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 April 22nd, ease into the weekend with the state of the states.
For questions and suggestions, e-mail us.
- Michigan Senator Mallory McMorrow passionately defended herself on the Senate floor this week after her Republican colleague falsely claimed she wanted to “groom and sexualize” kindergartners (if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and watch her speech right now). Passionate and poignant, Senator McMorrow expertly denounced Senator Theis’ hypocrisy and hatefulness against marginalized communities, like LGBTQ+ kids and people of color. In light of the fact that Senator Theis has refused to apologize, the DLCC continues to demand accountability and call upon the Michigan GOP to condemn Senator Theis’ actions. Senator McMorrow’s speech also highlights that some of the Democratic Party’s most talented communicators can be found at the state legislative level.
- Senator McMorrow’s actions this week remind us of why it is so important to have trailblazing Democratic women in state legislatures across the country. In Michigan, hateful Republicans fill the legislature, threatening democracy and attacking basic freedoms like abortion access. It is critical that we elect Democrats to the legislature to defend reproductive freedom.
- In 2020, Amy McGrath’s longshot Senate race raised $96 million, and the DLCC raised a record-breaking $51 million for state legislatures. Those numbers should be reversed. Our President Jessica Post spoke at length this week about the historic underfunding of state-level politics, and while the splashy top-of-ticket names raise tens of millions of dollars, our state legislators decide important issues like voting rights, reproductive freedom, and district lines.
- Hope everyone dotted their t’s, crossed their i’s, and wrote off the countless hours reading this newsletter as a business expense (this is a tax joke, not actual tax advice) – because Monday was Tax Day! We at the DLCC marked such a momentous day by noting that when it comes to the economy and taxes, the difference between state Democrats and Republicans is starker than ever. State Democrats are passing laws that ensure that workers and families benefit from the post-pandemic recovery, while Republicans pass tax cuts for the super-rich. Democrats are committed to working for families nationwide by increasing wages and expanding worker protections.
- Out west, there are too many great candidates in Nevada to count, but check out a few of the state’s incredible legislators. While Republican candidates in Nevada become more extreme, Democrats are passing vital legislation for hard-working Nevada families. Whether it’s investing in quality education, making Nevada a leader in clean and renewable energy, or providing access to affordable health care, Democrats are building a bright future for all Nevadans.
- Florida Republicans’ 15-week abortion ban was signed into law this week with zero exceptions for survivors of rape or incest, and also makes no exception for human trafficking. The news wasn’t all bad though. In response to the flurry of restrictive bills passing across the country, Democrats are fighting back and enshrining reproductive rights into law, like in Maryland where Democrats in the legislature overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto to expand abortion access in the state.
- Last week was Black Maternal Health Week, and in solidarity, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee condemned state Republicans for their relentless crusade against the maternal health and safety of Black women. Regardless of education or income, Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women, yet state Republicans are failing to address rising maternal mortality rates and refusing to expand Medicaid – which has a disproportionately negative effect on Black women.
- Republicans have been attacking reproductive rights around the country –a move that could backfire in the midterms. Our Executive Director Heather Williams spoke to CNN on how state Democrats across the country are using the frustration of voters fed up with Republican attacks on reproductive freedom to win legislative races. She was highlighted alongside key Democratic candidates prioritizing abortion access this fall.
- No gun license, no problem! That logic was on full display earlier this month when Georgia Republicans passed a law allowing citizens to carry a concealed handgun in public without a state license. Georgia Republicans pushed through a measure that is widely opposed by a majority of Georgians, doing away with one of the last gun safety laws on the books in the state. State Republicans remind us yet again that they do not care about the safety of the American people, and are willing to put lives at risk to appeal to the most extreme fringes of their base and the gun lobby.
- The “Party of Family Values” had little compassion for Alabama families with trans kids this month. Republican lawmakers passed a law that will ban gender-affirming medical care for trans youth, making it a felony for a doctor to provide affirming care. This brand of anti-LGBTQ+ cruelty is not confined to a deep red state like Alabama, as Republicans in the Pennsylvania House passed a bill barring transgender women from competing in women’s sports, and Georgia Republicans shoehorned anti-trans language into a bill already curtailing discussion of race in public schools.
- Drop boxes for mail-in ballots, used by millions of people across the country and across the political spectrum, would be banned under a new GOP bill passed through Pennsylvania’s Senate. Over the last two years, state Republicans in Pennsylvania have been hell-bent on making it harder to vote and removing drop boxes that help rural and working-class voters have better access to the ballot box. What could have happened in late 2020 that could have changed Republicans’ minds?
- We have already mentioned the heinous comments Michigan Senator Lana Theis made towards Senator Mallory McMorrow, but Theis is not the only sitting Michigan senator making headlines. Senator John Bizon was recently sentenced to a year of probation after inappropriately touching a nurse in August of 2021. Shockingly, he still has not faced any consequences in the Senate chamber from Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. Bizon’s colleague, Aric Nesbitt, also came under fire this week as it was revealed that Nesbitt’s leadership PAC received $30,000 in contributions from individuals whose businesses include landfill and waste disposal companies. Nesbitt chairs a Senate committee where a recycling modernization bill has been stalled for nearly a year. Lastly, Senator Jim Runestad capped off a rough week for Senate Republicans in Michigan by suggesting that it was the news coverage surrounding last week’s tragic police shooting of a Black man in Grand Rapids— not the shooting itself — that was to blame for scaring Black children.
- The Iowa Legislature marked its 100th day in session earlier this week, the usual checkpoint for the end of its legislative session. But legislators are still at it, held up by a massive education bill that not only could limit mentions of sex and sexuality in classrooms but siphons off millions of taxpayer dollars to private school scholarships. A Republican one-two punch of underfunding public schools and over-policing what is taught in classrooms, this bill might even be too conservative of a pill for Iowa House Republicans to swallow, and that, in our professional opinion, is saying something.
- When Texas Republicans passed their hyper-restrictive abortion ban earlier this year, they started a trend, with dozens of states introducing or passing unpopular, restrictive abortion bans themselves. But Texas lawmakers this week made sure, in classic Texas fashion, that they were still number one in depriving citizens of the right to bodily autonomy and potentially life-saving health care. State Representative Jared Patterson told the press that even conservative states like Florida don’t hold a candle to Texas’ reproductive rights restrictions, crowning himself and his legislative colleagues winners in the GOP’s race to the bottom in its war against reproductive freedom.
- Democrats in Maine spearheaded a plan earlier this month to provide tax credits for child care providers in the state. The plan also includes income tax credits that mirror Democrat’s federal child tax credit that lifted millions out of poverty last year. State Democrats in Hawaii are also extending tax credits for low and middle-class families, working to pass a measure that would extend the state’s current earned income tax credit and make it refundable. While Republicans push for tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, state Democrats across the country are taking steps to put money back into the pockets of Americans and their families.
- Minnesota House Democrats unveiled a historic budget proposal this week, moving through the House Ways and Means committee a plan that would ensure that the state’s budget surplus is dedicated to the places that need it most, including over $1 billion dollars earmarked for public education. Despite other popular measures like tax credits and increased funding for health and human services, Republicans on the committee unanimously voted against fully funding public education, and their colleagues in the Senate are expected to block the proposal – reminding us that state Republicans are willing to leave billions on the table instead of fully funding our schools and helping American families save.
- In the face of rising costs, state Democrats are stepping up to lower costs and help families save. Earlier this month, Democrats in New Mexico passed an aid package that will directly send individuals $500 and family households $1,000 – one of the many Democratic actions across the country to deliver immediate relief for middle-class families.
- Illinois Democrats delivered for teachers this month, passing a measure that will extend personal and family COVID sick leave for teachers and school administrators. Removing the need for teachers to use their own personal sick days to keep their classrooms safe, Democrats are once again taking steps to protect students while giving teachers the resources and support needed to thrive.
- Democrats in Colorado sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would raise the minimum wage for nursing home workers to $15 an hour. Also taking steps to protect the elderly and the most vulnerable, New York Dems passed a measure that would increase pay for in-home health aides. From the Rockies to the Empire State, Democrats know that when health workers earn more, their patients receive better care, and communities are safer.
- The education of a toddler should never put a family’s financial stability at risk. Colorado Democrats agree, passing through the legislature a bill establishing free, universal pre-K under the newly created Department of Early Childhood. While state Republicans want to underfund public education and allow books about American history to be banned from classrooms, Democrats across the country are making sure education is accessible and affordable to all.
- With Republican attacks on reproductive rights popping up in statehouses all across the country, Democrats are ensuring that medical providers and patients are secured in their constitutionally protected right to choose. In Connecticut this week, the House greenlit a measure that would ensure that the state remains a safe haven for those traveling from GOP-led states with restrictive abortion bans to Connecticut to receive care.