County News

News from Across the Nation - Nov. 27, 2017

MARYLAND

Supporters of a hike in the minimum wage crowd a room Nov. 13 in MONTGOMERY COUNTY, where county officials signed an ordinance it into law. Beginning in 2021, businesses with at least 51 employees but pay a minimum of $15 per hour. Businesses with 11 to 50 employees must pay at least $15 an hour by 2023. Those with 10 or fewer must pay the new wage by 2024. The county is the only jurisdiction to mandate the wage in a state that has not enacted similar legislation statewide, The Washington Post reports. There was some pushback from the business community on the wage hike. 
“In most debates there are gives and takes,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who signed the wage hike into law. “Montgomery County has done what is right, what is appropriate and what is reasonable under the circumstances and conditions.”

Photo courtesy of Montgomery County, Md.

CALIFORNIA

►LOS ANGELES COUNTY District Attorney Jackie Lacey has created a special task force to deal with the growing number of sexual misconduct accusations in the entertainment industry and elsewhere, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Prosecutors will “ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution,” Lacey said in a statement.

 

►STANISLAUS COUNTY is sifting through its first marijuana business applications, according to the Modesto Bee. Applicants are hoping to operate indoor cultivation, nurseries, greenhouses, distribution, manufacturing facilities and testing labs as well as storefront retail outlets. Staff members will screen, vet and review applications before making recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. Officials believe fees — 8 percent of gross sales, 2.5 percent for testing labs and $5 to $10 per square foot for indoor cultivation — could generate an annual $4 million to $7 million for the county. The county will use some of the funds to take action against illegal operators and deal with any social ills of marijuana use.

 

COLORADO

►JEFFERSON COUNTY is housing inmates together who are veterans to help them try to break the incarceration cycle, the Denver Post reports. The arrangement is designed to give veterans quick access to training and classes provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs and make it easier to get information about housing, health care and other services when they get out.

►The EL PASO COUNTY Criminal Justice Center began a similar program in 2013. Those living in the unit have their military service in common and become a “self-regulating body,” with vets providing information and help to one another, said Nathan Viton, veterans’ justice outreach coordinator for the VA in Denver.

 

FLORIDA

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY recently passed a new short-term rental ordinance introduced by Commissioner Sally Heyman. Among the new stipulations: Hosts must sign up for a certificate of use, register for a business tax receipt, screen for sexual offenders and enforce a number of “vacation rental standards” on their guests. The certificate of use must be renewed annually and can be revoked if the property has three or more violations in 12 months. Miami-Dade is among Airbnb’s top five regions in the country, and the county has collected more than $2 million in taxes from renters since reaching a taxing agreement back in May.

 

MINNESOTA

Six people out of 17 with tuberculosis have died in the past two years in RAMSEY COUNTY, according to a report by Twin Cities Pioneer Press. Of the 17 cases, 14 were in the Hmong community and 10 are associated with individuals who participate in activities at a senior center, said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease at the state department of health. Though it’s the largest outbreak in the country, Ehresmann said it does not pose a concern to the general public. Because the organism has developed resistance to at least two drugs, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis treatments cost on average $134,000, the newspaper reported. 

 

MISSISSIPPI

ADAMS COUNTY Supervisor Ricky Gray took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting. “It’s just something I felt led to do at the time,” he told the Clarion-Ledger. “We are a divided community here, and I felt it was necessary to do something to bring attention to it.” Gray said he received messages from residents thanking him for doing it and agreeing that “the message needed to be sent.” When asked what the reaction was in the room after he knelt, he laughed.

“There was no reaction,” he said. “I don’t think they were surprised because I’ve talked about this issue so much.” Gray told the newspaper he was “not sure” if he would kneel again. “If the Lord tells me to kneel, then I’ll kneel.”

 

NEVADA

Feeding feral pigeons in CLARK COUNTY is now a public nuisance violation punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail, after commissioners voted to outlaw the practice in unincorporated parts of the county. The ban extends to public property, private businesses and residents’ homes.

 

OHIO

►CUYAHOGA COUNTY will help fund a new emergency family homeless shelter in Cleveland. The Haven Home, which can accommodate 36 people, will be coordinated with a social services caseworker who can help direct families to permanent, stable housing, Cleveland Scene reported.

►HAMILTON COUNTY will not use hotel tax money to help soccer team FC Cincinnati pay for roads, pipes and a parking garage to support a soccer-only stadium. Commissioners encouraged the team to use county-funded Paul Brown Stadium, instead, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

 

OREGON

Starting in 2018, retailers that sell tobacco-related products in KLAMATH COUNTY’s seat or unincorporated areas will have to pay for special licensing, a measure county officials say could help prevent sales to minors. A business that sells tobacco without a license could lose its tobacco-selling privileges

 

PENNSYLVANIA

A new filing fee for deeds and mortgage filings will fund the demolition of blighted properties in WESTMORELAND COUNTY.

The Recorder of Deeds’ office told the Tribune-Review that at least 22,000 deeds and mortgages would likely be filed in 2018, raising about $330,000 for the demolition fund. The county’s land bank includes about 900 blighted properties.

 

VIRGINIA

►FAIRFAX COUNTY is seeing a boom in craft breweries after adding the industry into its zoning code. Since the change in March, five breweries have opened.

►With development rapidly transforming LOUDOUN COUNTY, the Board of Supervisors is considering taking control of traffic studies, which are currently performed by developers. The county uses those privately conducted studies to determine what roads need to be built or altered before the county grants approval for a land-use application, but some supervisors question the independence of those studies, WTOP News reported.

►RICHMOND COUNTY has become the second county in Virginia, after AUGUSTA, to ban hydraulic fracturing. The Free-Lance Star reported that the Board chairman cited the protection of county’s water quality as the impetus for the ban.

 

WASHINGTON

The KING COUNTY Council has approved more than $600,000 to target accused domestic abusers who refuse to turn over their firearms to police.

That money will fund more police and prosecutors to enforce orders to surrender guns, as federal law requires of people served with domestic violence protection orders. Nearly 400 domestic violence victims have been shot to death in Washington state in the last 10 years, and King 5 News reports that each year more than 2,000 criminal and civil protection orders are filed in courts in King County. 


News from Across the Nation is compiled by Charlie Ban and Mary Ann Barton, senior staff writers. If you have an item for News From, please email cban@naco.org or mbarton@naco.org.

 

Contact the Editor

Bev Schlotterbeck
Executive Editor
(202) 942-4249
bschlott@naco.org