Thursday, September 16, 2021

Play

Hundreds of wealthy Americans back the Biden Build Back Better Act; Roger Stone is served with a warrant on live radio; and family caregivers are in need of assistance.

Play

Virginia gubernatorial candidates debate; former federal prosecutor Michael Sussmann indicted for lying to FBI; lawmakers set to question oil industry over climate disinformation; and FDA scientists express skepticism over booster shots.

Play

Lawsuits stall debt relief for America's Black farmers; Idaho hospitals using "critical care" protocols; grant money boosts rural towns in Utah and more conservation acreage could protect the iconic sage grouse.

Bill Would Give Public Comment Time for New MA Voting District Maps

Play

Tuesday, July 13, 2021   

BOSTON -- Every ten years, after the Census, local municipalities usually draw new precinct boundaries before state lawmakers draw new voting districts, but a bill passed by both the Massachusetts House and Senate could change that.

Block-by-block Census data needed for redistricting and what's known as "reprecincting" was supposed to be available in April.

Beth Huang, executive director of the nonprofit Massachusetts Voter Table, which is part of the Drawing Democracy Coalition, said the pandemic and the former administration's politicization of the Census have delayed the data until Sep. 30.

That leaves just over a month to get the new maps ready, which Huang pointed out needs to happen at least a year before the next Election Day.

"State representatives need to live in the districts to which they're elected for a full year before the election," Huang explained. "That means that our constitutional deadline for redrawing districts is November 8th."

She added if reprecincting needs to happen before redistricting, there is no chance of having enough time to get residents' input on the new maps. How maps are drawn can affect communities' abilities to build voting coalitions to hold their officials accountable on issues that matter most to them.

To reduce historical racial gerrymandering, the Voting Rights Act includes a provision which requires states to have majority-minority districts; that is, districts where a majority of voters represent a minority racial or linguistic community.

Huang noted sometimes, cities draw precincts of vastly different sizes, which can make redistricting at the state level more difficult.

"If you have these different-sized building blocks, these different-sized precincts, and Voting Rights Act considerations at the same time, there are constraints on two different sides," Huang remarked.

She added efforts are always underway to increase public participation, and make political representation in the Commonwealth more equitable. She thinks Gov. Baker should sign the bill into law, emphasizing the importance of a transparent process.


get more stories like this via email
Oregon's Hispanic population grew 30% from 2010 to 2020. (Gstudio/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hispanic Heritage Month began this week, and will be celebrated through Oct. 15. Oregon has a rapidly growing Hispanic population…


Social Issues

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- As the Biden administration challenges a Texas law restricting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, Planned Parenthood for …

Social Issues

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Social Security, the program credited with lifting 15 million older residents in Wyoming and across the U.S. out of poverty…


Arkansas' rental-assistance program has distributed funds to more than 3,200 households in the state. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas has made some changes to its state rent relief program to make it easier to distribute assistance to residents…

Environment

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The historic clean-energy bill signed into Illinois law yesterday includes measures from closing coal and natural gas plants by 2…

Indiana ranks 44th out of 50 states for bankruptcy. (Andriy Blokhin/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

INDIANAPOLIS -- A new coalition is forming to push back against predatory lending and urge state lawmakers to take action to protect consumers…

Social Issues

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 200 high earners have written a letter urging Congress to raise taxes to help support social safety-net programs that …

Health and Wellness

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Limiting women's access to abortion and other reproductive health care can have a devastating impact on state economies. According …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021