Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of August 10th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of August 10th, 2016)

For the Week of August 10th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

"The legislature's immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective, but the means of achieving that objective was to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee's African-Americans.”

U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson called out Wisconsin state Republicans in his ruling against GOP voting restrictions for enacting voter ID limits and reducing early voting hours in an effort to boost their party's chances at the voting booth. The Republican law reducing voting hours appeared to be a deliberate attempt to harm Democrats, while the state's ID system disenfranchised minorities. Restrictive voter ID laws tend to depress turnout by removing specific voters from the process entirely, and tend to favor Republican candidates. However, on Wednesday, August 10th, an appeals court temporarily halted this lower court's ruling, stating the remedy was too broad and cited concerns about disrupting voting protocols so close to an election. Voting rights advocates may still appeal the decision to the full Circuit Court or to the Supreme Court.

"What I'm trying to do is come up with some common-sense measures that move us forward and are politically feasible…This is such a difficult issue. It's hard for me to come up with ways that don't, as a knee-jerk reaction, cause gun-rights advocates to say, 'Not only screw you, screw you and the horse you rode in on.'"

Utah state Representative Brian King (D) is looking to pass a series of three bills aimed at tightening Utah's domestic-violence laws, including two bills that would keep guns out of the hands of abusers. One bill would strengthen a law that took effect last year that required convicted domestic abusers to surrender their guns. The second bill would add a disclosure requirement notifying potential gun buyers that is it a state and federal crime to attempt to purchase a firearm if they have been convicted of domestic violence. In Utah, roughly 43 percent of all homicides are the result of domestic violence, and about 60 percent of those murders are committed with a firearm. However, Rep. King has faced an uphill battle against defensive gun owners and advocates who have been resistant to any form of common sense legislation limiting the chance of firearms getting into the wrong hands. If Rep. King is able to move forward with these measures, they will be considered when the legislature convenes in January.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Trump’s weakness strengthens Dems’ hope to regain House

Jonathan Oosting, (The Detroit News)
August 9, 2016

Michigan Democrats hoping to win back control of the state House this fall argue one of their best weapons could be atop the Republican ticket: presidential nominee Donald Trump.

In a Detroit News-WDIV poll, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton widened her lead to a 9-percentage-point advantage over Trump. More than 60 percent of likely voters said the New York businessman is not qualified to be commander in chief.

Last week’s survey results suggest Trump could be a drag on down-ballot Republicans if he does not rebound by November, fueling optimism among Democrats they can pick up the nine state House seats needed for their first true majority since the GOP wave of 2010 gave Republicans total control of state government.

The latest poll numbers and voter qualms about Trump bode “very well” for the Democrats’ state House candidates, said Rep. Adam Zemke, co-chair of the House Democrat campaign team. ...

Term limits and one death mean voters will fill 42 open House seats in November, but almost half of those are highly unlikely to change because of the partisan make-up of the districts. It leaves about 22 seats in play – almost all of them currently held by Republicans – and Democrats are targeting at least six GOP incumbents, including Oakland County Rep. Klint Kesto of Commerce Township.

“I’d certainly be nervous at this point,” said Brian Began of the Grassroots Midwest political consulting firm in Lansing, who previously worked for House Republicans and helped draw new district lines in the wake of the 2010 Census.

“In a presidential year, (Republicans) are going to lose four to five seats, just because of openings and the way the state is. Now if you have someone at the top of the ticket that’s going to pull bad numbers ... it could be a lot worse than you even expected.”

Republicans enjoy a 63-46 majority in the House, where one Democratic seat is temporarily vacant due to the death of Rep. Julie Plawecki of Dearborn Heights. A GOP loss of eight seats would mean the Republicans and Democrats would share control of the chamber with 55 members each — a situation that last occurred in 1993-94.

Any Trump factor could be magnified if Michigan voters still have a straight-ticket option this fall, Began said. ...

“That’s a big, looming problem right now” for Republicans, Began said. “You get straight-ticket voting and yeah, Republicans could lose eight or nine seats with Trump polling as bad as he is.” ...

Clinton is narrowly leading in the traditional Republican strongholds of west and southwest Michigan, a trend that suggests even some “safe” GOP state House seats could become more competitive this fall.

[Read More]

Tighter Restrictions Are Losing In The Battle Over Voter ID Laws

Oliver Roeder, (FiveThirtyEight)
August 3, 2016

The struggle over who can vote on Election Day is becoming more heated in courtrooms, judges’ chambers and statehouses across the country, paralleling the intensity of the presidential race. And at the moment, the side that wants fewer voting restrictions seems to be winning.

The battle began in earnest after 2010, when several Republican state legislatures began tightening identification requirements on voters. It has reached a new level in the 2016 election, when voters in 17 states faced new restrictions that ranged from photo ID requirements to cutbacks on early voting and same-day registration. Republicans said the laws were necessary to prevent fraud; Democrats and voting rights advocates said the restrictions were really designed to reduce participation by minority groups and young voters who traditionally support Democrats.

“It’s the biggest rollback of voting since Jim Crow,” said Jonathan Brater, an attorney at NYU Law’s Brennan Center for Justice, which compiled the list of restrictions.

But in just the past few weeks, several of these laws have been blocked or overturned by federal judges. On Monday, a District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against a voter ID law in North Dakota. In the previous 10 days, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ID law in Texas violated the Voting Rights Act, a panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law in North Carolina, and a District Court judge in Wisconsin ruled that elements of the law there were unconstitutional. There is also major voting-law litigation ongoing in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Ohio and Virginia. ...

The legal fight has become a significant issue in the presidential race. Hillary Clinton has spoken forcefully against the voter ID laws in speeches and op-ed articles. “They’re doing everything they can to stop black people, Latinos, poor people, young people, people with disabilities from voting,” she said in Houston earlier this year. ...

And now new research, with the aid of additional hindsight and data, suggests the disparate impact of these laws might be bigger than previously thought. A paper forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, titled “Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes” and written by a trio of political scientists, finds that, in the presence of strict ID laws, the predicted gap in participation between black and white voters in general elections increases from 2.9 points to 5.1 points, and in primaries increases from 2.5 points to 11.6 points. A similar result holds for the gap between Latino and white voters. More starkly, they find “that voter ID laws skew democracy toward those on the political right.”

[Read More]

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Rev. William Barber on voter suppression laws

AM Joy, (MSNBC)
August 6, 2016

Donald Trump’s allegations of a rigged election come as courts have struck down restrictions on voters in six different states. Reverend Doctor William Barber joins MSNBC’s Joy Reid to discuss these voter suppression laws.

COMING UP

August 13

Primary Election - Hawaii

August 16

Primary Election - Alaska
Primary Election - Wyoming

August 30

Primary Election - Arizona
Primary Election - Florida

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

FL: Possible Cuts to Planned Parenthood Could Hurt Florida's Zika Response: Experts - ABC News
MO: Judge rules Missouri is on the hook for $156k in Planned Parenthood legal fees - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
OK: Lawmaker calls for study of ‘unconstitutional legislation’ - KFOR
TX: Abbott’s Back Alley Abortion Politics are a Texas Tradition - Texas Observer
U.S.: Emily’s List aims to shift US Congress to the left – state by state - The Guardian
U.S.: Anti-abortion advocates seek fresh ammunition to justify restrictions - POLITICO

Guns

IL: Illinois lawmakers want gun traffickers to get long prison sentences - Associated Press
PA: Officials seek answers to gun violence problem - Main Line Media News
TX: Texas businesses that ban guns should be liable if unarmed patrons are hurt, Dallas senator says - The Dallas Morning News
TX: Texas professors sue over guns on campus before class begins - Associated Press
TX: Area college leaders: No to allowing guns on campus - Lowell Sun
UT: Utah lawmaker looks to tighten laws keeping guns out of hands of abusers - Salt Lake Tribune
VT: Vermonters rally for background check legislation in state capital - WPTZ

Health Care

CO: Right-to-die campaign turns in 160,000 signatures to put measure on ballot - The Denver Post
FL: Possible Cuts to Planned Parenthood Could Hurt Florida's Zika Response: Experts - ABC News
IL: Prison bill would restrict money-saving health care options - Illinois News Network
MO: Contribution limits, tobacco tax increase gain enough signatures to appear on Missouri ballot - Kansas City Star

Labor

MD: Hogan calls union that opposes his education budget decisions 'thugs' - The Baltimore Sun
NJ: State pension guarantee dead for November ballot - NJ.com
OR: State officials decline to change voter's pamphlet explanation of $3 billion corporate tax measure - The Oregonian

LGBT

CA: LGBT Rights Advocates Focus on Faith-Based Colleges - NBC Los Angeles
IN: Democratic State Senator Proposes Hate Crimes Bill - Indiana Public Media
NC: No Quick Ruling in North Carolina Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit - Associated Press
TX: Restroom battle may head to the Texas Legislature - Star-Telegram

Voting Rights

AZ: State asks court to ban ‘ballot harvesting’ even with no evidence of fraud - Arizona Capitol Times
MS: Small number have voting rights restored in Mississippi - Hattiesburg American
NC: Appeals court rejects NC's request to postpone voter ID decision - News & Observer
NC: Lawsuit: Too Much Party Bias in North Carolina Congress Map - Associated Press
NC: Voting Fight Shifts to Local Level In North Carolina - NBC News
OH: Ohio election laws written to favor white voters, attorney says - Cleveland.com
TX: Texas relents on voter IDs for November - POLITICO
WI: State files appeal over early voting, ID law - Journal Sentinel
WI: Appeals Court Blocks Remedy To Weaken Wisconsin Voter ID Law - Talking Points Memo
U.S.: Tighter Restrictions Are Losing In The Battle Over Voter ID Laws - FiveThirtyEight
U.S.: In Clinton vs. Trump, These Tangential Issues Might Make a Difference - U.S. News & World Report

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AL: Ethics commission closes campaign spending loophole: No campaign funds for personal items - AL.com
AZ: Phoenix-area Arizona legislative races to watch in 2016 - AZ Central
AR: Democrats pick lawyer to run for District 9 seat - ArkansasOnline
CA: Democratic surge shrinks GOP lead - The Orange County Register
CO: Democrats Crushing Republicans in State House Fundraising - Colorado Pols
CO: Democrats Outperforming GOP in State Senate Fundraising - Colorado Pols
KS: Battleground races could determine fate of Brownback coalition in the Kansas Legislature - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
MI: WWE wrestler Rhyno ‘The Man Beast from Detroit’ wins Republican primary for seat in Michigan Legislature - NY Daily News
MI: Trump’s weakness strengthens Dems’ hope to regain House - Detroit News
MI: Will balance of power shift in Michigan House of Representatives? - Detroit Free Press
MI: How secret donors tried to shape Michigan's next House GOP caucus - MLive
MN: The 9 most intriguing legislative primaries in Minnesota - MinnPost
MN: Few Top Races, But Big Impact in Minnesota Primary - KSTP
NY: SD-60: Trump Controversy Touches State Senate Race - NY State of Politics
TN: Pro-charter school group sees its candidates lose local races - Knoxville News Sentinel
TN: Legislative primary winners head to November's general election - The Tennessean
TN: Khristy Wilkinson is Democratic choice to face Todd Gardenhire for state Senate seat - Times Free Press
WA: Top Two results show Washington Democrats are poised to win both houses of Legislature - The Cascadia Advocate
WI: Jimmy Anderson wins three-way Democratic primary in 47th Assembly District - The Cap Times
WI: Taylor easily defeats Barnes in primary - Journal Sentinel

CONTACT

Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee
fiddler@dlcc.org