Your weekly dose of state legislation

Don't get too engrossed in federal politics... the states are making moves, too! So pay attention!

Pennsylvania - Economy

Pennsylvanians are very excited to hear that the Republican House Majority Leader introduced a bill on Wednesday that would privatize the state's liquor store system. If the bill is passed, the state would auction off retail licenses for businesses big and small, and the competition in the liquor market would likely lead to lower prices. The initial selling of the retail licenses could generate up to $2 billion, but there doesn't seem to be many (if any) long term benefits for the government. Basically the bill would double the number of liquor stores in the state and make alcohol cheaper. republicans sure are suckers for privatization.

 

Ohio - Reproductive rights

Even though the notorious "heartbeat bill" is on hold, Ohio isn't taking a break from anti-choice legislation. A bill banning late-term abortions (after 20 weeks of pregnancy) is moving right along. A vast majority of the Senate voted for the bill, and the House is expected to do the same. Conservatives are hesitant to move on the "heartbeat bill" (which would ban abortions after 6 or 7 weeks of pregnancy) because they're worried the passage of such a drastic measure would spark a court battle similar to Roe v. Wade. In the meantime, if the late-term bill passes, Ohio would be the 39th state with late-term restrictions.

 

California - LGBT rights

Governor Jerry Brown has until Monday to decide what he wants to do with the FAIR Education bill. If he signs it, this bill will mandate that schools teach children about the societal contributions of LGBT citizens in social studies classes. Opponents of the bill are hitting the governor's office hard with email and phone calls, saying that the bill represents "in-your-face sexual brainwashing." Conservative coalitions like SaveCalifornia.com are also urging parents to take their kids out of public schools in protest of the bill. Since California is a major buyer of textbooks, if the bill passes, publishers will start offering updated textbooks to meet the bills requirements, making it easier for other states to potentially follow suit. So come on, Jerry! What's taking you so long?

 

Florida - Free speech

Last month Governor Rick Scott signed a law that regulates what doctors can and cannot talk about with their patients. The law prohibits doctors from asking patients whether or not they own a gun, unless the information is "relevant" to a patient's medical care or safety. Here's what I don't get; isn't that information always relevant to a person's safety? Whether or not they have a gun has a big effect on their personal safety as well as the safety of their family. If you own a gun, the chances of someone is your family getting shot is higher than if you don't have a gun in your house. We've all heard news story after news story about children getting ahold of their parents' unsecured firearm; it always ends tragically. If by asking patients about gun ownership, a doctor could prevent such a situation, then I think it's a good idea to let the doctors ask. The law is under review by a District Court; the case has been nickamed "Docs versus Glocks." Cute, huh?

 

Also... Who's ALEC?

I've been seeing the acronym ALEC a lot in the past few days and today I finally read up on it. the American Legislative Exchange Council is a non-profit based in D.C. and all they do is write up conservative legislation and send it out to GOP state legislators around the country. Oh, and they also get millions of dollars in contributions from big business. Similarly worded bills with conservative agendas have been popping up in many states, and it's because those bills originated at ALEC. For example, in January, Indiana introduced a bill that would end the regulation of carbon emissions because it's hurting the economy. Now, almost a dozen other states are working on almost identical bills. This week, a bunch of ALEC's internal documents were leaked, giving insight into how much influence private-sector leaders have over the drafting of legislation. So basically, those corporations who are donating millions of dollars to ALEC are paying for business-friendly legislation to be distributed throughout the country. These corporations pay to be "members" of ALEC and they participate in meetings with state legislators. Sounds like lobbying right? Some democratic organizations are trying to challenge ALEC's status as a non-profit because of it's lobbying behavior. Anyway, it all makes sense now. Maybe ALEC is the reason that 162 anti-choice measures were passed in the past 6 months. Despicable ALEC.