Thursday, August 28, 2014

Everything's Coming Up Statehouse edition

Hi, I'm Carolyn Fiddler! You may remember me from such classic missives as "New Hotness" and "The Twelve Days of Session." Today, I'm here to fill you in on end-of-summer statehouse action!

  • When you were in that coma, did you feel your brain getting damaged? A lawmaker in Utah has a fresh new take on why states should reject the Medicaid expansion offered through Obamacare: Untreated illnesses and injuries don't kill people; hospitals kill people. People die in hospitals, so we shouldn't give more people access to hospitals.
    • No, seriously. According to Republican Rep. Mike Kennedy, "Sometimes access to healthcare can be damaging and dangerous. ...I've heard from National Institutes of Health and otherwise that we're killing up  to a million, a million and a half people every year in our hospitals. And it's access to hospitals that's killing those people."
  • The most rewarding part was when he gave me my money. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is headed to northern Kentucky next week as part of his ongoing effort to flip the state House from Democratic to Republican majority control. Paul is headlining a breakfast fundraiser on September 3 for AmeriGOP, a super PAC that's raising money for 10 House races across the state. 
      • Fun fact! Republicans only need to pick up five seats to flip the chamber. The GOP already controls the state Senate (14 D/23 R/1 I).
    • AmeriGOP is headed by (a guy whose actual name is) Dick Knock, a developer who's super jazzed about the possibility of a Republican-controlled legislature passing fun things like "right to work" and anti-choice bills and repealing those pesky prevailing wage laws.
    • Dick Knock's AmeriGOP plans to raise $200,000 to run ads in those 10 House races. As of July 1, the super PAC had raised $44,500 from nine donors.
      • Maybe Dick Knock cares about moving anti-choice and anti-middle class policies forward in the state, but let's not forget the real reason Sen. Rand Paul wants to flip the House: Those pesky Democrats won't pass a law letting him run for Senate and President at the same time. As Speaker Stumbo so eloquently put it, "A man who can't decide which office to run for isn't fit for either office." 
        • Also... Dick Knock. Sorry. I'm still 12, apparently.

  • If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about. But goats are great! I mean, lawmakers in Oregon don't have an annual cow milking competition. No, they compete in the bipartisan "Oregon Legislative Goat Milking Showdown." (The contest started in 2000 between two legislators working to save the state fair.) 
    • Seven lawmakers competed this third milk-off, and the boasts and accusations got pretty serious.
      • According to Sen. Bill "farm boy" Hansell, "It's all in the technique... You got to get the hand motion and the timing." (Still 12!)
      • Sen. Peter Courtney got some practice in before the competition, but he's not sure it went well. "The goats kept giving me this side eye look. Let me put in this way: these goats will not be voting for me after this."
      • Sen. Courtney was also accused of starting a whisper campaign against Rep. Val Hoyle, telling folks she'd been practicing on a rented goat. She insists that this was the "first time [she'd] touched a goat" and compared it to "an awkward first date."
    • Sen. Hansell won the competition, even after being handicapped for his many years of milking experience by being forced to milk a miniature Nigerian goat. "It's harder to milk because I've got big hands and she didn't have big faucets." Goodnight, everybody!

  • Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children? Were you starting to miss fun conspiracy theories like Agenda 21 and whatever Donald Trump mumbled in his sleep last night? Well, pine no more. The newest flavor of birther-type nonsense on the state level is argle bargle AP U.S. History! 
    • Two Republican lawmakers in Tennessee are freaking out about the course's alleged leftist bias (based on a grade-A derp approved by the RNC this summer). State Senators Gresham and Bell allege that AP U.S. History includes "little or no discussion of the founding fathers and the principals of the Declaration of Independence" and throws shade on settlers' explorations and American involvement in WWII and the Cold War.
      • Fun fact! Last year, these two state Senators claimed the state's social studies textbooks were biased, a flipout that resulted in increased control over the textbook board by lawmakers.

  • I am so smart, S-M-R-TLast spring the South Carolina legislature voted to repeal the adoption of the Common Core State Standards. By the time Gov. Haley signed the measure into law on May 30, textbook ordering for the 2014-2015 school year was well under way, and lawmakers didn't approve funding to replace those books until the end of July. School districts have since been scrambling to replace the newly unlawful books with ones with Common Core all scrubbed out. 
    • Two weeks into the school year, history students in Charleston County still don't have textbooksGreat job, lawmakers!
      • Fun fact! Even though crapping all over Common Core is the New Hotness among conservatives on both the state and national levels, the standards themselves were created by the National Governors Association and a nonpartisan association of state education officials. They'd been adopted by 43 states before Republicans suddenly decided they were the WORST THING EVER. (Republicans besides Jeb Bush, that is. Which is why he's boned in 2016.)

  • It's just like I've always said: democracy doesn't work. Oklahoma came within 22 votes of having its first (and possibly the nation's first) transgender lawmaker. Retired police officer and Army veteran Paula Sophia lost to fellow Democrat Jason Dunnington in Tuesday's runoff in HD-88. (No Republican filed to run in the district.)

  • Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter: I had my little redistricting flip-out last week, but this Benjy Sarlin MSNBC piece is just too great to not hype. 
    • 2014 is practically over, and everyone's gushing about 2016, but people who know things about things understand that 2020 is the real hotness, because that's when the lawmakers who draw congressional (and state) maps are elected.
      • tl;dr version: 2010 both sucked and blew for Democrats; state legislative and congressional elections have been rough for Democrats since then because of the terrible maps Republicans drew; Democrats need a smart plan and a boatload of money to win the elections necessary to influence the next redistricting; and the hottest states to in play for the next six years are FloridaMichiganOhio, and Pennsylvania.
        • Fun fact! Before the 2010 elections, Democrats had majorities in the Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania Houses. I still get a headache when I think about how much keeping those would have changed things...

  • If they're going to stomp on my dreams, the least I can do is go out in a blaze of sour grapesMontana's Republican Senate Majority Leader couldn't possibly be responsible for illegally coordinating and accepting unlawful corporate contributions from a secretive group, because, you see, when he got caught red-handed doing something extremely illegal, the governor and other state officials were actually conspiring to drive him out of office. 
    • Sen. Wittich insists that the state Commissioner of Political Practices is acting with the "ulterior purpose" of removing him from office, except that the purpose isn't so much "ulterior" as it is exactly what the Commissioner is trying to do, since state law requires Wittich's removal for the alleged misconduct.
      • Wittich was shocked, SHOCKED! when the judge tossed his silly claims out of court on Wednesday.
    • Wittich and eight other Republican lawmakers face civil trials for accepting contributions from a corporation, which is prohibited by state law. Yes, Montana remains a fragile bastion of clean elections laws!
      • You might be wondering, Why on earth should I give half a crap about the state Senate in a place as conservative as Montana? Fair question, but the chamber is more competitive than appearances suggest. 
        • Democrats only need to flip four seats to win the majority (21 D/29 R); 
        • the batch of Senators up this year was last elected in the GOP wave of 2010; and 
        • Sen. John Walsh just dumped nearly $180,000 from his now-useless campaign account into the state Democratic Party and legislative campaign committee.
Epic h/t to Reid Wilson, who saved me some weekly angst by helpfully suggesting an excellent email theme. 

For the Week of August 28, 2014 

The following 5 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: CALIFORNIA, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, OHIO and SOUTH CAROLINA.


The State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Program Legislative Task Force met August 26 to discuss long-term options for ensuring the fiscal and programmatic stability of the State Employee Health Insurance Plan and the Public School Employee Health Insurance Plan. 

The Joint Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor will meet August 28 to discuss the implementation of the Arkansas Healthcare Independence Act. 


A primary election was held August 26 for the offices of the Governor and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats. 


The San Jose City Council met August 26 to consider a resolution declaring a citywide water shortage and implementing a Stage 1 water restriction. 


A primary election was held August 26 for the offices of the Governor and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats. 


The House Study Committee on the Role of the Federal Government in Education met August 25 to discuss common core state standards. 


The Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy will meet August 28 to discuss implementing a state health exchange, the status of the federal health exchange, ACA provisions and consumer choice of healthcare providers. 

The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services will hold a public hearing August 28 to discuss high-cost management programs for those with high claim costs under a health plan. 


The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing August 28 to discuss proposed rule amendments to water bottling requirements. 


The Health Exchange Advisory Committee met August 26 to receive an enrollment update as well as an update about recent developments regarding the health exchange. 


The Interim Joint Committee on Children, Families, Health and Human Services met August 26 to discuss two bill drafts related to the Montana Prescription Drug Registry fee and prescriptions for minors. 


The Education Study Committee met August 25 - 27 to discuss matters related to early literacy, assessment data and teacher retention. 

The Education Study Committee Charter School Subcommittee will meet August 27 - 28 to discuss the Statewide Cyber Academy Act and cyber/virtual school funding. 


The Human Services Committee will meet August 28 to discuss the use of electronic health records and receive a presentation from the North Dakota Insurance Department about potential changes in insurance coverage relating to behavioral health services. 

A primary runoff election was held August 26 to decide the races from the June 24 primaries where no candidate received a majority of votes, including House and Senate seats. 


The Department of Environmental Quality will accept comments through August 28 regarding proposed rules to adopt revisions to statewide particulate matter standards and the pre-construction permitting program. 


The House Committee on Energy Resources met August 26 to hear testimony about the impact of expanding oil and gas exploration, as well as projected water needs and how those fit with the state water plan. 


A primary election was held August 26 for the offices of the Governor and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats. 


The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee held a joint meeting with the Ad-Hoc Wyoming Telecommunications Act Task Force August 26 to discuss carrier of last resort obligations and retail price regulation in the state. 

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