Redistricting muddle

Redistricting muddle

The Legislature’s latest effort to redraw Louisiana’s congressional maps is not going well. Facing a Monday deadline to approve maps that include a second Black-majority district, lawmakers have made scant progress and appear ready to punt the issue back to the federal courts. This comes after U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick denied a request by House and Senate leaders for more time. Dick described the actions of House Speaker Clay Schexnayder – who gave his members the day off on Thursday – as “disingenuous” and “insincere.” Gannett’s Greg Hilburn: 

Dick noted that the Legislature passed a state budget during a four-day Special Session in 2017 and redistricting maps during a six-day Special Session in 1994. Concerning transparency, she said there is a “very ample legislative record available that includes a great deal of public comment on these maps.” Dick also noted that while senators agreed to suspend Senate rules to hold an expedited committee hearing on proposed maps Thursday, the House is waiting until Friday to hold its first hearing. “The court is not persuaded and finds disingenuous activity happening on the House side under the leadership of (Schexnayder),” Dick said.

The Louisiana Illuminator’s Wesley Muller reports that partisan tensions are rising as majority Republicans stall the process.  

Sen. Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans, questioned whether Republicans were acting in good faith to comply with the court order.  …  With his multiple pleas falling on deaf ears, (Sen. Cleo) Fields’ voice gradually inched louder. “Tell me how we’re going to do it starting tomorrow.” Fields said. “Now we’ve lost two days. Let’s not play games with a federal court.”

Trans at LSU 
College can be an opportunity for young adults to become independent and come into their own. This is especially true for transgender kids, which often face bullying and discrimination in elementray and high school and unsafe situations at home. The LSU Reveille’s Maddie Scott & Bethany Bissell interviewed several students on their experiences of being a trans student at the state’s flagship university. 

“To just have vagueness in the information of what resources you’re providing, that’s going to just only build that fear and that anxiety and make it more difficult for somebody to reach out for resources that are available,” [Emily} Mumola said. Despite the trouble, Mumola found two cisgender women to live with, and is excited for the change. Overall, Mumola believes that while transitioning at LSU may be scary, the LGBTQ+ faculty caucus and LGBTQ clubs on campus provide great resources. “I’m still at LSU for a reason, because I still feel like it’s the right school for me,” Mumola said. “I don’t see any gender-related reason to change to a northern school.”

White House brainstorms on gas prices
The White House is desperate to show it is trying to respond to soaring gas prices. In the past months officials have brainstormed about invoking the Defense Production Act and a historic release of the nation’s oil reserves to ease the pain that people are feeling at the pump. Another idea that was floated around was sending rebate cards to American drivers. But that plan was derailed, as the U.S. chip shortage would make it impossible to create enough cards. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein and Tyler Pager have more on the White House’s latest thinking. 

The attempts to explore out-of-the-box solutions to high energy prices reflects the paucity of available solutions to the administration, as well as the extent of the challenge they pose. White House spokesmen have said all options are on the table, but one White House official said the rebate proposal — pushed by some Democrats in Congress — was unlikely to advance due to the logistical difficulties. Critics also say the idea could backfire by further pushing up prices by adding to consumer demand. 

Native Americans at standstill in Hurricane Ida recovery 
It’s been nine months since Hurricane Ida devastated the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe community, but remnants of houses still dot the landscape of the small village. Storms are getting worse for Native Americans in Louisiana, as the buffer of land, trees and marsh they have relied on for centuries has been swallowed up by rising sea levels due to climate change. The AP’s Rebecca Santana looks at how decades of discrimination against Native Americans make it harder for them to prepare and recovery from natural disasters. 

Discrimination restricted where they could go to school, and when they were allowed to go to school, many faced harassment. Louise Billiot, a tribal official with the United Houma Nation who helps people get job training, said she can see the ripple effects of that lack of education among tribal elders who have difficulty using computers or cellphones to file hurricane claims or track their appeals. The tribes most affected by Ida did not have federal recognition, although they’re in a decadeslong process seeking it. Tribal officials say federal recognition would give them better access to funding for more hurricane-resistant homes and programs to help improve members’ lives ahead of storms.

Number of the Day 
71% – Percentage of Americans who feel now is a great time to look for a new job. (Source: Gallup via Axios)