The Missouri Department of Conservation banned the hunting of feral hogs on the 1,000 or so conservation areas in the state. Hunters actually make it more difficult for the state to kill feral hogs, the conservation department says. The state tries to lure groups of hogs to a trapping area with cracked corn. Pigs see a free meal and private hunters see a ready-made hunting grounds. Hunters will “take out a couple, and the rest scatter,” said conservation spokesman Joe Jerek. The Missouri conservation staffers prefer to catch and kill pigs in groups, known as “sounders,” not go running around rural Missouri chasing after hogs they thought they were about to catch. Hunters also sometimes illegally catch and move feral hogs around the state in order to give themselves more places and pigs to hunt. Besides being destructive and smart, the pigs are prodigious breeders, and a sounder needs very little time to replenish itself and then some.
Faced with overcrowded prisons and evidence that lengthy sentences don’t deter crime, more states opted this year to revamp sentencing laws and send some people convicted of lesser, nonviolent crimes to local jails, if they’re locked up at all. In an about-face after a half-century of criminal justice policies that favored long-term incarceration, Alaska, Kansas and Maryland this year joined at least 25 other states in reducing sentences or keeping some offenders out of prison. The move to end lengthy prison stays for low-level offenders is one of several steps states took this year in reevaluating criminal justice policies during legislative sessions that have wrapped up in all but a few places. Other measures would help offenders transition back into their communities after release and hold police more accountable.
States that expanded Medicaid saw a significant increase in the percentage of residents who have health insurance, according to a new report from Health and Human Resources. The growth was especially strong in rural areas. States that did not expand Medicaid also saw an increase in the percentage of residents with insurance, but the gains were not as large. The findings are especially important because states that chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act tend to have more rural residents than states that did expand eligibility for the publicly supported insurance program. “The overall coverage gains for rural individuals are particularly striking in light of the fact that uninsured rural individuals are disproportionately concentrated in states that have not expanded Medicaid,” the report says. About two thirds of the 4.5 million rural residents who are uninsured live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Only about half of urban uninsured live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, the report said. “Medicaid expansion in additional states would thus be of particular benefit to rural Americans,” the report concludes. About 117 million Americans live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, according to Census figures, while 192 million live in states that did. The combined rural population of states that didn’t expand Medicaid is about 24 percent. In states that did expand, rural residents constituted about 16 percent of the population.
Is the best representation of rural character to mandate fields remain fields as outlined in Nashville Next, or should we foster development that reflects the intent of preserving a rural look and feel? The owners of Fontanel are challenging a decision by the Metro Planning Commission that prevents them from building a conference hotel on 30 acres next to their existing property. The planning commission, in a complicated session that had it first approve and then later deny the Fontanel request, ruled that adding the 30 acres to the Specific Plan zoning that covers Fontanel’s existing 185-acre properties jeopardizes the rural component of the Nashville Next Plan, particularly 11 parcels planners want to stay undeveloped. Part of the Fontanel plan includes one of those 11 parcels.
Income inequality has risen in every state since the 1970s and in many states is up in the post–Great Recession era. In 24 states, the top 1 percent captured at least half of all income growth between 2009 and 2013, and in 15 of those states, the top 1 percent captured all income growth. In another 10 states, top 1 percent incomes grew in the double digits, while bottom 99 percent incomes fell. For the United States overall, the top 1 percent captured 85.1 percent of total income growth between 2009 and 2013. In 2013 the top 1 percent of families nationally made 25.3 times as much as the bottom 99 percent. New York and Connecticut have the largest gaps between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent. According to county-level data, Teton, Wyoming (which is one of two counties in the Jackson metropolitan area from the top of Table 2), had the largest gap between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent. In Teton, Wyoming, the top 1 percent in 2013 earned on average 233 times the average income of the bottom 99 percent of families. The next nine counties with the largest gaps between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent are La Salle, Texas (where the top 1 percent earned 125.6 times as much as the bottom 99 percent on average); Shackelford, Texas (117.1); New York, New York (115.6); Custer, Colorado (86.6); Fairfield, Connecticut (73.7); Franklin, Florida (73.4); Collier, Florida (73.2); Pitkin, Colorado (68.8); and San Juan, Washington (68.7).
It's widely known that income inequality has grown rapidly in recent decades. As it stands in the U.S., an average member of the top 1 percent of earners makes 25 times more money than an average member of the remaining 99 percent. But this is just a national figure; across the country, the ratio ranges from 5 all the way up to 233. What might be more surprising is precisely where income inequality hits those peaks. Yes, a lot of inequality is where you'd expect it: in big cities along the coasts. But there is also a more hidden inequality in America, deep pockets of extreme income gaps in a place where it might not be expected: rural America. The data comes from the Economic Policy Institute, which last week put out a report calculating income inequality county-by-county. Almost all similar studies have looked only at major metropolitan areas. This rural inequality seems to come in two forms. One, which I'll call "home-grown" inequality, is where the local industries create large income disparities. The other, which I'll call "flown-in" inequality, is where rich people who made their income elsewhere take up residence.
State Rep. Byron Cook asked Texas Attorney General to rule on whether a private company developing a high-speed train project in the state has the power of eminent domain. Texas Central Partners has been developing a privately funded bullet train intended to travel between Houston and Dallas in less than 90 minutes. While the project has garnered strong support in those cities, residents in the largely rural communities along the proposed route have voice opposition. Cook asks Paxton to determine whether the company has the right, under state law, to enter private property to conduct land surveys "and ultimately take" private land.
There are currently hundreds of private companies afforded eminent domain authority in Texas, including dozens of private railroad companies. State law asserts that high-speed rails have the same rights as other railroad companies — including the right of eminent domain. In 2015, several lawmakers unsuccessfully pursued measures to block Texas Central's multibillion-dollar project. One of those efforts, from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R- Brenham, would have specifically stripped firms developing high speed rail projects from having eminent domain authority.
A poll from Morning Consult found that many Americans are in favor of barring immigration from certain parts of the world - even from countries bordering the US. Nearly half of Republicans polled by Morning Consult said that they "strongly" support such a plan, while 48% of all Americans said they support barring Muslim immigration. Morning Consult asked respondents whether they support an overall ban on immigration from 11 countries: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Mexico, Egypt, Belgium, France, and Canada. Syria had the greatest support among respondents in favor of an immigration ban, with 56% saying they supported it. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan all followed close behind, each breaking 51% support. Belgium, France, and even Canada all received significant support for a total immigration ban. Roughly 30% of respondents were in favor of a ban on all immigration from Belgium and France, the sites of two of the worst terror attacks in the past year, while almost one-quarter of respondents were for banning Canadian immigration into America.
Whether it’s building a relationship with a local banker or networking with housing practitioners in another county, personal and professional links may be the single most important element for rural community-based organizations working to change results in small towns. These relationships help rural community developers overcome obstacles—like distance, limited funding opportunities, and fewer technology and communications tools—that are not as pronounced for their urban colleagues. That was the consensus of 250 of the country’s most innovative and passionate rural housing and community developers who attended the seminar. More than a third were first-time attendees, and many are new to the community development field: a sign of the growing concern around—and optimistic, new energy directed toward—rural poverty. Conversation shifted away from what’s going wrong in rural America to what’s being done right. Stakeholders focused on how to capitalize on their community’s assets as a way to unlock innovation, tackle challenges and restore stability.
The future of Grant’s Farm is one step closer to being determined, after a St. Louis judge ruled Tuesday that the trust manager, Wells Fargo, has the power to decide whether to sell the property and who buys it. Two groups of Busch family siblings have submitted competing plans for buying and operating the wildlife attraction, in the Affton area of St. Louis County.