T.G.I.S.O.T.S. Thank God It’s State of the States! 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 September 16th; ease into the weekend with a roundup of state stories from across the country.
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- If you enjoy our recurring segment, Keeping Up With the Insurrectionists, you will love its new spin-off, The Real Oath Keepers of State Legislatures. Last week, we highlighted state lawmakers who were revealed to be on a leaked Oath Keeper members lists, but new names keep rolling in! For example, the NRA unveiled its endorsements for Nevada’s state legislature, including Senate candidate Cherlyn Arrington, who proudly boasted she’s “a founding member of Oath Keepers.” In Arizona, Oath Keeper and Representative Quang Nguyen is running for reelection — Nguyen claims that the violent extremist group with deep ties to January 6th is a “misunderstood” organization — despite a CBS investigation that showed the state’s Oath Keeper leaders were preparing for “civil war.” All around the country, extremists and militia members have taken root in state legislatures, posing an existential threat to the safety of our communities and our very nation.
- This week, Pennsylvania’s Republican Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward and other Republicans filed a “friend of the court” brief in the impending Moore v. Harper Supreme Court case. You might remember that Moore could completely upend the checks and balances between legislatures and courts — potentially granting Republican state legislatures unilateral control over elections. In case you haven’t been paying attention….Republicans really are going all-in on the belief they should be able to overturn the results of elections they lose.
- New Hampshire Republicans’ MAGA maneuver was on full display during their state’s primary this Tuesday. Jeremy Herrell, who traveled to D.C. on January 6th and pushed dangerous election conspiracy theories, is running in a competitive House district. House Majority Leader Jason Osborne, who we will continue to remind you posted racial slurs and questioned the need for age of consent laws, cruised to victory on his way to November’s ballot. Representative Barabra Griffin, the chair of the New Hampshire House redistricting committee, lost to an extreme, Osborne-endorsed candidate after literally drawing her own gerrymandered district. Free Staters and the MAGA movement have taken over the state GOP and their secessionist, anti-abortion agenda is out of touch with Granite Staters.
- Arizona Republicans are again threatening teacher pay raises, crucial classroom improvements, and an estimated $1.3 billion in public education funding. Last week, almost 200 Arizona school superintendents penned a letter to Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature asking them to lift the limit of public school spending before this fall’s election. Even though the deadline is in the spring, schools have every reason to doubt the ability of state Republicans to lift the cap in time. Last year, Senate Republicans barely avoided a $1 billion catastrophe for public schools. Wish Arizona Republicans took school funding as seriously as they take trying to mandate curriculum in classes!
- Speaking of Republicans jeopardizing taxpayer money, Pennsylvania has spent at least $3.3 million of taxpayer money defending the results of the 2020 presidential election in court against MAGA Republicans trying to overturn a fair and free election — which were fueled by the exact same election lies the Pennsylvania GOP helped spread. And here we thought Republicans were all about claiming to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ funds.
- All Quiet On The Republican Front… at least on abortion. Exhibit A, dozens of Republican candidates for Maine’s legislature refused to state their positions on abortion in a routine candidate questionnaire from the Bangor Daily News this week. Exhibit B, state Republicans in Michigan are trying so desperately not to talk about abortion that they are still refusing to show up to the legislature for fear of abortion bills being brought up for consideration (their lack of attendance also canceled their yearly 9/11 memorial ceremony, by the way). MAGA Republicans’ stance on abortion is so widely out of step with the majority of Americans that they can’t even talk about it anymore without fear of public backlash and future electoral consequences. Telling, isn’t it?
- That being said, West Virginia became the second state to pass an abortion ban since the Dobbs decision. The Republican Party stands for forcing people to give birth and no amount of strategic silence will change that.
- State Democrats in New York and Illinois are delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in direct relief to their constituents. In New York, state Democrats announced late last week that eligible residents will begin receiving $270 this month. In Illinois, direct relief checks went out to residents this week. State Democrats in some of the country’s largest states know that communities are dealing with rising costs and are stepping up to quickly get money back into the pocket of everyday people and help communities get ahead.
- Welcome back to the 2022 Demmy awards! For this next award, we go to the great state of Vermont, where Representative Taylor Small won Politician of the Year for her trailblazing work as Vermont’s first transgender legislator. Congratulations Taylor! Next, Sheryl Lee Ralph, wife of Pennsylvania Senator (and beloved DLCC board member) Vincent Hughes, also won a Demmy for… oh, wait, she won an Emmy for her performance in ABC’s Abbott Elementary? I guess that’s just as good as a Demmy. But seriously, a huge congrats to Sheryl, and go watch her incredibly inspiring acceptance speech! (And elect Democrats so we can fully fund education and treat teachers with the respect they deserve!)
- For the third week in a row… good news out of California! Just a few highlights: A new state program set up by state Dems that will give workers whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic $2,500 to acquire new job training rolls out this week. A groundbreaking new measure from Democrats addressing mental health was signed into law this week. California Democrats also sent multiple bills to the governor’s desk that will tackle “forever chemicals” and help make drinking water safer. Finally, state Democrats took steps to protect election officials from harassment and violence amid a growing rise of MAGA conspiracy-fueled threats against election workers.