Though 2024 has just begun, Republicans in state legislatures across the country have wasted no time in passing dangerous laws that undermine fundamental freedoms. Only a few weeks into their legislative sessions, GOP lawmakers in the states have launched assaults on abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, gun safety, and democracy– putting everything on the line in 2024.
The DLCC is committed to defending the core freedoms that state Republicans across the country have put in jeopardy and holding them accountable for their rampant extremism. To help track and make sense of the patchwork of GOP aggression across the country as well as the important work of our Democratic legislators and majorities, this week the DLCC is highlighting the top threats posed by Republicans in state legislatures across the country this month.
GOP attacks on abortion
On the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, state legislatures are now on the frontlines of protecting abortion access after Dobbs reverted decisions around abortion access to the states. With many legislative sessions beginning this month, Republicans have shown they are doubling down and expanding upon the extreme abortion ban proposals they advanced last year. The post-Dobbs battle over this fundamental freedom has only just started and the states are the battleground.
- The U.S. Supreme Court allowed an unprecedented, dangerous abortion ban to go into effect in Idaho, marking the top court’s first ruling on a state abortion ban since the Dobbs decision. The Idaho ban was a trigger law passed by the Republican legislature in 2020 and is one of the most extreme in the country, criminalizing anyone who performs or attempts to perform an abortion.
- Not only that, this week, an Idaho lawmaker also proposed removing incest and rape exceptions from the state’s already extreme ban.
- Wisconsin lawmakers in the Assembly voted this week to impose an extreme 14-week abortion ban through a binding voter referendum in an attempt to get around the state’s courts and the Democratic governor’s veto. Wisconsin’s previous trigger abortion ban was blocked by the courts, and now the state GOP is pursuing a dangerous workaround to restrict fundamental freedoms.
- In Kansas, Republicans introduced an extreme abortion ban that undermines the 2022 referendum to keep abortion legal. Republicans will sidestep mandates from voters to implement abortion bans – as important as ballot measures are, building Democratic majorities in legislatures is the only path to protect abortion access.
GOP attacks on LGBTQ+ rights
Republicans in state legislatures have not slowed down the heinous attacks on LGBTQ+ communities they’ve leveraged in recent years. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is escalating and under Republican leadership, the safety of LGBTQ+ people is at stake. Efforts to stigmatize, isolate, and erase LGBTQ+ folks from our nation’s past and present will only be stopped by Democrats.
- Anti-trans legislation became law in Ohio this week, which will ban transgender athletes from participating in sports and ban gender-affirming care for minors. The bill will take effect in 90 days after the GOP-controlled legislature voted to override Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of the legislation.
- Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Assembly kicked off their legislative session by introducing a dangerous bill attacking LGBTQ+ freedom. Passed along party lines, the bill would force teachers to out LGBTQ+ students to their parents and categorize lessons around race and gender as “controversial,” requiring parental review. The bill will soon be considered by the Senate, where the Republican supermajority will likely send this bill to the governor’s desk.
- In Florida, Republicans are working to ban gay pride flags in schools and government buildings. Reminder: voters showed up earlier this month and flipped a state House seat, delivering a blow to Florida Republicans whose priorities are increasingly out of touch.
- Also just this week, the Utah Senate passed a bill that changes the state’s legal definitions of “male” and “female” to ban trans people from using the bathroom of their choice.
GOP attacks on gun safety
Last year, we saw every single Democratic majority in the country take action to address gun violence and advance legislation to make their communities safer. In stark contrast, Republicans continue to do the exact opposite:
- Republican lawmakers in the Wisconsin Assembly passed a bill along entirely partisan lines that would reduce transparency around gun sales. Specifically, the bill bans credit card companies from requiring firearms retailers to be categorized, thus giving law enforcement fewer tools to detect suspicious activity to prevent gun violence.
GOP attacks on democracy + voting rights
From perpetuating lies about the 2020 election to limiting access to the ballot box, Republicans in states across the country are continuing to advance legislation that threatens our democracy. While Democrats scored important wins in 2022 and 2023 to help stave off these attacks, it is clear that bills to restrict voting and weaken our democratic institutions will keep coming as long as Republicans hold majorities in state legislatures.
- On the third anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the DLCC sounded the alarm on the 15 current Republican state legislators who traveled to DC to support Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 elections. State legislatures are often in charge of drawing legislative and congressional maps and passing voting laws, but many Republican lawmakers spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and sought to overturn the will of the voters.
- In yet another GOP attack on voting rights, a Republican senator in Florida filed legislation that could make it harder to vote by severely limiting vote-by-mail requests.
Kentucky Republicans advanced a bill to prohibit college students from using their student ID as a valid identification to vote in state elections. Republicans are increasingly out of touch with the priorities of young voters, and instead of improving their policies, they’re on a rampant crusade to tamp down Gen-Z’s access to the polls.