Thursday, July 10, 2014

Let's Get Ready To Rumble edition

I can't help but lead with some seriously amazing breaking news out of Florida.
  • TKO:  A Leon County judge has just ruled that all 27 of Florida's congressional districts have to be redrawn because two of them violate the state's Fair District constitutional provisions. The Republican lawmakers who drew the map will appeal, of course, so expect this fall's congressional elections to proceed on the existing lines. Who's excited to spend some quality time in Tallahassee?
    • You can read the whole decision (and I do recommend it -- lots of good nerdy bits, especially for data folks), but the 41 pages can mostly be condensed to "Really? REALLY? Come on, now. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck." 
And now, back to our main event, already in progress.
  • Ground and pound: Many state legislative races are won or lost by just a few hundred votes, and in closely-divided chambers -- say, for instance, the Iowa, Nevada and Colorado Senates --  those few hundred votes can tip the entire state's balance of partisan power. 
  • Opening round: In Kansas, the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence is getting its lawsuit on. The group filed a suit against Gov. Sam Brownback over a year-old law that ostensibly nullifies all federal gun laws state officials feel are in violation of their Second Amendment rights. The law also permits unregulated manufacture and sale of guns and ammo, as well as background check- and record-free weapon purchases. Guns don't kill people. Kansas kills people.
  • Tapping out: An effort by Restore Colorado (led by the folks pushing last year's 11-county secession effort) to effectively gerrymander the Colorado House into Republican hands is fizzling out... this year, at least. The group wants to ditch that whole "proportional representation" nonsense and allot each county one seat in the state House, giving the several hundred residents of a rural county the same voice in government as... well, the hundreds of thousands of folks who live in Denver. Can't let all those "urban" people have fair representation, amirite? Because someone needs to speak for all that empty land between white people in sparsely-populated areas. 
  • Trash talking: Lawmakers say the darndest things. Last week, a Kentucky state Senator declared global warming a myth, since his knowledge of "data" in "academia" makes it clear to him that Earth and Mars have the same surface temperature, and that's meaningful, because Mars has no coal mines or factories. Except that Mars also has an average temperature of -81 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    • Cross-party crazy: A lawmaker from the other side of the aisle didn't deny that climate change exists, but he assures everyone that we'll totally be okay, since global warming definitely didn't kill the dinosaurs, except then "the dinosaurs died, and we don't know why, but the world adjusted." Science!
    • Also, a state Senator in Arizona indulged her constituent conspiracy theorists by having staffers from the state Department of Environmental Quality come to a town hall meeting to address... "chemtrails." Yes, some people in Sen. Kelli Ward's district think they're being contaminated by chemicals spewed from airplanes flying overhead, and she made two innocent state employees meet with these folks and pretend they weren't wasting time and taxpayer money. 
And speaking of Michigan, now seems like a good time for a programming note.
TWISA will be taking a little break next week while I attend Netroots Nation in Detroit. I'm on a sweet panel with the Daily Kos Elections crew, and you should definitely come (Saturday, 7/19, 11 a.m., Cobo Center Room 140 AB) for an in-depth discussion of the 2014 elections. It's a great chance to ask me face-to-face all the things you've been too shy to bring up online.

For the Week of July 10, 2014 

The following 4 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA and PENNSYLVANIA.

 The National Governors Association will hold its Summer Meeting July 10-13 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The National Association of Counties will hold its Annual Conference and Exposition July 11-14 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
The Democratic Governors Association will hold a DGA Reception July 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The Republican Governors Association will hold its Summer Reception July 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The National Association of Secretaries of State will hold its Summer Conference July 13-16 in Baltimore, Maryland. 

The Council of State Governments Midwestern Legislative Conference will hold its 69th Annual Meeting July 13-16 in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Early Voting bill AB 2177 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations on August 4 at 10:00 a.m.  This bill would require election officials to allow voters to vote at an early voting location on at least one Saturday on or after the election official delivers ballots to absentee voters. Early voting under this bill is defined as casting a mail ballot in person.

Youth Voting bill SB 113 was read a second time and amended. This bill would extend California's pre-registration policy to citizens at least 16 years of age. Currently, 17-year-old citizens can pre-register to vote and would be automatically eligible to vote upon turning 18. This bill exempts election officials from having to send preregistrants a residency confirmation postcard.

Conduct of Elections bill SCR 123 was chaptered by the Secretary of State Res. Chapter 78, Statutes of 2014. This bill would proclaim the week of September 21 through September 27 as Voter Awareness Week.


The Legislative Commission on Data Privacy met July 8 to discuss proposed legislation regarding data privacy and emerging issues in data security. 


The Office of Energy and Planning held a public meeting July 8 to discuss the development of a state energy strategy. 


The Senate Environment and Energy Committee will hear testimony July 10 from the Renewable Energy Stakeholder Working Groups regarding mitigating solar development volatility, achieving Global Warming Response Act goals and reconsidering incentives for Class I Renewables. 


The Interim Economic and Rural Development Committee met July 7-9 to discuss and hear testimony about public television as an economic development tool, the role of breweries in the state economy and the Liquor Control Act. 


The Department of Environmental Conservation accepted comments through July 9 about proposed rule amendments to cap-and-trade programs that reduce nitrogen oxide and other emissions from major stationary sources. 

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