This week seems like a good time to sprinkle in some looks back at some loose ends I've left danging in other emails over the past few months. So consider this a sequel of sorts. Statehouse Action Returns. Reloaded. The Actioning. 2 1/2. The New Batch. The Statehouse Strikes Back. 2 Statehouse 2 Action. You get the idea.
- Because it's been a whole year since the last one of any note, the gods of legislative drama have proclaimed, "LET THERE BE RECALL!" This year's hot recall action will be in Colorado, where a bunch of folks totally pissed about the state's new gun control laws have initiated the first legislative recall election in the state's history. The targeted lawmaker is Senate President John Morse, who helped lead the push for the passage of measures that ban ammunition magazines containing more than 15 rounds and require background checks for private gun sales. However, unlike the historic legislative recall elections in Wisconsin of the past two years, this one is purely symbolic. The Wisconsin recalls always had the potential to (and did, briefly) give Democrats a majority in the Senate; if Sen. Morse is ousted, the chamber will still have a Democratic Senate President-- Democrats have a five-seat majority.
- Speaking of Wisconsin, once upon a time, the GOP-controlled legislature passed a voter ID bill that was later nullified by state courts. GOP state Rep. Jeff Stone thinks he's found a way around the courts' issues with the requirement, though: Just humiliate the poors! Seriously, his bill requires folks who try to vote but don't have a photo ID to sign an affidavit saying they're too poor to get one. And as if this weren't enough rottenness for one piece of legislation, the bill also paves the way for corporate and increased lobbyist contributions in state elections.
- A Connecticut bill to legalize mixed martial arts (think UFC) finally passed both chambers of the legislature and awaits the Governor's signature. If this bill becomes law, New York will be the only state in the nation in which the sport remains illegal.
- Two new so-called "right to work" bills are receiving committee hearings in Ohio, but that doesn't mean they're going anywhere. Just last month, Republican leadership in the state Senate killed similar measures quite swiftly.
Three new states join the sine die list. Kind of.
- In Texas, the legislative session is only sort of over. After last week's adjournment, Gov. Perry immediately called lawmakers back to deal with court-mandated redrawing of state legislative districts (last year's elections were held on interim, court-drawn maps).
- In Oklahoma, the GOP-led legislature has sent the Governor an income tax cut, a budget including increased funding for child welfare and mental health programs, and a $45 million appropriation from the state's Rainy Day Fund to cover tornado recovery. Statehouse Republicans once again failed to grant raises to public employees, and Democrats worry that the new tax cuts disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
- In Missouri, legislators' work has functionally been over for a couple of weeks, but now the session has officially adjourned. Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to veto several of the GOP-led legislature's bills, so it's hard to say exactly what will come out of this session in the end. Gov. Nixon has already vetoed a bill that would have cut the state's corporate tax rate in half without providing for any revenue increases. He's also vetoed an anti-Sharia/foreign law bill, citing not constitutionality concerns, but rather difficulties it may present to those who want to adopt from overseas. Other bills that may be on the receiving end of Gov. Nixon's veto pen include one making it harder for some public employee unions to deduct members’ dues from their paychecks and another restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs. The Governor has until July 14 to sign, veto, or allow to become law without his signature all remaining bills. Lawmakers will convene again in September to try to override Gov. Nixon's vetoes. Oh, and the legislature totally promises to study expanding Medicaid while they're on summer break.
- In Arizona, statehouse Republicans finally blinked in the face of Gov. Jan Brewer's executed threat of vetoing every bill that crossed her desk until the legislature voted on her plan to expand Medicaid.
Meanwhile, North Carolina's new GOP majorities deserve some followup attention. BREAKING: They're still being terrible.
- They're awfully close to repealing the Racial Justice Act, a law that allows convicted killers to avoid the death penalty if they can demonstrate that court decisions were tainted by racial bias.
- A bill that would allow private employers to refuse to cover abortion in health insurance plans easily passed the House and is awaiting a Senate committee hearing. A controversial provision that would have allowed insurers to opt out of contraception coverage was deleted.
- Legislation requiring that sex ed instruction include teaching young women that abortions lead to subsequent premature births has passed the Senate and is awaiting a hearing in a House committee.
- On the upside, legislation requiring minors to obtain written parental permission before receiving birth control, STD treatment, mental illness, or substance abuse treatment seems to be languishing in a House committee.
Legislator of the Week honors go to Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill. I mean, his name is Shadrack. Also, his wife took to her husband's Facebook page to warn all the ladies sending her husband sexy messages and pictures on "our face books" to please stop, because they're just like women who dress slutty in church. Or something. Anyway, that's not even the best part. Sen. McGill defended his wife by saying that her post came in response to incidents like the one where two strippers showed up at his home in the middle of the night. Democracy!
I really can't imagine a better note to end on than that. Less sexy stuff below.
|For the Week of June 5, 2013|
The following 22 state legislatures are actively meeting this week: ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, LOUISIANA, MAINE, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, OHIO, OREGON, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, TEXAS, WASHINGTON and WISCONSIN
The Republican Attorneys General Association will hold its Summer National Meeting June 8-11 in Mackinac Island, Michigan. Connie Campanella at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Air Resources Board will hold a public workshop June 3 to discuss potential changes to the cap on greenhouse gas emissions and market-based compliance mechanisms.
The Senate Committee on Health will meet June 5 to discuss A.B. 209, which requires the State Department of Health Care Services to develop and implement a plan to monitor, evaluate and improve the quality, accessibility and utilization of health care and dental services provided through Medi-Cal managed care.
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die June 5.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die June 6.
The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture met June 3 to discuss H.B. 808, which addresses the labeling of genetically modified foods.
The Joint Committee on Public Health met June 4 to discuss H.B. 1992, which prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of any child care product containing bisphenol-A (BPA).
The House Tax Policy Committee will meet June 5 consider two measures, H.B. 4202 and H.B. 4203, which apply the state sales tax to purchases made over the Internet.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die June 3.
The Senate will vote on its version of the FY 2014-2015 budget June 6.
The Senate Education Committee will meet June 6 to discuss S.B. 5509, which directs the Commissioner of Education to establish an online learning committee to make recommendations for the establishment of a statewide online and blended learning program.