Tuesday was a big day for primaries. While all eyes were glued to smoking hot Senate, House, and gubernatorial races in Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and the like, you might have missed out on some seriously sexy down-ballot action. And now, in the harsh light of day, maybe you wonder, Hey, did I miss out on the real deal while I was super-focused on all that top-ballot hotness?
Lucky for you, I snagged those digits.
- Healthcare expansion hangover: In Arkansas, some voters opted to Call Those Hogs... home after they voted for the state's private option Medicaid expansion. A state Representative who voted against expansion ousted a state Senator who supported it in a primary-as-general contest between the two Republicans.
- Meanwhile, the GOP state Representative who led the Republican push to approve the private option faces a June 10 runoff in another primary-as-general contest.
- Fun fact! While the survival of these supporters of Medicaid expansion definitely matters, the Arkansas Senate (12 D/22 R) isn't really competitive anyway. The state House (48 D/51 R/1 G) is another matter entirely.
- So much drama at this party: Republicans in Arizona, meanwhile, are trying to sue to stop Medicaid expansion in their state.
- Well, some of them are. GOP Gov. Jan Brewer pushed expansion through the legislature with the help of Democrats and moderate Republicans. Now the expansion is an issue both in court and in this fall's elections -- and will play out even beyond as House Republicans (likely) choose among two conservatives and a moderate for Speaker next session.
- Too sexy for this map: The hottest story you might not even know exists is going down right now in Florida. For the past few months, a lawsuit over the most recent round of redistricting has been plodding slowly, un-sexily, towards trial. But that trial finally kicked off in earnest this week, and things got steamy fast. First, a witness revealed GOP consultants' efforts to get directly involved with the redistricting process. Even after evidence emerged that these political consultants obtained draft maps before they were made public, Republican state Sen. Don Gaetz insisted the gerrymandering lawmakers did nothing wrong. Also, he and his colleagues conveniently destroyed records related to redistricting. Oops!
- The trial is expected to wrap up in June. Will Florida get re-redistricted? Stay tuned!
- Splitting the tab: In Michigan, where Senate Republicans cleverly tried to head off a voter turnout-boosting minimum wage increase ballot measure by introducing their own -- stingier -- hourly wage increase ($10.10 vs. $9.20), the situation remains... fluid. The bill sailed through the Senate last week and is currently under consideration by the state House. Word is that it'll get amended in committee tomorrow, though, so there's no telling if the substitute measure will be as palatable to all involved as the original.
- Walk and chew gum: North Carolina House Speaker and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis has his hands full trying to both run his chamber and run for office. One of his GOP lawmakers found himself booted from Republican caucus meetings (unless maybe he left on his own -- depends on who you ask) on Tuesday. Rep. Robert Brawley was known for his public disagreements with Speaker Tillis, and he allegedly had a habit of sharing caucus secrets with the wider world.
- This isn't the only struggle Tar Heel Republicans have had with meetings and openness this week. After confiscating a tape recorder during a Senate committee meeting on fracking, one lawmaker tried to claim that recording devices had to pre-approved -- which would violate the state's open meetings laws. The senator later claimed he "misspoke." The reporter got her recorder back.
- Not ready for this jelly: In 2010, Iowa Republican Rick Bertrand ran for state Senate. He won, but his opponent ran a mean TV ad that hurt his feelings, so he sued. This week, the state Supreme Court dismissed the defamation lawsuit entirely, since, while the ad insinuated some nasty things about his ties to "the most unethical drug company in the world," none of the individual statements in the ad were false. Because that's how political ads work.
- Fun fact! Bertrand is running for reelection this year. And since Obama won his SD 7 handily in 2012 (56.7%), a mean ad might be the least of his worries.
- Let's bone: South Carolina can finally claim the Columbian Mammoth as its official state fossil. After battling weeks of creationist nonsense in the form of things like an amendment proclaiming said prehistoric beast was "created on the sixth day with the beasts of the field," the measure finally passed.
For the Week of May 21, 2014
The following 13 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: CALIFORNIA, ILLINOIS, LOUISIANA, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, RHODE ISLAND and SOUTH CAROLINA.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, PUERTO RICO
The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Consumer Protection Seminar May 19-21 in Washington, D.C.
The Republican Governors Association will hold its Corporate Policy Summit May 20-21 in New York City, New York.
The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee will hold its Southern Regional Meeting May 21-22 in Sea Island, Georgia.
The National Association of Counties will hold its Western Interstate Region Conference May 21-23 in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Senate Committee on Appropriations will take up a series of measures which attempt to stem the cost of higher education and devise a system to best allocate state financial aid to both civilian and active duty students.
Youth Voting bill AB 1817 was read a second time. This bill would permit the governing board of a school district to authorize high school students who are at least 16 years of age to become a deputy registrar of voters to help register students on his or her high school campus.
Voter Registration bill SB 1061 is scheduled to be heard on May 23 upon adjournment of session.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.
The Common Core Task Force, established by Governor Dan Malloy (D), will meet May 21 to develop recommendations on how best to implement the Common Core education standards.
Primary elections were held May 20 for the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats.
Primary elections were held May 20 for the offices of the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General, as well as House and Senate seats.
Felon Voting Rights bill SB 63 was approved by the governor. This bill would impose a four-year period of voting disenfranchisement for those who commit election crimes.
Primary elections were held May 20 for House and Senate seats.
Felon Voting Rights bill HB 283 was involuntarily deferred in committee. This bill allows a person who is on probation or parole to register and to vote.
The Senate is expected to deliberate May 21 on S.B. 4, which is the Senate Ways and Means version of the FY 2015 budget.
Omnibus election bill HB 4072 is in Conference Committee. This bill relates to early voting and voter registration. Qualified voters may apply for an early voting ballot and will be permitted to vote from the 11th business day before Election Day until the close of business on the business day before the election. This bill would permit citizens who are 16 or 17 years of age to preregister to vote. This bill requires the secretary of state to create and maintain an online portal through which a person may register to vote and verify voter registration status.
Voter Registration bill HB 466 may go to Conference Committee. 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 183 was amended. This bill allows voters to use unauthorized photo voter ID as long as it is determined to be legitimate by the supervisors of the checklist. If challenged, the voter must complete a challenged voter affidavit as if no ID was presented.
The Senate Environmental Conservation Committee met May 20 to discuss S.B. 7265, which prohibits the sale of children's nap mats that intentionally contain chemical flame retardants.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee met May 20 to hear sponsor testimony about H.B. 506, which addresses various emission standards for power plants.
The House Public Utilities Committee met May 20 to hear testimony from all interested parties about S.B. 310, which addresses renewable energy standards.
Primary elections were held May 20 for the office of the Governor, as well as House and Senate seats.
Primary elections were held May 20 for the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, as well as House and Senate seats.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met May 20 to hear testimony about H.B. 4607, which addresses the obligations of property owners to trespassers.
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