Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of December 1st, 2016)

State of the States (Week of December 1st, 2016)

State of the States - a product of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

For the Week of December 1st



“This offensive and bigoted legislation is a direct result of the rhetoric we heard during Donald Trump’s Islamophobic Presidential campaign. During the past legislative session, the Georgia House Democratic Caucus stood firmly against legislation that would have enshrined discrimination in to our laws under the guise of religious freedom. Now, in that same spirit, we will reaffirm our commitment to fighting back against legislation that harms the free exercise of religion and singles out any community in our state. In the era of an impending administration that traffics in xenophobia and flouts the 1st Amendment, we cannot afford to be silent when Georgians’ constitutionally protected rights are threatened.”

- DLCC Board Member and Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams condemned legislation pre-filed by Republican state Rep. Jason Spencer for targeting Muslim women. House Bill 3 would effectively ban Muslim women from wearing burqas, niqabs or other veils that cover their faces while driving, posing for drivers’ license photos, or even when they’re in public. While the bill text did not specifically mention Muslim women, Spencer’s proposed changes would have added language to Georgia’s existing anti-masking law (that was initially aimed at male KKK members) that directly referred to women. Edward Ahmend Mitchell, an attorney and executive director for CAIR-Georgia, said that Spencer’s edits to the current law was “motivated by a desire to discriminate against Georgia Muslims.” Just two days after pre-filing the bill, Spencer announced that he would withdraw HB3. However, in an interview with ABC affiliate WSB, Spencer defended his bill saying it was “simply a response to constituents that do have concerns of the rise of Islamic terrorism, and we in the state of Georgia do not want our laws used against us.”

“I think we also need to make sure we're recruiting strong candidates. I think we did that in the 2016 cycle. Many of them are stepping up to run again. But there's many more people that are coming out of the woodwork that want to run for their state legislatures and make some meaningful changes.”

DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday with Linda Wertheimer of discuss some of the electoral challenges facing down-ballot Democrats. While Democrats did not win all of our targets in 2016, statehouse victories across the country offered bright spots for Democrats in an otherwise challenging election. Post highlighted three major challenges down-ballot Democrats faced this November: Trump at the top of the ticket greatly altered electoral dynamics, being outspent by Republicans, and Republican-gerrymandered districts. However, courts have been overturning these unconstitutional gerrymanders in states like North Carolina, Florida, and most recently, Wisconsin. With many Democrats unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election, new candidates are coming forward in the hopes of making meaningful state progress.

“This decision is a massive victory for voters in Wisconsin and beyond, and it starts a new chapter in the fight against the anti-democratic, extreme partisan gerrymandering executed by Republicans in 2011 in states across the country.”

DLCC National Communications Director Carolyn Fiddler underscored the gravity of a recent ruling by federal judges declaring Wisconsin Republicans intentionally gerrymandered legislative district lines to effectively disenfranchise Democrats. The judges determined Republicans radically gerrymandered maps with the intent to “burden the representational rights of Democratic voters throughout the [10-year] period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats.” The districts were so gerrymandered that in 2012, when Democrats won 53 percent of the statewide vote for Assembly seats, Republicans still managed to walk away with a 60-39 majority in the chamber. This recent ruling will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and could set off a chain reaction in GOP-gerrymandered states nationwide. If the recent ruling is upheld, not only will the state Assembly districts be redrawn, but the state Senate districts as well. If the potential SCOTUS ruling establishes some sort of partisan redistricting standard, challenges to legislative maps in other states by Democrats and voting rights advocates may be more successful. As North Carolina prepares to redraw its racially-gerrymandered maps and hold special legislative elections in 2017, Wisconsin and other states may be next in line, offering state Democrats and voters the chance for fair elections and legitimate representation.


After Republicans' Redistricting Gains, Democratic State Legislatures Look To Compete

Weekend Edition with Linda Wertheimer (NPR)
November 27, 2016

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: This past week, a federal court ruled that Republican-drawn districts for Wisconsin state legislature are unconstitutional. The case could go on to the Supreme Court, and that could be good news for Democrats who have been struggling to hold on to power in the states. In 2010, Republicans swept state legislatures around the country and then redrew districts in a way that favored their party, especially in House races. Jessica Post is executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Her job is to win back state legislatures. She says that even though Democrats did not get most of the seats they were targeting in 2016, they did have some successes.

JESSICA POST: We won back both chambers in Nevada, the Nevada Assembly and the Nevada Senate, and the New Mexico House. And in a key growth state like Nevada, we were really delighted to have those results. But I will say that we were surprised by some of the tide that happened. I think having Trump at the top of the ticket changed a lot of things. And the other thing is we continue to be under- financially resourced compared to our Republican counterpart. And that's one key thing. We need to do better on that front to be more competitive nationally.

WERTHEIMER: What does the Democratic Party need to do if it wants to make progress toward retaking some of the legislatures that used to be democratic in the states?

POST: I think some of it's happening naturally. We're already talking about ways we can get to a stronger economic message. I think we also need to make sure we're recruiting strong candidates. I think we did that in the 2016 cycle. Many of them are stepping up to run again. But there's many more people that are coming out of the woodwork that want to run for their state legislatures and make some meaningful changes.

WERTHEIMER: If you turn state legislatures to Democratic control in 2020, will you look around at the legislatures the Democrats control and redraw districts?

POST: I think these lines would be redrawn to be more fair. If you look at states where Democrats have controlled, we see much more fair, apportioned lines as we go into the following election cycles...I think it means that Democrats in communities of color aren't packed into specific snakelike districts. They go across states. If you look at the district boundaries in a state like Michigan or in Wisconsin or in North Carolina, you'll see that disparate communities and cities have been chopped in half to intentionally pack Democratic voters in specific areas. And so if we can move to a standard of redistricting where people aren't packed in and stacked into specific areas, that would certainly be much better...So the voters have much less of a stake when the politicians are picking their own voters instead of voters picking politicians.

[Listen Here]

Federal Court Rejects Extreme Gerrymandering in Wisconsin

John Nichols (The Nation)
November 22, 2016

Nothing so defines partisan control of the US House of Representatives and state legislatures across the country as the gerrymandering of district lines by politicians who game the process in favor of themselves and their parties. Money in politics matters, as do archaic voting processes and dysfunctional media. But when district lines are drawn to give an overwhelming advantage to one party and its candidates, competition dies—and future election results are essentially set in stone.

So anything that upsets gerrymandering is a big deal for democracy.

And Monday’s decision by a panel of three federal judges to strike down Wisconsin legislative maps that were drawn by Governor Scott Walker’s Republicans in 2011 is a very big deal.

The judges determined that the radically gerrymandered maps were drawn by the Republicans in a manner that was “intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters throughout the [10-year] period by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats.” ...

“We find that the discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin nor is it justified by a legitimate state interest,” declared the majority decision. “Consequently, Act 43 [the Republican gerrymandering scheme] constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.”

This is a big deal for Wisconsin, and potentially for the rest of the country. An appeal by Republican partisans to the US Supreme Court is all but certain. But the decision by the veteran federal jurists is carefully constructed to withstand challenges. If it is upheld it will lead to a redrawing of maps in Wisconsin—not just for the State Assembly but for the State Senate, which is made up of districts based on the Assembly maps. If and when a democracy standard is established for the drawing of legislative districts, other states will surely see challenges. And a discussion about the gerrymandering of congressional district lines could open.

Carolyn Fiddler of the national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee calls the Wisconsin decision “an actual game-changer.”

“This decision is a massive victory for voters in Wisconsin and beyond, and it starts a new chapter in the fight against the anti-democratic, extreme partisan gerrymandering executed by Republicans in 2011 in states across the country,” says Fiddler.

[Read More]

Court-ordered elections to be held in redrawn districts in 2017

Carolyn Fiddler (Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee)
November 30, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Executive Director Jessica Post lauded last night’s federal court ruling that directs the legislature to draw new statehouse district maps by March 15, 2017, and to hold elections in the new districts in November.

“North Carolinians deserve fair representation in their state government, and Republicans’ illegal racial gerrymander made that impossible,” said Post. “We are thrilled for the voters of the Tarheel State that these maps are being redrawn. The GOP’s illegal redistricting was the first in a series of extreme right-wing overreaches that ultimately led to heinous policies like HB2 and the racially-motivated voter disenfranchisement law struck down by the courts earlier this year. The redrawing of the maps and subsequent elections will be the first steps in undoing the damage Republicans have spent the past six years inflicting on the state.

“We look forward to working with North Carolina legislators and leaders, including DLCC Board Member and Democratic House Leader Larry Hall, as this situation continues to evolve on the ground.”

[Read More]



IA: New GOP Majority Could Bring Abortion Restrictions to Iowa - Associated Press
MO: Abortion opponents to push for new Missouri regulations - Associated Press
MO: Missouri Lawmaker Looks to Repeal Anti-Choice Laws in 2017 - Rewire
ND: "Our voices matter," former Texas senator who fought for abortion rights tells Planned Parenthood in Fargo - The Dickinson Press
OH: Abortion, guns, energy among lame-duck topics in Ohio - Associated Press
TX: Texas to implement rules requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains - The Texas Tribune
TX: The Harmful, Humiliating Abortion Rule Texas Is About To Enforce - Refinery29
UT: Utah GOP Pushes Bill Claiming Abortions Can Be Undone - Rewire
U.S.: More women seeking long-term contraceptives after election - IndyStar
U.S.: Abortion foes plot wave of legislation in the states - The Hill
U.S.: Planned Parenthood, ACLU challenge abortion laws in three states - The Washington Post


CA: Bilingual Education Returns To California. Now What? - NPR
CA: California faces a looming teacher shortage, and the problem is getting worse - Los Angeles Times
IL: Illinois' higher education board to send $17M to Chicago State, WIU, EIU - Chicago Tribune
ME: Maine needs a real education commissioner. Gov. LePage should ensure we get one. - Bangor Daily News
ME: LePage asks for changes in minimum wage, education ballot initiatives - Bangor Daily News
NV: Tensions remain high between CCSD and state officials over charter school issue - Las Vegas Review-Journal
NV: Nevada looks to alternative programs for teachers to earn license - Las Vegas Review-Journal
TN: GOP lawmaker hopeful of vouchers' chances with new legislature - The Tennessean
TX: Educators say parental rights bill could harm trust with students - The Texas Tribune


AR: Approval said likely for campus-gun bill - ArkansasOnline
FL: Florida Killings Increase After ‘Stand Your Ground’ Gun Law Passage, Study Finds - The Huffington Post
FL: Major pro-gun legislation likely next year in Florida - Tampa Bay Times
IL: Bill seeks fingerprints with FOID, carry applications - Chicago Tribune
IN: 'Planets are aligned' to get rid of handgun carry license - IndyStar
OH: Abortion, guns, energy among lame-duck topics in Ohio - Associated Press
OH: Ohio lawmakers may reduce penalty for carrying gun on college campuses - The Columbus Dispatch
OH: After Ohio State attack, lawmakers continue to look to loosen campus gun rules -
PA: New Pennsylvania law gives hunters the option for semiautomatics - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
TX: Texas' anti-federal bills echo defiance of the Jim Crow South, threaten marriage equality and gun regulation - The Dallas Morning News
WV: Tomblin expresses sorrow over teen’s fatal shooting, concern over new gun law - WV MetroNews
U.S.: 'Our moment to go on offense': NRA makes big plans for Trump presidency - The Guardian

Health Care

FL: Dana Young named to chair Health Care policy committee in Florida Senate - SaintPetersBlog
MN: Minnesota Senate Republicans Targeting Health Care In 2017 - WCCO
MN: Gov. Mark Dayton, GOP lawmakers clash on health care fix - StarTribune
TX: Texas moving forward with budget cuts for disabled kids' therapy services - The Texas Tribune
TX: House Speaker Joe Straus vows to reverse cuts to disabled kids' therapy services - The Texas Tribune
U.S.: America's Health Rankings: Health of Women and Children Report - United Health Foundation


CA: What to know about SEIU Local 1000’s proposed one-day strike - The Sacramento Bee
CA: Brown administration warns of discipline for employees who strike next week - The Sacramento Bee
IL: Rauner sets up 2 workplace task forces; union is skeptical - Associated Press
IL: Lawmakers ask Rauner to negotiate with AFSCME - The State Journal-Register
KY: Litany of business-friendly legislation under consideration for GOP caucus, Rep. Shell says - CN|2
ME: LePage asks for changes in minimum wage, education ballot initiatives - Bangor Daily News
MO: Protesters ‘Fight for 15’ at locations across St. Louis - KTVI
NV: Under ‘ban the box’ effort, felons wouldn’t be asked about convictions in job applications - Las Vegas Review-Journal
OH: Abortion, guns, energy among lame-duck topics in Ohio - Associated Press


GA: Metro Atlanta Chamber to oppose ‘religious liberty’ bills in 2017 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
IN: LGBT worker's civil rights case could reach beyond state - IndyStar
KY: Kentucky Gay Rights Advocates Gear Up For "Multi-Front" Fight In 2017 - WUKY
LA: John Bel Edwards, Jeff Landry head to court over LGBT issues: 4 things to know - The Times-Picayune
NC: After passing laws, NC Republicans spent millions defending them - The Charlotte Obersver
NC: NBA Relocating 2017 All-Star Game Over LGBT Legislation - CSN Bay Area
NC: College Cup returns to San Jose after NCAA abandons North Carolina - The Mercury News
NY: NY legislator names bill to ban gay conversion therapy after Mike Pence - LGBTQ Nation
SD: Voters may get to decide on transgender bathroom law - Argus Leader
TX: Texas' anti-federal bills echo defiance of the Jim Crow South, threaten marriage equality and gun regulation - The Dallas Morning News
TX: LGBT activists fear a Texas bill could force teachers to out students to their parents - The Guardian
TX: Texas’ faith-based foster care reforms could fail LGBT youth - The Texas Tribune
TX: LGBT Advocates Brace For Legislative Session - KERA News
TX: Lt. Gov. Patrick and allies spoiling for brawl over planned state bathroom law - Houston Chronicle
U.S.: A Harvard study confirms LGBT people are more likely to come out where same-sex marriage is legal - Quartz
U.S.: Medical Associations Join Together to Oppose Anti-LGBTQ Legislation - Human Rights Campaign

Voting Rights

FL: The Shame of Florida: How Florida’s felon vote is ruining lives and costing taxpayers (Part 1 of 2) - SaintPetersBlog
FL: The Shame of Florida: Options on the felon vote (Part 2 of 2) - SaintPetersBlog
FL: Broward, Tallahassee voting chiefs back civil rights restoration - Miami Herald
IL: Ill. House fails to overturn Rauner's veto of automatic voter registration bill - Chicago Tribune
NC: Legislature could revisit election laws in wake of McCrory complaints, Moore says - News & Observer
NC: Court orders special legislative election in 2017 with redrawn districts - News & Observer
NH: Republicans looking to tighten New Hampshire election laws - Associated Press
NH: Gov.-elect Sununu calls for end to same-day voter registration - Union Leader
NY: Amid Recount Push, Assembly To Assess Election Security - State of Politics
WI: At least 399 votes not counted because voter didn't provide valid ID -
WI: Federal Court Rejects Extreme Gerrymandering in Wisconsin - The Nation
U.S.: Wisconsin’s gerrymander being struck down should scare Republicans nationwide - The Washington Post
U.S.: One key reason why Republicans dominate in state legislatures: They drew most of the districts - Daily Kos


AK: With vote-counting finished, Millett keeps her Alaska House seat - Alaska Dispatch News
AR: Arkansas representative switches parties, giving GOP supermajority in House - ArkansasOnline
AR: In pre-filing, Democrats’ seek ethics package, leaders seek fiscal session end - Talk Business & Politics
AZ: 2017 Legislature: Newcomers have varied backgrounds, little political experience - The Arizona Capitol Times
AZ: Democrats announce House committee assignments - The Arizona Capitol Times
AZ: Hobbs announces Senate Dem committee assignments - The Arizona Capitol Times
CA: Calexit group files for 2018 vote on whether California should leave U.S. - The Sacramento Bee
CA: Democrats clinch a supermajority in both houses of the California Legislature after Josh Newman wins state Senate seat - Los Angeles Times
CA: Kevin de León, Nancy Pelosi strategize 'to protect California's progressive policies and values' - Los Angeles Times
CO: Amendment T defeated; slavery reference will stay in Colorado constitution - The Denver Post
CT: Sen. Beth Bye to step down as co-chair of Appropriations - The CT Mirror
FL: Corcoran: House wants 'dramatic' campaign finance law change - Miami Herald
FL: Hialeah lawmaker eyes Florida Senate seat in two years - Miami Herald
FL: Robert Asencio is sworn in to the Florida House despite attempt by David Rivera to challenge him - Miami Herald
FL: With contrasting styles and priorities, Negron, Corcoran take over leadership of Florida Legislature - Miami Herald
HI: Hawaii Senate Reveals Committee Chairs For Next Session - Honolulu Civil Beat
HI: Hawaii just became the first state to elect a 100 percent one-party state Senate since 1979 - Daily Kos
IA: What’s Next: Focusing On Local Iowa Races In 2017 - Iowa Starting Line
IL: Rauner, leaders meet, but still no progress - The State Journal-Register
MA: Record Number Of Mass. Voters Cast Ballots In 2016 Presidential Election - WBUR
MD: Hogan, top Democrats end standoff over Northrop grant - The Washington Post
ME: Question 2 recount withdrawal shifts tax reform question to LePage’s budget proposal - Bangor Daily News
MN: Legislature by The Numbers: Minnesota goes red, Senate has 21 rookies - Forum News Service
MN: Ballot recount requested in St. Cloud-area state Senate district - StarTribune
ND: North Dakota borrows $7M more for pipeline protest costs - Associated Press
NH: Final recounts decide Republican edge in state’s House, Senate - WMUR
NJ: After Rooney’s Election, What’s Next in NJ’s 40th Legislative District? - Observer
NM: State GOP, Dem leaders won’t lead parties for a second term - NM Political Report
NM: New Mexico begins recounting votes in 3 county races - KRQE News 13
NV: Recount finds Democrat Daly won Assembly race by 36 votes - Associated Press
NV: Assembly Speaker-designate Jason Frierson names leadership, committee chairs - Las Vegas Review-Journal
NY: Senate Dems: Siding With Senate GOP Is Siding With Trump - State of Politics
NY: SD-8: Venditto Regains Lead - State of Politics
NY: Kolb Re-Elected Assembly Republican Leader - State of Politics
NC: Court orders special legislative election in 2017 with redrawn districts - News & Observer
OH: Elections boards scrambling to finish vote counts - The Columbus Dispatch
OH: Supporters tout Ohio clean-energy standards before legislators - The Columbus Dispatch
PA: Emboldened by Trump win, rural Pa. lawmakers may go after cities - The Inquirer
PA: Public records: Many bills pending to change Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law - Associated Press
RI: Frias concedes defeat in District 15 House race - Providence Journal
SC: S.C. Senate leader won't become lieutenant governor - Post and Courier
SD: GOP lawmakers file lawsuit to stop IM 22 - Argus Leader
SD: Lawmakers, Rapid City group file suit over 'anti-corruption' measure - Rapid City Journal
TN: State House Democrats keep top party leaders in place - The Tennessean
TX: Election dealt some setbacks to Texas GOP's modest diversity - The Texas Tribune
TX: After recount, Anderson remains winner in re-election battle - The Texas Tribune
TX: Analysis: Pulling the Texas House, pushing the Texas Senate - The Texas Tribune
UT: Utahns voted in record numbers this year - The Salt Lake Tribune
UT: Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes meets with Trump staff; no plans for administrative post - The Salt Lake Tribune
VA: McAuliffe sets Jan. 10 special election for McEachin, Garrett, Taylor seats - Richmond Times-Dispatch
VT: South Hero Democrat set to become speaker - Burlington Free Press
VT: Balint hopes to be Senate majority leader - VTDigger
VT: Buxton-Ainsworth, Davis-Frenier Recounts Still Unclear - Valley News
WI: Judges Find Wisconsin Redistricting Unfairly Favored Republicans - The New York Times
WI: Shilling re-elected to be Wisconsin's top Democrat - Associated Press
WI: Supreme Court won't investigate leak - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WI: Attorneys: Too soon to think about new legislative elections - StarTribune
WV: Woelfel in running for high Senate post - The Herald-Dispatch


Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee