TGI…SOTS! Thank God It’s State Of The States! There’s a lot going on, so the DLCC is moving its weekly roundup of the state legislative stories you might have missed to Fridays. It’s May 13th, ease into the weekend with the state of the states.
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- If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, abortion is expected to become illegal in 26 states either because of pre-existing abortion bans on the books or because of Republican-controlled legislatures that are hostile to abortion rights. In 13 states, abortion access will disappear automatically. In a post-Roe world, Democrats’ best chance to protect abortion rights across the country will be in state legislatures. The DLCC remains committed to fighting back against Republican attacks on abortion rights by electing state Democrats and protecting Democratic chambers that serve as a firewall for access to reproductive health care and services.
- Fittingly, in a week that reminded many why state legislatures are so important, we announced our top targets for the 2022 cycle. In a “Path to the Majority” memo and speaking exclusively with The New York Times, DLCC President Jessica Post outlined how the committee is strategically defending Democratic majorities, targeting vulnerable Republican chambers, and building a path for Democratic power across the country. In addition to its target states, the DLCC will invest in lieutenant governor races where it could impact chamber control and state supreme court seats to ensure the courts remain fair.
- Despite the overwhelming majority of voters who want to see Roe v. Wade protected, Republicans intensified their attacks on abortion rights in state legislatures. Just last week, the Republican-controlled Michigan House and Senate passed budget proposals that would fund enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 pre-Roe abortion ban still on the books and block Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving state and federal money. In Michigan, like the country as a whole, a majority supports safe and legal abortions. If state Republicans succeed, many of these protections are poised to be eliminated.
- But wait, there’s more… a Michigan Republican also introduced a bill to outlaw abortion medication to be prescribed via telemedicine. Last week, New Hampshire GOP lawmakers removed a “buffer zone” around abortion providers designed to ensure the safety of those seeking care. Just days ago, Republicans in Missouri took steps to activate its trigger law banning nearly all abortions in the state if Roe is struck down.
- The day after the SCOTUS news broke last week, Democrats won a critical special election in Michigan HD-74, successfully flipping a deeply Republican state House seat from red to blue in a 26 point swing from 2020. This enormous victory shows voters are ready to reject the GOP’s far-right extremism and instead support the sound, Democratic policies of candidates like Representative-elect Carol Glanville. Proof of said extremism you say? The Republican opponent, Robert “RJ” Regan, suggested that rape victims “lie back and enjoy it,” advocated for the decertification of the 2020 presidential election, defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and pushed conspiracy theories about Jewish people and 9/11.
- Last week, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate passed a bill that would require teachers to report any action or investigation into the student for matters, including the “gender expression or identity” of their students to parents, which could force teachers to essentially “out” LGBTQ+ kids. Sponsored in the Senate by alleged former Oath Keeper Senator Bob Giuda, the measure would attack the autonomy of teachers, create unsafe classroom environments, and further intensify the LGBTQ+ youth suicide epidemic.
- This week, Pennsylvania Representative Russ Diamond was revealed to have emailed back and forth with attorney John Eastman, discussing how the state legislature could overturn the state’s popular vote, throw out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots, and “provide some cover” for Republicans to declare Donald Trump Pennsylvania’s winner of the 2020 presidential election.
- After refusing to hand over documents to the public for months, Cyber Ninjas, the now-defunct firm that helped carry out Arizona’s sham review of the 2020 election, is finally handing over its internal records. The Arizona Senate has now spent over half a million taxpayer dollars just in legal fees in matters related to their sham election review. While Arizona Republicans and their cronies delay and fight the release of public records, taxpayer dollars will continue to be wasted all because of a shameful attempt to discredit a free and fair election.
- While action in Congress stalls, Democratic lawmakers are passing legislation to protect abortion rights. This week, Connecticut codified expanded protections for abortion providers and those seeking care – even those traveling from other states where abortion may be outlawed. Connecticut had already enshrined the right to an abortion into law earlier this year, joining Vermont, Maryland, and Colorado, which have recently all taken steps to expand access to safe and legal reproductive care. The DLCC is helping to elect Democrats who will protect this fundamental freedom through its “States to Save Roe” campaign.
- With beautiful weather, pristine beaches, and now a historic $8.7 billion dollar budget designed to supercharge the economy and send relief directly to communities, Hawaii certainly has its perks. As the legislative session ended last week, Democrats in the Aloha State finalized a bevy of transformative bills, including raising the minimum wage to $18 an hour, securing key resources for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and a Native Hawaiian advisory group, guaranteeing almost $1 billion in affordable housing funding, and sending additional tax rebates directly to individuals and families.
- Even more Democratic legislatures are stepping up to defend reproductive rights. In New York, Democratic lawmakers are considering adding multiple amendments to the state constitution to guarantee abortion rights and ensure gender equality protections in the empire state. In Massachusetts, Senate Democrats earmarked $2 million for reproductive health care access in their latest budget draft, a substantial increase from previous proposals and a critical investment that will bolster security for health care providers and help keep abortion accessible.
- To meet rising costs and acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice made over the most dire stretches of the pandemic, Minnesota DFLers this month delivered a $500 million aid package for front-line workers. Despite a coordinated effort from Republicans to limit the size of the bill, DFLers brokered a compromise that could send over 600,000 eligible workers $750. While Republicans continue to sit on their hands and blow smoke over the economy, state Democrats are sending relief directly to workers.
- Illinois Democrats passed a package of criminal justice reform bills aimed at creating safer communities while holding police departments to a more equitable standard – including a bill that creates a pilot program to place social workers and mental health professionals alongside on-duty police officers. Democrats across the country are passing common-sense reforms that keep illegal guns off the street and ensure police departments are better equipped to protect their communities.