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 9th; ease into the weekend with a roundup of state stories from across the country.
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- South Carolina House Republicans did the bare minimum when they added exceptions for instances of rape and incest to their hyper-extreme abortion ban last week. Now, Senate Republicans are reversing course, moving to strip all exceptions from the bill. In a Senate committee, a group of seven Republican men removed the exceptions despite scrutiny from the national media, the pleas of thousands of South Carolina women, and objections from the three (3) Republican women senators in the state. You may remember South Carolina Representative Neal Collins, who made national news last month when he expressed sorrow for supporting a six-week abortion ban that nearly cost a teen her uterus? He voted for the abortion ban last week. Republicans clearly know better, and yet still choose cruelty.
- This week, the Anti-Defamation League released a report finding that among the 38,000 names listed on leaked Oath Keeper membership roles, dozens are running for or have served in public office. At the state legislative level, the ADL’s findings highlighted some extreme MAGA Republicans you may recognize, like Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers, who has remained a member and met with other Oath Keepers even after the group participated in the insurrection. Another name that should be familiar to long-term readers is Alaska Representative David Eastman, who traveled to DC on January 6. And Idaho GOP Representative Chad Christensen paid for a “Liberty Tree” membership, an exclusive package that gave Christiensen discounts on Oath Keeper merch… how cute.
- Islamophobic Republican Fred Sanborn-Silvers dropped out the race for Maine’s HD-95 for “legal reasons,” clearing the way for Mana Abdi to become the first Somali-American legislator in Maine’s history. Sanborn-Silvers, who has a history of making racist and sexist comments and once called the VP “a hooker,” had also previously said “Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office.” So because ol’ bigot Fred dropped out of the race without enough time to field a GOP replacement, he will watch Abdi, who is Muslim, become a legislator from his home. (And the GOP path to flip the Maine House just got a little bit harder!)
- New Hampshire Speaker of the House Sherman Packard decided not to remove House Majority Leader Jason Osbourne from leadership after it was revealed that he used racial slurs and suggested we let “the market decide on an individual basis” the age of consent on online message boards. State Democrats quickly condemned Leader Osbourne’s actions when they came to light last week, but Speaker Packard declined calls to remove Osbourne, calling him a “tireless public servant.” Osborne’s comments have no place in modern society, let alone in public office. While we’re not surprised the GOP would forgive racism, you’d think the party who spent the past year calling teachers and the LGBTQ+ community groomers would be more outraged by someone questioning the need for age of consent laws!
- Sharon Olson, a local Michigan elections clerk, filed a suit this week in an attempt to toss out Michigan’s 2020 presidential election results… nearly two years since the results were certified. Olson was one of the election clerks who was willing to turn over voting tabulators to Michigan Representative Daire Rendon and her band of anti-democratic cronies in an attempt to push election lies and sabotage the 2020 election. Despite her connection to individuals who are actively trying to overthrow elections, Michigan’s GOP still refuses to investigate or censure Rendon for her role in the anti-democratic plot. Elsewhere in Michigan, former state Senator Patrick Colbeck is one of the many, many Republicans relentlessly pestering local elections clerks as they prepare for this fall’s elections.
- Nobody wants to defend Arizona Republican’s law that criminalizes the recording of police. All three defendants in a lawsuit filed against the GOP’s disastrous law said this week that they would not defend the law in court, potentially leading to Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Senate President Karen Fann defending the bill themselves. The measure, which every single Republican lawmaker voted for earlier this year and is set to go into effect later this month, is not only blatantly unconstitutional, but shields police departments from citizen accountability, protects bad actors, and does nothing to keep communities safe.
- Indiana Republicans announced this week that they intend to force its citizens to pay hundreds of dollars in taxes on their student loan forgiveness. Indiana joins a growing list of other Republican-led states that plan to unnecessarily sabotage the economic well-being of their constituents. In sharp contrast, DFLers in Minnesota are pushing for a special legislative session so that they can change the state tax code and save Minnesotans hundreds of much-needed dollars on taxes. Republicans claim to care about rising costs yet consistently push policies that make it harder for everyday Americans to get ahead.
- Welcome to the 2022 state legislative Demmys: State Democrats have taken bold steps to fight climate change. Today, we honor their accomplishments. First up, three Colorado legislators, Senator Faith Winter, Representative Lisa Cutter, and Representative Tracey Bernett, each received the 2022 Courage Award from the Colorado Renewable Energy Society for passing key legislation and helping build a more sustainable future for Colorado.
- More good news out of California this week. The California legislature has officially sent Governor Gavin Newson 13 bills aimed at protecting abortion access and extending care to Americans in every state. The historic package includes provisions that would expand medical capacity to perform first-trimester abortions, create a central website outlining reproductive care services in the state, and end all criminal investigations and prosecutions related to a terminated pregnancy. Every state with a Democratic legislature, like California, has taken steps to protect abortion access — emphasizing the stark difference between Dems and their GOP colleagues when it comes to protecting the health and autonomy of their constituents.
- State Democrats all across the country are working with businesses to deliver key victories for the climate. This week, an Illinois plant that manufactures car parts for gas-powered cars announced its plans to revamp the facility in order to start making electric vehicles. This innovation was only made possible by tax incentives greenlit by the landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act that state Democrats passed late last year. While Republicans drive members of their own party away due to their stance on climate change, state Democrats are working to expand the industry and create jobs while building a more sustainable future for everyone.