ADA’s Legislative Round Up

ADA’s Issue Priorities:

  • Defending Democracy
  • Economic Justice
  • Women’s Rights
  • Access to Healthcare
  • Workers’ Rights
  • Fair Courts
  • Voting Rights
  • Climate Action
  • Tax Fairness
  • Fighting Racsim
  • Judicial Reform
  • Foreign Policy

 

ADA’s Legislative Round Up

Americans for Democratic Action has been and will continue to be a forthright liberal voice of this nation. We work to advocate progressive stances on civil rights and liberties, social and economic justice, sensible foreign policy, and sustainable environmental policy. Follow developments on ADA’s priority issues here.

2024 Ballot Measures

The countdown is on. The 2024 general election is about a only months out, and in November, voters will decide more than just candidate victors. Across the U.S., countless statewide ballot measures have been certified, allowing voters to decide hot-button issues like election reform and access to abortion. Below you will find a rundown of the ballot measures that ADA is tracking.

ABORTION ACCESS ON THE BALLOT

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, voters in seven states have weighed in on constitutional amendments regarding abortion. Every time constitutional amendments are on the ballot, voters support access to abortion. In November, abortion is once again on the ballot in several states. These ballot initiatives provide more stable protections than laws or state Supreme Courts’ decisions recognizing a right to abortion and are an opportunity for voters to have a direct say on abortion access and reproductive freedom. Follow abortion-related state constitutional amendment measures for the 2024 election here.

ArizonaArkansasColoradoFlorida
MarylandMissouriMontanaNebraska
NevadaNew YorkOklahomaPennsylvania

FAIR WAGES ON THE BALLOT

The November election may be six months away, but pro-worker advocates have been in full swing trying to get initiatives placed on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage all across the country. Yes, that list includes reliably progressive states such as California and Massachusetts, but it also includes efforts in Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio and Alaska as well. It seems the people have learned that if they want to have a shot at fair wages, they need to do the leg work themselves.

AlaskaArizonaCaliforniaMassachusettes
MissouriOklahomaOhioAnd sadly, Michigan

ATTACKS ON DEMOCRACY ON THE BALLOT

Preventing people who are not United States citizens from casting a ballot has reemerged as a focal point in the ongoing Republican drive to safeguard “election integrity.” Using this faux issue, Republicans are aiming to keep votes away from the polls and are using state constitutional amendments to rally their base. Voters in North Carolina, Iowa, Idaho, Kentucky and Wisconsin will decide on ballot measures in November that would amend their state constitutions to clarify that only U.S. citizens can vote in state and local elections.

We know that this type of Right-Wing rhetoric, rooted in racist fear, is hateful and divisive, however policies typically put in place to stop this nonissue often result in eligible U.S. citizens being incorrectly prevented from voting or being forced to jump through additional hoops to exercise their freedom to vote not required of other voters.  These provisions often specifically target naturalized U.S. citizens — especially Latinos and Asian Americans.

IdahoIowaKentuckyNorth CarolinaWisconsin

Finally, ballot measures continue to be a critical driver of progressive change, as such, Republicans will continue to attempt to restrict the ballot measure process. In the United States, the power of ballot measures was born during the 1900s Progressive Era, ushered in by populists, socialists and labor activists. Early on, activists used measures to curb political corruption, improve labor conditions, minimize the influence of wealthy special interests and require powerful corporate interests to pay more taxes. And, although the ballot measure process has been used by conservatives and progressives alike, the legacy of direct democracy as a vehicle for progressive change is undeniable. We must fight to keep the process available for generations to come.

Help us preserve our democratic future, make your donation to ADA today!

A BIG Labor Victory

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the UAW workers at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, from the entire ADA family, for a win that inspires us all!

In April, UAW made history by becoming one of the very few unionized auto plants in the southern states. In a landslide victory, 73 percent of the workers voted to join the union.  The win came after long battle with management and fierce opposition from southern Governors.  Next up. Mercedes workers in Alabama prepare for their own union election in May.

In other labor news:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving Starbucks and a group of fired baristas that could make it harder for the NLRB to step in during unionization disputes.

In February 2022, seven Starbucks employees in Tennessee were fired days after they participated in unionizing efforts. Management at Starbucks said the workers broke multiple company rules when the workers let a TV crew into a closed store – at least that was their excuse to fire the Starbucks 7.

Workers United filed a 10(j) injunction (arguably the most powerful tool the NLRB has to stop unfair labor practices) and, after a lower court ruling granting an injunction, the Starbucks 7 were rehired.  Workers United pressed on and the union election was held and baristas voted 11 to 3 to join Workers United!

But Starbucks, unhappy with the lower court’s decision to grant the injunction, asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block it. The court said no. Starbucks, still refused to accept defeat, now takes the case to the Supreme Court.

Click here to read more

Tax Fairness

This Tax Day, families across the country are once again paying their fair share, but under our current tax system, billionaires, whose wealth is skyrocketing, are not.  The collective fortune of America’s 806 billionaires hit a record $5.8 trillion, according to figures collected on April 1, 2024, by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) for its latest report on billionaire wealth growth based on Forbes data. Billionaire wealth has nearly doubled—up $2.9 trillion—since enactment in late 2017 of the Trump-GOP tax law. Under current rules, none of that nearly $3 trillion in wealth gain–the main form of income for the ultra-wealthy–may ever be taxed. 

Washington is now poised for a fight as key provisions of the Trump law are set to expire in 2025. That GOPoverhaul of the tax code mostly benefited the wealthy, added an estimated $2 trillion to the nation’s debt, and included temporary provisions that Republicans now want to permanently extend at a further estimated cost of almost $4 trillion. America’s more than 800 billionaires now own over 50% more wealth than does the entire bottom half of U.S. society, or roughly 65 million households ($5.8 trillion versus $3.7 trillion). Under the current tax code, however, these staggering wealth gains are unlikely to ever be taxed.

America’s 10 wealthiest men have seen their wealth grow even faster than their billionaire peers, an astounding 153% in just a little over six years. The top 25 billionaires as a group are today worth as much, $2.3 trillion, as all the billionaires in the country combined were worth a decade ago. 

As working Americans hustle to meet the annual tax-filing deadline next week, most would be shocked to find that the recent stupendous growth in billionaire wealth may never be taxed. Under present law, such increases in the value of assets–known as “capital gains”–are only taxed when the assets are sold. But billionaires and other ultra-wealthy people don’t need to sell to benefit: they can use their rising fortunes to secure low-interest loans and live luxuriously tax-free. And when that wealth growth is passed down to lucky heirs, it magically disappears for tax purposes 

President Biden and the chief tax writer in the U.S. Senate, Ron Wyden (D-OR), both have proposed plans that would annually tax the wealth growth of the nation’s handful of richest households. Their proposals would raise hundreds of billions of dollars to improve public services for the rest of the American people and to reduce public debt. 

The Tax Cuts Billionaires And Other Wealthy Americans Don’t Need Extended

Below are the parts of the Trump-GOP tax law set to expire at the end of 2025 that exclusively or predominantly benefit the wealthy–including billionaires: 

  • A cut in the top income-tax rate from 39.6% to 37%;

  • A doubling of the estate-tax exemption. In 2024, wealthy couples can shield over $27 million from this curb on dynastic wealth. If this provision is allowed to expire, that figure would drop to the still generous but more reasonable figure of around $14 million in 2026.

  • A weakening of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is meant to ensure high-income households can’t use excessive deductions and credits to reduce their taxes.

  • The ability of non-corporate businesses to subtract 20% of their earnings before figuring their taxes.

The central component of the Trump law was a two-fifths cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35% to 21%. Corporate tax cuts are almost synonymous with tax cuts for the wealthy, because it’s overwhelmingly rich people–prominently including billionaires–who own corporations through their stock holdings. To make the bill look less costly in order to conform to Congressional budget rules, it also included some tightening of rules on corporate tax deductions. 

But implementation of these revenue raisers was delayed for several years with the clear expectation on the part of the Republican tax writers and their corporate backers that they would be revoked before ever coming into effect. Surprisingly, preemptive repeal efforts failed and now the GOP goal is to retroactively quash these sensible restrictions on corporate tax dodging. 

The recent effective tax hikes on corporations that Republicans want to reverse are:

  • Slower depreciation. Businesses write off (“depreciate”) over time the cost of durable items that hold their value like buildings and machinery. Bonus depreciation–which businesses enjoyed until 2023–allows them to instead deduct in the year of purchase the full cost of such big-ticket items, artificially lowering their reported earnings and thus their tax bills. 

  • Amortizing research costs. Corporate research and experimentation yields benefits that last for years or even decades. So it makes sense for firms to deduct over time (“amortize”) those costs, which they have been required to do since 2022. But big business wants to regain the ability to write off the full cost of research in the year conducted. 

  • A smaller deduction for interest. Companies are allowed to deduct interest payments from their taxable income, but the Trump tax law restricted that deduction to 30% of a certain calculation of earnings. Until 2022, the calculation that was used resulted in a larger allowable interest deduction. Since then, firms have had to apply that 30% ceiling to a smaller earnings figure, reducing the dollar value of the deduction. 

SCOTUS & Mifepristone
On March 26th, extreme anti-abortion activists are scheduled to present oral arguments before the Supreme Court in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al. This case centers around the anti-abortion movement’s effort to end FDA’s approval of mifepristone. This isn’t the first time lawmakers and courts have stood in the way of our right to access abortion care. We must demonstrate our outrage as we prepare for the decisions, likely to come in June. Take a look below for resources and action opportunities as we continent the fight for access to abortion.

Join ADAers as we gather with women from across the country to demand that SCOTUS protect abortion access. Tomorrow, March 26th at The Supreme Court of the United States at 9am ET. 

Attacks on mifepristone are strictly politically motivated, instigated and funded by extreme anti-abortion actors to further their agenda to ban abortion, birth control, and other sexual and reproductive health care nationwide. Join us in fighting back!  Click here to sign up.

HOW TO TALK ABOUT THE CASE FOR MIFEPRISTONE CASE:

✅ The Supreme Court’s decision to hear this case means mifepristone will remain on the market and accessible in states where abortion is legal at least until the Court rules on this case.

✅ The Court should reject this politically motivated effort to interfere with the FDA’s approval process based on science and evidence and also reject efforts by anti-abortion groups to ban abortion in every state across the country.

✅ Mifepristone is safe, effective, and has been used by more than five million people in the United States for abortion and miscarriagecare since the FDAapproved it more than 20 years ago.

✅ Mifepristone has helped ensure that patients are able to make their own private medical decisions,and has expanded access to reproductive health care —something that is under dire threat in this country.

✅ This case is a calculated attack on abortion access that will deny people the freedom to make their own health care decisions.

✅ This case’s repercussions go far beyond abortion care —it could stifle medical innovation, upend the country’s drug approval process, and put every approved medication in the political crosshairs.

✅ The chaos and confusion created by this case affect the accessibility of a safe,effective, decades-long approved medication.This is intentional.

✅ Patients deserve to access the medication they need, and providers should be able to provide that medication without unnecessary interference from the judiciary or politicians.

✅ Previous rulings in this case ignored both the science and the law by: undermining decades of research and the FDA’s scientific judgment that mifepristone is safe and effective; and trying to turn back the clock on safe medical care and wreak havoc in health care delivery, denying patients access to safe and effective medication.

LEARN MORE HERE

State-Level Voting Rights Act(s)
Amidst continued voter suppression efforts in Republican-led states, the Senate Judiciary Committee will held a full committee hearing on the John Lewis Votings Rights Advancement Act, S.4.  The committee discussed the growing threats to voting rights and the need for federal voting safeguards. Despite Senate Democrats attempts to defend our democracy against Republican attacks on our fundamental right to vote, we know that this legislation is doomed for failure in the U.S. Congress and Senate. In lieu of the Republican-led gridlock in Congress, a small number of states have stepped forward and passed state-level voting rights legislation. Take a look below at some of the state initiatives to pass state-level Voting Rights Act(s) or READ MORE HERE. Do you see your state on the list?  If not, join with other ADAers in your state to pass a state-level VRA. Click here to read more about important elements of a strong VRA.

Minnesota

The recently introduced Minnesota Voting Rights Act (MNVRA), would prevent any action that results in, or is likely to result in, a disparity in voter participation, voting opportunities or the ability to participate in the political process between a protected class and other individuals. The MNVRA would also prohibit actions that impair “the equal opportunity or ability of members of a protected class to nominate or elect candidates of their choice as a result of diluting the vote of members of that protected class.” The bill specifically provides a private right of action — which would allow private litigants, and not just the state attorney general — to challenge violations of the MNVRA. READ MORE HERE!

New York

In 2022, New York enacted the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of New York (NYVRA).  The NYVRA protects New York voters against discrimination. The bill includes:

✔️ A “preclearance” program that puts the burden on local governments with records of discrimination to prove that certain voting changes won’t harm voters of color before they can go into effect;

✔️ Provides new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court;

✔️ Expands language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency;

✔️ Creates strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction;

✔️ Instructs state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way whenever possible.  READ MORE HERE!

Connecticut 

In June of 2023, Connecticut enacted into law into law the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of Connecticut (CTVRA).  The CTVRA:

✔️ Includes a “preclearance” program similar to the NYVRAt;

✔️ Provides new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court;

✔️ Expands language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency;

✔️ Creates strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction;

✔️ Creates a central hub for election data that will empower officials and community members to ensure accessible elections;

✔️ Instructs state judges to interpret election laws in a pro-voter way. READ MORE HERE!

Progressive Victories in Virginia
We’ve all heard the old adage, “elections have consequences,” and in Virginia, the consequences are divine. In 2023, ADA worked in four Virginia House and Senate races to propel progressives to victory. Now, the new Democratic-controlled Virginia General Assembly is advancing a progressive agenda in the state’s legislature. Critical issues such as safeguarding abortion access, increasing the minimum wage, and regulating assault weapons are just a few of the bills that are poised to arrive on Gov. Youngkin’s desk.

Abortion Access

The House and Senate have passed bills to prohibit the governor from extraditing someone to another state to face charges for having a legal abortion in Virginia.

Minimum Wage

The House and Senate approved bills  to increase the minimum wage from the current $12 an hour to $13.50 effective Jan. 1, 2025, and to $15 by Jan. 1, 2026. Gov. Youngkin has made it clear that he does not support increasing Virginia’s minimum wage.

Gun Control 

The House passed a bill  that prohibits carrying “assault firearms” in public areas. Another bill that passed the House would require anyone who buys a firearm to either buy a locking device or sign a statement affirming that no minors live in their home.

A Voting Rights Win In North Carolina
Last fall, the North Carolina General Assembly passed (by override) Senate Bill 747 and Senate Bill 749, imposing significant restrictions on North Carolina’s voting procedures, leaving far-reaching consequences for the accessibility and fairness of the electoral process in the state. Senate Bill 747 curtails access to absentee mail-in voting. One of its provisions eliminates the 3-day grace period for mail-in ballots, leaving voters vulnerable to delays caused by weather or other mail disruptions. Senate Bill 749 threatens access to early voting – the most popular voting method in North Carolina – and can result in a significant reduction in early voting sites for this year’s election. As a result of these egregious and restrictive voting laws, several voting rights advocacy groups filed lawsuits against to stop the implementation of the worst aspects of the new laws.  In January, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, sided with voting rights advocates and blocked one provision of the law. In a 94-page filing, he wrote that the plaintiffs are likely to successfully claim that the law violates the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and that it would result in the tossing of legitimate ballots. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.
Voter Suppression Lowlights In Ohio
Last fall ADA and allies mobilize voters in Ohio to protect abortion rights.  Despite numerous attempts by the Secretary of State to trick voters with confusing ballot tactics, Ohioans overwhelmingly fought back against the MAGA Republicans and their extremist agenda.  Well…they’re at it again in Ohio.

MAGA extremists and their allies in the Ohio legislature are pursuing an aggressive voter suppression effort, and it just got the green light from a federal judge. Here are the lowlights of Ohio’s new voter suppression tactics:

  • Prohibit officials from prepaying postage on mail-in ballots. Anyone who forgets to add a stamp will be disenfranchised.
  • Limit each county to just ONE ballot drop-off location, no matter how large the county’s population or area.
  • Limit acceptable forms of voter ID. Ohio requires photo voter ID to vote.
  • Prohibit early in-person voting the Monday before Election Day, despite this being one of the most popular early voting days.
  • Reduce the amount of time available to request an absentee ballot.
  • Shorten the timeline in which a ballot can be received and counted.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Stay Tuned Here For More Legislative Updates!
More updates to come next week.

In 2023, voters in key states stood up and fought back against threats to our democracy. In 2024 the threats to our democracy are even greater!  WE CAN STOP THE MAGA REPUBLICANS! With your support, WE WILL defend OUR democracy and turn back the Trump threat in 2024! We need your support!

 

Click Here to Learn More About Defenders of Democracy