Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee

State of the States (Week of March 21st, 2016)

State of the States (Week of March 21st, 2016)

The Week of March 21st, 2016



"Because of the elections two weeks ago, the consequences are, [Right-to-Work] would pass this chamber but die in the House."

-Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers (R), announcing that he was pulling so-called Right-to-Work legislation -- one of Kentucky Republicans' top legislative priorities -- from consideration this session after Democrats retained their majority in the state House by winning three out of four special elections on March 8th.

"These long-acting contraceptions are being recommended by HHS to target the poor and minority populations. And in the ’30s and ’40s, our country firmly and finally rejected eugenics. Let’s not bring it back."

-Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R), rejecting a proposal to copy a pilot program in Colorado that provided low-income women and teens with free access to IUDs and other long-term birth control. That program was described as a "startling success" after teen birth rates plummeted 40%, teen abortion rates fell 42%, and taxpayers saved $80 million in avoided Medicaid costs alone. However, that success will not be coming to Kansas after Sen. Pilcher-Cook and other Republicans voted to kill the idea.


An anti-immigrant experiment failed long before Donald Trump’s ascent

Amanda Sakuma (MSNBC)
March 22, 2016

Arizona earned a reputation as a laboratory to experiment with some of the country’s most extreme anti-immigrant laws imagined long before Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump entered the scene. The candidate simply re-packaged old ideas and made them mainstream.

The state already has a version of Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” proposal along its border, with hundreds of miles of fencing dividing most of its shared boundary with Mexico. A statewide crackdown on illegal immigration once deputized local cops to double as immigration agents. Arizona officials and voters in the past gave their blessing to official policies to weed out undocumented immigrants and push the boundaries of what defines racial profiling.

In many ways, the state is a decade ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to ramping up immigration enforcement — and dealing with the often disastrous results. But Trump heads into Arizona’s primary Tuesday with a clear lead in one of the few regions in the country that shares his penchant for controversy in the name of cracking down on illegal immigration.

“We’re ground zero for this racist, nativist mischief-making,” said Alison Harrington, pastor at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson and a leader in the immigrant rights movement. “This existed before Trump. We get into dangerous water when we say that it’s all just one person’s fault.”

For years, Arizona cranked out new, almost inventive laws designed to either criminalize immigration or make life so inhospitable for those who are undocumented that they were left no choice but to “self-deport.”

The most notorious of these measures was SB 1070, a law that required undocumented immigrants to register with the state and carry “alien-registration papers” at all times. Local law enforcement had permission for warrantless arrests if officers felt they had probable cause that an offense could result in deportation. The law also made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to even solicit or apply for work....

Arizona’s legislative moves to combat immigration inspired copycat bills around the country. But despite all of this action, there’s one key takeaway from Arizona’s anti-immigrant zeal: federal courts have since either blocked large portions of these laws and practices, or found them entirely unconstitutional.

“Of all states, Arizona should know better than to go down this anti-immigrant road,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Their experiments in immigration enforcement completely failed and resulted in nothing but litigation and boycotts.”

[Read more]

Kansas Supreme Court impeachment bill advances in state Senate

Dion Lefler (Wichita Eagle)
March 17, 2016

In what one lawmaker called “a sharp stick in the eye” to the state Supreme Court, the Senate on Monday advanced a bill establishing new standards for impeaching justices.

Stung by court decisions on school finance and death penalty cases, lawmakers are working toward creating a specific list of impeachable offenses, including “attempting to subvert fundamental laws and introduce arbitrary power” and “attempting to usurp the power of the legislative or executive branch of government.”

At present, the only guideline for an impeachable offense is the Constitution’s provision for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The Senate bill specifies some, but not all, crimes that could qualify. It advanced on a voice vote, with a roll-call vote set for Tuesday morning. SB 439 would also apply to constitutional officers of the executive branch, such as the governor or attorney general.

During the hourlong debate, Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, cited two examples of potential impeachable offenses for justices: the 2014 decision by the Supreme Court to allow a Democratic Senate candidate off the ballot without forcing the party to name a replacement, and a justice allowing her husband to hold a political fundraiser that she did not attend at their home.

Democrats railed against the impeachment bill.

“This bill, in my opinion, is nothing more than a political statement in an election year,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

He said the intent is to intimidate the Supreme Court as it continues to render decisions in the Gannon school finance case that alleges the Legislature failed its constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for education.

[Read more]


March 29

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

April 5

Special Election - California HD-31

April 9

Special Election - Louisiana HD-29

April 12

Special Election - Alabama HD-80

April 19

Special Election - New York SD-09
Special Election - New York HD-59
Special Election - New York HD-62
Special Election - New York HD-65

April 26

Special Election - Pennsylvania SD-09



FL: Get Your Birth Control From Your Dentist, Advise Florida Legislators Who Voted to Defund Planned Parenthood - Slate


KS: Kansas GOP lawmakers cite rising frustration, anger with Brownback - Tonganoxie Mirror

NH: Gambling Bill Tabled Once Again in N.H. Senate - New Hampshire Public Radio


AZ: Proposition 123 allies raise more than $4 million - Arizona Capitol Times

KY: Kentucky House approves free community college - Louisville Courier-Journal

MI: Detroit to provide tuition-free college to DPS graduates - Detroit Free Press

Health Care

KY: Kynect, Medicaid expansion protection legislation appears headed to House for surprise vote - KyForward


AL: Craig Ford - State employees deserve pay raises, too - Gadsden Messenger

AZ: Arizona eyes punishment for local progressive policies - MSNBC

DE: Bill giving union control on projects advances - The News Journal

KY: Senate President pulls right-to-work and medical review panels legislation from consideration - cn|2 Pure Politics


FL: Federal judge tells Florida county officials their 'prison gerrymandering' is unconstitutional - Daily Kos Elections

NC: How can we fight Republican gerrymandering in North Carolina? Retake the state Supreme Court in 2016 - Daily Kos Elections

US: Roles of Race and Partisanship in Legislative Maps Argued at Supreme Court - New York Times

Voting Rights

KY: Bill to restore felon voting rights advances - Louisville Courier-Journal


MT: Montana political parties differ in approach to recruiting candidates - Bozeman Daily Chronicle

NV: Fight for majority in Nevada Legislature coming into focus - Associated Press

NY: Steuben Democrats back Danks Burke for NY Senate - Hornell Evening Tribune

NY: Democrats' path to possible Senate control begins on Long Island - Politico New York

NY: Spending to replace Skelos nears $1.5 M. - Politico New York

TN: Holly McCall to run as Democrat for Jeremy Durham's House seat - The Tennessean

PA: Democrat Cook-Artis wins state rep seat in special election - Chestnut Hill Local

WI: Longtime GOP legislator Mary Lazich won't seek re-election - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


AL: Bill limiting public assistance creates strong reaction - Montgomery Advertiser

GA: Georgia Republican Stops Effort to Tackle Rape Kit Backlog - RH Reality Check

KS: Kansas senator compares long-term contraceptive use to eugenics - Wichita Eagle

MO: Missouri candidate keeps money from donor sued for sex abuse - Associated Press

TN: Tenn. lawmaker stands by ISIS free speech statement - WKRN News


Carolyn Fiddler
National Communications Director
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee