TX GA AZ Clips 1/13/22
Since Texas the Senate bill banning abortion (SB 8) went into effect in September, the three full-spectrum doulas that work with the Dallas-based based Afiya Center have seen a troubling rise in the number of women forced to continue their pregnancies after being blocked from accessing abortion care. Women at 15 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, some of whom are victims of domestic violence, are having parenthood imposed upon them with little choice.
In effect for more than four months, the law has decimated abortion access in the second-largest state in the country, forcing pregnant people who are unable to obtain an abortion in their home state to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles for safe medical procedures. And that’s only those who can obtain the resources to afford travel, lodging, child care, and time off work to make the trip. Low-income people and people of color, who comprise nearly 75 percent of abortion-seeking patients in Texas, bear the greatest burden when it comes to access, and are most likely to continue unwanted pregnancies against their will, as the 10-year Turnaway Study found.
ATLANTA — It’s essentially already too late to make any changes sought by lawsuits challenging Georgia’s new congressional and legislative maps ahead of this year’s midterm elections, a lawyer for state officials said Wednesday.
Lawyers for those critics of the new maps rejected the idea that January is too late to make changes when the general election isn’t until November.
The 2022 election cycle effectively begins Thursday when candidates and their supporters can begin circulating nomination petitions, said lawyer Bryan Tyson, who represents the various state officials named in the lawsuits. Furthermore, he said, the secretary of state’s office has told county officials they need to have all redistricting changes entered into the voter registration system by Feb. 18 to avoid causing problems for candidate qualifying, which begins March 7, and other preparation for the May 24 primary.
With those processes already underway based on the maps signed by the governor, Tyson argued, it’s basically too late to make changes for the 2022 cycle. Instead, he said, this year’s elections should be held using the new maps and any changes that end up being required as a result of the lawsuits can be implemented for the 2024 election cycle.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones pointed out that the Georgia General Assembly is currently in session and could change dates if needed. Kevin Hamilton, a lawyer who filed two of the lawsuits on behalf of individual voters, noted that the court could also order changes to the dates.
It’s “a little surprising” to hear the state argue that it’s too late to fix maps that include violations of the Voting Rights Act, Hamilton said. That’s a bit “inconsistent” given that the governor waited about 40 days to sign off on the maps after they were passed by state lawmakers during a special legislative session in November, he argued.
In his State of The State address in front of the Georgia General Assembly today, Governor Kemp is likely to address guns, taxes, and crime in Atlanta among other issues, but an endorsement for banning ballot drop boxes (which is part of a bill that has been introduced in the state legislature) is likely not going to happen. Additionally, some GA GOP members plan to create a new Freedom Caucus that is modeled after the one in U.S. Congress.
Asked about proposals to ban ballot drop boxes, Kemp said he doesn’t want to overhaul “the best elections integrity act in the country.”
“You need to speak individually to those legislators. I think the action we took on drop boxes to make them available is the right thing to do for Georgians, but it also needs to be a secure process,” he said. “And I think that’s what the General Assembly has done.”
We told you last month about the new Freedom Caucus planned for the Georgia General Assembly, modeled after the conservative group by the same name in the U.S. Congress. At the time, the group made it clear that some members might keep their involvement a secret.
Earlier this week, state Sen. Greg Dolezal told the Forsyth County Republican Party that some of those secret members may be in GOP leadership.
While fighting for the Republican gubernatorial candidacy, Brian Kemp has revealed a budget that would mean Georgians who file tax returns in April would receive tax refunds and also restoring over $200 million in budgetary cuts for the higher education system.
The Republican unveiled a budget plan Wednesday that calls for $1.6 billion worth of refunds. That would mean all Georgians who file their income taxes in April would receive a refund: $250 for single filers and $500 for joint filers.
Kemp also said he would restore $262 million in previous cuts to the higher education system, which would allow the technical college system to offer more programs in high-demand fields and remove a fee on university students that was first imposed during the Great Recession. The fee ranges from $200 a semester to more than $500.
The governor said he would enact legislation to eliminate the state income tax on retirement pay for military veterans, a proposal he first floated during his 2018 run that’s estimated to cost at least $60 million. Most senior citizens in Georgia already don’t pay income taxes on their unearned income, such as pensions.
Arizona’s largest teacher’s union is blasting Gov. Doug Ducey’s state-of-the-state address Monday. They say he offered no plan or support to keep schools open for in-person learning amid the state’s highest recorded numbers of COVID-19 infections.
The Arizona Education Association says Ducey’s speech disregarded the impacts of the current COVID surge that’s being driven by the omicron variant.
The union represents 20,000 teachers and education staff across the state and says the large numbers of school workers who are currently sick and in quarantine have created critical teacher shortages in many districts.
AEA President Joe Thomas says schools need funding to keep classrooms open and to help implement safety measures like masking, proper ventilation and virus testing.
“Educators are always showing up for their students – but we need the support and infrastructure to do what we love most. Whether it’s broken HVAC systems or rapid test shortages – we’re asking for the resources needed to make in-person learning safe,” he says.
The group worries if the problems persist teachers could increasingly leave the profession altogether.
In his eighth and final state-of-the-state address at the capitol, Ducey said too much attention has been paid to mask mandates and restrictions and not enough to learning. He largely focused on Republican priorities like expanding the state’s private school voucher program.
Shut up and save us.
That’s the message we have for health care workers.
If I was one of them I’d be tempted to respond, “Fine, then save yourselves … jerks.”
More than 1,000 physicians, nurses, caregivers and others have signed an open letter to Gov. Doug Ducey, health care leaders and state and county officials asking for immediate action to help combat the latest omicron surge of COVID-19 cases in Arizona.
These are individuals who see the horror every day.
They begin by saying, “Our healthcare workforce is suffering from moral injury and burnout from the sustained onslaught that wave after wave of COVID has had on us, our families, and our communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is running unmitigated throughout the state and is straining our hospitals and affecting patient standards of care. Our current situation is unsustainable.”
The group is asking Ducey, lawmakers and other officials to implement indoor mask requirements, increase access to COVID-19 testing, provide free, high-quality masks to the public and increase funding for air filtration systems in schools and businesses. And they want a safer workplace for themselves.
They’re asking us this collectively, and they’re asking it individually. You can see some of their stories online.