While I was at the beach, some more legislatures wrapped up their sessions. What havoc did they wreak? Well, let's see...
- Florida: With GOP supermajorities busted for the first time since... well, a while, a general air of cooperation seemed to prevail in this year's legislature. Public education got more funding, and public workers and teachers got raises, but the still heavily-GOP chambers failed to expand Medicaid. (Fun fact: One of my law school colleagues ended up getting himself elected to the Florida House. He threw some extremely serious parties back in the day.)
- Hawaii: Although efforts to raise the minimum wage failed in the final hours bill negotiations, the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature passed legislation to start a new loan program for solar panels and other green energy equipment and advanced a constitutional amendment for state-funded preschool. They even passed a bill requiring superPACs to disclose their top three donors in campaign ads.
- North Dakota: In a nutshell, the legislature ensured that little kids will get milk at snacktime, possibly from a shared cow, and speeding fines will remain wicked cheap. Oh, and they did everything they could think of to make obtaining a safe, legal abortion nearly impossible in their state (court challenges are already getting under way).
In other voting news,
- Alabama is on its way to lopping a week off the length of time during which folks can register to vote.
- Legalizing same-sex marriage was pretty cool, but Minnesota also is on its way to passing a measure to allow voters to cast in-person absentee ballots without giving a reason.
- Not wanting to be shown up by the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the Delaware legislature is following its passage of a same-sex marriage bill with a measure that would allow Election Day and online voter registration.
- In New Jersey, Gov. Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a 15-day early voting period.
And even though it's not over until June, I kind of wish North Carolina's legislative session would wrap up. They're moving all kinds of nonsense through there (local reports indicate that ALEC still holds a lot of sway in the state, despite past controversy). For example,
- A bill (that passed committee just this morning and is headed to the House floor) allowing private employers to refuse to cover contraception in health insurance plans.
- A bill requiring that sex ed instruction include teaching young women that abortions lead to subsequent premature births.
- A bill requiring minors to obtain written parental permission before receiving birth control, STD treatment, mental illness, or substance abuse treatment.
- A bill ending the requirement that utility companies use solar and other alternative energy sources, because climate change is a myth and who needs the Outer Banks anyway, right?
And now, because YOLO (You Only Legislate Once), my Bill of the Week is actually a pair of measures moving in New York and Connecticut to legalize mixed martial arts (UFC and the like) in those states. If these bills pass, MMA will be legal in all fifty states. In case you're into that. (Don't judge.)
Less sexy stuff below.