March madness: I totally understand your urge to dismiss the apparently terrible human being in New Hampshire who posted a sexually explicit joke about domestic abuse victims as just another goober state legislator. But somewhere north of 260 former state-level lawmakers serve in the United States Congress right now. Like, today. Oh, and one of them is our president. Seventeen more used to be.
- Forced March: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker plans on wasting taxpayer money to re-trample all over voting rights if the state Supreme Court decides to overturn the state's voter ID law. Walker signed the law in 2011, but it was swiftly blocked by state courts. Now Walker says he'll call a special legislative session to re-pass the law if he doesn't get his way judicially. He definitely wants photo ID requirements at polling places "in effect before the next election."
- Fun fact! The next election happens to be his election! How crazy!
- Oh, and to keep their voter-suppression skills nice and sharp, Wisconsin lawmakers are keeping busy by passing other restrictive measures, like the one that eliminates early voting on weekends.
- Victory March:...Iowa Democrats hope, anyway. Longtime Democratic state Sen. Dennis Black announced his retirement this week, creating a competitive open seat as both parties vie for majority control of the Senate (26 D/24 R) this fall. Obama won Black's SD-15 with 51.7% in 2012; Romney took 46.8%.
- If Republicans flip two Democratic seats in November and if the House and governorship remain in GOP hands, Republicans will finally have "trifecta" control of state government, and you can count on some of the extreme measures passed in surrounding states in recent years becoming law here.
- Sherman's March: (Too soon?) The Georgia legislature has become the first to officially pass a resolution calling for a U.S. Constitution-altering Convention of States (as provided for by Article V). Because term limits! Balanced federal budget! Limiting the power and jurisdiction of evil federal government! One state down, just 33 to go.
- The Georgia House is pulling some sneaky business with what some have affectionately dubbed the "guns everywhere" bill. The measure, which would allow guns in bars, churches, and any government building that doesn't already have security, has already passed the House. Fearing for its fate in the Senate. the bill's sponsors pulled a parliamentary move that allows the measure to bypass a potentially bill-killing committee and head straight to the Senate floor for an up-or-down vote. Unless it gets sent to conference committee. Whatever.
- Also, Georgia lawmakers have managed to muck up their big chance to codify restrictions on abortion coverage by state health insurance plans. But they still have time to fix it, thought relieved women across the state who apparently can't be trusted to make decisions about their own health and bodies.
- Forward March: Echoing a similar sequence of events in 2011, activists in Ohio are taking on the new law eradicating the "golden week" -- the period during which voters can register and cast ballots at the same time -- and other attacks on voting rights at the ballot box itself. On Monday, Attorney General Mike DeWine certified petition language to add a Voters Bill of Rights to the state Constitution. On Thursday, the ballot measure faces another hurdle before supporters can begin to collect the roughly 385,000 signatures required to present the amendment to voters in November.
- Rogue's March: Utah is sick and tired of Jon Huntsman being the only reason they ever got any presidential campaign's attention, and they're not going to take it any more. The House just passed a measure that would allow the state to conduct its presidential primary a week before any other state -- online! If HB410 becomes law, retribution from the national parties will likely be swift and severe. Oh, and don't forget that New Hampshire has that tank.
- Imperial (Stout) March: In a fine show of bipartisan spirit in Michigan, state lawmakers have passed a measure that would make life easier for microbreweries (and more delicious for those of us who enjoy them) by doubling production limits, streamlining licensing, and helping startups get off the ground.
- The March West: Montana voters may get the chance to approve a ballot measure this fall that would require the state's legislature "be comprised of exactly one-half men and one-half women." The proposal has been approved for signature gathering, and supporters need to collect and submit 48,349 valid signatures by June 20.
- Et tu, Brute? West Virginia has recently become the first state with Democratic majorities in both legislative chambers to pass a 20-week abortion ban. We'll see if Gov. Tomblin plans to waste taxpayer dollars on the inevitable constitutional challenge that will follow if he signs the measure.
For the Week of March 12, 2014
The following 39 state legislatures are actively meeting this week: ALABAMA, ALASKA, ARKANSAS, ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, CONNECTICUT, COLORADO, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISIANA, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, UTAH, VERMONT, WASHINGTON and WISCONSIN.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO
The Air Resources Board held a public workshop March 11 to discuss amendments to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard and updates to the Oil Production Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimator.
The House Transportation and Energy Committee will meet March 13 to discuss S.B. 103, which prohibits the sale of lavatory faucets, shower heads, flushing urinals, tank-type toilets and tank-type water closets after September 1, 2016 unless they are a Water Sense program listed plumbing fixture.
The State Board of Education will meet March 12 to discuss proposed amendments to rules related to teacher certification and teacher preparations.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die March 14.
The Senate Utilities Committee will hold a hearing March 13 on H.B. 2636, which relates to standards for carbon dioxide emissions for coal-fired generating units.
The Legislature convened its 2014 Legislative Session March 10.
Governor Bobby Jindal (R) delivered his State of the State address March 10.
The House Health and Government Operations Committee met March 11 to discuss H.B. 1276, which would put restrictions on beverages served by a child care center.
The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy held a hearing March 11 to discuss S.B. 2019, which establishes a study commission on net metering.
A conference committee met March 10 to discuss H.F. 92 and S.F. 3, which would increase the minimum wage to $9.50.
NEW HAMPSHIREThe Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing March 11 to discuss H.B. 350, which prohibits employment discrimination
against the unemployed.
The Assembly Women and Children Committee met March 10 to discuss A.B. 679 relating to school breakfast programs.
The Shared Services and Government Efficiency subcommittee met March 11 to discuss possible recommendations to the full committee regarding the establishment of DataOhio, a website that functions as a catalog where public records and data sets can be located and accessed by the public.
The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare will meet March 12 to discuss H.B. 7254, which would require food establishments to list the calories of their menu items.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will meet March 12 to discuss H.B. 2096, which imposes an additional tax on cigarettes.
The Senate Education Committee will meet March 12 to discuss S.B. 1902, which addresses student data privacy.