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South Dakota Activates Drought Task Force

With his state facing an increase in drought conditions, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard activated the state Drought Task Force in July.
The task force is responsible for exchanging drought information among government agencies and agriculture, fire and water supply organizations, according a press release issued by the governor’s office. The group also is monitoring any drought condition developments and the potential impact it might have on the state’s economy.
“We have been closely tracking weather patterns, and the Drought Task Force will give us a forum to exchange facts and data so our citizens can count of having the most up-to-date information as they respond to the drought,” Daugaard said.
Prior to the formation of the task force, the state Department of Agriculture, Office of Emergency Management and the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service had been tracking the drought.
Members of the Drought Task Force include representatives from the governor’s office, the departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Game, Fish and Parks; and Public Safety, Bureau of Information and Telecommunications, South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, state climatologist, federal Farm Service Agency, South Dakota National Guard and the South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems.
The task force held its first meeting July 23 and launched its website July 26. The website includes links to drought-related news releases, drought monitoring and weather conditions and agricultural information, The Associated Press reported. 
 
RECALL COSTS
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released in July information outlining the record-setting $80.9 million spent on the June 5 recall race for governor. Gov. Scott Walker and his supporters spent $58.7 million, while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his supporters and the three Democrats he defeated in the primary spent $22 million, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The total spending was more than twice the previous spending record of $37.4 million set in the 2010 gubernatorial race.
 
BORDER PATROL
A cutting-edge U.S. Customs and Border Protection station opened in July in Maida, N.D., according to The Bismarck Tribune. The new facility, an $8.5 million project funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is equipped with state-of-the-art inspection and detection equipment. The 5,200 square-foot station boasts a canopied inspection booth, two officer work stations and two pedestrian processing counters. Holding cells, interview rooms and storage areas are also new elements to the facility.
 
REDUCING ELDER ABUSE
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed several laws in July intended to protect the elderly, The Associated Press reported. Under one new law, prosecutors can ask a court to freeze the assets of someone charged with financially exploiting an elderly person. Another important measure gives police and fire departments access to reports of elderly abuse, neglect or financial exploitation. In the past, that information could only be accessed if an instance of abuse had been reported to them.
 
MEDICAID
The Ohio Governor’s Office of Health Transformation in July announced the state’s Medicaid program will become a freestanding state agency. The $18 billion program will split from the Department of Job and Family Services July 1, 2014, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The move is expected to increase the efficiency of the Medicaid program.
 
PRISON SERVICES
The Michigan Department of Corrections is looking to reduce the cost of prison medical services through privatization. The state sought bids for a three-year deal to provide medical services to its entire prison population. The privatization effort could possibly replace the work of 1,300 employees, according to the Lansing State Journal. The state spent $306 million on prison medical and mental health services in 2011. Proposals were due Aug. 29.



 
 
 
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