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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

Gov. Hochul signs new NY congressional maps into law

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Thursday, February 29, 2024   

Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed new congressional maps into law.

The move comes a few days after Democrats in the legislature rejected maps drawn by the state's Independent Redistricting Commission. Lawmakers felt the commission's maps were too similar to 2022 maps, which heavily favored Republicans. Rejecting those maps sent the state back to square one after the New York Supreme Court ordered new maps to be drawn last year.

Jeffrey M. Wice, adjunct professor and senior fellow at the New York Law School's New York Census and Redistricting Institute, said the state's redistricting process was designed to fail.

"It was based on a constitutional amendment approved by the voters in 2014 that was poorly conceived," Wice asserted. "It had faulty wording and it left lots of loose ends."

He added the amendment was specifically designed to retain the then-Republican majority in the state Senate. Approval of the most recent maps ends New York's redistricting debate at least for now. But Wice thinks now is the time for lawmakers to work on making the redistricting process more transparent, with more public input and perhaps a new amendment to the state Constitution.

Voting rights advocates were equally concerned about the commission's maps. Some worried they had created districts where majority-white communities could overrule the needs of minority voters.

Rosemary Rivera, executive director of Citizen Action of New York, said it would have taken power away from those who need it most.

"People who are low-income, people of color who have a hard time accessing power to begin with, and then, you begin to dilute their voice and vote," Rivera outlined. "It becomes a problem in terms of what we truly want, which is an inclusive and representative democracy."

While some are happy the new maps unify previously disconnected communities, others feel more could have been done. Rivera added several districts across New York City are still splitting minority communities, leaving them without as much power to elect candidates they want.

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


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