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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

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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