For the Week of 3/1/2019
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:
1. Some states are cracking down on voter rights. But even more are moving in the opposite direction
In all but a few Republican-controlled states, laws have been enacted to disenfranchise voters, primarily from minority communities, by imposing unnecessary voter ID laws and proof of citizenship requirements. But, this year, after the DLCC and state Democrats flipped over 400 seats from red to blue, “hundreds of pieces of legislation” are being considered in over 30 states that looks to expand voting rights. New York, which the DLCC helped turn into a new Democratic trifecta, just passed an unprecedented package of legislation to advance voting rights in the state. Other Democratic controlled states like Oregon have led the charge in passing automatic voter registration laws. While Republicans continue to fight to obstruct access to the ballot, Democrats are fighting to advance voting rights for all.
More than 1,200 Democratic women were elected in 2018, and female legislators in Georgia have set their sights this year on addressing issues that are important to women in their districts, from breast cancer detection to ending taxes on menstrual products. In 2018, the DLCC worked with partners like EMILY’s List and Run for Something to recruit, train, and support this record number of women candidates. The Georgia legislature demonstrates how crucial it is to have a government that is reflective of the people it serves. With more women in office than ever before, legislation is finally reflecting female-centered issues that have previously been ignored.
Armed with a new trifecta of Democratic power, New Mexico is stepping up its efforts to address gun violence in the state. As part of a larger effort from state Democrats across the country in prioritizing gun control, the state legislature approved bills to expand background checks for private gun sales. Other bills that have been introduced would allow guns to be removed from those with a history of past violence, including domestic violence. With a new Democratic governor, commonsense legislation to protect constituents will take priority.
In yet another blatant attempt to obstruct voting rights, last month, the Texas secretary of state flagged nearly 100,000 voters for citizenship review, many of whom, it was later revealed, were naturalized citizens. Fortunately, on Monday, a federal judge ruled that a number of counties in the state cannot purge these voters or demand proof of citizenship. By imposing these types of requirements on voters, Republicans continue to disenfranchise those they are elected to serve. The DLCC is dedicated to electing more Democratic lawmakers in states across the country who will uphold the right to vote and truly serve their constituents.
As one of the most grotesquely gerrymandered states in the country, North Carolina has faced many legal fights in recent years over its election laws. This past week, a court invalidated a voter ID amendment because it was proposed by a racially gerrymandered state legislature. Previously, a federal court had found the state’s voter ID laws to be illegal, as they intentionally targeted African American voters. The DLCC will continue to fight against these harmful voting laws put in place by Republicans. This ruling puts the North Carolina GOP on notice; they won’t be able to continue their illegal attempts to obstruct fair voting.
- Federal judge rules there is no widespread voter fraud in Texas [The Hill]
- Maryland House Gives Preliminary Approval To $15 Minimum Wage Bill [WFMD News]
- NC GOP appeals decision tossing mandatory voter ID amendment [The Hill]
- A record number of states have introduced New Voices bills in 2019 [Student Press Law Center]
"We’re seeing women step up and stick their head above the crowd and make the change that we want to see and I think that’s a good thing. But we have to be realistic that it doesn’t happen overnight and that there are going to be hurdles that are set in our way that are not justified."
– Gov. Gretchen Witmer
For the first time in Michigan state history, the governor, attorney general, chief justice of the Supreme Court, and the secretary of state are positions all held by women.
3/5/19: Rhode Island HD-68 & Kentucky SD-31 Special Elections
3/12/19: Pennsylvania HD-114 & HD-190 Special Elections
3/19/19: Minnesota HD-11B & Iowa SD-30 Special Elections
3/26/19: South Carolina SD-6 Special Election
4/2/19: Pennsylvania SD-37 Special Election
* Check out a full list of upcoming state legislative special elections on our website