Friday, October 30, 2015

The Statehouse Horror Picture Show edition

Halloween is almost upon us, but state legislators are bringing the real chills and thrills this week.

  • The Last Statehouse On The LeftVirginia's state House and Senate elections are going down on Tuesday, November 3, and things are getting pretty crazy in the Commonwealth.
    • Last week, I laid out some of the outside spending happening on the Democratic side. Last-minute cash for the GOP is pouring in, too, and it's helping fund a flood of disingenuous ads making false claims (according to the Washington Post, no less) about possible tolls on Interstate 66 in key Northern Virginia races.
    • Shenanigans abound in these waning days of the campaign.
      • Rosemary's Baby doctor: The FBI has just launched an investigation into the GOP candidate in SD 12 (western Richmond suburbs), an OB/GYN who allegedly used her private patient list and information to solicit contributions and participation for her campaign -- a clear violation of federal HIPAA medical privacy laws.
      • The Grudge: GOP state Sen. Bill Stanley claimed he felt threatened by Facebook messages from Andy Parker, the grieving father of one of the Roanoke journalists gunned down on live TV (who is featured in Everytown for Gun Safety's massive TV buys in two top target Senate districts). 
        • When Gov. Terry McAuliffe called out Stanley's "ridiculous" "political stunt," Stanley positively swooned at the Governor's "appalling and quite stunning" comments. 
        • But then an enterprising reporter remembered this little gem from Stanley's last campaign:
In 2011 there was some question as to whether Stanley actually lived in his newly drawn Senate district. The Roanoke Times asked him whether anyone from his opponent's campaign had stopped by to verify residency.

"Not that I know of, unless they want to get a face full of my Glock," he replied.
Now that, Sen. Stanley, is a threat. 
        • Also, grieving father Andy Parker apologized
    • Insidious: The GOP is targeting incumbent Democratic Sen. John Edwards (NO NOT THAT ONE) in SD 21 (Roanoke), and they're resorting to some damn dirty tricks to do it. Tea party-tastic Middle Resolution PAC has dumped $13,000 into Republican Nancy Dye's campaign, but the group is helping out via a slimy head-fake: a mailer that urges Democrats to vote for the Don Caldwell, the independent candidate in the race, because he's "the authentic progressive Democrat."
        • Even Caldwell is upset about Middle Resolution PAC's "support." 
      • Sen. Edwards is also a lucky target of the Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity has attacked him via direct mail and TV for supporting "reckless new energy mandates."

  • The New Jersey Devil's AdvocateNew Jersey voters will elect the 80 members of the state Assembly next Tuesday, too. With Chris Christie increasingly unpopular at home (well, everywhere, really), the pro-Christie dynamic, which gave state Republicans renewed vigor and support in a traditionally Democratic state just two years ago, has vanished
    • In 2013, Democrats avoided clashing with the governor; in 2015, Christie is a recurring element of Democrats' attacks on GOP candidates. 
    • Democrats are in no danger of losing their Assembly majority (48 D/32 R), but if we pick up seats, that's just extra egg on Chris Christie's face. 
Eggs, yum!

  • 19 Days Later: The Florida legislature is scheduled to wrap up its state Senate redistricting special session on Friday, November 6. 
    • On Wednesday, the Senate approved a map on a 22-18 vote; four Republicans voted with all 14 Democrats in opposition amid fears that the court would reject the proposed map for failing to meet the criteria that led to the re-redistricting in the first place. 
    • After the vote, drama ensued as former state Senate President Don Gaetz spent 17 minutes excoriating one of his GOP colleagues on the floor.  
      • Sen. Gaetz's diatribe was the outgrowth of a long-running feud over the Senate presidency and is only the latest evidence of the GOP-controlled chamber's extreme dysfunction as it nears "rock bottom." 
So when the state House returns a different map to the Senate for approval next week, we can expect that to go well, I'm sure. 

  • Courser and Gamrat vs. Evil: Two special election primaries are being held in Michigan next Tuesday, too. Both are in districts designed to elect Republicans, but they remain noteworthy to your humble author because of... certain candidates. 
    • The 82nd and 80th House Districts are the ones Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat resigned and got expelled from, respectively, when an investigation revealed they had used taxpayer money to accommodate and conceal their affair. 
    • Both ex-lawmakers are running in the special elections to replace themselves. 
      • The heavily-GOP districts attracted a slew of primary contenders -- most of whom are outraising the erstwhile lovebirds. 
        • Todd Courser has raised a whopping $1,030. 
        • Cindy Gamrat has fared slightly better, raising a grand total of $1,962.
      • Gamrat says she feels she has an "excellent chance" of winning Tuesday's primary. Good luck with that!
      • Courser recently proudly announced that his wife had endorsed him. Yes, his own, actual, got-cheated-on wife endorsed him and he was proud enough to Facebook and tweet about it. It's good to find joy in the things you have!

The following 9 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALASKA, FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.



The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Eastern Region Meeting October 29-30 in New York City, New York. 

The American Public Health Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Exposition October 31 - November 4 in Chicago, Illinois. 


The Study Committee on Health, Education and School-Based Health Centers met October 27 to discuss the sustainability of school-based health centers. 


The Sales Tax Streamlining and Modernization Commission met October 28 to discuss current congressional proposals relating to sales tax for remote internet purchases. 


The Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure met October 27 to discuss H.B. 273, which prohibits robocalls to all mobile telephone devices. 


The House Appropriations Committee met jointly with the Medicaid Subcommittee of the House Health and Human Services Committee October 27 to receive a presentation by the House Fiscal Agency on the Medicaid Program. 


The Minnesota Legislative Energy Commission met October 28 to discuss the environmental and economic impacts of fracking. The Department of Transportation, University of Minnesota and the Department of Employment and Economic Development will deliver presentations. 


The Department of Environmental Protection and the Public Utility Commission held public hearings October 28-30 to discuss the next steps in the United States EPA's Clean Power Plan. 

The Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee met October 29 to discuss the environmental benefits of natural gas vehicles. 


The Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee met October 26 to discuss funding of basic education.

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