Wednesday, May 25, 2022

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The nation is jolted by another mass shooting, this time at a Texas elementary school; a mixture of hope and stark realities on the 2nd anniversary of Floyd Murder; a new map shows more Americans live within oil & gas "Threat Radius."

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At least 19 children and two adults killed at Texas elementary school, President Biden delivers remarks on shooting from White House, lawmakers plead on gun control, NRA to hold conference in Houston this week, Stacey Abrams and Gov. Brian Kemp favored to win Georgia primary.

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From off-Broadway to West Virginia: the stories of the deadly Upper Big Branch mine explosion, baby formula is on its way back to grocery shelves, and federal funds will combat consolidation in meatpacking.

FL GOP's Congressional Redistricting Plan Likely Blocked for Discrimination

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Thursday, May 12, 2022   

The new congressional map - crafted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature last month, scatters more than 370,000 Black voters from being able to choose their representative - and a circuit judge says that's unconstitutional.

The ruling, which is expected to be appealed, came as no surprise to observers including those who say they tried to work on a more fairly drawn map.

State Rep. Kelly Skidmore - D-Boca Raton - is a ranking member of the House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee.

"The court recognized that this was a diminishment of Black representation in Congress," said Skidmore, "and there is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and our Fair Districts Amendment."

The challenge focuses on a north Florida district now held by Rep. Al Lawson - D-Tallahasse. The district runs from Jacksonville west more than 200 miles to Gadsden County and nearly half of its population is Black.

Lawson says he's pleased with the ruling, while the DeSantis administration issued a statement vowing to appeal.

Skidmore said everyone knew what DeSantis was proposing was unconstitutional.

She said she warned her colleagues during debate but ultimately the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate kowtowed and refused to challenge the governor with a new map of their own after he vetoed theirs.

"When I went to school, you didn't get to grade your own work," said Skidmore, "You don't get to draw the map and then get to approve the map that you drew. That's not how government is supposed to work. There were no checks and balances in that process."

The move by DeSantis prompted mostly Black lawmakers to stage a sit-in protest during the vote for the maps.

The order from the judge expected today or Friday will likely replace the DeSantis map with one of the two that the Legislature put in the bill the governor received in March.

Judge Layne Smith says he plans to follow the state constitution in his ruling. The saga is expected to reach Florida's conservative-leaning Supreme Court.





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