skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Friday, March 1, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Watchdog group gives IL lawmakers 'F' for redistricting process

play audio
Play

Friday, October 13, 2023   

A national watchdog group studied how all 50 states handle the biennial process of redrawing their congressional district lines - and has given Illinois a failing grade.

Common Cause issued its report this week, analyzing how effective each state has been in drawing fair, independent and balanced district maps. Only two states - California and Massachusetts - earned an "A" while 17 states were in the "D" or "F" category.

Dan Vicuña, national redistricting director for Common Cause, said there was a consistent thread among the states that rated poorly.

"The states that rank near the bottom shared some things in common," he said, "which include a lack of transparency and an unwillingness to give the public much, or any, notice about when meetings would take place; having redistricting hearings for the public during traditional working hours."

The report said Illinois was a "nearly perfect model" for everything that can go wrong with redistricting. The state Legislature scheduled hearings in places and at times when many people could not attend. The report said the result was heavily gerrymandered in favor of Democrats, which drew lawsuits from a half-dozen civil-rights groups.

To improve the process, Vicuña said, Illinois needs to develop a nonpartisan system or commission with broad representation to draw up districts, hold well-advertised hearings in public places after work hours, increase language assistance and improve access for people with disabilities.

"States that find a different path and take that power away and create citizen commissions, create bipartisan, multi-partisan processes for drawing districts - keeping political insiders boxed out of the process, and making redistricting community-centered - has resulted in great success," he said.

Vicuña said Illinois lawmakers drew congressional and state legislative districts through the legislative process, using it in this cycle to protect a Democratic supermajority. Reformers have twice put ballot initiatives in front of voters to create independent, citizen redistricting commissions in the last decade, winning both times. However, both laws were subsequently struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court.


get more stories like this via email

more stories
House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

play sound

The Alabama House and Senate both passed bills this week that would help people resume in vitro fertilization and provide legal protections for provid…


Environment

play sound

It's early in the season for wildfires in Nebraska, but dozens of firefighters have already been battling a large wildfire near North Platte for …

Social Issues

play sound

A new report finds some Missouri laws and prospective laws are perceived as discriminatory regardless of their actual intent - and it outlines some bi…


Many transmission projects already follow highway corridors, but depending on the state, policy experts say laws can make it harder to add new power lines along federal interstates. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

play sound

By Frank Jossi for Energy News Network.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Minnesota News Connection reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-Pub…

Environment

play sound

By Claire Carlson, John Upton and Kaitlyn Trudeau for The Daily Yonder.Broadcast version by Mark Richardson for Oregon News Service for the Public …

From book bans to teacher qualifications, a new national report from the Network of Public Education examines the laws and policies that support or undermine each state's public schools and the students who attend them. (Pixabay)

Social Issues

play sound

A new Network for Public Education report grades Florida an "F" for its public school funding. As Florida lawmakers negotiate the state budget in …

Social Issues

play sound

As members of Congress and presidential candidates battle it out over immigration, a group of Nevada leaders and experts dedicated to advancing …

Social Issues

play sound

A bill in Olympia would open access to unemployment while workers are on strike, but time is running out for lawmakers to pass the legislation…

 

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