Hey, there’s still a pandemic on! But whatever, say Republicans in Wisconsin.
On Tuesday, the GOP-controlled state Senate passed a resolution that would throw out Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate—the final anti-COVID measure left in place after months of legal wrangling.
The Republican-controlled Assembly was slated to take up (and almost certainly pass) the resolution on Thursday, but at the last minute, GOP Speaker Robin Vos decided to not take up the resolution.
But don’t for a second think that this was an attack of good sense.
Rater, it’s a matter of dollars and cents.
You see, if Republicans kill Wisconsin’s mask mandate, the state could lose millions of dollars in food aid during the pandemic.
Vos wants to evaluate potential “financial issues” that could arise from killing the mask mandate.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, Republican state Rep. David Clark has repeatedly refused to join his House colleagues in getting tested for COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the GOP speaker at first attempted discretion, asking for an unnamed lawmaker to remove himself from the chamber.
When Clark didn’t budge, the speaker had state troopers escort the representative out for violating the House twice-a-week testing policy and “jeopardizing the health of our members in this chamber.”
Clark has since claimed on Twitter that he would continue to refuse coronavirus tests without “a basis for doing so.”
Clark, who is white, went on to compare his experience to that of the “Original 33,” the first 33 Black members of the Georgia legislature who were elected after the Civil War but “got thrown out because of skin color,” he said.
So he’s reckless, selfish, AND oblivious to the disparate impact of the pandemic on communities of color.
The House speaker says that Clark is welcome to return to the chamber once he’s complied with the testing policy.
Michigan’s militia-loving Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey survived a bout with COVID-19 in late December.
We know because Shirkey decided to discuss his ordeal last week in extremely racist terms.
“The Chinese flu army sent in one of their best soldiers,” Shirkey said in a TV interview. “His name was Rona … He and I wrestled for nine days, but I finally pinned him.”
too bad there’s not a vaccine for xenophobia
The pro-Trump violence at the U.S. Capitol is three weeks behind us now, but its fallout in statehouses continues.
In Virginia, the state Senate took the extraordinary step of formally censuring GOP Sen. Amanda Chase.
The censure resolution, just the second “in modern Virginia history,” passed on a bipartisan vote (24-9, with six Republican abstentions) on Wednesday.
The censure was triggered by Chase’s comments on the Jan. 6 domestic terror attack on the Capitol (she publicly declared the insurrections to be “patriots”) and specifically accuses Chase of “fomenting insurrection against the United States” and states that “inflammatory statements and actions of Senator Amanda F. Chase before, during, and after the events that led to the insurrection … constitute a failure to uphold her oath of office and conduct unbecoming of a Senator.”
But Chase has a history of “conduct unbecoming.”
A couple of years ago, she publicly excoriated a police officer at the state capital over a parking spot.
She was also publicly extremely shitty to the Senate clerk, and she’s called rape victims “naive and unprepared.”
In 2019, she quit the GOP Senate Caucus because she was mad that the Republican leaders who’d criticized her behavior had been reelected to head the group.
Chase had already been stripped of her committee assignments, and the censure demoted her to the least-senior member of the Virginia Senate (with an attendant reduction in associate perks … oh she’s going to be SO MAD about her parking spot now).
And remember, she’s running for governor.
In Arizona, two Republican lawmakers who were in DC during the Capitol insurrection are refusing to comply with open records requests regarding emails and texts sent concerning their trip to Washington.
On one hand, privacy is generally a good thing.
However, these Republicans are public officials, and Arizona courts have ruled that records on public officials’ private devices can be considered a public record if those records relate to public business and the phone was used for a public purpose.
The two Republicans, Rep. Mark Finchem and then-Rep. Anthony Kern, were part of group of GOPers who signed on to a joint resolution asserting that Congress should not accept the electoral votes from Arizona’s Democratic electors. Their trip to DC seems to be an extension of that effort, which would make the trip—and any record associated with it—“public business.”
Finchem and Kern admit to attending the anti-democracy rally that preceded the violent attack on the Capitol, but they both claim they were there as “private citizens.”
However, during the Capitol attack, Finchem posted a photo on social media of a crowd on the steps of the building and added a message: “What happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”
Finchem is still a member of the state House, and Kern was a member until five days after the attack (he lost reelection but was technically still a representative until his replacement was sworn in on Jan. 11).
Q the Vote: A recurring theme here in the weeks and months to come is going to be new voting restrictions being pushed by Republicans across various states. Here’s the latest:
Georgia: If a Senate bill introduced this week becomes law, voters casting absentee ballots would have to make photocopies of their ID and mail them to election officials TWICE (once when applying for an absentee ballot and again when returning an absentee ballot).
Peach State Republicans have been talking about using photo ID requirements to strangle absentee voting, but this is the first major piece of legislation designed to suppress the vote in this specific manner.
Republicans, of course, are claiming this measure is needed for “election integrity,” but an audit of 15,000 absentee ballots cast in the November election found no cases of fraud.
North Dakota: Republican legislators are pushing a raft of bills in the state that would make voting more difficult, including:
- Making ballots cast more than 90 minutes after polls closed (regardless of line length or wait) provisional ballots
- Upping the residency requirement to register to vote in the state from 30 days to a full year
- Limiting requests for a mail or absentee ballot to once per year per voter
- Dramatically limiting the reasons for which a voter can request an absentee ballot.
Mississippi: Republican legislators are advancing a Senate bill that would result in voters who don’t cast ballots for four consecutive years being purged from voting rolls.