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.
House backs expansion of Georgia’s Supreme Court
Mitch McConnell isn't the only one shamelessly grabbing judicial power for the GOP. But while Senate Republicans are threatening to hobble the U.S. Supreme Court on key cases impacting abortion rights, voting rights, and more, Georgia's Republican-led state House just approved a bill to expand the state Supreme Court by two seats. That would let GOP Governor Nathan Deal appoint four more justices before leaving office. Counting the one appointment Deal has already made, the result would be a court whose majority (five of the nine justices) was appointed by just one governor. Georgia's two Republican senators might have a tough time explaining why it's OK to hand that kind of power to a GOP governor like Deal, while claiming that President Obama isn't even allowed to fill judicial seats that already exist.
Mapmakers Removing Race From New Congressional Districts
When a federal court struck down North Carolina Republicans' illegal racial gerrymandering and ordered the legislature to re-draw the state's congressional map, it probably didn't expect GOP lawmakers to brazendly subvert the ruling. Republicans redrew the map after voting to adopt redistricting standards that (1) "omit any and all racial considerations," meaning there would be no effort whatsoever to ensure fair representation for minority voters, and (2) made "preserving a 10-3 GOP congressional delegation advantage" the "main focus" of the new lines. State Rep. David Lewis (R) even defended the later move by saying "I acknowledge freely that this would be a political gerrymander," and that the only reason Republicans were settling for 77% of the congressional seats in one of the most closely-divided swing states in America is because he didn't think an 11-2 advantage was possible.
Missouri Rep. Don Gosen abruptly resigns under cloud of suspicion
A Missouri Republican legislator has resigned from office under mysterious circumstances, allegedly due to conduct similar to last year's shocking sexual harassment scandal that felled top leaders of both the state House and Senate. Republicans' proposed responses to those incidents -- ranging from a proposed intern-only dress code to a public database of sexual relations by most people working in the capitol -- did little to help shake the Missouri legislature's reputation as an extremely creepy place to work (a reputation that dates at least to 2009, when a different former Speaker of the House wasaccused of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman). UPDATE: Yes, there's more.
State House Republicans’ DPS plan hits unions, slows return to local control
Republicans in Michigan seem to have learned nothing at all from the Flint water crisis, in which a state-appointed emergency manager's role in switching the city's water source has had tragic and expensive consequences for both residents and the state. Flint residents still don't know when their tap water will be safe again, but already Michigan state House Republicans are pushing to keep Detroit residents from exercising democratic control over their public schools again. Hopefully another unforeseen (but predictable) crisis won't hit those kids while GOP Governor Rick Snyder and Republican legislators refuse to admit where the problem actually originates -- not with local control and democracy, but rather with the GOP-controlled government itself.
Anti-union group worked to influence elections in Montana
Legislative campaigns in Montana are at the center of a growing scandal involving illegal in-kind contributions from a national anti-union group to Republican candidates in five states. A state watchdog group is accusing nine candidates of "illegally coordinating with and taking unreported contributions from" the group and its affiliates, who offered a package of campaign assistance dubbed "the works." The investigation began back in 2012, when documents from the group turned up mysteriously in a Denver, Colorado "meth house" that was raided by police.