This week's state of the week is ... Texas!
The Lone Star State has been in the headlines a lot this week—and not just because South by Southwest is here. First there was the news that the Department of Justice blocked enforcement of the state's stringent and controversial voter ID measure. According to a letter from the DOJ, the state failed to show how it would deal with rural voters or the disparities between Hispanic and non-Hispanic voters in terms of who already has valid photo identification. While the case is already headed to the D.C. District Court, that's hardly the only battle between the feds and Texas lawmakers.
Governor Rick Perry is also blaming the Obama administration for dismantling the state's Women's Health Program. The administration ruled it could not approve $35 million in federal funding for the program after the state opted to bar Planned Parenthood, despite that the organization served 40 percent of WHP recipients. Planned Parenthood toured the state in protest of the state's decision, which risks cutting off 130,000 women from basic healthcare. One in four women in Texas is uninsured and the state has the third highest rate of cervical cancer in the country.
- In Louisiana, a House committee approved an effort to expand charter schools and vouchers, which would send tax dollars to private schools. The measure has been a pet project for Governor Bobby Jindal, a proponent of education privatization.
- Legislatures in both Utah and Wisconsin have approved abstinence-only sex education bills. Now it falls to the state governors to choose whether to make them law; Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker already supports the measure while Utah's Governor Gary Herbert has yet to announce his position.
- To deal with Detroit's economic crises, Republican Governor Rick Snyder has put an advisory board in charge of the city's finances. Many in Detroit had feared the governor would assign an emergency manager, with even broader powers over the city and its elected officials. But Mayor Dave Bing and his allies are nonetheless pushing back hard against the plan, leading Snyder to welcome a more consensual agreement.
- The latest governor-turned-convict, Rod Blagojevich, headed to prison this week to serve a 14-year sentence for a variety of corruption charges—but he was hardly interested in a quiet exit.
- In case you missed it, I had two magazine pieces hit the interwebs this week: one on the role of giant philanthropies in shaping educational policy and another on a pro-tax platform for Democrats.
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