Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Winter Lawmaker edition

Spring is springing, filing deadlines are passing, but sooooo many legislative sessions that started in January, February just... keep... going. 

Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?

Terrible winters
  • Lawmakers in Minnesota have over a month left in their session, but by the end of this week, they'll have already passed what's likely to be seen as state Democrats' defining legislative achievement this year: raising the minimum wage. Earlier today, the state Senate (39 D/28 R) passed a bill to raise the state's hourly minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 -- and indexed to inflation from 2018 onward. The House (73 D/61 R) is expected to agree to the measure tomorrow, and Gov. Dayton plans to sign it into law by the end of the week.
    • Fun fact! According to NCSL, 34 states have considered bills aimed at raising the minimum wage.
    • Funner fact!  Minnesota will join Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia in raising the minimum wage through legislation this year. Minimum wage ballot measures are likely to face voters in the fall in several other states.
  • Next door in Wisconsin, candidates have until June 2 to file, and one GOP seat in particular just got a little more inviting for challengers from both parties. Sen. Mike Ellis is the latest victim of a Project Veritas sting, possibly because some Republicans consider him insufficiently conservative. SD 19 was barely carried by Obama in 2012, and Ellis was already a top target for Democrats as they fight for control of the state Senate (15 D/18 R). 
    • No matter what happens here, this district will remain one to watch through November.
  • Speaking of the Wisconsin Senate, it looks like SD 20 is going to be an open seat this fall. State Sen. Glenn Grothman has announced he'll primary GOP Rep. Tom Petri (WI-06). You may remember Grothman from some January notoriety he gained when he tried to give workers the "freedom" to work seven days a week. 
    • Other Grothman greatest hits include 
      • That time he argued that public employees should have to work on MLK Day.
      • When he claimed "money is more important for men" as he worked to repeal the state's equal pay law.
    • It's all fun and games when state lawmakers do and say crazy things -- until they end up in Congress.
    • ... except it's not actually fun and games, because those wacky lawmakers are already passing laws that affect the lives of millions of people.
      • Why this crazy guy could win: The GOP party committee of this very same congressional district passed a resolution last month asserting the Badger State's right to secede.
  • But... isn't another open seat in the Wisconsin Senate good for Democrats? Actually, it's not an open seat -- Grothman's with the half of the Senate that's not up for reelection until 2016. And it wouldn't matter anyway; in Grothman's SD 20; Obama lost in 2012-- big timeThanks, gerrymandering!*
  • Candidates for office in Michigan have until April 22 to file, but Democrats have good reason to be optimistic already. A PPP poll gives legislative Dems a 10-point edge over Republicans on the generic legislative ballot, and while Democratic lawmakers have only a narrowly positive favorability rating (41/39), statehouse Republicans find themselves with few fans (29/51). 
    • Democrats are itching to take back the state House (50 D/59 R/1 I), but the GOP's successful gerrymander makes this an uphill slog -- no matter how much folks loathe Republicans.
  • A whole lot of Democrats are running for state House and Senate in North Dakota. Candidate filing ended on Monday, and a "late rush" of Dems may indicate dissatisfaction with the way Republicans are running this conservative state. Democrats are eager to chip away at the two-thirds majorities held by the GOP in both chambers, and with 25 women running for legislative seats (to Republicans' 12), state Dems are pleased that their "tickets across the state look a whole lot more like North Dakota than the Republican ticket does."
  • Massachusetts might get its own official state cowboy. Yeehaw.

Air conditioning is fully operational.
  • A state Senator in South Carolina compared Planned Parenthood to Hitler. Because of course. Oh, and the Senate is currently considering a 20-week abortion ban that passed the state House last month.
    • This happens to be one of the same Senators who almost derailed an 8-year-old girl's attempt to have the Columbian mammoth declared the official state fossil
    • And would you believe... it's still not a done deal? After the Senate amended the measure to read as follows, the House rejected it.
The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the 'Columbian Mammoth', which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field."
    • Yes, a bill to declare a mammoth the official state fossil is going to conference committee
  • Big labor news in MissouriThe extreme right-wing push to put a so-called "right to work" constitutional amendment ballot measure before voters in August is stalled, on its last leg, near death... but the fight isn't quite over yet. Supporters of the union-busting measure need to get four republicans to flip their votes to move it to the Senate.
  • So the Virginia legislature is totally supposed to be done with session by now, except the GOP-controlled House is having so much fun blocking Medicaid expansion that lawmakers have to keep going back to Richmond to share in the joy. 
    • The General Assembly has until the end of June to pass a budget and avoid a government shutdown, so we can expect these antics to go on for a while.
  • The only thing that stops a Tennessean with a gun is... um... Pretty soon folks in Tennessee could be able to carry firearms openly without a permit. The bill just passed the state Senate (6 D/27 R) and is likely to sail through the House (27 D/71 R/1 I).

For the Week of April 9, 2014  




The National League of Cities will hold its Big Ideas for Cities Meeting April 11 in Chicago, Illinois. 


Voter Registration bill SB 235 was sent to the governor. This bill shortens the voter registration period, which would end 14 days before Election Day.


The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing April 9 to discuss S.B. 1000, which requires warning labels on sugar sweetened beverages. 


The Common Core Task Force will meet April 9 to continue discussing recommendations on how best to implement the Common Core Education standards. 


Absentee Voting bill HB 191 is scheduled to be heard by the House House Administration Committee on April 9 at 2:30 p.m. This bill expands the list of excuses to vote absentee. It also eliminates the requirement to notarize any request to vote absentee.

Same Day Registration bill HB 105 passed the House. This bill provides for election day registration for presidential primary, primary, special, and general elections whereas currently the deadline is the fourth Saturday prior to the date of the election. Moreover, same day registration at polling places will be permitted with submission of valid government issued identification or other generally accepted proof of identification.


Same Day Registration bill HB 2590 passed out of committee as amended. This bill allows for "late registration." An eligible citizen may register to vote before Election Day at any absentee polling place or on Election Day at the polling place for the county in which the citizen lives.


The General Assembly adjourned sine die April 7.


Voter Registration bill HF 2096 was placed on the calendar for Tuesday, April 8. This bill establishes a policy to allow citizens to register to vote online. Registrations are accepted if received in person, by mail, or online on the 21st day preceding any election.


The Senate Appropriations Committee met April 7-8 to discuss multiple bills which pertain to funding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. 

The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee held a hearing April 8 to discuss S.B. 207, which prohibits wage discrimination based on gender and establishes fines for any violation. 
The Energy Development and Transmission Committee met April 8 to discuss hydraulic fracking and the effect fracking currently has on water and soil quality. 

via Stateside AssociatesProject Vote.
*Updated 1:40 p.m. on 4/10/14

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