Ohio Closer to Establishing Electric Vehicle Commission

A bill passed in the Ohio House would help the state prepare for a future with electric vehicles.

House Bill 292, which was passed in the House on Thursday, establishes the Electric Vehicle Commission, consisting of elected officials and industry leaders, to study electric vehicle production and the steps needed to take to adapt to potential growth in the industry.

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Republicans, Democrats Still at Odds over Ohio Congressional Maps

Thomas West and Rob McColley

Ohio’s effort to redraw congressional districts bounced back to the General Assembly, where Democrats are calling the Republican proposal heavily gerrymandered and against the wishes of Ohioans who voted for reform in 2018.

State Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, however, said the Republican proposal meets state constitutional requirements.

“It is the product of a deliberate effort to draw compact districts, while keeping Ohio’s largest cities whole,” McColley said in sponsor testimony.

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Tennessee Bill that Allows Partisan Elections for School Board Members Passes Both Chambers, Now Heads To Lee’s Desk for Signing

On Monday, a bill that would allow Tennessee counties to decide if school board elections can be partisan passed both chambers and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

The bill, HB 9072 – SB 9009, “requires elections of school board members to be conducted on a partisan basis.” The legislation also “removes prohibition for a person seeking a position on a school board to campaign as the nominee of a political party and authorizes political parties to nominate candidates for school board membership by any method authorized under the rules of the party or by primary election.”

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General Assembly Keeps Foreign Languages, Home Economics in Ohio Schools

Cleveland Metropolitan School District 8th grade students read with their kindergarten buddies and help the young learners discover the joy of reading.

Foreign languages, business education and home economics still will be a required part of curriculum in Ohio schools after the Ohio Senate voted unanimously to stop a proposal from the Ohio Department of Education that would have allowed them to be eliminated.

The Senate concurred with House Concurrent Resolution 35 to stop a plan that would have changed the state’s administrative code to eliminate those required courses of study, a change put forth by the State Board of Education. The House passed the resolution, 95-0.

Wednesday’s vote marked the first time in 25 years the General Assembly stopped a rule from going into effect, according to Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, who serves on the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

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Third Lawsuit Filed to Stop Ohio’s New Legislative District Map

Two more lawsuits have been filed with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging Republican drawn legislative district maps, claiming they are unconstitutional and gerrymandered.

The most-recent challenge came Monday from the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and was filed by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law and the law firm Reed Smith.

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Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Prisoner Redistricting Law

A law that requires a prison inmate’s most recent address to be used for the purpose of redistricting will remain in effect after the Virginia Supreme Court denied a petition.

Legislation that went into effect last year changed how the prison population was considered when redistricting maps. Before the change, an inmate was counted as a resident of the locality in which the prison was located, but the new law requires he or she be counted as a resident of his or her most recent address, before incarceration, if that person was a resident of Virginia.

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Voting Reform Bill Reintroduced after Pennsylvania Governor’s Veto

Seth Grove and Tom Wolf

The prime sponsor of a vetoed voting reform bill said Friday he reintroduced the measure after Gov. Tom Wolf shifted his public opinion on some components of the legislation over the summer.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, said House Bill 1800 would bolster voting rights “through three broad concepts of increased access, increased security and modernization.” 

“We know access and security are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

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Death Penalty Ban, Other Laws from Legislative Session Take Effect Thursday

Several laws from the Virginia legislature’s session will take effect Thursday, including one groundbreaking law abolishing the death penalty in the state. 

Virginia will be the first southern state to take such a measure. 

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Norment, Saslaw Discuss If Virginia Will Remain Business-Friendly in the Future

In a post-session virtual luncheon hosted by Wason Center Academic Director Quentin Kidd, Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) expressed alarm at erosion of Virginia’s business-friendly status while Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said moderate pro-business senators were helping protect Virginia’s business environment — for now.

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One-Fourth of Bills Passed in 2021 Virginia General Assembly Sessions Passed Along Party Lines

In 2020 and 2021, the Democrat-led General Assembly passed nearly 20 percent more bills through strict party-line votes than in the three previous years when Republicans controlled both chambers. According to a data visualization from the Virginia Public Access Project, in 2020, 24 percent of bills passed were passed along party lines with Democrats voting for and Republicans voting against. In 2021, that number grew to 25 percent. In the Republican controlled sessions of 2017, 2018, and 2019, the percentage of bills passed along party lines was respectively 7.7 percent, 4.7 percent, and 5.7 percent.

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Out-of-Court Settlement Reached to Provide Space for Virginia Legislators to Meet With Constituents

On New Years Eve, Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) struck a deal with leaders of the Virginia General Assembly that will provide space for constituents to meet with legislators near the Capitol grounds even though the Pocahontas Building and Capitol Building remain closed to outsiders due to COVID-19.

DeSteph said the out-of-court settlement was a win. “This will allow citizens, subject matter experts, and other professional staff to meet face-to-face with legislators during the upcoming regular session. This is a huge victory for the First Amendment and for open access to government for all Virginians,” the press release states.

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Bedford County Passes Resolution Opposing Repeal of Qualified Immunity

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors (BOS) unanimously passed a resolution repudiating efforts to repeal qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that provides extra protection to law enforcement officers from personal liability while on-duty unless they commit willful misconduct. An effort to repeal qualified immunity was defeated in the Virginia Senate during the recent special session.

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Governor Northam Signs Revised State Budget

Governor Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s new biennial budget, according to a Wednesday press release. The budget is the product of a recent months-long Special Session held by the General Assembly and features key provisions for homeowners, children, and businesses.

“This budget gives us the tools we need to contend with the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic,” Northam said in a press release.

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Fear Drives Record Gun Sales

Virginia is setting records for gun sales this year; already the FBI has processed 617,472 firearms background checks, beating 2019’s total of 512,766.

Bob Marcus owns Bob’s Guns in Norfolk. He said the increase in sales began a year ago. “We saw it after the General Assembly turned over back in November. It started with the election, and then the General Assembly went into session. And there were threats of the so-called assault weapons ban, and other restrictions, so it continued through January, February, and into March.”

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Virginians to Decide Gerrymandering Amendment

An anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment that would change the way legislative districts are drawn in Virginia will be decided on the ballot.

The amendment is intended to prevent gerrymandering by establishing a 16-person bipartisan redistricting commission that would propose redistricting plans to the General Assembly. The General Assembly would be allowed to approve or decline the proposals, but would not be allowed to offer any amendments.

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Gov. Lee Considers Calling Special Session of Legislature to Pass Bill Giving Businesses Protection From COVID-19 Lawsuits

Gov. Bill Lee is thinking about calling the Legislature in for a special session to pass a bill to provide retroactive COVID-19 legal protection for businesses, the Chattanooga Times Free Press said.

The General Assembly ended their session on Friday without the House passing the Tennessee Recovery and Safe Harbor Act. It received 46 of 50 votes needed. House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) questioned whether the measure was legal under Tennessee’s Constitution regarding the impairment of contracts. (The Senate had approved the bill.)

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State Senator Kerry Roberts Comments on Status of Gov. Bill Lee’s Heartbeat Bill

On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee State Senator Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) in the studio to discuss the decision-making pattern of Governor Bill Lee.

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Concerned Citizens: Leahy Takes Listener Calls and Breaks Down the Consequences of Governor Lee’s Refugee Stance

“So what the governor’s letter is going to do is make Tennessee a magnet. Tennessee will be a magnet for refugees,” host Michael Patrick Leahy told listeners Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am.

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Social Justice Warriors at The Tennessean Publish Op-Ed Claiming ‘Tennessee Is a Racist State and So Is Its Legislature’

A progressive social justice warrior-community organizer has labeled the entire State of Tennessee as racist with the aid of The Tennessean, which ran her ranting op-ed Wednesday. Aftyn Behn describes herself as the statewide organizer of Indivisible for Tennessee and Kentucky. Her op-ed blaming the state – especially the General…

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North Carolina House Elections Committee Chairs Announced

North Carolina’s Speaker of the House Tim Moore has announced the appointment of State Representatives Holly Grange (R-D20) and Destin Hall (R-D87l) as co-chairs of the North Carolina House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law. “These two House members have a strong legal background and will be an integral part…

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Kasich Vetoes Bill Expanding Benefits for Families of Fallen First Responders

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) vetoed a bill Friday that would expand benefits for widows and children of deceased first responders because it also included legislative pay raises. According to The Dayton Daily News, Senate Bill 296 included a provision that would increase pay for lawmakers by 4 percent in…

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Tennessee Firearms Association Blisters Republican-led Legislature For ‘Pitiful’ 2nd Amendment Protections

Firearms blue

The recently ended legislative year in Nashville was “pitiful” in terms of protecting gun rights, a state firearms advocacy group says in a report. The “Tennessee Firearms Association 2018 Legislative Report and Review” takes the Republican super-majority in the General Assembly to task on 15 new laws and/or amendments to…

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