For the Week of 7/7/2017
Republicans have been pushing for a constitutional convention for years, but now we are scarily close to this nightmarish convention becoming a reality. If Republicans win just two more state legislatures, they could call a convention at any point and use it as a means to undo years of progress on issues like civil rights, health care, environmental protections, and more. With Donald Trump in the White House and the Koch brothers and ALEC pushing convention legislation in as many as 30 states, this possibility becomes even more threatening. Now more than ever, we must focus on state-level elections. State Democrats have already tallied multiple legislative special election victories since Trump’s inauguration, and DLCC is ready to build on this momentum ahead of crucial elections still to come in Washington, Florida, and Virginia. Read more about state Republicans’ mission to force the passage of their dangerous agenda in DLCC’s latest Medium post.
One special election in Washington will determine majority control of the state Senate – and control of state government. The state Senate is currently controlled by a coalition that gives Republicans functional control of the chamber, while Democrats currently hold the governorship and lead the state House. If Democrat Manka Dhingra flips Washington Senate District 45 in November, Democrats will regain their rightful majority in the state’s upper legislative chamber. DLCC is committed to helping Manka restore the Democratic-led government Washingtonians voted for; DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post called the race a “top priority in 2017.” A Democratic victory this November will end Republican obstructionism on issues like voting rights, reproductive health, environmental protections, and more. Washington will finally be able to join Oregon and California in “the big blue wall on the West Coast” that will help guard against Trumpism.
Trump’s election commission recently requested information about all registered voters in every state, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and partial Social Security numbers – a request that has Americans balking due to concerns of voter privacy and suppression. The commission is co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose efforts to enact proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration have been repeatedly struck down in court. Officials in almost all 50 states (including Kobach) have refused to turn over confidential information to Trump’s election commission. State Democrats across the U.S. are leading the resistance by coming out against this over-the-line anti-voter request. Colorado’s Black Democratic Legislative Caucus sent a letter to their secretary of state, stating, “In the context of President Trump’s false claims of massive, systemic voter fraud, we are deeply concerned that the commission’s unnecessary requests will be used to push policies that will undermine access to the ballot for eligible citizens, compromise our election integrity, and utilize fear to increase voter suppression across the country.” This dangerous request by Trump’s committee threatens the voting rights of Americans, particularly minority and elderly voters who are already at risk of disenfranchisement. State Democrats remain committed to protecting and expanding voting rights and stand resolute in opposition to the Trump administration’s false claims and overreach.
State Democrats have remained resolute in their commitment to helping working families as the Trump administration continues to renege on its promise to help. Last week, Democratic-led Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a bill guaranteeing workers predictable schedules, while Democrats in Washington, New Jersey, and Rhode Island passed legislation last expanding paid family and sick leave. Lack of paid family leave is a significant problem for many working families, and without these Democrats’ proactive moves to address the current administration’s negligence, the number of parents forced to leave the work force would continue to rise. These successes at the state level underscore the importance of electing Democrats to address the important issues that the Trump administration has left by the wayside.
This week saw a huge win for reproductive rights. Oregon Democrats passed legislation to require insurance plans to cover contraception, postpartum care, screenings for sexually transmitted infections and cancers of the reproductive system. The bill, titled the Reproductive Health Care Equity Act, would also make Oregon the second state (California being the first) to require private insurers to cover abortion and will protect abortion rights even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Under the bill, the state would reimburse providers who offer reproductive health care to undocumented immigrants. With a Republican-led Congress and Trump charged with filling Supreme Court vacancies, Oregon demonstrates why now, more than ever, it's important to have strong Democratic legislatures.