For the Week of 3/8/2019
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:
2018 saw huge victories in the Granite State: With the help of the DLCC, New Hampshire Democrats flipped both the House and the Senate last November. Now, state Democrats are harnessing their newfound power to push for paid family leave in the face of ongoing federal government gridlock and inaction. Paid leave advocate and New Hampshire native Wendy Chase ran as a first-time candidate in a Republican district in part because of her experience caring for her sick daughter while working full time. Since her election, she’s used her platform to advocate for paid family leave and for working moms like herself. With champions like Wendy at the helm, New Hampshire could join five other Democratic-led states with paid family leave laws: Massachusetts, California, New York, New Jersey, and Washington. About two dozen other states this year are considering similar proposals. While the federal government remains gridlocked over such crucial issues, Democratic lawmakers in states across the country continue to lead the way in passing legislation to help working families.
Republican-led states are ramping up efforts to make voting more difficult for constituents. Legislation introduced this week by Idaho Republicans “would increase the number of registered voters that need to sign a petition for a ballot initiative.” This is another attempt from Idaho Republicans to block voters from exercising their rights. The DLCC is hard at work in key races in 2019 and in 2020 to ensure that Republicans who suppress voters’ voices are held accountable.
Oregon made history last month as the first in the nation to approve statewide rent control. Other Democratic-led states, like Colorado, Illinois, and New York are following Oregon’s lead in pushing for affordable housing measures. According to a recent report from PolicyLink, “while median household income in the U.S. has remained relatively flat since 2001, the median rent has increased by more than 40%.” Colorado and Illinois lawmakers are looking to overturn decades-old rent control bans, while New York legislators – where Democrats now control the Senate for the first time in decades – have introduced bills to expand renters’ rights. Democrats across the country are chipping away at policies that seek to limit affordable housing options.
With a new Democratic supermajority in the Senate, California continues to forge ahead by driving progressive policies directly challenging efforts by Trump and Republicans. California has championed innovative policies this year to address climate change, car emissions, immigration, and trade. It is no coincidence that California Republicans now make up “less than a quarter of the seats in both houses,” in part because Republican legislators continue to put their own interests before those of their constituents. The DLCC helped create five other Democratic supermajorities and broke five Republican supermajorities last cycle. California serves as a shining example of what happens when more Democrats are elected to office: “more prosperous and more sustainable, more diverse and more cohesive, more engaged and more agreeable.”
Ohio Republicans are finally being held accountable for their blatant and unfair map-rigging. A lawsuit filed by Democratic organizations in the state asserts that the map “violates voters’ rights to democratically elect their representatives.” Currently, Ohio’s congressional map is engineered to give state Republicans a built-in 12-4 advantage. ACLU Legal Director Freda Levenson asserts that although congressional voters in Ohio are split 50-50 along party lines, Republicans in the state have won 75% of their congressional races over the last decade, and managed to hold on to every single seat thanks to their rigged maps. Ohio joins other Republican-led states, most recently North Carolina and Michigan, facing similar legal battles over gerrymandered maps. The DLCC will continue to fight against Republican gerrymandering as more and more of these maps are rightfully challenged.
- South Carolina GOP lawmakers kill bill to extend voter registration [The Hill]
- Virginia poised to be the first former confederate state controlled by progressive Democrats [The Intercept]
- Arguments in an upcoming NC case could lead to a landmark Supreme Court ruling [Charlotte Observer]
- Tennessee state House passes 'fetal heartbeat' abortion ban [The Hill]
- Vermont, Minnesota, Maryland rank highest among states for gender parity [Bloomberg]
"With so many women running for office, it’s not a moment – it’s a movement. And we’re going to see so many women standing up and saying they want to run. But you have to make the decision first. And once you make that decision, you will see that there are organizations and other women who are out there who will support you and mentor you and give you the tools that you need in order to be successful. But first, you have to make the decision to get in the race. And I say unequivocally, just do it."
– Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy
This International Women’s Day, we talked to Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, a former public defender who flipped a crucial seat in the Virginia House in 2017, about running for office, the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment, and what’s at stake in the 2019 elections.
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