Challenges to citizen-led ballot initiatives in Missouri, other states:
Members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, from left, Richard Houskamp, Anthony Daunt and Mary Ellen Gurewitz listen to attorneys Olivia Flower and Steve Liedel during a hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions this year in support of ballot initiatives expanding voting access, protect abortion, and legalize marjuana in Arizona, Arkansas and Michigan. In spite of this, these may be blocked by Republican officials due to lack of signatures, poorly worded ballots, or procedural shortcomings. In addition to this, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and Arizona have amended the ballot process in their states to make approving citizen initiatives more difficult in the future. This is part of a several year trend as Democratic-aligned groups have increasingly used petitions to force public votes on issues that Republican-led legislatures have opposed. While some Democrats assert that this is subverting the will of the people, the Republicans responsible contend that they are protecting the integrity of lawmaking against well-funded interest groups. While about half the states have citizen initiatives, they still are required to be verified by executive and judicial officials to confirm they are clear and properly formatted. This past week in Michigan, two Republican members of the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers blocked initiatives to enshrine abortion in the state constitution and expand opportunities for voting. Both had significantly more than the required 425,000 signatures needed, but GOP board members shot down the voting measure for unclear wording and the abortion measure was flawed because of spacing problems that scrunched some words together. Both decisions have been appealed to the Democrat majority Michigan Supreme Court.
Trump moves to general election mode with Pennsylvania rally:
Pages from the affidavit by the FBI in support of obtaining a search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate are photographed Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
Former President Donald Trump held a rally to support Dr. Mehmet Oz’s run for Pennsylvania Governor. This is Trump’s first rally since the FBI raided his home in Mar-a-Lago. He used the platform as a chance to protest the search, calling it “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history.” This was in part a response to President Biden’s recent assertion that MAGA Republicans are a threat to democracy. Oz is one of several inexperienced polarizing Trump-endorsed candidates across the nation to have made it through their primaries. This may prove costly for Republicans as these candidates may lose races that were previously thought secure due to soaring inflation, high gas prices, and Biden's slumping approval ratings. This has led to a divide between the candidates who are playing to their base, pushing policies such as total bans on abortion, while others are playing down their Trump-endorsement and the political promises they made to win primaries but fear will alienate moderates.
Fire-stricken California town has learned to live on edge:
Vehicles and and homes destroyed by the Mill Fire line a neighborhood in Weed, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Recently, a small community in California about 280 miles away from San Francisco had to be evacuated due to fire. The fire spread to Weed’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood from Roseburg Forest Products, a company producing wood products. Weed has seen three major fires since 2014, a period of extreme drought that has prompted the largest and most destructive fires in California history. This persists as the state moves into what is traditionally its worst fire season. Fire crews worked late into the night to protect structures in Weed and in a subdivision to the east known as Carrick Addition, but unfortunately about 100 structures were destroyed despite their best efforts.