This Week in Statehouse Action: Counterprogramming edition

I have a present for you.

It’s this.

You can read it instead of watching (or while watching, as a distraction) Trump’s RNC speech tonight.

I mean, let’s be real—it’s a much better use of your time all around.

This: Contains facts.

That: Contains outright lies.

This: Has bad jokes.

That: Has racisms.

This: Can be read to yourself in any voice you like (personally, I prefer Nathan Fillion as my internal narrator).

That: Can only be heard in Trump Yells.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Even though Republicans are holding their national convention this week, not all is sunshine and roses in GOP-land.

In fact, there’s some serious R-on-R violence astir in Ohio at the moment.

Campaign Action
  • And no, I’m not even talking about the state’s former governor who addressed last week’s Democratic convention.
  • Three GOP state House members have drawn up articles of impeachment against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine because they’re mad about how he’s been handing the coronavirus epidemic.
    • … which, frankly, he’s been doing a lot more competently than many of his fellow GOP governors.
  • GOP Reps. John Becker, Nino Vitale, and Paul Zeltwanger joined right-wing forces this week to sponsor an impeachment resolution detailing 10 specific articles against DeWine, including claims that he
    • Violated separation of powers by having the state health department issue orders “tantamount to creating new laws”
    • “Conspired” with the secretary of state to cancel the March 17 primary and move it to June (lawmakers eventually passed legislation setting an April 28 all-mail primary)
    • Unconstitutionally ordered businesses to close to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which “resulted in record-high unemployment,” which increased “poverty,” “depression,” “despair,” and “suicides” but also required state budget cuts
    • Usurped the state board of education’s power by ordering schools to shut down and then “violat[ing] students’ civil liberties” by requiring them to wear face coverings when schools reopened
    • “Prove[d] his incompetence” by providing “misleading COVID-19 data”
    • Violated Ohioans’ due process rights and civil liberties by issuing a stay-at-home order
    • Somehow violated the First Amendment by requiring Ohioans to wear face masks in houses of worship (and all other indoor spaces)
    • “Promote[d] fear” by issuing a face mask requirement.
  • These three genius lawmakers also set forth the inane lie that face coverings render the wearer somehow “more likely to infect themselves with COVID-19.”

Since both the state’s Democratic and Republican parties are denouncing the impeachment attempt, it’s fair to anticipate that these three extremists won’t be able to muster the House majority and Senate supermajority required to remove DeWine from office.

  • In fact, the Ohio GOP chair called the move “a baseless, feeble attempt at creating attention for themselves.”

… not that feeble, I guess. I’m not the only one writing about it.

  • Republican Rep. Nino Vitale made some other news this week, too.
    • Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose filed a campaign finance complaint with the state elections commission accusing Vitale of, among other things,
      • Failing to keep a strict account of all campaign contributions
      • Failing to disclose all expenditures above $25
      • Failing to deposit all contributions into an account that wasn’t for personal or business use
      • Using campaign resources for his personal business when he
        • converted his campaign website, email marketing program, and social media accounts for his own use and
        • used his campaign account to pay for Facebook ads promoting his shooting classes on his personal gun range.
    • Vitale thinks LaRose is out to get him because of the impeachment resolution against DeWine.

let them fight dot gif

Elsewhere ...

  • The Milwaukee Bucks made some excellent headlines this week after their extremely righteous move to go on a sudden wildcat strike instead of taking the court for a playoff game in protest of racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of a Kenosha cop shooting an unarmed Black man seven times in the back last weekend.
    • Something that made fewer headlines, however, was the team’s substantive followup on their show-stopping activism.
      • The team also issued a statement on Wednesday calling out Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature for “months of inaction” on bills addressing police accountability and criminal justice reform.
        • The state’s GOP leaders have said nothing in response to the Bucks’ call and have refused reporters’ requests for comment on the matter.
    • Relatedly, earlier this week, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to convene this Monday specifically to consider nine bills related to police reforms and training he proposed back in June.
      • Lawmakers will meet, but the Republican-majority chambers could vote to adjourn as soon as they gavel in because they’re classy that way.
  • In Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislature is responding to “glitches” in the state’s new mail-in voting law by … trying to make it harder to vote by mail.
    • Specifically, Republicans are pushing a proposal that would cut the amount of time voters have to request a mail-in ballot and limit the locations at which voters to hand-deliver their ballots prior to Election Day.

I mean, of course the GOP is trying to game the system in a closely-contested swing state like Pennsylvania.

It’s not clever, but it’s smart.

… but not everyone is up to no good.

  • Last week in Virginia, state lawmakers convened in a landmark special session and are continuing to advance legislation to reform police practices in the commonwealth.
    • But the session wasn’t noteworthy just because of the subject matter.
      • For the first time in over 400 years, the General Assembly tried a new way of convening.
      • Specifically, the House of Delegates held a virtual session.
        • The endeavor met with some hiccups, though—Republican members complained of lost connections and the system itself was described as “balky.”
        • But in light of the dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic-majority chamber was eager to try something new—despite GOP members’ foot dragging.
    • Because Republican delegates refused to immediately get on board with the change, legislative action in the House is off to a slow start.
      • The much smaller (40 vs. 100) state Senate opted to meet in person (with many precautions in place).
        • But that choice brought its own coronavirus-related consequence when GOP Sen. Bryce Reeves revealed this week that he’s tested positive for COVID-19.
          • Reeves reported experiencing “mild symptoms” during the special session’s three days last week.
      • Meanwhile, since Republican Sen. Amanda Chase refuses to wear a mask because of an alleged medical condition, Senate staffers constructed a Plexiglass box around her desk to keep her from potentially infecting her colleagues.
    • Despite all this drama, police reform legislation is actually making headway.
      • On Wednesday, the Senate approved (on a party-line vote) a measure allowing judges and juries to consider lesser offenses (i.e. misdemeanors) for someone who, say, shoves an officer (as opposed to the felony charge from a shooting or stabbing).
        • Currently, any “assault” on a cop is a felony that carries a mandatory six-month minimum sentence.
      • In the House, committees are advancing measures that would ban tear gas and rubber bullets, prohibit police departments from acquiring surplus military gear, and establish “community care teams” to accompany officers when responding to a mental health crisis.

While ending the garbage legal doctrine of qualified immunity for cops (which protects them from personal liability for their actions) is, sadly, not on the table in Virginia, stay tuned for some actual reforms to emerge from the newly-Democratic legislature in the coming weeks.

While some lawmakers are hard at work doing the business of the people in the middle of a pandemic, others are … hardly working.

  • Many are running for reelection, which, you know, makes sense, since we’re a couple of months away from Election Day.
    • But some Republicans would rather party with lobbyists on the beach than actually connect with their constituents or help their states deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic or work to address racism and police brutality.
  • This week, the Republican State Leadership Committee (the GOP party organization tasked with election Republican state legislators, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, and judges across the country) met at a Georgia resort at Sea Island for their annual Summer Meeting.

These sorts of “meetings” are nothing new, and they certainly aren’t unique to the GOP.

  • In the middle of a pandemic, though, when you’re almost guaranteed to take germs you didn’t arrive with back to your respective home states?
  • In a huge COVID-19 hot spot?

Seems pretty clear that one party is actually taking the coronavirus seriously this election season, and it ain’t the GOP.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning in!

Now go do something nice for yourself.

A snack.

A beverage.

A stretch.

A call to someone special.

An animal ear-scratch.

A fitness.

Whatever floats your boat (including actually floating a boat).

Just take good care of you.

You’re important, and we need you.