Access to legislatures is critical to journalistic coverage of government — at least if government is to be accountable and democratic. So it caused a stir when Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (R) banned reporters from the floor unless they passed extensive background checks.
Southwest (AZ NM OK TX)
"The federal government is cleaning up a long legacy of uranium mining within the Navajo Nation — some 27,000 square miles spread across Utah, New Mexico and Arizona that is home to more than 250,000 people."
"Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has declared state of emergency in 10 new counties to aid local jurisdictions affected by wildfires."
"A federal judge in New Orleans has granted final approval to an estimated $20 billion settlement, resolving years of litigation over the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."
"The cozy relationship between state oil and gas regulators and the industry they monitor is typified by a revolving door of officials who leave the Texas Railroad Commission to lobby for energy companies, including several who recently departed and made six-figure salaries working the Capitol hallways last year."
"More than 60 years after they disappeared from their natural New Mexico habitat, river otters are thriving in the state once again."
"A wildfire that has scorched hundreds of thousands acres of prairie and ranch land in Kansas and Oklahoma since last week was slowly being contained, authorities said on Sunday, with a rare Easter snowfall providing some help to fire-fighting teams."
"On March 10, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee held a news conference at the Good Neighbor Healthcare Center in the part of Houston she represents. The mayor and a bevy of other state and local officials stood behind her."
"An environmental watchdog group analyzed a decade worth of water data in Texas, finding that 65 communities have exceeded federal limits on arsenic. The state has reassured residents that the water is still safe to drink."