Here’s hoping you’re having a lovely Independence Day week! But statehouse action takes NO vacations (although sometimes a vacation turns out to be statehouse action—just ask Chris Christie about his little beach getaway while New Jersey’s government was shut down), so slather on some sunscreen and soak it in.
Virginia (Beach) is for lovers: Everyone knows (right? right???) that the Commonwealth will elect a new governor and that all 100 House of Delegates seats are on the ballot this fall.
A race that’s getting decidedly little attention, however, is the contest for attorney general.
- Current Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring is running for re-election (fun fact! governor is the only office in Virginia that can’t be held for consecutive terms), and he’s being challenged by Some Lawyer John Adams (no relation ..?).
- In a recent Q&A, this first-time candidate for anything gave what I’m officially dubbing TWISA’s Quote of the Week (Weak?):
Unlike a lot of other offices people run for, attorney general is a real and serious job ….
How about me? I’ve been a lawyer my whole life … I can run things. Why don’t we try that?
But while we’re talking about Virginia’s less-than-A-List GOP candidates, and since July 4th was just a couple of days ago, I want to pause and recognize this amazing/awkward video in which GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie whines about that greatest of all hardships faced by citizens of the Commonwealth: the inability to purchase extremely dangerous fireworks.
- Explosive Ed taps into the fireworks envy he seems to think plagues all Virginians this time of year (if only 12-year-olds could vote!) and bemoans the “pretty rinky-dink” fireworks we’re forced to settle for.
- Then he reveals he’s actually filming this Virginia campaign ad in Tennessee and (apparently) sets up a bunch of those fancy out-of-state fireworks in the middle of some random road to demonstrate what we’re missing out on.
- He also asserts that relaxing fireworks restrictions would “create thousands of jobs,” a line he delivers so haltingly that it’s pretty clear he doesn’t even believe this silly claim himself.
- Ed “Hey Look At Me I Can Be Fun” Gillespie then pledges that he would fight to make it legal for “adult individuals” (sorry, 12-year-olds) to purchase big things that go boom before setting off a bunch of those illegal-in-Virginia fireworks in the middle of that poor, unsuspecting rural Tennessee byway.
So congrats to Ed “Firecracker” Gillespie for finally coming up with his campaign’s Big Policy Proposal.
Good luck riding that rocket to Richmond!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, California has just taken a big step forward toward kicking a whole lot of sand in the Trump administration’s face.
- A measure that would make California a “sanctuary state” has just sailed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee, placing just one step away from a full Assembly vote (it's already passed the state Senate).
- Essentially, the measure places the burden of enforcing federal immigration laws on federal officials.
- The bill prevents state and local authorities from having to comply with federal immigration authorities, prevents ICE agents from going into jails to deport undocumented prisoners, and limits federal immigration officials’ access to certain state databases. California authorities would still be able to respond to ICE inquiries about convicted violent offenders.
The measure enjoys broad support, would protect the state’s economy, and is expected to pass the full legislature soon.
And while we’re enjoying Pacific beaches and strong Democratic state governments, let’s check in on Oregon, where—
- Oh hey! The Democratic governor is about to sign a measure passed by the Democratic-majority House and Senate that will require insurance companies to cover reproductive health services (including contraception, abortions, post-partum care, and screenings for STIs and reproductive-system cancers) at no cost to patients.
Fun fact! Democrats in California passed a similar measure into law a few years back.
- Debate on the measure got pretty heated. Republicans got hung up on the abortion piece, even though the measure “only expand[s] access to rights that already exist” in Oregon.
- Democrats, on the other hand, touted the positive long-term fiscal impacts of the bill, pointing to the long-term social service costs of unintended pregnancies and lack of preventative care for STIs and cancer.
Okay, let’s check out those Atlantic coast beaches again. …
Ugh. Everything is terrible in North Carolina.
- The GOP-controlled general assembly has adjourned the legislative session for the year, but only sort of.
- Republicans have already scheduled return trips to Raleigh in August and September to do important stuff like:
- override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes;
- re-draw the unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered state legislative maps in a way that preserves their artificially inflated, veto-proof majorities;
- impeach Democratic Secretary of State Elaine Marshall for literally no reason (except, I guess, that they can’t seem to unseat her via the ballot box);
- gerrymander judicial districts to enable the election of more Republican judges and district attorneys, thus removing the last vestige of a check on the power of the GOP-controlled legislature.
But there’s this thing North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers don’t plan to address when they come back and just couldn’t seem to make time for during their nearly six months of session: outlawing a certain type of sexual assault.
- You see, because of a 1979 court decision, “no” doesn’t actually mean “no” in North Carolina if you say it after you’ve already said “yes” to sex.
- The decision created a sort of “loophole” in the state’s sexual assault statutes that prevent someone from being charged with rape for continuing to engage in a sexual act after a partner revokes consent to that act.
- A Democrat introduced super simple legislation to fix this back in April, but Republicans have let the bill languish in committee.
- Moreover, GOP Senate Leader Phil Berger just doesn’t see how this legal form of rape “is the problem that you are saying it is, that it has not come up until now,” this now is such a big deal, since no one’s done anything about for over 30 years. (Except that the same Democrat introduced legislation to fix this back in 2015, but the bill went nowhere.)
So, in sort of beach-read version, Republicans have pledged to pursue multiple power-grabby items in their upcoming special sessions but have no plans to make rape illegal this year. Great job, y’all!
And on that note of sunshine, I’m off to work on my tan, except not really, because cancer.
Until next week, enjoy your hot fun in the summertime!