Defend democracy in the South.

congress

TESTIMONY: In the crosshairs of public education's enemies

May 24, 2022 - A U.S. House subcommittee recently held a hearing into ongoing efforts to limit discussion in public school classrooms on American history, race, and LGBTQ+ issues — and to punish teachers who broach those topics. Among those who testified was James Whitfield, a high school principal from North Texas who lost his job after sending students an email in response to killings of Black people by police and white vigilantes that acknowledged systemic racism and called education "a necessary conduit to get liberty and justice for all."

INSTITUTE INDEX: Ending subminimum wages for workers with disabilities

May 13, 2022 - A number of states, including several in the South, are bucking the federal policy that allows companies to pay workers with certain disabilities less than the basic minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The Biden administration recently took an initial step to address that pay disparity for tens of thousands of disabled workers nationwide, while a bill to end the practice is stalled in Congress.

INSTITUTE INDEX: Will Congress fairly tax the ultra-rich?

April 8, 2022 - The U.S. is home to over 730 billionaires, with over 140 living in Southern states. The new budget proposal from President Biden calls on Congress to pass what's being called a "Billionaire Minimum Income Tax" that would levy annual gains in stocks and other assets held by the richest .01% — assets that are not taxed at all now unless they're sold.

TESTIMONY: Environmental Justice for All Act protects vulnerable communities

February 17, 2022 - The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing this week on the Environmental Justice for All Act, which would strengthen protections for vulnerable communities from environmental health threats. We share the official testimony of Amy Laura Cahn, director of the Environmental Justice Clinic at the Vermont Law School, who discussed waste dumping in Alabama and pipeline construction in Virginia in making a case for the bill's transformative power.

INSTITUTE INDEX: Why the DOJ sued Texas over its new voting maps

December 10, 2021 - In its first lawsuit to come out of the latest round of redistricting, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken aim at Texas, arguing that the GOP legislature's new election district maps violate the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against voters by race or color. We look at some of the numbers cited in the lawsuit, which faces an uphill fight in the new legal landscape created by the Supreme Court's 2013 decision gutting the landmark civil rights-era law.

INSTITUTE INDEX: Debt relief is on the way for Black farmers

June 3, 2021 - Black farmers will start receiving their first payments this month under the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. Sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, it was part of the latest COVID-19 stimulus and has been called the most significant legislation for Black farmers since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the Texas agriculture commissioner and former Trump adviser Stephen Miller are among those involved in lawsuits to halt the payments, arguing they're unfair to whites.