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 March 9th, and here is the state of the states.
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- Members of the academy, I present to you a 2022 nominee for the most regressive legislative party, Florida’s GOP! Florida Republicans started their award-winning performance by continuing their relentless crusade against reproductive rights and freedom by passing a 15-week abortion ban with zero exceptions for survivors of rape, incest, or human trafficking. But they did not stop there — they sealed their destructive victory by also passing a hateful and extremely harmful “Don’t Say Gay” bill that will ban discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. We are only a few months into 2022, but the title of most regressive legislature already has a crowded field thanks to the GOP, who continue to ram through unpopular, hateful, and restrictive bills that limit individual freedom and attack the most vulnerable.
- As Republicans across the country pass laws that severely restrict abortion access, and federal legislation is mired in gridlock, state legislatures are the most effective way to protect abortion and reproductive freedom. The DLCC has been laying the groundwork in statehouses to fight back against bad abortion bills and support Democratic-led efforts to enshrine abortion access within their states – raising needed funds for state Democrats nationwide and highlighting the key battlegrounds where the fight for reproductive rights will be the toughest with our States to Save Roe Campaign.
- An ugly reminder of the misogyny still rampant in the Republican Party, Michigan House candidate Robert Regan recently suggested that rape victims “lie back and enjoy it” as he advocated for decertification of the 2020 presidential election. Regan has a long list of reprehensible views, including pushing conspiracy theories about Jewish people and 9/11 and defending Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. This Women’s History Month, we are still waiting for the Michigan Republican Party to reject misogyny and disavow his candidacy, but knowing the standards of the Republican Party, we are not holding our breath.
- New Hampshire Senator Bob Giuda was revealed to have been a member of the Oath Keepers last week. Although he claims to have served ties with the group in 2014, the Oath Keepers were involved in anti-government activities well before that time and were instrumental in plotting and carrying out the insurrection on January 6th. Giuda joins other extremist legislators in the Oath Keeper ranks such as Alaska Representative David Eastman and Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers, underscoring the growing extremism in today’s Republican Party.
- Arizona Republicans filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court to do away with the vote-by-mail system that 90% of Arizonans use. Denying the popular will of the people, the GOP wants to create deliberate barriers to Arizonans casting their ballots. Reminder – this is the same party that continues to spread lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and went so far as to pursue a wasteful sham election review. Arizonans have been voting by mail for three decades and yet conspiracy-fueled Republicans continue to undermine democracy in their state.
- After defeating three restrictive abortion measures proposed by state Republicans, Colorado Democrats introduced legislation that would enshrine the right to an abortion into state law and protect essential reproductive rights to take or refuse birth control or receive any other type of reproductive care. These actions by Democratic lawmakers will reverberate beyond Colorado’s border — protecting reproductive freedom for all Coloradans and solidifying the state as an essential safe haven for those in nearby red states to exercise their rights to an abortion.
- Just days after she provided a rebuttal to President Biden’s State of the Union address, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a cruel transgender sports ban that immediately prohibits high school and college-aged individuals from participating on the sports team that aligns with their gender identity. Republicans yet again refuse to protect the rights and freedom of Americans, passing legislation that will do untold damage to the mental health of LGBTQ youth.
- In a truly chilling proposal building off the Texas abortion bounty, a Missouri Republican introduced a bill to allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missourian obtain an abortion across state lines. In Georgia, Senate Republicans took action to limit another method of life-saving health care, passing a bill requiring an in-person doctor’s visit to receive abortion pills. Republicans continue to attack reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy — and now, the freedom to travel across state lines — at every turn, passing laws that will not reduce the need for safe, accessible abortions, but simply make them more dangerous.
- Florida’s GOP Senate passed a bill this week that allows the governor to create a police force for election crimes. In a dystopian move championed by Governor Ron DeSantis and passed along party lines, the legislation creates an Office of Election Crimes and Security under the Department of State with officers appointed by the governor. The legislation also increases fines for violations of certain election laws and mandates election supervisors to audit voter logs more frequently. Not only does the GOP want to restrict your freedom to vote, but they also want to police it.
- Last week, we noted that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey would rather have Oath Keeper and white nationalist-sympathizer Wendy Rogers in the state Senate than a Democrat. This week, Rogers made Ducey’s comment somehow even more indefensible, as Rogers refused to condemn a prominent white nationalist and shared antisemitic imagery on Twitter. On a downward spiral of extremism, Rogers continues to drag Arizona’s GOP down with her.
- In the latest insidious Republican scheme to deny bodily autonomy, Arkansas state lawmakers approved setting $1 million aside for fake health centers that are notorious for using deceit and shame tactics to discourage patients from getting an abortion. This is a large amount of money that could help families with health care, lowering costs, or bolstering education. But instead, the centers will operate under the guise of providing care to people with unplanned pregnancies but refuse to provide or refer patients to abortion services. Republicans across the country are launching sneak attacks from every angle on abortion rights, proving they would rather manipulate pregnant people than provide them life-saving health care.
- Fittingly numbered House Bill 666, Idaho Republicans have moved through committee an intellectually demonic bill that would allow prosecutors to criminally charge librarians for allowing so-called “sexually explicit materials” on their shelves. Idaho Republicans want to live in a world where instead of giving storytime and shushing rowdy kids, librarians live in fear under the threat of up to a year in jail for housing books Republicans disagree with.
- New Mexico Democrats are stepping up to help students as their bill to extend free college tuition to most New Mexicans was signed into law this week. Students weren’t the only ones to receive good news from the state legislature, as a new boost to teacher pay is likely to take effect next month.
- Washington Democrats passed legislation that gives Washington the highest labor standards for Lyft and Uber drivers in the country. This week, Democrats passed a bill that gives drivers a minimum pay rate, paid sick leave, and other benefits. With the support of the local unions, these protections ensure that all workers, even gig workers, can thrive in this economy and make enough to support themselves and their families.
- In a move that makes it easier for individuals and families to secure housing, Maryland Democrats are working to protect tenants by allowing individuals to file petitions to the courts to shield pandemic-related eviction records. The bill introduced in the House would help shield tenants who struggled to pay rent during the pandemic from future housing and employment discrimination.
- Democrats in Hawaii are hard at work passing a slew of bills that help working families. This week Hawaii House Democrats pushed forward legislation to increase the minimum wage to $18/hr and make a historic investment in housing for Native Hawaiians.
- Housing and rental costs are eating away at people in Maine, but state Democrats have a plan. Earlier this week Speaker Ryan Fecteau introduced a plan to allow denser development to promote affordable housing. Fecteau pointed out that one in five Maine people currently spends half their income on housing. The bill would require the state to aid towns and cities with zoning revisions through grants and technical assistance, expanding affordable housing across the state.