Aug 1, 2018

Michigan gerrymandering measure to go to voters

The Michigan State Capitol building. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A ruling late Tuesday by Michigan's Supreme Court will allow voters in the state to decide on a November ballot measure seeking to rein in excessive partisan gerrymandering after conservatives sought to block the reform plan. 

Why it matters: This is a major victory for the grassroots activism group Voters Not Politicians, which seeking to limit lawmakers' control over the redrawing of state and federal electoral maps in one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

  • A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current legislative and congressional maps drawn in 2011 unearthed records last week showing that Michigan Republicans had used the process to maintain electoral advantage over Democrats. The disclosure of private emails, first reported by Bridge Magazine, contradicts Republicans’ claims that the lines were not drawn with political bias.

The details: If passed, the reform measure would amend Michigan’s constitution to place a bipartisan independent redistricting commission in charge of redrawing maps. It would be comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independent commission members — and would mandate a series of public hearings during the process. 

  • The state high court’s 4-3 decision comes after conservative groups appealed a lower court’s ruling allowing voters to consider the measure. Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers had approved the measure, but conservative challengers argue that changes to the state’s constitution should not be decided through a ballot measure — only a constitutional convention. 

The big picture: Election reform advocates across the country are increasingly turning to ballot initiatives to curb gerrymandering after the Supreme Court punted in June on two partisan gerrymandering cases.

  • Colorado will vote on two similar ballot proposals in November, and petition requests in Missouri and Utah are awaiting certification.

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Another 14 passengers tested positive for the novel coronavirus during their evacuation from the Diamond Princess cruise ship before being flown in a "specialist containment" area of the plane to the United States, per a Trump administration statement early Monday.

Details: Over 40 Americans who had been on the ship had previously been confirmed as infected and will remain in Japanese hospitals for treatment, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Face the Nation" Sunday. The rest were evacuated, and these latest cases were among them. All evacuees will undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival later Monday.

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General Motors is retiring its Holden brand from sales in Australia and New Zealand and winding down operations in the two countries and Thailand by 2021, the company confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The Holden brand has been in Australia and New Zealand for 160 years, per a GM statement issued in Australia. It is beloved by many motor racing fans down under. Holden produced Australia's first wholly locally made car in 1948.

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In photos: Deadly Storm Dennis lashes U.K., Ireland and western France

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Storm Dennis continued to pummel parts of England, Wales and Ireland over Sunday night with heavy rain after battering Northern Ireland and Scotland, per the official British weather agency the Met Office.

Why it matters: It's the second-strongest nontropical storm ever recorded in the North Atlantic Ocean, with its hurricane-force winds and heavy rains that caused widespread flooding across the U.K., the Washington Post notes. Police in Wales confirmed Sunday they found the body of a man who fell into a river as the storm lashed Ystradgynlais.

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