Seven Terrible State Bills

— by ThinkProgress War Room | Mar 27, 2013

Recently, we discussed some of the terrible bills floating around out there in state legislatures. Here’s another look at some of the worst proposals, including a couple that were signed into law this week:

  • NORTH DAKOTA: The state’s Republican governor signed a trifecta of terrible anti-abortion bills, which are likely to have the effect of banning abortion in the state. One bill unconstitutionally bans abortion after just six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. An even more insidious bill takes up the anti-abortion movement’s favorite new tactic: drastic overregulation of abortion clinics to all but guarantee that they will have to close. These so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are also moving in North CarolinaMississippiTexasAlabama, and Virginia.
  • KANSAS: A new bill will allow the state to quarantine HIV positive individuals, something Kansas actually banned back in 1988.
  • INDIANA: An anti-abortion bill was going to mandate forced ultrasounds before a woman is provided with the abortion pill. Lawmakers explain that they are dropping the controversial provision in order to focus on their real goal: regulating abortion clinics out of existence.
  • VIRGINIA: Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) signed a bill that will mandate that Virginians present photo identification when they vote, which will disproportionately impact young people, minorities, and the elderly.
  • KENTUCKY: The legislature passed a so-called “religious freedom” bill that allows individuals to ignore laws based on the vague notion of “sincerely held religious beliefs,” opening the door to discrimination against LGBT people, among other problems. Gov. Steve Beshear (D) vetoed the bill, but unfortunately his veto was overridden yesterday.
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Top Republicans in the state have yet to abandon a GOP plan to rig steal the White House by rigging the distribution of the state’s Electoral College votes. Republicans in Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and other states dropped the idea, but Pennsylvania Republicans are keeping it on the table.
  • ARKANSAS: In addition to its race to the bottom on abortion, Arkansas is considering some highly regressive tax changes. As part of an effort meant to stimulate growth, an Arkansas legislative committee passed two tax cuts that will largely benefit the rich and then rejected one that would benefit the working poor. A recent study found that state-level tax cuts don’t promote job growth.

Another week, another set of terrible proposals moving out in state legislatures.

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This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

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GOP Scheming to Rig Future Elections

Every-Vote-CountsWe haven’t even inaugurated President Obama for his second term and the GOP is already concocting schemes to rig the next Presidential election.

Imagine that when President Obama won Ohio in 2012, instead of getting all the state’s electoral votes, he only got six of them, while Mitt Romney, who lost, got 12 … that each candidate was awarded electoral votes based on how many congressional districts they won in the state. Now, imagine this didn’t happen just in Ohio, but also in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and other “blue states” that right now happen to have state governments completely controlled by Republicans.

This isn’t just some thought experiment. Just like their push in 2010 (ahead of the Census and the subsequent redistricting), it’s the latest Republican scheme to rig America’s elections in their favor, and it could work … unless we can create a public backlash against it.

We need to begin speaking out now to tell Republicans that basing the election for President on legislative districts in which GOP candidates are overwhelmingly favored and creating a proportional system based on the results by congressional district would be fundamentally unfair.  We simply cannot sit back and do nothing especially since these tactics would create a a system specifically designed to help one political party achieve a total take-over of ‘our’ country. It’s fundamentally unacceptable.

We need to take actions via petitions, protests, emails, tweets and other social media posts to let the GOP know that we will not tolerate their electioneering efforts to take over America.  Already, such a bill has been introduced in Pennsylvania and most likely will also be introduced in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan where Republican leaders have already begun discussing such actions.

People for the American Way has a petition up that you can sign on to.  They plan to use the petition to lobby lawmakers in the states and make sure the media is giving attention to how unpopular this vote rigging scheme is.

Sign-the-Petition-blu.fw

If the scheme is enacted, the will of the people would mean nothing in those states. And, nationally, the playing field would be dramatically shifted towards Republican presidential candidates. That’s because one of the results of the Tea Party wave election of 2010 was that right-wing Republicans controlled the redistricting process in these states, and congressional districts there were gerrymandered within an inch of their lives, ensuring more “safe” Republican districts. It’s the same reason that Republicans maintained a healthy majority in the House of Representatives in 2012 despite losing the congressional popular vote nationally to Democrats by 1.4 million votes — more than a whole percentage point.

In states like Ohio, where Republicans have a super majority in the legislature, they have the power to move this affront to democracy through unilaterally, bulldozing any opposition!

Proposals for proportional apportionment of electoral votes based on percentage of the vote are also severely problematic, even a secondary idea being floated by Republicans in these states. That proposal would apportion electoral votes based on percentage of vote, instead of by congressional district.  This could theoretically be a fair system, but only if EVERY state did it. With only blue, Democratic-leaning states splitting their electoral votes and definitively red, Republican states remaining winner-take-all, the national field would still shift dramatically to the Republicans favor — and AWAY from the will of the people. To put it bluntly: election rigged Candidates who clearly amassed a significantly lower  percentage of the popular vote nationwide would be elected in the Electoral College as our next President.

THAT is not what the framers of our U.S. Constitution intended.  Clearly, it’s time we looked at taking redistricting away from partisans as well as whether we need to continue the practice of using an “Electoral College” to select our next President.  Technology has come a long way and usually within hours after the polls close (with the exception of maybe Florida) within days) it’s clear which candidate has won the popular vote.  Maybe it’s time to finally push for a National Popular Vote Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and eliminate the Electoral College middlemen.

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