Did you think the holiday season was going to be sleepy? HA!
Some legislatures are cramming in end-of-year action (remember Michigan's so-called "right to work" bill last year?). Others are gearing up for sessions that start in January.
So here's what's up.
- Department of loose threads: The Michigan rape insurance measure continues to move forward. This petition-driven measure would outlaw abortion coverage except through a separate rider on a customer's health insurance policy and, if approved by the GOP-controlled legislature, would bypass a likely gubernatorial veto and automatically become law. The measure is now officially in the legislature's hands, and the clock started Monday on the 40-day period within which lawmakers must act on it. If the legislature doesn't approve the measure, voters will vote on it in November 2014.
- It's like a condom, but with money. Because misogynistic petitions can't fill a legislator's entire day, the GOP-controlled Michigan legisl
ature is keeping itself busy by coming up with fun new ways to prevent electoral defeat (the other feared E.D.). Lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation that lifts a ban on caucus spending to protect incumbents in primaries and doubles campaign contribution limits. The incumbent protection bill also legalizes the anonymity of donors behind "issues ads" -- you know, the spots calling Rep. X a child molester but don't tell people whether to vote for him. Democracy!
- Because a pro-child labor platform is a sure ticket to reelection. Maine Gov. Paul LePage will continue his child labor crusade in the upcoming legislative session. Oh, he's for it. And this isn't the first time he's tried to loosen the state's child labor laws. The Maine Republican's efforts to loosen labor standards in 2011 weren't well received and failed even with GOP majorities controlling the statehouse. I'm sure that things will go much more smoothly now that Democrats have legislative majorities in both chambers.
- And Gov. LePage isn't just working to rid Maine of the scourge of lazy children. He's moving the Department of Health and Human Services away from all those poors in downtown Portland -- a site near a career center and a soup kitchen -- to scenic South Portland. The new site is a 30-40 minute bus ride one-way from downtown, and a ticket costs $3. A taxi will make the trip faster, but then the cost of the trip jumps to over $30. The new site is, however, near a jetport, so that should make getting in and out super quick for all those folks in need of DHHS services.
- Department of symbolic gestures: Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin, who got rather boned by the most recent GOP-controlled redistricting, are trying to place an "advisory referendum" supporting the creation of a nonpartisan redistricting system on the November 2014 ballot. The results of the referendum are in no way binding on lawmakers.
- #demsindisarray: The Virginia AG race recount process rolls on, but the parties are already getting their ducks in a row for the special election to replace Democrat Mark Herring in the state Senate. Republican Del. Joe May was totally going to run for the GOP nomination, but then he found out the local committee planned to scrap the traditional "firehouse primary" in favor of the more convention-like "mass meeting." Now he's invoking the late Sen. Harry Byrd Jr. in his declaration to run as an independent. Democrats have already selected Leesburg attorney Jennifer Wexler (in a firehouse primary) to run to replace Herring in the 33rd Senate District.