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This Week in Statehouse Action: Doldrums edition

August is winding down, but statehouse action is …; not.

And I”;m not even talking about Virginia, which has gubernatorial and state House elections this fall!

(And if you”;re fretting that I haven”;t done a deep dive into that landscape yet, fear not, erudite reader–;I will absolutely be talking about the Commonwealth at length in the near future.)

But for the moment, let us, despite the heat, return to Texas.

Broken Drum: …; which is also what many House Democrats have done.

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Yes, Democratic Texas state representatives have finally ended their epic quorum break.

…; for now.

After weaponizing their absence for some six weeks to stall the passage of voter suppression legislation, bills targeting transgender kids, and measures dictating how history is taught in local schools (among other reprehensible proposals), enough Lone Star State Dems returned to Austin this week to give the chamber the 99+ member quorum needed to actually conduct business.

While some both within and without the Democratic caucus were extremely unhappy about this development, Abbott faces no barriers to making good on his threat to keep calling special sessions until he gets his voter suppression bill passed.

Were Texas Democrats just supposed to spend the rest of the year away from home? Their families and friends? Their livelihoods?

So really, it was only a matter of time.

And what”;s to stop Democrats from walking out and denying Republicans a quorum yet again before this special session ends?

Anyway, the House began debate on the voter suppression bill (which has already passed the state Senate) on Thursday.

GOP House Speaker Dade Phelan kicked off the debate on SB1 by saying he “;would appreciate members not using the word “;racism”;”; which, helpfully, served to highlight how racist this legislation really is.

The legislature has barely more than a week to wrap up its business before the special session ends

…; or doesn”;t, since Abbott seems to enjoy wasting taxpayer dollars on these extra sessions to pass his pet proposals.

Beat of Your Drum: And with democracy imperiled in Texas, it”;s time to return to Arizona, where the pro-Trump “;Cyber Ninjas”; STILL haven”;t reported to the GOP-controlled state Senate on the results of the bogus “;audit”; of Maricopa County”;s 2020 ballots.

“;Cyber Ninjas”; (sorry, still can”;t type that with a straight face) was supposed to share its “;audit”; report on Monday, but the company said it couldn”;t do so because several members of the team preparing the report were sick with COVID-19.

can”;t make this shit up

Republican senators were hoping for a least a draft …; or a partial draft … or anything this week.

As of this writing, the Cyber Ninjas are, for once, being as quiet as actual ninjas and haven”;t submitted so much as a rough outline to the folks who hired them to execute this dirty deed.

Meanwhile, GOP Senate President Karen Fann isn”;t done trying to somehow prove that Joe Biden didn”;t get more votes than Donald Trump in Maricopa County.

Fann is in search of another company willing to review signatures on the county”;s mail-in ballots.

The results of this signature review are supposed to somehow be a part of the final “;audit”; report, which should also include:

Ninjas’ conclusions on the review of the ballots cast last fall for president and U.S. Senate in Maricopa County, and
The results of a machine count of the number of ballots cast.

The “;audit,”; which was supposed to wrap up in a month and is now in its fifth, stumbles on!

Bang the Drum All Day: And it has echoes!

In Pennsylvania, where Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf can veto the GOP-controlled legislature”;s bills but can’t actually keep them from acting like anti-democratic asshats, another 2020 election “;audit”; seems to be in the offing.

But even before it gets going, Pennsylvania”;s version of this “;audit”; has been beset by DRAMA.

Republican Sen. Doug Mastriano, who you may recall was present at the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, visited the Arizona audit site, and has been banging the “;stolen election”; drum from go, apparently pissed off Senate President Jake Corman so badly with his grandstanding and public criticism of the GOP leader that Corman booted him from this so-called “;election integrity”; effort.

Mastriano has been replaced by Republican Sen. Cris Dush, who, despite being in the apparent good graces of his leader, is no more rational than Mastriano.
After all, Dush also was part of the Pennsylvania pilgrimage to the Arizona site.

GOP attempts to copy-paste the Arizona “;audit”; debacle to Pennsylvania continue. Stay tuned!

Different Drum: Let”;s wrap with something a little more forward-looking …; if no more optimistic than anything above.

As an erudite consumer of this missive, you”;re acutely aware that the redistricting process is both under way and going to be Very Not Good for Democrats.

In Wisconsin, Republicans are already hard at work stacking the deck even more in their favor.

The GOP-controlled legislature is chafing at the prospect of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers having veto power over the Republican-friendly maps they want, and it”;s reasonable to expect that an impasse between the two parties will result in a court deciding where those state and federal district lines will ultimately go.

But which court?

Republicans have already filed a lawsuit seeking to skew the playing field in their favor by ensuring that any court actions regarding redistricting are handled by Wisconsin”;s state Supreme Court, which just happens to be weighted 4-3 in conservatives”; favor.
Democrats have filed a suit in federal court that similarly seeks to have that court draw new maps in the (likely) event of a redistricting impasse.

And this is all before anyone”;s proposed an actual map!

The courts are going to be just lousy with redistricting-related lawsuits for the next several years.

Buckle up!

Welp, that”;s a wrap for this week! Thanks for taking the time to check in on the wild world of state politics.

Now go do something nice for yourself.

Even if it”;s super small.

You”;ve gotta take care of you.

You”;re important.

We need you.

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