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Montgomery: Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday made her first public appearance in nearly three weeks, telling reporters she was in good health but also declining to say whether she had undergone any recent medical treatment. Ivey toured a science and technology lab at Dalraida Elementary School in Montgomery in her first public appearance since an Aug. 2 groundbreaking ceremony. The gap between appearances fueled speculation about the 77-year-old governor’s health. “I’ve got a clean bill of health from the doctors, and I’m looking forward to serving for four more years as governor,” Ivey told reporters. She brushed aside questions about whether she had recently undergone medical treatment in a hospital and did not directly answer. “It just seems like a lot of you just want to will these rumors into being, and that just isn’t going to happen,” the Republican governor responded, according to al.com. “I’ve got a clean bill of health from the doctors. That’s what matters, and I’m looking forward to serving four more years as your governor.” Ivey’s office on Aug. 12 began releasing occasional photos of her at work to combat the rumors, beginning with a photo of her greeting South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem at an airport when Noem arrived in Alabama for a speech.
Anchorage: A state corporation is the only remaining leaseholder in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that intends to pursue plans to explore for oil and gas on the refuge’s coastal plain after another private company gave up its lease in the region. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Knik Arm Services, a small real estate and leasing firm, asked to have its 49,000-acre lease rescinded and lease payments refunded. The federal agency said it will honor the request made last week, the Anchorage Daily News reports. Knik Arm Services was one of two private companies that won leases in a sale held in the waning days of the Trump administration. The other, oil company Regenerate Alaska, gave up its lease earlier this year. The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, a state corporation, acquired seven leases in the sale. It is suing federal officials over what it calls improper actions that are preventing lease activities. The corporation got the leases to preserve drilling rights in case oil companies did not come forward. Mark Graber, who owns Knik Arm Services, said he invested about $2 million into his lease and for a first-year lease payment. He said he had wanted to hold onto his lease in hopes that the state corporation prevailed in its lawsuit and that oil development would produce royalties for his company. But he said the fight over the leases could take years.
Phoenix: A controversial state law restricting how the public can film police faced its first legal challenge Tuesday with a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group’s Arizona chapter, joined by several news organizations in the state, filed a petition in U.S. District Court arguing the law criminalizes First Amendment freedoms. “This law is a violation of a vital constitutional right and will severely thwart attempts to build police accountability. It must be struck down before it creates irreparable community harm,” the ACLU wrote in a statement on its blog. In the complaint, the group contends the law not only has “blatant constitutional issues” but is too ambiguous in some parts. They are seeking an injunction barring law enforcement and others from enforcing the law. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Attorney General Rachel Mitchell and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone are all named as defendants. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in July, makes it illegal to knowingly film police officers from 8 feet or closer without an officer’s permission. An officer can order someone to stop filming even if they are on private property recording with the owner’s consent if an officer finds they’re interfering or deems the area unsafe.
Mulberry: Federal authorities have now started a civil rights investigation following the suspension of three law enforcement officers after a video posted on social media showed two of them beating a man while a third officer held him on the ground. The officers were responding to a report of a man making threats outside a convenience store Sunday in the small town of Mulberry, about 140 miles northwest of Little Rock, near the border with Oklahoma, authorities said. Arkansas State Police said the agency would investigate the use of force. State police identified the suspect as Randal Worcester, 27, of Goose Creek, South Carolina. The attorney for the two deputies said Monday that Worcester attacked one of the deputies, giving him a concussion. The video shows one officer punching the suspect with a clenched fist, while another can be seen hitting the man with his knee. The third officer holds him against the pavement. In video recorded from a car nearby, someone yells at officers to stop hitting the man in the head. Two of the officers appear to look up and say something back to the person who yelled. The officers’ comments could not be heard clearly on the video.
Sacramento: Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill Monday that he said could have brought “a world of unintended consequences” by allowing Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco to set up sites where opioid users could legally inject drugs under supervision. “The unlimited number of safe injection sites that this bill would authorize – facilities which could exist well into the later part of this decade – could induce a world of unintended consequences,” Newsom said. While he said the sites could be helpful, he worried that “if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose” and said that “worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.” It was one of the most watched and most controversial measures of this legislative session. Proponents wanted to give people who already use drugs a place to inject them while trained staff stand by to help if they suffer accidental overdoses. The proposal came amid a spike in overdose deaths and a national opioid crisis. But opponents said the move in effect would have condoned the use of dangerous drugs. “Each year this legislation is delayed, more people die of drug overdoses,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who authored the California legislation.
Denver: There is no evidence a woman who lost custody of her 7-year-old son for allegedly lying about his health problems plotted with QAnon supporters to have him kidnapped from foster care, her lawyer told jurors Monday at the start of her trial. The prosecution’s case about the alleged plot in 2019 is based on the account of Cynthia Abcug’s then-16-year-old daughter, who told her counselor that her mother was talking with followers of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory about launching a raid on the home, defense lawyer Brian Hall said during opening statements in court in Castle Rock in suburban Denver. Many QAnon supporters believe ex-President Donald Trump was fighting enemies in the so-called deep state to expose a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters they believe secretly runs the globe. Hall stressed that the girl did not know details about what was supposed to happen and did not think her mother knew where her son’s foster home was. But Chief Deputy District Gary Dawson told the jury that the daughter heard her mother talking about the raid on several occasions in September and August of 2019. Around that same time, Abcug bought a gun, and a man identified only as Ryan and described as an ex-member of the military and a sniper moved into their home to provide protection, Dawson said. An older son who was no longer living at home will also testify that he remembers Abcug talking about launching a raid to get her young son back, Dawson said.
Norwich: A city-maintained list of historic buildings could be the start to revitalizing the waterfront along the Thames River. A Local Historic Inventory was created during Monday’s Norwich City Council meeting, with a list of historic properties that the city would like to redevelop. All are located within areas determined by the Federal Emergency Management Association to be flood hazard areas and aren’t currently recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. The need for a list comes from a FEMA rule, which prohibits improvements worth more than half a property’s value yearly for buildings in a flood hazard area, likely preventing a quick redevelopment, Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said. “If you only allow (developers) to redevelop a site in a piecemeal fashion, it ties the hands of anyone interested in developing a site like that,” he said. There is an exception is if a property is on a recognized list of historic places. A property can join the National Register of Historic Places with a State Historic Preservation Office nomination. The property must be of sufficient age and historical significance, while retaining much of its historic character. If the property can make the list, there are tax credits and legal recourse to prevent demolition, said Regan Miner, executive director of the Norwich Historical Society, who was a consultant for the city in picking the list.
Wilmington: DuPont plans to build a new production facility in Glasgow to support the expansion of the company’s semiconductor materials business. The new facility will likely be the first building in a 1 million-square-foot logistics park planned in the city. Once complete, about 70 current employees will move to the site. DuPont intends to hire about 10 new positions. DuPont estimates it will invest $50 million in the facility. The state on Monday approved taxpayer-funded grants up to $1.64 million to support job growth and construction of the building. “The DuPont Company has been part of Delaware’s DNA for 220 years,” Gov. John Carney said in a statement. “With this expansion of their semiconductor division, the company is showing their commitment to our state and workforce.” One member of the Council on Development Finance, the state board tasked with determining whether to give businesses money to relocate to or expand in Delaware, voted against the grants. State Rep. Ed Osienski of Newark pointed to DuPont’s history of downsizing within Delaware as cause for concern. “It’s great that you’re considering staying here, but I question the need for Delawareans to come up with $1.6 million to get DuPont to remain here and add some jobs when Delaware suffered a lot,” Osienski said.
District of Columbia
Washington: The states of Arizona and Texas continue to send asylum-seekers to the district as the school year approaches for children, but the Pentagon has again turned down a request from the mayor for National Guard aid, WUSA-TV reports. More than 8,700 asylum-seekers have been sent to D.C. from both states since April. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office said his state has sent about 7,200 migrants on 175 buses to the nation’s capital so far, while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office said 1,516 migrants have gotten on 41 buses to go to the district. About 1,300 migrants have been bused to D.C. from those states over the past month alone. Many of the buses that have rolled into Union Station have included children. Neither state could provide data on just how many of the bus passengers were below the age of 18, but it appears they will be welcome in DC Public Schools this fall. “School-aged children will go to school,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday. “That’s the plan.” Many of the kids who have been bused to D.C. have come with very little, said Madhvi Bahl, a migrant organizer with Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network and Sanctuary DMV. She said efforts are ongoing to collect supplies for them for the upcoming school year.
Orlando: The president of a local NAACP branch has resigned, saying that as a South Asian woman she experienced “racist marginalization” from others in the civil rights group. Dr. Vanessa Toolsie, an elected vice president of the Orange County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, became its leader in March when Tiffany Hughes resigned to run for a Florida legislative seat. Born in Trinidad of Indian descent, she posted a lengthy resignation letter on Facebook on the NAACP branch’s Facebook page Sunday, the Orlando Sentinel reports. She also placed a brief statement on her personal Facebook page, saying: “I will NO LONGER tolerate ANY racism against me for being a #ProudBrownWoman of #SouthAsian and #Caribbean descent,” the Orlando Sentinel reports. Toolsie read her resignation letter during a virtual board meeting Monday night. One person objected, describing her claims as “false allegations against the executive committee,” the newspaper reports. Others asked in the chat feature whether Toolsie had any proof and what could be done to assure that no one else has a similar experience. The meeting was adjourned without further discussion. “I am concerned about this person and the charges that were made,” John Cummings, a spokesman for the group, told the Sentinel. “We don’t want to overlook or dehumanize or, in any way, cause anybody problems or concern intentionally or unintentionally.”
Savannah: A company seeking to mine near the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp’s vast wildlife refuge said Monday that its project is back on track after a federal agency reversed a June decision that had posed a big setback. Twin Pines Minerals said the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the company by once again relinquishing the agency’s regulatory oversight of the proposed titanium and zirconium mine in southeast Georgia near the Okefenokee, home to the largest U.S. wildlife refuge east of the Mississippi River. “We appreciate the Corps’ willingness to reverse itself and make things right,” Twin Pines President Steve Ingle said in a statement, calling the development “great news” for the project. Scientists have warned that mining close to the swamp’s bowl-like rim could damage its ability to hold water. They urged the Army Corps of Engineers to deny the project a permit. But the agency declared in 2020 it no longer had that authority after regulatory rollbacks under then-President Donald Trump narrowed the types of waterways qualifying for protection under the Clean Water Act. Trump’s rollbacks were later scrapped by federal courts. President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to restore federal oversight of development projects that under Trump had been allowed to sidestep regulations to prevent pollution of streams or draining of wetlands.
Honolulu: Calling allegations that a couple stole identities of dead babies for unknown reasons unique, a U.S. judge on Monday upheld a previous ruling to detain the pair without bail. According to prosecutors, Walter Glenn Primrose and Gwynn Darle Morrison are the real names of the couple who have been fraudulently living for decades under stolen identities, Bobby Fort and Julie Montague. The case has drawn speculation about Russian espionage. Prosecutors say Primrose spent more than 20 years in the Coast Guard, where he obtained secret-level security clearance. U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi said the mystery behind why the couple lived under allegedly stolen identities for so long is what makes the case unique “because the real question is, ‘Why?’ ” Primrose and Morrison have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, false statement in a passport application and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors have suggested the case is about more than identity theft. A search of the couple’s home in Kapolei, a Honolulu suburb, turned up Polaroids of them wearing jackets that appear to be authentic KGB uniforms, an invisible ink kit, documents with coded language and maps showing military bases, prosecutors said.
Boise: The state’s near-total abortion ban appears to have a serious conflict with a federal law governing emergency health care treatment, a federal judge said Monday. The U.S. Department of Justice sued the Republican-led state of Idaho earlier this month, saying the abortion ban set to take effect Thursday violates a federal law requiring Medicare-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients experiencing medical emergencies. Idaho’s law criminalizes all abortions in “clinically diagnosable pregnancies” but allows physicians to defend themselves in court by arguing the procedure was necessary to avert the death of the mother. U.S. District Senior Judge B. Lynn Winmill said the potential conflict exists because Idaho’s law doesn’t appear to account for cases when a pregnant person might face serious medical consequences if the pregnancy is continued. “That is more than just a hypothetical concern,” Winmill told attorneys on both sides during oral arguments in Boise’s federal courthouse. The judge said he would decide by the end of the day Wednesday whether to temporarily block the strict abortion ban while the lawsuit proceeds.
Edwardsville: Two young men who died last week after they entered a southern Illinois manhole where toxic gases were present have been identified by a coroner. Madison County Coroner Stephen P. Nonn said Jack M. Pfund, 19, of Edwardsville and Cody W. Toenyes, 22, of Bethalto died Friday at a construction site in Edwardsville. The men were found dead in a manhole leading to a sewer pipe at the residential development, and crews needed advanced breathing equipment to recover their bodies, said Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford. He said first responders were met with “very little oxygen” and a “buildup of toxic gases” that likely led to the workers’ deaths, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. An Edwardsville police officer who was among the first responders at the scene was taken to a hospital for evaluation Friday in the city about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis. Nonn said Tuesday that autopsies found both Pfund and Toenyes’ preliminary causes of death were due to possible asphyxia due to low environmental oxygen and drowning. Toxicological testing that could determine the final causes of death for both men are pending.
Chesterton: For the second time in three years, a lifeguard shortage has prompted Indiana Dunes State Park to ban swimming until further notice. Visitors can wade up to waist-deep in the waters of Lake Michigan but are not permitted to swim or go deeper into the lake, the park announced Friday. Indiana conservation officers and park staff will be on hand to enforce the ban, it said. Visitors interested in next weekend or Labor Day weekend should monitor the Indiana Dunes State Park Facebook page for notifications regarding beach status, it said. Swimming is permitted at the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park only when lifeguards are present because of frequently changing conditions of the lake bottom and the unpredictability of dangerous rip currents that can occur along the shoreline at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, a news release said. The park is located about 50 miles southeast of Chicago and is a popular summer recreational destination for the region.
Des Moines: The owner of an ethanol plant in the west central Iowa city of Denison has agreed to pay a nearly $210,000 fine for failing to report chemicals that could be released during an emergency, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The penalty was part of a $1.73 million settlement the Andersons Marathon Holdings agreed to pay for 131 reporting violations there and at ethanol plants in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The EPA says companies must report annually chemicals released into the air, water or through land disposal via the Toxic Release Inventory, which is meant to provide communities with information to help them respond in an emergency. The fine is the largest the agency has obtained to date under the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, the EPA said. The agency said the violations occurred from 2016 to 2020. The EPA found the Andersons Marathon plant in Denison committed 32 violations in which it failed to report the release of chemicals in the plant’s fermentation vapor stream and also failed to provide accurate data. It was fined $209,241. The company also paid $1.52 million for violations at ethanol plants in Logansport, Indiana; Albion, Michigan; and Greenville, Ohio.
Topeka: The Kansas Museum of History is offering free admission to the public through Sept. 3 before it closes to undergo renovations. Carrie Nation’s hatchet, George Armstrong Custer’s riding boots and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s World War II field jacket are among pieces of the past on display at the museum, along with an airplane built in 1914 by Topekan Albin Longren and a steam locomotive, named after Topeka co-founder Cyrus K. Holliday, that was constructed in 1880 for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. “Please join us in saying ‘Goodbye to the Past,’ ” the museum said on Facebook. The historical museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays until Sept. 3. The Kansas Historical Society’s Museum Store and Discovery Place have already closed for renovations, while construction is underway near the entrance to the building where they are located, the society’s Facebook site said. The state archives research room and the historical society’s nature trail will remain open during renovations. The museum normally charges admission fees of $10 for adults; $9 for senior citizens, active military and college students with identification; and $5 for youths ages 2 through 17.
Frankfort: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday that he’s calling the Republican-led Legislature into a special session to take up a relief package for flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky. The special session will begin at noon Wednesday, the governor said. The decision to reconvene lawmakers comes after discussions among lawmakers and Beshear’s administration. “We’ve had productive conversations – not bipartisan, but nonpartisan,” the governor said in a tweet. “We have now reached an agreement.” The governor didn’t immediately offer details of the relief package to be presented to lawmakers but wrote: “Together, we can provide the support and relief eastern Kentucky needs.” Historic flooding engulfed parts of eastern Kentucky late last month. The surging floodwaters destroyed homes and caused significant damage to roads, bridges and water systems. The catastrophic flooding caused at least 39 deaths.
New Orleans: A deputy constable for a city court has resigned following allegations that he didn’t act when a witness told him a woman was being raped. The deputy had already been suspended after the allegation was made. The constable for 2nd City Court, Edwin Shorty, told news outlets that the deputy resigned Thursday. The deputy was working a private security detail in the French Quarter on July 26 when he was approached by a witness who said a man was raping an unconscious woman nearby. Shorty said an investigation showed the deputy stayed in his car for several minutes before walking away from the scene. He did not release the deputy’s name. Shorty said the deputy, who had 30 years of law enforcement experience, gave no explanation for his inaction.
Bangor: The federal government will pay $8 million to settle a claim that a federally funded clinic failed to alert a mother or authorities of signs of abuse of a 6-month-old boy. Alexandria Orduna, of Brewer, contended medical professionals failed to recognize or report abuse inflicted on her son by a man who was living with her in 2019. The abuse wasn’t noted and reported until her son was taken to a hospital emergency room in Bangor. The boy is now almost entirely blind, and his brain stopped growing at the time of his attack, the Bangor Daily News reports. “This little boy couldn’t talk, but his body could, and his health care practitioners didn’t listen to what it was saying,” Terry Garmey, one of the mother’s attorneys, told the newspaper. Orduna sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which funds Medicaid, which paid for the boy’s care. The settlement sets aside $17,000 a month in a trust account for the rest of the boy’s life to contribute to the cost of his long-term medical needs and accommodations. The man who inflicted the injuries pleaded guilty last year to aggravated assault and other charges. He was ordered to serve four years in prison.
Salisbury: The state’s second-largest port is set to receive much-needed dredging and open the door to a continued economic boom thanks to a new agreement. On Friday, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a landmark partnership for a major dredging project totaling 137,000 cubic yards of material dredged from the Port of Salisbury to be reused to benefit over 70 acres on the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area. The material will be used to help restore wetlands, preserve natural habitats and protect infrastructure along the Manokin River to keep pace with rising sea levels. “When we learned about the dredging needs threatening to restrict operations at this port, our team immediately got to work with (our state partners) to focus on solving the problem. Thanks to a unique partnership at all levels of government, we’re moving forward with the dredging of this port,” Hogan said. According to current economic state data, the port transports more than $200 million in goods annually, including grain, petroleum and building aggregates. It has a 150-foot-wide channel and 14-foot-deep mean tide from the Chesapeake Bay to Salisbury.
Mattapoisett: Gasoline vapors ignited by spark during a gas tank replacement project on a boat were the likely cause of a major fire at a marina last week that destroyed buildings, vehicles and boats and sent one employee to the hospital, investigators said. The fire at the Mattapoisett Boatyard on Friday that drew more than 100 firefighters and sent a plume of thick black smoke over southeastern Massachusetts that could be seen for miles was determined to be accidental, according to a statement Monday from the state fire marshal and local authorities. The investigation determined that the fire began inside a building at the boatyard where a worker had been replacing a boat’s gas tank. The fire, fanned by winds of up to 25 mph, spread to six buildings, 47 vehicles and 14 boats, authorities said. The injured worker remains in the hospital but is expected to survive. Three firefighters who suffered smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion injuries were treated at the hospital and released. Mattapoisett is about 50 miles south of Boston.
Grand Rapids: A jury on Tuesday convicted two men of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, delivering swift verdicts in a plot that was broken up by the FBI and described as a rallying cry for a U.S. civil war by anti-government extremists. The result was a big victory for the U.S. Justice Department. A different jury just four months ago couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. but acquitted two other men – a stunning conclusion that led to a second trial. Fox and Croft were convicted of two counts of conspiracy related to the kidnapping scheme and attempts to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. Prosecutors said they wanted to blow up a bridge to disrupt police if the abduction could be pulled off at Whitmer’s vacation home. Croft was also convicted of another explosives charge. The jury deliberated for roughly eight hours over two days. “Today’s verdicts prove that violence and threats have no place in our politics, and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable. They will not succeed,” said Whitmer, a Democrat, who turned 51 years old Tuesday. “But we must also take a hard look at the status of our politics. Plots against public officials and threats to the FBI are a disturbing extension of radicalized domestic terrorism that festers in our nation, threatening the very foundation of our republic.”
Proctor: The parents of a teenage boy who was assaulted after football practice have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming the coach and others failed to protect their son against known hazing. The September assault resulted in cancellation of Proctor High School’s football season and the resignation of its head coach. An 18-year-old former Proctor student and football player was given probation in June for assaulting the victim with a toilet plunger and must register as a predatory offender for 10 years. The federal lawsuit alleges the hazing practice was common before and during Derek Parendo’s coaching run. The complaint said other assistant coaches, the athletic director, superintendent and guidance counselors also knew about the practice. District leaders told Parendo to remove the plunger from the locker room and to advise players on hazing, the complaint said, but the district didn’t take adequate measures to ensure this, the Star Tribune reports. Parendo has called the assault an isolated incident and said hazing is part of the district’s “old culture,” which coaches have not discussed. Superintendent John Engelking has since retired from the district. He has said the district “has never ignored any alleged misconduct toward staff or students that (was) brought to its attention.”
Jackson: A mother testified Tuesday that her child’s public school is harmed by the state putting $10 million of federal pandemic relief money into infrastructure grants for private schools. Tanya Marsaw of Crystal Springs is a member of Parents for Public Schools, a nonprofit group suing the state to try to block the program Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law earlier this year. The lawsuit cites Section 208 of the Mississippi Constitution, which prohibits the use of public money for any school that is not “a free school.” During a hearing before Hinds County Chancery Judge Crystal Wise Martin, Marsaw testified that she pays taxes. “It is some of my money, and it should not go to private schools,” Marsaw said. Reeves signed two bills in April. One created a grant program to help private schools pay for water, broadband and other infrastructure projects. The other allocated the $10 million of federal money for the program, starting July 1. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, the Mississippi Center for Justice and Democracy Forward filed the lawsuit June 15 on behalf of Parents for Public Schools, an advocacy group founded more than 30 years ago.
Jefferson City: Gov. Mike Parson on Monday called on lawmakers to return to work Sept. 6 for a special legislative session to cut income taxes. The Republican told reporters gathered in his Capitol office that he wants lawmakers to cut the top income tax rate from 5.3% to 4.8% and increase the standard deduction by $2,000 for single filers and $4,000 for couples. A single adult caring for two children and making at most $35,000 a year would see income taxes drop by about $140 a year, according to estimates provided by the governor’s office. Parson specified that, based on the limits in his special session call, lawmakers cannot cut income taxes so deeply that the state loses more than $700 million per year in revenue. The governor also recommended cutting income taxes entirely for individuals who make $16,000 or less in a year or for couples filing jointly who make less than $32,000. Missouri has more money on hand than ever before, thanks partly to a combination of inflation, higher wages and federal funds. The state closed out its 2022 fiscal year with a general revenue balance of nearly $4.9 billion – more than double the previous record set just one year ago.
West Yellowstone: Cleanup continued Monday after a fuel pup trailer rolled onto its side in Yellowstone National Park last week and spilled gasoline, park officials said. The accident, which happened about 4 a.m. Friday on U.S. Highway 191 in the western side of the park, spilled 4,800 gallons of gasoline onto the roadway and into a wetland adjacent to the highway, the Environmental Protection Agency said. While the wetland feeds into nearby Grayling Creek, there had been no reports of gasoline reaching the creek. Crews were working Monday to clean up fuel, pump contaminated water, and excavate contaminated soil in and around the wetland, said Katherine Jenkins, a spokesperson for the EPA. Park law enforcement cited the truck driver for failure to maintain control, said park spokesperson Morgan Warthin.
Lincoln: A state lawmaker from Omaha is promising to introduce a bill to legalize medical marijuana after similar measures failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the November ballot. State Sen. Jen Day said in a news release Tuesday that she will introduce legislation in the upcoming legislative session slated to begin Jan. 4. “We will exhaust every measure possible to get Nebraskans the medical freedom they deserve and want,” Day said. Her announcement came a day after Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen announced that the Medical Cannabis Patient Protections Initiative and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Initiative failed to get the nearly 87,000 signatures required to get on the Nov. 8 ballot. The failure did not come as a surprise. Organizers announced in early July that they would likely miss the signature goal needed to make the November ballot, citing the death of one of the effort’s top donors. That forced organizers to rely primarily on volunteers.
Reno: As students move into a repaired and remodeled college dormitory for the first time since it exploded three years ago, the legal battle over who is to blame has just started. More than 700 students, mostly freshmen, will be living in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Argenta Hall when the fall semester starts Monday. “Argenta is back,” UNR President Brian Sandoval announced Aug. 16 during a reception to thank contractors, architects and university staff for helping to rebuild and for getting through the past three years. On July 5, 2019, an explosion left the eight-story residence hall, the largest of nine dorms on campus, uninhabitable. UNR officials have often called the explosion the luckiest disaster: No one was seriously hurt when a pipeline in the boiler room filled air ducts and elevator shafts with gas, causing a massive explosion that rattled campus, twisted metal, blasted appliances across rooms and broke windows. A lawsuit filed in June by UNR’s insurance company says the company that serviced the boiler is to blame and responsible for millions in costs. A status conference with both parties is scheduled with Washoe District Court Judge Egan Walker at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Concord: Election monitors have been appointed in Windham, Bedford and one ward in Laconia for the state’s Sept. 13 primary after problems were found in vote counting or the administration of elections in November 2020, the attorney general’s office said. The office said in a news release Monday that the monitors are appointed to work with election officials and review the conduct of the upcoming election to ensure compliance with state law. Following the November 2020 election, the Windham election review found “administrative shortcomings and significant inaccuracies in vote counts due to the processing of incorrectly folded ballots,” the office said. In Bedford, the election review found that election officials inadvertently failed to count 190 absentee ballots “due to misplacing a container of ballots during election day processing,” according to the attorney general’s office. The office said the Laconia Ward 6 election review found that “election officials inadvertently failed to count 179 ballots from 2020 elections that were cast but left in a ballot collection box, as well as some officials double-counting dozens of ballots” in the November 2020 election. The election monitors are required by law to produce a report within 30 days of the state primary election.
Annandale: After a school year of fighting personal attacks and opposing the removal of LGBTQ books from school libraries, North Hunterdon High School librarian Martha Hickson was awarded the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity by the American Library Association. Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, presented Hickson with the award − a $10,000 prize, a certificate and an “odd, symbolic object” from Handler’s private collection − at the ALA’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., in June. The award annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact. During the 2021-22 school year, Hickson was personally targeted when parents and other community members sought to remove five books that are LGBTQ-themed from the North Hunterdon High School library, which she opposed. The group labeled her as a “pornographer” and “pedophile” for providing children with access to the books in question, and she received hate mail, threats, nuisance vandalism, and questions about her judgment and integrity. She said the adversity became so pervasive and extreme that her blood pressure and anxiety rose to a dangerous point, and her physician removed her from the workplace.
Albuquerque: More than four grueling months and $300 million later, the federal government has declared the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s recorded history 100% contained, a notable milestone but just another step in what local residents and officials say will be a long journey toward recovery. The blaze was sparked in the spring by two errant prescribed fires conducted by the U.S. Forest Service. More than 530 square miles of the Rocky Mountain foothills burned, hundreds of homes were destroyed, livelihoods were lost, and drinking water supplies were contaminated. Local officials say there are years of work ahead of them to restore the landscape and protect against post-fire flooding. San Miguel County Manager Joy Ansley and her team have been working nonstop since the first plumes of smoke began rising from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They helped coordinate the evacuation of thousands of people from small mountain villages and worked with the state and the city of Las Vegas as flames approached. With the summer rainy season in full swing, Ansley said parts of northern New Mexico are flooding on a weekly basis. “It’s going to be a long process, and just because the fire is contained, we’re certainly not out of the woods,” she said Tuesday.
Rochester: A couple whom a Black firefighter accused of throwing a racist pool party this summer mocking the Juneteenth holiday said Tuesday that the party was intended to ridicule liberal politicians but wasn’t bigoted. The couple, dentist Nicholas Nicosia and real estate agent Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia, said their July 7 party had been mischaracterized, but Znidarsic-Nicosia confessed to running a racist Twitter account. According to a legal notice filed by firefighter Jerrod Jones, the Nicosias’ party featured a display mocking the Juneteenth holiday, which celebrates the end of slavery in the 19th century, with Juneteenth flags displayed over buckets of fried chicken. Jones, a 14-year veteran of the fire department, said his captain forced him and two co-workers to attend the party while on duty. He filed a notice of claim against the city of Rochester and the fire department seeking at least $3 million for emotional distress and at least $1 million in compensatory damages. The fire captain, Jeffrey Krywy, was suspended by the department and later retired. Znidarsic-Nicosia did admit to running an anonymous Twitter account that posted racist images and content but denied being racist. “I have made blatantly racist comments under that persona,” she said. “The culture of Twitter operates that way. It gives you an opportunity to be someone you’re not.”
Raleigh: North Carolina’s most powerful state senator said Tuesday that he would prefer to have approved restrictions on abortion after roughly the first three months of pregnancy. Senate leader Phil Berger, speaking before convening another round of no-vote General Assembly sessions this week, also said he would support exceptions to any prohibition following the first trimester, such as in situations of rape and incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. The views of Berger, R-Rockingham County, would appear to represent a more tempered effort compared to GOP legislators in North Carolina and other states who want to outlaw abortion or dramatically scale it back following a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade. A federal judge last week reinstated a North Carolina law that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy save for urgent medical emergencies. Incest and rape exceptions currently are not granted in state law. The first trimester is usually defined as 12 or 13 weeks of pregnancy. “I would say that after the first trimester, the state has an absolute interest in regulating the incidence of abortion,” Berger told reporters. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland County, and Berger have said no potential action on abortion would occur until next year.
Bismarck: The main group working to legalize recreational marijuana in the state has more than a half-million dollars to press its case – far more than the mostly shoe-leather effort on which it relied four years ago. Meanwhile, a major oil industry group that helped fund opposition last time says it will sit on the sidelines this time. The North Dakota Petroleum Council will not contribute to the fight the pot legalization effort that will appear on the November general election ballot, said Ron Ness, the group’s president. “It’s one of those things where we only have so many resources,” said Ness, whose group represents several hundred companies. Ness said 1 in 6 North Dakota jobs is directly or indirectly tied to the state’s oil industry. Most oil-field jobs require drug testing, and legalizing pot would likely shrink the employment pool, he said. The energy group contributed $30,000 to the failed statewide ballot effort in 2018 to legalize recreational marijuana. It was among a group of lawyers, law enforcement and business leaders that pushed opposition. The Greater North Dakota Chamber, the state’s largest business organization, contributed $64,000 to oppose the measure in 2018. CEO and President Arik Spencer said the group hasn’t decided whether it will help fund or even support another opposition effort.
Columbus: Two constitutional amendments have cleared their last big hurdle before heading to November ballots – one seeking bail reform, the other prohibiting noncitizens from voting. The specific language for describing the amendments was approved Monday by the Ohio Ballot Board, a panel of legislative appointees led by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican. The Legislature had sent the amendments in June to be put on the ballot. Issue 1, the amendment on bail, would change the conditions and amount of money needed to release someone. Bail would no longer be a standard set by the state. Instead, it would be up to a judge’s discretion based on factors such as public safety, including the seriousness of an offense, an individual’s criminal record, the likelihood a person will commit another offense, or “any other factor the General Assembly may prescribe.” The proposal followed a ruling by a divided Ohio Supreme Court in January, which said a $1.5 million bond for a Cincinnati man accused of fatally shooting a man during a robbery was too high. The language cleared the committee unanimously. The second amendment, Issue 2, would prohibit local governments from allowing non-U.S. citizens to vote in local elections. They are already prohibited from voting in federal and state elections.
Oklahoma City: Green or red – the colors will symbolize life or death, mercy or no mercy, in a prominent anti-death penalty display outside a northwest Oklahoma City church. Twenty-five crosses have been erected along the front lawn of The Lazarus Community at Clark Memorial United Methodist Church, each representing a person the state is scheduled to execute, beginning Thursday with James Coddington, and extending into 2024. The Rev. Bo Ireland, the church’s pastor, said the crosses – each 6 feet tall and about 4 feet wide – are hard to miss along a busy thoroughfare. But he said they’ll be even more eye-catching in the coming days and weeks. Ireland and a group of volunteers spray-painted the large crosses white Monday, but they won’t stay that way. “If James Coddington is executed, we will paint one of these crosses red, and if he is granted clemency, we will paint it green,” Ireland said. Coddington is set to be executed by lethal injection at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1997 murder of Albert Hale. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended clemency for Coddington in early August. It is up to Gov. Kevin Stitt to decide whether the death row inmate is granted clemency or executed Thursday.
Salem: A new microshelter village for unsheltered residents is set to open in south Salem after the City Council allocated funds for the project Monday night. The council voted unanimously to direct $750,000 in state sheltering grant funds to fund a microshelter village at Turner Road SE near Church at the Park, which owns the property there. The money was previously allocated to establish and operate a safe park program on Front Street, but staff said the location is no longer cost-efficient due to higher than anticipated costs. “Startup expenses will exceed original projections, leaving less for operations,” city staff said in a report to council Thursday. “For example, environmentally friendly sanitation services for up to 40 recreational vehicles requires a high level of up-front investment. The lease for the property ends in December 2023.” The Turner Road location was one of three locations Salem City Council approved for microshelters in a Jan. 24 meeting. Another was Front Street. Work is currently underway to relocate the Village of Hope shelter site to the other location approved on Center Street. Local advocates have made it their goal to have microshelter villages throughout the city in all eight wards. A community effort has raised more than $770,000 in donations – enough for at least 154 shelters.
Harrisburg: Last week, searches for the word “crudités” on Dictionary.com spiked by more than 10,000% after Dr. Mehmet Oz mentioned the raw vegetable appetizer in an online video that went viral in the worst way possible for the U.S. Senate candidate. “Thought I’d do some grocery shopping. I’m at Wegners,” the GOP nominee says at the outset of the TikTok video, apparently jumbling the names of supermarket chains Redner’s and Wegmans by accident. The clip continues as Oz scans the produce section and grabs a head of broccoli, a bag of whole carrots, asparagus, salsa and guacamole in an awkward attempt to make a point about inflation. Cradling his vegetables, he announces aghast that the total at the register would come to $20 – for crudité! But few besides Oz seemed to know what that is. “In PA we call this … a veggie tray,” Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Oz’s Democratic opponent in the Senate race, tweeted dryly after the video started to blow up. But even after figuring out what a “crudité” was, the internet still had many questions for Oz. Why didn’t he have a shopping basket? Why did he feel salsa and guacamole would be appropriate dips for raw vegetables? Who eats uncooked asparagus? The TikTok video has racked up 4.4 million views to date and has been shared thousands of times on Twitter, generally accompanied by snarky comments. Fetterman wasted no time capitalizing on Oz’s social media mishap, reportedly raising $500,000 in just 24 hours after the clip went viral.
Providence: Federal officials have declared a drought-related disaster in the state. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Monday declared all five of Rhode Island’s counties as “primary natural disaster areas” because of the ongoing drought. The declaration allows eligible farms to be considered for low-interest, emergency loans and other assistance from the department’s Farm Service Agency. Farmers have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for the assistance. “This prolonged drought has been tough on many Rhode Island farmers, harming the yield and quality of crops,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who earlier this month requested the disaster declaration, said in a statement. “This federal declaration is good news for the state and should help mitigate some of the production losses local farmers are facing.” Rhode Island saw less than 0.5 inches of rain in July, compared to an average of 2.5 inches, according to Reed’s office. More than 99% of the state is experiencing extreme drought.
Columbia: The director of the state’s Department of Mental Health is giving up the post he’s held for two years, officials said. Dr. Kenneth Rogers, a psychiatrist hired to run the agency in April 2020, announced Thursday at an executive session of a meeting of the Mental Health Commission that he would be leaving the department effective Nov. 1, The State reports. Rogers emailed agency staff Friday shortly after The State reported news of his resignation, to announce his pending departure and thank them for their support. “You have shown incredible fortitude as we have faced extraordinary challenges, and I am proud to work with you,” he wrote. “While I am moving on to a new opportunity, I will forever be grateful for returning to SCDMH and for all I have learned during my tenure as state director.” Rogers did not disclose his next move to staff but pledged to send more information about what to expect in the near future and said he was confident the agency would be in “capable hands” going forward. The seven-member Mental Health Commission, which is appointed by the governor, will select the agency’s next director with confirmation from the Senate. Commission Chairman Greg Pearce said the board was surprised by Rogers’ announcement and had not asked him to resign.
Aberdeen: Gov. Kristi Noem has suggested she won’t push back if voters approve a recreational marijuana ballot measure this fall. The Republican governor talked about the possible future of legal cannabis in South Dakota during a visit to Aberdeen last week. Residents will once again vote on the issue when Initiated Measure 27 appears on the ballot in November. “From what I’ve seen, this amendment this year that will be on the ballot is written more appropriately towards the Constitution,” Noem said Friday at the Brown County Fair. In 2020, Amendment A sought to legalize recreational marijuana. It was approved by voters but struck down by the South Dakota Supreme Court after justices ruled that the amendment violated a provision in the constitution requiring amendments to encompass only one subject. Noem was an opponent of Amendment A two years ago. At her request, state Highway Superintendent Rick Miller and Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom filed the lawsuit that led to the court battle. Noem said that her job as governor is to implement the recreational marijuana resolution if it’s approved by voters in November. Unlike Amendment A, Initiated Measure 27 does not include tax and regulatory stipulations. Those will be left up to the Legislature.
Nashville: Disgraced former Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada and his top aide were arrested Tuesday on federal charges including bribery, kickbacks and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Their indictments follow the abrupt resignation in March of Republican state Rep. Robin Smith, who pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges involving Casada and his chief of staff, Cade Cothren. Afterward, speculation swirled about what additional charges might come in the corruption probe. FBI agents arrested Casada and Cothren at their homes Tuesday morning. If convicted, they each face up to 20 years in prison. Both pleaded not guilty Tuesday and received pretrial release with travel restricted to the middle district of Tennessee unless otherwise approved. The 20-count charging document alleges Casada and Cothren exploited their positions of power by working with another unnamed lawmaker to funnel money to themselves using a political consulting firm – known as Phoenix Solutions, LLC – to conceal their involvement. Cothren registered the firm in New Mexico because the state allows anonymous registration of LLCs, and he rebuffed requests for in-person meetings with Casada’s fellow lawmakers, saying the company representatives were out of state.
Austin: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, accused of acting unethically and dishonestly when he worked to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory in 2020, has turned to his agency for help in a legal battle that could put his law license in jeopardy. A State Bar of Texas disciplinary committee sued Paxton in May, arguing he should be sanctioned for violating his duties as an attorney by lying to the U.S. Supreme Court when he said Texas had substantial proof that voting fraud propelled Biden to victory in four swing states. Paxton “knew or should have known” that his claims were false, misleading and unsupported by credible evidence, the bar argued. Paxton responded in June by asking a state judge to dismiss the lawsuit as an unconstitutional check on his power and a politically motivated attack based on his support for fellow Republican Donald Trump. State District Judge Casey Blair of Kaufman County is scheduled to hear arguments on Paxton’s motion during a Wednesday morning hearing in Kaufman, about 30 miles southeast of Dallas. The Texas Attorney General’s Office entered the fray last week when it asked state District Judge Casey Blair of Kaufman County to allow the agency to join the case on Paxton’s behalf.
Salt Lake City: Democrats are demanding that Gov. Spencer Cox’s pick to head the Department of Natural Resources resign his legislative seat and withdraw from the November ballot, saying it violates the state constitution for him to serve in both roles. Cox selected Republican state Rep. Joel Ferry as the agency’s executive director, a Cabinet position. Ferry has been serving in an acting role pending his confirmation by the Utah Senate, but he’s hanging onto his legislative seat and remains on the ballot in House District 1. The Utah Democratic Party says that violates the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches set out in the Utah Constitution, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The governor’s office has previously argued that it doesn’t because Ferry resigned from legislative committees and assignments that would govern natural resources-related issues, and he is not taking any compensation for his legislative role. Legal counsel for the Utah Democratic Party and Joshua Hardy, Ferry’s opponent in November, wrote to Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson’s office Thursday asking for Ferry to be disqualified from the ballot since he’s ineligible to hold office if he is reelected.
Montpelier: The state’s primary election results have been certified after a delay caused by a technical issue, Secretary of State Jim Condos announced Tuesday. The vote tallies and winners in the Aug. 9 primary were certified as official at a meeting of the canvassing committee Monday, he said. “The tri-partisan certification of election results as official is an important step in verifying the accuracy and integrity of our election results,” Condos said in a statement. “Vermonters deserve to have 100% confidence that official vote totals accurately reflect the ballots cast by voters. That is why results are carefully reviewed and certified by a member of each major political party.” Of the 133,578 ballots cast, 809 were deemed defective, his office said. Of those, 492 were fixed by voters under the new ballot-curing provisions of Vermont’s election law, leaving 317 defective ballots that were unable to be counted, he said. That amounts to a very low defective ballot rate under 0.25%, he said. The secretary of state’s office said a week ago that the certification was delayed because a state contractor had been unable to resolve a technology issue affecting the office’s ability to produce reports from votes submitted by town and city clerks.
Fairfax: Police say their efforts to inform a school system about the arrest of a counselor on solicitation charges were thwarted by undeliverable emails. Fairfax County Public Schools has launched an investigation into how Darren Thornton, 50, was able to keep his job as a counselor at Glasgow Middle School for 20 months after his arrest on charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor in November 2020. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin and others criticized the school system after police in Chesterfield County, where Thornton was arrested, said they informed school administrators in Fairfax County at the time of the arrest in 2020. Now, though, Chesterfield police say the emails they sent back in 2020 never went through. In a statement posted Tuesday on Facebook, Chesterfield County police Chief Jeffrey Katz said the email addresses his agency used had typos in them. “I think it is important not to lose sight of the fact that our staff caught Thornton (twice),” Katz said. “We made good faith efforts (twice) to ensure he was appropriately dealt with by the criminal justice system and his employer.” Thornton was arrested as part of an online sting when a police officer posing as a 17-year-old connected with Thornton over the internet.
George: The Grant County Sheriff’s Office believes its deputies stopped a man from carrying out a mass shooting at the Gorge Amphitheater on Friday night. The sheriff’s office said people at the event and security personnel told them about 9 p.m. of a man in the parking lot near his vehicle, KOIN-TV reports. Witnesses saw the man inhale an unknown substance from a balloon and then load two 9 mm pistols from the trunk of his car, according to the sheriff’s office. Witnesses also told investigators the man put one gun in the waistband of his pants and the other in a holster that was outside his waistband. Witnesses say he then approached concertgoers and asked what time the concert ended and where they would be leaving the venue. The sheriff’s office said the man, identified as Jonathan Moody of Ephrata, Washington, was stopped by security outside the gates and disarmed. The sheriff’s office said no one was injured. After investigating, deputies arrested Moody on suspicion of one count of possession of a dangerous weapon and one count of unlawful carrying or handling of a weapon. Moody was lodged in the Grant County Jail. It wasn’t immediately known if he had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
Charleston: A rainy summer has set a record in the state capital. With a month still left in the summer, the 23.23 inches of rain that have fallen in Charleston since June 21 broke the mark of 23.13 inches set in 1958, the National Weather Service said. Nearly 4 inches of rain fell last week in the Charleston area. Flooding in parts of Kanawha and Fayette counties prompted Gov. Jim Justice to declare a state of emergency. Five of the 10 rainiest summers in Charleston have occurred this century. The others happened in 2003, 2006, 2013 and 2018, the weather service said.
Madison: Republicans who control the Legislature asked a judge Tuesday to dismiss Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion ban. Kaul filed the lawsuit in June after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that essentially legalized abortion across the country. The ruling gave states the authority to regulate abortion on their own, putting Wisconsin’s ban back into play. The ban prohibits abortions in every instance except to save the mother’s life. Kaul’s lawsuit argues that the ban conflicts with a 1985 Wisconsin law that allows abortions before a fetus has grown enough that it could survive outside the womb. That point in time is unclear; some physicians say it’s about 20 weeks, others around 28 weeks. The attorney general also argues that the ban is unenforceable because it has become obsolete. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board and former Democratic state Rep. Sheldeon Wasserman, who works as an obstetrician and gynecologist, have joined Kaul as plaintiffs in the case. Senate President Chris Kapenga, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMehieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, all named defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court.
Jackson: The state has lost its holdout status in the monkeypox outbreak, with the Wyoming Health Department reporting Monday morning that a case has been detected in Laramie County, the Jackson Hole News&Guide reports.
From USA TODAY Network and wire reports
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cross statement, injection sites: News from around our 50 states