This Week in Statehouse Action: Can’t Get Fooled Again edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Can’t Get Fooled Again edition

Yes, I know the headline dates me.

But whatever. It’s that super annoying day of the year when everybody thinks they’re MUCH funnier than they actually are.

But I’m not here for pranks, and the only jokes are the bad ones I make every week.

Frankly, I wish the latest GOP statehouse antics were April Fools pranks.

Alas, they’re all too serious.

The Fool On The Hill: It’s pretty much impossible to write these updates these days without mentioning the latest GOP voter suppression efforts in state capitols across the country.

Campaign Action

And by “across the country,” I mean across the country.

  • The ever-helpful Brennan Center is out this week with an update to their report on voter suppression legislation Republicans are pushing in statehouses this year, and the news is … well, not only bad, but worse than it was just over a month ago.
    • As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 restrictive voting 361 bills in 47 states.
      • That 361 number is 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills Brennan tallied as of Feb. 19—a 43% increase in just over a month.
    • Since that February report, most legislatures have been barreling towards their adjournment dates, which means that these bills are seeing a lot of action.
      • To date, five restrictive voting bills have already been signed into law.
      • At least 55 restrictive bills in 24 states are moving through legislatures.
      • 29 have passed at least one chamber.
      • Another 26 have had some sort of committee action (hearing, committee vote, that kind of thing).

As an erudite consumer of this missive, the states with the most anti-democracy legislation action this year won’t surprise you.

  • The GOP-controlled legislatures in Texas (49 bills), Georgia (25 bills), and Arizona (23 bills) have introduced the largest number of restrictive measures.

Speaking of Texas … 

  • The new piece of anti-voting legislation to get correctly outraged over is the Lone Star State’s Senate Bill 7, which limits extended early voting hours, prohibits drive-though voting, and makes proactively sending vote-by-mail applications to voters illegal.
    • The bill also creates more potential for voter intimidation by broadening poll watchers’ access at polling places.
      • It even allows them to video record voters receiving assistance in filling out their ballots (a lawful and common practice to accommodate voters who speak languages other than English or have intellectual or developmental disabilities) if that poll watcher “reasonably believes” that assistance to be unlawful.

mmhmm

Also, it’s worth keeping in mind that the term “poll watcher” is misleadingly neutral. These folks aren’t some kind of public watchdogs; rather, they’re specifically appointed by candidates and political parties to monitor polling places.

  • Texas Republicans remain in full control of the state’s government, and Trump won it in 2020. So why is the GOP pushing this here?
    • Texas actually saw the highest turnout in decades last year, with Democrats continuing to drive up their vote counts in the state’s urban centers and diversifying suburban communities.
    • Local election officials pioneered a number of voting initiatives last fall to give as many voters as possible access to the ballot box even as folks took measures to stay safe from COVID-19—especially in those highly-populated urban centers and suburban communities.
  • SB7 absolutely targets most of those initiatives.
    • This legislation also sets specific rules for the distribution of polling places in only the handful of Texas counties with a population of at least 1 million—most of which just happen to be either under Democratic control or won by Democrats in recent national and statewide elections.
  • Anyway, the state Senate passed SB7 on Thursday, and there’s honestly no reason to think it’ll face any meaningful roadblocks in the House.

But what about … elsewhere?

Fool’s Gold: After the enactment of the state’s new diabolical voter suppression omnibus law last week, Georgia-based Delta Airlines faced mounting pressure to take a stance against the measure.

  • On Wednesday morning of this week, Delta’s CEO sent a memo to employees thoroughly denouncing the law and calling out the lie of nonexistent voter fraud in the 2020 elections that gave rise to it.
  • Later that very day, as Georgia lawmakers prepared to adjourn this year’s legislative session sine die, GOPers hit back at Delta—in the pocketbook.
    • Despite the fact that nothing of the sort had been on the agenda for the last day of session, the GOP-controlled House swiftly added a repeal of a state tax break on jet fuel to an existing bill.
      • The repeal was out of time for consideration in the Senate, so it won’t take effect this year, but it could definitely come up again during next year’s session.
  • Republicans were 100% unapologetic about retaliating against Delta for their opposition to the new law.

They like our public policy when we’re doing things that benefit them, and they reap the rewards of those benefits and then turn around and do this. As all of you know, I can’t resist a country boy line or two, you don’t feed a dog that bites your hand. You’ve got to keep that in mind.

  • But it’s also worth noting here that talk is cheap, and the timing of Delta’s (and other companies’, like Coke and Microsoft) opposition to the new law is awfully convenient.
    • Georgia’s voter suppression legislation didn’t just pop up—it’s been in the works for months.
    • These companies could have taken principled stands against this measure when there was still hope of blocking it.
    • Instead, they waited almost a week after this anti-democratic bill was signed into law and until it was too late for Republican majorities to effectively retaliate.

Fools Rush In: Meanwhile, in Kansas, the GOP-controlled legislature is also a little panicked about elevated 2020 turnout (and still pissed that a Democrat had the temerity to get elected governor in 2018).

  • They’re responding as you (as an erudite consumer of this missive) would expect: By trying to trip the executive and judicial branches of authority over elections and making it harder to vote.

What A Fool Believes: And even as various voter suppression measures make their way through the Arizona legislature, a Big Lie-loving, insurrection-doing lawmaker is running to become the top election official in the state.

Fools Die: Apropos of my occasional rant about Democrats not having an organized effort around electing Democrats to state courts, here’s the latest fallout from a close Wisconsin Supreme Court race that Dems lost in 2019.

  • Because of that race, conservatives have a 4-3 majority on Wisconsin’s highest court.
    • If national Democrats had been more focused on that contest, progressives might be the ones with that 4-3 majority.

Anyway.

  • On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a case concerning his emergency authority, striking down the governor’s ability to issue repeated emergency declarations related to the pandemic and ending his statewide mask mandate.
  • The court ruled 4-3, with all conservative justices in the majority.
    • “The question in this case is not whether the Governor acted wisely; it is whether he acted lawfully,” Justice Brian Hagedorn (THE GUY WHO WON THAT 2019 RACE YES I’M STILL MAD) wrote in the ]majority opinion. “We conclude he did not.”
  • But never mind that masks save lives; striking down the statewide mask mandate also puts tens of millions of dollars a month in federal food aid to Wisconsin at risk. (States must have a pandemic emergency declaration in place to receive the funding.)

Let them eat … COVID?

Okay, let’s end on a positive note.

No, seriously!

Nobody’s Fool: That Brennan Center report I mentioned up top was’t all bad news.

  • As of March 24, 843 bills with expansive voting provisions have been introduced in 47 states this year.
    • Of these, nine expansive bills have already been signed into law.
    • At least 112 bills with expansive provisions are moving in 31 states.
      • 9 have passed both chambers and are awaiting signature
      • 41 have passed one chamber, and
      • 62 have had some sort of committee action.
  • One of those good bills that’s about to become law is in Virginia, which is absolutely exhibit A when it comes to Democratic Governance Making Stuff Better.
    • One of the most interesting things about the Virginia Voting Rights Act is that it essentially recreates one of the core components of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 that has since been gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court.
      • The new law would establish a process known as “preclearance” for any changes to election administration that would impact voting in the state.
        • That is, any locality in Virginia trying to make changes to precinct locations or move elections offices, e.g., would have to either hold a public comment period or get approval from Virginia’s attorney general.
      • Voters or the attorney general could sue if they believe any changes to voting administration disproportionately affects a voter “based on his race or color or membership in a language minority group.”
      • Also, the measure would require election officials to provide voting materials in foreign languages in districts with substantial populations of people whose primary language is not English.
    • Proponents of the new law claim (and I’ve yet to see evidence to the contrary) it’s the most comprehensive bill of its kind.
      • Regardless, it’s definitely the first of its kind in the South.

Hooray!

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Hope you survived April Fools Day with minimum nonsense. But if you were subjected to obnoxious pranks, you definitely deserve to knock off early, get a jump on the weekend.

Whatever you do, take care of you. You’re important.

No foolin’.

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: