It's almost time for the Big Game, but lawmakers in statehouses across the country might not even know about Deflategate, because they've got a lot more on their plates at the moment than nachos and wings.
- Super-exclusive club seats: Earlier this week, GOP Missouri House Speaker John Diehl didn't see the problem with holding legislative committee meetings at a country club over a dinner paid for by lobbyists. I mean, they're still technically public, so whatever, haters, let them have their saffron sea bass in peace.
- Then one of two "committee meetings" scheduled at the Jefferson City Country Club this week got really public when Progress Missouri livestreamed the whole thing.
- After some quality shaming from various media outlets, Speaker Diehl has reversed the call and decreed that all legislative committee meetings must take place at the capitol.
- Locker room fight: You'd think Republicans in the Nevada Assembly just lost to the Dolphins. I've previously mentioned the intraparty difficulties of GOP lawmakers in the Silver State, and things are just getting worse. Or better. Perspective!
- Session hasn't even started, but conservative activists are already threatening to recall GOP lawmakers (40% of the Assembly Republican Caucus!) who have failed to oppose Gov. Sandoval's proposed $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes with sufficient vigor .
MOAR RECALLS YAY
- Fun fact: 1993 was the last time a recall petition against a member of the legislature was successful. (Petitioners have to gather signatures of 25% of registered voters in a targeted district.)
- Fun fact OT: The state Republican Party has already filed a campaign finance complaint against one of the PACs involved in the recall efforts.
- Speaking of the Dolphins: Here's some Florida fun:
- When session begins on March 3, two GOP lawmakers will be pushing bills that would force middle and high school students to watch felonious filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza's "America: Imagine the World Without Her," a film in which D'Souza creatively excuses Americans from their responsibility for Native American genocide, slavery, and anything else allegedly bad they've ever done.
- The legislators behind the proposal claim that students are being taught negative and "erroneous" versions of American history, and D'Souza's film, widely derided as right-wing propaganda, will help counter "these lies."
Save the date! Sen. Alan Hays plans to hold a screening of "America: ITWWH" for his colleagues on February 11.
- Another date to save in Florida: March 4, when the state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the GOP-approved congressional district maps.
- Shots are already being fired by both sides; the current skirmish is over whether suggested maps put forward by the plaintiffs (League of Women Voters, et. al.) were drawn by Democratic consultants -- allegedly violating the standards under which the old GOP map was declared unconstitutional last summer.
- Team Bigot playbook: Several LGBT advocacy groups in Oklahoma have united to fight a blitz of bills aimed at denying LGBT Oklahomans equal rights, protection from discrimination, the freedom to marry, and even freedom from so-called "conversion therapy."
- The starting lineup includes:
- An extremely broad bill bearing similarities to Arizona's infamous (and vetoed) "turn away the gays" measure.
- Two bills that make "turning away the gays" okay as long as you argle bargle religious objections.
- A bill to protect those who administer so-called "conversion therapy," a practice denounced by the AMA and APA and prohibited by law in California and New Jersey.
- An almost comically absurd "Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act" that would require any public employee to be fired for granting, recognizing, or enforcing a same-sex marriage license.
- The measure proclaims itself "emergency" legislation that must go into effect as soon as it's signed into law "for the preservation of public peace, health, and safety."
- A bill that would do away with marriage licenses completely just to keep teh gays from getting any.
- Oklahoma isn't the only playing field for lawmakers seeking to condone anti-LGBT bigotry. Bills allowing discrimination in the name of God are advancing in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.
- Double-dipping: Not okay in Ro-Tel queso, still okay for awkwardly combined holidays: Lawmakers in Arkansas have killed a proposal to separate Robert E. Lee from the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday of January. The Natural State is one of three (Alabama and Mississippi do it, too) that still honor the Confederate general and the civil rights leader simultaneously.
- Another bill separating the observances is still kicking around, but it's likely to meet a similar fate.
"Separate is not equal," protested one devastatingly un-ironic Arkansan at the suggestion that a Lee observance day be created in November.
- But could they still be Seahawks fans...? Some Republican lawmakers in Washington want the eastern part of the state to secede from Seattle-stan and the surrounding republics. They've introduced legislation to create a "study committee" to evaluate the legal and political processes for breaking off a 51st state.
- According to Pravda Indiana, the footballs were fine and the Colts won: On Monday, news leaked that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence planned to launch a state news service, which is obviously a great idea if you want to preempt actual reporters from actually reporting on the stuff you're doing.
- The taxpayer-funded state-run outlet, called Just IN (GET IT? LOLOLOL), is set to launch in late February.
- Leaked documents circulated among state agencies indicated that the service will not only publish press releases from state offices, but will also "break stories" and feature pieces that "range from straightforward news to lighter features, including personality profiles."
- Shockingly, widespread backlash followed The Indianapolis Star's revelation of Pence's propaganda plot. Now the governor claims he knew nothing about his staff's written plan for Just IN, and it's totally just going to be a bunch of press releases, and everyone should chill out while he finds the one-armed man behind this.
- Helpfully, this walkback gives everyone a month to forget about the whole episode before Just IN actually launches, probably with a profile of the noble Pence staffer who ends up taking the fall for this media relations debacle.
Also, happy birthday, Mike Gronstal! I hope you enjoy your oatmeal.
Also also, GRONSTAL 2016
The following 43 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALASKA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, GEORGIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW MEXICO, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, NORTH DAKOTA, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, SOUTH DAKOTA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, UTAH, VERMONT, VIRGINIA, WASHINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA, WISCONSIN and WYOMING.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO and UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture will hold its Winter Policy Conference February 1-4 at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C.
The National Association of State Energy Officials will hold its Getting to Zero National Forum February 1-3 in Washington, D.C.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee met January 28 to consider H.B. 1031, which prohibits the use, possession, sale, purchase, transfer or manufacture of powdered alcohol.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The Health and Human Services Committee met January 28 to discuss B21-8, which provides for assessment rates of health carriers by the Health Benefit Exchange Authority.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held public hearings January 27-28 regarding proposed amendments to a rule concerning manatee protection in Pinellas County.
Governor David Ige (D) delivered the State of the State address January 26.
The Department of Natural Resources met January 28 to hear proposed amendments to its carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery rules.
The Senate Natural Resources Committee will meet January 29 to discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed definition of "Waters of the U.S."
The Senate Finance Committee met January 27 to discuss the modification of laws regulating the sale of electronic cigarettes.
Governor Steve Bullock (D) delivered the State of the State address January 28.
The Committee on Health and Human services met January 28 to hear L.B. 77, which requires a Medicaid state plan amendment for family planning services and state intent relating to appropriations for the Every Woman Matters program. The Committee will also meet January 29 to hear L.B. 148, which provides for medical assistance program coverage for youth formerly in foster care.
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee will meet January 29 to discuss S.B. 2361, which relates to U.S. companies reorganizing overseas and their eligibility to bid on state contracts.
The General Assembly convened for the 2015 legislative session on January 28.
The House Industry, Business and Labor Committee met January 28 to consider H.B. 1428, which relates to the minimum wage for tipped employees.
The Legislature convened for the 2015 general session on January 26.
Governor Gary Herbert (R) delivered the State of the State address on January 28.
The House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee's Agriculture Subcommittee met January 26 to discuss H.B. 1591, which relates to genetically engineered ingredient labeling.
The House Technology and Economic Development Committee met January 27 to discuss H.B. 1093, which relates to unmanned aerial vehicles.
The House Revenue Committee met January 26 to discuss H.B. 140, which relates to the malt beverage tax.