral hogs. Don Nikodim, director of Missouri Pork Association, said Friday that the association backs the Missouri Department of Conservation’s emphasis on trapping feral hogs rather than opening MDC lands for hunting the destructive animals. MDC banned feral hog hunting on its properties in 2016, a controversial move that’s been opposed by many hunters and landowners. Nikodim said he believes MDC is making good progress with its trapping efforts, although the agency could use more trapping teams to be even more effective. In its 2020 policy statement, the Missouri Farm Bureau also says it supports federal and state feral hog eradication efforts in Missouri. “We believe feral hogs are an unacceptable risk to humans, livestock, crops, and property. We believe eradication of all feral hogs is the ultimate goal,” the Farm Bureau says on its website.
National Security: Montana
Great Falls: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials have been confronted over the past several months by a recurring problem of graffiti at numerous parks and recreational facilities around Cascade County. The department is now seeking the public’s help in identifying who’s responsible for the vandalism. Spray-painted blue and red hearts began appearing last August at six locations, including Giant Springs, Sluice Boxes and the First Peoples’ Buffalo Jump state parks. The damage has now been cataloged in 10 areas and has expanded to include an image of a palmetto tree and a crescent, similar to the South Carolina state flag. “It’s been pretty consistent with the blue hearts and the red hearts,” said FWP Game Warden Kqyn Kuka. “Then recently there’s been this new image. We don’t know if they’re related or not, but it’s the same color paint, so I’m assuming they’re connected.” The graffiti is typically located in high, remote locations – difficult to access but clearly visible to the general public.
National Security: Nebraska
Ericson: State banking officials have closed Ericson State Bank in north-central Nebraska, declaring it insolvent. The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance announced the closure in a news release Friday night, saying it had named the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver of the bank. To protect depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Farmers and Merchants Bank in Milford to assume all of the deposits of Ericson State Bank. Ericson bank will be open for business Tuesday under the name Farmers and Merchants Bank, the release says. Ericson State Bank account holders can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards, the department said. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed, and loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
National Security: Nevada
Las Vegas: Officials say the number of weddings in Clark County has been declining. The county had 73,000 weddings last year – more than a 40% drop from 2004, when 128,000 ceremonies occurred. County Clerk Lynn Goya cites an overall decline in advertising to push the industry and available options for consumers. Authorities tell Las Vegas TV station KVVU that some initiatives to push wedding tourism in the county include the possible creation of a “Wedding Way” from the Neon Museum to the Strat, allocating development funds to historic chapels for renovations, and a Wedding Walk of Fame to showcase famous celebrity weddings. Other campaigns include wedding photography contests, personal testimonies from married couples and a dive into the history of Vegas weddings.
National Security: New Hampshire
Concord: It’s time to count the turkeys again. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking the public to report sightings of wild turkeys through March 31 for its annual winter flock survey. Last year, the department got 486 reports totaling 9,833 birds. Officials say that was fewer than the previous year, likely because turkeys were on the move. With relatively little snow, turkeys were able to move around more and weren’t staying in one place to be counted. Participants are asked to report the number of turkeys in the flock, their location, the type of habitat in which the birds were observed and on what the turkeys were feeding. Officials also are interested in any signs of two viruses that have appeared in turkeys in recent years, with symptoms including warty protuberances in the head and eye area. Wild turkeys had disappeared from the state after over-hunting and habitat loss in the 1800s but have rebounded to an estimated population of 40,000.
National Security: New Jersey
Elizabeth: Officials say they are “trying to rebuild” following a fire that ripped through a church that dates back almost a century and a half. Robert Ingram, who organized a GoFundMe campaign, said everything had been lost in the “devastating and tragic” blaze early Sunday at Shiloh Baptist Church. “Instead of waking up and being able to go to church, we woke up to this,” Ingram said. “Now we’re trying to rebuild.” Chief Thomas McNamara of the city’s fire department said the church was “pretty much destroyed.” Arriving fire crews reported the church fully engulfed in flames, and the back of the structure collapsed as crews worked to try to protect nearby buildings, officials said. The church’s Facebook page lists its founding date as November 1879. Gov. Phil Murphy said in a message on Twitter that he was “devastated” by the fire and expressed thanks to first responders. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
National Security: New Mexico
Albuquerque: Statistics show accidental shootings are on the rise in the city. The Albuquerque Journal reports 37 accidental shootings reported last year compared to 14 recorded in 2018. The figure doesn’t include three suspected accidental shootings in which someone died. Two of those cases have been handed over to the District Attorney’s Office for a final determination, and the third ended in prison time for a young man. The rise in accidental shootings comes at a time when the topic of gun access and availability looms large in the eyes of local politicians and the community as a whole as homicide numbers in Albuquerque hit a record high last year. Local concerns have sparked initiatives aimed at stemming gun violence, such as the so-called red flag bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature. Local gun shop owners say there has been an increase in the purchase of guns in the past year, especially over the internet.
National Security: New York
New York: A judge has ordered the developers of an under-construction condo tower to remove several floors from the top of the building because it is too tall. State Supreme Court Justice W. Franc Perry’s ruling last week instructs the Department of Buildings to revoke the building permit for the nearly completed tower on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and remove floors that exceed the zoning limit, The New York Times reports. The number of floors to be removed from the 52-story tower is not yet known, but the newspaper said it could be 20 or more. A lawyer representing the project said the developers would appeal the Feb. 13 decision. The building’s 112 luxury apartments are now being marketed, including a $21 million penthouse, which would likely be removed if the decision stands, the Times reports.
National Security: North Carolina
Ocracoke: This island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks that was ravaged by a hurricane last year is getting $2 million in grants to help it rebuild. The Virginian-Pilot reports Ocracoke received the grant money from the Golden Leaf Foundation, a nonprofit that was established from a tobacco settlement to help the state’s rural and economically distressed communities. Hurricane Dorian pummeled Ocracoke in September with the worst flooding on record. Most of the buildings on the island were damaged. The island’s only school received $900,000 to help rebuild and elevate buildings. The foundation also provided half a million dollars to build a new emergency medical building that was flooded. And Hyde County received $277,400 to repair the Ocracoke Seafood Co. building. The Ocracoke Seafood Co. is owned by a nonprofit organization that serves as the base for more than 30 watermen.
National Security: North Dakota
Fargo: A freshman congressman who spent much of his first term defending President Donald Trump during impeachment hearings said Monday that he wants to return to Washington and begin working on practical issues. Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong formally announced his reelection bid Monday by telling supporters he’ll work with Democrats on bills involving prescription drug prices, immigration and criminal justice reform. The state’s lone House member said he won’t budge on support for gun rights and opposition to abortion and federal regulations that would stifle North Dakota’s energy and agriculture sectors. Armstrong predicted that voters will opt for Republican majorities in the House and Senate and give Trump another four years.
National Security: Ohio
Kent: Jane Fonda is among the speakers tapped to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. The 82-year-old actress and activist will highlight four days of events the university has planned to explore the lasting impacts of the events of May 4, 1970, which were considered pivotal in turning public sentiment against the Vietnam War. On that day, the Ohio National Guard fired on students during an anti-war protest, killing four and injuring nine others. Fonda was one of the most prominent figures of the anti-war movement, though also one of the most divisive. Fonda plans to reflect on that era, her life in social activism and the legacy of the Kent State shootings during her speech May 3. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance. The commemoration marks the first time students, faculty, university staff and leadership, and May 4 survivors and family members have united around the idea that the date should be forever honored, planners said.
National Security: Oklahoma
Oklahoma City: The venerable Red Earth Festival is leaving the city even as organizers plan to launch a new event downtown, as well as a series of statewide collaborative celebrations of Native American art and culture. Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and Mayor David Holt joined members of the staff and board of directors of the nonprofit Red Earth Inc. on Monday morning to reveal the changes. The organization’s marquee event – the long-running Red Earth Festival, an intertribal celebration of Native American visual art, dance and culture – will move from its longtime home in downtown Oklahoma City to the Grand Event Center at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort in Shawnee for its 2020 edition, scheduled for June 13-14. A favorite aspect of the summer festival, the popular Red Earth Parade, will be staying in Oklahoma City but shifting to autumn, as Red Earth Inc. will launch a significant new event to mark Oklahoma City’s Indigenous Peoples Day.
National Security: Oregon
Salem: Officials at the Oregon Department of Forestry say just seven months into the state’s two-year budget cycle, they’ve spent most of the money lawmakers approved for the entire biennium and now need an emergency cash infusion. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports agency officials say they need between $52 million and $132 million, or they’ll have exhausted their budget by March. The request comes as lawmakers and the governor are looking to expand the agency even further, sponsoring bills that would bolster the agency’s firefighting capabilities and forest restoration work – above and beyond the immediate budget requests. In the near term, agency leaders are looking for a minimum of $52 million and as much as $132 million, money they say is needed to keep keep regular programs running; to pay a consultant hired to help them get their financial house in order; and to cover firefighting costs in the upcoming 2020 fire season.
National Security: Pennsylvania
Harrisburg: Outdoorsy Pennsylvanians can soon keep their fishing license in a pocket rather than having to attach it to an outer garment. The regulation amendment approved recently by the board of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission adjusts a long-standing rule on license display. The new policy goes into effect once it is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The executive director of the commission, Tim Schaeffer, said the change will make things more convenient for anglers and decrease the number of lost licenses and the personal cost that goes into replacing them. The change also aligns fishing display regulations with those of hunting licenses.
National Security: Rhode Island
Providence: British actor and comedian John Cleese, who once portrayed an inept hotel manager in the series “Fawlty Towers,” has complained about his treatment at a Rhode Island hotel. Cleese, 80, tweeted Sunday to his 5.7 million followers that he was cold inside his room at the Omni Providence Hotel and that the hotel staff could do nothing to help him. He later posted that his tweeting had worked and that the hotel had fixed the problem. The hotel told the Providence Journal its engineering staff was dispatched to resolve the issue shortly after receiving Cleese’s complaint. In “Fawlty Towers,” Cleese played the manager of a substandard English hotel who was known to express disdain toward “that annoying section of the general public who insist on staying at hotels.” Cleese, who also is a founding member of the comedy troupe Monty Python, tweeted that he believed his problem in Providence, where he performed Sunday, was resolved because “I have the power to tweet. But NOT, of course, because I am a member of the public. So much for corporate America.”
National Security: South Carolina
Union: The Union County Council voted to ask its sheriff to step down after a state police report said he requested employees to buy him alcohol while on duty and made sexually inappropriate comments. But the council has no power to fire Sheriff David Taylor, who released a statement after the vote saying he plans to serve until the end of his term in December. “I was elected by the majority of the voters to serve out my four-year term, and that is my intent,” Taylor said in a statement sent to the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg. A prosecutor who reviewed the report by the State Law Enforcement Division didn’t recommend criminal charges, saying Taylor didn’t get any personal financial benefit from his office mismanagement. Taylor said while some of the allegations in the report were true, many others weren’t. He asked for the state investigation after reports of financial problems emerged in 2018.
National Security: South Dakota
Pierre: State lawmakers said they would turn their focus to the state budget this week as they hit the halfway mark in the 2020 session, though Republicans and Democrats laid out different visions of how to use that money. Legislators settled on roughly $1.74 billion in revenue to use in setting the state budget – an increase of $19 million from Gov. Kristi Noem’s projection in December. Once combined with federal funding and other state funds, the budget will likely total more than $5 billion. But Democrats, who hold just three spots on the committee that decides the size of the budget, were not pleased with the final projections, saying Republicans were being too cautious with the estimates. Democrats want the state to fund inflationary pay increases for teachers, state employees and service care providers.
National Security: Tennessee
Chattanooga: The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga plans to offer discounted tuition starting this fall to students from nine surrounding states. University officials said the goal of the new regional tuition program is to attract and retain diverse talent in the area as well as reach enrollment goals laid out for the University of Tennessee system, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Under the program, students from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia would pay about $18,000 a year instead of about $26,000 a year as out-of-state students. An existing program that offers tuition discounts to residents of neighboring counties in Georgia and Alabama would remain in effect. The university has an enrollment of nearly 11,700 students. About 10% of those are from outside Tennessee.
National Security: Texas
Corpus Christi: A Monday morning fire at a Citgo refinery in the city was extinguished with no injuries, according to the petroleum company. The fire began in a pipeline owned by a third party shortly after 8: 30 a.m. and was put out shortly before 11 a.m. with “no threat to the surrounding community,” Citgo said in a statement. The owner of the pipeline has not been identified. Corpus Christi Fire Chief Robert Rocha said the fire forced the closure of Interstate 37 in the south Texas city, but it had since reopened. People in nearby homes and businesses were ordered to shelter in place until air-quality monitoring found the air to be safe. “We’re still trying to figure out what happened,” Rocha said. “We encountered heavy fire conditions coming from a buried pipeline” after responding to the blaze. Rocha said no one was injured as a result of the fire.
National Security: Utah
Salt Lake City: An important dinosaur site that has fallen into neglect would be protected as Utah’s 45th state park under a measure being proposed in the Legislature. The bill would create Utahraptor State Park in the Dalton Wells Quarry, about 15 miles north of Moab, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. The quarry is where the first fossils of Utahraptor, the state’s official dinosaur, and other unique species were found. State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland said the site, west of Arches National Park, has massive deposits of dinosaur bones from at least 10 species found nowhere else in North America. “It’s a gold mine of new dinosaurs,” Kirkland said. “There are 30 that we know are only in Moab Valley.” Grand County leaders have long wanted to safeguard the quarry. There is now unregulated recreational use in Dalton Wells, and the site has been subjected to litter and vandalism. It’s also the site of a Civilian Conservation Corps work camp that was used as an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.
National Security: Vermont
Montpelier: A legislative committee has approved major changes to the state’s development review law known as Act 250. The House Natural Resources Committee voted 6-3 with two members absent to approve the overhaul after more than a year of work, Vermont Public Radio reports. The bill would exempt developments in designated downtowns from Act 250 review and boost protections to wildlife connector areas. It also would require projects above 2,000 feet to undergo Act 250 review. The legislation stems from an agreement reached between Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s administration and Vermont Natural Resources Council, an environmental group. The bill is better because it will limit dividing Vermont’s forest through piecemeal development, said Brian Shupe, VNRC’s executive director.
National Security: Virginia
Chesapeake: This southeastern Virginia city has surpassed Norfolk to become the state’s second-most-populous city. The Virginian-Pilot reports Chesapeake has reached an estimated population of 245,745 people, according to the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service. Norfolk’s population is just over 245,000 residents. Chesapeake’s population has grown by more than 10% in the past decade. Norfolk’s has ticked up by less than 1%. The center estimates Richmond will also likely overtake Norfolk. Hamilton Lombard, a demographer with the Cooper Center, said one reason behind Chesapeake’s growth is that the city has lots of space for new homes, while Norfolk does not. Virginia Beach is still the state’s most populous city with an estimated 452,643 residents. The populations of the seven Hampton Roads cities constitute nearly a fifth of the state’s population.
National Security: Washington
Tacoma: An Asian elephant that spent more than 20 years at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was euthanized Saturday night after a “severe decline in her health,” zoo officials announced. Hanoko the elephant was 56, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Veterinarians in 2018 diagnosed Hanoko with cancer and with tuberculosis in 2019. She suffered from advanced joint disease and had stopped eating her regular diet, zoo officials said. She showed signs of “significant discomfort” despite pain medication, officials said. The median life expectancy is 47 for female Asian elephants in human care, zoo officials said in the announcement, citing statistics from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. “With Hanako’s advanced age, significant and chronic medical conditions, and severe decline in health, euthanasia was the humane decision,” said Dr. Karen Wolf, the zoo’s head veterinarian.
National Security: West Virginia
Charleston: Women and lawmakers on Monday commemorated the 100th anniversary of the state’s ratification of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. Hundreds of women attended various ceremonies at the state Capitol in Charleston. In the Rotunda, a reenactor portrayed Susan B. Anthony in a speech given during Anthony’s trial in New York for voting in an 1872 presidential election. An evening reception was planned at the state Culture Center to recognize female lawmakers. On March 10, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the amendment. Later that year, Tennessee provided the necessary three-fourths majority by becoming the 36th state to ratify women’s suffrage.
National Security: Wisconsin
Milwaukee: Miller Park has generated $2.5 billion for the economies of the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin, according to a new study commissioned by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The study, conducted by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, was released Monday by the MMAC. It comes as the original Miller Park lease is in its 20th and final year, and the five-county sales tax that helped build and maintain the stadium is about to reach its sunset, long after originally expected. The study says the construction and continued operation of Miller Park generated $1.6 billion in direct spending, a total of 1,835 in annual jobs and $1.2 billion in personal earnings. The $2.5 billion overall impact represents “cumulative net new impacts” that would not have been realized without the existence of the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park, the report says.
National Security: Wyoming
Gillette: An attempt to break a world record for the most sparklers lit simultaneously failed on a technicality. Guinness World Records officials ruled each participant was required to light their own sparkler during the attempt in Gillette, The Gillette News Record reports. The August effort was part of the Pyrotechnics Guild International’s 50th annual convention. The event had an apparatus for lighting multiple sparklers, which was built by students and instructors at Gillette College. Volunteers with torches lit sparklers and distributed them to participants. More than 1,700 people attended, and 2,500 sparklers were lit. The current record is 1,713. Basic guidelines are listed on the Guinness website, but the specific guidelines were not received prior to the attempt. “It’s a bummer, but that just means we have to do it again,” says Christen Burdette of the the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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