So, now that Belgium is finally the dirty word we were warned it would be, I'm here to guide you through the universe of state legislative politics, elections, and antics this week. Grab a towel.
- Don't panic. A vast array of state laws went into effect on July 1. Did you or someone you love become a criminal yesterday?
- In California, minimum wage-earners are now making $9 an hour, and the state is barred from establishing building codes targeting facilities that provide abortion services (Republicans have used these bogus building restrictions in other states as a back-door mechanism for shutting clinics down).
- In Minnesota, the Women's Economic Security Act goes into effect, expanding parental leave to 12 weeks, reducing the gender pay gap, and enhancing work-related support and protection for victims of domestic violence (among other things, of course).
- Also, the state is launching an initiative to save bees, which is a smart move, if you like eating food.
- In Georgia, Gov. Deal is delaying implementation of the nation's harshest law using drug testing on welfare recipients, since he's going to be sued and all.
- Not too many people noticed, though, since most minds were on the state's new "Guns Everywhere" law going into effect. Now Georgians can carry guns in bars and government buildings and, if you ask real nice, in churches and schools, too.
- The law also expands the state's "Stand Your Ground" statute and gets rid of state recordkeeping for gun sales. We can only assume the "Kevlar vest for every man, woman, and child" provision got cut from the bill in committee.
- A new law in Alabama will shut down three of the state's five abortion clinics by forcing them to adhere to onerous building codes. Because the best thing before and after a medical procedure is a long drive, amirite ladies? And twice, no less, given the state's 24-hour waiting period.
- A close call in Missouri may prevent the state from forcing women to wait 72 hours to think really really hard because having lady parts must make that decision-making stuff awfully difficult before obtaining an abortion. Gov. Jay Nixon just vetoed HB 1307, which on top of being incredibly invasive, insulting, and onerous also provides zero exceptions for victims of rape or incest.
- Considering that state Senate Republicans had to make a devil's bargain with Democrats to pass the wretched thing in the first place, Gov. Nixon's veto may very well survive. Way back in May, Senate GOPers quietly struck a deal with Democrats to pass this stuck "waiting period" bill (and a constitutional amendment aimed at restricting early voting) in exchange for killing two proposed constitutional amendments requiring voter ID and banning paycheck deductions of union dues.
- Speaking of abortion, Mississippi has outlawed the procedure at 20 weeks.
- Also, the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act went into effect, sparking protests as some state residents worry the measure will lead to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. How many Hobby Lobbys are there in Mississippi?
- Maryland has outlawed 190-proof grain alcohol, "a measure that lawmakers hope will help to reduce sexual assaults" at colleges. Which seems odd, since I've never heard of someone being raped by an alcoholic beverage.
- Time is an illusion, and lunchtime doubly so. Illusory or not, time brings Election Day ever nearer, and summertime or not, campaign season is hurtling forward at the speed of bad news. Campaign committees are targeting and posturing, and Larry Sabato-wannabes are gazing into their crystal balls. It's too early to make meaningful calls on many states and chambers with narrow margins, but not all. Especially if they've, say, just had their primaries.
- Colorado falls into that "just had primaries" category, and the outcome of those contests had a major impact on Republicans' hopes of flipping the state Senate (18 D/17 R) from Democratic control in November. Two extreme right-wing candidates won GOP primaries in swing districts in the Denver suburbs, candidates one former state Republican Party chairman said "cannot" win in the general election.
- Fun fact! Senate Districts 19 and 22 went 53.5% and 54.2% for Obama in 2012, respectively, per Daily Kos Elections. Not an indicator of future performance, certainly, but it's a handy way to gauge the leanings of a district.
- So where does that leave us? This chamber went from arguable tossup to legit Lean Democratic last week. Expect mainstream national Republicans to direct their resources to flipping other majorities.
- And while it's not exactly competitive, Florida falls into the filing-deadline-was-so-last-week pile. No matter how glass-half-full you are, there's no denying that the state House (45 D/75 R) and Senate (14 D/26 R) are not pickup opportunities for Democrats this cycle, especially after the state's candidate filing deadline came and went and left a third of the legislature totally unopposed for reelection.
- Eight of 26 incumbent Senate Republicans are as good as reelected, and elections for 38 House seats have only one candidate.
- Only one of the 20 Senate elections this year is expected to be anywhere near close. Democracy! (Also, redistricting!)
- A salmon of doubt about his judgment: In Maine, news broke this week that Gov. Paul LePage liked to hang out with the Constitutional Coalition, a Sovereign Citizens-affiliated group that thought it could arrest the state's Democratic House Speaker and Senate President and put them on trial for high treason... along with other, less reasonable beliefs.
And now some news about a group that caught on to the importance of state legislatures way before most other folks did:
- If there's anything more important than my ego around, I want it caught and shot now. Hooray! The speakers for the 41st Annual ALEC Annual Meeting have been announced! Herman Cain is back, along with his pal Newt Gingrich, cardinal number expert Rick Perry, and elected officials from Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas. Good times.
For the Week of July 2, 2014
The following 7 state legislatures are meeting actively this week:ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, DELAWARE, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA and PENNSYLVANIA.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO
The General Assembly convened a special session June 30.
The Legislature is scheduled to recess July 3.
The General Assembly adjourned June 30.
The General Assembly convened a special session July 1.
The Legislature recessed July 1.
The General Assembly was scheduled to recess June 30.
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