Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Fun Time edition

Did you think the holiday season was going to be sleepy? HA!

Some legislatures are cramming in end-of-year action (remember Michigan's so-called "right to work" bill last year?). Others are gearing up for sessions that start in January.

So here's what's up.
  • Department of loose threads: The Michigan rape insurance measure continues to move forward. This petition-driven measure would outlaw abortion coverage except through a separate rider on a customer's health insurance policy and, if approved by the GOP-controlled legislature, would bypass a likely gubernatorial veto and automatically become law. The measure is now officially in the legislature's hands, and the clock started Monday on the 40-day period within which lawmakers must act on it. If the legislature doesn't approve the measure, voters will vote on it in November 2014. 
  • It's like a condom, but with money. Because misogynistic petitions can't fill a legislator's entire day, the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature is keeping itself busy by coming up with fun new ways to prevent electoral defeat (the other feared E.D.). Lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation that lifts a ban on caucus spending to protect incumbents in primaries and doubles campaign contribution limits. The incumbent protection bill also legalizes the anonymity of donors behind "issues ads" -- you know, the spots calling Rep. X a child molester but don't tell people whether to vote for him. Democracy!
  • Because a pro-child labor platform is a sure ticket to reelection. Maine Gov. Paul LePage will continue his child labor crusade in the upcoming legislative session. Oh, he's for it. And this isn't the first time he's tried to loosen the state's child labor laws. The Maine Republican's efforts to loosen labor standards in 2011 weren't well received and failed even with GOP majorities controlling the statehouse. I'm sure that things will go much more smoothly now that Democrats have legislative majorities in both chambers. 
  • And Gov. LePage isn't just working to rid Maine of the scourge of lazy children. He's moving the Department of Health and Human Services away from all those poors in downtown Portland -- a site near a career center and a soup kitchen -- to scenic South Portland. The new site is a 30-40 minute bus ride one-way from downtown, and a ticket costs $3. A taxi will make the trip faster, but then the cost of the trip jumps to over $30. The new site is, however, near a jetport, so that should make getting in and out super quick for all those folks in need of DHHS services.
  • Department of symbolic gestures: Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin, who got rather boned by the most recent GOP-controlled redistricting, are trying to place an "advisory referendum" supporting the creation of a nonpartisan redistricting system on the November 2014 ballot. The results of the referendum are in no way binding on lawmakers.
  • #demsindisarray: The Virginia AG race recount process rolls on, but the parties are already getting their ducks in a row for the special election to replace Democrat Mark Herring in the state Senate. Republican Del. Joe May was totally going to run for the GOP nomination, but then he found out the local committee planned to scrap the traditional "firehouse primary" in favor of the more convention-like "mass meeting." Now he's invoking the late Sen. Harry Byrd Jr. in his declaration to run as an independent. Democrats have already selected Leesburg attorney Jennifer Wexler (in a firehouse primary) to run to replace Herring in the 33rd Senate District.

For the Week of December 4, 2013

The following 5 state legislatures are actively meeting this week: MICHIGANNEW JERSEYOHIOPENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN..



The Democratic Governors Association will hold its Winter Policy Conference December 3-4 in Hartford, Connecticut. 

The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its fall meeting December 3-5 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials will hold its Winter Member Meeting December 3-5 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures will hold its Fall Forum December 4-6 in Washington, D.C. 

The American Legislative Exchange Council will hold a States and National Policy Summit December 4-6 in Washington, D.C.

The National Association of Counties will hold a Board of Directors Meeting and Resiliency Forum December 5-6 in Linn County, Iowa. 

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation will hold a Board Meeting and Leadership Roundtable December 6-8 in Orlando, Florida. 

The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference will hold its Annual Meeting December 6-9 in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. 


A special primary runoff election was held December 3 for House District 104. 

A special primary election was held December 3 for House Districts 53 and 31. 


The House Health and Social Services Finance Subcommittee met December 2-3 to discuss health care recommendations for 2014 and Medicaid expansion. 


The Senate and House Committees on Education will hold a joint public hearing December 6, which will feature a presentation entitled "Common Core Implementation and What It Means for Higher Education."  


A special primary election was held December 3 for Assembly Districts 54. 


The Council on Environmental Quality will host a public hearing December 5 to hear recommendations for legislation for the 2014 Legislative Session. 


A special election run-off was held December 3 for House Districts 104 and 127, and Senate District 14. 


The legislature began a special session December 2 to discuss pension reform. 


Early Voting/Voter Registration bill HB 3772 passed to be engrossed. This bill relates to early voting and online voter registration. This bill requires the secretary of state to maintain an online portal to register to vote and update voter registration information. The bill provides early voting on the eleventh business day before the primary of election until the second business day before Election Day. 


Vote by Mail bill SB 1682 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on December 5 at 1:00 p.m. This bill permits registered voters to receive mail-in ballots automatically for all elections under certain conditions.

The House Finance and Appropriations Committee met December 3 to discuss and hold a possible vote on S.B. 206 and H.B. 208, which create reforms and oversight of the Medicaid program. 


The House Education Committee met December 3 to discuss H.B. 1722, which clarifies when it is appropriate for school districts to furlough teachers. 


The Commission on Environmental Quality will meet December 5 to discuss proposed amendments to air quality rules concerning greenhouse gas emissions, reporting and fee requirements. 


The Assembly will meet in special session December 4 to discuss a three month delay in moving 77,500 patients from the state's Medicaid program to the federal healthcare exchange. 

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