TGI…SOTS! Thank God It’s State Of The States! There’s a lot going on, so the DLCC is helping you catch up on the state legislative stories you might have missed. It’s May 20th; ease into the weekend with the state of the states.
For questions and suggestions, e-mail us.
- For years, we have been sounding the alarm about growing Republican extremism. According to a report released by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), 872 Republican state legislators, which amounts to over 20% of all statehouse Republicans nationwide, are members of far-right Facebook groups. Today’s Republican lawmakers belong to groups promoting conspiracy theories, disinformation, and bigotry – and later turn the hate they see online into policies that threaten our most fundamental liberties. If you’re curious, we have broken up the list of far-right affiliated lawmakers across a few key states: (Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania)
- Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano might be getting all the attention as an extremist, which is warranted since he helped bus people into D.C. on January 6th, participated in the insurrection and was subpoenaed by the bipartisan January 6th committee for his work to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. But Republican legislative leaders are in lockstep with his views on banning abortion and putting up unnecessary barriers to the ballot box. In response, Democrats are stepping up and fighting back in the Keystone State. Jimmy Dillon won a special election in Pennsylvania, holding the Democratic seat in SD-5 and continuing Pennsylvania’s Democratic resistance against a Republican Party that has succumbed to its most radical wing.
- State Republicans aren’t waiting for the Supreme Court or Congress to restrict abortion access and threaten the health of millions of Americans. Just yesterday, Republicans in Oklahoma’s legislature passed a bill that essentially bans all abortions with few exceptions and creates a Texas-style bounty system to deputize private citizens to go after individuals they suspect are involved in helping a person obtain an abortion. In the weeks since the Supreme Court’s Roe opinion was leaked, Republicans in other states including Idaho, Indiana, and South Carolina, have called for special legislative sessions to quickly pass abortion bans and attack reproductive health. The calls came during the same week one of the country’s leading medical journals published an editorial outlining the dangerous consequences of Republican abortion bans, bluntly saying “women will die.”
- While the national spotlight has shifted to the GOP’s attacks on abortion, Republicans have continued attacking voting rights and putting up barriers to the ballot box. Just this week, Ohio Republicans introduced a resolution in the state legislature that would bar non-citizens from voting — playing into the Big Lie and winking at the Great Replacement Theory that inspired the racist attack in Buffalo. After voting to expand Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail program in 2019, state Republicans are now working to reverse the measure and make it harder for rural, working-class, and disabled voters all across the political spectrum to vote. Missouri Republicans also passed a restrictive voting bill two years after the state’s Supreme Court struck down a similar law.
- After being censured earlier this spring for attending a white nationalist conference and calling for her political rivals to be hanged, Arizona state Senator Wendy Rogers suggested that the racist attack in Buffalo, which killed 10 Black Americans, was a false flag. In response, not a single Arizona Republican was willing to vote with Democrats to expel Rogers from the Senate— literally choosing to keep a white nationalist Oath Keeper among their ranks rather than lose a Republican vote in the Senate.
- The Michigan Department of State disqualified several Republicans from the ballot this week for not paying outstanding fines or filing missing campaign finance reports necessary in order to run for office. Jon Rocha, a Trump-endorsed candidate who has justified the actions of insurrectionists and was in D.C. on January 6th, was thrown off the ballot for a state House district. Mellissa Carone, whose misinformation-laden tirade with ex-Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani was parodied on “Saturday Night Live,” was disqualified from running for state Senate after being barred from a state House seat earlier this year. And finally, Eddie Kabacinski, a Republican city councilman running for state House who was previously arrested for charges that he impersonated a police officer (yikes) and is currently awaiting trial for charges that he assaulted a woman who put Black Lives Matter stickers on Trump signs (double yikes), was also disqualified.
- Minnesota Senate DFLers acted last week on behalf of the majority of Minnesotans that support legal abortion, pushing to have nine abortion and reproductive health-related bills be considered for a full vote. Republicans blocked each bill from moving out of committee, yet declined to justify why they chose to thwart the measures. Minnesota Republicans’ silence while refusing to protect reproductive rights reminds us yet again that today’s Republican Party has no interest in reflecting the popular will of the people. Until we vote them out, Republicans remain undeterred in their craven quest to obliterate abortion access and reproductive care.
- The Democratic-controlled legislature in Colorado wrapped up its legislative session last week. During this historic session, Democrats protected abortion rights and established universal preschool in a major expansion of early childhood education. Colorado Democrats also put money back into people’s pockets with early refund checks of at least $500 and $1000 and helped families and workers take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
- After securing an $850 stimulus check for the people of Maine, state Democrats gathered this week for their party convention and to reaffirm their commitment to safe and legal abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, and affordable health care – a sharp contrast to the state GOP’s convention last month that endorsed restricting the mention of race or sexuality in classrooms and proclaiming that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman as an official party platform.
- While Republicans rant and rave about the economy but do nothing to ensure it works for all Americans, Democrats are stepping up to help lower costs and protect affordable housing. In Connecticut, Democratic lawmakers expanded the state’s rent bank program, setting aside $5 million to mitigate the rising number of evictions in the state and help individuals and families stay in their homes.
- Last week, Democrats spearheaded a bill that would add dental care to Medicaid coverage in New Hampshire. Across the country, Democrats have worked to expand Medicaid and ensure that health care is more accessible and affordable. Meanwhile, 12 states with GOP-controlled legislatures continue to refuse to expand Medicaid, blocking millions from life-saving health care and denying their states the jobs and economic benefits of Medicaid expansion.