States Refuse to Help Veiled Effort to Remove Minorities from Voter Rolls
Commission disbanded. Trump signed an executive order to disband a White House commission set up to investigate claims of voter fraud. Trump blamed the commission’s end on the refusal of several states to turn over voter information to the group. Experts agree voter fraud is rare.
Trump has falsely claimed that unauthorized votes cost him the popular vote in the presidential election.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman, sought personal information in June on every voter in the nation, a request which spurred multiple lawsuits and backlash from state officials.
Bigger button. Trump’s escalated statements against North Korea have revived questions in Washington about the president’s authority to approve the use of nuclear weapons. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Trump’s rhetoric “borders on presidential malpractice.” Markey has drafted legislation that would require congressional approval before any president could sign off on a first-use nuclear strike. Trump has called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” and tweeted that he has a “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button. Markey’s bill currently has 12 Democratic co-sponsors. Firing a nuclear weapon is not actually as simple as pressing a button. Trump would have to give orders which others would have to decide to follow.
States rights. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York state would sue the federal government over the new tax law, but legal experts are skeptical the lawsuit will hold up in court. Cuomo said New York will challenge a provision of the law that limits how much Americans can deduct from their federal taxes for payments made to state and local governments. Many of the people most affected by that provision live in states run by Democrats which tend to have higher state and local tax rates. Cuomo said the provision is “violative of states’ rights and the principle of equal protection.” The new GOP law caps how much taxpayers can deduct in state and local taxes at $10,000. Previously, the deduction was unlimited.
Alabama mudpuppy. An aquatic salamander found only in the Black Warrior River basin in Alabama has been granted federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. The Black Warrior waterdog, also known as the Alabama mudpuppy, has been listed as an endangered species. Conservation groups call the waterdog one of the most endangered amphibians in the country. The Fish and Wildlife Service listed 420 river miles as critical habitat for the waterdog. Entities that receive federal funding must ensure their actions don’t imperil the species.