Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of August 17th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of August 17th, 2016)

For the Week of August 10th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

“The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist…Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the state’s true motivation.”

Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote this scathing rebuke of a North Carolina Republican election law in a unanimous ruling issued by the three-judge panel. The judges agreed with allegations that the bill (passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory) purposefully excluded certain forms of voter identification, shortened early voting days and changed registration procedures in an effort to disenfranchise black voters, thus boosting the GOP's electoral chances. The panel overturned the decision from a district judge who had previously approved the law, saying the lower court had "missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees."

"Democracy can't wait…That's why we call on the governor today to work with us to move our state forward and not backward."

Illinois state Senator Jacqueline Collins (D), like many other Illinois lawmakers, expressed shock and disappointment at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to veto legislation that would make voter registration automatic in time for the 2018 election. The bill would have allowed state agencies to automatically register new voters and would have allowed for an immediate update of the registration info for an estimated 700,000 voters ahead of the November 2016 election. The legislation was approved in May with veto-proof majorities and support within both parties. While Rauner insists that he supports "the intention of the bill," Democrats and voting rights advocates are not buying it; many see the governor's decision as a "concerted effort to roll back the clock" on expanding voting rights, and as a politically-motivated move meant to protect his own agenda. Democrats have vowed to push for a veto override vote when lawmakers return to session in late November.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Will Donald Trump Hand State Capitols to Democrats?

Russell Berman, (The Atlantic)
August 11, 2016

Donald Trump’s recent plunge in the polls has tempted Democrats to widen their dreams for a big night in November. A landslide victory for Hillary Clinton, they now believe, could bring with it control of the U.S. Senate and dramatically shrink the party’s gap with Republicans in the House—if not flip it entirely.

But there could be a Trump effect in another 2016 battleground that could shape the electoral landscape much further into the future: the elections for control of state legislatures. ...

Both parties had expected Democrats to make up some ground in 2016 for two reasons. They have typically performed better up and down the ballot in presidential-election years, and with Republicans at an all-time high, Democrats had little place to go besides up.

Yet Trump’s name atop the GOP ticket has prompted Democrats and their allies to set their sights higher for state legislative races this fall. With more states in play, they are now aiming to flip at least 10 and as many as 13 legislative chambers. Those victories could give Democrats complete control of the governments in Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington state while breaking the GOP’s one-party rule in Michigan, Maine, and even Florida—all places where Republicans had made gains during the Obama era. “The expanding map that you see on the national level reflects what we see on the state level,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. “We thought that no matter who the presidential nominee was, we thought we had an excellent shot at winning back the Minnesota House, winning back the New Mexico House, for example. But now we’re also looking back and saying, wow, Trump in the public polling is at 36 percent in Michigan.”

“I think it’s put some additional states into play, and it’s also put a lot of additional districts in play,” Post told me in an interview this week.

In Colorado, with a Democratic governor and a majority in the state House of Representatives, Democrats need to flip just one seat in the Senate to regain full control of the government. Republicans had narrowly captured the Senate majority in 2014. But an increase in Latino voters in recent years has made the one-time GOP stronghold nearly out of reach for the Trump campaign, giving Democrats confidence they can use a Clinton victory to capture down-ballot seats. Democrats need to gain seven seats to capture the Minnesota state House and just three in New Mexico. Both chambers in Washington state are in play—Democrats have a two-seat advantage in the House and Republicans are up by one in the Senate—but Democrats are again hopeful that a likely Clinton win there will swing the legislature toward them.

The Flint water crisis in Michigan and the GOP-controlled legislature’s passage of a widely criticized anti-transgender bathroom law in North Carolina have left Democrats optimistic about bigger-than-expected gains in those states as well. And then there are states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Arizona, where Democrats are rethinking their assumptions about how long it would take them to wrest legislative chambers from the GOP’s control. Post pointed to a surge in Latino voter registrations in Florida and Arizona along with an apparent nosedive in Trump’s support in the Philadelphia suburbs as factors that Democrats could exploit. “We started this cycle saying, ‘Let’s just chip away at these large legislative majorities,” she told me. “Now we’re saying we can take big cuts at these majorities and see if we can run this all the way over the finish line.” 

[Read More]

Trump May Be Boon for Down-Ballot Dems, LGBT Rights in Arizona, Georgia

Julie Moreau, (NBC News)
August 13, 2016

The Clinton campaign announced this week it no longer considers states like Virginia to be battlegrounds in the presidential election. The latest polls show Trump trailing enough that her campaign is diverting staff to Arizona and Georgia, typically considered to be safely red states.

With the exception of Bill Clinton in 1996, Arizona has voted for Republican presidential candidates since the 1950s, and Georgia has been reliably red for the past two decades. However, with additional resources, their 27 combined electoral votes could help make the difference for Clinton. And Clinton's strategic maneuver could also be a boon for Democrats in down-ballot races in these states.

While most voters tend to be focused on the presidential election, races further down the ballot are not inconsequential -- especially when it comes to LGBT rights.

Beth Shipp, Executive Director of LPAC, a political action committee that supports LGBT women, said the 145 pieces of anti-LGBT state legislation introduced in 2016 are a testament to the significance of down-ballot races.

"We see so much bad legislation passed in states and signed by anti-LGBT governors," she said, mentioning North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana among those states. "The people who are passing those laws are state reps and state senators."

This November presents an opportunity to send a message to lawmakers to "revers[e] the tide on some of these really bad initiatives [that] diminish LGBT progress that we have made," she added.

For Shipp, Trump helps down-ballot Democrats, because Republicans "are going to need to run as far as possible or support the horrendous things [Trump has] said."

Daniel Hernandez Jr., a Democrat competing in Arizona's District 2 State House primary on August 30, told NBC OUT "down-ballot races are even more key to the safety and security of LGBT people and their families."

[Read More]

COMING UP

August 30

Primary Election - Arizona
Primary Election - Florida

September 8

Primary Election - Massachusetts

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

FL: Florida May Be The Worst State in Which To Get Pregnant Now - The Huffington Post
OH: Court Rules Ohio Cannot Implement law To Defund Planned Parenthood - WYSO

Guns

FL: Poll: Florida voters strongly favor some gun control - Tampa Bay Times
MD: Legislator takes aim at guns - The Sentinel
TX: Professors who ban guns in their classrooms will be punished, UT lawyer says - The Dallas Morning News

Health Care

CA: Bill would allow California women to get year's worth of birth control - Associated Press
CA: Drug Price Transparency Bill Clears Key Hurdle in California Legislature - California Healthline
CA: Legislation to improve tracking of mental health services for foster kids moves forward - East Bay Times
CO: Aid In Dying Measure Qualifies For Colorado Ballot - Colorado Public Radio
KS: Bevin’s proposed Medicaid changes could give nonprofits unwanted ‘volunteers’ - Lexington Herald-Leader
KY: Brownback endorses reversing Medicaid cut he ordered earlier this year by hiking provider tax - The Topeka Capital-Journal
MA: Coverage mandated for side effect of early HIV drugs - State House News Service
NJ: New Jersey proposal expands infertility coverage to lesbians - Associated Press

Labor

AZ: Minimum wage initiative at risk as judge rules many petitioners not qualified - Arizona Capitol Times
CO: $12 minimum wage measure makes Colorado ballot - The Denver Post
FL: Teachers’ union loses another round in voucher fight - Palm Beach Post
IL: Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights signed into law - Capitol Fax
OR: Supporters of corporate tax measure report raising $2 million - The Oregonian
OR: Oregon gets a B+ for support of new parents - East Oregonian
VA: AFL-CIO plans biggest electoral push ever, led by Virginia - Daily Press
WV: WV Supreme Court likely to take up right-to-work - Charleston Gazette-Mail

LGBT

IL: Pastors sue Illinois over gay conversion therapy ban - Associated Press
NJ: New Jersey proposal expands infertility coverage to lesbians - Associated Press
U.S.: Trump May Be Boon for Down-Ballot Dems, LGBT Rights in Arizona, Georgia - NBC News
U.S.: Bathroom Access A “Must” For Transgender People In Federal Facilities - Buzzfeed News

Voting Rights

IL: Democrats, advocates blast Rauner veto of automatic voter registration bill - Chicago Tribune
MI: Court rejects motion, keeps straight-party voting - Detroit News
NC: Federal Court Rejects North Carolina Legislative Districts - The New York Times
NC: North Carolina asks Supreme Court to restore strict voting procedures - The Washington Post
NC: North Carolina Won’t Stop Suppressing the Vote - The Nation
VA: Virginia Supreme Court justices "scared" to go against General Assembly, McAuliffe says - Associated Press
WI: U.S. Appeals Court stays ruling on Wisconsin voter ID law - Star Tribune
U.S.: Courts Hand Down Smashing Victories for Voting Rights - The Nation

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AK: Analysis: Election results present mixed messages - Juneau Empire
AZ: Minimum wage measure faces new obstacle - Arizona Capitol Times
CO: Voters to decide whether to toughen requirements to amend Colorado constitution - The Denver Post
CO: Aid In Dying Measure Qualifies For Colorado Ballot - Colorado Public Radio
FL: NRA Doles Out Endorsements in Florida Primary Election - Sunshine State News
IL: Rauner ally Matt Murphy resigns from Illinois Senate - Chicago Tribune
NV: EMILY’s List working to get Democratic women elected to Nevada Legislature - Las Vegas Review-Journal
NM: State GOP fundraising effort gets its facts wrong - Santa Fe New Mexican
NY: Poll: Trump doesn’t help GOP in bid to retain Senate power - Times Union
NC: NC House majority leader to resign on Tuesday - News & Observer
OR: Supporters of corporate tax measure report raising $2 million - The Oregonian
VA: AFL-CIO plans biggest electoral push ever, led by Virginia - Daily Press
U.S.: Will Donald Trump Hand State Capitols to Democrats? - The Atlantic

 

CONTACT

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