The White House:
The White House: Alabama
Montgomery: It’s inevitable that a disease that is always fatal to whitetail deer will spread to the state, a top conservation official says, and the effects it will have economically, culturally and even medically are unfathomable. Chronic wasting disease is likely “three to five years” from showing up in the state, says Chuck Sykes, director of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Hunting generates $1.8 billion in annual economic impact in Alabama, according to the Hunting Heritage Foundation. And whitetail deer are the most popular game animal in the state, according to the state conservation department. Firearms deer season opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 10. Sykes predicts CWD “will be brought here” by “that negligent, uncaring hunter who harvests a deer out of state and doesn’t take the time to properly handle the carcass.”
The White House: Alaska
North Pole: Seasonal ice park officials, missing a crucial ingredient, have announced the closure of a Christmas-themed park amid lack of ice in the area. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Executive Director Keith Fye says the annual ice park called Christmas in Ice was canceled for the first time in the city of North Pole. Fye cited winter conditions including not having enough ice on ponds to harvest for ice carving this year. Officials say the winter ice park is located next to the Santa Claus House east of Fairbanks and normally runs for six weeks through December. Fye says this would have been the 14th year. Officials say the park features Christmas-themed ice sculptures, ice slides, hot cocoa and an annual visit from Santa Claus.
The White House: Arizona
Tempe: An apartment development with no parking for its expected 1,000 residents – the first of its kind in the nation – is planned across from a light-rail station in the city. The $140 million development will have scooters, bicycles and some ride-sharing cars. It also has plans to offer residents of the 636 apartments deals on light rail, buses, and rides with Uber or Lyft. Developers of the complex called Culdesac Tempe, scheduled to open next fall, say it will be the first car-less apartments built in the U.S. The development wouldn’t be entirely parking-free: There would be guest spaces on site for visitors and parking for the development’s commercial retail. The Development Review Commission will vote next month on a zoning map amendment and development plan review for the first phase of the project.
The White House: Arkansas
Little Rock: Several state universities have reported a drop in international student enrollment. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville indicates its international student population is down about 2% from 1,461 in fall 2017 to 1,433 in 2018. Southern Arkansas University’s data shows its international student population declined by about 46% in the 2018-2019 academic year from 730 students in 2017-2018. The Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report shows a dip in international students in undergraduate and graduate programs across the country. The downturn is a worry for universities that rely on tuition from foreign students, who are typically charged higher rates. Some U.S. schools have blamed President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric for driving students away, but State Department officials dismissed the idea.
The White House: California
Los Angeles: The teenager who shot five classmates, killing two, at a Southern California high school used an unregistered “ghost gun,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says. Villanueva told media outlets that 16-year-old Nathaniel Tennosuke Berhow’s .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol was assembled from gun parts and did not have a serial number. Berhow pulled the gun from his backpack Nov. 14 in an open-air quad at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita and in 16 seconds shot five students at random. At one point, the gun jammed, but he quickly cleared it and continued shooting. Berhow counted his rounds, Villanueva has said, saving the last bullet for himself. Sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean of the homicide bureau said in a statement that authorities do not know who assembled the pistol or bought its components.
The White House: Colorado
Greeley: The state’s top water quality official says wastewater from two slaughterhouses in the city violated safety limits for five years straight as it flowed into a South Platte River tributary. State Water Quality Division Director Patrick Pfaltzgraff tells KMGH-TV that Swift Beef Co. started meeting its discharge permit standards in January. Swift – part of the world’s largest meat-processing corporation, Brazil-based JBS S.A. – has not been fined. Pfaltzgraff says a review of how the case was handled is underway. A lawsuit against Swift filed by two advocacy groups alleges 3 million to 4 million gallons of wastewater discharged daily into Lone Tree Creek exceeded limits for ammonia, nitrogen and suspended solids from 2014 to 2018.
The White House: Connecticut
Hartford: A new report shows nearly half of households in the state have an income that’s insufficient to cover their basic needs. The Connecticut Self-Sufficiency Standard Report, released by the Connecticut Office of Health Care Strategy and state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, finds that 44% to 48% of Connecticut households are below the self-sufficiency standard. It also finds that 25% of those are in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven and Waterbury. The amount necessary to cover basic needs such as child care, housing, food and health care can vary greatly by family type and geography. The report finds a single adult in Hartford needs $22,398, while a single adult in Stamford needs $37,703. For a household with two adults and two young children, it ranges from $63,896 in Windham to $99,668 in Stamford.
The White House: Delaware
Wilmington: The state has teamed up with Google to help people seeking treatment for opioid addiction. Words related to the opioid crisis are searched for in Delaware more than in any other state. But the top set of results won’t lead to local information or someone who can help. Google is trying to change that. It will curate an information box for people searching for addiction treatment. It will include a hotline as well as a link to information specific to Delaware, which is the first state to team up with Google as well as the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The initiative comes at a time when the state is on pace to match last year’s record-setting death toll of 400 fatal overdoses.
The White House: District of Columbia
Washington: A driver tried to get into the White House complex early Thursday by following an official vehicle through an external checkpoint, according to the Secret Service. The Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit of the D.C. police department and the Secret Service responded to the suspicious vehicle near the White House about 6 a.m. Thursday after the driver tried to illegally gain entry to the White House complex, WUSA-TV reports. The vehicle, later identified as a Mercedes with Texas plates, was stopped, and the individual was taken into custody by Secret Service, the agency confirmed. The vehicle has amassed more than $1,300 worth of tickets since Oct. 10, most issued near the White House, according to DMV records.
The White House: Florida
St. Petersburg: A man accused of molesting a child and possession of child pornography could go free after a judge found that a detective lied to obtain a search warrant in the case. The Tampa Bay Times reports Circuit Judge William Burgess III found Pinellas County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Alvarez engaged in a “ruse” to obtain a search warrant for a crime used to obtain evidence to prosecute for other crimes. Burgess concluded the “likely effect of this order” is that charges against 63-year-old James Rybicki will be dismissed. Rybicki was arrested following a 2016 search of his home. Detectives found videos of him inappropriately touching a child. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the detective left the department two years ago. Defense attorney Lucas Fleming called the judge’s decision “extraordinary.”
The White House: Georgia
Atlanta: The city is searching for artists to design two street murals in the West End as part of its Placemaking Program, which works to transform city streets and public spaces into cultural areas. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the murals will sit at the intersections of White Street and Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard and White Street and Hopkins Street in southwest Atlanta. Artists must submit proposals to the Department of City Planning, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the West End Neighborhood Development. The selected artists will be awarded $2,000 each for their design. For full details on the project, artists can view the request for proposals packet. The deadline to submit a proposal is noon Dec. 6.
The White House: Hawaii
Honolulu: A U.S. Marine Corps plan to install a steel barrier to protect part of a local training facility from beach erosion has raised concerns among neighbors and advocates. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports residents near Ewa Beach are seeking further study of the environmental impact of a proposed 1,500-foot barrier. The Marines say modifications are needed at the Puuloa Range Training Facility to protect the training range shoreline from erosion. Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz called on the Marines on Tuesday to review the environmental impact of its plan to build the retaining wall. A change.org petition signed by more than 1,100 people as of Tuesday seeks a thorough environmental impact statement analysis beyond the less robust environmental assessment already conducted.
The White House: Idaho
Boise: A federal appeals court has ruled that a Philadelphia-based agribusiness company that left millions of tons of toxic waste on tribal land in eastern Idaho must pay the tribes nearly $20 million plus $1.5 million annually. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a lower court ruling against FMC Corp. involving a now-shuttered Idaho plant that turned phosphate into fertilizer. FMC for about 50 years up to 2001 operated the fertilizer plant that produced 22 million tons of waste stored on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The company contended it wasn’t obligated to pay the $1.5 million annual permit fee to the tribes for storing the waste after closing the plant. The tribes say the money will be used for monitoring and cleanup at the site.
The White House: Illinois
Springfield: Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday ordered the state’s public schools to immediately restrict the use of isolation rooms for students who don’t pose a clear safety risk. The Democrat said he directed the Illinois State Board of Education to issue emergency rules governing so-called timeout rooms after a published report found tens of thousands of instances in which schools secluded students without proper justification. State law allows for students to be placed in “isolated timeout” if they pose safety risks to themselves or others. They’re also known as “calming,” “reflection” or “quiet” rooms. But an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica published Tuesday examined more than 20,000 records and found children often described as crying, screaming, begging to be released, ramming their heads into padded walls and prying at doors.
The White House: Indiana
Goshen: A northern Indiana hospital has alerted more than 1,000 surgery patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis, HIV and other infectious diseases due to a sterilization failure. Goshen Hospital leaders said in a letter to patients that between April 1 and Sept. 30, a sterilization technician failed to complete one crucial step in the sterilizing process of surgical equipment. The hospital says the risk of infection is low. It is offering free testing for patients to determine if they were infected. Patient Lori Deboard told WSBT-TV that she’s scared of the risk, regardless of how low the hospital says it is. The hospital hasn’t announced any disciplinary action against the sterilization technician and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The White House: Iowa
Des Moines: State Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins will serve as chief justice until a successor to Mark Cady can be appointed. Cady died unexpectedly Nov. 15 at age 66. A court spokesman said Thursday that Iowa law requires the chief justice to name another member of the court to fill in when the chief cannot act. Cady had issued an order in November 2016 appointing Wiggins to act in his place. Wiggins was appointed to the court by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2003. State law says Wiggins will serve as acting chief justice until the current vacancy on the court is filled and the full court selects a chief justice. Finding a successor for Cady could take 90 days. The court’s elected chief will serve until the court holds its first meeting in 2021 and holds another election.
The White House: Kansas
Topeka: A persistent buzz about Mike Pompeo stepping down as the top U.S. diplomat to run for an open Senate seat in his home state has built to a roar as impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump have intensified scrutiny of the State Department. The U.S. secretary of state was in Brussels on Wednesday, brushing off questions about the impeachment inquiry and dismissing speculation about how long he’ll stay in Trump’s administration. Against the backdrop of impeachment, strain has set in between Trump and Pompeo. And Republicans already have speculated for months that Pompeo will resign to run for the Senate. Enthusiasm from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others regarding such a move has not cooled. Many Republicans still see Pompeo as their best candidate for preventing the race from becoming competitive in a state where a Democrat hasn’t won a Senate seat since 1932.
The White House: Kentucky
Henderson: Federal officials plan to announce a new national wildlife refuge in western Kentucky. A statement from the U.S. Department of the Interior says Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will join other dignitaries Friday in Henderson to announce the Green River National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the ceremony will take place on the first 10-acre tract of what will eventually to be a 24,000-acre refuge. The area offers habitat for a variety of plants, animals, birds and fish, as well as outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors. It is the second such refuge that is located solely in Kentucky.
The White House: Louisiana
Baton Rouge: Gov. John Bel Edwards has sketched out the broad outlines of his agenda for a second term, proposing new investments in education and transportation. The Democratic incumbent says his top priority will be new dollars for early childhood education, an issue he frequently cited as he campaigned. Edwards also says he’ll continue to seek K-12 teacher pay raises and boosted spending on public colleges, building on increases he and lawmakers adopted this year. He says he’ll propose to spend some state surplus dollars on transportation and coastal protection projects. And he says he’d oppose any efforts to roll back taxes if that could destabilize Louisiana’s budget. Several Republican lawmakers are pushing for tax decreases. Edwards spoke Thursday at his first news conference since winning reelection, defeating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone.
The White House: Maine
Manchester: A state trooper made a wise move in rescuing a jeopardized owl who managed to fly to safety after the assistance. The Maine State Police says Trooper Sam Tlumac found the disoriented owl Nov. 15 in the middle of a much-traveled road in Manchester, not far from the state capital, Augusta. Tlumac took the owl to a nearby fire department and consulted with a warden, who said the bird might’ve been stunned by a car. Police said in a Facebook post that Tlumac then “had to bring a person to jail (unrelated to the owl)” but returned to check on the bird and found it doing much better. He then took the owl outside, where it took flight to trees in the area.
The White House: Maryland
Luke: An environmental nonprofit says a shuttered paper mill is leaking a toxic sludge into the Potomac River. The Baltimore Sun reports the Potomac Riverkeeper Network says the 131-year-old Luke facility has been fouling the river with black liquor, a paper-making byproduct the state considers a renewable energy source. It can fuel mill operations. The Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of Riverkeeper, notified owner Verso Corp. on Tuesday that Riverkeeper plans to sue under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The act requires such a notice be issued 90 days before filing a lawsuit in federal court. The complaint says state environmental officials noticed the leak in April, weeks before the closure’s announcement. Department spokesman Jay Apperson says Verso is working to stop it.
The White House: Massachusetts
Boston: State lawmakers have passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. The ban won approval in the Senate early Thursday before the Legislature broke for a holiday recess. It had earlier been passed by the state House of Representatives. “This nation-leading step will save lives,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said of what’s believed to be the first such statewide legislation in the country. The legislation now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, who in September declared a public health emergency and ordered a temporary ban on the sale of vaping products. Jonathan Shaer, president of the New England Convenience Store Owners and Energy Marketers Association, says the bill will have “disastrous implications for public health, public safety, state tax revenue and jobs.”
The White House: Michigan
Ypsilanti: The Michigan Department of Corrections has been hit with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of inmates who say they’ve been overwhelmed by chronic mold and other unsanitary conditions at the state’s only prison for women. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Detroit federal court, says the Huron Valley prison in Washtenaw County is “operating under a state of degradation, filth and inhumanity.” Lawyers say women have suffered health problems because of mold, and their complaints have gone unheeded. Spokesman Chris Gautz says the Corrections Department “disagrees with the claims.” He declined further comment. Paula Bailey says exposure to mold has given her a rash, scars and respiratory problems. Another prisoner, Krystal Clark, says she suffers from chronic coughing and wears a mask when visiting with people.
The White House: Minnesota
Litchfield: Authorities say someone left “booby traps” in a farmer’s field that were apparently meant to damage farm equipment. Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze says a farmer near Cedar Mills on Monday reported minor damage to a combine after a chain was drawn into the machine during harvesting. Cruze told Minnesota Public Radio News it’s premature to speculate on motive. The sheriff says the chain may have been in the corn for weeks or months. But he says when the farm family got deeper into the crop, it happened again. Mindy Johnson’s family farms about 2,000 acres of corn and soybeans. She says the second incident involved a 6-foot piece of steel rebar pounded into the ground near a cornstalk where it was hard to see. Johnson says she doesn’t know why her family’s farm would be singled out.
The White House: Mississippi
Indianola: Work is starting on the $2.5 million expansion of a museum in the Mississippi Delta that’s dedicated to a native son who became a blues legend. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday for new space at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. The museum opened in 2008 near the area where King grew up. The 15-time Grammy winner died in 2015 and is buried on the museum grounds. The 4,500-square-foot addition will house King’s tour bus and two of his vehicles, a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and a custom-painted Chevy El Camino. The museum says in a news release that other artifacts acquired since his death are being preserved and cataloged, including a guitar given to King by Les Paul.
The White House: Missouri
Columbia: A federal judge has upheld the University of Missouri’s ban on carrying concealed guns on campus. Circuit Judge Jeff Harris on Monday rejected the Missouri attorney general’s arguments that the ban violates the state constitution. He also said the ban supports the university’s interest in promoting safety on its campuses. The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the case began in 2015 when Royce Barondes, a professor of law on the Columbia campus, sued because he wanted to keep a firearm in his locked vehicle. Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office declined to comment on the ruling and has not decided whether to appeal. The university said in a statement that the ruling serves the best interest of students, staff, faculty and others on campus.
The White House: Montana
Helena: Federal wildlife officials say the continued existence of two species of insects is in doubt because the glaciers and year-round snowfields on which they depend are melting away. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said Wednesday that the western glacier stonefly and the meltwater lednian stonefly will be protected as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The stoneflies live in high-elevation, cold-water streams fed by glaciers and perennial snowfields in and around Glacier National Park in Montana, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Native American tribal lands in western Montana. Wildlife officials say melting glaciers, higher water temperatures, and changes in the volume of snowmelt and runoff are harming the habitat they need to survive. Most glaciers and snowfields in one of the species’ main locations, Glacier National Park, are expected to disappear by 2030.
The White House: Nebraska
Lincoln: The state is the first agreeing to share driver’s license records with the U.S. Census Bureau as the federal agency tries to comply with President Donald Trump’s order to count the number of U.S. citizens. The Associated Press has learned that the Census Bureau and Rhonda Lahm, Nebraska’s motor vehicles director, signed a memorandum of understanding to share the records earlier this month. The move has alarmed civil rights groups, which see it as part of a backdoor move by the Trump administration to reduce the political power of minorities. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union urged states to decline the Census Bureau’s request. The agency has promised to keep the records confidential, and Nebraska officials concluded that sharing the records complied with state law. Nebraska only issues driver’s licenses and identification cards to people who can prove they are living in the U.S. legally.
The White House: Nevada
Reno: The state’s highest highway pass is ready for avalanche season, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for keeping Mt. Rose Highway open. The highway – officially known as State Route 431 – is the most direct link between Reno and the Lake Tahoe Basin. At 8,911 feet, it’s also the highest year-round highway pass in the Sierra Nevada, which makes clearing mass amounts of snow a big challenge. That’s why confirming reliability of a remote avalanche triggering system means frequent highway users can breathe a sigh of relief. Reliability questions cropped up in October following a preseason inspection that showed a need for carpentry and electrical improvements to the building that houses equipment for the system.
The White House: New Hampshire
Durham: Plans to hold a “Frost Fest” instead of a traditional holiday celebration are getting a worse-than-frosty reception. After concerns last year that the tree-lighting ceremony at a park in Durham was too focused on Christmas, including a decision to deny a menorah to be displayed next to the tree, town councilors came up with the idea of a celebration that pays tribute to winter. This year, there’s no tree lighting ceremony or grand entrance from Santa planned. But councilors said in trying to make the holidays welcoming and inclusive, they’ve been yelled at and have received hateful emails and social media posts. The debate over what to include in the holiday season even extends to the wreaths on light posts. For now, they’re going up again.
The White House: New Jersey
Jersey City: The state is doubling down on expanding its wind energy production, and then some. Flanked by former Vice President Al Gore, a longtime climate activist, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday that commits the state to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity through wind energy by 2035. That’s more than double the 3,500 megawatt goal Murphy set for 2030. He said if the goal is realized, wind energy could power half the state’s energy needs and about 3.2 million homes. “We are putting ourselves on a steeper curve, and I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t totally confident in our ability to crest this hill,” Murphy said at Liberty Science Center. The announcement drew praise from New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, who called it “a huge step in the right direction.”
The White House: New Mexico
Santa Fe: The state’s Environment Department needs $1.2 million to study plumes of toxic chemicals seeping into groundwater from two U.S. Air Force bases, a state official said. Agency Secretary James Kenney said he will request the money from state lawmakers to investigate and learn more about how to contain the contamination from Holloman and Cannon air bases, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. “We know who caused it, and they’re unwilling to take responsibility for it even to identify where it is and isn’t,” Kenney said. “The state is having to take that on now.” The state sued the Air Force in March after groundwater sampling showed levels in some areas were hundreds of times higher than a federal health advisory limit. The lawsuit calls for the Air Force to pay for studying and cleaning up contamination. The Air Force has sought dismissal of the case and repeatedly declined to comment on the litigation.
The White House: New York
Albany: Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are intensifying a debate over the implementation of sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice system. They voiced concerns Thursday with changes that are set to take effect at the beginning of 2020, including an overhaul of the state’s bail law. It removes pretrial detention and money bail for the vast majority of misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says the changes will jeopardize public safety. He made the comments at a press conference in Albany while joined by prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. Supporters of the changes say it will prevent poor people from languishing in jail for low-level crimes while their cases work through the system.
The White House: North Carolina
Asheville: Visitors driving the Blue Ridge Parkway about 30 miles southwest of the city can expect to smell smoke and see flames shooting from the summit of Cold Mountain. The U.S. Forest Service has closed the entire 18,000-acre Shining Rock Wilderness Area, including all 53 miles of its trails, to the public while a wildfire burns on the iconic Cold Mountain in the Haywood County area of Pisgah National Forest. Bruce MacDonald, public information officer with National Forests in North Carolina – an office of the U.S. Forest Service – said the 50-acre fire burning on the Cold Mountain summit was called in about 3 a.m. Thursday but had grown to 106 acres as of 5 p.m. Some 30 firefighters were monitoring the situation, including personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Forest Service, National Park Service, Haywood County Emergency Services and Cruso Fire Department.
The White House: North Dakota
Bismarck: Planners say a new $114 million indoor recreation complex would be funded by a new sales tax and private donations. The Bismarck Parks and Recreation District staff talked about the proposed facility at a meeting Wednesday night. They say the center would have a main building with a separate ice arena. The concept includes a four-lane running and walking track and an indoor cross-country track with elevation and obstacles. Recreation staff also recommend six indoor tennis courts, adjacent to five indoor pickleball courts. Other amenities would include two indoor basketball courts, four racquetball courts and an indoor playground. The Bismarck Tribune says the Capital Ice Complex would be larger than 25 acres. Planners say if the project is approved next June, the center could open in 2023.
The White House: Ohio
Cincinnati: After months of negotiations between the City Council and the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners, the planned music venue at The Banks garnered final approval Wednesday. The council approved the music venue plan and a development agreement that will allow the project to go forward. It comes on the heels of an ordinance, approved earlier this month, changing the cooperative agreement between the city and county that has long guided development at The Banks. The $27 million music venue is being built by Music and Event Management Inc., the nonprofit concert arm of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It will have indoor and outdoor event spaces that can host different events at the same time. It will have a capacity of 4,500 indoors, with general admission seating for 2,700 people. Outdoors, the venue will be able to hold an additional 8,000.
The White House: Oklahoma
Oklahoma City: State Attorney General Mike Hunter says he plans to appeal a judge’s order directing consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson to pay the state $465 million to help address the opioid crisis. Hunter said Thursday that the judge’s final order only covers one year of the state’s proposed abatement plan and that the actual costs to clean up the damage from the opioid crisis are much higher. Attorneys for the company also say they plan to appeal. Johnson & Johnson had asked the judge to consider reducing the final award based on pretrial settlements totaling $355 million the state reached with other defendants in the case. Cleveland County Judge Thad Balkman initially ordered the company to pay $572 million but later reduced that amount after acknowledging a miscalculation.
The White House: Oregon
Portland: New data from the state Department of Education shows the number of homeless students in Oregon increased 2% last school year, continuing a trend over the past decade. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports in the 2018-19 school year, 22,215 students were living on the street, in shelters, in temporary housing or doubled up with other families. The U.S. Department of Education requires states to use a broader definition of homelessness than the federal housing authority, which typically means that tens of thousands more children are counted in the yearly student tally than the county-by-county census of homeless people of all ages. The state reported 15,800 homeless Oregonians in the 2019 count. Oregon’s homeless student count has stayed in the range of about 22,000 in each of the past three years, including hitting a record high of 22,541 in the 2016-17 school year.
The White House: Pennsylvania
Philadelphia: A man sent to prison for life as a 17-year-old has been chosen for a Mural Arts Philadelphia residency and will design a public mural that addresses mass incarceration. James “Yaya” Hough is among the “juvenile lifers” released since the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life sentences for minors. The 45-year-old Pittsburgh man has been free since this summer after serving 27 years in state prison for murder. Hough took classes behind bars through the mural arts program and will now be an artist in residency at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. At a news conference Thursday, he thanked District Attorney Larry Krasner and the arts program for giving him the chance to create public art. Mural Arts Philadelphia has produced than 4,000 murals around the city.
The White House: Rhode Island
Providence: Police statistics show the city is on track to have the fewest shootings in recent record this year. The Boston Globe reports shootings in Rhode Island’s capital have been going down year-by-year since 2014. Providence Police Department data shows that as of Nov. 12, there had been 32 people shot, down from 55 victims in 2018. The newspaper says that as of Tuesday, it had been a month since the last person was shot in Providence. But even with the decline in shootings, Providence police report no shortage of guns after seizing more than 100 illegal guns as of last week. Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. attributes the decrease in gun violence to the force remaining “laser focused on gun crimes.”
The White House: South Carolina
Columbia: A sheriff and the governor say a group dedicated to protecting children has donated a dog that can detect electronic devices and computer storage. Defenders for Children says Oakley the dog can detect electronics and point them out to handlers, similar to how a drug dog finds narcotics. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says his deputies will use the new dog to help them find hidden storage devices that can be smaller than a thumbnail while conducting search warrants. Lott said at a news conference that for now the dog will mostly be used in child pornography cases. Gov. Henry McMaster says he hopes the group can place the trained dogs in several places across South Carolina. The group says it costs about $23,000 to train one dog.
The White House: South Dakota
Sioux Falls: Local ad agencies have joined the chorus unhappy with a state anti-meth campaign that included the provocative tagline “Meth: We’re On It.” The South Dakota Advertising Federation is upset that the account went to a Minnesota ad agency. In a statement, the federation says nine in-state agencies bid on the contract. The federation doesn’t directly criticize the campaign, which drew ridicule on social media, but suggests that the in-state agencies “could have delivered a message by South Dakotans that resonates with South Dakota.” The state is paying a Minneapolis agency almost $700,000 for its work. Gov. Kristi Noem has called the ads a success. She says the campaign was intended to be “provocative,” and the Minneapolis agency was chosen because it proposed ads that go beyond typical drug awareness campaigns.
The White House: Tennessee
Nashville: Reversing course, the state’s Department of Education says it aims to ensure its school vouchers won’t be taxable. Department spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Wednesday that the law’s intent is that vouchers be considered scholarships not subject to taxation, and the department intends to structure the program accordingly. Officials aim to resolve confusion after Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said Monday that her understanding was voucher payments were taxable. A lawmaker had asked if the payments need to be reported on parents’ federal income tax filings. On Tuesday, Johnson said Schwinn meant to discuss the program’s possible “filing and issuance of federal information reporting returns.”
The White House: Texas
Fort Worth: A family that disagrees with a hospital’s plan to take a 9-month-old girl off life support has been given more time to find a facility to take her. Texas Right to Life, which represents Tinslee Lewis’ family, said a judge on Tuesday extended a temporary restraining order against Cook Children’s Medical Center until Dec. 10. The hospital didn’t immediately comment. Doctors planned to remove Tinslee from life support Nov. 10 after invoking Texas’ “10-day rule,” which can be employed when a family disagrees with doctors on discontinuing life-sustaining treatment. Treatment can be withdrawn if a new provider can’t be found in that time. The hospital has said that since July, Tinslee has been on a ventilator and a machine that replaces the function of the heart and lungs.
The White House: Utah
Salt Lake City: The taxpayer cost of mayoral portraits has risen significantly over the past two decades. The Deseret News reports that the portrait of outgoing Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is expected to cost about $35,000, up from the $30,000 it cost for the portrait of her predecessor, Ralph Becker, and more than double the $15,000 for the portrait of Deedee Corradini, mayor from 1992 to 2000. The city’s chief financial officer, Mary Beth Thompson, says the price of hand-painted portraits has increased due to inflation, materials and artist fees. The city has done mayoral portraits for more than a century dating back to the mid-1800s. They line the walls in a hallway at City Hall.
The White House: Vermont
Colchester: The state’s only juvenile detention center is empty for the first time in years. Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester has been under scrutiny for years and has faced numerous lawsuits over procedures. Chief Juvenile Defender Marshall Pahl says several factors have led to the decrease in population, including a combination of policy and law changes, individual litigation and advocacy. Vermont Public Radio reports that lawmakers have been considering what to do with the facility. Department of Children and Families Commissioner Ken Schatz said in January that he supports building a 30-bed facility to replace Woodside.
The White House: Virginia
Manassas: The National Park Service has launched a series of controlled fires at Manassas National Battlefield. The park service says the burns are designed to restore views at the battlefield, maintain wildlife habitat and combat invasive species. Fires are planned on about 75 acres. The park has initiated similar fires two other times since April 2018. Manassas National Battlefield runs along busy Interstate 66 and encompasses land where the First and Second Battles of Bull Run were fought in 1861 and 1862, respectively. The first Bull Run battle was the first major battle of the Civil War.
The White House: Washington
Bellingham: Fishing in the part of Whatcom Creek that flows through downtown Bellingham will end more than five weeks early this year because chum salmon are returning in low numbers. The Bellingham Herald reports the closure begins Friday, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife announced. That means fishing won’t be allowed from the mouth of Whatcom Creek to the markers below the footbridge downstream of Dupont Street in Bellingham. The season for fishing along Whatcom Creek usually stays open until Dec. 31, according to the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules. The state agency closed fishing in that portion of Whatcom Creek because the return of chum was below the number needed for egg harvesting at the hatchery there, it said in a release Wednesday.
The White House: West Virginia
Charleston: Businesses hoping to break into the state’s fledgling marijuana market will soon be able to apply for permits as growers, processors, dispensaries and laboratories. The state Bureau of Public Health says its Office of Medical Cannabis will open applications Dec. 19. Citing a state news release, news outlets report applications are due by Feb. 18 and will be online only. The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the medical marijuana program created in 2017 was meant to launch in July. Delays included the state treasure’s banking vendors refusing to process marijuana funds, per conflicts with federal law. A workaround passed this year allowed credit unions to step in. The cannabis office’s director, Jason Frame, previously said he wanted patients to have access to the drug before the summer of 2021.
The White House: Wisconsin
Madison: A group that promotes student voting has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s student voter identification requirements. The Andrew Goodman Foundation filed the lawsuit in Madison on Tuesday. The foundation alleges that requirements that students present IDs that contain the issuance date, the holder’s signature and an expiration date no later than two years after the issuance date are too onerous and designed to stop young people from voting in violation of the 26th Amendment. The lawsuit names the members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission as defendants. Commission spokesman Reid Magney didn’t immediately respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment. Priorities USA Foundation, which is funding the lawsuit, announced in February that it plans to spend $30 million to finance court challenges to restrictive, Republican-backed voter laws.
The White House: Wyoming
Jackson: Officials have named a university faculty member the new state archaeologist. The Buckrail Daily News reports the Wyoming State Archeologist’s Office hired Tennessee native Spencer Pelton. Officials say the department investigates, records, and preserves prehistoric and historic human activity evidence statewide. Officials say Pelton moved west in 2009 and has lived in California, Nevada and Colorado before moving to Wyoming in 2013. Department officials say Pelton’s research experience is in the early prehistory of hunter-gatherers of the High Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Officials say the university’s Department of Anthropology contributes educational opportunities in prehistory, cultural resource management, archaeological excavation and scientific perspectives. Pelton says he looks forward to fostering curiosity into the state’s history.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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