What We're Reading: Top State Stories 8/28
NC: North Carolina’s gerrymandered map is unconstitutional, judges rule, and may have to be redrawn before midterms
A panel of three federal judges held that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans over Democrats and said it may require new districts before the November elections, possibly affecting control of the U.S. House.
MO: Missouri unions file suit against ‘paycheck protection’ law
Seven unions filed suit in St. Louis County to challenge Missouri’s new “paycheck protection” law passed this year by the Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican. The bill requires unions to get certified to represent workers, withhold dues and fees, and negotiate contracts. It also prohibits union members from picketing.
CA: California wildfires will grow 77 percent as climate warms, report says
That would translate into roughly a half-million acres of additional wildfires in California in an average year. So far in 2018, more than 810,000 acres have been consumed.
NE: Medicaid expansion to be on the November ballot in Nebraska
A petition that would put the question of whether to expand Medicaid to about 90,000 uninsured adult Nebraskans has enough certified signatures to put it on the Nov. 6 ballot. If the initiative is successful, Nebraskans who do not qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage and are unable to financially afford private health care insurance would become eligible.
MO: Missouri ‘good government’ group gets ‘dark money’ contributions
A Missouri good-government group pushing for a major overhaul of state ethics rules has received more than $325,000 in contributions from two dark money organizations. A Post-Dispatch review of campaign finance records shows Clean Missouri took in $312,000 from the Action Now Initiative and $13,287 from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.
TX: In Texas, Houston still doesn’t know how to fix flood infrastructure
One year after Hurricane Harvey, the Houston area’s flood infrastructure is being cleaned up and upgraded in small ways, but systemic overhaul remains years away in the Texas city, as comprehensive studies and hundreds of lawsuits progress.
DC: D.C. has legal aid for immigrants, but doesn’t help undocumented detainees
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, often touts her administration’s immigrant legal-aid fund when activists say she hasn’t done enough to protect undocumented residents from President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown. But Washington does not help undocumented adults once they are detained by federal authorities and face deportation.
OR: Oregon sheriffs call on voters to repeal sanctuary state law
Sheriffs in more than a third of Oregon's counties are calling for voters to support an initiative on the November ballot that would repeal a 30-year-old sanctuary state law. Clatsop County Sheriff Thomas Bergin issued the letter, signing it along with 15 other sheriffs from rural counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon.
NJ: New Jersey governor nixes 5-cent bag tax
This motion didn’t carry. Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy nixed a proposed 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags — arguing that it doesn’t go far enough and sending lawmakers to back to the drawing board.
VA: Virginia could be the last state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. A new campaign aims to make sure it happens.
Virginia could become the 38th and last needed state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, more than four decades after it was approved by Congress and nearly a century after it was first introduced. Organizers will launch a campaign pushing Virginia lawmakers to say yes to the amendment come January.
FL: Financial trail of Florida governor and wife leads to Cayman Islands tax haven
The portfolio of Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott and first lady Ann Scott includes earnings last year of at least $2.9 million in two dozen hedge funds registered in the Cayman Islands, a well-known tax haven for U.S. and foreign investors.
LA: Louisiana is disappearing under water. Can oysters save it?
Building oyster reefs to buffer Louisiana’s wetlands, instead of laying seawalls made of concrete or granite or (more likely still) of doing nothing, no longer seems like an unwieldy undertaking. Instead, as a solution, it seems elegant. Nature usually is.