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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 46,293

About Me

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

State of Arkansas and Crawford County sued over library obscenity law

The Central Arkansas Library System and 17 other plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit Friday against both the state and Crawford County, alleging that two sections of a new law that directly affects library operations are unconstitutional.

Act 372 of 2023 alters libraries’ material reconsideration processes and creates criminal liability for librarians who distribute content that some consider “obscene” or “harmful to minors.” Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the law in March, and it is set take effect Aug. 1.

The lawsuit claims Act 372 “imposes a content-based restriction on speech,” “fails to provide clear notice as to what acts are criminalized,” and gives “unfettered discretion to quorum courts and city councils to decide whether materials are ‘appropriate’ without any definite procedural safeguards or standards.”

These portions of the law therefore violate the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.


CT legislature votes to ban child marriages

Hours after a group of advocates dressed in wedding dresses, with chains around their wrists and tape over their mouth, gathered outside the Capitol Friday morning to urge state lawmakers to pass a bill that would ban child marriages, the Senate unanimously approved the measure.

“I stand in support of this very important piece of legislation that also impacts my family greatly,” said Sen. Herron Gaston, D-Bridgeport. “My eldest sister was married to a gentleman who was 50 years old only when she was 17 years of age in the beautiful island of St. Lucia. I’ve seen the devastating impact it had on her physically and how it deprived her of her innocence and of her childhood. She bore five children from this marriage and eventually had to flee from the island of St. Lucia and move down to Florida to get away from her abuser.”

Current state statute allows children 16 and older to get married. However, House Bill 6569, which passed out of the House 98-45 in early May and now awaits final approval from Gov. Ned Lamont, would raise the legal age to marry to 18 without exceptions.

Like Gaston, other lawmakers argued that child marriages trap teenagers in a legally binding contract they’re unable to get out of and often can lead to abuse.


MS: 'The funding just isn't there': Yazoo health department reopens two days a week

The Yazoo County Health Department will reopen next week after nearly nine months.

As Mississippi’s health care infrastructure continues to crumble, the reopening could mean more access to health care in Yazoo County.

However, what services will be offered is unclear. The Mississippi State Department of Health’s communications department declined to answer specific questions about the health care services provided at the Yazoo health department, instead directing Mississippi Today to a general list of services offered at county health departments.

Spokespeople did not respond by press time as to whether all of the listed services, which include breast and cervical cancer, domestic violence and rape, and other services for women and mothers, are offered at Yazoo in particular.


NJ: Governor Murphy calls on textbook publishers not to censor educational texts

As lawmakers nationwide push to limit the types of books that can be found in schools, Gov. Phil Murphy joined nine other governors to fight censorship of textbooks in a letter released Friday.

Murphy, along with other Democratic governors, called on textbook publishers to “hold the line” and refuse to water down their educational materials at the behest of Republican lawmakers and conservative parents.

“If we are to continue striving for a more perfect union, then we must carry out our duty of ensuring future generations understand our full history as well as the contributions of all its people. That includes learning from our mistakes. These lessons are vital to preparing our youth to fully engage in a free and fair democracy,” the governors wrote in the letter.

They added: “Sanitizing our educational texts for the mercurial comfort of a few today ultimately limits the next generation’s ability to make informed decisions for themselves.”


NC elections board preps for voter ID, braces for more, potentially expensive, requirements

The state Board of Elections voted Friday to expedite the creation of voter photo ID rules to have them ready for upcoming municipal elections.

While they’re preparing to enforce the voter ID law, elections administrators are working to decipher proposed elections changes Senate Republicans filed Thursday.

The state Board voted unanimously to begin adoption of temporary rules for photo ID. After seeing how those rules work, the board can move to make permanent rules, said Board member Stacy “Four” Eggers.

Getting temporary rules approved doesn’t take as long as enacting permanent rules, and elections officials are in a “time crunch” to get rules in place and train poll workers, said Paul Cox, the board’s general counsel.

The first municipal primaries are scheduled for September 12 in Charlotte and Sanford, and absentee voting starts a month before, he said.


Former Kansas Senate majority leader blames failure to expand Medicaid on Catholic Church

TOPEKA — A former Senate majority leader blamed the state’s failure to expand Medicaid in 2020 on religious anti-abortion lobbyists, with the pivotal bill “single-handedly torpedoed” by a Kansas City archbishop.

Jim Denning, in an interview for the Kansas Oral History Project, said Aarchbishop Joseph Naumann “basically stopped Medicaid expansion.”

“So if you were an opponent of Medicaid expansion, then he’s your guy. If you were a proponent, you’re mad at him,” Denning said. “He single-handedly torpedoed the bill because he said, ‘You can’t vote for Medicaid expansion until the abortion amendment passes with the public.’ So he killed it. It never came out of committee.”

A spokesperson for the Kansas Catholic Church and leader of a Medicaid expansion advocacy group disputed comments made by Denning about the fate of Medicaid expansion in 2019 and 2020, when Denning controlled the Senate’s legislative calendar.

Alan Conroy, executive director of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, conducted the interview with Denning on April 13. The Kansas Oral History Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving state history. The project released several new interviews with lawmakers as part of a series on the Statehouse.


TX: Gov. Greg Abbott signs legislation barring trans youth from accessing transition-related care

Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Friday a bill that bars transgender kids from getting puberty blockers and hormone therapies, though the new law could face legal challenges before it takes effect on Sept. 1.

Senate Bill 14’s passage brings to the finish line a legislative priority for the Republican Party of Texas, which opposes any efforts to validate transgender identities. Trans kids, their parents and LGBTQ advocacy groups fiercely oppose the law, and some have vowed to stop it from going into effect.

Texas — home to one of the largest trans communities in the U.S. — is now one of 18 states that restrict transition-related care for trans minors.

“Cruelty has always been the point,” said Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas. “It’s not shocking that this governor would sign SB14 right at the beginning of Pride [Month]; however this will not stop trans people from continuing to exist with authenticity — as we always have.”

Authored by New Braunfels Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell, the law bars trans kids from getting puberty blockers and hormone therapies, treatments many medical groups support. Children already receiving these treatments will have to be “weaned off” in a “medically appropriate” manner. The law also bans transition-related surgeries for kids, though those are rarely performed on minors.


There is no 'practice of filming pornography' in Arizona schools

A Republican state senator is urging the Arizona governor to sign a bill that would end the “practice of filming pornography in K-12 schools,” something that is currently not allowed or encouraged at public schools in the state.

Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, put out a statement earlier this week asking Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs to sign his Senate Bill 1696, which would make it illegal for sexually explicit acts to be filmed or facilitated on property owned, leased or managed by the state or any other government entity in Arizona.

But the bill also stops workers for any government agency in the state from referring minors to sexually explicit materials, which could stop public librarians from referring teens to some classic works of literature and even informative books about reproduction and puberty.

“I think we are in good order to cover both topics at once,” Hoffman said during a Senate Government committee meeting in February. “I don’t want minors in Arizona being exposed to sexually explicit materials.”

While Hoffman’s recent statement seemed to imply that the filming of pornography at public schools was a widespread issue, the bill is based on one incident in Mohave County last year. The two teachers involved were a married couple who both worked for Lake Havasu Unified School District.


AZ-03: Meet the Dems vying for Gallego's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

Laura Pastor

The most recent addition to the race is the daughter of Gallego’s predecessor, Ed Pastor, who held the CD3 seat from 1991 until his retirement in 2015. The younger Pastor has a long career in elected office herself, with three terms on the Phoenix city council representing the West Valley and areas slightly north of downtown. Those areas lie firmly within the boundaries of the state’s 3rd Congressional district after she oversaw redistricting changes in 2021 that shifted district lines to include them.

Ylenia Aguilar

If elected, Aguilar would be Arizona’s first formerly undocumented congresswoman. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was just a toddler, and suffered repeated housing and food insecurity. Aguilar attended as many as 20 different schools. She discovered her undocumented status in high school, while considering a career in the U.S. Air Force that she was forced to abandon. The single mother of two credits her early adversity with inspiring a personal imperative to voice the struggles of others.

Yassamin Ansari

Phoenix’s Vice-Mayor was one of the first to throw her hat in the ring after Gallego announced his challenge to U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Ansari’s election as the city’s youngest council member in 2021 followed a career in climate change advocacy that included a stint as a policy advisor for the United Nations. Her work on the council includes helping to draft and pass a citywide resolution that deprioritized abortion-related arrests and spearheading efforts to electrify Phoenix’s public transportation.

Hector Jaramillo

Jaramillo traces his activism back to two pivotal incidents that happened at very different times in his life. When he was 4, his father was deported, which he said “opened (his) eyes to the injustices of our current system,” and in his early twenties, while protesting the killing of George Floyd in 2020, a gun was pointed at his head. Jaramillo was disappointed to find not much had changed after the nationwide movement against racial injustice, and realized that things would only improve if more people were allowed at the decision-making table.

Raquel Terán

With a 17-year-long career in Arizona politics, tenures in both the state Senate and House of Representatives and the title of Democratic Party Chair under her belt, Terán is perhaps one of the most experienced candidates in the race to capture Gallego’s seat. Born and raised on the Arizona border in Douglas, she attributes her catapulting into politics to the anti-immigrant rhetoric she grew up around.


NY-22: State Senator John Mannion (D) preparing to run against GOP incumbent Brandon Williams


Jacob Rubashkin
News from me: in DCCC-targeted NY-22, state Sen. John Mannion is putting together the pieces for a bid against GOP Rep. Brandon Williams — bringing on board top pollster + admaker.

This + more in latest issue of @InsideElections, tackling 80 House races:
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