Tag: proposed legislation

NH State Rep. Amanda Bouldin (D) harassed by Republican colleagues over nipple bill

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This will be my final blog post for the year 2015. I wish everyone a safe and happy 2016!


In the New Hampshire House of Representatives, a legislative chamber that has 400 seats and serves as the lower house of the state legislature of a state with slightly over 1.3 million people, you’re bound to find some interesting people serving as state legislators. One such interesting person is New Hampshire State Representative Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester), who has earned national attention for criticizing a sexist Republican-backed bill that would prohibit women from going topless in public in New Hampshire:

Under current New Hampshire state law, both men and women may expose their nipples as they so please. Some Republicans want to change that. A recently proposed bill, sponsored exclusively by Republican men, would make it illegal for a woman to “purposely expos[e] the areola or nipple of her breast or breasts in a public place.” (The bill makes an exception for breastfeeding.) Men would still be permitted to expose their nipples in public with impunity.

In case you’re wondering what the areola is, it’s a donut-shaped area of skin immediately around each human nipple that is of a different color than most or all of the rest of a person’s skin.

Not surprisingly, Bouldin was not one bit happy about the hypocritical standard of banning women from exposing their breasts in public, while continuing to allow men to do so. So, she posted her opinion on Facebook, and at least two Republican state legislators responded with vile, sexist remarks.

One of the sexist Republican state legislators who confronted Bouldin online is Josh Moore (R-Merrimack), who essentially encouraged sexual assault:

…If it’s a woman’s natural inclination to pull her nipple out in public and you support that, than (sic) you should have no problem with a mans (sic) inclination to stare at it and grab it…

Grabbing a woman’s breasts without her consent is sexual assault, which is a criminal offense in every jurisdiction in the United States and something that nobody should encourage.

The other was Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), who essentially called Bouldin’s nipples ugly:

Amanada (sic), No disrespect, but your nipple would be the last one I would want to see…

If you’re calling a woman, or any part of her, ugly, you’re intending disrespect.

If Amanda Bouldin wants to go topless in public, that should be her choice and not anyone else’s. If Amanda Bouldin wants to wear a shirt, blouse, jacket, coat, or other type of top in public, that should be her choice and not anyone else’s. It’s worth noting that the sexist mindset of those Republicans isn’t all that different from the sexist mindset of Islamic fundamentalist men who think that women should be forced to wear clothing that completely covers their face. I’m glad that people like Amanda Bouldin are standing up and speaking out against sexist legislation like the New Hampshire Nipple Bill.

If you want to thank Ms. Bouldin for speaking out against the sexist hypocrisy in the New Hampshire Nipple Bill, here’s her Twitter page. Please be respectful to her!

 

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Bernie strongly supports paid family and medical leave…Hillary doesn’t

If you support federally-guaranteed paid family, medical, maternity, and paternity leave for American workers, then Bernie Sanders is the Democratic candidate for president that strongly supports what you believe in on this important issue:

(Bernie) Sanders also backs a bill pending in Congress that would mandate employers provide paid family leave time after a child is born. The bill would be funded by an increase in payroll taxes estimated to cost the average worker about $72 a year.

(Hillary) Clinton has spoken out forcefully for the concept of paid family leave but not embraced the particular measure because it violates a campaign pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000.

While Hillary Clinton is busy twisting her own campaign platform into a political pretzel because of her Grover Norquist-like campaign pledge to not raise taxes on the low-end wealthy, Bernie Sanders is strongly advocating for actual legislation designed to allow workers to care for their families in times of need. For Bernie, supporting guaranteed paid leave isn’t just talk, it’s something that he’s actually proposed in Congress. Earlier this year, Bernie co-sponsored legislation that would allow “mothers and fathers to receive 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for a baby” and allow “workers to take the same amount of paid time off if they are diagnosed with cancer or have other serious medical conditions or to take care of family members who are seriously ill” (fact sheet here).

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

Why free tampons in public building restrooms is actually a great idea

I’ll admit that this is an idea that I hadn’t even thought of until I heard about it being proposed in Wisconsin, but Wisconsin State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) has proposed legislation that, if enacted, would legally require “restroom facilities in buildings owned, leased, or occupied by the state have tampons and sanitary napkins at no charge.” In this case, “state” refers to the State of Wisconsin, and “sanitary napkins” refers to pads.

This prompted the latest right-wing outrage over a progressive idea, with two main arguments against free tampons in public building restrooms. First, the right-wingers are arguing that spending taxpayer money on tampons and pads are…well, a waste of taxpayer money. Second, the right-wingers are arguing that this does nothing to benefit men.

While Sargent’s bill has virtually zero chance of becoming law in Wisconsin with the current, Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Legislature, this is actually a very good idea. For example, many people, including many women, travel on Wisconsin’s Interstate highways on long-distance trips, and making tampons and pads available at Wisconsin rest areas would be of great convenience to women who, for whatever reason, forget to bring their tampons or pads along with them. Also, menstruation is something that men don’t have to deal with, although I’m guessing that most, if not all, women would find it very embarrassing to have to deal with menstruation without a tampon or pad.

This is something that legislators in other states should seriously support.

PETITION: Tell President Obama and members of both houses of Congress to oppose the Campus Rapist Protection Act

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a link to an online petition; the link is located at the bottom of the blog post.


U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a Republican who represents the 5th Congressional District of Arizona, has proposed federal legislation, officially called the Safe Campus Act (H.R. 3403), that, if enacted, would require colleges and universities in this country to effectively cover up sexual assaults that occur on campus, unless police become involved with a particular case.

I’m not making this up at all…that is an actual bill that has been proposed in Congress.

While the bill is officially called the Safe Campus Act, it might as well be called the Campus Rapist Protection Act, as that’s a more accurate description of what the proposed legislation would do. The legislation would make it a lot easier for college students to get away with the criminal act of rape, and, therefore, make college campuses far more dangerous than they currently are. Furthermore, the legislation would, if enacted, result in fewer people attending college out of fear that they might be raped on campus.

The legislation is backed by numerous fraternity groups, which apparently think that their members have an unfettered right to have sex with every woman they can find, even if the women don’t consent to sexual activity. No person in this country has an unfettered right to sexually assault anyone. In fact, sexual assault is a crime, and it should be treated seriously, not swept under the rug.

I’ve created a petition calling for President Barack Obama and members of both houses of Congress to oppose H.R. 3403. You can sign the petition here.

Republican proposal to gut Wisconsin GAB appears to allow for Republican majorities on seperate elections and ethics commissions

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is not an attorney and does not claim to be one.


Having read the relevant part of this Republican-backed legislative proposal that, if enacted, would create two new partisan commissions to replace the non-partisan Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB), I can state definitively, that, based on my interpretation of the language of the proposed statute, that Republicans would be effectively guaranteed a 4-2 majority on each of the two replacement commissions with Republican Scott Walker currently in the Wisconsin governor’s office.

In Wisconsin, the GAB is the state-level body that administers elections and handles ethics complaints, among other things. Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government are moving to replace the officially non-partisan GAB with two separate and officially-partisan state election and ethics commissions.

How the Wisconsin Elections Commission would be selected

Under the Republicans’ proposal, Wisconsin’s state-level elections commission, which would be responsible for state-level administration of Wisconsin’s elections, would consist of six members. Four of the members would be selected by Democratic and Republican state legislative leaders (Assembly Speaker, Assembly Minority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader getting one appointment each), with no other statutory qualifications that I can find. The other two members would be former county and/or municipal clerks appointed by the governor (currently Scott Walker, a Republican) from a list of six recommendations, with Democratic legislative leaders getting three recommendations and Republican legislative leaders getting three recommendations. There is no explicit statutory requirement that Walker pick one recommendation from each party. Should a political party that does not have a majority or official minority in either house of the state legislature (i.e., a third-party) field a candidate who receives at least 10% of the vote in a Wisconsin gubernatorial election, that party’s chief officer (i.e., state party chairperson) would get to recommend three people to the governor, and the governor would appoint an additional member to the commission from that list.

Current state legislative leaders in Wisconsin that would be responsible for four of the six appointments to the elections commission are as follows:

  • State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (Republican)
  • State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (Republican)
  • State Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (Democratic)
  • State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (Democratic)

Here’s what is horrible about the proposed state elections commission:

  • Under this proposal, there is nothing prohibiting state legislative leaders from appointing themselves, other elected officials (up to and including Scott Walker himself), active candidates for public office, lobbyists, and/or campaign donors to the state elections board, with elected officials serving as both an elections board member and an elected official, candidate, lobbyist, and/or campaign donor simultaneously.
  • There doesn’t appear to be a statutory requirement that the  elections commission members be Wisconsinites. In fact, one could even interpret the clause requiring Walker to appoint two former county and/or municipal clerks as allowing Walker to appoint people who formerly served county and/or municipal clerks in other states.
  • The clause authorizing Walker to appoint two former county and/or municipal clerks to the election commission appears to be worded in a manner that would allow Walker to appoint two of the Republican recommendations, instead of one recommendation from each party, as the requirement that “no members of the same political party select, collectively, more than 3 individuals” appears to apply to the list of recommendations for the gubernatorial appointments, not all appointees to the elections commission.

How the Wisconsin Ethics Commission would be selected

Under the Republicans’ proposal, Wisconsin’s state-level ethics commission, which would be responsible for hearing ethics complaints filed against state elected officials (governor, other elected state executives, state legislators, etc.), would, like the elections commission, consist of six members, four selected by state legislative leaders in both major parties and two appointed by the governor from a list of recommendations from state legislative leaders in both major parties. Additionally, should a third-party field a gubernatorial candidate who receives at least 10% of the vote, that party’s Wisconsin state chairperson would get to recommend three people to the governor, and the governor would select one of those to serve as an additional member of the commission. However, there are two main differences in regards to the qualifications of ethics commission members compared to elections commission members. First, for the gubernatorial appointments, there’s no requirement that the appointees be former county and/or municipal clerks. Second, all members of the ethics commission cannot be a lobbyist, an elected official other than a federal elected official, state circuit judge, or state appellate judge, and/or an active candidate for state or local office in Wisconsin.

Here’s what’s horrible about the proposed state ethics commission:

  • Under this proposal, not only are state circuit judges or state appellate judges explicitly allowed to serve on the ethics commission and on the judicial bench simultaneously, there’s no explicit prohibition on federal elected officials, candidates for federal office, or campaign donors from being on the ethics commission, provided that they aren’t lobbyists, active candidates for state or local office in Wisconsin, and/or holders of elected offices other than a federal office, state circuit judgeship, or state appellate judgeship.
  • Like with the elections commission, there’s no statutory requirement that I could find requiring ethics commission members to be Wisconsinites.
  • Like with the elections commission, the clause authorizing Walker to appoint two individuals to the ethics commission appears to be worded in a manner that would allow Walker to appoint two of the Republican recommendations, instead of one recommendation from each party, as the requirement that “no members of the same political party select, collectively, more than 3 individuals” appears to apply to the list of recommendations for the gubernatorial appointments, not all appointees to the elections commission.

Relevant text of legislative proposal (pages 66-69 of proposal)

15.61  (title)  Elections commission; creation.
SECTION 172.  15.61 (1) (a) 1. to 6. of the statutes are created to read:
15.61 (1) (a) 1.  One member appointed by the senate majority leader.
2.  One member appointed by the senate minority leader.
3.  One member appointed by the speaker of the assembly.
4.  One member appointed by the assembly minority leader.
5.  Two members who formerly served as county or municipal clerks and who
are nominated by the governor, with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the senate confirmed. The governor shall choose the nominees from a list of 6 individuals selected by the senate majority leader, the senate minority leader, the speaker of the assembly, and the assembly minority leader and in such manner that no members of the same political party select, collectively, more than 3 individuals.
6.  For each political party qualifying for a separate ballot under s. 5.62 (1) (b) or (2) whose candidate for governor received at least 10 percent of the vote in the most recent gubernatorial election, one member, nominated by the governor from a list of 3 individuals selected by the chief officer of that political party and with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the senate confirmed.
SECTION 173.  15.61 (5) of the statutes is created to read:
15.61 (5) (a)  If a vacancy occurs for a member appointed under sub. (1) (a) 1.
to 4., the individual responsible for making the appointment shall appoint a new member no later than 45 days after the date of the vacancy.
(b)  If a vacancy occurs for a member appointed under sub. (1) (a) 5. or 6., a new member shall be selected, nominated, and submitted to the senate for confirmation no later than 45 days after the date of the vacancy.
SECTION 174.  15.62 of the statutes is created to read:
15.62  Ethics commission; creation.  (1) (a)  There is created an ethics
commission consisting of the following members who shall serve for 5−year terms:
1.  One member appointed by the senate majority leader.
2.  One member appointed by the senate minority leader.
3.  One member appointed by the speaker of the assembly.
4.  One member appointed by the assembly minority leader.
5.  Two members, nominated by the governor and with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the senate confirmed.  The governor shall choose the nominees from a list of 6 individuals, one each selected by the senate majority leader, the senate minority leader, the speaker of the assembly, and the assembly minority leader and in such manner that no members of the same political party select, collectively, more than 3 individuals.
6.  For each political party qualifying for a separate ballot under s. 5.62 (1) (b) or (2) whose candidate for governor received at least 10 percent of the vote in the most recent gubernatorial election, one member, nominated by the governor from a list of 3 individuals selected by the chief officer of that political party and with the advice and consent of a majority of the members of the senate confirmed.
(2)  No member of the commission may hold another office or position that is a state public office or a local public office, as defined in s. 19.42, except the office of circuit judge or court of appeals judge under s. 753.075.
(3)  No member, while serving on the commission, may become a candidate, as defined in s. 11.01 (1), for state office or local office, as defined in s. 5.02.
(4)  No member may be a lobbyist, as defined in s. 13.62 (11), or an employee of a principal, as defined in s. 13.62 (12), except that a member may serve as a circuit judge or court of appeals judge under s. 753.075.
(5) (a)  If a vacancy occurs for a member appointed under sub. (1) (a) 1. to 4., the individual responsible for making the appointment shall appoint a new member no later than 45 days after the date of the vacancy.
(b)  If a vacancy occurs for a member appointed under sub. (1) (a) 5. or 6., a new member shall be selected, nominated, and submitted to the senate for confirmation no later than 45 days after the date of the vacancy.

Conclusion

Not only is the idea of replacing one non-partisan board responsible for administering elections and handling ethics complaints in Wisconsin with two partisan commissions, one for administering elections and another for handling ethics complaints, an inherently awful idea, the two partisan commissions would be guaranteed to be controlled by the Republican Party, based on my interpretation of the wording of proposed legislation. The thought of a single political party having majority control of an state elections commission and a state ethics commission in any state, let alone the state that will probably decide the 2016 presidential election, is absolutely frightening. Republicans could easily use the Wisconsin Elections Commission to change election administration procedures to benefit Republicans, and they could also use the Wisconsin Ethics Commission to wage baseless, Joe McCarthy-style witchhunts against Democrats for purely political reasons.

Wisconsin Republicans want to take the opportunity for cures away from people across America

In response to the recent release of heavily-edited videos by a right-wing smear group as part of a political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to enact an outright ban on the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research.

Make no mistake about it, banning fetal tissue from being used in medical research would be disastrous, not just for Wisconsin, but the entire country. Not only would Wisconsin lose jobs if this legislation were to be enacted, the entire country would lose out on research, conducted by the University of Wisconsin System, that seeks to find cures for serious ailments like Parkinson’s disease, heart defects, various forms of cancer, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. This would make it far more difficult for researchers to find cures for serious ailments that affect millions of people in this country. I don’t think that there are any colleges or universities outside of Wisconsin that do medical research with fetal tissue, but I could be wrong about that.

The right-wing political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood and other pro-women groups is incredibly short-sighted. In Wisconsin, the right-wing witchhunt against Planned Parenthood has officially turned into a full-on attack against sick people and medical research.