Redistricting heads to the courts

Redistricting heads to the courts

The Louisiana Legislature on Wednesday overturned Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of a redistricting map that failed to draw a second majority-minority congressional district — which would ensure that Black voters had an opportunity to select their candidate of choice for one-third of the state’s congressional seats — in a state where one-third of the voting population is Black. Three no-party members decided to vote with the GOP, securing the supermajority needed to overturn the governor’s veto. The vote means Louisiana will continue to have five Republican-leaning U.S. House districts and one Democrat-led majority-Black district for November’s midterm elections unless the map is overturned in court. A trio of Advocate reporters were there.

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, took to the podium and invoked her enslaved ancestors, who weren’t acknowledged as human beings by the U.S. government or its White majority. “I don’t feel human today. I don’t feel seen. I don’t feel equal, at all,” Peterson said. “Again, being ignored, just like my ancestors. Hundreds of years later. When is it that we will be seen?” After the debate, Senators quietly voted 27-11 to override the governor’s veto. There was no applause in the chamber. 

Within minutes of the vote, civil rights groups filed suit in federal court. 

“The Congressional map passed by the Louisiana legislature in February rejected basic principles of fairness and equity,” said NAACP Louisiana State Conference President Michael McClanahan. “The legislature knew that they could pass a map that complied with the Voting Rights Act and honored the will of community members who stood up and spoke out for fair maps during the redistricting process. When they failed to, the Governor rightfully vetoed their unlawful and unfair map. We are going to federal court to demand a map that honors the rights and representation of Black Louisianans. We will be tireless in this fight.”

Teachers push back on intrusions
The national hysteria over Critical Race Theory has prompted a Louisiana legislator to push for new and burdensome paperwork requirements on public schools – presumably to ensure that children aren’t being taught about Louisiana’s history of institutionalized racism. Rep. Lance Harris’ House Bill 75 would require school boards to post lists of all instructional materials and activities. A Baton Rouge teacher, Megan Jenny, writes in The Advocate that the legislation could be a “last straw” for educators who are already suffering under low pay and poor morale. 

Even more dangerously, the bill would eliminate the ability of teachers to be responsive to their students. It is impossible for teachers to know what prior knowledge their students will enter the classroom with, what important current events will happen in any given year and where the interests of their students will lead the class. The best teachers are responsive to the needs of the individual students in their class. This bill insinuates that a teacher has every lesson, every activity, every experiment and every assessment ready to deliver before the first day of school.

Inflation and the Child Tax Credit 
The rising cost of everything from food to gas to child care is putting a financial squeeze on families. Last year, monthly payments from the expanded Child Tax Credit helped families afford essential items. But families lost this critical support when Congress failed to extend the credit in December, and the results were stark: 3.7 million children fell back below the poverty line in January after the credit was taken away. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Chuck Marr explains how rising food and energy prices underscore the need for action on the Child Tax Credit. 

Last year’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit was a striking success, lifting an estimated 3.7 million otherwise-poor children (3 in 10) above the monthly poverty line in December 2021. The credit’s full refundability (ensuring that children with the lowest incomes get the full credit) was the main driver of its poverty reduction; making that provision permanent could have life-long positive impacts in health, educational attainment, and ultimate earnings power for millions of children. It’s urgent that policymakers act now — both to help families with low incomes absorb today’s rising food and gas prices, and to make a critical long-term investment in their children’s futures.

Biden urges Congress to pass key Covid aid
President Joe Biden on Wednesday gave his first speech solely dedicated to the pandemic since his State of the Union address on March 1. Biden called for additional funding to combat Covid-19 – after Congress left out the money over disagreement on how to pay for the relief – and previewed what some are calling America’s “next normal” where people will learn to live with the risk of the virus and adjust behaviors when cases are rising. This new phase of public response to the virus depends on continuing and significant investments in testing, treatment, vaccinations and other public health infrastructure. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Emily Cochrane and Noah Weiland report

On Capitol Hill, senators of both parties said they hoped a deal could be struck before Congress leaves next week for a two-week April recess. Such a deal would likely be $15.6 billion, matching the size of the smaller package that Democrats abruptly removed from a catchall spending bill earlier this month when rank-and-file lawmakers and governors objected to clawing back state aid to help pay for the deal. It remains unclear how the package will be paid for — a Republican demand that has delayed passage. 

Number of the Day
25% – Percentage increase of U.S. corporate profits in 2021, a record high. The historic increase of corporate profits comes as inflation hit 7.9% in March, the highest rate since 1982. (Source: Market Watch)