T.G.I.S.O.T.S. Thank God It’s State of the States! The DLCC is here to help you catch up on the state legislative stories you might have missed. It’s January 20th; ease into the weekend with a roundup of state stories from across the country.
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- Ahead of what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, interim DLCC President Heather Williams spoke to the power state legislatures have to protect reproductive rights in the face of congressional gridlock, saying: “State legislatures remain the best avenue to pass laws to protect abortion rights. When Democrats control state legislatures, they expand access to reproductive health care and enshrine our most fundamental rights into law. State Democrats had a historic midterm year by reminding voters of this reality.” Just weeks into the new year and after years of Republican control, newly blue legislatures in Minnesota and Michigan are swiftly moving to protect reproductive rights for millions.
- This week, authorities in New Mexico arrested a failed 2022 Republican New Mexico House candidate who was in D.C. for the January 6th insurrection for allegedly orchestrating recent shootings targeting the homes of Democratic elected officials. Solomon Pena went to three of these officials’ homes uninvited to rant about election fraud in a race he lost by 48 points before the shootings police have accused him of coordinating. TIME’s deep dive into his online footprint shows his posts “were not unusual for a right-wing social-media user, blending into an online discourse often punctuated by violent threats.” This is yet another example of MAGA extremists weaponizing lies of a stolen election and threatening violence against election administrators and perceived political enemies, which is quickly becoming normalized within the Republican Party.
- We want to continue to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. by uplifting the incredible work state Democrats have done to advance economic and racial justice — like in Colorado, where Democrats were able to celebrate the largest Black caucus in Colorado’s legislative history during its annual joint resolution honoring Dr. King’s legacy while calling on the legislature to continue fighting for expanded voting rights and racial equity. FYI, no Republicans co-sponsored the resolution because they were concerned about “critical race theory.” Speaking of Republican hypocrisy on MLK, we called out the GOP for claiming to honor Dr. King’s legacy with empty words and cheap social media posts while actively working to undermine what he stood for.
- Soon after Virginia Republicans announced plans to support an abortion ban this legislative session, Democrat Aaron Rouse defeated his Republican opponent in a Virginia Senate special election while explicitly running on protecting abortion rights. You would think that this rebuke of the GOP’s extreme stance on abortion would prompt Republicans to change course, yet… in the past two weeks, we have seen even more abortion ban proposals by Virginia Republicans. The conservative Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also announced plans to zero in on Virginia as one of its 2023 targets to ban abortion even after their efforts to attack Senator Rouse’s abortion positions backfired spectacularly.
- What about Michigan’s Republicans? Have they had a post-election change of heart about their anti-voter, MAGA views against free and fair elections? Not quite. Just this week, a Michigan Senate committee voted to fund the state’s voter-backed independent redistricting commission that helped draw Michigan’s first fair maps in a generation. However, not a single Republican voted in favor of the funding. Even further, all nine candidates who are vying for the next GOP party chair in Michigan believe in unproven election conspiracies. If historic election losses don’t wake the Michigan GOP out of its MAGA stupor, we are not quite sure what will…
- An Arizona Republican has proposed a bill that would ban early voting, despite more than 80% of all Arizona voters using early voting during the 2022 general election. This anti-voter effort comes despite the fact that an Arizona Court of Appeals rejected the state GOP’s attempt to eliminate early voting through the courts.
- Michigan Democrats are already taking action to repeal the state’s archaic 1930s abortion ban, but that isn’t the only progress happening in the Great Lakes State. Just days into the new legislative session, Democrats are working on adding LGBTQ+ protections to the state’s Civil Rights Act, enacting harsher penalties for individuals who threaten election workers and pressure local election officials to commit crimes (like the nine MAGA Republicans who pressured local election clerks to hand over voting tabulators — don’t think we forgot about y’all!) and standing up for workers’ rights to organize. We cannot wait to see the rapid progress Michigan Democrats will deliver with their new majorities.
- When it comes to public education priorities, Democrats and Republicans could not be further apart. While Republicans all across the country are undermining public education funding, bullying vulnerable kids, and demonizing teachers, Democrats are stepping up to ensure that all students have the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom. In Connecticut, Democrats are working with the governor to guarantee free public school lunches for every student, and in New Hampshire, multiple Democrats are working to ensure that all New Hampshire public schools offer both subsidized breakfast and lunch.
- Democrats all across the map understand that American workers not only deserve good paying jobs, but paid leave in order to take care of their families, their children, and themselves — like in Illinois, where Democrats sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would guarantee a minimum of 40 hours paid leave per year for all employees. But that’s not all! In Minnesota, DFLers in both the House and Senate advanced legislation that would guarantee paid leave for workers, while Maine Democrats are crafting a paid family leave package, the “no. 1 transformational policy we as a state can undertake.” Meanwhile, Republicans still refuse to expand Medicaid in eleven states and ignore measures that help workers thrive.