It was tough to get through a week without you, dear reader, but I made it, and it's statehouse action time. Because it's always statehouse action time. SO MUCH STATEHOUSE ACTION, ALL THE TIME. Really, if this email had a sponsor, it could totally be Red Bull.
Anyway, yesterday alone, two major state stories popped hard.
- A federal judge in Colorado became the second jurist in the state (the other was a state court judge) to proclaim the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
- Also in second-judge-to-strike-something-down news, Indiana's so-called "right to work" law was ruled "null and void" by a circuit court judge. A superior court judge struck down the law in a separate case last fall, and that case will be heard before the state Supreme Court on September 4.
And speaking of hot court action...
- Hobby Lobby was going to sponsor this item, but it, ah, pulled out: Down-ballot Democrats in Ohio are going to remind voters which party stands up for women's health in the wake of that Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision. Democratic women in the state House and Senate are introducing the "Not My Boss's Business Act" (a bill bearing a striking resemblance to the one that failed in the U.S. Senate last week). The measure would prohibit employers from offering insurance that doesn't cover all forms of FDA-approved contraception.
- Reality check, brought to you by A.C. Moore: Does this bill have a snowball's chance of passing this year? Hell, no. But it'll help remind women what's at stake at the ballot box in the fall.
- Speaking of attempts to counter recent SCOTUS decisions, in the wake of the ruling that struck down a law mandating a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics, Democrats in Massachusetts are just about to pass a slightly tweaked version of those zones, since Kevlar and Bose noise-canceling headphones don't come cheap.
- They'd best hurry; the legislative session is set to wrap up next week.
- Coathanger manufacturers, rich forever...since they may seen an unfortunate uptick in demand in coming years if a certain Tennessee ballot measure passes this November.
- Once upon a time in 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that language the state's Constitution provides women an even stronger right to obtain an abortion than the wording of the U;S. Constitution. Fourteen years later, state lawmakers are still aching for the power to deprive women of the right to make their own healthcare decisions, and those legislators are hoping voters will hook them up by approving Amendment 1, because what makes us so special, anyway?
- The folks behind the "Yes on 1" ballot measure campaign have raised $518,000 of their $2.1 million goal; the "Vote No on 1" supporters of abortion rights have pulled in $360,000 of their $4 million goal.
- The contest seems like jump ball at this point. According to a recent Vanderbilt University poll, respondents split "pro-life"/"pro-choice" 48/45, but only 23 percent wanted to give state lawmakers "more power to regulate abortions."
- Family dysfunction, brought to you by the American Psychological Association: ...conceivably, if the APA were some sort of commercial enterprise. Because if a ballot measure in North Dakota is successful this fall, lots of kids are going to need some serious therapy.
- This ballot measure essentially places a presumption that both parents should get equal physical custody above the essential consideration in all custody cases: the best interests of the child.
- Because everyone knows that forcing a child to shuttle between two homes/two schools/two towns/two doctors/two sets of friends (if s/he's in one place long enough to make any) is obviously in the best interest of the child. What are you, some nagging ex-wife who expects the father to pay child support OMG STOP TAKING THINGS AWAY FROM MEN AND GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN WOMAN!?@#!!1!
- Because that's really what this is all about. The "fathers' rights movement" is an insidious offshoot of the "men's rights movement." Courts giving custody preference to mothers is demonstrably a thing of the past.
- When men seek primary physical custody in a disputed divorce, 50% get it. In 51% of cases, both parents agree -- on their own, without involvement of the courts -- that the mother become the custodial parent.
- In fact, 91% of child custody after divorce is decided without any interference from a court at all.
- Fun fact! This ballot measure, should it become law, will actually make it harder to deny custody to abusive fathers (law nerds! Check out section (j), second sentence: credible evidence < clear and convincing evidence, which is what the new law will require to rebut "the presumption of fitness as a parent").
- Funner fact! North Dakotans rejected a similar measure back in 2006.
- You, too, can buy your own statehouse! ...as long as you spend ALL THE MONEY on state legislative elections (which really is a bargain as far as political spending goes, but that's another conversation for another time).
- North Carolina's Art Pope achieved notoriety when he effectively bankrolled the GOP takeover of that state's legislature in 2010. Now Missouri's Rex Sinquefield, discontent with the massive Republican majorities already existing in his state's legislature, wants to buy himself a GOP statehouse that agrees with him on ALL THE THINGS.
- Republican lawmakers who sided with Gov. Jay Nixon in his veto of an income tax cut bill (that benefits wealthy folks the most and places education funding and the state's AAA bond rating in jeopardy, but whatever) are being attacked by the Sinquefield-funded Missouri Club for Growth in advance of the August 5 primary.
- Fun fact! GOP lawmakers successfully overrode Gov. Nixon's veto of the tax cut bill. That's right -- Sinquefield got what he wanted, and he's going after Republicans who disagreed with him anyway.
- Brought to you by the U.S. Postal Service, technically: Fundamentalist LDS leader Warren Jeffs may be serving a life + 20-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting children, but he's apparently found a way to spend his time: snail-mail spamming members of the Utah legislature.
- A recent missive to legislators gave a lot of foreign policy advice relating to conflicts in Russia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. A few years ago, Jeffs was generously sharing revelations about the end of the world. One lawmaker was told he couldn't have sex with his wife until further notice. Thanks, terrible man who had sex with kids!
- Must Be The Sunshine: If you were hoping to book that Florida re-redistricting getaway before the this fall's elections, you're probably out of luck. In a Thursday hearing over whether the state's congressional maps should be redrawn before November 4, the judge remarked that he was "extremely skeptical" about the the ability and capacity of the parties involved to clean up the map mess in time. He'll issue his ruling by the end of next week.
For the Week of July 24, 2014
The following 3 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY and NORTH CAROLINA.
The National Lieutenant Governors Association will hold its Annual Meeting July 23-25 in Girdwood, Alaska.
The National League of Cities will hold its Summer Board of Directors and Policy Meetings July 24-26 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The Council of State Governments Southern Legislative Conference will hold its Annual Meeting July 26-30 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Joint Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor will meet July 24-25 to hear a presentation about the private health care option and the Community First Choice State Plan Option; to discuss proposed rules relating to psychology interns providing various services under supervision to patients; and to discuss a proposed rule regarding the application of fluoride varnish by dentists, physicians and nurse practitioners.
The Building Standards Commission met July 22 to discuss proposed updates to the building code regarding zero emission vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The District Council Committee on Economic Development meet July 23 to discuss bill 20-0805, which approves the development of a Major League Soccer Stadium.
A primary runoff election was held July 22 to decide the races from the May 20 primaries where no candidate received a majority of votes, including House and Senate seats.
The Committee on Health and the Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held an informational briefing July 21 to receive updates from the Hawaii Health Connector about the continued implementation of the insurance exchange and the Affordable Care Act.
The Chicago Committee on License and Consumer Protection met July 23 to consider an ordinance requiring secondhand cellular phone dealers to catalog additional information when purchasing cellular phones.
The Commission on Proprietary Education held a public hearing July 22 to discuss proposed rule amendments concerning applications, permits and renewals for proprietary schools.
The Baton Rouge City Council met July 23 to consider an ordinance regulating vehicles for hire and rideshare companies.
The Legislative Oversight Committee met July 22 to receive and discuss the MNsure's (State Health Insurance Exchange) most recent enrollment figures.
The Senate Higher Education Committee held a public hearing July 22 to discuss the impact of technology and online courses in higher education.
The Higher Education Coordinating Board will meet July 24 to discuss proposed amendments to rules related to institutional eligibility for the B-On-Time Loan Program.
The Joint Education Task Force met July 22 to discuss a new funding formula for higher education.
The Health Care Oversight Committee will meet July 24 to discuss an economic analysis of health care reform in the state as well as the Health Care Claims Uniform Reporting and Evaluation System.