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 January 26th, and here is the state of the states.
For questions and suggestions, e-mail us.
- Today, news broke that Justice Stephen Breyer will be retiring from the nation’s high court. We’re grateful to Justice Breyer for his long service to the country. He’s been a staunch defender of voting rights, abortion rights, and many issues that align with the values of this country while on the Supreme Court. Although Justice Breyer’s retirement will consume the news cycle in the coming weeks, it will not fundamentally alter the balance of power on the court. We must mount a full-throated challenge to Republicans in state legislatures and build Democratic power on the ground because Democrats can’t rely on the court to act as a backstop against bad policies. We must focus on stopping harmful GOP legislation in its tracks by winning legislative majorities.
- Democrats won a special election in Connecticut last night in a seat that Democrats narrowly flipped in 2014. Representative-elect Hubert Delany focused his campaign on investing in education, lowering the cost of living, and revitalizing the economy. With experience as an Army paratrooper, journalist, reservist, and community organizer, Delany brings a unique perspective to HD-144 and the Connecticut General Assembly.
- Pennsylvania Republicans are again pushing draconian abortion restrictions through the legislature – this time, by means of a constitutional amendment to circumvent Governor Tom Wolf’s potential veto. The proposed amendment would say there is no right to abortion in the commonwealth, showing once again that Republicans are obsessed with restricting our freedoms.
- On the heels of the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the DLCC launched a “States to Save Roe” fund and a microsite aimed at mobilizing support to defend abortion rights in state legislatures. DLCC President Jessica Post was joined by state lawmakers to emphasize the threat Republicans pose and steps state Democrats are taking to protect reproductive freedom across the country.
- Virginia Republicans have introduced a bevy of anti-voter bills that would shorten the early voting window, limit absentee voting, and ban drop boxes — in case you needed another example that the fight for voting rights is happening in the states. Democrats in the Senate will use their majority to fight back against these anti-voter measures and other attacks on Virginians’ freedoms.
- Inspired by the vigilantism outlined in Texas’ most recent abortion law, New Hampshire Republicans have introduced a bill that would allow someone claiming to be the “biological father” to sue a pregnant person to stop an attempted abortion at any stage of pregnancy. A blatant violation of bodily autonomy, this bill would embolden domestic abusers and rapists and force people to give birth against their will.
- On Martin Luther King Jr. Day last week, state Democrats across the country were calling for unity, police reform, and improved voting rights while Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers was retweeting white nationalist rhetoric. She elevated a post celebrating confederate generals, signaling to her constituents that the Republican Party prioritizes the legacy of traitorous racists over the accomplishments of civil rights leaders.
- Our new dream vacation destination? “Manhatton, New York, AZ.” That’s where Arizona Republican, known insurrectionist and current GOP state Senate candidate Anthony Kern claimed he stayed shortly after taking his trip to Washington for January 6th. Unfortunately for Kern and fellow travel buffs, this location does not exist. It’s possible he used campaign funds to travel to DC for the insurrection and hang out with Donald Trump supporters at the Grand Hyatt in DC!
- Arizona Republicans were busy rolling back progress this week. Following the more than two dozen anti-voter bills already introduced in Arizona, Republicans also attempted to prevent transgender athletes from playing on youth sports teams that align with their gender identity, to ban “sexually explicit materials” *cough* mentioning homosexuality *cough*, and to allow students to carry hidden guns on college campuses. We wish this mind-numbingly long list of regressive bills were outliers, but this is just what Republicans prioritize in state legislatures!
- Maine Democrats are adding and expanding pre-K programs, with more to come later this year, partially using federal funds. Democrats at all levels of the ballot are committed to investing in the future for our children and families.
- Democratic Sen. Brian Taniguchi from Hawaii is championing workers in his state. Legislators in Hawaii unanimously advanced a bill to raise the minimum wage to $18 by 2026 through its first committee.
- Democrats in New Jersey are making the state curriculum more reflective of the state’s diversity by passing legislation to include the contributions and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in learning standards across the state.
- Led by the state’s first Black senator, lawmakers in New Mexico are working to expand access to the ballot box, including making Election Day a state holiday, creating a permanent mail-in voting list and extending the deadline for mail-in ballots to be counted.
- California Democrats are working to ensure there are enough firefighters to combat wildfires in their state as climate change has led to more and larger fires. Lawmakers introduced a measure that would add over a thousand new firefighters to California’s force, better equipping the state to combat future wildfires.