For the Week of 6/23/2017
With the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) polling as the most unpopular piece of legislation in decades and Senate Republicans’ recent release of the equally “mean” Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), state Democrats across the country are leading the charge to ensure that all Americans — regardless of income, gender, or pre-existing conditions — maintain access to crucial health care. From California to Michigan and Nevada to New York, Democratic state legislators are leading the charge and having an impact on important policy despite the actions of congressional Republicans. Read more about how down-ballot Democrats are fighting for your right to health care in this week’s Medium post.
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it will hear a redistricting case from Wisconsin that could shift the tide for Democrats. A lower court ruled that Republican state legislators implemented a redistricting plan that was so partisan, it was unconstitutional. While SCOTUS has previously invalidated multiple GOP-drawn maps as racial gerrymanders, this would mark the first-time America’s highest court has rejected state maps for partisan gerrymandering. After capturing statehouses in the Red Wave of 2010, Republicans used their new redistricting powers to rig legislative and congressional districts to favor Republican candidates. Analysis from the Brennan Center of Justice shows that GOP-controlled state governments are gerrymandering districts into extreme partisan proportions. Regardless of the outcome of this court case, the importance of electing Democrats at the state level cannot be understated. By electing Democrats to statehouses nationwide, we can work to ensure voters are picking their representatives – not the other way around.
California just finalized its state budget and Democrats successfully expanded the state’s landmark Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. The EITC aids low-income workers based on how much they earn. This policy helps to lift families out of poverty while encouraging work, stimulating the local economy, and strengthening communities. When the EITC was enacted in 2015, the legislation helped lift a quarter million Californians out of poverty. The expanded program will allow an additional 1.1 million Californians to qualify for support. This victory is just another example of California Democrats leading the charge for state progress.
4. State Senate Republicans kill the Child Victims Act again as majority leader says bill won't get a vote this year
Republicans in the New York state Senate, aided by members of the IDC, have once again turned their backs on child sex abuse victims. The Child Victims Act would extend the time period during which abuse survivors can file civil cases and felony criminal cases, while also creating a one-year window to revive old cases and standardizing filing procedures for public and private institutions. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R) confirmed this week that the bill is dead for the year. Despite passing the Democratic-led Assembly, the Republican-controlled Senate failed to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable constituents. DLCC Board member and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins spoke out against the GOP’s failure to help these victims: “Once again justice has been denied to so many victims of such heinous crimes. The failure to act on the Child Victims Act for the 11th straight year is a failure that stains the entire legislative session.”
North Carolina women are still living under an atrocious law set by the North Carolina Supreme Court in 1979. The law states that women cannot revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins, and it has prevented multiple rape victims from obtaining justice. However, one Democratic state senator is fighting to change this archaic law. Sen. Jeff Jackson is sponsoring Senate Bill 553, which would criminalize individuals for failing to stop intercourse after a woman has revoked consent. However, Republicans in the state Senate have halted the bill. Sen. Jackson commented, “Legislators are hearing more and more about women who have been raped and are being denied justice because of this crazy loophole…North Carolina is the only state in U.S. where no doesn’t mean no.” Despite North Carolina Republicans’ inaction on this important issue, state Democrats will continue to work towards reforming the legal system to protect women from violence. As Sen. Jackson stated, “There’s no reason for this to be partisan…It’s about doing what’s obviously right.”
*DLCC's Quote of the Week*
"The country is experiencing what California went through 22 years ago. I can tell you, it doesn’t turn out well for the Republicans, or for extremist forces."
DLCC Board member and California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León is leading the resistance against Trumpism. Sen. de León is relying on his early days as an activist and organizer to fight back against extremist legislation damaging to immigrants, women, families, low-income workers, and beyond. Read more about his legislation and his plans to protect and advance state progress in the Trump era.