For the Week of 7/14/2017
Democrats in statehouses across the country are fighting to move America forward. In case you missed it, here are some statehouse highlights from this week:
While the White House is reeling from Junior’s emails, state Republicans in Oklahoma are reeling from defeat. On Tuesday, Oklahoma Democrats added to state Democrats’ winning momentum by flipping two legislative seats — both of which went for Trump in 2016 — from red to blue. Former public school teacher Karen Gaddis will represent state House District 75, and immigration attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez will represent state Senate District 44. While Trump’s negative effect on Republican candidates has been felt up and down the ballot, the Oklahoma GOP’s self-inflicted budget crisis and numerous scandals undoubtedly tarnished the party’s viability in the Sooner State. Oklahomans’ frustration with GOP antics was not only evidenced by this change in partisan representation: Gaddis and Brooks-Jimenez’s overperformance compared to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 showing in their districts demonstrates an influx in Democratic support, enthusiasm, and participation that should have Republicans nationwide shaking in their boots. DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post underscored this saying, “Republican candidates, even in the red state of Oklahoma, aren’t safe from the shadow cast by the Trump administration and the Republican party.” Check out DLCC's Medium post for more information on this latest victory!
Foreign hostile governments are not the only threat to American elections these days: President Trump’s sham commission against voter fraud, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, will meet for the first time next week and state Democrats and voting rights advocates are already fighting back. Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the reason he lost the popular vote in 2016 is because millions voted illegally in the 2016 elections. This panel is nothing more than a pretext to justify his petty claims — and use them to purge legitimate voters from the rolls. While Republicans pass restrictive laws, state Democrats are resisting the commission’s request. Not only that, but state Democrats are actively working to make it easier — not harder — to vote. By making the registration and voting process quick and easy for all eligible voters, state Democrats are working to make our democracy more accessible — not less. DLCC stands with our lawmakers against the restriction of voting rights, and will work to expand Democratic strength in statehouse nationwide so that the integrity of our elections is protected. Read more in this week's Medium post!
The fight against GOP gerrymandering in North Carolina continues as Republican lawmakers remain avid in their refusal to redraw district lines previously struck down by three federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court. It has now come to light that a whopping 116 of the state’s 170 state legislative districts may have to be redrawn to correct the illegal racially gerrymandered Republican maps used to elect General Assembly members for the past six years. The decision as to how quickly North Carolina legislators must fix the maps is up to three federal judges: the NAACP and other voting rights allies have asked the judges for a quick resolution and advocated for special elections this year using the corrected maps. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper called for a special session during the legislature’s regular session to push lawmakers to draw new maps for the judges to consider, but Republican lawmakers overruled his request in the hopes of keeping their electoral advantage in place for another election cycle at the expense of the state’s minority voters. It is the hope of DLCC that these atrocious maps are remedied and North Carolinians are able to elect a General Assembly that truly represents the will of the voters.
Thanks to Oregon state Democrats and DLCC Board Chair Speaker Tina Kotek, more than 14,000 children in Oregon who were brought to the U.S. illegally will now have access to government-funded healthcare. Rep. Teresa Alonso Leon, a Democrat who herself was brought illegally to the U.S. from Mexico as a child and later gained U.S. citizenship, called the “Cover All Kids” bill a priority: "For so many families in my district, when a child is sick or has a medical emergency, it can be one of the most painful things a parent can face," Alonso Leon said before the vote. "That is because it often means choosing between getting their children the care they need, or putting food on the table, or paying rent for that month. I believe that no Oregon family should even have to make these choices." The Oregon Legislature achieved a string of progressive victories before the close of session, including legislation to protect working families, safeguard civil rights, ensure all children have access to a quality education, and strengthen Oregon’s unique sanctuary state status.
Colorado is the latest state to join the U.S. Climate Alliance in the wake of President Trump’s decision to renege on America’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement. Colorado’s Democratic legislative leaders applauded Gov. Hickenlooper’s executive order which aims to reduce statewide greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 26 and 25 percent, respectively, by 2025. DLCC Board member and Speaker of the Colorado House Crisanta Duran stated, “Renewable energy enjoys widespread popular support in Colorado because not only is it good for our environment, it’s a key contributor to Colorado’s strong economy and best-in-the-nation unemployment rate.” By committing to the U.S. Climate Alliance, Colorado will join Democratic-led states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont in taking action to ensure the health and preservation of our planet and moving their states’ economies in a forward-thinking direction.
*DLCC's Quote of the Week*
"As a legislator, when we are trying to solve a problem...generally what we'll do is bring in people who have a stake in the situation...I don't recall anything like that happening in 2013 with respect to redistricting."
This week DLCC Board member and Texas state Rep. Eric Johnson testified in federal court that there was a lack of a legislative process during the 2013 special session in which lawmakers redrew some of Texas' electoral maps under court order. The Texas maps are currently under court review for possible racial gerrymandering by GOP legislators. Rep. Johnson has been a strong voice in the fight for fair districts in Texas, and DLCC stands with him as he continues to speak out on this important issue.