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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

WI fair map advocates express confidence in pending political boundaries

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Thursday, February 15, 2024   

Wisconsin is closer to adopting political maps for legislative seats advocates insist would reverse years of gerrymandered districts.

One coalition said despite some skepticism, the latest move offers hope in restoring the will of voters. This week, the Republican-led Legislature approved maps submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers as legal wrangling plays out, including the involvement of the state Supreme Court and its new liberal majority.

Iuscely Flores, co-organizing director of the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition, said if the maps are fully implemented, they will finally usher in a more balanced legislative body.

"These maps would change Wisconsin's future for years to come, and we'll definitely get rid of what happened in 2011," Flores emphasized. "It'll dismantle that partisan gerrymander."

Following the 2010 Census, Republicans were in charge of the redistricting process and have since maintained large majorities in the Legislature, despite more competitive races for statewide elections. Evers had pledged to sign the maps, but some of his fellow Democrats have misgivings about the GOP's approach, including language indicating the maps would not take effect until the general election in November, excluding any special or recall elections this year.

Some policy analysts say Republicans still might hold a slight advantage, even with Evers' maps. However, Flores argued it does not mean there will be no progress in establishing the change advocates want to see. She noted it could help bolster candidate recruitment in marginalized districts.

"Folks that might not have millions of dollars in the bank that aren't running because they're tired of big-money politics," Flores observed.

State election leaders have set a deadline of March 15 for the new maps to be in place. The hurry to update the boundaries comes after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the current legislative districts in a December ruling. The court would have to choose maps if an agreement is not finalized in time.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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