Thursday, February 15, 2018

I Vote The Line edition

February’s just over halfway done, but it already feels longer than a Folsom Prisonsentence.
Partly because so much hurt keeps happening.
But also because 44 state legislatures are actively meeting this week.
Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana are so so chill right now
Cry, Cry, Cry: After every gun violence tragedy, conversation quickly and rightly turns to Congress’ shameful inaction on the issue.
  • But states have broad leeway to regulate (or not) firearms themselves, so it’s worth taking a peek at what’s been happening in legislatures since the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October and the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and … well.
    • The Democratic majorities in the Massachusetts House and Senate became the first legislature to pass a ban on bump stocks, the device that made the Las Vegas horror so deadly.
    • (California and New York already ban bump stocks.)
      • Meanwhile, in Nevada itself, it’s against state law to ban bump stocks because of a measure that passed the legislature in 2015, back when Republicans controlled both chambers. (Though of course a future Democratic legislature could repeal this ban-ban.)
      • Republicans in other states expanded access to firearms and rolled back gun restrictions over the course of the past year.
        • After the GOP took control of both chambers of the Iowa legislature in 2016, that state passed its own version of Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law.
        • New Hampshire and North Dakota eliminated the requirement that gun owners obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
        • Ohio loosened restrictions to allow concealed weapons in day care centers and some parts of airports.
        • Wyoming legalized carrying firearms in K-12 schools.
        • Georgia and Arkansas legalized it on college campuses.
        • Texas legislators legalized gun silencers.
      The Voter Comes Around: So, not everything is terrible. I promise. 
      • This week saw a veritable special election bonanza, by which I mean that state legislative specials were held on Monday (two in Minnesota) and Tuesday (one each in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma). Four of these five elections were to fill vacant Republican seats.
        • On Monday, Democrats held on to state Senate district 23B in Minnesota, despite the fact that Trump won the district (by a 46-45 margin) in 2016.
        • Republicans held on to their House seat (Trump won House District 23B 59-33).
          • Both specials were to replace lawmakers forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, and a Democratic woman will be replacing the Senate harasser in Senate District 54.
      Wouldn’t be mad if this happened every time #MeToo forces a man from office tbh
      • On Tuesday, Democrats flipped a vacant Republican seat in Florida when Margaret Good defeated Republican and congressional scion James Buchanan 52-45 percent in a district Trump carried in 2016 (by a 51-46 margin).
        • The pickup was Democrats’ 36th red-to-blue state legislative flip of the cycle—and the 23rd by a woman!—and it’s one that should absolutely spook the pants off of Republicans.
          • House District 72 not only went for Trump, but it’s also historically Republican down-ballot and has a GOP voter registration advantage of around 13,000. 
          • Buchanan benefitted from his the name recognition of his congressman father, Rep. Vern Buchanan.
          • National Republicans took interest in the race, investing in it and even sending a key Trump campaign operative—none other than Corey Lewandowski—to help get out the vote.
        • Rep.-elect Good, meanwhile, had Joe Biden in her corner; he endorsed herand recorded a robocall for her about a week before the election.
      • Republicans held on to the seats in Oklahoma and Georgia on Tuesday (although the Democrat improved on 2016 presidential performance in the Oklahoma seat by 37 points; comparable figures aren’t available for the Georgia seat because it was a four-way race).
      Can’t get enough special elections? Good! Because they can’t get enough of you, either, probably.
      Coming up:
      • Saturday, February 17:
      • Tuesday, February 20:
        • Kentucky House District 49, which became vacant when the incumbent Republican, a local minister of a controversial church, killed himself after being accused of sexually abusing a teenage member of his congregation. His widow is running for the seat, as is former Democratic state Rep. Linda Belcher.
        • Mississippi House District 60, which became vacant when Republican incumbent John Moore resigned in the face of multiple sexual harassment complaints. State legislative special elections in Mississippi are technically nonpartisan; four men are running to replace Moore.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Want To Know What Law Is edition

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Valentine’s Day is next week
So here’s an appropriately themed statehouse update for you
… sorry.
Love is in the air in state legislatures across the country, and by “love” I mean that 41 statehouses are currently in session, and they’re all just awash in sexy things like holding public hearings on bills and passing resolutions honoring local sports teams and voting on legislation.
Shhhhhhhhhh don’t judge my perception of sexy. Everyone’s got their own thing.
But everyone thinks winning is hot. And Democrats are positively on fire.
Burning Love: This past Tuesday, Democrats flipped yet another state legislative seat from red to blue. (It’s Democrats 35th state legislative pickup of the cycle.)

Want to feel the heat of more special elections? Next week features five contests on back-to-back days—two seats in Minnesota on Monday, Feb. 12, and seats in Florida, Oklahoma, and Georgia on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Draw Me Two Times: PennsylvaniaRepublicans did not take late January’s state Supreme Court ruling against their gerrymandered congressional maps well.
If you’re just now tuning in, yeah, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the state’s outrageous Republican gerrymander violated the state constitution’s guarantee of “free and equal” elections. It was rad.
Histrionics? Sounds like it. But threats are only idle until they’re not, and Pennsylvania’s Republican lawmakers have both the means and the motivation to make impeachment happen.
Here’s how they could do it:
Here’s why they could do it:
  • Democrats have a 5-2 majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Republicans have almost zero chance of flipping the court back to a GOP majority before 2021.
  • In 2021, a commission of two Republicans, two Democrats, and a fifth member agreed upon by the other four create new state House and Senate maps.
  • If (when, let’s be real) the two Republicans and two Democrats fail to agree upon that fifth tie-breaking member, the state Supreme Court steps in to select the member. A Democratic-majority Supreme Court is likely to select a tiebreaker who will reject any map that unfairly benefits Republicans.
  • Additionally, legal challenges to the state House and Senate maps are normally handled by the state Supreme Court, placing another anti-GOP gerrymander trump card in Democrats’ hands.
The Democratic majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court thusly constitutes an existential threat to Republicans’ lopsided majorities in the the state legislature.
Stay tuned!
...can’t give his vote to no one else
He’d trade the GOP
For the good thing he’s found

Monday, February 5, 2018

Where No One Has Voted Before (Or Since) edition

[[Ed. note: Yes I've been terrible about cross-posting and keeping this space even remotely up to date so here's a Star Trek-themed one you're welcome]]

Democracy … The final frontier.
These are the voyages of the U.S.S. Republican Governor.
Its nine-month mission: To explore strange new bills.
To seek out new lows in democratic civilizations.
To boldly go where no governor has gone before!
… Okay, you’re a good sport to get through that. Ahead, warp factor seven.

he Un-Democratized Country: I’ve been making some hay in this space of all the state legislative elections Republicans keep losing. Because they’re losing a lot of them, and a lot of supposedly safely red seats have flipped from red to blue over the past year.
So, if you’re a Republican governor, what do you do when you can’t seem to win special elections?
You stop having them, of course!
  • A Wisconsin state Assembly seat and a state Senate seat have been open since December (when the Republican incumbents bailed to take spots in Walker's administration), but Walker doesn’t want to call special elections to fill them any time soon.
    • Rather, he wants the hold the specials concurrent with the general elections in November, when he seems to think Republicans have a better chance of holding on. (The state Senate is currently 18 Republicans to 14 Democrats, with one vacancy).
  • That means the Wisconsinites living in those districts could remain unrepresented in those chambers for the better part of a year—if not longer.Also, Walker’s probably violating the state constitution by refusing to call specials to fill vacant seats in a timely manner, but whatevs.
    New Frontiers of Unconstitutionality: Republicans in Mississippi are trying to chart new star systems when it comes to infringing on women’s healthcare and right to obtain an abortion.
    Old and busted: 20-week abortion bans(Mississippi passed one in 2017.)
    New hotness: 15-week abortion bans. 
    • One of these bans just passed out of a House committee in the Magnolia State, but definitely keep an eye out for these garbage restrictions as they pop up in other red states. 
You can read the rest here
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