IVN Daily Digest — July 15, 2014

1. More than 1 in 5 Americans say replacing every member of Congress and starting fresh is the best way to fix Congress.

“One in seven (14%) say bipartisan cooperation is the ticket to fixing Congress. About one in 10 (9%) want to “make members accountable to people, not their own agendas,” an umbrella category that includes specific reforms such as limiting the number of recesses Congress takes, ending gerrymandering, or requiring balanced budgets. Another 11% favor enacting term limits or shorter terms, an action Congress could take if it were willing.”

Congress’ approval rating lingers at low levels. Many Americans are frustrated, but they are not sure how to fix a system they believe is rigged to favor incumbents. Maybe Gallup should have asked about election and redistricting reform.

2. Trial over Texas redistricting maps opened on Monday.

“The case, which opened before a three-judge federal court panel in San Antonio, concerns electoral districts drawn in 2011 for U.S. House elections, as well as voting maps for the state House. It could also have national implications — the Justice Department has joined and is arguing that the Voting Rights Act should still apply to Texas despite a recent Supreme Court ruling weakening many of its key portions.”

The DOJ argues that the redistricting maps drawn under a Republican super-majority in the Texas Legislature in 2011 intentionally marginalize the minority vote to maintain the GOP’s hold on the legislative branch. As the growing minority voting bloc tends to vote Democratic, it would be in the party’s interest to contain this vote as much as possible.

3. Federal court rules that minor parties can challenge Penn. law requiring they pay major-party legal fees when their ballot status is challenged in court.

“For more than 70 years, state law has allowed major parties to intimidate other parties by suing them, claiming their qualifying signatures are invalid. Furthermore, the third parties are liable for legal costs of defending their petitions. That has caused third-party politicians to pull out of races at the first sign of litigation from Pennsylvania’s Democratic and Republican parties.”

The struggle to pay legal fees is enough to keep third party candidates from running for office. The Constitution, Green, and Libertarian parties are challenging the law, which was passed in 1937.

4. The White House has told Congress to keep its hands off D.C. and the city’s new law decriminalizing a small amount of marijuana.

“Buried in a broadly worded veto threat of the Financial Services appropriations bill, the administration said Monday it “strongly opposes” language restricting the District’s ability to spend its own money on a host of issues, including implementing marijuana policy and abortions.”

President Obama is committed to his “turn a blind eye” approach to states and local municipalities that pass laws legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. It will be interesting to see how Congress will react with so many issues at play here, including a city’s ability to pass its own laws and spend public money how it sees fit.

5. Six Californias plans to submit 1.3 million signatures on Tuesday to qualify for November ballot.

“If every signature were valid, that would mean one in about every 30 Californians is ready to cleft America’s most populous state into sixths—or at least vote on the issue in two years. The borders would be established along county lines outlined in the proposal, creating the states of Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.”

State officials need to deem 807,615 of these signatures as valid for it to qualify for the general election. Even if all of the signatures gathered are approved, which odds are not all of them will be, the initiative is still a long-shot.

What news stories have you been following?