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.
The Missouri House of Representatives passed an extremist -- and possibly illegal --amendment to the state constitution granting rights to unborn fetuses at every stage of development. Specifically, the bill claims that fetuses have the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Democrats argued that this measure is essentially unenforceable because it directly contradicts the ruling established through Roe v. Wade and would be overruled if challenged. GOP Representative Mike Moon made the pointless measure even worse by arguing that abortion is taking human life out of “convenience.” The GOP war on women continues in state legislatures, and Missouri is currently on the front lines.
Fearful of a “sexless society,” Wisconsin GOP Representative Jesse Kremer introduced legislation that duplicates the widely reviled “bathroom bill” passed in North Carolina. Like its counterpart, Kremer’s bill restricts people from entering bathrooms that do not match their biological sex. Kremer has defended North Carolina’s law, which has cost the state significant economic activity, and attacked his Republican colleagues who have not stood with him in support of his anti-LGBT bigotry.
Human compassion and sound public policy won the day as state lawmakers in Maine voted to override Republican Governor Paul LePage’s outrageous veto of a bill designed to save the lives of overdose victims. The legislature had passed bipartisan legislation allowing the drug Naxolone (which has been found effective at preventing deaths due to heroin overdoses) to be made available over-the-counter at pharmacies without a prescription. Governor LePage dismissed the value of saving these lives and vetoed the bill. LePage justified his veto by arguing that the drug “merely prolongs” the lives of drug users, which he apparently does not find worthy of state resources. The bipartisan override of his veto shows that LePage’s cruelty and ignorance has put him on the extreme edge of even his own party.
The Obama Administration’s condemnation of North Carolina’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill” as discriminatory has created fissures within the North Carolina Republican Party. The Justice Department required the state government to forbid enforcement of the legislation by this Monday or risk the loss of important federal funds. Some Republican leaders, such as House Speaker Tim Moore and Governor Pat McCrory, declared that they would not be “bullied” by this order and pledged to ignore it. However, GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger would not guarantee that the state would definitely push to enforce the law. U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R) and Tom Tillis (R) hoped that the issue would be resolved by state and local authorities and took no stance on the controversy.
Michigan House Republicans have used Detroit’s debt crisis as an excuse to restrict labor rights and to promote corporatized schools. The Republicans House majority would only commit about $500 million to help Detroit schools, despite many lawmakers arguing for more. The most controversial aspects of the bill are its retaliatory measures against the teachers fighting for their schools and their students. Many Republicans expressed frustration with teachers who protested the deplorable conditions of Detroit schools and a loss of earned wages with a series of “sick-outs” across the school district. The funding bill rolls back labor protections by blocking collective bargaining rights in a “debt-free” district, allows uncertified teachers to work in Detroit schools, and prevents future “sick-outs” by allowing superintendents to call strike meetings. The passage of this measure sets up a showdown with the Senate, which recently passed a $715 million aid plan that doesn’t punish teachers fighting for decent working conditions and learning environments.