Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of February 15th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of February 15th, 2016)

The Week of February 15th, 2016

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

"I don’t think it’s wise to spit in the eye of three federal judges who control where we’re going to go with redistricting."

-North Carolina state Sen. Dan Blue (D), blasting an attempt by the Republican majority to redraw recently-struck down congressional districts without making any attempt to ensure fair representation for minority voters.

"We need not tomorrow’s promise of reward to do good deeds today."

-Arizona state Rep. Juan Mendez (D), delivering an invocation from the House floor in defiance of GOP leaders who had refused to allow him to do so on the grounds that Mendez does not believe in a "higher power."

STORIES OF THE WEEK

TOP TARGETS — Parties outline top 2016 state legislative priorities

By Scott Bland (Politico)
February 17, 2016

Defending state Houses in Colorado and Kentucky, state Senates in Minnesota and New Mexico, and both chambers in Oregon are priorities for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee in 2016 as the party looks to rebuild power in the states. Then, it's a focus on offense for the DLCC, per executive director Jessica Post. The DLCC is targeting 11 chambers as flip-able this fall: Houses in Michigan (where GOP Gov. Rick Snyder is embroiled in the Flint water crisis), Minnesota, and New Mexico; Senates in Colorado, Maine, New York and West Virginia; and both chambers in New Hampshire and Nevada. "We've got terrific candidates," Post said. "Really impressed with the candidates who have come out of the woodwork" in these key states.

The Republicans take a similar view of the map, just in reverse. "We've got plenty to defend, but also a number of opportunities to go on offense," Republican State Leadership Committee President Matt Walter said. In addition to some of the same chambers Post mentioned, Walter highlighted Washington's state House for possible GOP inroads, as well as the Iowa state Senate. Republicans are also hoping to direct time, effort, and money toward undoing Democratic supermajorities in states like Illinois and Massachusetts later this year, too.

[Read more]

Is America’s Presidential System Doomed?

The fiasco surrounding Antonin Scalia's death points to a long-term illness.

By Stephen Wolf (New Republic)
February 17, 2016

The breakdown in the process to appoint Scalia’s successor is the latest evidence that America’s presidential system no longer works. Democrats are not free from blame, but it is largely Republicans who are responsible for the dissolution of many American political norms, through their abuse of the filibuster and their attempts to take the debt ceiling hostage, among other destructive tactics....

When conservative Southern Democrats became Republicans in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act, our modern parties began to split into two distinct ideological groups (though one would become more extreme and homogenous than the other). This trend accelerated in the 1990s, when the Republican Revolution transformed Congress into a precursor of the hyper-partisan battleground it is today. Partisan polarization is now stronger than at any point since the Civil War, if not all of American history.

The 2000 Supreme Court ruling Bush v. Gore was also a watershed moment, when five partisan Republicans disregarded judicial norms and overturned a lower court ruling to install a fellow Republican as president. Suddenly, the Supreme Court revealed itself to be just another partisan institution, and control over that body would turn into a scorched-earth fight between the parties.

Under George W. Bush, Republicans used the Department of Justice to validate a slew of anti-voting rights laws that harmed Democrats. They appointed judges whose interpretation of voting rights and electoral law resembled that of sharply conservative Republican politicians, eventually leading to the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Myriad states changed their election laws to help cement Republican power, a development that would take on immense importance after the Republican wave of 2010.

[Read more]

COMING UP...

March 1

Special Election - Massachusetts HD-03 (Worcester)
Special Election - Massachusetts HD-09 (Plymouth)
Special Election - Massachusetts HD-12 (Essex)

March 8

Special Election - Kentucky HD-08
Special Election - Kentucky HD-54
Special Election - Kentucky HD-62
Special Election - Kentucky HD-98
Special Election - Michigan HD-75
Special Election - Michigan HD-80
Special Election - Michigan HD-82
Special Election - Mississippi SD-25

March 15

Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-57
Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-192
Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-200

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Health Care

CO: Universal healthcare for Colorado? - Telluride Daily Planet

KY: Former Kentucky Governor Isn’t Ready To Let Successor Shutter State Health Exchange - Think Progress

WY: Wyoming lawmakers ready for Medicaid expansion vote - Wyoming Tribune‑Eagle

Labor

ME: Maine minimum wage hike qualifies for 2016 ballot - Bangor Daily News

OR: Oregon Senate approves minimum wage hike after marathon debate - The Oregonian

WV: “The hard work begins” following right to work passage - WV Metro News

Redistricting

NC: Voices fall along partisan lines at statewide redistricting hearings - News & Observer

NE: Redistricting reform heads to legislative floor - Lincoln Journal Star

US: Scalia's death could deal Republicans a huge blow in upcoming redistricting and voting rights cases - Daily Kos Elections

Voting Rights

IA: Iowa high court to consider state's ban on voting by felons - Des Moines Register

MD: Maryland restores voting rights for over 40,000 - MSNBC

WI: Assembly OKs online voter registration, eliminates special deputies - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

IN: Parties and pundits picking favorites in Indiana state and national primary races - Fort Wayne News‑Sentinel

MI: Gov. Snyder calls for special election to fill House seat in 28th District - Macomb Daily

MN: GOP Rep. Tim Kelly to retire from Minnesota House - Minnesota Public Radio

NC: Five contenders for NC House District 36 seat - News & Observer

NH: Hassan to Nominate GOP State Senator to Banking Commission - Concord Patch

NV: Reno mayor headlines fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidate - Ralston Reports

NY: SD-9 Shaping Up To Be A Clash Of Titans - NY State of Politics

WI: Senate passes bill banning county executives from serving in Legislature - Wisconsin State Journal

US: Latino Groups Push to Mobilize Voters Ahead of Elections - NBC News

EXTREME VOICES

AZ: Arizona State House Says All Invocations Must Mention A ‘Higher Power’ - Think Progress

MI: Oakland clerk accuses state senator of assault - Detroit News

MO: Missouri representative Don Gosen resigns, reason not publicized - MissouriNet

SD: Transgender Bathroom Bill Moves To Governor’s Desk - South Dakota Public Broadcasting

CONTACT

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