Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of February 29th, 2016)

State of the States (Week of February 29th, 2016)

The Week of February 29th, 2016



"Hatred has a shelf life. It becomes stale and unappealing. If you divide too much, you end up with nothing."

-Wisconsin state Rep. Melissa Sargent (D), in a February 29th op-ed to The Capital Times, titled "Scott Walker helped create Donald Trump."

"I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit."

-Idaho state Rep. Pete Nielsen (R), doing his best Todd Akin impression while speaking in defense of HB 516, a bill requiring that an Idaho woman be given a list of facilities that provide free ultrasounds -- many of which are actually right-wing "crisis pregnancy centers" -- before she would be allowed to obtain an abortion. Republicans voted unanimously with Rep. Akin Nielsen to pass the bill.


Voters in these Super Tuesday states will face new stricter requirements

By Sari Horwitz (Washington Post)
February 29, 2016

As voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, many will be casting ballots in states that have passed strict election laws that didn’t exist during the last presidential race.

Out of the 13 states holding primaries or caucuses, there are five where voters will face new rules: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The laws range from asking voters to present photo IDs at the polls to requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote....

Super Tuesday could serve as an early test of how the new laws will play out in the general election in November. This presidential race will be the first since a divided Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act and triggered a number of states to pass stiffer requirements for voting.

“We will undoubtedly see some negative effects in the primaries and perhaps an early glimpse into what the bigger problems could look like come November,” said Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

On Tuesday, the new laws could have a bigger effect in the Democratic contests where “voters of color will be disproportionately affected by the new restrictions,” said Ari Berman, author of “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”

[Read more]

Preemption Bills: A New Conservative Tool to Block Minimum Wage Increases

By Max Rivlin-Nadler (New Republic)
February 29, 2016

Since it kicked off in New York City three years ago, the Fight for $15 Movement—which has concentrated the efforts of low-wage workers around a $15 minimum wage and a union—has pushed urban America to reconsider its wage laws. City after city has passed legislation that will make the life of service workers immeasurably better; they will also create a future where low-income workers will be able to eat and live without government assistance. (A recent study found that low wages and lack of benefits in the fast-food industry cost taxpayers at least $3.8 billion per year.)

Conservative lawmakers, who have railed ceaselessly against the welfare state since setting their sights on its destruction in the 1980s, should be thrilled at this development. With higher wages, fewer people will use government assistance to put food on their tables; they’ll justify the conservative drive for smaller government and fewer “entitlements.” Instead, though, conservatives have done everything in their power to stop the new legislation: They’ve introduced their own bills that would preempt any local efforts to raise the minimum wage, give employees the right to paid leave, or have a work schedule announced well in advance by their employers. These “preemption bills” effectively void or overrule any local laws that might be passed by municipal government at the behest of a city’s residents.

This fall, after overriding Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would kill minimum wage increases in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri state representative Jay Barnes, a Republican, gave a fairly characteristic response for those opposed to minimum wage increases. “When Kansas City and St. Louis take action that kill jobs and cause the economic engines of this state to sputter, it hurts my constituents,” Barnes told the Kansas City Star in September. “When they do dumb things in St. Louis and Kansas City, it hurts my constituents.”

This puts labor activists, the workers who have been central to the cause, and the labor-affiliated activists who have fanned out in cities across the country, in a bit of a bind. While they’ve been successful in their efforts to pass legislation at the local level, state government has been a much tougher nut to crack. Pro-business interests shower donations on state representatives across the country, in return for their votes when it comes to making sure cities remain “business friendly”—with low wages and no union representation....

“These preemption bills are powerful ways for conservative legislators to push back and chill activity at the local level,” said Laura Huizar, a staff attorney at the NELP [National Employment Law Project]. “We do know that a lot of these bills are very similar and are part of a broader pushback by ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council] against progressive legislation at the local level.” On the ALEC website, one can actually access model legislation that seeks to void any local “living wage” laws. Known as “The Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act,” the bill is strikingly similar to the bill that was introduced by Rep. Faulkner in Alabama.

[Read more]


March 1

Special Election - Massachusetts HD-03 (Worcester)
Special Election - Massachusetts HD-09 (Plymouth)
Special Election - Massachusetts HD-12 (Essex)

March 8

Special Election - Kentucky HD-08
Special Election - Kentucky HD-54
Special Election - Kentucky HD-62
Special Election - Kentucky HD-98
Special Election - Michigan HD-75
Special Election - Michigan HD-80
Special Election - Michigan HD-82
Special Election - Mississippi SD-25

March 15

Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-57
Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-192
Special Election - Pennsylvania HD-200

March 29

Special Election - Georgia HD-162
Special Election - Maine SD-32


Health Care

AK: Now the GOP Wants to Ban Planned Parenthood From Teaching Sex Ed in Schools - Mother Jones

AR: Control Of State Senate At Heart Of Arkansas Primary Race: English vs. Copeland - UALR Public Radio

WY: Medicaid expansion axed by Wyoming Legislature - Wyoming Tribune‑Eagle


TN: State House passes anti-religious indoctrination bill - The Tennessean


AL: Gov. Robert Bentley signs bill to block city minimum wages, voiding Birmingham ordinance -

ME: Maine’s November ballot may include a battle of minimum wages - Portland Press Herald


FL: Florida State Senator Arthenia Joyner Named “Legislator of the Year” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) - Jacksonville Free Press


GA: Telecom company threatens to leave Georgia after state senate passes anti-gay bill - Dallas Voice

MO: Protecting same-sex marriage foes from penalties is bad business, groups and faith leaders say - St. Louis Post‑Dispatch

NC: McCrory, Berger won't call special NC legislative session on transgender bathrooms - Charlotte Observer


NC: Will North Carolina's new congressional map survive in court? Scalia's death adds to the uncertainty - Daily Kos Elections

Voting Rights

CA: All of California's voters are now in one online database - Los Angeles Times

SC: 63,756 Reasons Racism Is Still Alive in South Carolina - The Nation

VA: Virginia's voter ID law challenged in federal trial - Reuters


CA: New data shows Republican party shrinking fast in California - Sacramento Bee

CT: Ryan Rogers enters senate race - New Britain Herald

FL: Rod Smith makes state Senate run official with courthouse announcement in Gainesville - Florida Politics

GA: Georgia Democrats seeking to lure voters back to the fold - Macon Telegraph

IA: Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal running for re-election - Omaha World‑Herald

PA: New filings set stage for Pennsylvania legislative campaigns - Observer–Reporter

WI: Diane Odeen announces candidacy for state Senate - WEAU News

WI: Scott Walker signs 46 bills, one barring county execs from serving as legislators - Capital Times

US: Univision Aims to Make Hispanic Voting Bloc Even More Formidable - New York Times


ID: Idaho legislator says trauma prevents pregnancy in rape, incest victims - Spokesman‑Review

KY: Damon Thayer: No comment on domestic litigation - Louisville Courier‑Journal

NH: Male Politicians Warn Exposed Boobs May Cause Society To Collapse - Huffington Post

TN: Slavery Defender's Group Will Accredit Schools Under State Senate Bill - Nashville Scene


Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee