Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Cruellest Month edition

*This missive is guaranteed cruelty-free. Unless you think lame jokes are cruel... in which case, you probably would have unsubscribed long ago.

Some lawmakers continue to enjoy their spring breaks, but plenty of legislators stuck around to go wild in statehouses this week.
  • It was all a dream about Tennessee: If Gov. Haslam doesn't veto them before next week, two bills of widely varying consequence will become law.
    • As amended, HB 2410 would prohibit UN observers from monitoring elections in the state. I know we're all super relieved to have that taken care of.
    • That nasty bill that turns pregnancy into a criminal liability has fallen out of the headlines a bit, but unless the governor vetoes it by Monday, it'll jump straight into state code. SB 1391 could land a woman in jail for up to 15 years if she becomes pregnant while addicted to drugs or takes narcotics (even legal ones prescribed by a doctor) during her pregnancy. Will Tennessee nab the dubious distinction of being the first state to subject women to criminal charges for being pregnant while using drugs? We'll know soon enough.
  • Nixon impeached? (Seriously, this just wouldn't be as much, um, fun if the governor of Missouri had a different name.) Earlier today, a House committee began its first hearing on a GOP lawmaker's article of impeachment of Gov. Nixon for allowing married same-sex couples to file joint state tax returns. Other Republicans think Nixon should be impeached for not calling special elections quickly enough and something something guns, but those guys haven't gotten much bandwidth so far.
    • Better luck next week! The impeachment hearings resume next Wednesday.
  • Conventional wisdomArizona Senate President Andy Biggs won't allow his GOP-controlled chamber to vote on a resolution calling for an Article V "convention of states" to amend -- or potentially rewrite -- the U.S. Constitution, and Sarah Palin is super sore about it. Biggs has historically opposed such measures out of a perfectly reasonable fear of a "runaway convention," in which delegates stray beyond stated goals of imposing federal fiscal restraint and amend our foundational document into something wacky and unrecognizable. 
    • Palin may be on her way to becoming something of a spokesperson for the conservative push trigger a Constitutional Convention from the state legislative level; just last week, she was promoting the notion on Fox News
    • Also, depending on whose count you believe, the Article Vers have either reached the 34-state threshold for triggering a Convention of States, or maybe they're only at 24 or so. It all hinges on whether take-backsies on state applications are allowed. 
  • ALLOW ALL THE GUNSGeorgia Gov. Deal just signed the "guns everywhere" bill, so now folks can carry their beloved firearms into schools, bars, government buildings and churches. Gov. Deal says detractors should just be happy that the legislation wasn't as bad as it could have been; meanwhile, the NRA called the measure "the most comprehensive pro-gun reform bill in state history." Super.
  • BREAKING: Women who are not Alison Lundergan Grimes are running for things in Kentucky, too: The Bluegrass State's House is near the top of my Chamber Watch List this fall, and it should totally be on yours, too, because I just know I'm not the only person who keeps that sort of thing... Anyway, at 54 D/46 R, state Democrats are working hard to defend their House majority, and eight women candidates trained in the Emerge Kentucky program may be the key to keeping that chamber in Democratic hands. 
    • Not-so-fun fact! At 18.1%, the percentage of women in the Kentucky legislature lags behind the national average of 24.2%, which is already pretty lame.
  • Winning, sort of, a little: Today marked the annual gathering known as Veto Session in Mr. Jefferson's Capitol, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe saw all four of his vetoes sustained. However, rancor over the budget impasse resulting from House Republicans' intractability on Medicaid expansion colored the day's proceedings, and the Commonwealth still has no budget as the end of the fiscal year draws ever nearer. 
    • Could Virginia be facing its own government shutdown? Possibly, but it would be unprecedented, and this isn't the first time budget negotiations have gone into nth overtime. No reason to worry until, say, June 4 or so.
  • Argle bargle propaganda bargle: The Connecticut Senate has passed a measure requiring the state's public schools to include the history of the labor movement in American history curriculum. The bill faces as uncertain future in the House as Session hurtles towards its conclusion, but if the right-wing blogs haven't started freaking out over this already, someone should probably go ahead and notify them, just out of courtesy.
  • Leftovers
    • Lawmakers in Louisiana have shelved a proposal to make the Bible the official state book amid concerns the resulting debate was becoming a "distraction."
    • Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman, candidate for WI-06 and enemy of weekends and equal pay, now wants to capitalize on the Supreme Court's recent decision on affirmative action by outlawing it in his state. 
    • The candidate filing deadline period in Michigan has come and gone. Here's an unofficial list of who's on the ballot. (The state House [50 D/59 R/1 I), like the Kentucky House, is near the top of my Chamber Watch List.)

For the Week of April 23, 2014 



The National Rifle Association will hold its Annual Meeting April 25-27 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The National Association of State Budget Officers will hold its Spring Meeting April 24-26 in Savannah, Georgia.


The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing April 22 to discuss S.B. 1381, which requires the labeling of genetically engineered food. 
The Legislature will hold a special session April 24 to create a new reserve fund policy to be placed on the November ballot.
Voter Registration bill SB 1061 was heard by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on April 22. This bill provides that eligible citizens who are not already registered to vote and who apply for or renew their California driver's license, driver's permit, or state ID will be registered to vote if that person provides written consent. The applicant will not be registered with party affiliation. The DMV would submit an electronic voter registration form to the appropriate elections office.


Conduct of Elections bill SB 161 was read a second time in the House and passed with amendments.This bill makes "various corrections, clarifications, and alterations" to the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act of 2013.
Conduct of Elections bill AB 5480 was tabled for the calendar. The bill requires municipalities to ensure internet and electronic mail access for registrars of voters; modifies the list of violations for which the State Elections Enforcement Commission can levy $2,000 penalties; and requires municipalities to post the requirements for voter identification where the official checkers are located in a polling place. 

Governor Dan Malloy's (D) Common Core Task Force will meet April 23 to develop recommendations on how best to implement the Common Core education standards. 

A special election will be held April 24 for House district 94. 


Conference committees met April 21 to discuss bills addressing alternative fuel vehicles, climate change, building codes and marina development. 

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing April 22 to discuss H.B. 1403, which will raise the minimum wage to $9.00 over two years and index it to changes in the Consumer Price Index. 

Deceptive Practices bill HB 452 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Conference Committee on April 21. This bill "deems any person who provides false information regarding the details of voting guilty of an election fraud."

Same Day Registration bill HB 2590 is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Conference Committee on April 23 at 1:30 p.m. This bill allows for "late registration." An eligible citizen may register to vote before Election Day at any absentee polling place or on Election Day at the polling place for the county in which the citizen lives.

The House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure will meetApril 22 to discuss H.B. 887, which provides that it is unlawful for any employer to refuse to hire; discharge; discriminate; segregate; limit; or classify employees or applicants for employment due to an individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Jessa Hauck at

The State Board of Certified Public Accountants will meet April 23 to discuss revisions to its continuing professional education rules. David Owens at
The Conference Committee for H.F. 3172 will meet April 22 to discuss the Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Bill.Christopher Mitton at
Voter Registration bill HB 1739 was read a third time and passed. This bill authorizes an election authority to accept voter registration applications with electronic signatures under certain conditions.

Early Voting bill HB 2271 was read a third time and passed. This bill would require each election authority to establish one advance voting center in each county for state and federal elections. Advance voting would begin on the third Saturday before Election Day and end on the Tuesday preceding the election, excluding Sundays, from 8 a.m. to five p.m. on weekdays and a four-hour period between 8 a.m. and four p.m. on Saturdays.

Voter ID bill HJR 47 was reported Do Pass. This bill submits to the qualified voters of Missouri an amendment to article VIII of the Constitution of Missouri to require photo ID to vote.

The House Judiciary Committee met April 22 to consider S.B. 303, which prohibits a person from making a bad faith assertion of patent infringement, and establishes a private right of action for violations. 

Voter Registration bill HB 466 passed with amendments. This bill permits voters registering at the polling place on the date of a state general election to prove qualifications by swearing to a statement on the voter registration form.
Voter ID bill SB 1284 passed the Rules Committee. provides that an expired driver license or expired passport cannot be used for identification purposes when voting.
Early Voting/Same Day Registration bill HB 2196 was filed. This bill would provide for Same Day Registration and early in-person voting.
The General Assembly recessed for Spring Break April 21.
Voter Registration bill HB 7601 is scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Judiciary on April 29. This bill requires the state board of elections to establish and maintain a system for online voter registration.
The General Assembly will convene April 23 to consider Governor Terry McAuliffe's (D) vetoes. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break Mixtape edition

Congress isn't the only deliberative body in recess; a bunch of state legislatures are taking a little spring break right now, too. And who knows? Maybe some lawmakers are rocking out to some groovy tunes as they head back to their home districts.
  • Double Vision: In Kentucky, the measure that would have let Sen. Rand Paul run for reelection and for president (or VP) simultaneously in 2016 languished in a House (54 D/46 R) committee as the legislative session ended this week. Current law will force Paul to choose between them; perhaps, as the House Speaker opined, "a man who can't decide which office he wants to run for ain't fit to hold either office." Sick burn, bro.
  • Bad Medicine: In Tennessee, obstetricians and medical groups are joining the call for Gov. Bill Haslam to veto a measure that would make criminals out of women who use narcotics while pregnant. The bill is obviously a whole bucketful of wrong, including (but in no way limited to) that it utterly fails to accommodate the realities of addiction, would discourage pregnant women from seeking prenatal care, and could even encourage abortions as a way to avoid criminal charges. 
  • Gov. Haslam has until April 26 to veto the bill. If he signs it or takes no action, it becomes law. If he vetoes it, a simple majority can override him.
  • Baby, What a Big Surprise: Earlier this week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that allows "state health authorities" to spring surprise inspections on unsuspecting and un-probable cause-ing abortion clinics. Because warrants and privacy are for suckers, amirite? 
    • I'm sure a bill permitting surprise inspections for urology and erectile dysfunction clinics is sitting on Brewer's desk right now.
  • It Ain't Over 'til It's Over: In Missouri last week, a proposal to put a so-called "right to work" measure on the August primary ballot stalled out in the state House (52 D/108 R). But the fight isn't actually over yet. If GOP leaders pressure just four Republican "no" votes to flip, they'll conduct the vote again, and the proposal will move to the state Senate (9 D/24 R/1 vacancy).
    • Technically, the House has until mid-May to revisit the vote, but if we're being really, really real, the measure needs to move forward in the next couple of weeks (to give Senate Republicans enough time to wrangle votes -- RTW isn't the monolithically GOP-backed stance here that it is in a lot of other states). 
  • People Are Strange: So Republicans in the Missouri House just endorsed measures that could allow early voting for nine days -- just not during the week before the election, and definitely not on Sunday (which just happens to be a super popular day for early voting in states that allow it, especially among African Americans). 
    • You might be shocked to learn that this GOP move is actually a ploy to prevent early voting. 
    • The scheme, in three movements.
    1. The proposed amendment would, if passed, pretty much permanently enshrine these stringent limits on early voting in the state's Constitution, rendering any future efforts to expand early voting legislatively or via subsequent ballot measure moot (unless voters were to repeal the amendment someday).
    2. The measure has been amended to clarify a super-handy loophole for any GOP legislators who may not feel like allowing early voting in a given year. The permitted early voting can only take place if the legislature deigns to provide funding for it. 
    3. A state advocacy group is already gathering signatures in an attempt to place a six-week early voting period -- without excepting Sundays and the week prior to the election -- on the November ballot. 
  • It's TrickyMinimum wage ballot measures have been fairly widely covered as possible Democratic turnout motivators in November, and they're sound policy, to boot. Voters tend to be big fans of such measures at the ballot box; since 1996, voters approved 13 of 15 ballot measures raising the wage in 11 states. 
    • But in Alaska, statehouse Republicans are pulling some wicked crafty shenanigans. A statewide ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage is already headed to the August primary ballot, and yet on Sunday night, the GOP-controlled House passed a bill to, well, raise the minimum wage. 
      • This may seem like a kumbaya moment, but Dems smell a rat. You see, laws passed by ballot measure have an automatic two-year waiting period for repeal, while laws passed by the legislature can be repealed at will -- which is exactly what Democrats think the Republicans plan to do. 
  • Got Your MoneyMinnesota House (73 D/61 R) Democrats are stomping their GOP counterparts in fundraising this cycle. The House DFL has outraised the Republican caucus almost three-to-one so far this year, and the Dems are sitting on more than $1 million in the bank. Republicans likely see the state House as an easier chamber to flip than the Senate (39 D/28 R), but things just don't look awesome for them right now.
  • God Only Knows: Mark your calendars: On April 21Louisiana House (44 D/59 R/2 I) members will debate (and probably pass) a bill designating the Holy Bible as the official state book. 
    • It's unofficially known as the Jews and Muslims and Everyone Else Can Go Suck An Egg bill. (No, it's not.)
  • Celebrity Skin: The Illinois legislature is considering banning products containing "microbeads." Similar proposals have surfaced in Ohio, New York, and Minnesota. Turns out these nifty little particles are super bad for fish and wildlife, but our cleansers may never be the same.
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Hoping to address the epic scourge of loose-fisted youths marauding unchecked through our communities, the Connecticut legislature is moving a bill forward that would stiffen penalties for 16- and 17-year-olds who sucker-punch unsuspecting bystanders -- a phenomenon known as "The Knockout Game." Except this "Knockout Game" is basically an urban myth. Perhaps later this session state lawmakers will consider bills addressing kidney theft and prohibiting the consumption of soda and Pop Rocks simultaneously.

For the Week of April 16, 2014 




The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public workshop April 17 to discuss the groundwater work plan and sustainable groundwater management.

The Health, Insurance and Environment Committee met April 15 to discuss H.B. 1359, which requires health insurance carriers that provide prescription drug coverage to offer medication synchronization services. 
The General Assembly recessed April 14.


The Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee met April 15 to discuss S.S.B. 3217, which increases the sales and use tax in the state. 


The State Legislature reconvened April 14-15 to consider gubernatorial vetoes. 

The State Legislature adjourned sine die April 15.
The State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 16. 

The House Natural Resources Committee will meet April 17 to discuss H.B. 5400, H.B. 5401 and H.B. 5402, which address low-hazard industrial waste, the beneficial by-products which may be created from the waste and environmental protection.


The House Health Insurance Committee held a hearing April 15 to discuss H.B. 2243, which prohibits hospitals, health facilities and health professionals from owning, operating or having a financial interest in health insurance entities. 

The Division of Fire Safety, Elevator Safety Unit will meet April 16 to discuss possible rule amendments to the state's elevator code.


The State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die April 17.


The House Judiciary Committee will meet April 16 to discuss S.B. 303, which prohibits bad faith assertions of patent infringement.

The Austin City Council will meet April 17 to consider a resolution establishing the City's goal to provide an 11 dollar per hour minimum wage for all city employees. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Winter Lawmaker edition

Spring is springing, filing deadlines are passing, but sooooo many legislative sessions that started in January, February just... keep... going. 

Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?

Terrible winters
  • Lawmakers in Minnesota have over a month left in their session, but by the end of this week, they'll have already passed what's likely to be seen as state Democrats' defining legislative achievement this year: raising the minimum wage. Earlier today, the state Senate (39 D/28 R) passed a bill to raise the state's hourly minimum wage to $9.50 by 2016 -- and indexed to inflation from 2018 onward. The House (73 D/61 R) is expected to agree to the measure tomorrow, and Gov. Dayton plans to sign it into law by the end of the week.
    • Fun fact! According to NCSL, 34 states have considered bills aimed at raising the minimum wage.
    • Funner fact!  Minnesota will join Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia in raising the minimum wage through legislation this year. Minimum wage ballot measures are likely to face voters in the fall in several other states.
  • Next door in Wisconsin, candidates have until June 2 to file, and one GOP seat in particular just got a little more inviting for challengers from both parties. Sen. Mike Ellis is the latest victim of a Project Veritas sting, possibly because some Republicans consider him insufficiently conservative. SD 19 was barely carried by Obama in 2012, and Ellis was already a top target for Democrats as they fight for control of the state Senate (15 D/18 R). 
    • No matter what happens here, this district will remain one to watch through November.
  • Speaking of the Wisconsin Senate, it looks like SD 20 is going to be an open seat this fall. State Sen. Glenn Grothman has announced he'll primary GOP Rep. Tom Petri (WI-06). You may remember Grothman from some January notoriety he gained when he tried to give workers the "freedom" to work seven days a week. 
    • Other Grothman greatest hits include 
      • That time he argued that public employees should have to work on MLK Day.
      • When he claimed "money is more important for men" as he worked to repeal the state's equal pay law.
    • It's all fun and games when state lawmakers do and say crazy things -- until they end up in Congress.
    • ... except it's not actually fun and games, because those wacky lawmakers are already passing laws that affect the lives of millions of people.
      • Why this crazy guy could win: The GOP party committee of this very same congressional district passed a resolution last month asserting the Badger State's right to secede.
  • But... isn't another open seat in the Wisconsin Senate good for Democrats? Actually, it's not an open seat -- Grothman's with the half of the Senate that's not up for reelection until 2016. And it wouldn't matter anyway; in Grothman's SD 20; Obama lost in 2012-- big timeThanks, gerrymandering!*
  • Candidates for office in Michigan have until April 22 to file, but Democrats have good reason to be optimistic already. A PPP poll gives legislative Dems a 10-point edge over Republicans on the generic legislative ballot, and while Democratic lawmakers have only a narrowly positive favorability rating (41/39), statehouse Republicans find themselves with few fans (29/51). 
    • Democrats are itching to take back the state House (50 D/59 R/1 I), but the GOP's successful gerrymander makes this an uphill slog -- no matter how much folks loathe Republicans.
  • A whole lot of Democrats are running for state House and Senate in North Dakota. Candidate filing ended on Monday, and a "late rush" of Dems may indicate dissatisfaction with the way Republicans are running this conservative state. Democrats are eager to chip away at the two-thirds majorities held by the GOP in both chambers, and with 25 women running for legislative seats (to Republicans' 12), state Dems are pleased that their "tickets across the state look a whole lot more like North Dakota than the Republican ticket does."
  • Massachusetts might get its own official state cowboy. Yeehaw.

Air conditioning is fully operational.
  • A state Senator in South Carolina compared Planned Parenthood to Hitler. Because of course. Oh, and the Senate is currently considering a 20-week abortion ban that passed the state House last month.
    • This happens to be one of the same Senators who almost derailed an 8-year-old girl's attempt to have the Columbian mammoth declared the official state fossil
    • And would you believe... it's still not a done deal? After the Senate amended the measure to read as follows, the House rejected it.
The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the 'Columbian Mammoth', which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field."
    • Yes, a bill to declare a mammoth the official state fossil is going to conference committee
  • Big labor news in MissouriThe extreme right-wing push to put a so-called "right to work" constitutional amendment ballot measure before voters in August is stalled, on its last leg, near death... but the fight isn't quite over yet. Supporters of the union-busting measure need to get four republicans to flip their votes to move it to the Senate.
  • So the Virginia legislature is totally supposed to be done with session by now, except the GOP-controlled House is having so much fun blocking Medicaid expansion that lawmakers have to keep going back to Richmond to share in the joy. 
    • The General Assembly has until the end of June to pass a budget and avoid a government shutdown, so we can expect these antics to go on for a while.
  • The only thing that stops a Tennessean with a gun is... um... Pretty soon folks in Tennessee could be able to carry firearms openly without a permit. The bill just passed the state Senate (6 D/27 R) and is likely to sail through the House (27 D/71 R/1 I).

For the Week of April 9, 2014  




The National League of Cities will hold its Big Ideas for Cities Meeting April 11 in Chicago, Illinois. 


Voter Registration bill SB 235 was sent to the governor. This bill shortens the voter registration period, which would end 14 days before Election Day.


The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing April 9 to discuss S.B. 1000, which requires warning labels on sugar sweetened beverages. 


The Common Core Task Force will meet April 9 to continue discussing recommendations on how best to implement the Common Core Education standards. 


Absentee Voting bill HB 191 is scheduled to be heard by the House House Administration Committee on April 9 at 2:30 p.m. This bill expands the list of excuses to vote absentee. It also eliminates the requirement to notarize any request to vote absentee.

Same Day Registration bill HB 105 passed the House. This bill provides for election day registration for presidential primary, primary, special, and general elections whereas currently the deadline is the fourth Saturday prior to the date of the election. Moreover, same day registration at polling places will be permitted with submission of valid government issued identification or other generally accepted proof of identification.


Same Day Registration bill HB 2590 passed out of committee as amended. This bill allows for "late registration." An eligible citizen may register to vote before Election Day at any absentee polling place or on Election Day at the polling place for the county in which the citizen lives.


The General Assembly adjourned sine die April 7.


Voter Registration bill HF 2096 was placed on the calendar for Tuesday, April 8. This bill establishes a policy to allow citizens to register to vote online. Registrations are accepted if received in person, by mail, or online on the 21st day preceding any election.


The Senate Appropriations Committee met April 7-8 to discuss multiple bills which pertain to funding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. 

The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee held a hearing April 8 to discuss S.B. 207, which prohibits wage discrimination based on gender and establishes fines for any violation. 
The Energy Development and Transmission Committee met April 8 to discuss hydraulic fracking and the effect fracking currently has on water and soil quality. 

via Stateside AssociatesProject Vote.
*Updated 1:40 p.m. on 4/10/14

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fool Me Twice edition

Whatever your opinion on the lamb-ishness of March's departure, April is upon is, and with April come showers, O'Neils, and, of course, fools. So many fools.
  • Personal space invaders! On the heels of signing legislation prohibiting early voting on weekends, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker this morning signed a bill that allows election observers to stand as close as three feet away from where voters register and receive ballots. Walker also signed a bill requiring registrars to collect data on how voters prove residency, which will make it super easy for Republicans in the legislature to figure out what kind of ID to outlaw next.
  • Your pregnancy is the result of rape or incest? LOL Also in Mississippi, lawmakers have approved a 20-week abortion ban that doesn't include exceptions for rape or incest. The bill's author blamed peer pressure for this intrusion into a woman's health and rights, since alllllllll the other southeastern states have this ban, Mom. Gov. Bryant will sign the bill in an attempt to look cool in front of the other governors -- and he'll look even cooler by spending lots of dough on designer lawsuits when he has to defend the ban in court.
  • More anti-choice hijinksTonight the Alabama Senate gave final approval to a measure extending the waiting period for abortions in that state from 24 to 48 hours.
  • Whateva, unanimous legislature, I do what I wantMaine Gov. Paul LePage pulled a great April Fools Day prank when he vetoed two bills that had passed both chambers of the legislature unanimously, except the joke was that he was actually seriously vetoing them. LePage cranked the hilarity up a notch when he vetoed a bill strengthening child abuse prevention programs on the same day he proclaimed April to be Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.  
    • Theory: In the mid-1990s, the South Park creators traveled to the future and then based Cartman on Gov. LePage
  • Tom Jones is running for state rep! It's not unusual for a citizen to express disgust with the lack of civility in politics, but former Wyoming lawmaker Tom Jones (okay, not that Tom Jones) is taking action by declaring his intent to unseat state GOP Rep. Lynn Hutchings. She's a lady, and she gained some notoriety in 2013 for accusing gays and lesbians of "carpet-bagging on our civil rights movement" and insisting that homosexuality "is but a choice" during debates on same-sex marriage and civil union bills. Perhaps after the August 19 primary, a new GOP contender for for House District 42 will be what's new, pussycat
  • You know what's hilarious? Nepotism and pushing legislation that will unavoidably benefit your son Also hilarious: I feel the need to write about my favorite (only) law-school-classmate-turned-state-legislator again this week. Florida state Rep. Matt Gaetz, W&M Law Class of 2007 (Go Tribe!), just happens to be the son of state Sen. Don Gaetz. So crazy. It's even crazier that Sen. Gaetz is pushing a law that would allow attorneys in public records lawsuits to get paid more.
    • Pop quiz! What kind of lawsuits does Sen. Gaetz's son, Matt Gaetz, specialize in?If you guessed "public records lawsuits," I owe you a cookie.
      • Fun fact! Rep. Matt Gaetz, an attorney specializing in suing for public records access, is behind that bill that would impede the media's ability to access (and scrutinize) public records indicating the application of the state's terrifying "stand your ground" law. 
  • Speaking of holdovers from last week: That lawmaker who tried to crush an 8-year-old girl's dream of establishing the Columbian mammoth as the official state fossil of South Carolina decided to maybe not be a douche, after all. Bafflingly, the proposal's fate remains uncertain. 
  • Whither the Rooster UFC? 
    1. Louisiana's ban on cockfighting has loopholes (apparently, it's too specific: applies to chickens but makes no reference to gamefowl, roosters, or other birds). 
    2. At least one person elected to make laws for a state believes chicken boxing to be a "legitimate sport." He claims to have "15th generation" fighting chickens in his district. 
    3. A "53-year veteran cockfighter" testified against a bill to close the ban's loopholes and insisted that the sport isn't cruel, because the first rule of chicken fight club is that you do not talk about chicken fight club. 
      • "God put the fight in the chicken, not man." -- Actual thing this guy said out loud around other people. 
        • And lest you accuse me of some sort of cultural elitism, I'll have you know my family raised chickens. I've watched chickens hatch. I've fed chickens. I've collected chicken eggs. I've helped my dad butcher chickens. At no point did a chicken ever strike me as... pugilistic.
  • Not actually funny at all. A so-called "right to work" union-busting ballot measure continues to slog forward in Missouri. If it passes, the proposal will bypass a certain gubernatorial veto and go straight to voters in the fall.

For the Week of April 2, 2014 




The National Association of County and City Health Officials will hold its 2014 Preparedness Summit April 1-4 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Southern Region Meeting April 1-2 in Savannah, Georgia.


The House Energy Committee will hold a hearing April 2 to discuss H.B. 340, which relates to electrical transmission facilities in the Railbelt area. 


The Senate Environmental Quality Committee held a hearing April 1 to discuss S.B. 1204, which establishes the Clean Truck and Bus Program. 

The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing April 2 to discuss S.B. 949, which establishes the Distinguished After School Health (DASH) Recognition Program. 

Voter Registration bill SB 1061 was amended and is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing on April 8 at 1:30 p.m. This bill would provide that eligible citizens who are not already registered to vote and who apply for or renew their California driver's license, driver's permit, or state ID will be automatically registered to vote if the person provides written consent. The applicant will not be registered with party affiliation. 
Conduct of Elections bill HJR 1009 was laid over to April 8, 2014. Under this bill, the Colorado General Assembly urges and requests members of Congress to update the formula in Section 4 of the federal "Voting Rights Act of 1965", as amended, as quickly as possible to ensure Section 5 of the act can be restored and every citizen's voice is heard and every vote is counted.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee met March 31 to discuss H.B. 1191, which expands Florida's "Do Not Call" list to include a text message from a solicitor.
Early Voting bill HB 1307 was referred to Ethics and Elections Subcommittee; Local and Federal Affairs Committee; State Affairs Committee. The bill would delete the enumerated list of locations allowed to be designated as early voting sites and would allow the Supervisor of Elections to designate any location as an early voting site.

Voter Registration bill SB 784 was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee on March 31 at 4:00 p.m. The committee substitute under consideration requires the Department of State to develop an online voter registration system for applicants to submit both first-time voter registration applications and updates to existing voter registration records. Absentee ballot requests by online registrants would be required to give the reason meeting the exception. 

The Senate Public Safety and Military Affairs Committee met April 1 to discuss S.C.R. 149, which requests Hawaii's congressional delegation introduce legislation to establish food labeling requirements pertaining to genetically modified organisms. 

The Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee held a hearing April 1 to vote on H.B. 1814, which authorizes employers to pay wages via a pay card. 

Election Day Registration bill HB 2590 was amended. This bill allows for "late registration." An eligible citizen may register to vote before Election Day at any absentee polling place or on Election Day at the polling place for the county in which the citizen lives.

Youth Voting bill SCR 41 is scheduled to be heard by the Committee on Judiciary and Labor on April 1 at 10:30 a.m. This bill urges the Dept. of Education and Dept. of Human Services to assist with increasing voter registration among young adults.


The Department of Environmental Management will accept comments through April 4 regarding revisions to the drinking water standards and rules. The revisions are being discussed in anticipation of U.S. EPA updates to the 1989 Total Coliform Rule.

Omnibus election bill SB 385 was signed by the governor. This bill makes various changes to the election laws. Among other things, the bill makes even-numbered-year list maintenance based on address confirmations mandatory, and requires county voter registration offices to cancel voter registration records of individuals who the local health department identifies as deceased. In addition, the bill changes the rules regarding obtaining information from voter registration agencies, makes changes to the process by which voters are placed on the inactive list due to change of address, and makes changes to the online voter registration process related to the verification of data with the bureau of motor vehicles. It also establishes small precinct committees to address potential elimination of precincts with fewer than 500 active voters. 
Voter Registration bill SF 2288 was re-referred to Finance. This bill would allow citizens to register to vote or request an absentee ballot online using a website operated by the secretary of state no later than 11:59 p.m. on the 21st day before Election Day.
The State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn sine die April 6.
Voter ID bill HB 1073 was scheduled to be heard March 31 by the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections Committee. This bill would require all voters to show government-issued photo ID to vote. It would become effective upon voter approval of a constitutional amendment that authorizes the General Assembly to enact photo voter ID requirements. Under this bill, a voter may vote a provisional ballot after signing an affidavit if the voter does not possess a required form of ID due to physical or mental disability; is unable to pay for documents necessary to obtain required ID; has religious objection to being photographed; or was born before January 1, 1949. 
Election Day Registration bill LB 565 was "Advanced to Enrollment and Review Initial." This bill establishes that person would not be permitted to register to vote and to apply for or vote a ballot to vote early on the same day.

Voter Registration
 bill LB 661 was signed by the governor. This bill requires the secretary of state and the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop and implement a registration application process to allow citizens to register to vote or update voter registration records electronically through the secretary's Web site. Citizens with a valid Nebraska driver's license or state ID may use the application process to register to vote using their signature on file with the DMV. Anyone who knowingly submits a false application is guilty of a Class IV felony.
The House Environment and Agriculture Committee met April 1 to discuss S.B. 141, which establishes the Granite State farm to plate program and Granite State farm to plate Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will support the work of existing farm-to-school programs to increase the purchase of local foods by schools. 
The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will hold a hearing April 2 to discuss S.B. 1268, which implements certification and background check requirements for health insurance navigators. 
The State Legislature met March 31 to consider gubernatorial vetoes. 
The Senate Judiciary Committee met April 1 to discuss S.B. 1967, which prohibits a person from making a bad faith assertion of patent infringement. 
The House Civil Justice Committee met April 1 to discuss H.B. 1779, which addresses unmanned aircraft. 
The State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 3.