In early October, a Florida state senator introduced legislation to repeal the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law allowing individuals to use deadly force in self-defense outside their homes. Florida was the first state to enact such a measure, and in the 18 years since its passage, studies have shown that more Floridians are dying because of it. “The data is clear: homicide rates and gun deaths are higher where these discriminatory, dangerous policies are on the books,” Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-34), the bill’s sponsor, told the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). What’s less widely known is the pivotal role the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has played in ensuring the widespread adoption of such laws.
On Oct. 7, over 200 Indigenous activists and their allies gathered on Boston Common to demand that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts abolish Columbus Day and immediately designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. This action continued the Indigenous-led movement to end the racist cult glorifying Christopher Columbus, a Genoese mercenary backed by Spanish monarchs and mercantile investors. He commanded the 1492 voyage to the Caribbean that initiated the transatlantic slave trade and began the ongoing settler-colonial genocide of Indigenous peoples.
One of the nation’s most important climate fights is currently playing out under the radar in California, where state residents are weathering an unprecedented tropical storm. Oil and industry lobbying groups are spending millions in a last-ditch attempt to block first-of-its-kind legislation that would require thousands of large companies doing business in the state to fully disclose their carbon emissions, a move that would effectively set national policy. In the final weeks of California’s legislative session, which ends in mid-September, Assembly members are expected to vote on the climate transparency bill.
In 2015, El Paso became the second city in the country to safeguard its workers by passing a historic wage theft ordinance. As a sweeping new state law aimed at handicapping Texas’s more liberal city governments is set to take effect Sept. 1, that protection is now facing an existential threat. House Bill 2127 — also known as the Super Preemption Bill or, among opponents, the “Death Star” bill — aims to regulate many aspects of commerce and trade in local jurisdictions that differ from state-imposed directives. Passed in May and signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a month later, the legislation could affect local policies dealing with ordinances – including agriculture, insurance, labor, natural resources, and occupation codes — that contradict the state.
"I've never been an organizer,” Khali Jama says, “but I’ve always fought.” As a single mother, a Muslim, and a Somali-American worker living in Minnesota, Jama has always had to fight for the life she, her family, and her fellow workers deserve. And earlier this year, after bringing that fight to the Minnesota state legislature, Khali and her coworkers achieved a major victory. “On May 16,” Lisa Kwon reports in PRISM, “Minnesota lawmakers passed the nation’s strongest Amazon warehouse worker protection legislation with the Warehouse Worker Protection Act, which ensures that workers can take breaks during the workday and have access to relevant quota and performance standards and data on how fast they’re working.
A mobile home park in Moses Lake is up for sale and a new state law assures residents a shot at buying the property. In the past they might’ve never known it was on the market until after it was sold. Owners of North Pointe notified residents on July 17 that they are looking to sell the 25-space mobile home park. This started the clock on a process providing those living there and eligible organizations approved by the state Department of Commerce an opportunity to compete with other potential buyers. That chance is etched into a law that took effect Sunday and is intended to help preserve this stock of affordable housing.
For years, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has claimed to be “committed to transparency”—yet it refuses to disclose its donors on its website. When asked about this, ALEC’s CEO Lisa Nelson told the press that donor information is available in tax filings published on its website. But a review of those filings shows that although the organization’s Schedule B does include donation amounts, all donors’ names are redacted.So who funds ALEC? A review of hundreds of tax filings by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has uncovered 39%—or $16.4 million—of the $41.7 million ALEC received in contributions between 2017 and 2021. Most 2022 IRS filings are not yet publicly available.
Across Florida, protests are taking place to mark the beginning of an immigrant labor stoppage that is scheduled to last until at least July 3rd. Large crowds are being reported in Orlando, Tampa, and various areas in South Florida and as far away as Chicago and California. As SB 1718 goes into effect, the anger and economic concerns felt by many across the state forced Republican legislators to backpedal earlier this week. (See more about the new law in our last report.) Despite spin from elected state officials claiming the law “has no teeth,” thousands of undocumented immigrants and mixed-status families have already fled the state, leaving job sites and agricultural fields nearly empty.
In the first five months of 2023, over 500 pieces of legislation were introduced in the US to restrict the rights of transgender people. This is part of a growing assault, fueled by the corporate media, on transgender existence. Clearing the FOG speaks with journalist and activist Morgan Artyukhina about the history of transgender struggles, the impacts of the current hostile environment on people, how transgender rights are being used to divide and weaken the ruling class and what people can do to show solidarity and stop the assault. Morgan also discusses the importance of education in creating an inclusive society and the corporate retreat from Pride Month.
Several different legislative trackers have noted that, in the first five months of this year leading up to Pride Month, which began on June 1, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed in statehouses across the country, with dozens of them passing. A tracker managed by Erin Reed, a transgender journalist and activist who provides daily updates on LGBTQ-focused legislation (both negative and positive bills), found that more than 530 anti-LGBTQ bills have been drafted and proposed in state legislatures and in Congress. Of those bills, which were submitted between January 1 and May 31, 68 have been enacted into law, with only 122 officially failing so far.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana - On May 27, almost 300 people gathered at the Louisiana State Capitol to protest the attacks on LGBTQ rights. The demonstrators then marched to Governor John Bel Edwards’ mansion and listened to several speakers. Protests like this are sweeping the nation as states move to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation. Many of the attendees and speakers were students and young people, who these reactionary bills directly attack. Protesters demanded that Edwards, a Democrat, veto all anti-LBGTQ legislation. They condemned bills such as “Don’t Say Gay” (HB 466), which would ban teachers from discussing gender identity and sexuality.
Wheelchair users in Colorado now can fix their own chairs when they break. It did take a new law, allowing them to access the parts, tools and diagnostics they need to do that—for the same reasons that, for years, John Deere argued that farmers don’t really own the tractors they buy. Because those tractors carry computer codes that are proprietary, farmers just have an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” As our next guest has said, the notion of actually owning the things you buy has become revolutionary, if ownership includes your right to modify or repair those things. But it’s a revolution that is underfoot. So let’s catch up.
Messages keep coming in to me from LGBTQ teachers throughout the South who have been fired or threatened with firing. These teachers have years of experience and exemplary records. Many have advanced degrees. LGBTQ teachers are increasingly fearful. The Stonewall National Education Project, which educates teachers about inclusive classroom practices, reports that its annual symposium was sparsely attended due to fear of repercussions. One teacher who did attend wore a mask and asked not to be photographed. This trepidation is not new, but it’s been heightened by the current climate.
When Oregon democrats introduced a new state domestic terrorism bill in February, civil rights groups were reminded of a similar piece of legislation — and began sounding the alarm. Georgia expanded its state domestic terrorism statute in 2017 in response to the mass shooting perpetrated by white supremacist Dylann Roof against Black churchgoers in neighboring South Carolina. Atlanta legislators claimed that broadening their own state’s domestic terror laws to include certain attacks on property would somehow keep the public safe from far-right violence. Critics of the legislation in Georgia said at the time that it could be used to target environmentalists and anti-racist activists as well.
As Republican leaders in the Montana legislature doubled down on forbidding Rep. Zooey Zephyr from participating in debate into a second week, her supporters on Monday interrupted proceedings in the House by chanting "Let her speak!" Zephyr, a first-term Democrat from Missoula, wanted to speak about a proposal that would restrict when children could change the names and pronouns they use in school, with their required parents' consent. When lawmakers voted to continue subjecting Zephyr to a gag order, denying her the chance to speak, the gallery, made up mostly of her supporters, erupted, forcing legislative leaders to pause proceedings and clear the room.