Your daily analysis of trending topics in state government. The snark is nonpartisan.
What! Is! The! Draw!
This may be a weird confession coming from a political journalist, but: I really don’t understand why anyone runs for office, at least not in the 21st century. It’s expensive and grueling and exhausting and filled with vitriol and social-media trolls, which just seems like … a lot of bother to win a job where the absolute best-case scenario is that you possibly get a single thing accomplished in exchange for spending most of your time listening to your colleagues make no sense. And you can’t even be snarky about that, because you’re sort of required to be cordial! What! Is! The! Draw!
In a word, no
Republicans across the country have spent months pushing discriminatory legislation they swear is necessary to “protect the children.” Policing bathroom usage among transgender kids? Protective measure! Banning life-saving care for transgender minors? For their own protection! Meddling in school sports policy? All about fairness and safety, baby! This was never a serious explanation for policies that endanger the safety and well-being of children whose safety and well-being were already at risk.
Life lessons for (almost) everyone
First up: Courts, which we’ll kick off in Alabama, where advocates hope to codify into law a veterans court program that aims to keep low-level offenders out of jail by connecting them with resources to treat underlying substance abuse or mental illness. The program, which began more than a decade ago, operates on the basic premise that jail is rarely the appropriate place for an offender who needs health treatment or rehabilitation services, the Alabama Reflector reported.
Just before 8 p.m. on Friday, a massive tornado touched down in west-central Mississippi, killing 26 people as it tore through homes and businesses along a 59-mile track. It was the deadliest of more than two dozen tornadoes reported in Southern states over the weekend, all stemming from a storm system that forecasters expected to linger across the Southeast for most of Monday.
May it please the court
What happens in a court of law isn’t just a matter of decisions by judges and arguments by lawyers. Almost everything that happens in the courtroom is in fact controlled by the legislature. Lawmakers don’t just decide which activities constitute a crime, or are subject to lawsuits, they decide most of the technical rules on when and how cases can be brought and how much freedom judges have to make decisions.
A variety of terrible
Iowa on Wednesday took the lead in the race to the bottom of the bigotry barrel as Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, giving doctors 180 days to stop treating their transgender patients (and, when possible, refer them to providers in less hateful states). Reynolds, a Republican, overcame mild personal discomfort to sign the bill, telling reporters she didn’t “like it” but had to do “what I believe right now is in the best interest of the kids,” the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.
Very chilly in the Land of Bigotry
There is no creative way to introduce yet another newsletter about hateful assaults on LGBTQ+ equality. There is no good spin to put on 429 bills attacking people simply for existing, particularly when the vast majority of those bills take aim at literal children who are already more at risk for things like bullying, depression and suicide. At this point, the attack simply is what it is: Widespread, coordinated, and ongoing.
We’ll begin rubbernecking the collision of government and criminal justice in Louisiana, where the Public Defender’s Office spent $7.7 million providing legal counsel to people facing the death penalty — even though the state hasn’t executed anyone since 2010, per the Louisiana Illuminator.
Deny, deny, deny
Eventually, one hopes, denial will become impossible. It’s hard to imagine, for example, parroting the myth of the “good guy with a gun” after last year’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where police waited more than an hour to enter the classroom where a gunman armed with an AR-15 rifle killed 19 children and two teachers. The reason? The rifle, according to a Texas Tribune review of police body cameras, emergency communications and previously unreleased interviews.
So here’s the good news: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed a bill expanding the state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ceremony capped decades of work by advocates and lawmakers, who began trying to enshrine LGBTQ+ rights in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act when it was first enacted in 1976, the Michigan Advance reported.
It gives and then it takes
Since we’re extremely familiar with the anti-LGBTQ+ bills here at the Evening Wrap, we’ll start there — or more specifically, in Montana, where Senate Republicans on Wednesday approved a bill that would define “sex” based on reproductive organs, effectively eliminating legal recognition of nonbinary and transgender people. Six Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure, which one lawmaker characterized as among the most extreme anti-LGBTQ+ proposals in the country, per the Daily Montanan.
Lather, bigotry, repeat
Republicans, laser-focused on protecting children by making life harder for children, are continuing to outpace their own pathetic precedent. In the last two weeks, they’ve introduced an additional 65 bills, bringing the national tally to a gobsmacking 420. Just 52 of those have been defeated. Nine have been signed into law; 17 have been introduced but not advanced. The rest — 338 bills — are still progressing through state legislatures.