Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

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

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

The Week of February 1st, 2016



"[The Klan] was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order... It made a lot of people straighten up."

-Georgia state Rep. Tommy Benton (R), engaging in a little bit of revisionist history in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While Rep. Benton argued passionately in defense of the Ku Klux Klan, he had harsher words for those proposing the removal of Confederate iconography, whose cause he called "no better than what ISIS is doing."

"The gal that's running against me is a 30-year-old, you know, mom, mother of two infants... I don't know if anybody explained to her we've got to spend three nights a week in Columbus. So, how does that work out for you?"

-Ohio Senate Majority Leader Tom Patton (R), discussing his 30-year-old primary opponent, Jennifer Herold, during a recent radio interview. Patton also referred to Herold as a "young gal" and "sweetie." In an unrelated matter, Ohio Democrats recently introduced legislation aimed at guaranteeing equal pay for women; the bill has not been brought to a vote by GOP leaders.


Stacey Abrams: Pragmatic Democrat in a Red State

By Jonathan Miller (Roll Call)
February 1, 2016

Stacey Abrams is a proud ex-bureaucrat who also loves the novel “Atlas Shrugged”; she works with Republicans but sometimes frustrates her Democratic colleagues; she grew up on food stamps and co-founded a beverage company for children; she has worked as a tax attorney and written several romantic suspense novels on the side.

That’s a lot of living. “I grew up in a family with an ethos that said, ‘If you have the capacity, you have the responsibility,’” Abrams, the House minority leader of the Georgia General Assembly, said in an interview with CQ Roll Call. “So far, I’ve been able to live that way.”

That ethos has been catching the eye of many nationally. In 2014 she was named Governing magazine’s “Public Official of the Year.” In 2012 she won John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award for public officials under 40. There have been rumblings of a 2018 gubernatorial run...

One of her Democratic colleagues, Rep. Scott Holcomb, has seen her philosophy in action. “She doesn’t have the typical guttural political instinct of just rotely opposing things and see what I can get out of it,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in October. “She takes a step back and thinks: ‘Is this is a good idea? Is it good for the state?’”

That is her short game. But Abrams, 42, has a long-term vision to get more Democrats and minorities elected. She helped found a voter drive called the New Georgia Project, to register 800,0000 voters by 2020 – the next time voting districts are drawn.

[Read more]

Legislators organize blitz of equal-pay legislation in nearly half the states

The mass introduction of bills is aimed at a longstanding problem that still hasn't quite been solved.

By Lydia DePillis (Washington Post)
January 28, 2016

Sometimes, state-based legislative change seems to be an incremental thing, with bills trickling through state houses across the country so slowly that a casual observer wouldn’t notice — which is often what backers of such campaigns would prefer.

And then there’s the supernova approach. That’s what a coalition of progressive and women’s empowerment groups are trying this week around the issue of equal pay, advancing bills in nearly half the states at once — from Alaska to Kansas — in a bid to elevate solutions to America’s nagging gender pay disparity at a time when little seems likely to happen in Congress...

On the menu of policy ideas that a state legislature might decide to take on, equal pay is relatively low-hanging fruit. It polls well — most people say they want everybody to receive the same compensation for similar work — and there are several options for how to address it, from simply increasing penalties for violations of existing laws to requiring minimum salaries on job postings, so that women and people of color can’t be lowballed.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk. The biggest challenge, lawmakers say, is getting their colleagues to agree that the gender pay gap is still a problem, more than 50 years after Congress passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. Despite that and many similar state laws, women often aren’t even aware they’re being paid less than men for similar work, much less willing to go through the hassle of a lawsuit— as many people realized when the Sony e-mail hack revealed that actress Jennifer Lawrence was paid much less than her male co-stars.

[Read more]


February 2

Special Election - Connecticut HD-121

February 9

Special Election - Minnesota SD-35
Special Election - Minnesota HD-50B

February 16

Special Election - Alabama HD-05
Special Election - Georgia HD-58



AZ: Arizona anti-abortion lawmakers try again to limit medication abortions - Arizona Republic

FL: Abortion bill shuts Planned Parenthood out of managed care networks - Politico Florida


KS: Kansas lawmakers weigh giving anti-discrimination protections to gun dealers - Wichita Eagle

NV: Gun control advocates come out blazing in bid to expand NV background checks - Las Vegas Sun

Health Care

AK: New Medicaid reports repudiate Alaska GOP fears, outline ideas for changes - Alaska Dispatch News

GA: Democratic leader says Medicaid expansion’s time has come - Atlanta Journal-Constitution


WI: Union membership in Wisconsin plummets in wake of GOP measures - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel


AZ: House takes first step toward district boundaries drawn entirely by Republicans - Arizona Capital Times

VA: Supreme Court rejects GOP bid to block new Va. congressional map - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Voting Rights

WI: State's low-key educational effort on new voter ID requirement irks critics - Wisconsin State Journal


CO: Planned Parenthood supporters rally against Republican lawmaker - Denver Post

CT: New leader, but same result: CT GOP trails in fundraising - Connecticut Mirror

KY: Kentucky's 2016 election season is set - cn|2 Pure Politics

ME: Following money shows what Maine campaigns to watch in 2016 - Bangor Daily News

MS: Bryant sets state Senate special election for March 8 - Biloxi Sun Herald

NV: Democrats rev up fundraising in fight to control Legislature - Associated Press

NY: Cuomo calls special election for Silver, Skelos seats - Albany Times Union

WA: State Sen. Don Benton won’t run for re-election - The Columbian

WI: Harris believes GOP ‘very nervous’ about 18th Senate District race - Wisconsin Radio Network


GA: Top Ga. lawmaker criticized for Klan comments - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

MS: Sen. Bryan: proposed rules change is power grab - Jackson Clarion-Ledger

NV: This lawmaker compared dead Oregon occupier LaVoy Finicum to Moses and Jesus - Washington Post

OH: Ohio Sen. Tom Patton suggests opponent shouldn't run because she's a young mother - Cleveland Plain-Dealer


Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee