A conservative 527 political group, Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, launched a mendacious attack in a mailer featuring a photoshopped image of Colorado state Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D) wearing sunglasses with dollar signs on the lenses, placed against an “ornamental Asian bridge.” In actuality, Zenzinger voted against using taxpayer money to send a city delegation abroad, and has never been to China. In 2013, Zenzinger sat on the Arvada City Council, which received an invitation from their sister city, Jinzhou, China to send an official delegation from Arvada to the 2013 World Landscape Art Exposition. After the vote failed 4-3 to send a delegation to Jinzhou, Zenzinger made a motion saying if a city delegation was ultimately sent, the money must come from a non-city source. This motion passed on a 5-2 vote, and ultimately no city officials or employees went to China because no private funding was found. The group made the same nonsense accusations against Zenzinger in 2014, with a TV ad called “China Girl.” According to the Sunlight Foundation, these attacks may violate Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government’s nonprofit status, since nonprofit political groups cannot expressly suggest voters support or reject a candidate.
During this year’s short session in North Carolina, the Republican-controlled legislature not only failed to reverse HB2, but tweaked sections to reinstate a victim’s ability to bring discrimination charges before a state court, but reduced the statute of limitations from three years to just one. The legislature also added $500,000 to the $8 million they had already set aside to defend the law in court. However, it stripped the state’s Emergency Response and Disaster Relief fund to do so. As the session closed, Republicans passed a bill to turn over five troubled elementary schools to private charter operators, some of which may be run as for-profit operations. The session aftermath included the passage of GOP legislation that gives police departments full authority over body-camera and dashboard-camera footage, which cannot be copied or shown to the public. This was coupled with not only a higher standard deduction on income taxes (but was found to only save families making between $10,000-$30,000 about $60 a year), but also no sizable action on water safety.
Florida Democrats fell short on votes and were unable to force the Legislature into a special session to discuss gun safety legislation. Proposed legislation would have prevented potential terrorists from buying guns in Florida, including blocking individuals on the “no-fly” or terrorist watch list from buying a weapon. The effort would have been coupled with a measure which would require law enforcement to be notified when those investigated for terrorist activity purchase firearms, such as the gunman who bought weapons and killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub. These commonsense measures were blocked with 54 “no” votes from House Republicans and 11 Senate Republicans.
The Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate voted Thursday to approve legislation that would make Massachusetts the first U.S. state this year (the 19th state to award trans residents full and equal protections) to enact a law allowing transgender individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities. The legislation, which extends anti-discrimination protections to include public accommodations, passed in the House 117-36, and the Senate approved the bill on a voice vote; Governor Baker signed the bill into law on July 8th, 2016.
Democratic lawmakers and Planned Parenthood called on the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to remove an unnecessarily restrictive abortion provision from the state’s legal code. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled a similar Texas provision unconstitutional since it placed "undue burdens" on women seeking an abortion, and the court ultimately rejected Wisconsin’s appeal, which sought to have its own version of the law reinstated. Thirty-five Democratic legislators signed and delivered a letter calling for the repeal of the admitting privileges provision to Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.