Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of September 7th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of September 7th, 2016)

For the Week of September 7th

TABLE OF CONTENTS

KEY QUOTES

“I expect to lose the Senate. The lack of action over the past two years, I think that’s going to hurt us.”

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) has had a rough few weeks, damaging not only LePage himself, but also his fellow Republican state lawmakers and their November election prospects. LePage kicked off his most recent controversial spiral last week with racially charged remarks claiming the majority of drug dealers in Maine are black or Hispanic and later stood by his bigoted statements, adding, “Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers," and, “The enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color, or people of Hispanic origin.” LePage also left an obscene voicemail for Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine and later threatened the lawmaker, saying he would like to have a duel so he could shoot Rep. Gattine between the eyes. LePage’s bizarre statements and behavior have spurred state Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos (I) trying to invoke Article 5, Section 15 of the state constitution to remove LePage from office due to mental incompetency. Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R) admitted that the state party is “very concerned” that the governor’s behavior will affect the November elections, saying: “This is not what you want going on 70 days before an election. It is not something you want going on anytime, so there’s no question it’s going to have an impact.”

"I’ll never forget the look on his face. To see the thing you had fought for your whole career destroyed in a matter of days...He had tears in his eyes."

Former North Carolina state Representative Rick Glazier (D) was on the state House floor when state Republicans pushed through an omnibus of devastating voting restrictions in July 2013 and recalls witnessing Rep. Henry “Mickey” Michaux’s reaction to the passage of the bill. Rep. Michaux was one of the state’s first black legislators and dedicated his political career to enacting legislation to expand voting access to all North Carolinians. When the final vote was cast, Democratic representatives stood, held hands, and bowed their heads in prayer as they witnessed a racially-motivated strike against voting rights. The GOP bill passed the House on the votes of only white Republicans and eliminated out-of-precinct voting and same-day registration, established an unconstitutional voter ID law, cut early voting periods in half, and limited local autonomy by taking away counties’ ability to extend poll hours during extraordinary circumstances. Thankfully, courts have since intervened, striking down multiple provisions that targeted minority voters "with almost surgical precision" and purposefully disenfranchised swaths of voters using “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” Emails sent between Republican lawmakers and the North Carolina election board have exposed North Carolina Republicans’ nefarious and coordinated operation to systematically disenfranchise minority voters using demographic data and statistics detailing voter behavior broken down by race. In recent weeks, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Governor McCrory's request to stay the lower court’s ruling, which would have allowed the “monster bill” to take effect before the November election. However, Republican appointees of county election boards are attempting to carry out the bill’s intentions, cutting early voting and eliminating numerous polling sites in heavily African American areas.

STORIES OF THE WEEK

Now That Courts Have Destroyed ‘Voter ID’ Laws, the GOP Is in a Panic to Suppress the Vote

Susan E. Seager, (The Daily Beast)
September 7, 2016

Donald Trump’s phony prayer for the black vote at an African-American church in Detroit should not distract us from the truth. Ever since Barack Obama was elected as our first black president in 2008, the GOP-controlled state legislatures have been passing laws to block black and brown voters from voting.

It’s clear from their platform and voter suppression legislation that Republican National Committee and Republican Party don’t want black and brown people to vote. Not for Trump. Not for anyone. You’ve heard of Rock the Vote? The GOP campaign is Block the Vote.

The GOP’s voter suppression honchos must be tearing their hair out because the federal courts are finally on to them. In recent months, federal courts across the country have issued a series of decisions striking down or requiring changes to GOP’s racist voting laws.

The GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature got caught red-handed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit when it ruled on July 29 that North Carolina’s 2013 restrictive voting law was enacted with “discriminatory intent” that used “almost surgical precision” to stop blacks from voting. ...

In Michigan, where Trump spoke at the black church, a new GOP law banning Michigan’s straight-party ballot option was blocked on July 21 by a federal judge who ruled that the ban disproportionately hurts black voters and therefore violates the Voting Rights Act. ...

Then down in New Orleans, the full United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the most conservative federal appeals court in the country, shocked everyone on July 20 when it ruled that the new Texas voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act. The court held that 600,000 Texan voters who are disproportionately black, Latino and poor lack the ID required by the new law—including a driver’s license, military ID, passport or weapons permit—and most would be unable to obtain such an ID. The court did not strike down the law but ordered a lower court to fix it before the November 8 election.

The GOP must be panicking now that the federal court judges who once backed voter-ID laws are getting wise to the GOP shenanigans. Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh District says his vote upholding the Indiana law was wrong; he realizes that photo-ID laws are “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” Boom!

[Read More]

Virginia Republicans’ essentially racist project

Editorial Board, (The Washington Post)
September 5, 2016

In about 40 states, people convicted of serious crimes regain their voting rights upon discharge from prison or completion of parole. In a handful of others, convicts either are never disenfranchised or automatically regain their rights after a waiting period. These rules amount to an American consensus on what constitutes a reasonable and humane approach to redemption in a modern democracy.

In just four states are felons permanently barred from voting absent action by the governor. And in one of them, Virginia, lawmakers are considering an even more restrictive regime that would forever foreclose the possibility of redemption for tens of thousands of citizens.

For this essentially racist project, Virginians can credit the ethically challenged majority leader of Virginia’s state Senate, Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City). He filed legislation last week that would bar people convicted of violent felonies, in Virginia disproportionately African Americans, from ever having their voting rights restored. ...

Mr. Norment’s amendment would leave Virginia as an extreme outlier in terms of restoration of rights. It would strip the governor of any role in the process by automatically restoring voting rights for nonviolent felons — a category that would also be defined by lawmakers — after they had completed their sentences and paid court costs and restitution, which often amount to thousands of dollars.

[Read More]

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Latino voter registration drive could change Arizona politics

The Rachel Maddow Show, (MSNBC)
September 1, 2016

"Francisco Heredia, national field director for Mi Familia Vota, talks with Rachel Maddow about the reaction of Latino voters in Arizona to the Donald Trump campaign, and new efforts to register Latino voters in that state."

COMING UP

September 8

Primary Election - Massachusetts

September 9

Primary Election - Delaware
Primary Election - New Hampshire
Primary Election - Rhode Island

LEGISLATIVE BULLETIN

Abortion

OH: Abortion rights groups tout new study to show Ohio abortion pill law is harmful - Cleveland.com

Guns

AK: Appeals court says no to guns for medical marijuana cardholders - Alaska Dispatch News
AZ: Arizona attorney general: Guns are allowed at private schools - AZ Central
KS: 'Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense' Hopes To Change Kansas Law - Associated Press
MO: Gun-control group releases poll hoping to sway Missouri Republicans - The Kansas City Star
NV: 1st ad airs in Nevada battle over gun background checks vote - Associated Press
RI: Hassenfeld-Backed Group Trying To Counter Gun Groups' Influence In Four Legislative Races - Rhode Island Public Radio

Health Care

AR: Second medical marijuana proposal OK'd for Arkansas ballot - Associated Press
CA: Surprise medical billing measure heads to Jerry Brown - The Sacramento Bee
CA: Two years and thousands of bills later, here are the California Legislature's wins and losses - Los Angeles Times
GA: Georgia Chamber pitches Medicaid expansion options - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
TX: State lawmakers troubled by spike in pregnancy-related deaths vow to tackle problem - San Antonio Express-News

Labor

CA: The Forefront Of Progress: California Passes Historic Legislation To Protect Farm Workers - Huffington Post
IA: Make equal pay a priority this Labor Day - The Des Moines Register
MN: MN Supreme Court Reverses Mpls. Minimum Wage Judgement, Won’t Be On Ballot - WCCO
NJ: Clinton to Christie: Minimum wage veto 'a blow to working families' - NJ.com
NJ: Extend unemployment for N.J. road crews idled by Christie construction freeze: senator - NJ.com
OH: Gov. Kasich must end his silence on GOP lawmakers' backsliding on Ohio charter-school reforms: Brent Larkin - Cleveland.com
VA: 'Right to Work' constitutional amendment on November ballots in Virginia - Daily Press

LGBT

CA: EQCA’s legislative wrap-up: Eight wins for LGBT equality - LGBT Weekly
MI: Transgender bathrooms early focus of Michigan race - Detroit News
NC: AFL-CIO hopes to push out NC GOP lawmakers over House Bill 2 - News & Observer
PA: LGBT bill faces short window - Citizens' Voice
PA: Sen. Baker chairs hearing on LGBT bill - Wyoming County Press Examiner
U.S.: Election of LGBTQ Officials Has Broad Impact, Study Finds - NBC OUT

Voting Rights

IL: Same-day voter registration at issue in Illinois lawsuit - Associated Press
MI: Straight-party voting likely for Nov. ballot after court ruling - Detroit Free Press
NV: Native American tribes to sue Nevada over voter disenfranchisement - Reno Gazette-Journal
NV: Why early voting is crucial for Nevadans - Las Vegas Review-Journal
NC: Inside the Republican creation of the North Carolina voting bill dubbed the ‘monster’ law - The Washington Post
NC: Early voting reduced in 23 NC counties; 9 drop Sunday voting after NCGOP memo - News & Observer
NC: US high court refuses to reinstate North Carolina voter ID - News & Observer
OH: Ohio Democrats to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate Golden Week in voting suit - Cleveland.com
OH: Ohio Democratic Party asks Justice Elena Kagan for help preserving Golden Week - Cleveland.com
TX: Texas Launches Voter Education Campaign Amid Scrutiny of Voter ID Law - The Texas Tribune
VA: Virginia Republicans’ essentially racist project - The Washington Post
VA: State democrats blast republicans’ restoration bill - WRIC
WI: Voters in Wisconsin, other states navigate new voting rules - News21
U.S.: Now That Courts Have Destroyed ‘Voter ID’ Laws, the GOP Is in a Panic to Suppress the Vote - The Daily Beast

CAMPAIGN UPDATES

AK: Anchorage Rep. LeDoux agrees to shut down PAC until complaint is resolved - Alaska Dispatch News
AZ: Democrats optimistic about chance for gains in state Senate - Arizona Capitol Times
AZ: State Supreme Court clears marijuana initiative for ballot - Arizona Capitol Times
CA: Democrats again gunning for legislative supermajorities - The Sacramento Bee
CO: New poll: Colorado voters favor minimum wage hike and presidential primary - The Denver Post
CO: Denver social marijuana use initiative qualifies for ballot after competing measure rejected - The Denver Post
CT: GOP looking to gain CT House seats, despite presidential year - CT Mirror
GA: Republican Lawmaker Who Tried To Deregulate His Own Industry Wants His Seat Back - Huffington Post
ME: Maine lawmaker trying to oust LePage over 'mental competency' - POLITICO
ME: In tight legislative races, LePage’s latest missteps may be costly for his party - Portland Press Herald
ME: LePage says he expects GOP to lose Maine Senate majority in November - Bangor Daily News
MA: State Senate races highlight otherwise low-key primary - Associated Press
MA: Charter debate playing out in small races with big money - Boston Globe
MN: Supreme Court weighs whether lawmaker lives in district - Pioneer Press
MO: Lawsuit alleges Missouri lawmaker doesn't live in district - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
MO: Judge keeps Bechthold on Nov. ballot - The Missouri Times
NV: 1st ad airs in Nevada battle over gun background checks vote - Associated Press
NH: Updated: GOP candidate's eligibility to serve in state Senate in question - WMUR
NY: Races to Watch in State Legislative Primary - Gotham Gazette
NC: Early voting reduced in 23 NC counties; 9 drop Sunday voting after NCGOP memo - News & Observer
RI: Hassenfeld-Backed Group Trying To Counter Gun Groups' Influence In Four Legislative Races - Rhode Island Public Radio
VT: Vermont GOP struggles to recruit candidates - Burlington Free Press
VT: Sorrell Dismisses Complaint Against Sanders, Pearson - VTDigger
U.S.: Governors Refuse to Stay on Sidelines for Legislative Races - Governing
U.S.: Dems aim for state legislatures to win back the House - The Hill

CONTACT

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