Turning their backs on Black districts

Turning their backs on Black districts

A lawmaker’s attempt to add a second Black-majority district to the state Supreme Court died Wednesday on the House floor without debate. The demise of Rep. Barry Ivey’s House Bill 22 was just the latest in a string of defeats for legislation seeking to make Louisiana’s political districts better represent the state’s racial makeup. Lawmakers also have killed attempts to draw a new Black-majority congressional district and improve minority representation in the state House and Senate. As The Advocate’s Blake Paterson reports, the outspoken Ivey called out his colleagues for policies that have left Louisiana with “the most failed status quo in the nation”: 

Ivey, taking a moment of personal privilege, launched into a broadside against the Legislature — an institution he’s served in since 2013. “This is Louisiana,” Ivey said. “This is how we do things. We squash debate. We don’t debate issues. We have everything preplanned and organized. We’ve got the political machines operating full throttle every time,” he added.

The seas are rising
Sea levels in Louisiana could rise by as much as 2 feet by 2050 and up to 4 feet by 2100, according to new estimates by government scientists. The report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA is just the latest confirmation that global warming will wreak havoc on the Pelican State in the coming decades. The Times-Picayune | Advocate’s Mark Schleifstein has the story

The higher water levels will result in more tidal flooding for coastal communities and higher hurricane storm surges, scientists said. The spread of higher water inland could also speed the drowning of wetlands and marshes. “It’s a wake-up call that comes with a silver lining,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad in a Tuesday news conference. “It provides us with information needed to act now to best position ourselves for the future. It’s going to take all of us – government, businesses, academia, communities, citizens – to make a difference in the future.”

Moratorium gives borrowers a chance to catch up
The federal moratorium on student loan payments – in effect throughout the pandemic – has been a welcome reprieve for millions of people across the country with outstanding student debt. But that reprieve is scheduled to end on May 1. Leigh Guidry at the Lafayette Daily Advertiser reports that the moratorium has allowed many Louisianans to catch up on debt repayments that had been holding them back for years: 

“My goal had always been to pay them off early,” (Elizabeth) Allison said. “Then with the hassle of trying to find a job and not making much, I paid the bare minimum and every now and then a little more.” The terms of the loan called for $82 a month over 10 years. Some months she could pay up to $300, but most months it was $82. “It depended on the month,” Allison said. She kept up with her payments through the moratorium and paid off her loan in 2020. Then in January 2021 a letter came in the mail, congratulating her on completing repayment. “It felt amazing,” she said. “It was one less thing.” She doesn’t think she could have done it, at least not so quickly, without the moratorium and the opportunity to pay without interest. 

Not everyone can “return to normal”
A bipartisan group of governors has asked the Biden administration to “return to normal” as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to kill more than 2,000 people daily in the United States. But millions of Americans’ who are immunocompromised cannot return to normal while the pandemic rages. Amanda Morris and Maggie Astor tell their stories in The New York Times:

The fear and anger felt by many high-risk Americans burst into public view last month in response to remarks from the C.D.C. director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Citing a study that said only 0.003 percent of vaccinated people had died of Covid-19, she told ABC News that 75 percent of those who had died despite vaccination had “at least four comorbidities, so, really, these are people who were unwell to begin with.” That drove Imani Barbarin, who has several conditions that put her at high risk, including cerebral palsy and diabetes, to create the hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy on social media, generating an outpouring from other people angry over the government’s approach. “We just truly want to survive this,” Ms. Barbarin, 31, said, “and we have seen a complete disregard for our needs, for our community and for our voices throughout this entire pandemic.”

Number of the Day
$21.7 billion – The number of federal and private student loan debt that about 600,000 Louisiana borrowers face, owing on average $33,823. (Daily Advertiser)