State / Local

  • Texas to appeal FEMA decision not to declare West, Texas a disaster area

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said President Obama would not declare West, Texas a disaster area in the wake of the massive fertilizer plant explosion there two months ago, and Texas governor Rick Perry is not happy. FEMA said Texas did not make the case the state lacked funds for cleanup and recovery efforts.

  • New Jersey faces costly water infrastructure upgrades

    Before Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, state officials knew they had much work ahead of them to update the state’s water infrastructure. The damage Sandy inflicted only highlighted the inadequacies of New Jersey’s outdated wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure. Upgrading the system will be costly, but not doing so will be costlier.

  • Justice Department endorses NYPD’s stop-and-frisk

    The Justice Department (DOJ) has entered the debate on the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy, telling a federal judge that DOJ endorses the program as long as there is independent oversight to monitor changes in the policy if civil rights violations occur.

  • California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant retired due to safety concerns

    Southern California Edison (SCE) has decided it will retire the San Onofre nuclear power plant located on the California coast. The decision comes after officials debated for over a year whether the twin reactors could be safely restarted. The power plant is located in a populated area, with millions living near it.

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  • Nevada lawmakers fail to restore DHS funds to Las Vegas

    Members of the Nevada congressional delegation were taken aback when they found that Las Vegas would lose DHS funding for anti-terror programs, and immediately began to work their fellow lawmakers on the Hill to add money to DHS security grants to cities. The effort failed, and Las Vegas will have to find other sources of funding for some of the city’s security programs.

  • Iowa City to ban red-light cameras, drones, license plate readers

    Iowa City could become the first city in the United States to issue a sweeping ban on three law-enforcement technologies:  drones, license plate readers, and red-light cameras. Privacy advocates say each of these technologies poses a threat to privacy, and the cumulative effect of using all three would turn America into a surveillance society.

  • Thousands of U.S. bridges in “fracture critical” condition

    There are currently 66,749 structurally deficient bridges and 84,748 functionally obsolete bridges in the United States – about a quarter of the nation’s 607,000 bridges. With declining federal funds for bridge repair, the burden of maintenance has shifted to states, which spent $28.5 billion last year on bridge work – up from $12.3 billion in 1998.

  • California Democratic lawmakers want a go-slow approach to fracking

    California may be on the verge of an oil rush. It is estimated that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, at the Monterey Shale formation may tap reserves of fifteen billion barrels of oil. Democratic lawmakers do not see it that way, and have proposed numerous anti-fracking bills aiming to control the use of the controversial technology. Ten bills have been tabled so far, and more are on the way.

  • DHS cuts funding for Las Vegas’ terrorism-related programs

    Federal aid to terrorism-related programs in Las Vegas has been steadily decreasing in recent years. Next year, the city which boasts fifteen of the world’s largest hotels, and which is home to more than forty million tourists a year, will no longer receive any DHS funds for terrorism-related security programs.

  • Oakland wants to write its own gun control laws

    The leaders of Oakland, California, say that state gun laws are not suitable for their crime-infested city. They want to write their own gun law, saying it would not ban guns, but would allow the city to have tighter controls on who owns and who is selling them and buying them.

  • Privacy, cost concerns check drive for more surveillance cameras

    Law enforcement agencies in cities across the United States are campaigning to increase surveillance on city streets, impressed with the effectiveness of video surveillance in helping the Boston Police identify the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. This campaign to expand law enforcement’s surveillance power is likely to run into stiff opposition, as Americans have proven suspicious of allowing the government powers which would infringe on privacy. Expanding surveillance networks also costs money, and these are tight budgetary times.

  • Iowa sex offenders allowed to keep guns

    A law enacted two years ago has made it possible for more than fifty sex offenders in Iowa to apply for gun permits. Sheriffs and some lawmakers are uncomfortable with the situation, but advocates for sex offender rehabilitation say such offenders are not necessarily dangerous criminals.

  • California braces for out-of-control wildfires

    The lack of precipitation over the past two winters has California and federal officials concerned about the impact wildfires could have in the summer months. California has already recorded 845 wildfires this year, a 60 percent increase compared with the average for the previous five years.  

  • Central Washington State proposed for a UAV research and testing site

    The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 enacted by Congress calls for establishing six unmanned aircraft system research and testing sites in the United States. A consortium of Washington State-based organizations will soon submit the final section of a proposal to site an unmanned aircraft system research and testing facility in central Washington. If successful, the proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will result in the FAA naming the Pacific Northwest Unmanned Aerial Systems Flight Center as one of six U.S. testing facilities later this year.

  • California considering lead ammo ban

    Health and environmental advocates are trying to make California the first state to enforce a statewide ban on the use of lead bullets for hunting. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that there are 400,000 pieces of lead shot per acre in wild game territory which can be eaten or washed into rivers and waterways. The USGS also says that 60,000 metric tons of lead fired off last year is the second largest use of lead in the United States behind batteries. The CDC reports that lead is so abundant in meat harvested through hunting, that pregnant woman and children should never eat it. The NRA opposes the ban, saying it could possibly the end of hunting in California.