Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

The Friday Five - June 17, 2016

The Friday Five - June 17, 2016

1. Democrats bullish in efforts to regain power in Legislature

Nevada Democrats are even more optimistic about retaking the Legislature after three establishment Republicans lost their primaries. Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante Adams (D) contends this defeat demonstrated voters’ rejection of the current GOP leadership. In addition, multiple heavily-Democratic Assembly districts lost in 2014 are on the ballot this year, and Assembly Republicans already expect to lose some of them. In the Senate, a key race in open SD-06 pits Democratic Clark County prosecutor Nicole Cannizzaro against “bombastic” Republican Victoria Seaman. While the seat is currently held by a GOP lawmaker, Democrats have a narrow registration advantage. Overall, Nevada Democrats hope to increase voter turnout levels and capitalize on internal divisions among Republicans to retake the Legislature in November.

2. State's Tab Defending Voter ID $3.5 Million So Far

Texas Republicans have now spent more than five years and $3.5 million in taxpayer funds defending a 2011 voter identification law in five separate lawsuits. State Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal team is fighting the U.S. Department of Justice, minority groups, and other opponents who have successfully argued that Senate Bill 14 discriminates against minorities, the elderly, and poor Texans who are most likely to lack acceptable government-issued IDs. Despite the legal challenges, Texas’s voter identification law is in effect and is one of the most stringent in the country, accepting only seven different forms of identification. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is currently hearing arguments about the discriminatory impact of the law; a ruling is anticipated before July 20.

3. Following Orlando shooting, Democrats want special session of Florida Legislature

In the wake of a brutal attack by a man with an assault weapon, Democratic legislators in Florida are aggressively pursuing a special legislative session to discuss new gun safety measures. Two state Senators representing Orlando districts, Daren Thompson and Geraldine Thompson, along with state Representative John Cortes, announced the session proposal, but Republicans did not share their enthusiasm. Senate President Andy Gardiner released a statement claiming that the legislators lacked the sufficient Senate support necessary to request a special session and suggesting that gun safety legislation does not require “time-sensitive action.”

4. EXCLUSIVE: Inside HB 2 author's legislative emails on LGBT issues

While North Carolina’s Republican leadership has claimed the passage of their “bathroom bill” was motivated by “public safety” concerns, recently-obtained emails between GOP state Representative Dan Bishop and his constituents confirm the bill’s true motivation. Throughout this correspondence with constituents, Bishop condemned the entire LGBT movement as “jeopardiz[ing] freedom” and agreed with and lauded a constituent who called LGBT-supporters the “politically correct Taliban.” In another email, Bishop elaborates on why he believes allowing transgender individuals access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity is a religious issue. He defended his continued support for the bill by saying: “I do not fear man. I fear God.” While Governor McCrory has repeatedly claimed that he and the other Republicans behind HB2 did not intend to discriminate, Representative Bishop’s words and actions indicate otherwise.

5. Confederate flag removal may have been a substitute for real gun law reform

Many Americans are hoping that the senseless loss of life in Orlando will finally bring about comprehensive gun safety legislation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in South Carolina, where a hate-motivated shooting left nine people dead last June. In the year following the Charleston massacre, many have criticized Republican Governor Nikki Haley for not actively supporting legislation that would close the loophole that allowed the Charleston shooter to purchase a gun despite his drug record. While dozens of bills concerning gun policy were introduced in South Carolina this legislative session, the only measure concerning firearms that did pass the GOP-controlled Legislature expanded gun access; a bill to close the “Charleston loophole” never even received a hearing. South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn asserts that there was little movement on the issue because politicians and advocates were distracted by their effort to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds. However, Democratic state Representative Wendell Gilliard is already promising “an extensive Statehouse fight in January” to ban the use of all assault weapons for private use.