This Week in Statehouse Action: Livin’ on a Prayer edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Livin’ on a Prayer edition

Happy (slightly belated) half-New Year!

(Get it? We’re “halfway there”? [Whoa-OH, LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER])

We just crossed the halfway point of this year that at least isn’t 2020 but is still definitely bringing the strife.

But do you know what we can do now?

Make half-New Year’s resolutions!

Now that you’ve (hopefully) been vaxxed (if that’s available to you!), this is a great time of year to take a moment to reflect on 2021 so far—what worked, what didn’t, what you screwed up, what it’s not too late to fix, what you need to change, if you need to change … that sort of thing.

It’s too bad that not everyone seems capable of that kind of honestly with themselves—especially statehouse Republicans.

Don’t Start Now: But to start off with, I might actually blow your mind a little.

Campaign Action

  • See, in Michigan, some Senate Republicans are actually trying to hold some of the grifters in that state who pushed the Big Lie of Trump not losing the November election accountable.
    • Good thing they have Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel in office to help them do that!
  • After a months-long, Republican-led investigation into Michigan’s 2020 election recently found zero evidence of widespread fraud, the GOP-run Senate Oversight Committee recommended the state AG investigate the people who made these false election claims for “personal gain.”
  • This week, in a rare show of bipartisanship regarding the 2020 election results, AG Nessel took that recommendation and launched an investigation into allegations that some “unnamed individuals” profited off of these lies.
    • She’s even bringing the state police into the mix, since this is a bona fidecriminal investigation an all.
  • The GOP-led committee urged Nessel, a Democrat, to investigate “those who have been utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”
    • Specifically, the Senate Oversight Committee report spent considerable page space on debunking the claims of two leading figures in a pro-Trump election discrediting effort: attorney Matthew DePerno and former state Sen. Patrick Colbeck.
      • DePerno has raised more than $384,000 for an “election fraud defense fund,” and Colbeck has reportedly grossed around $30,000 from his website (he charges a monthly fee for access to some content, and he’s helped organize related events that charged for attendance).

Stay tuned!

Wrecking Ball: And it just wouldn’t be a Statehouse Action update without the latest from Arizona, now, would it?

  • Last week in this space, I wrote about a new legal effort by the Arizona Republic to force a modicum of transparency from Cyber Ninjas, the GOP-controlled state Senate, and everyone else involved in this delusional “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results.
  • This week, a state court heard arguments in a separate open records lawsuit seeking to obtain documents from Cyber Ninja and the Senate created by the audit, including communications and financial records from
    • Cyber Ninjas and its myriad subcontractors;
    • Ken Bennett, a former GOP secretary of state serving as the “audit” “liaison”;
    • “or any other individual or entity engaged in work on the audit.”
  • The statute at issue in this lawsuit is the Arizona Public Records Law, a lovely bit of state code that requires government officials to maintain records “necessary or appropriate to maintain an accurate knowledge of their official activities, and of any of their activities which are supported by monies from this state.”
    • The state Senate pushed back on these disclosures at the hearing, claiming that “private corporations that serve as vendors to the state government are not ‘public bodies’ within the meaning of (Arizona law),” which would mean any documents under the “control” of Cyber Ninjas are exempt.
      • Of course, this would essentially create a loophole in the state’s public records statute big enough to drive a tank through.
        • Allowing the Arizona Senate to withhold these documents because Cyber Ninjas possesses them would establish a method by which public access to such records could be easily circumvented by anyone in government seeking to conceal public business from public scrutiny.
    • We’ll find out if this lawsuit survives the Republicans’ motion to dismiss it in “seven to ten days,” but the judge’s questions suggest he’ll allow the case to move forward.
  • Meanwhile, there’s still no end to this farce: “liaison” Ken Bennett is claiming that this sham “audit” will continue “for at least a couple more weeks, and more if needed.”

Gives You Hell: The special legislative session in Texas began today, so get ready for an avalanche of shit!

  • Thoughtfully giving lawmakers (well, Democratic lawmakers—let’s be real, he told the Republicans already) just over 24 hours notice before the session began, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott finally released his agenda for it.
  • In a somewhat surprising (and shitty) turn, Abbott is also tasking the GOP-controlled legislature to consider a measure that prohibits transgender Texans from competing on school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity.
  • Also, you may remember the spectacular 11th-hour walkout legislative Democrats pulled at the end of the regular session to block that epic voter suppression bill.
    • You may also remember how livid Abbott was with them, and that he threatened to defund the entire legislative branch over it.
      • Well, he actually did that when he vetoed funding for the legislature last month.
    • So Abbott will use the funding threat to help keep Democrats (and any wayward Republicans) in line this time around.
      • It’s a lousy but savvy move: the inclusion of the legislative funding in the special session means it’s possible for lawmakers to restore paychecks for all staff at the capitol before the next fiscal year begins on Sept. 1.
        • Yes, in his fit of impotent rage at the Democrats, Abbott was happy to screw over more than 2,000 staffers. Collateral damage.
  • Notably, the special session agenda doesn’t include any fixes for Texas’ busted-ass power grid, which famously—and fatally, for some—gave out during a winter storm and record freeze back in February.

Almost 70% of Texans on the main power grid lost electricity! HOW DO YOU NOT DEAL WITH THAT

Well, I guess when you only have 30 days to undermine the rights of voters, the humanity of transgender kids, local control of education, the livelihoods of hardworking capitol staffers, and the First Amendment, sacrifices must be made.

So, fun times to come.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Appreciate you tuning in!

It’s the summer, and for the moment, travel feels safe-ish, so people are making good on any travel resolutions they might have made (either a few days ago or in January) by taking time off and going places, which is freaking GREAT.

… and “people” happens to include me, so please don’t be alarmed by any brief Statehouse Action gaps over the next few months.

I’m not ghosting you; I’m just taking a little time and space for myself.

And I hope you can do that for yourself, too.

Trust me, you deserve it.

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: