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 June 3rd; ease into the weekend with the state of the states.
For questions and suggestions, e-mail us.
- Happy Pride month y’all! Across the country, state Democrats are leading the fight for equality and pushing back on a wave of Republican anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Our lawmakers have focused on expanding health care access for the transgender community, strengthening fair housing protections, combating discrimination in public schools, and reinstating benefits to LGBTQ+ veterans. And it is worth noting in every single state where Democrats control the legislature, there are full LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in state law. Meanwhile, the priority in Republican-led states has been to make life harder for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for LGBTQ+ kids. Republicans have repeatedly stifled discussion of LGBTQ+ identity in classrooms and passed bill after bill that bar trans kids from health care access and participating in school activities and sports. In a year where anti-LGBTQ proposals are flooding state legislatures, the contrast in leadership could not be more clear.
- Republicans are actively threatening the security of precincts and polling places all across the country. In Michigan, the Republican National Committee is spending millions of dollars to recruit an “army” of party loyalists to serve as poll workers and attorneys to target, challenge, and potentially overturn votes in Democratic-majority polling places. In Arizona, state Senator Kelly Townsend urged Arizonans this week to act as “vigilantes” at polling places this fall, encouraging them to spy on individuals who vote via dropbox with hidden cameras and follow voters to their cars if they suspect them of wrongdoing.
- Insurrectionist, election conspiracy theorist Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano spent the last two years spouting election lies and sowing doubt in the Democratic process… until last month when Mastriano won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania governor. After spending years of railing against nonexistent fraud and phony ballots, Mastriano suddenly changed his tune, declaring the election that delivered him the nomination was entirely legitimate. But just days after his win, Mastriano was back to spreading election lies, underscoring the sheer hypocrisy of today’s GOP. Apparently, fraud only occurs in elections Republicans lose!
- In response to last month’s tragic mass shooting in Buffalo, New York Democrats passed a package of life-saving gun safety reforms this week. This legislation would strengthen red-flag laws, prohibit the purchase of body armor for those not working in a profession that requires it, and require a license to purchase a semiautomatic rifle. Meanwhile, Texas Republicans have still not acted in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting that left 21 dead. All around the country, GOP state lawmakers are putting our communities at risk, valuing the gun lobby, which has spent millions lobbying, over American lives, while Democratic lawmakers across the country have proposed gun safety reforms.
- Republican candidate for the Maine House Heather Anne Sprague used her platform to spread dangerous transphobic misinformation in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting last week. She claimed that the shooter who used an AR-15 assault weapon to murder 19 children in Texas was a transgender person who was “brainwashed” by liberal teachers. Even though Sprague later apologized, her bigoted, insensitive rhetoric has a deadly impact. It was a signal to her Republican base that transgender people are dangerous and we can normalize mass violence by diverting the blame away from the lethal assault rifle used in the shooting.
- The nation continues to grapple with preventable mass shootings, including in Tulsa this week where a man killed four people in a hospital. While Democratic-led states passed gun safety laws to keep the hands out of dangerous people in recent years, Oklahoma Republicans actually passed the nation’s first “anti-red flag” law — to protect the ability of people to keep their guns even if they are deemed a threat to the community. Oklahoma Republicans must work with Democrats to pass responsible gun safety legislation to keep communities safe from violence.
- Republicans in the North Carolina Senate passed a disastrous bill yesterday that threatens the safety and mental health of students. The bill would not only bar mentions of gender identity or sexual orientation in North Carolina public classrooms but will require schools to notify parents if students exhibit any behavior that may be deemed as questioning their identity, such as going by different pronouns. The North Carolina GOP’s actions are just another example of Republicans’ discriminatory attempts to control classrooms and limit the freedom for kids to be themselves.
- In more disgusting anti-trans news, House Republicans in Ohio passed a bill banning trans girls and women from competing in athletics. It includes a process by which girls “suspected” of being trans have to prove their gender by undergoing an evaluation of their external and internal genitalia. To repeat: Republicans passed a bill that would force underage girls to have their genitalia examined. As a reminder, the GOP has spent the past year accusing the LGBTQ+ community of being groomers.
- California Democrats are ready to pass substantial gun reforms and take bold steps to keep millions of their citizens safe. Democrats in the state legislature are working on three key provisions that will crack down on ghost guns, restrict the marketing of dangerous weapons to minors, and empower citizens and the attorney general to sue gun makers who supply the firearms that terrorize communities. While Republicans spread lies and justify weapons of war, Democrats are taking clear steps to keep communities safe.
- While progress on election reform stalls at the federal level and Republicans continue to erode trust in democracy, it’s up to state Democrats to protect the right to vote. In New York, Democrats passed a package of voting rights reforms modeled after the John Lewis Voting Rights Act that would help expand language access at the polls and create a centralized elections database.
- To attack misinformation at its source and restore trust in our democratic system, Democrats in Connecticut’s statehouse approved funding to hire an election information security officer along with expanded funding for educational resources concerning elections. Connecticut’s clever proposal is just another example of the lengths state Democrats are taking to help bolster voter confidence and strengthen our election system in the midst of radical GOP attacks.
- As our nation honored Memorial Day this week and acknowledged the tremendous sacrifice our servicemen and women have made for this country, state Democrats helped bring vital resources to veterans and their families. In Vermont, state Democrats passed a plan to provide educational benefits to military families. In Minnesota, the statehouse secured funding to send veterans and their families up to $2,000 as a thank you for their service and sacrifice.