This Week in Statehouse Action: Life’s A Beach edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Life’s A Beach edition

 We all deserve a little R&R this summer, and frankly we’d better get it while we can, what with the Delta variant driving COVID-19 cases back up and August (i.e. the last full month of summer) just around the corner.

Here’s hoping you can find your beach—which can be a literal beach with sand and water or a metaphorical one (maybe your beach is actually the mountains, or Las Vegas, or your back patio, or a nature trail you like, or … well, you get it).

But while statehouse action ebbs and flows, it doesn’t ever really take a vacation, so here’s lawmakers are up to instead of, like, just giving us all a break.

Big Easy: In Louisiana, where Republicans have majority control of both legislative chambers (House 35 D/68 R/2 I, Senate 12 D/27 R) but Democrat John Bel Edwards is governor, we got a reminder this week of the power of the veto pen.

Campaign Action

Fun fact! This was Louisiana’s first veto session in over 50 years (since the current state constitution laid out the existing rules and structures of its government). Wild, right?

  • The GOP-controlled legislature passed a slew of lousy bills this session, but this week, they also failed to override some of Gov. Edwards’ crucial vetoes, including measures that would have
    • Allowed people to carry concealed weapons without permits or training
    • Banned transgender girls from school sports teams
    • Required the Louisiana’s legislative auditor to review elections (an office filled via a majority vote of the legislature, so definitely a Republican for the foreseeable future).

Speaking of audits …

Lone Stars: Texas Republicans want in on the audit action … but only in counties that are trending Democratic.

What a weird coincidence!

  • The Texas state Senate is still in session, and they’re busy doing the important legislative work of [[checks notes]] making sure kids are no longer required to learn radical concepts like “white supremacy is morally wrong.”
    • A bill the Senate passed last Friday would also prohibit teachers from being compelled to talk about “controversial issues” and instruct those choosing to engage on these topics with students to discuss them without “giving deference to any one perspective.”

Can you imagine a classroom discussion of slavery or the Holocaust without giving “deference” to the “perspective” that those things WERE REALLY REALLY BAD?

  • Thankfully, this terrible bill will probably go nowhere because almost all members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus are still in DC, still pushing for voting rights reforms (that will go nowhere as long as the filibuster is still around).
    • They reportedly plan to stay out of state until the special session wraps on Aug. 6, which, well … travel costs money! Food, lodging, and more—it adds up!

So what did Beto O’Rourke go and do?

Raise $600,000 and give it to those Democrats to help cover those costs.

Pretty neat!

Grand Canyon State of Mind: Anyway, speaking of so-called “election integrity,” it’s time for our regular check-in on the “audit” shitshow in Arizona.

And the news is … well, that it’s still happening.

  • Despite the fact that the “auditors” reportedly finished their recount and manual inspection of the 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County by the end of June, the results remain secret, since I guess the “audit” didn’t turn out the way Republicans wanted.
    • The fact that the Arizona Senate and the “auditors” are currently casting about for more creative ballot and voter inspection ideas instead of releasing their findings in a planned report would indicate that the savage reality of Biden winning the county has yet to be refuted by even the most creative minds among them.
  • The GOP-controlled Maricopa County board of supervisors has resisted and resented baseless accusations of election fraud and malfeasance from the GOP-controlled Arizona Senate all along.
    • Now Maricopa County wants to fight this disinformation with … information.

Good luck with that

  • Reportedly by the end of the week, county officials will launch a website that refutes some of these garbage allegations, like a recent one made by “audit” leader Doug Logan that the county received about 74,000 more early ballots than were actually mailed to voters.
    • In actual fact, the county recorders office’s records show that 2.3 million early ballots were requested, and 1.9 million were returned.
      • Which, by the by, is less than, not 74,000 more than.

math is hard

Potato, Potahto: I’ve given a lot of this space in recent months to GOP state lawmakers being the brand of Bad that seeks to undermine democracy and cast doubt on certified accurate election results, but sometimes Republicans are reprehensible in other ways, too.

Take, for instance, Idaho state Rep. Priscilla Giddings, who basically doxxed a woman one of her fellow lawmakers reportedly raped.

  • During a rape investigation involving then-Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, a fellow Republican, and a 19-year-old woman who was serving as a student intern, Giddings publicly shared the woman’s name and photo (who was referred to as Jane Doe in all investigations and proceedings regarding the matter).
    • The intern has testified that Von Ehlinger sexually assaulted her in his apartment in March, despite her repeatedly telling him “no.”
      • Von Ehlinger admitted having sex with her but argued that it was consensual.
      • `He ultimately resigned in April after the legislative ethics committee found that he had committed “conduct unbecoming” in sexually harassing multiple women who work at the capitol.
    • After “Jane Doe” went to the police to report that she had been raped, Giddings shared a post on her own Facebook page that included a photo of the intern and her full name.
    • During Von Ehlinger’s ethics hearing, Giddings actually denied sharing the woman’s information … until a member of the committee pulled up her Facebook page during the meeting.


  • Giddings, who is facing two ethics complains in the matter from her fellow lawmakers and will defend herself in a public hearing on Aug. 6, is also running for lieutenant governor.

So maybe Idaho isn’t on your list of places to vacation in the near future … or Arizona … or Texas … or Louisiana (or maybe they are! You do you!), but I ardently hope that you’re able to find yourself a change of scenery or otherwise get away from your normal grind for a bit. I find it’s good for the soul, but your mileage may vary, so to speak.

However you go about it, take good care of yourself. The world remains an uncertain and scary place, and you remain an important and worthy person.

As ever, we need you.

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