Multiracial residents are changing the face of the US

The number of Americans who identified as more than one race nearly doubled to 13.5 million people between 2010 and 2020, and did double or more in 34 states and the District of Columbia, a Stateline analysis of census figures shows. To some observers, the increase in the number of Americans identifying as more than one race shows that barriers are breaking down. But the increase also may reflect changes to census questions designed to tease out the heritage of multiracial people. The increases contributed to a first-ever decline in the population identifying solely as non-Hispanic white. The ...

Romance scams bedevil law enforcement

Jeanne Aikens was a widow in her late 60s when she found a new love. Or so she thought. Aikens had nursed her husband through Parkinson’s disease until his death a few years earlier, and she was ready to start dating again. Aikens, a nursing manager at Boston Children’s Hospital, met a man called “Logan” through a dating site in 2018 and found they had a shared interest in running for fitness. Or so she thought. Over a few months, they became friendly online, through text messages and phone calls. “Logan” professed his love for her, and they planned to meet in Boston, not far from her New Hamp...

States band together to block immigration policy

On the morning of April 28, Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his 11th immigration-related lawsuit against the Biden administration, submitting his paperwork before a U.S. District Court judge in the panhandle city of Amarillo and then issuing a news release about it. That same day, a coalition of 14 other red states filed a similar lawsuit in an Arizona federal district court. The coordinated effort aims to block a new policy allowing individual U.S. asylum officers — rather than immigration judges — to rule on the claims of newly arrived immigrants. It’s also part of a trend...

State supreme courts are starting to look more like America

State supreme courts wield power over many areas of American life, from school funding to environmental protection, gun laws to voting. Even as the United States population has become more diverse, state high courts have been the domain of white judges, attorneys and staff. Many still are: Nearly half the states don’t have a single justice identifying as a person of color. But a growing awareness of the lack of diversity is slowly leading to change. When Ketanji Brown Jackson becomes the first Black female justice in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 233-year history, three justices of color and four f...

Climate change is pushing toxic chemicals into drinking wells

PORTLAND, Ore. — Don Myron is probably best known as the guy who survived one of the deadliest fires in Oregon’s history by sheltering overnight in a river with a patio chair. So there was never any question that Myron would rebuild his home in Oregon’s Santiam Canyon after the house was destroyed in the Labor Day wildfires of 2020. The well Myron shared with nearby homeowners was no longer available, which meant one of his first tasks was to drill his own new source for drinking water. “It's hard to rebuild without water,” Myron said. “It's hard to do anything without water. It was a priority...

COVID woes prompt more states to require financial literacy classes

Studies have long shown that high school students are woefully uninformed about personal finances and how to manage them. But the COVID-19 pandemic, which revealed how many American adults live on the financial edge, has boosted ongoing efforts to make financial literacy lessons a school requirement. Seven states now require a stand-alone financial literacy course as a high school graduation requirement, and five additional states' requirements take effect in the next year or two. About 25 mandate at least some financial training, sometimes as part of an existing course. This year, another 20 ...

Russian cyberattack could capitalize on election doubts

As the war in Ukraine continues, the United States is warning that Russia and aligned criminal groups may launch cyberattacks against critical American infrastructure, potentially including election systems ahead of November’s midterms. Election officials and cybersecurity experts worry that a disruption from Russia or other foreign actors may capitalize on plummeting confidence in election integrity among American voters, fueled by myths and disinformation that have saturated the country. Even with new protections, heightened awareness and information-sharing across all levels of government, ...

Voters with disabilities face new ballot restrictions ahead of midterms

As voters went to the polls last month in the Texas primary, the voting rights hotline lit up at the nonprofit advocacy agency Disability Rights Texas. Molly Broadway, the group’s training and technical support specialist, heard from some frustrated voters with disabilities who had not received their mail-in ballots on time. Others had their ballots rejected several times because of signature and personal identification requirements or fretted that new rules banning ballot assistance could make criminals out of their friends and loved ones. Broadway and other disability rights activists have s...

More states consider bills to prohibit discrimination against black hair

This year, more states are weighing measures to prohibit hair discrimination in work or school settings, joining 14 other states that have enacted similar laws over the past few years. For decades, Black Americans have been villainized and discriminated against because of their natural hair, whether they’re showcasing their hair texture or wearing protective styles such as braids, twists or dreadlocks. In many cases, employers have demanded Black people cut or change their hair or fired them for not doing so. “(Black people are asking), ‘How can we be ourselves at work?’ In 2022, it’s still a ...

Blue states enact new laws to create abortion havens

If the U.S. Supreme Court decides in June, as expected, that all states can limit abortions to the earliest stages of pregnancy or ban the procedure altogether, hundreds of thousands of Americans are likely to start traveling to states where abortion remains legal. In preparation, lawmakers in those states are considering bills that would remove hurdles such as waiting periods and parental notifications, and some are proposing to help low-income patients by paying for travel and other practical expenses that add to the true cost of abortion care. Abortion providers and rights advocates also ar...

Rideshare riders sometimes stuck with medical bills in a crash

In the early hours of Sept. 12, 2020, Denver chef Brian Fritts, 32, was riding in the backseat of a Lyft car when another vehicle crashed into it and drove off, leaving him with six crushed vertebrae and a broken jaw. His life has never been the same. Nor has his pocketbook. A loophole in Colorado’s rideshare insurance laws left him with no payments to cover his medical bills and other expenses. He owed hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of which was not covered by Medicaid, his health insurance. “I can’t sit up; I can’t stand for very long,” he told the Colorado legislature this month in ...

Ukraine war puts US cities, states on cyber alert

President Joe Biden last week urged U.S. companies to be on high alert because of “evolving intelligence” that Russia is exploring options for potential cyberattacks against critical infrastructure targets. Even before Biden’s warning, state and local governments were busy shoring up their cybersecurity in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the elevated threat of cyberattacks targeting the United States. Nearly two weeks before Russian troops poured over the border, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a “Shields Up” warning about the growing threat. It...

Health worker shortage forces states to scramble

Top Hawaii officials recently received an urgent warning: If they didn’t act, the state would lose the services of hundreds of health care workers who have been essential in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. The state had not extended a waiver of licensing requirements that had been in place for the past two years, noted Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, which represents the state’s hospitals, skilled nursing centers, assisted living facilities and hospices. “This will place a materially increased burden on our existing workforce which has been stretched and strain...

Redistricting delays scramble state elections

With election district lines still uncertain in many states, potential candidates for state legislatures and Congress are facing challenging decisions about whether to run in districts that may not exist. Pandemic delays already had pushed back the release of census data needed for drawing new district lines, which must be redrawn every 10 years to account for population changes. In Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, that’s been compounded by court challenges, creating a perfect storm of election uncertainty. Stephen Kellat of Ashtabula, Ohio, had pl...

Working parents face continued chaos despite reopened schools

Kelly McCormick thought she’d be back on the job long ago, but the coronavirus pandemic continually finds ways to keep her home helping her two young children. One day in December, her son’s Maryland school told her to pick up her 10-year-old immediately: He had been exposed to COVID-19 by a classmate who sat near him in a workgroup and at lunch. When she arrived at the school, she found other parents who had gotten the same midday call. “That’s when I realized what an effect this has on parents,” she said in an interview with Stateline. “I never could have done this with my job. There are too...