Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of December 9th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of December 9th, 2016)

State of the States - a product of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

For the Week of December 9th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

“A new president, new Supreme Court appointees change the dynamic, and there was consensus in our caucus to move forward…I think [the bill] has a better chance than it did before.”

Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R) is optimistic that under a Trump presidency, Ohio Republicans will succeed in passing the most controversial anti-abortion bill in the nation. The measure is known as the "Heartbeat Bill" and it would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally about six weeks into a pregnancy. Ohio Republicans have attempted to pass this bill before but failed in light of concerns that it would be ruled as unconstitutional by federal courts. However, with President-elect Trump able to appoint not only a U.S. Supreme Court justice to the bench but also many federal judges across the country, Sen. Faber and his GOP colleagues believe they have found the anti-choice ally they've been waiting for. Ohio Democratic Women's Caucus Chair Kathy DiCristofaro condemned the bill and rebuked Republicans for the way they introduced it: "This bill — which was tacked on as a last-minute amendment to a child abuse prevention bill — makes no exceptions for rape or incest victims. It is cruel and plainly unconstitutional — but it seems like Ohio Republicans don’t care about the Constitution. Trump’s vision for America is already alive and well in the Buckeye State." The Heartbeat Bill passed the Ohio House and Senate earlier this week and it has since been sent to Gov. Kasich.

“There are no rules. They can just throw out the whole Constitution if they want to...It’s the wildest of Wild West situations.”

DLCC National Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler underscored the importance of state legislative elections by reminding us of Article V of the United States Constitution. While the recent election saw Democrats net one chamber and delivered Republicans a net loss of legislative majorities, the GOP was able to wrest control of three of chambers away from Democrats. This November put Republicans right at the cusp of fully controlling two-thirds of statehouses and the ability to use Article V to call a constitutional convention of states to wreak havoc on our most crucial founding document. Extreme right-wing actors emboldened by Trump's win could be motivated to join the push for an Article V convention in an effort to bypass Congress (and the Judicial branch) and enshrine right-wing agenda items in the U.S. Constitution.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Republican success opens door to amending US Constitution

David A. Lieb (Associated Press)
December 5, 2016

The November election put Republicans in full control of a record number of state legislatures around the country, a level of power that gives the party an unprecedented opportunity: change the U.S. Constitution.

Republicans already control Congress, the White House and more governors’ offices than they have in nearly a century. But it’s the state legislatures that hold perhaps the greatest promise for lasting change.

The GOP now holds numerical majorities in 33 legislatures, one shy of the two-thirds required to initiate a convention on constitutional amendments. There is no credible talk of using that power for amendments on hot-button social issues, such as banning abortion or gay marriage. But conservatives have a list of bread-and-butter governing issues they would like to see enshrined in the Constitution.

One, to require a balanced federal budget, is already approaching the level of support that would trigger a convention. Beyond that, a major state-level push is planned during 2017 for a constitutional convention that could also consider amendments to impose term limits on members of Congress and rein in various federal powers...

If the supporters of a balanced budget amendment succeed, it would be the first time in the nation’s history that states initiated the process. That scenario has become more likely as a result of the November election...

“With the election and things that have happened, it provides really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore critical structural checks in our constitutional system,” said Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, a Republican attorney.

[Read More]

North Carolina Republicans Want to Rig the System

Albert R. Hunt (BloombergView)
December 6, 2016

Mike Morgan, an African-American judge, defeated a conservative incumbent last month for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court. Now conservative Republicans are trying to sabotage his election by packing the court, a move that would have racial and perhaps national political implications.

Although the court is officially nonpartisan, Morgan's surprise win means that four of the seven justices will be Democrats. The overwhelmingly Republican legislature and a lame-duck Republican governor who conceded defeat this week will go into a special session next week ostensibly to provide relief for hurricane victims. What they really want to do is quickly appoint and confirm two more justices to a court that has had seven members for 80 years...

In North Carolina today, Republicans have the votes in the legislature and an accommodating outgoing governor, so all that can stop them is fear of a public backlash.

"This would be a highly politicized move and do great damage to the court," charges Anita Earls, the executive director of the the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

This also is a case of an incumbent protection racket. The justice whom Morgan defeated had upheld a redistricting plan of the state legislature and congressional delegation that was thrown out by federal courts on the grounds it was intended to hurt blacks. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court intervenes, the legislature will have to draft a new redistricting plan and hold elections for about half of the House or Senate next year. One of the first avenues of any challenge would be the state Supreme Court.

Any attempt to dilute the effect of Morgan's election might intensify racial tensions in the state. From the 1950s to several years ago, North Carolina probably has had less racial conflict than any Southern state. But after taking control of state government four years ago, Republicans imposed voting restrictions as well as racial gerrymandering -- some of which was overturned -- and inflamed racial attitudes...

State law requires a special legislative session only when needed to deal with critical budget matters. But once a session is convened, legislators can take up anything, including court-packing.

[Read More]

DLCC ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD LEADERSHIP, MEMBERS
Reinvigorated Board of Directors will work to build down-ballot Democratic power nationwide

Carolyn Fiddler (Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee)
December 7, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post congratulated new Board of Directors Chair Tina Kotek, the Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, and welcomed seven additional new Board members. DLCC’s Board leadership and new members were elected today at the annual Winter Meeting. Speaker Kotek will be joined on DLCC’s Executive Board by new Vice Chair Val Longhurst (Delaware House Majority Leader) and Secretary Lou Lang (Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader). Drawn from legislative leaders in every region of the country, DLCC's Board of Directors is the national governing body of the organization and helps drive DLCC’s nationwide strategy to build Democratic power in state legislatures.

“I am thrilled to welcome Oregon House Speaker Kotek as our new Board Chair, and I congratulate all of our new and returning DLCC Board members,” said Post. “Their leadership will be a crucial asset for Democratic candidates across the nation. Our nation’s forward progress depends on thwarting Trump’s right-wing agenda pushed by GOP lawmakers across the country, and DLCC’s Board leadership is vital as we wage these battles and prepare for 2017 and 2018 elections. I’m also excited to see the strength of our nation’s diverse communities and emerging American majorities reflected in our Board. Additionally, DLCC is grateful for the leadership of former Chairman Mike Gronstal and for the hard work of our retiring Board members.”

"I am honored to serve as DLCC’s Board Chair as down-ballot Democrats fight the Trump agenda in the states,” said Speaker Kotek. "Today we also welcomed seven exceptional new members to the DLCC leadership team, and I look forward to working with them to expand Democratic majorities and build progressive power in states across the country. With redistricting and so many crucial issues increasingly being decided at the state level, I am eager to lead DLCC and help shape Democrats’ state-level strategy nationwide. Democratic lawmakers across the country must continue the fight against Republican policies to suppress voting, deny equal rights, oppress LGBT Americans, restrict choice, and undermine the economic security of hardworking families, because Americans everywhere deserve better.”

Oregon House Speaker and DLCC Board Chair Tina Kotek will be joined on the Executive Board by:

DLCC Vice Chair – House Majority Leader Val Longhurst, Delaware
DLCC Secretary – House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, Illinois
DLCC Treasurer – Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford, Nevada
DLCC Finance Chair - Senate Democratic Leader Tom Bakk, Minnesota

The seven new members of the DLCC Board of Directors are:

House Speaker-elect Sara Gideon, Maine
Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, New York
Representative Eric Johnson, Texas
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, Washington
House Speaker-elect Crisanta Duran, Colorado
House Speaker-elect Brian Egolf, New Mexico
Senate President Ron Kouchi, Hawaii

[See all 22 members of the 2017 DLCC Board of Directors HERE]

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

AK: ACLU, Planned Parenthood say Alaska restrictions on second-trimester abortions are unconstitutional - Alaska Dispatch News
AR: After Trump win, abortion opponents push for new limits in Arkansas - Associated Press
AR: Bill would ban ‘dismemberment abortions,’ create felony offense for physicians - Talk Business & Politics
MO: Lawsuit aims to allow Springfield's first abortions since 2005 - Springfield News-Leader
NJ: Energized by Trump win, N.J. lawmakers push abortion ban after 20 weeks - NJ.com
NC: Women's health groups, ACLU, and others sue NC over its unconstitutional 20-week abortion law - Daily Kos
NC: North Carolina Abortion Providers Fight For Ground Amid Growing Hostility - The Huffington Post
OH: Ohio fetal heartbeat abortion bill heads to governor's desk - Associated Press
OH: Ohio Lawmakers Pass Republican 20-Week Abortion Ban Proposal - NBC New York
TX: It’s Become a Lot Tougher for Minors to Get a Judge to Okay Their Abortions - Houston Press
TX: Texas Government Pamphlet Rife With Debunked Anti-Choice Myths - Rewire
TX: Latest fetal burial rules are one more effort by Texas to shame women who choose abortion - The Dallas Morning News
TX: Abortion access advocates in Texas look ahead to 2017 - The Texas Tribune
UT: Utah GOP Pushes Bill Claiming Abortions Can Be Undone - Rewire
U.S.: Legal and still a crime: Abortion laws to watch out for in Trump’s America - Salon
U.S.: All Things Considered: Legal Battles Over Abortion Continue In States Across U.S. - NPR
U.S.: Pro-Choice Legal Offensive Launched in Three States - Rewire

Education

CO: Meet the Colorado lawmakers on the state legislature’s education committees - Chalkbeat
FL: What does Rick Scott and rest of Legislature do with bill repealing in-state tuition rates for the undocumented? - Florida Politics
GA: Emory could lose state funding if it declares a ‘sanctuary campus’ to shield immigrants - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
MD: Hogan, top Democrats end standoff over Northrop grant - The Washington Post
MI: Senate Republicans back away - for now - from efforts to reform teacher pension system - MLive
TX: Proposed Bill Would Expand Parents’ Rights, But Critics Say It Goes Too Far - Houston Public Media
WA: Tim Eyman pal Michael Baumgartner prefiles amendment to repeal “paramount duty” language in Washington State Constitution - The Cascadia Advocate
U.S.: Hypocrisy and Trumpism on the Agenda as ALEC Meets in Washington, D.C. - PR Watch
U.S.: Thanks to Bobby Jindal, we know how disastrous Trump's education policies could be - The Times-Picayune

Guns

FL: Expansion of gun rights possible in upcoming session - Sun Sentinel
FL: State Legislature should reconsider open-carry and the violence it may trigger | U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-24 - Sun Sentinel
FL: Bill to Shift Burden of Proof in Stand Your Ground Cases Returns to Florida - Sunshine State News
IA: Iowa, Nebraska lawmakers prepare push for gun-rights laws - Associated Press
NE: Iowa, Nebraska lawmakers prepare push for gun-rights laws - Associated Press
OH: Making gun carriers a protected class draws fire from business groups - The Columbus Dispatch
OH: Expanded concealed-carry gun bill nearing Senate vote - The Columbus Dispatch
OK: Oklahoma lawmaker says constant threat of terrorism calls for new gun legislation - Fox23
TN: Gun advocates to push for permitless carry, end of gun-free zones - The Tennessean
TX: North Texas Lawmakers File Gun Legislation - NBC DFW
TX: Stark contrasts as gun bills are filed ahead of ’17 legislature - KXAN
U.S.: Gun-rights backers vow to 'go on offense' during Trump years - Associated Press
U.S.: 6 months after Orlando, any progress on gun reform? - Washington Blade
U.S.: What Will Trump Do About Guns? National Open Carry Law, Pro-Gun Judges And More Could Mark Presidency - International Business Times

Health Care

AR: Legislation aimed at voter-approved medical marijuana law - Associated Press
CA: California Weighs Protections for Immigrants Threatened by Trump Policies - The New York Times
CO: OK’d by voters, Colorado’s aid-in-dying measure soon will take effect - Colorado Politics
FL: Popular with voters, medical marijuana finds few champions in Tallahassee - Tampa Bay Times
MA: Baker’s cuts draw blowback from Legislature - Boston Globe
MI: Police: GOP healthcare plan an ‘attack on profession’ - Detroit News
MI: Amid backlash, Michigan GOP shelves health, pension cuts - Detroit Free Press
NJ: Assembly bill adds benefits for Gold Star families - Courier-Post
NJ: Insurance companies, doctors fight over new out-of-network legislation - New Jersey News 12
NY: Advocates welcome change in home health aide law - Newsday

Labor

CA: SEIU Local 1000 reaches tentative deal with state - The Sacramento Bee
CT: GOP: State retirees are huge part of budget problem - Connecticut Post
KY: Senate Republicans look to finally be able to pass legislation which was stymied by House Democrats in past years - CN|2
KY: Here’s What’s Been Filed So Far For The 2017 Kentucky General Assembly - WFPL
MO: 'Right to work' among bills pre-filed on the first day Missouri legislators could act - St. Louis Public Radio
OH: Unemployment compensation fix suddenly dies in Ohio House - The Columbus Dispatch
WA: Inslee’s plan for state-worker raises sets up a fight - The Seattle Times
WV: Decision on right-to-work probably not until 2017 - Charleston Gazette-Mail
U.S.: Hypocrisy and Trumpism on the Agenda as ALEC Meets in Washington, D.C. - PR Watch

LGBT

GA: Georgia House leader wants to avoid anti-gay bill - Project Q Atlanta
GA: Josh McKoon worried about ‘aggressive’ LGBTs - Project Q Atlanta
NC: North Carolina's Governor-Elect: It's "Time to Repeal" Anti-LGBT Law - The Advocate
NC: Newly revealed emails show North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law cost state 700 jobs - Associated Press
OH: Making gun carriers a protected class draws fire from business groups - The Columbus Dispatch
TX: New Texas bill endangers LGBT youth: Behind the legislation that could lead to a surge in anti-gay conversion therapy - Salon
TX: Donna Campbell Says ‘Bathroom Bill’ Needed to Keep Texas a ‘Beacon of Hope’ - Texas Observer
TX: Texas could lose $8.5B if anti-gay or transgender bathroom laws are passed, study claims - The Dallas Morning News
TX: Proposed Bill Would Expand Parents’ Rights, But Critics Say It Goes Too Far - Houston Public Media
U.S.: Wal-Mart Joining Corporate Surge to Protect LGBT Employees - Bloomberg
U.S.: Corporate Equality Index 2017 - Human Rights Campaign

Voting Rights

FL: Jeff Clemens proposes automatic voter registration bill - Florida Politics
MI: Strict voter ID law approved in Michigan House - Detroit News
NH: GOP Senate proposes creating election law committee - Associated Press
NY: Citing ’embarrassingly outdated’ election laws, AG proposes sweeping reforms - Albany Times Union
OH: Ohio's electoral votes for president should go to popular vote winner, state lawmakers say - Associated Press
OH: Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to appeal voter purging case to U.S. Supreme Court - Cleveland.com
PA: Pa. lawmaker wants Electoral College votes given to national popular vote winner - PhillyVoice
VA: U.S. Supreme Court seems concerned over race in Virginia redistricting - Associated Press

STATEHOUSE & CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AL: Four Democrats qualify for vacant Alabama House seat - Associated Press
AL: Rep. Oliver Robinson retiring from Alabama House - AL.com
CA: Urgent appeal: California Democrats to invoke new anti-Trump weapon - KPCC
CA: California lawmakers to Trump: ‘if you want to get to (immigrants), you have to go through us’ - McClatchy DC
CO: Senate Republicans to take on energy in next session - The Colorado Independent
FL: Judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Powell’s election - Palm Beach Post
FL: Dana Young, Randy Fine, others file to run for re-election in 2018 - Florida Politics
GA: Trump’s election turns state legislators’ plans on their heads - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
HI: Candidates Seek Tsuji’s Seat - Honolulu Civil Beat
IL: State budget still elusive as leaders lash out - The State Journal-Register
IN: GOP Caucus Will Fill Last State Senate Vacancy - WIBC
KY: State lawmaker posts fake news on Facebook about Obama’s wife, daughters - Lexington Herald-Leader
MD: Del. William Smith named to fill Raskin’s Md. Senate seat - The Washington Post
MN: Two recounts confirm wins for Republicans elected to Minnesota Senate - StarTribune
MO: Lawsuit seeks to stop campaign contribution limits approved by Missouri voters last month - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
MO: Politicians fatten coffers before Missouri's new campaign-donation limits kick in - St. Louis Public Radio
NV: Commissioners make appointment for Kihuen’s vacant state Senate seat - Las Vegas Sun
NH: GOP’s Jasper, Morse re-elected as N.H. House Speaker, Senate president - Iowa Starting Line
NY: Andrew Cuomo Stays Silent as an Ally Fuels Disorder Among Senate Democrats - The New York Times
NY: DLCC Pushes Cuomo To Unite Senate Dems - State of Politics
NY: SD-8: With Ballot Count Complete, Brooks Leads - State of Politics
NY: Democrats renominate Heastie for New York speaker - Albany Times Union
NC: NC Gov. Calls Special Legislative Session, Setting Up Possibility of Court-Packing Power Grab - Slate
NC: North Carolina’s new governor to face resolute GOP legislature - Associated Press
OH: Ohio House makes green-energy rules voluntary, despite John Kasich's appeal - Cleveland.com
OK: Seminole's state representative announces resignation - The Oklahoman
SC: SC senators poised to change bill-killing rules - The State
VA: Peake, Washington win nominations to run for Garrett's state Senate seat - Richmond Times-Dispatch
WA: Dino Rossi takes State Senate seat in new role as Republicans' pinch hitters - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
WY: Right Leaning Activist Groups Are Having An Impact On The Legislature - Wyoming Public Radio
U.S.: A Trump Nation in an ALEC Land - PRWatch
U.S.: Democrats adopt states' rights platforms - The Gazette
U.S.: States' Rights for the Left - The New York Times

CONTACT

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