In November 2016, a panel of federal district judges struck down Wisconsin’s 2011 state legislative district maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander. “It is clear that the drafters got what they intended to get,” Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote in the 2-1 decision. “There is no question that Act 43 was designed to make it more difficult for Democrats, compared with Republicans, to translate their votes into seats.”
Midwestern states were healthier, overall, than the country as a whole in 2016, according to the United Health Foundation’s newest “America’s Health Rankings Annual Report,” released in December 2016 (based on data as of October). The report found that:
Lost in the din of Kansas’ recent budget woes, an innovative mechanism is quietly funding dozens of early-childhood education and wellness programs across the state. The Children’s Initiatives Fund, Kansas Endowment for Youth and the state’s Children’s Cabinet were created in 1999 to support programs promoting the health and welfare of Kansas children using the state’s share of the national tobacco Master Settlement Fund.
An informal group of 20 to 24 lawmakers in Wisconsin will concentrate its efforts in 2017 on proposals to boost the state’s supply of rural health care workers and services. The Rural Wisconsin Initiative unveiled its legislative agenda during the latter part of 2016.
A yearlong pilot program in Michigan to screen welfare recipients for drug use found no substance abusers, legislators were told. The program tested 14 of 443 participants (either applicants or recipients) of the state’s Family Independence Program in three counties between October 2015 and September 2016, according to The Detroit News.
Illinois will give Exelon Corp. $235 million in ratepayer subsidies to keep the company’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants open, as part of a bipartisan deal that drew support from the state’s renewable-energy community.
Iowa’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation System is having a positive impact on classroom instruction and educators’ professional climate, but it’s still too soon to discern the program’s effects on student achievement, a new interim report says.
One-third of the electrical power used in Minnesota’s Capitol Complex will come from solar and wind sources under a new deal with Excel Energy. State officials say the 20-year agreement with Excel locks in prices for renewable energy that will save about $100,000 over that time period. The state spends about $5 million on electricity annually for the Capitol Complex.
A U.S. circuit court has dismissed claims by several Ohio death-row inmates that a state law on capital punishment unconstitutionally conceals information from them. The November decision affirmed a lower court ruling that the prisoners had no standing because they couldn’t prove harm from the denial of information, The (Toledo) Bladereports.