News Stories Thu., Jan. 11, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another Republican governor is asking the Trump administration to exclude his state from a plan to open more U.S. coastal waters to offshore oil drilling. The request from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster follows the Interior Department’s decision to exclude Florida from the offshore drilling proposal. Democrats are accusing the administration of hypocrisy by agreeing to Florida’s request but not to similar requests by Democratic governors opposing the drilling expansion.

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Boosting affordable housing and job growth in rural Oregon, tightening gun control and battling the opioid epidemic are among Gov. Kate Brown’s priorities in the upcoming legislative session. Brown’s policy advisers described the bills Brown would support in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is calling for an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s misuse of wildfire preparedness funds after news reports revealed Zinke used the funds for unrelated travel. In December, Newsweek reported that internal emails from the Interior Department showed officials OKd the use of the funds — which are used to coordinate national wildfire fighting efforts — even though Zinke did not visit fire-affected areas. The department told Newsweek that Zinke’s travel costs were charged to the account in error.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Election sites far from reservations. Poll workers who don’t speak tribal languages. Unequal access to early voting sites. Native Americans say they’ve encountered a wide range of obstacles that makes voting difficult. Advocates have been spending the last few months gathering stories from around Indian Country in hopes that tribal members can wield more influence in elections, and improve conditions among populations that encounter huge disparities in health, education and economics. Tribes often turn to the 1965 Voting Rights Act to try and force changes when working with local elections administrators doesn’t work, said James Tucker, a pro-bono attorney for the Native American Rights Fund. The group is part of a coalition holding field hearings across the country ahead of the next round of redistricting and to compile what it believes will be the most comprehensive look at voting rights abuses in Indian Country. One hearing is scheduled Thursday in Phoenix. Others are planned this year in Oregon, California, New Mexico and Oklahoma.