Each day, the DLCC’s experts comb through statehouse political news across the country to stay on top of the latest developments. Here are five stories that may have flown under your radar this week.
Michigan Republicans are acting to seriously limit direct democracy to stop the passage of ballot initiatives they disagree with. Republican Sen. Dave Robertson has introduced a bill that would invalidate any signature for a ballot initiative if it is recorded more than six months after the petition is filed with the state. The small window would make it more difficult to get issues onto the ballot. Activists have pointed out that the introduction of the bill coincides with efforts to put marijuana legalization and a fracking ban on the ballot in November.
Supporters of women’s rights and healthcare scored a victory on Tuesday when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed legislation to remove state funding from Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood, which provides many important reproductive health services to women in the state, would have lost $24,000 had the legislation become law. Representatives from Planned Parenthood announced that this loss of funding could have resulted in over 1,000 women losing health services. Republicans in the state had objected to providing Planned Parenthood with funding because of the organization provides abortions. However, the grant that would have been blocked under the Republican legislation was only set to allow low-income women to access STI testing. This veto is a positive development against the recent trend of GOP-governed states, such as Ohio and Florida, choosing to defund Planned Parenthood. This momentum started as a result of a series of videos claiming that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for profit. Despite widespread debunking of the doctored footage and the indictment of its creator, Republicans continue to attack Planned Parenthood nationwide.
Minnesota GOP Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen viciously smeared the LGTB community this week, shedding light on his motives for sponsoring a bill limiting the rights of the transgender community. Gruenhagen, whose legislation would prevent trans individuals from using the bathroom that reflects their gender identity, condemned transpeople as “mentally ill” in a radio interview with radio host Chad Hartman. This label goes against the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which specifically asserts that being transgender is not a mental illness. Moreover, Gruenhagen’s description is reminiscent of the widespread myth that transgender individuals are sexual predators. Even worse, Gruenhagen attacked the gay community as well. In his interview, he claimed that members of the gay community suffer from an “unhealthy sexual addiction” and should receive “treatment” for their “compulsions.” These statements are just as false as his description of the trans community, as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is also clear that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Similarly, recommendation that gay individuals receive treatment to end their homosexuality is not based on accepted science and research. Most medical professionals acknowledge that “conversion therapy,” the practice of psychological therapy to turn gay people straight, is in itself mentally harmful. Comments such as these make it very clear that Republican led efforts to limit LGTB legal rights at the state level is not based on concerns over religious liberty, but rather on ignorance and prejudice.
This week, Colorado Republicans demonstrated yet again that they are completely unconcerned with the environmental crisis of global warming. The Republican-controlled state Senate refused to approve funding to carry out the state’s compliance with the Obama Administration’s Clean Air Act. The plan, which aims to drastically reduce American production of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, is currently on hold because of a stay set in place by the Supreme Court. While Democrats in the state House restored the funding to the Colorado budget this Tuesday, Senate Republicans are not showing any sign of budging on the issue.
Democrats filled one vacant seat in the Maine Senate this week with the victory of Susan Deschambault in District 32. She captured the election handily with over 57 percent of the vote. The seat had become vacant with the resignation of David Dutremble, and Deschambault will serve until the end of this year. Deschambault has also filed for election to a full term in the seat this fall. This Democratic victory builds key momentum in the party's effort to restore a Democratic majority in the chamber this fall.