This Week in Statehouse Action: Pride Goeth Before edition

This Week in Statehouse Action: Pride Goeth Before edition

It’s June!

Happy Pride Month!

Republicans, unfortunately, are observing in the most awful ways.

  • In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis kicked off June by signing a bill sent to him by the GOP-controlled legislature that bans transgender girls from competing in women’s sports at the state’s public schools and universities.

    Campaign Action

    • According to Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani, this new law is the first anti-LGBTQ measure enacted in the state in 23 years.
  • With the addition of the Sunshine State, anti-transgender sports bans are now law in eight states:
    • Alabama
    • Arkansas
    • Florida
    • Mississippi
    • Montana
    • South Dakota
    • Tennessee
    • West Virginia

And what do these states have in common?

All together now: GOP-controlled legislatures and GOP governors!

Hopefully you were out enjoying your long weekend and completely tuned out news that wasn’t weather-related or otherwise directly and immediately impacting your life, but Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives pulled off a remarkable feat late on Sunday night, just before the year’s legislative session was slated to adjourn.

  • I wrote in this space last week about the awful voter suppression bill barreling through the Texas legislature, which was on track to impose some of the strictest restrictions on voting in the country.
  • In addition to decreasing the number of polling locations in communities of color and increasing the number of polling locations in predominantly white areas, the bill
    • Banned both drive-through voting and 24-hour voting.
    • Imposed new restrictions on absentee voting.
    • Granted broad new autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers.
    • Increased punishments for mistakes or offenses by election officials.
  • But as the legislature approached its midnight deadline for adjournment on Sunday night, Democrats pulled a legitimately impressive maneuver to stymie the bill by secretly orchestrating a walkout in the House—a stunt that denied the chamber a quorum and prevented Republicans from passing that or any other legislation before being forced to gavel out session for the year.

But put that champagne back in the fridge—this fight is not over, and the hard truth is that Democrats are unlikely to win in the end.

  • GOP Gov. Greg Abbott can call a special session more or less whenever he feels like it to give Republicans another stab at passing this bill—or maybe even something worse.
    • The process starts from scratch again in the new session, so GOP lawmakers will have the opportunity to draft a bill even more restrictive and onerous than the measure that failed over the weekend.

Stay tuned!

And now, for an update on the so-called election “audit” in Arizona.

  • On Tuesday, Democratic Secretary of State (and now gubernatorial candidate) Katie Hobbs released a report detailing the serious problems with the effort over the past week.
    • Some of the issues listed include:
      • A Monday software update “that created so many errors and problems during the first shift that they stated they were going to roll back to the old software during the afternoon shift”
      • The fact that “copies of voting system data [were] sent to a lab in Montana” with no specifications on “what security measures were in place, or what the lab in Montana will do with the data or how long it will be in possession of the copies”
      • “Observers saw that at least three people who are not residents of Maricopa County rifling through thousands of military and overseas ballots,” despite the fact that they’d previously been told “that only Maricopa County residents would be allowed to handle any ballots”
      • Workers of carrying black pens on the floor, which is verboten because such pens can be used to alter ballots. 

Also, this farce has groupies now.

  • This week, three GOP lawmakers from Pennsylvania—Sens. Doug Mastriano and Chris Dush and Rep. Rob Kauffman—made a jacked-up pilgrimage to the arena at the Arizona State Fairgrounds that’s serving as the site of the “audit.”

… which is the whole point:

  • Undermine trust in the election outcome in Arizona, where Trump narrowly lost; rinse; repeat.

Okay, gonna leave you with a little bit of good news before I wrap.

Texas wasn’t the only legislature wrapping up its legislative session this week.

  • Nevada’s legislative session adjourned sine die on Monday night.
  • On the very last day of session, the measure won final passage through the Senate on a 12-9 party-line vote.

Oh, what a difference a Democratic majority makes

  • The bill locks in many of the changes implemented here last year to make voting more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has already signed the measure into law.

Fun fact! This new law makes Nevada the sixth state to adopt a largely all-mail voting system (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington are the other five)

Welp! Short week, short edition!

As ever, thanks for tuning in. This stuff is rarely sexy, but it’s always important.

And coming soon: A big Virginia update! The commonwealth is one of the few states holding elections this year, and after the June 8 primary, Democrats’ fight to keep the House of Delegates and statewide constitutional offices (Senate’s not up again until 2023) will truly take shape.

Fun! Or not! Elections are hard!

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