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.
Kentucky Democrats the emerged victorious from Tuesday's special elections in Kentucky, winning three of four key House contests. The win prevented Republicans from taking control of the state House of Representatives. On victory was particularly historic, as Democrat Jeff Taylor became the first African American to represent the 8th district in the Kentucky legislature. Overall, these wins helped stem the Republican tide after last fall's election of Tea Party favorite Matt Bevin, who is moving swiftly to inflict his extreme right wing agenda on the state.
In Arizona, Senate Republicans succeeded in passing legislation designed to loosen requirements on campaign finance reporting in the state, potentially allowing for an increase in the influence of "dark money" groups. The bill vastly increases the maximum size of donations that do not need to be reported and allows non-profit groups to spend more money without revealing their donors. Democrats attempted to add more than a dozen amendments to the bill to weaken its passage, but none were adopted. Opponents of the bill argue that it will increase the influence of these outside groups while allowing them to hide the sources of their money and the true nature of their involvement. Ironically, the sponsor of the bill, Adam Driggs, has argued that the measure will “make things more clear” for candidates and donors, but seems far less concerned with how it obscures the process for voters.
Nevada Democrats are on offense this election year. They need to pick up five seats to win a majority in the Nevada Assembly, and they believe that they have a chance at winning nine seats in Clark County alone. They note that in nince of the target districts, registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans. Regardless of the outcome of the election, Nevada Democrats are committed to continuing to work with Republicans colleagues to better their state.
Unable to prevent the Supreme Court's effective legalization of same-sex marriage in their state, Missouri Republicans are attempting to find other ways to enshrine their anti-lgbt bigotry in state law. Similar to laws that have recently passed in other states, such as Georgia, this anti-gay measure masquerades as a “religious freedom” bill. The text forbids the state government from penalizing any organization that refuses to participate in a same-sex marriage ceremony because of “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Despite this innocuous description, this bill actually allows for significant forms of discrimination against the LGBT community. Democrats in the state Senate conducted a forty-hour filibuster to obstruct the passage of the bill. This filibuster, the longest in Missouri history, was ultimately broken by Republicans. During discussion on the bill, Republican supporters openly acknowledged that the bill was meant to protect Christian religious beliefs above those of everyone else. While the Democrats failed to stop the bill’s passage, their filibuster managed to bring national attention to the persistence of the Republican Party in rolling back progress on gay rights and marriage equality.
Democrats in Minnesota announced exciting plans for their state to enter a small group of those providing for family or medical leave for their workers. The Minnesota plan would cover about 135,000 workers and allow them to take up to twelve weeks off in the case of a serious illness or to care for a newborn family member. Currently, only about thirteen percent of Minnesota’s workers have such coverage, which would allow workers to receive up to 80 percent of their salary while on leave. Democratic leaders believe that this bill would not cause any serious spike in the budget and would foster the family values that so many Americans hold dear. Republicans are not expected to go along with this plan, instead offering a much less expansive policy that would only allow for leave in the event of the birth or adoption of a child.