Friday, September 26, 2014

Must-See TV edition

Fall is here, which means summer reruns are finally behind us and New TV Goodness has arrived!
But the election season rolls on, straddling the summer and fall a little like The Strain. But unlike The Strain, it's no horror show (but ask me November 5 how I feel about comparing the election to a vampire apocalypse. I could always change my mind).

  • So You Think You Can Vote: The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity sent voter registration misinformation to hundreds of state residents (and one cat). Discrepancies on the forms include when the forms are due (25 or 30 days before the election?) and where they should be sent (Board of Elections or Secretary of State?), among others.
      • A spokesman for the Koch-backed AFP wouldn't say how the group obtained the voter lists, how many people received the forms, or how they managed to fail so hard.
    • In other voting news, A push to allow Sunday voting in Macon (Bibb County), Georgiadied last night
      • A Republican member of the board let slip the real reason the GOP doesn't want to expand early voting opportunities: "This would be a way to wring out every last vote." More people voting?? Heaven forbid! 
      • Meanwhile, a Sunday early vote day in Savannah was just approved by the Chatham County Board of Registrars. Hooray!

  • Madam Secretary: Hillary Clinton will attend a fundraiser for New Hampshire state Senator Lou D'Allessandro in D.C. next Tuesday. 
    • Why you should give a hoot: Democrats need to pick up two seats to win a majority in the state Senate (11 D/13 R). More money is helpful for that kind of thing. Also, 2016, I guess.

  • Agents of G.R.O.V.E.R. Grover Norquist thinks that "strong" (losing?) Republican Senate candidates can help the GOP win majorities in statehouse chambers this fall. Here's your tl;dr breakdown.
    • Specifically, Norquist thinks Scott Brown will help flip the New Hampshire House (at 400 teeny tiny districts, it's tough to anticipate which party climb to the top of the pile in any given year), although Republicans' true concern is keeping their teeny majority in the state Senate (which, currently at 11 D/13 R, I rate a Tilt D). 
      • Also, Norquist seems to have forgotten about popular Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan's presence on top of the ticket, where she's running 9 to 12 points ahead of her GOP opponent in recent polls.
    • Norquist also opines that a high-quality Senate candidate like Corey Gardner can help Republicans pick up the one seat they need to win a majority in the Colorado state Senate (18 D/17 R). 
    • And then Norquist throws in Oregon, for some reason, even though Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby isn't pulling the kind of poll numbers (she's down 8 to 13 points in September polls) that are going to help any of her down-ballot brethren (House 34 D/24 R, Senate 16 D/14 R).

  • And now for these commercial messages: The battle for the Nevada state Senate (11 D/10 R) is SO hot right now. Experts consider three seats legitimately in play (SDs 8, 9, 20), and two of those are held by Republicans. Democratic Sen. Justin Jones is under attack on TV by the GOP-aligned Nevada Jobs Coalition, which dropped a nasty spot last Friday. Jones responded this week with a positive spot of his own, but even though the buys are reportedly comparable, the Jones ad is only airing on cable.

  • The Big Bang Theory: On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania state House voted to give the NRA ("membership organizations") legal standing to sue cities and other municipalities that enact their own gun laws. The bill adds a fun little deterrent to those local governments seeking to protect their citizens from gun violence: the NRA can "bankrupt them if they try;" the bill requires a losing municipality to pay legal fees if the NRA wins such a challenge. 
    • Fun fact! Currently, about 30 municipalities have enacted laws that differ from those of the state at large, such as mandatory reporting of lost or stolen guns and mandatory sharing of mental health records between state and federal databases.

  • Chamber ManagementLast week, I bored you to death by describing how tough it would be for Democrats to even arrive at a tie -- much less win a majority -- in the Pennsylvania state Senate (lean R). Today I'll look at the odds of Democrats picking up up the four seats needed to strip Republicans of majority control of the Iowa state House (47 D/53 R). Get excited!
    • Iowa's redistricting process is about as nonpartisan as they come, and the result is a decent number of legitimate swing districts in both legislative chambers. All 100 House seats are up this fall. 
      • Excellent Des Moines Register reporter Jason Noble has identified five House districts he considers key to majority control of the chamber. He's pretty much nailed it with HDs-15, 30, 55, 91, and 97. 
        • Districts 15, 91, and 97 are basically must-wins for Dems, and
        • Districts 30 and 55 are highly competitive.
      • However, I would add a couple of other pickup opportunities for Democrats. 
Next time you find yourself in Iowa, you may want consider giving these folks a jingle. With Democrats' majority in the state Senate hanging by a single-seat thread, control of the House is an imperative for both parties as the plan to support or stymie a Republican governor for the next couple of years.
      • But there are some missed opportunities for Democrats this year, too. Other districts in which Democrats could have been competitive, were their candidates stronger and/or more adept at fundraising, include HD-16 and HD-73.
We'll just call those "potential 2016 targets."
    • Fun fact! Early voting in Iowa has begun! Click here (and bookmark!) for a daily update of absentee ballot requests by party and congressional district.

  • The Leftovers... are the bills still pending in Michigan's statehouse this fall. A couple of gems include legislation that would rectify an unforeseen consequence of a measure the GOP-controlled legislature approved last year that banned abortion coverage in standard insurance plans. 
    • The measure required women who wanted insurance coverage for abortions to purchase separate health insurance riders. 
      • Thing is, only seven of the state's 42 insurers offer those riders, and none of those insurers offer riders to women buying individual insurance plans.
    • So Democrats are pushing a bill that would require all insurers to make those riders available to Michigan women. 
      • Fun fact! This measure will pretty much go nowhere; a spokesman for the Republican House Speaker all but promised the bill would be gutted or killed in committee.
  • Another measure Michigan Democrats are pushing this fall would amend state law to protect gay residents from discrimination. Polls indicate that 74% of likely voters in the state support a ban on anti-gay awfulness. 
      • With numbers like that, how can Republicans stand against such a measure?
        • With a clever nullification maneuver, of course!
    • House Republicans want to pair this new civil rights legislation with a separate measure to "affirm religious freedom" -- the freedom of business owners to exercise their "sincerely held religious beliefs" to discriminate against LGBT residents, that is. Fair and balanced!
  • The Blacklist... is what South Carolina Republican state Senator Tom Davis might end up on with some in his own party. 
    • In responding to Monday's court ruling overturning Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage, the GOP lawmaker revealed that he's totally okay with same-sex marriage and thinks the government should just butt out of the marriage business altogether, man, 'cause it totally harshes his libertarian groove.

  • Masters of Sex (toys): By now, pretty much everybody knows that the Minority Leader of the Kansas Senate tattled on Gov. Sam Brownback for selling porn to balance the state budget. 
    • But that's not exactly what's going on. The state is, in fact, forcing the auction of an array of sex toys, lingerie, and related things that might flag this missive as spam, were I to list them, to discharge a tax delinquent's debt. 
      • Considering the dearth of Democrats in the state Senate -- 8 D/32 R -- it's hard to begrudge Leader Hensley a bit of colorful hyperbole.
    • If you happen to be in the Kansas City area on Monday, you can inspect the auction items -- all in original packaging, thank heavens -- at a warehouse in .... West Bottoms. Sorry, I'm 12.

For the Week of September 26, 2014 

The following 5 state legislature are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, OHIO and PENNSYLVANIA 


Women in Government will hold its Eastern Regional Conference and Southern Regional Conference September 24-27 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 
The Council of State Governments will hold its CSG Policy Academy: Natural Gas September 26-28 in Denver, Colorado. 
The United States Conference of Mayors will hold its Fall Membership Meeting September 27-29 in Sacramento, California. 
The National Conference of State Legislatures will hold its Executive Committee and Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) meeting September 27-29 in Reno, Nevada. 
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers will hold its Annual Conference September 28 - October 1 in Nashville, Tennessee. 
The Republican State Leadership Committee will hold its Annual Retreat September 28-29 in Amelia Island, Florida. 


The State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Program Legislative Task Force met September 23 to discuss long term options for ensuring the stability of the state and health insurance plans for public school employees. 

The Joint Committee on Energy met September 25 to discuss energy grid security and hear testimony from state energy companies.


The Assembly Committee on Health received an update September 23 about the Affordable Care Act and its impact to Medi-Cal. 


The Legislative Health Benefit Exchange Implementation Review Committee met September 23 to discuss Connect for Health Colorado, the state's health insurance exchange. 


The House Study Committee on the Role of the Federal Government in Education met September 24 to discuss Common Core state standards. 


The Department of Lands held a public hearing September 23 to discuss amendments to rules addressing crude oil and natural gas. 


The Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services met September 25 to discuss prescription drug monitoring and adding a statewide telemedicine program for addiction and mental health treatment. 


The Alcoholic Beverages Review Committee met September 22 to review draft legislation dealing with additional license privileges, liquor control boards and beer and light wine licenses.  


The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee met September 22 to discuss A.B. 2687, which requires schools to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs over the next three years. 


The Tobacco Settlement Revenue Oversight Committee met September 22 to discuss the science and health of e-cigarettes and hear the presentation, "E-Cigarettes: Survey of Policy and Legislative Action in Other States." 

The Legislative Education Study Committee met September 22-24 to discuss the New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science and Achievement Artesia Project and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. 


The House Rules and Reference Committee met September 24 to consider H.B. 597, which relates to the Common Core and its replacement options. 


The Interim Judiciary and Public Safety Committees met September 24 to hear a presentation about child trafficking and the impact of methamphetamine to the state, local governments and individuals. 


The Public Utility Commission met September 22 to discuss a proposed voluntary emission reduction program. 

The Global Warming Commission met September 25 to discuss the Public Health Division's Climate and Public Health Report, a carbon tax and the recent United States Climate Assessment Report. 


The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee met September 25 for an informational hearing about hydrogen fuel cells, a report about the Governor's Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce and a report from Energy Northwest's Demand Response Pilot Program. 


The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee held a public hearing September 24-25 to receive an update from the Task Force on Digital Information Privacy, the Cosmetology Board and Barber's Board Task Force and the Telecommunications Act Task Force. 

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