There’s a lot going on, so every Wednesday, the DLCC is sending a roundup of the state legislative stories you might have missed. It’s February 9th, and here is the state of the states.
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- In a resolution passed Friday, the RNC officially endorsed a violent attempt to overturn a fair and free election, stating that the individuals who stormed that Capitol on January 6th were “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” No surprise here at the DLCC, as the RNC official statement just further normalizes the actions of at least 21 state Republican lawmakers who attended the insurrection and the over 600 legislators who either spread “stop the steal” conspiracy theories or worked to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the days leading up to January 6th. Oh, and by the way, none of those state lawmakers have been held accountable by leaders of their party. Check our insurrectionist database to see if your state representative is a part of the group clamoring to enact more “legitimate political discourse” at a statehouse near you.
- Spare us your generosity Florida: Republicans in the Sunshine State this week attempted to justify an egregiously restrictive 15-week abortion ban by claiming that it was “generous.” As the GOP attempts to hide their tireless crusade against personal freedom and reproductive health, we want to make it very clear – any attempt to diminish the commonsense protections currently set by Roe is dangerous, unlawful, and far from generous to the thousands who would be affected. Now more than ever, it is crucial to support state Democrats who are at the frontlines of this fight against Republicans’ dangerous agenda.
- The North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the Republican-drawn maps for the state’s legislative districts. Citing a need for state lawmakers to prove partisan fairness, the Court gave the General Assembly two weeks to go back to the drawing board and produce maps that do not blatantly favor one party over another. This is an opportunity for the North Carolina legislature to draw fair and representative maps. Knowing Republicans’ track record on partisan gerrymandering, we suspect they might not be up to the task — but we’re not giving up on the fight for fair legislative maps anywhere.
- Vermont officially placed an amendment on the ballot to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution. While Republicans in legislatures around the country are lining up abortion bans and reproductive health restrictions, Democrats took steps this week to protect bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom for all Vermonters. As we move closer to the Supreme Court deciding the fate of Roe, Vermont reminds us of the importance of Democrat-led statehouses and their critical role in the fight for reproductive rights.
- Ignoring the pleading of students and advocates, South Dakota enacted a bill to prevent kids from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. This is a disastrous move for LGBTQ+ rights and the mental well-being of trans youth throughout the state. South Dakota will have to deal with the consequences of passing such an unpopular and discriminatory measure – setting themselves up for potential economic boycotts and backlash like those levied on North Carolina that cost the state millions after the passing of their infamous discriminatory “bathroom bill” in 2017.
- Alabama Republicans debated whether to pass multiple laws to ban “divisive concepts” from being taught in public schools. There is only one problem — they can’t figure out what “divisive concepts” means. That did not stop Alabamans from calling up school superintendents and filing reports of divisive concepts being taught to their kids. The concept most recently reported to be corrupting the children of Alabama? Black History Month. A blatant attempt to whitewash the teaching of history, Republicans show yet again the complete inability to acknowledge race and celebrate the accomplishments of Black Americans.
- Wait, how far can Republicans stick their heads in the sand? They have already tried to ignore climate change, racism, and a violent insurrection carried out by supporters of the former president. Next on the list of denialism? The existence of LGBTQ+ people. With a seal of approval from Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that passed a Florida Senate committee this week aims to ban any mention of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools. Instead of enacting laws that would make positive change in people’s lives, Republicans are hellbent on limiting the freedom of our education system and enacting a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” level of historical regression.
- As Republicans across the country attempt to police teachers and dictate what can and cannot be taught in the classroom, they are also working to slash school budgets and siphon money away from public education. In Arizona, intentional inaction by state Republicans puts the state dangerously close to failing to fund its public schools before a March 1st deadline, leading to potential teacher layoffs and putting rural schools and the end of the regularly scheduled school year at risk.
- In Michigan, Republicans introduced a bill that would cut funding from public schools that fail to submit curriculum materials to the public — while rallying around failed former secretary of education Betsy Devos in an attempt to sidestep the state constitution to funnel money away from public education. In tandem, the Republican effort to obliterate educational freedoms and the failure to fund our schools underscores their lack of care toward America’s schoolchildren and their futures.
- Florida Republicans do not care about the will of the people. Republicans in a Senate committee yesterday voted to advance a bill that would block many citizen-led initiatives from reaching the ballot. This should come as no shock, harkening back to when Republicans in the state legislature worked to undermine a popular enfranchisement initiative that voters passed in 2018 to restore voting rights to people who previously committed a felony and served their time. As Republicans grapple with their deeply unpopular agenda, they yet again prove they will use any means necessary to reject the wants and needs of Floridians.
- With a one-two punch from hell, Arizona Republicans are attempting to make abortion prosecutable and elections overturnable. State Republicans have introduced about a dozen bills limiting or penalizing those who seek an abortion, including a bill to prohibit doctors from performing abortions after 15 weeks with the threat of criminal prosecution for those who do. Meanwhile, state Rep. Mark Finchem (an insurrectionist who happens to be running for secretary of state) proposed legislation to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa, Pima, and Yuma County. The Republican effort to attack elections and obliterate reproductive freedoms is a frightening combination of government overreach.
- While Republicans commit to enacting measures that put LGBTQ+ individuals and youth at risk, state Democrats are working to ensure that all individuals are protected, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Lawmakers in California made steps to improve access to medical care for transgender people, requiring health care providers to undergo inclusive training on TGI patient care. The bill would also require health care plans to list which of their providers delivered gender-affirming health care.
- Democrats in Washington state defended the rights of renters when lawmakers proposed a bill that would require landlords to give at least six months of notice when raising the rents of their tenants by over 7.5%. The bill would also allow tenants on fixed-term agreements to break their lease early if receiving a rent hike above 7.5% and limit late fees to $75. As the economy continues to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Democrats continue to ensure that hard-working renters receive their fair share of the economic upswing.
- Hawaii Democrats are also hard at work proposing housing reform, utilizing the state’s budget to house Native Hawaiians. With a historic amount of funding for housing, the Democrat-proposed plan would work to fight against the historic inequities native peoples have faced and ensure that all individuals have access to adequate and affordable housing.
- New Mexico Democrats advanced a bill that would create automatic voter registration at the DMV and restore voting access for people who previously committed felonies and served their time. Democrats in the statehouse are also working to raise teacher salaries, grow school budgets, and expand educational resources to Native communities. Democrats know that New Mexicans and the American people at large want smart, pragmatic, and widely popular reforms to the ballot box and the classroom.
- Hearing aids can be life-changing for children and adults with hearing loss, but are often extremely costly and rarely covered by insurance. Washington Democrats proposed a bill this week that would change that, requiring insurance providers to provide up to $5,000 to cover new hearing devices. Unlike their Republican colleagues, Democrats are committed to expanding coverage so no one is deprived of or bankrupted to receive essential medical care, regardless of one’s physical ability or preexisting condition.