Gulf Shores: The town is reconsidering whether to allow a beachfront music festival that has become a staple on the northern Gulf Coast. WPMI-TV reports officials in Gulf Shores say citizen complaints may result in them not renewing a permit for the Hangout Fest in 2020. The weekend festival draws tens of thousands of people to the municipal beach each spring, but city spokesman Grant Brown says officials have gotten multiple complaints about the event, such as festivalgoers roaming the streets and parking and sleeping on private property. The four-day event is under contract in Gulf Shores through 2025, but city officials say the owner needs to make changes. Next year’s festival is set for mid-May, with acts including Billie Eilish, Post Malone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Anchorage: The cost for state and federal officials to fight the state’s summer wildfires this year is estimated to have surpassed $300 million. The final tally of damage may not be known for years because the estimate does not include costs incurred by owners of private land and homes, The Anchorage Daily News reports. Through the end of November, the Alaska Division of Forestry recorded $224.9 million in firefighting expenses for 2019, officials say. The U.S. Forest Service reported $7 million in fire-related expenses, and the U.S. Department of the Interior reported $72 million in expenses, officials say. A spokesperson for the interior secretary said some wildfire costs may show up in later fiscal years, and the $72 million is not considered a final figure. As of Nov. 23, wildfires had burned 4,188 square miles.
Cornville: An invasive mud snail that can disrupt the food chain has been found at a state fish hatchery. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says it won’t stock trout from the Page Springs Fish Hatchery until it can be sure the mud snail won’t travel with the fish. Officials say they’re sampling more areas of the hatchery and trying to eradicate the tiny New Zealand mud snails that can compete with native snails, mussels and aquatic insects. The mud snails reproduce quickly and have no natural predators in the U.S. The department says it found them during a routine survey for invasive species. Officials say the snails could have been introduced to the hatchery through wildlife around Oak Creek. The department says it has been buying fish from out-of-state vendors to ensure trout are stocked as scheduled around the state.
Little Rock: According to health officials, people in the Natural State are having fewer babies. KATV reports the Arkansas Department of Health says the state last year had its lowest birth rate in at least 19 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports birth rates in the U.S. have hit a record low, and Arkansas is seeing a similar trend. Dr. William Greenfield, the medical director for the Office of Family Health with the Arkansas Department of Health, tells the Little Rock television station that his agency has made efforts to educate residents about responsible parenting and planned birth and to provide more access to contraception. Greenfield says he’s not worried about the falling birth rate because it could mean couples are waiting until they’re ready. He says the state has seen a decline in the teen birth rate, “which is a positive.”
Simi Valley: An exhibit displaying the first operational stealth fighter has opened at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. The F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter was unveiled during the Reagan National Defense Forum at the museum in Simi Valley on Saturday, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. It joins an F-14 fighter as part of a permanent display about Reagan’s efforts to strengthen the nation’s defenses. The aircraft, given tail number 803 and nicknamed “Unexpected Guest,” entered service in May 1984 and flew 78 missions, more than all other F-117s combined, officials said. Lockheed Martin produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes between 1981 and 2008, but the aircraft was not publicly acknowledged until 1988. It was born in the aerospace company’s so-called Skunk Works in Burbank, California.
Denver: The state’s most active oil and gas drilling is happening near land that is also hosting some of the fastest housing construction in the state. Until now, it was hard to know what discount, if any, oil and gas activity along the Front Range meant for nearby homes. But Heather Stephens, a professor from West Virginia University, and Amanda Weinstein, from Akron University in Ohio, have put precise numbers on that discount, along with the premium a mountain view carries, The Denver Post reports. The pair studied home sales between 2006 and 2014 in Weld, Larimer, Morgan, Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, Broomfield and Arapahoe counties. Having a mountain view added $8,000, or 2.5%, on average to the value of a home. The closer to the mountains and the more peaks visible, the higher the premium went. Having an oil and gas well within view, by contrast, deducted nearly $3,000, or 0.8% on average. Each additional well in the line of view reduced a home’s value by another 0.1%.
Hartford: State officials and local police departments are stepping up efforts to prevent jaywalking and other violations that endanger bicyclists and pedestrians. The Hartford Courant reports they’re responding to an increase in pedestrian deaths. Seven police departments received up to $15,000 each for a pedestrian safety pilot program that runs through the end of January. East Hartford police are assigning officers for special-duty shifts to cite people who don’t use crosswalks when crossing busy streets. The state transportation department says it’s the first year of the law enforcement piece of the initiative. The educational piece of the statewide campaign was already in place. The state was eligible for federal funding from the National Highway Safety Administration because more than 15% of roadway fatalities in the past two years have involved pedestrians and bicyclists.
Wilmington: A local gun rights group is suing the state’s environmental authority over a rule that some deer hunters say prevents them from using semi-automatic rifles. The lawsuit charges that the state implemented the rule without going through the public process required by law. Hunters and gun rights advocates say the new rule is a reaction to the stigma attached to semi-automatic rifles and a veiled attempt to discourage the sale of those kinds of guns. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association follows a 2018 law change that allows certain rifles for deer hunting. The DSSA, which is the local affiliate of the National Rifle Association, filed the lawsuit against the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and its secretary, Shawn Garvin, alleging DNREC overstepped its authority by adding restrictions that weren’t part of the new law.
District of Columbia
Washington: At least seven people, including three children, were sickened by an apparent carbon dioxide leak while taking part in an annual holiday boat parade, officials say. Authorities responded to a parading 32-foot boat Saturday night after someone aboard fell unconscious and others became ill, fire spokesman Vito Maggiolo told The Washington Post. The person who fell unconscious was a child, according to WUSA-TV. Of the 16 people on the boat, eight were taken to hospitals in conditions not considered to be life-threatening. That number includes an adult who didn’t require treatment but wanted to accompany a child, according to the Post. The other eight passengers were evaluated at the scene and released. The cause of the leak is unclear, news outlets report. The boat was towed ashore, and an investigation is ongoing.
Miami: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has asked the Bureau of Prisons to conduct a thorough review of Coleman Federal Correctional Complex following reports of sexual abuse of female inmates by male staff at the facility. Rubio called the allegations “simply abhorrent” in a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the Miami Herald reports. A lawsuit was filed last week on behalf of 14 women seeking compensation and prison improvements. The Herald reports seven of the women are still incarcerated at the central Florida facility. The complaint outlines the coercion, threats and sexual abuse the women suffered at the hands of correctional officers. One woman said she was taken to a remote trailer and assaulted by an officer who told her he had been accused of rape before, “but they’re never going to believe you.’ ” Former inmate Gina Hernandez told the newspaper the layout of the complex, with plenty of wooded paths, makes abusing inmates easy.
Atlanta: Conservation groups have purchased a swath of land they describe as one of the largest unprotected open space parcels along the southeast Atlantic coast. The Conservation Fund and the Open Space Institute announced Friday that they had bought the 16,000-acre site along the Satilla River east of Woodbine. They declined to say how much they paid. The groups plan to sell it within the next few years to the state for use as a wildlife management area where people can hunt, fish and hike. “It’s providing a tremendous opportunity for the people of Georgia to enjoy our great outdoors,” says Andrew Schock, Georgia state director at the Conservation Fund. The land near Cumberland Island – dubbed the “Ceylon property” – has several types of habitat, including salt marsh and longleaf pine forest. It’s also home to an estimated 2,000 gopher tortoises, whose burrows provide shelter for many other species.
Hilo: The Hawaii Board of Education has approved a proposal to increase the pay of classroom teachers in hard-to-staff locations on the Big Island to combat a continuing statewide teacher shortage, officials say. The state Board of Education approved a plan last week calling for pay raises ranging from $3,000 to $8,000 for educators teaching in geographically hard-to-staff schools across Hawaii Island, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports. Under the new plan, Keaau and Pahoa teachers would continue to earn a $3,000 differential, Kealakehe, Kohala and Konawaena teachers would earn an additional $5,000, and Honokaa and Ka‘u teachers would earn $7,500, officials say. Those pay differentials are set to take effect Jan. 7, officials say.
Boise: More than 45,000 state residents have signed up for Medicaid under expanded coverage, according to numbers from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. That’s about half of the 91,000 people the agency estimates are eligible to sign up under the expansion. Voters authorized Medicaid expansion last year with an initiative that passed with 61% of the vote after years of inaction by state lawmakers. But lawmakers earlier this year added restrictions requiring five waivers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Waivers are required when states want to deviate from Medicaid rules. Federal officials have yet to approve any of Idaho’s requested waivers, but enrollment is proceeding with coverage starting Jan. 1.
Chicago: The state Environmental Protection Agency has experienced major staffing cutbacks and dwindling funding in recent years, according to two new reports. The agency’s workforce was reduced by 38% percent between 2008 and 2018, more than any of the 47 states studied in an Environmental Integrity Project report released last week. Eric Schaeffer, a former top federal EPA enforcement official who compiled the report, says with the cutbacks, the state environmental agency has failed to identify hazards to public health and keep those who pollute accountable, according to the Chicago Tribune. Illinois has also lagged other states in how much it allocates to its state environmental agency, according to a November report by the University of Chicago Law School and former federal EPA officials. Between 2013 and 2015, most states increased their agency budgets by 7% on average. In the same time period, Illinois’ increased by only 2.5%.
Vevay: A part of this southeastern Indiana town is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Encompassing 275 historic buildings on 100 acres, the Vevay Historic District includes some of Indiana’s finest Greek Revival buildings, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Two large brick mansions, the Schenck House and the Grisard House, date to the 1840s. Both stand out for their refined, classically inspired porches and details. The downtown area of the Ohio River town includes many well-preserved cast iron storefronts. George L. Mesker & Co. in Evansville made most of the storefronts in the 1890s and early 1900s. Other architectural treasures from the 1900s include the town’s original Carnegie library, completed in 1917, which now serves as the town hall.
Marion: Officials are moving forward with plans to build a new city library with public funding. City council members have authorized city staff to work with a bond lawyer and start a public notice process for issuing up to $7 million in debt to help finance the project, according to the Gazette. Advocates say the expanded space is badly needed to meet growing demand. The city’s action comes after years of debate and false starts. The debt will cover some construction costs for the estimated $18 million project on city-owned land between the existing library and Marion City Hall. Other pieces of the funding puzzle include using $5 million from Marion’s local-option sales tax, getting $3 million from the sale of the current library site, and obtaining $3 million in donations and fundraising.
Lawrence: Some of the city’s leaders say it should consider eliminating bus fares in the wake of a drop in ridership. The Lawrence Journal-World reports annual ridership dropped from 3.13 million trips in 2017 to 2.97 million in 2018, or by about 5.3%. Ridership is on pace to drop another 5.6% from 2018 to 2019. That amounts to about 1,000 fewer trips for every day the bus operates. The city and the University of Kansas coordinate their bus service. Transit officials provided several potential reasons for the drop in ridership, including low gas prices, weather, and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Mayor Jennifer Ananda and Commissioner Lisa Larsen say they would like to consider making the bus service free. Fares make up a relatively small percentage of funding for the city-run bus routes.
Louisville: It may be the holiday season, but police have confiscated an unusual gift being delivered to a man’s home – a package with about 20 pounds of meth that was shipped through the mail inside an air fryer. Narcotics officers were able to intercept the parcel containing about $100,000 worth of drugs, Louisville Metro police said in a Facebook post. The package was delivered to a suspect’s home, where officers obtained a search warrant to collect it, the Major Case Unit confirmed to news outlets. The suspect wasn’t home at time of seizure. Photos posted by the police department show at least seven packages of drugs wrapped in plastic alongside the Hamilton Beach brand air fryer and the box in which it came. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
Baton Rouge: The state parks system has ended a requirement that guests must stay at least three nights during weekday bookings at its campgrounds and cabins. The minimum weekday stay met its demise Monday across the 21 parks. The state parks system says the aim is give overnight guests and campers more flexibility. Reservations for overnight stays can be made at www.ReserveLaStateParks.com or by calling 877-226-7652, up to 48 hours ahead of the check-in. If it’s less than 48 hours from the visit, reservations must be made by calling a park directly.
Newry: Kris Kringle is clearly comfortable on the snow. More than 200 fully bedecked Santas took a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to hit the slopes for charity at Sunday River. The ski resort in Maine hosted the 20th annual “Skiing Santas” event Sunday. “It’s really cool to just see everyone come together,” said Cadence Bachelder, 14, who took part in the event. “It’s fun to see all the little kids that are like, ‘Oh, look it’s Santa’ … and wave at them from the lift and say, ‘Merry Christmas.’ ” The event produced a red blur of skiers and snowboarders dashing through the snow, trying to make it downhill without falling or crashing into each other. The event serves as a festive kickoff to both the holiday season and the skiing season. It raises money for the Sunday River Community Fund, a local charity.
Annapolis: The four highest-paid teachers in Anne Arundel County are high school athletic directors, each earning more than $114,000 per year. But most of the biggest salaries in Anne Arundel County Public Schools go to people in the central office, topped by Superintendent George Arlotto, who is set to make nearly $280,000 in fiscal year 2020. The Capital has obtained salary information for more than 9,800 public school employees salaries through public records requests and analyzed the data. It shows teacher salaries range from $30,000 to the low $100,000s. Those salaries are currently under negotiation, says Russel Leone, president of the county teachers association. County schools athletics coordinator Clayton Culp says athletic directors are part of the teaching unit but can hold other professional development or leadership positions in a school.
Boston: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is pushing legislation aimed at confronting what she describes as punitive disciplinary actions taken disproportionately against girls of color in school. The Massachusetts Democrat says from kindergarten through their senior year in high school, black girls are seven times more likely to be suspended than white girls and four times more likely to be arrested at school. Pressley says Latino and Native American girls are also suspended from school at higher rates than white girls. Pressley’s bill would establish $2.5 billion in new federal grants to help states and districts that commit to ban unfair and discriminatory school discipline practices and improve school climates. The bill would also strengthen the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights by setting aside $2.5 billion for additional enforcement and monitoring while also creating a federal task force.
Detroit: Applications are being accepted from Detroit-area artists for $25,000 fellowships from the Kresge Foundation. Nine fellowships in live arts and nine more in film and music will be awarded to artists living and working in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb counties. The fellowships include professional development support. Two $5,000 Gilda Awards also will be awarded solely to emerging artists who apply for Kresge Artist Fellowships. Those awards are named in honor of the late Gilda Snowden, who was one of 18 artists to receive a Kresge Artist Fellowship in 2009. Fellowships are funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by Kresge Arts in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies. Online applications must be submitted before Jan. 17.
Minneapolis: The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a state law that makes it a crime to stalk someone by telephone is unconstitutional because it’s too broad. The ruling overturns the conviction of a man who authorities say repeatedly left threatening messages for Rice County Sheriff’s Department and Social Services Department workers in 2016 and 2017. Jason Peterson had called the Rice County sheriff, child protection workers and others to complain about a 2002 family law case that changed his child custody and visitation. His messages contained profanity and left employees feeling frightened, prosecutors said. A jury convicted Peterson of two counts of stalking by telephone, and he was sentenced to a year in jail. Peterson argued that his convictions should be reversed because the statute criminalizing phone stalking unconstitutionally restricts free speech. The appeals court agreed.
Vicksburg: Military veterans are demolishing homes in the Mississippi Delta that were damaged by months of flooding. Volunteers from an organization called Team Rubicon started working Wednesday in the Eagle Lake area north of Vicksburg, where the Yazoo backwater flood began in February and finally receded in August, the Vicksburg Post reports. Warren County Emergency Management Agency director John Elfer says Team Rubicon volunteers helped residents clean out homes in August, and the new crews are scheduled to work two weeks demolishing damaged homes. Case Construction Equipment, a sponsor of Team Rubicon, has donated the needed equipment. Team members are being housed at a fire station, with meals being donated by the community.
Kansas City: Police in the city will no longer provide suspects with a written copy of their rights and instead will give them a verbal Miranda warning as part of changes aimed at tackling violent crime. Two Los Angeles murder investigation experts recommended the change, arguing that written warnings could deter suspects from talking to police, public radio station KCUR-FM reports. The experts noted that keeping suspects talking is key because “confessions may occur, but admissions, lies or false alibis can also be important.” At least 134 people have been murdered in Kansas City so far this year, up from about 121 at this time last year, according to police reports. But it’s unclear how much of an impact the change to Miranda warnings could have.
Kalispell: Two state agencies are working toward a permanent recreation easement for a state park on Flathead Lake. The Flathead Beacon reports Fish, Wildlife and Parks leases part of Big Arm State Park from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The agencies have submitted a joint proposal for a permanent easement, and a draft environmental analysis is available for review and open to public input through Jan. 3. Officials say the lease has lasted for more than five decades and is currently set at 5% of the appraised value for the area in northwest Montana, south of Kalispell. The current lease is set to expire March 1. The 2019 Legislature passed a bill authorizing Fish, Wildlife and Parks to purchase a permanent easement from Natural Resources and Conservation.
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Scottsbluff: The president of the state’s public-school teachers’ union says she’s hearing concerns from rural schools about a lack of mental health services and state equalization aid. The Star-Herald in Scottsbluff reports that many schools are also concerned about retaining qualified teachers, particularly in rural areas. Nebraska State Education Association President Jenni Benson says she hopes to tackle those issues and others in the upcoming legislative session. Benson says she heard the concerns during a statewide tour of Nebraska communities to learn about what support teachers and students need to succeed. Benson says her association recently received a grant from the National Education Association to help. The association plans to visit Nebraska communities in the spring to determine schools’ needs and how best to address them.
Las Vegas: Children and teenagers who need mental health care have less access to services in Nevada than in other states, advocates say. The nonprofit group Mental Health America ranked Nevada 51st among states and the District of Columbia in seven categories of youths at risk, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Factors in the group’s September review included psychological and emotional disturbances, substance abuse disorders, major depressive episodes and children for whom private insurance doesn’t cover treatment. Youth mental health advocate Char Frost in Las Vegas says youth suicide rates are on the rise statewide. “There are challenges for the state of Nevada, real challenges here in terms of service providers and so on,” Robert Weires, psychological services department director at the Clark County School District, told the Sun.
Concord: Starting in January, state employees will be able to take part in a program that will allow them to take their infant children to work, Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday. He signed an executive order allowing parents and eligible guardians of infants between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 months to bring their child to work, so long as their state agency or department has elected to participate; the worker receives prior written authorization from the agency’s human resource officer; the worker has completed an individualized plan for the infant; there’s no safety hazard or concern to the parent of the infant; and there is limited disruption in the workplace. Sununu says more than 20 state departments and agencies have chosen to participate so far.
Trenton: State lawmakers advanced legislation Monday to permit immigrants who cannot prove they’re in the country legally to obtain drivers licenses. The Democrat-led Assembly Judiciary Committee approved the bill in a packed committee room in the statehouse annex building. Many in attendance supported the measure, including a handful of people wearing green and yellow t-shirts that said, “Don’t let these bills die in committee.” A 2018 study from the left-leaning think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective estimated that about 466,000 residents without documentation would be of driving age in New Jersey. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney have said they back the measure.
Albuquerque: The state’s largest city has announced it will embark on an independent review of crime data after facing criticism for releasing statistics that overstated improvements made over the past year. Mayor Tim Keller says it was clear the data systems used by the police department need an overhaul, and Peter Winograd, a retired professor from the University of New Mexico School of Law, has been selected to oversee the review of the data. The mayor says Winograd’s expertise will help ensure the department can fix the problems. The city touted Winograd’s previous experience in analyzing data and redesigning the Albuquerque Police Department’s use-of-force reporting and accountability processes under a settlement agreement with the U.S. Justice Department.
New York: City lawmakers are poised to adopt legislation requiring “bird-friendly” glass on all new construction in an effort to cut down on the tens of thousands of birds who die flying into the city’s buildings every year. New York will be the largest city in the nation to require glass that is visible to birds if the measure passes. Groups that monitor bird populations say they are thrilled at the prospect of the legislation’s adoption in New York City. “Long term this stands to have a significant impact on the birds that live in and are passing through our city,” says Chris Allieri, a board member of the Wild Bird Fund. “I think it will significantly reduce the number of window collisions for birds in newly constructed buildings.” New York City Audubon estimates 90,000 to 230,000 birds, from hawks to hummingbirds, die every year flying into New York City buildings.
Charlotte: Upset over how judges have used the bail system, local police say they will no longer assign electronic ankle bracelets to monitor murder suspects who are released on bail. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney announced the policy Friday as a way to encourage local judges to keep potentially violent suspects in jail before a trial, The Charlotte Observer reports. Under the new policy, suspects released on bail will not have their locations monitored by authorities prior to trial. Putney has been critical of the court system for being too lenient and says he implemented the policy without discussing it with judges or magistrates. “I’m the only chief,” he says. “They don’t consult with me when they recommend people (for electronic monitoring).” Putney says the department is also considering not assigning ankle bracelets to people charged with other violent crimes, like rape.
Bismarck: The state’s high school students are drinking less and using less tobacco, but more young people are having extended periods of feeling sad or hopeless, according to results of a survey about their health behavior released Monday. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler says the survey showed fewer high school students reported being bullied at school, either electronically or personally. Earlier this year, lawmakers extended the reach of a law intended to discourage bullying and approved an administrative reorganization of the Department of Human Services’ regional centers to improve the availability of services for students. While some trends are moving in the right direction, others are not, Baesler said, noting that “the 13% of the survey’s respondents who had attempted suicide should cause us all to be gravely concerned.”
Dayton: A biennial writers’ workshop named for the late humor writer Erma Bombeck is set for the spring of 2020. The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is held every other year on the campus of the University of Dayton, Bombeck’s alma mater. Workshop officials say Emmy Award winner and essayist Cathy Guisewite, creator of the comic strip “Cathy,” will open this year’s workshop set for April 2-4. Others scheduled to headline the workshop include stand-up comedian Wendy Liebman and Mike Reiss, an Emmy Award-winning writer for the animated TV series “The Simpsons.” The workshop that began in 2000 is co-sponsored by the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. Bombeck, a Dayton native, died in 1996 at the age of 69 from complications following a kidney transplant.
Oklahoma City: Election officials say registered independents will be able to continue voting in Democratic primaries during the next election cycle. Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Monday that he’d been notified by the state Democratic Party that it will continue to allow independents to vote in its primaries in 2020 and 2021. Ziriax said both the Republican and Libertarian parties have notified his office that their primaries will remain closed to independent voters. Oklahoma law allows recognized political parties to open their primaries to registered independents by notifying the Election Board secretary ahead of the election year. The Oklahoma Democratic Party opened its primaries to independents beginning with the 2016 election year. Party leaders at the time said they hoped the move would help Democratic candidates appeal to more voters.
Eugene: The University of Oregon Board of Trustees plans to meet Tuesday to consider awarding a $100,000 bonus to President Michael Schill. Students and staff have seen Schill’s $720,000 salary and annual bonuses as being at odds with the university’s statements that it does not have sufficient funds, the Register-Guard reports. There have been protests against the university administration over such things as tuition costs and program cuts. Schill’s employment contract states his salary will remain at $720,000 through July 1. It will increase after that to $738,000. The contract includes yearly bonuses of up to $200,000 and other provisions. Board Chair Chuck Lillis and Vice Chair Ginevra Ralph are recommending approval of a $100,000 bonus this year based on Schill’s performance.
Philadelphia: Police are investigating after someone vandalized the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo. The word “fascist” was found painted on the statue’s suit jacket, and a sticker bearing the logo of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s nonprofit foundation was placed on the statue’s hand. The 10-foot-tall bronze statue stands outside the Municipal Services Building, across from Philadelphia’s City Hall. The statue was defaced in 2017. Rizzo served as mayor from 1972 to 1980. Supporters say he was tough on crime, while critics say he discriminated against minorities. The statue is set to be moved to another location in 2021.
Providence: State agencies have proposed a new regulation on the sale of medical marijuana that would require out-of-state patients to present identification from their state as proof of residency. Last year, lawmakers began allowing dispensaries to sell to out-of-state residents, and 6,500 people who were Rhode Island residents changed their patient card addresses to California, according to the Providence Journal. Many patients are looking to California because the patient-card rules there are more relaxed there in Rhode Island, the paper reports. “(The California card) was easier to afford. … I make no money and have a lot of medical bills to pay,” user Alexa Coffey said. Critics of the proposal for out-of-state patients to provide ID say Rhode Island’s rules are already very complicated. They worry this could push patients to purchase off the black market or in Massachusetts.
Columbia: A state lawmaker wants education officials to develop plans to teach students to be more critical of what they read and post online. The bill would expand on current state curriculum on social studies, English and college readiness that teach media literacy, said state Rep. Seth Rose, a Democrat from Columbia. “It’s not adequate, and it doesn’t touch the issue at all. It doesn’t even scratch the surface. To say we’re doing this in social studies, it isn’t happening on the scale it needs to happen on,” Rose told The State newspaper. Media literacy consultant Frank W. Baker backs Rose’s bill, saying students need to be taught to go beyond the headlines on Twitter and Instagram and consider the source of the information, the creator’s possible hidden bias and how it is being presented.
Aberdeen: A state legislator’s effort to increase transparency in the ballot issue circulation process has led to concerns about the public’s right to free speech. Those were two sides presented Monday in a civil trial at the Aberdeen federal courthouse. The case was filed against the state by SD Voice, a registered ballot committee challenging the implementation of House Bill 1094. The bill, which would go into effect in July, requires petition circulators to provide personal information to the state and have a badge issued, which they must wear while circulating petitions. That badge would include their circulator number and the ballot measure for which they are circulating. Federal Judge Charles B. Kornmann plans to issue a written ruling by Jan. 2. Following testimony, Kornmann said he has concerns with parts of HB1094 but wasn’t certain it was unconstitutional.
Knoxville: Researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have landed a $156,000 grant to look into opportunities to market cattle using genetic information. The money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service will fuel the study at the seedstock, cow-calf and stocker producer stages of the beef supply chain, the institute said in a news release. The research aims to provide cattle producers information to help make decisions on characteristics that could be valuable to breed naturally in calves. Connecting what producers value in genetic information can help improve market efficiency and cattle sustainability and possibly affect profitability, the institute said.
Austin: Pierce Bush, a grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, announced his candidacy Monday for a congressional seat in Texas, becoming the latest member of his famous Republican family to enter politics. But his first run for office won’t be easy. Bush joins one of the nation’s most crowded congressional races of 2020 in his bid to replace Republican Rep. Pete Olson, who is retiring from his suburban Houston district that Democrats nearly flipped last year and are aggressively targeting again. Pierce Bush’s announcement video, rolled out on the deadline in Texas for candidates to get on the 2020 ballot, includes an image of him speaking next to a picture of his late grandfather, who died last year. “We face a very challenging time in our nation,” Bush says, adding that the country is “on the brink of losing a generation to an idea that socialism and free stuff are the answers to their future.”
Salt Lake City: An imperiled fish found only in Utah Lake is starting to make a recovery after 18 years. The June sucker increased in population from only 300 to 2,000 at last count, prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose changing the species’ status from endangered to threatened, the Deseret News reports. The change is a major milestone, says Chris Keleher, Utah Department of Natural Resources recovery program director. It means the federal agency no longer believes the species is in immediate danger of extinction. Still, “we will remain committed to the ultimate goal – the recovery of the June sucker,” Keleher says. The June sucker population dropped to just 300 fish in 1999, leading to the creating of a program aimed at increasing the population through habitat management and reduction of threats.
Newport City: The city will allow snowmobiles to drive on several streets to reach the downtown area, officials say. Newport City’s council voted unanimously last week to give snowmobile riders limited access to downtown streets, The Caledonian Record reports. Riders will be permitted to drive on these city streets from Dec. 15 to April 15. City Manager Laura Dolgin told the council the city has received “zero complaints” about allowing snowmobiles on the streets. Most snowmobile riders prefer to use a trail on Lake Memphremagog, but the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers doesn’t promote the trail due to safety concerns, says Roger Gosselin, who represents local snowmobile clubs.
Richmond: More than 200 gun rights activists wearing “Guns SAVE Lives” stickers rallied Monday at the State Capitol, vowing to fight any attempt by the new Democratic majority in the Legislature to pass new restrictions on gun ownership. The “God. Family. Guns” rally was held just a month before the General Assembly is set to begin a session that is almost certain to include a variety of gun control proposals, including requiring universal background checks for gun buyers, prohibiting the sale of assault weapons, and a “red flag” law allowing police or family members to petition a court to temporarily take away guns from people who may present a danger to themselves or others. Those who attended the rally said such gun-control measures would do little to reduce mass shootings and other crimes but instead would punish responsible gun owners.
Spokane: The Department of Fish and Wildlife has told Gov. Jay Inslee it will try “previously unused tools” to protect cattle and avoid shooting wolves in the Kettle River Range, though it did not specify any new tactics. The department responded to Inslee’s complaint that recurrent culling of wolves in the northeast Washington mountain range is unacceptable, Capital Press reports. The department, which describes the region as “saturated” with wolf packs, has defended killing as a last resort when nonlethal measures failed to keep cattle losses from mounting. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman says the department is starting to discuss and research other nonlethal approaches. Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind says the department will meet with an advisory group, the U.S. Forest Service and ranchers to develop a plan by May 1.
Morgantown: A group of West Virginians left the country Sunday in search of affordable insulin – heading to Canada, where insulin prices are reported to be about a tenth of what it costs people in the United States. Across the border, no prescription is even necessary to purchase the life-saving medication, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports. State data says about 15% of West Virginians rely on insulin. The nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute says insulin cost a person with Type 1 diabetes about $6,000 in 2016, and prices have only increased since then, making it difficult for even insured people to afford it. The trip from Morgantown was organized by state health care activists and supported by Dels. Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, and Jordan Hill, R-Nicholas. Fleischauer says the caravan has held news conferences around the state, hearing about ever-increasing co-pays for insulin prescriptions.
Madison: To stop the divergence of U.S. cities where technology thrives, a concerted effort needs to be made to turn promising cities like Madison and Milwaukee in the heartland into tech hubs, according to a new paper from the Brookings Institution and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “We need 10 more Madisons,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow in the metropolitan policy program at Brookings. The Wisconsin capital ranked as having the highest potential on the paper’s listing of 35 promising metro areas for technological growth that could become the next San Francisco or Boston. Madison is home to the state’s flagship university and in many ways is is the epitome of the recipe for creating a center of technology innovation that Brookings and ITIF want to try across the country.
Casper: The state Department of Education will release the names and salaries of every school district employee in Wyoming in response to a state senator’s request. Republican Sen. Tom James, of Rock Springs, says he wants the list to better understand state budgeting. One purpose is to see differences in pay between educators and administrators, though James filed similar requests with other state agencies, he told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I’m not just picking on education,” James said. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow plans to honor the request by Dec. 27 but not without questioning it. “I have difficulty figuring out and reconciling how the release of names that intrudes on the privacy of citizens in our Wyoming community, that potentially puts their security, safety and other aspects of their lives at risk, is in the best interest of the public,” Balow said.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
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