What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/21
MS: Feds open civil rights investigation into Mississippi’s role in Jackson water crisis
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is opening a civil rights investigation into Mississippi’s role in the breakdown of Jackson’s water system. The NAACP filed a complaint last month alleging that Mississippi has discriminated against the city based on race, and that the state has “deprived” Jackson of federal funds intended for maintaining safe drinking water systems.
WI: US Supreme Court declines Wisconsin suit against Biden's student loan forgiveness plan
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a conservative Wisconsin law firm's emergency request to temporarily halt President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued earlier this month on behalf of the Brown County Taxpayers Association, arguing that the plan hurts taxpayers.
AL: Judge says mysteries around execution methods keep causing Alabama trouble
A federal appeals judge has criticized Alabama's paltry record-keeping for its planned executions and called the process used in 2018 to allow death row inmates to elect an alternative method of execution a “mystery.”
TX: Texas should place more foster kids with families rather than in residential treatment, report finds
Texas child welfare workers should be placing more kids who are part of the state’s troubled foster care system with families instead of in residential treatment centers, a report commissioned by the legislature has found. The report released this month comes as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services continues a yearslong struggle with a backlog of children awaiting assistance.
FL: School board in Florida found an unusual way to give Parkland families $26M
The Broward County School Board in Florida forged an unusual path to give $26 million to the victims of the 2018 Parkland mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — turning a negligence case into a civil-rights dispute, documents released to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reveal.
PA: Philadelphia considers suing Pennsylvania governor over juvenile detention center
Philadelphia officials are threatening to sue the administration of Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf over conditions inside the city’s overcrowded juvenile detention facility that range from children sleeping on the floor to a recent melee that left 20 employees injured.
MI: In legal victory for Michigan Republicans, court order invalidates election challenger rules
With the midterm elections just weeks away, a Michigan judge invalidated new instructions for election challengers issued by the Bureau of Elections in place for the August primary. The order marks a legal victory for the Michigan GOP and Republican National Committee, which brought the lawsuit challenging the legality of the election challenger manual.
MN: Minneapolis to pay more than $700K to settle excessive force claims by demonstrators
The Minneapolis City Council approved four separate settlements totaling more than $700,000 to resolve claims of unreasonable and excessive force by police in response to demonstrations following the deaths of George Floyd and Winston Smith.
OK: Oklahoma killer executed despite claims he was mentally incompetent
Oklahoma executed convicted killer Benjamin Cole, even though he had brain damage and had been diagnosed since trial as having paranoid schizophrenia. Cole was sentenced to die for killing his baby daughter in 2002.
IA: Gun violence survivors urge ‘no’ vote on Iowa gun referendum
Survivors urged Iowans to vote “no” on a gun rights amendment that would add language to the Iowa Constitution saying it is a “fundamental individual right“ to keep and bear arms, and that any restraint on that right is invalid unless it meets the stringent demands of “strict scrutiny” in court.
NM: New Mexico prepares for poll challenges
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, said that she is increasingly concerned about the potential for disruptive poll challengers at voting locations in New Mexico this year amid the rise in misinformation about election integrity.
GA: Georgia election officials brace for disruptions as midterms loom
As early voting is underway in Georgia’s first general election since the razor-thin 2020 presidential contest, law enforcement and election officials are watching for disruptions by radicalized individuals feeding off conspiracy theories and disproven allegations of fraud.