Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Astonishing Rant-Man edition

What a summer! First there was the SCOTUS decision in the Arizona case (here's a piping hot take on what it means for Democrats as we barrel towards 2020), and then there were other things, and then I was sailing on a boat.

But statehouse action knows no season, so back to it!

  • Sunshine State Scare: Republican state senators in Florida are freaking out about their gerrymandered map. They're fretting that factors that led the state Supreme Court to invalidate the state's congressional map could result in the invalidation of state Senate districts, too. 
    • Legislative leaders are so worried that they're considering a preemptive re-draw before their map gets thrown out by a court or -- quelle horreur! -- redrawn by a court. Either way, all 40 state senators could face elections in 2016 (many of them mid-term).
      • Mark your calendars! The special legislative session to redraw Florida's congressional map will be held August 10 - 21. 
      • Plan your fall vacation! The trial over the state Senate map will begin on September 28 in Leon County Circuit Court. I hear Tallahassee is beautiful that time of year.
UPDATE (4:23 p.m.):  Florida legislative leaders have reached an agreement with the League of Women Voters and other groups that challenged the state Senate map. Instead of a trial, the legislature will meet October 19 - November 6 to redraw the map in accordance with the criteria laid out by the state Supreme Court's July ruling on the congressional map.
  • P.S. Not gonna happen! When we last checked in with Maine Gov. Paul LePage, he'd just blackmailed a school into un-hiring (he hadn't technically started working yet, so he couldn't be fired, right?) the Democratic House Speaker. 
    • Democratic lawmakers started threatening impeachment, and the six Republicans and six Democrats on the legislature's Government Oversight Committee voted unanimously to investigate whether LePage actually used state funds (he threatened to withhold them from the Good Will-Hinckley school) to block Democratic Speaker Eves from becoming president of the institution. 
    • Fun fact! LePage has a history of using cash money to bully folks out of jobs. 
      • Earlier this year, the president of Maine's community college system resigned after LePage demanded his dismissal and threatened to withhold the system's funding unless he complied. 
      • In 2013, he forced the leader of a cultural/community organization to quit because future gubernatorial opponent and then-U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud received a commemorative license plate for the organization before he did
Yes, you read that right. Gov. Paul LePage threatened to withhold state funds from the World Acadian Congress (or CMA, because French) because he didn't get his fancy CMA-branded license plate first and SOMEONE HAD TO PAY. So the state head of the CMA took the hit and gracefully tendered his resignation.
    • When LePage isn't busy bullying folks out of jobs, he spends his time failing spectacularly at governing. 
      • Most recently, he screwed up his attempt to veto 65 bills he claimed he vetoed but failed to return to the legislature for veto override votes. 
      • According to the state Constitution, LePage had 10 days to return the bills to the legislature; otherwise, they become law automatically. 
      • LePage has opted to reinterpret (misinterpret, actually, according to the state's Attorney General) the Constitution to suit his purposes. 
      • The question is now before the Maine Law Court (an iteration of the state Supreme Court), which will hear oral arguments in the case on July 31.
When LePage isn't busy forgetting to veto bills, he keeps busy by insulting constituents and large portions of his state. On July 16, he penned a note in response to woman in southern Maine who'd asked him to resign. It read:


I bet you would like to see me resign.

You live in the south who exploit those who are not so fortunate, or understand the level of corruption that southern Mainers ignore and welcome!


Governor Paul R. LePage

P.S. Not going to happen!

(All grammar issues are his. I would never tamper with such a brilliant piece of prose.)
  • Government Accountability is for chumps and Democrats... according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP cronies in the legislature. The state's Government Accountability Board (GAB) was created in 2008 by a broad bipartisan coalition and is regarded as a model nationwide -- until it began investigating Walker and conservative groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth. 
    • Now some Republicans want to wipe the watchdog agency out entirely, while others are considering changes that would introduce partisanship into the board and its oversight. Expect a proposal from GOP lawmakers this fall.

  • Viking the minimum wage: Um, that's hiking. As in, Minnesota is about to implement the minimum wage hike the Democratic-majority legislature passed and the Democratic governor signed into law last year. At $9 per hour, it's the highest minimum wage in any state that's not on either coast. 
    • File under: Good things that happen when Democrats are in charge.

  • U mad, bro? A South Carolina lawmaker who strenuously objected to the removal of the Confederate flag from capitol grounds predicts that upwards of 30 Republican incumbents could face primary challenges next year because of their votes to "surrender" (i.e. ditch the flag). 
Serious question: Will any of the GOPers who voted to keep it flying face anti-Confederate flag primary challengers?

  • We'll just call it the Carolina Cocktail: Lawmakers in North Carolina took another step this week towards making executions easier and more secretive. The GOP-controlled state Senate just approved a measure that both removes the requirement that a doctor be present in the execution chamber and prevents the public from learning about the drugs the state includes in its legal injection mix. 
    • The House has already passed a similar measure; the bills are expected to be reconciled and sent to the governor for his signature.

The following 4 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY, NORTH CAROLINA and WISCONSIN.

Also meeting: GUAM.

The Council of State Governments will hold its 68th Annual Meeting July 28-31 in Vail, Colorado.  

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation will hold its Conference of State Majority Leaders July 30 - August 2 in Portland, Oregon.

The Democratic Governors Association will hold its Summer Policy Conference July 31- August 2 in Aspen, Colorado. 

The Republican Attorneys General Association will hold its Summer National Meeting August 1-4 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. 


The Agency for Health Care Administration will hold a public hearing July 29 on proposed amendments to rules concerning certificates of need for hospital inpatient general psychiatric services and hospital inpatient substance abuse services. 


The House Agriculture and Conservation Committee will meet July 28 to discuss H.J.R. 89, which urges President Obama to order the United States Environmental Protection Agency to adhere to congressional intent and maintain the Renewable Fuel Standard blending rules in their current form. 


The Pittsburgh Committee on Hearings will meet July 30 to consider an ordinance to improve public health by granting paid sick time to all employees in the city. 


The Vermont Solar Siting Task Force will meet July 28 to resolve issues related to siting of solar power projects. 


Governor Terry McAuliffe's (D) Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission will meet July 31 to discuss the recommendations made by then-Governor Tim Kaine's (D) Climate Commission, to determine which actions were taken on those recommendations and issue an updated final report. 


The Assembly Insurance Committee will meet July 30 to discuss A.B. 197, which requires insurers to provide additional health plan information to consumers purchasing plans through the exchange. 


The Wyoming Task Force on Digital Education will meet July 28-29 to discuss student data privacy and a right-to-privacy constitutional amendment.