We made it to the end of the week! Now say it with us, T.G.I.S.O.T.S. Thank God It’s State of the States! The DLCC is here to help you catch up on the state legislative stories you might have missed. It’s February 10th; ease into the weekend with a roundup of state stories from across the country.
For questions and suggestions, e-mail us.
- Huge news out of Pennsylvania Districts 32, 34, and 35! Pennsylvania Democrats won all three critical special election seats necessary to reaffirm the majority they won in November – and stop Republicans from taking full control of the chamber. After Democrats flipped the House in November, these three vacancies left Republicans chomping at the bit to overturn the will of the voters and jam through unpopular constitutional amendments to ban abortion and restrict the freedom to vote. We want to extend congratulations to DLCC spotlight candidates Joe McAndrew, Abigail Salisbury, and Matt Gergely, whose victories will ensure their constituents have a voice in Harrisburg and that the issues that matter most to voters are front and center.
- While Pennsylvania Democrats were notching historic victories, President Biden was delivering his second State of the Union address to Congress. Ahead of the President’s fiery, rousing speech, interim DLCC President Heather Williams highlighted the important role state Democrats play in enacting the Party’s agenda, especially while Congress remains gridlocked due to GOP obstruction — saying: “Democratic victories at the state legislative level of the ballot will ensure that progress continues for American families… We made history in November by flipping four state legislative chambers red to blue and defending every Democratic majority — a first in a midterm year since at least 1934. Those historic midterm performances mean that Democrats can defend and expand abortion rights, protect access to the ballot box, and make sweeping progress on issues that are often stalled at the federal level.”
- This week’s Commonwealth Chatter once again showcases the incredible work of Virginia Senate Democrats — as Democrats advanced legislation this week to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans are pushing a slew of bills that gut reproductive rights and restrict abortion access. The contrast proves yet again that abortion access in the commonwealth hangs in the balance this election year. The choice for voters is clear: elect Democrats who will defend abortion rights once and for all or Republicans who will drag the commonwealth back to the last century.
- This Black History Month, actions by state lawmakers across the country have clearly demonstrated that Republicans are leaving Black Americans behind while Democrats are championing bills that give all communities the opportunity to thrive. For example, while Republicans in Mississippi voted to make a separate court system in the city of Jackson, the Blackest city in America, that would be entirely appointed by white state officials, Minnesota DFL Senator Erin Maye Quade introduced legislation to appropriate new funding to support care for Black mothers during and after pregnancy. Beyond policy, the DLCC is centering the voices of Black lawmakers this month, like Oregon Democratic Representative Travis Nelson, who boldly spoke out after being pulled over by Capitol police twice in three days after leaving the legislature, and Mississippi Democratic Rep. Alyce Clarke, who is the state’s first Black woman legislator and has announced her retirement after serving nearly four prolific decades.
- Here is your weekly Arizona GOP grab bag of bad. In just the past two weeks, Republicans in Arizona’s legislature have advanced legislation to restrict drag shows, expressed willingness to defend a dangerous abortion ban in court, pushed legislation that would mandate logistically impossible and conspiracy-inspired hand counts of statewide elections, and proposed fining schools for not displaying the American flag in every classroom. This just goes to show… oh wait, I forgot one more! This week, fourteen Republican representatives and seven Republican senators also voted not to lift a key education spending cap that was standing in the way of keeping public schools fully funded. With too many bad bills and shady moves to count, the Arizona GOP isn’t hiding its extremism, blatantly choosing to prioritize cultural war issues and validate election conspiracies instead of focusing on the issues that matter.
- Republicans continue to use vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth as political pawns, like in Utah and West Virginia, where Republicans have recently passed legislation to ban gender-affirming care for trans kids. These GOP copy-and-hate bills are cropping up in legislatures all across the country, with Republican lawmakers in states like Colorado and Virginia introducing similar bills. This wildly cruel movement by the GOP targets an already vulnerable group of kids for cheap political points, but Democrats are fighting back and working to protect trans kids everywhere — like Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, who delivered an emphatic rejection of the GOP’s hateful attacks on the LGBTQ+ community in a rousing speech on the House floor this week.
- In Montana, senate Republicans not only recently passed their own ban on gender-affirming health care for trans kids but unapologetically used ignorance and hate to justify the bill. As the measure was being debated, GOP Senator John Fuller repeatedly dehumanized trans kids and compared seeking gender-affirming health care to amputation. Later, another Republican senator compared gender-affirming health care to a lobotomy. State Democrats weren’t going to let this unabashed hate go unchecked — like Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers, who repeatedly objected to Senator Fuller’s dehumanizing comparisons; or Minority Leader Kim Abbot and Montana’s first openly trans woman in public office, Representative Zooey Zephyr, who both reiterated their resolve to fight this hateful bill as it heads to the state House.
- State Democrats all across the map are taking swift action this year to support teachers and ensure that every child has access to quality public education. In Connecticut, Democrats are working to increase public school funding and lessen disparities among schools. Democratic leadership in Colorado is prioritizing increasing teacher stipends and bolstering funding for special education. New Mexico Democrats are taking action to address the state’s teacher shortage and make health care more affordable for educators. While Republicans continue to meddle in classroom instruction and cut public school funding, Democrats prioritize the autonomy and financial well-being of teachers and educators everywhere.
- Trifecta Talk: Secure The Bag Edition. In Democratic trifectas across the map, Democrats are moving to address rising costs and put money back in the pockets of working individuals and families. Starting on the east coast, Maryland Democrats are prioritizing allocating funds to enact its own statewide Earned Income Tax Credit. Illinois Democrats are pushing legislation to return money to families through a Child Tax Credit. In Michigan, a recent budget agreement between Governor Whitmer and state Democrats will lead to inflation relief checks being sent directly to Michiganders. Out west, New Mexico Democrats are also advancing their own direct tax rebate. The GOP may rant and rave about costs, but only state Democrats are focused on the solutions.
- And finally, this week’s Demmy nominee for the Most Prolific Legislature goes to … Minnesota! If you thought Minnesota’s DFL reached its progressive peak last week when they enshrined the right to abortion into state law, think again! Minnesota DFLers are enacting even more popular progress, moving towards passing even more reproductive rights protections while also ushering into law a carbon-free plan for the state’s utilities. They are also working to restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, making Juneteenth an official state holiday, and considering expanding renewable energy tax credits. Minnesota’s DFL is on a roll, and with such an impressive resume, all we have to say is good luck to the other nominees in this category…