This week at progressive state blogs: Women leaders take charge in MI; Medicaid expansion in OK?

At The Bayou Brief of Louisiana, Sue Lincoln writes—Not Ready, Eddie: Rispone Lays an Egg

Businessman Eddie Rispone was fortunate to have a friendly crowd last Thursday, as he started making the organizational luncheon circuit in his gubernatorial campaign. Speaking to the East Baton Rouge Republican Women, the 70-year-old Republican remarked, “I have to remember I’m speaking to conservatives, ladies, Republicans, and half my family is here today. So I can say what I want about our Governor.” And he generated some appreciative laughter from the luncheon group.

state blogs, The Bayou Brief

He was fortunate to have that uncritically receptive partisan audience, for his campaign platform—at least as he’s iterating it now—boils down to “the Governor ticked me off by not doing what my friends and I want, so we’re going to replace him.”

It was an unexceptional speech; light on policy proposals, though heavy on the sense of being slighted by – and unappreciated by – the current resident of the Governor’s mansion.

Rispone said his first major problem with John Bel Edwards was when “the governor, in his first session, tried to cut $4-million out of the Louisiana Scholarship Program.” Having been a huge supporter of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reforms, and the voucher program in particular, Rispone admits he took it personally.

“That’s not a governor that’s going to put the children first,” Rispone said in his speech. “Mothers were so upset that several of them went on TV in New Orleans and Baton Rouge to say, ‘Governor, you lied’. And God taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘Hey, Eddie, what are you going to do about the children? What about them?’”

What Eddie did, of course, was arrange and pay for the ads that put those moms on TV. He didn’t mention that part to the lunch crowd, though, nor that – ultimately – the voucher program’s funding has remained intact.


At BlueNC, scharrison writes— Mark Meadows is even more of an idiot than you thought:

He doesn’t understand how Parliaments work, but he likes them (now):

So he began reading about how coalition governments work in countries with parliamentary systems. He has been studying how other minority parties worked when dealing with a powerful House majority, what strategy they can employ and which moves have an impact. So far, those tactics have been relatively tame.

Angry about the wording of a resolution condemning federal government shutdowns, Meadows’s allies forced a vote asking to adjourn the House on Tuesday — it received just 14 votes. “I’ve been preparing for this for six months, so just stay tuned,” he told reporters just off the House floor Wednesday afternoon.

Bolding mine, because the Freedom Caucus has some 35 members, but meadows only got 14 votes with his little stunt. And now a quick primer on coalition governments: While the larger parties need small groups to push them over the plurality threshold, those groups are only valuable if they can deliver their (own) votes to said coalition on controversial issues. And there is (theoretically) a give and take, in which the coalition will support that small group on a handful of “must have” issues. Even if it was a relevant comparison to the U.S. House (it isn’t), Meadows just shot himself in the foot by proving he can’t deliver all the Freedom Caucus’ votes. Not even half of that sad little number. 

At Delaware Liberal, Jason330 writes—AOC & Markey to introduce “Green New Deal” Legislation:

Delaware Liberal

Here is the thing about the buzz this proposal will get. …With AOC it is like regular people finally have a representative in Congress. Have you ever felt represented by Chris Coons? I haven’t. Have you ever felt represented by Tom Carper or Lisa Blunt Rochester? Nope. They have their constituents, but unless you are a board member of a bank – you ain’t their constituent.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) are set to unveil legislation laying out a “Green New Deal” as soon as next week, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: A spokeswoman for Markey confirmed the offices are working on legislation, but said there is no final text and timing isn’t final yet for next week. A request to Ocasio-Cortez’s office wasn’t immediately returned. Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, also said legislation is due as soon as Wednesday or Thursday of next week. The youth-led group has been at the forefront of the Green New Deal movement

The big picture: The Green New Deal is a set of vague, but broad progressive policy goals seeking to transform the economy in the name of fighting climate change. It has risen from obscurity to prominence since the November election, with Ocasio-Cortez, a rising progressive star, leading the charge. Democrats eyeing presidential runs — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris — are backing the general concept of the Green New Deal, which is sure to play a role in the 2020 primary

At Eclectablog of Michigan, Chris Savage writes—The new women leaders of Michigan are showing Democrats EVERYWHERE how to get down to the business of governing:

In 2018, over half of the Democratic candidates for the state legislature and Congress who won their primary and went on to the general election in Michigan were women. When you talk about women finally getting parity in terms of high elected office (or ANY elected office, for that matter), there’s only one political party who is even close to making that a reality: Democrats. And nowhere were they more profoundly successful in 2018 than in Michigan.

state blogs, eclectablog

Our new state leaders are all women. Gretchen Whitmer, a veteran leader of the state legislature is now our governor, replacing a man who had never held elected office before becoming governor. Dana Nessel, a household name for anyone who cares about marriage equality in this country, is our Attorney General, replacing one of the most odious homophobes in America. Jocelyn Benson, a woman who literally wrote a book about state Secretaries of State and is a leader in campaign finance and election reform, is now our Secretary of State. These three women could not be a more radical departure from their predecessors.

But more important than the fact that Michigan government is largely run exclusively by women, these women have done something rarely seen in Democrats: after winning an election and retaking power from Republicans, they have hit the ground running in ways many of us never anticipated. Instead of sitting around wondering what to do next once they got elected, something Democrats have an amazing talent for, Whitmer, Nessel, and Benson are getting straight to the business of governing. Though Republicans still control the state legislature, this team is shrewdly using their new power in smart and impressive ways.

At Blue Stem Prairie of Minnesota and South Dakota, Sally Jo Sorensen writes—Public Safety hears MMIW [Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women] bill today; yesterday, House GOP games would have stopped it:

This afternoon at 12:45, the Minnesota House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division will hear HF70, Mary Kunesh-Podein’s bipartisan bill to create and fund a task force to address the national disgrace of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.: 

Readers can watch the hearing here and read the committee documents here:

Bluestem Prairie blog

But had Republicans had their way yesterday, the bill would have been referred to another committee–and not heard today. This House floor game with this bill illustrates clearly that the both House Republican caucuses are only interested in  political ankle-biting, not in creating more transparency for citizens, by pulling a bill that’s gotten media attention, from a committee the afternoon before it was to be heard.

One of the complaints Republicans are making is that under a new committee system, Greater Minnesotans planning to testify won’t know about last-minute shuffles and will be unable to plan the long trip to St. Paul–or even follow the bills. MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan looked at the fight in How new rules for the Minnesota House signal the downfall of democracy. Or not. (We have no problem following bills now–though it was difficult, as Callaghan writes, to learn what happened to language laid on the table and crunched–or not–into omnibus bills)

Apparently, the plans of Minnesotans coming from Northern Minnesota Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) reservations or Dakota communities along the Upper Minnesota River Valley didn’t matter yesterday afternoon. Only the Republican time-wasting over talking points. At 6:05 into the session, Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, moved to pull the bill from the committee in which it will be heard today at 12:45. That’s less than a 24 hour notice

At Dakota Free Press, Cory Allen Heidelberger writes—HB 1197 Redundant with Existing Vandalism Law, May Lower Punishment for Destroying Public Monuments:

Here’s another needless bill from our legislators. The Republican mother-son team of Rep. Lana and Sen. Brock Greenfield offer House Bill 1197, a measure intended to punish anyone who “damages, destroys, or defaces any monument, statue, or memorial designated as a historical or cultural landmark….”

Dakota Free Press

I haven’t heard what rash of monument-busting the Greenfields may have in mind, but given the assortment of radical right-wingers backing this bill (Brunner, Frye-Mueller, Phil Jensen, Stace Nelson, Stalzer…), I get the sneaking suspicion that somewhere in South Dakota there’s some Confederate plaque or statue of Custer that some white Trumpist snowflake is worried will be subjected to the proper disrespect or displacement.

The language seems overly broad; if the Greenfields and their co-sponsors were worried about regular vandalism, we already have a law, SDCL 22-34-1, which prohibits and punishes unauthorized injury, damage, and destruction of property, public and private, whether or not it has historical or cultural significance.

If HB 1197 is intended to replace the existing vandalism law in cases dealing with significant monuments, statues, and memorials, it would actually reduce the penalty for all but the piddliest of such mischief:

At Blog for Iowa, Dave Bradley writes—A Good Day To Talk About Climate Change:

My own daughter looked at me one day a couple of years ago and asked me a question that I was afraid she would ask one day? “What the hell were you guys thinking? Why did you ruin the climate? Why wasn’t anyone paying attention?” 

Blog for Iowa logo

Well it is a not an answer, but our attention was diverted to questions like war and peace and homelessness and inequality. We couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Now we are all paying for it. Our youngest generation will be paying most dearly. With that in mind, give a listen to young Greta Thurnberg of Sweden as she lets the wealthy gathered in Davos earlier this month have a piece of her mind: (6 minutes)

“I don’t want you to hope. I want you to panic as if your house is on fire, because it is!”

The young are becoming aware and they are mad. But they haven’t given up. Giving up is the very wrong thing to do. Fighting back against the causes of climate change with the ferocity that we waged World War 2. We have but a few years left to fight. One of the most promising ideas to come along is the Green New Deal as espoused by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (2 minutes)

But what can you and I do? One of the very best things that every person can do is change their diet. The Guardian reports on warnings issued by the British medical journal the Lancet on how typical western diets are a big contributor to climate problems as well as health problems

At Appalachian Voices, Clarisse Hayle writes—In Tennessee, electric bill fees hurt customers:

Noticed something different about your electric bills? Across the state of Tennessee, electric bills are getting more expensive, and it’s not necessarily because people are using more energy. It’s because of the increases of fixed fees.

state blogs

Fixed fees are a preset charge that customers must pay to a utility. These fees are applied before any energy is used, in addition to the amount customers pay per kilowatt hour. Sometimes customers can see a fixed fee on their bill, but oftentimes this charge is not easily seen.

Fixed fees for ratepayers in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area are likely to increase every year, in accordance with the Grid Access Charge (GAC) set by TVA in 2018. Because of this new policy, increases in TVA’s fixed fees are not required to go through a public input process, which means energy costs could continuously rise with no oversight from the people paying the bills.

At the Knoxville Utility Board (KUB), fixed fees have been steadily increasing for the last several years. The fixed fees pose serious issues to the implementation of renewable energies like solar power. While KUB does provide an option for customers to use solar, the company’s fees means there is not much money to be saved.

Over the next ten years, KUB has proposed to raise its fixed fees annually between $1 and $1.50 per month. The fee has already risen by $1.50 every year for the last two years. Currently, KUB customers are paying a fixed charge of $19, before using any energy. By the end of the 10-year plan, the projected fixed charge could be as high as $30 per month. This is a 300% increase from the overall cost of KUB utility bills in 2010.

At The Last Ogle of Oklahoma, Patrick writes—Kevin Stitt now wants to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma…

Earlier today, Governor Kevin Stitt announced that he’s open to expanding Medicaid – a federal socialist program that, according to my uncle, will make people more dependent on the gub’ment, bankrupt the nation and lead to the downfall of American society – in Oklahoma.

state blogs

The news is kind of a big deal because…

A) Republicans in Oklahoma have aggressively blocked and opposed any proposal to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under Obamacare, and

B) Kevin Stitt said things like this over the summer while on the campaign trail: “I do not support expanding Medicaid … Obamacare is a disastrous law that Congress should repeal and replace with a solution that encourages a competitive business climate to drive down cost for all Oklahomans and increase health care options.”

Geeze, it’s funny how being elected into office and getting a temporary reprieve from pandering to Derplahoman voters can change someone’s opinion on things.

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