The National Popular Vote Twice out of the last five elections, and five times total, the candidate who won the majority of the popular vote lost the election for president. In the last election, almost all of the campaigning for president happened in just 12 "swing" states. If you are not in one of those states, your vote for president doesn't matter very much. This is because of the way that states send their electors to the electoral college, where (except in Maine and Nebraska), all of the electors of a state are allocated "winner take all". But it doesn't have to be that way. The Constitution (and Supreme Court) has left it up to the states to decide how to choose their electors, as long as they do not discriminate. They can do it any way that they want. Ten states (CA, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA), plus DC, with 165 electoral votes have signed onto the National Popular Vote. If states with 105 more electoral votes sign on it takes effect. It essentially does away with the power of the electoral college and moves to the winner of the popular vote becoming president. [more inside]
California Legislature Approves Assisted Suicide [New York Times]
In a landmark victory for supporters of assisted suicide, the California State Legislature on Friday gave final approval to a bill that would allow doctors to help terminally ill people end their own lives. Four states — Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont — already allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medication to some patients. The California bill, which passed Friday in the State Senate by a vote of 23-14, will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who will roughly triple access to doctor-assisted suicide across the country if he signs it. Mr. Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, has given little indication of his intentions.
Samantha Bee of The Daily Show reports on women the effort to get legislature passed to protect rape survivors from seeing their rapists during custody visits (for rape survivors who bring their pregnancy to term) TRIGGER WARNING: Parenting with the Enemy. " [more inside]
A group of 4th graders in New Hampshire, learning about how Government works and following a long-held tradition of schools across the US, drafted and presented a bill proposing that the red-tailed hawk be named the official state raptor of New Hampshire. Their bill was solidly defeated by the Legislature, drawing ire for its mean-spirited mocking as well as a highly dubious abortion metaphor. While some have defended the Legislature's decision, others have come to the aid of the 4th graders, mostly thanks to John Oliver's declaration of the red-tailed hawk as the official mascot of Last Week Tonight. There are plans to potentially resurrect the bill.
Students take over Taiwan's Legislature amid massive protests against a trade bill with China. Student protesters stormed Taiwan's Legislative Yuan last week, overwhelming police, and have occupied it since as protests grew outside. Last night, another group of students stormed the Executive Yuan, but were removed, sometimes violently, by riot police. The Presidential Office is surrounded by barricades and police checkpoints. The protests began after the ruling party, the Kuomintang, declared a review of a China trade pact to be concluded after months of wrangling between it and the opposition in the Legislature. The students originally wanted the review to continue, but they're now demanding that it be scrapped altogether.
Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives. "In 2011 the Texas state legislature slashed family planning funds, passed a new sonogram law, and waged an all-out war on Planned Parenthood that has dramatically shifted the state’s public health priorities. In the eighteen months since then, the conflict has continued to simmer in the courts, on the campaign trail, and in at least one PR disaster. Meanwhile, what will happen to Texas women—and their fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands—remains very much unclear."
In a surprise move, Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty has resigned. CBC National Post Globe and Mail Toronto Star. [more inside]
In 2010, Rep. D.J. Bettencourt became the youngest majority leader in the history of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, as well as the youngest House majority leader of any state legislature in the U.S. On May 25, 2012, Bettencourt announced his resignation from the House, citing his upcoming wedding and his new job as executive director of the New Hampshire Legal Rights Foundation. Three days after his resignation, Bettencourt resigned again – this time with an apology for “misrepresenting [his] work.” [more inside]
How edumacated is your state legislature? (sorry, U.S. only) The Chronicle of Higher Education takes on the issue of how educated U.S. lawmakers at the state level are/should be. [more inside]
If politicians were mathematicians. "I would like to suggest two systems for parliamentary votes, one that would weaken the party system but without killing it off entirely, and one that would protect large minorities. Neither has the slightest chance of being adopted, because they are both too complicated to be taken seriously. But mathematicians wouldn’t find them complicated at all — hence the title of this post." Fields medalist Tim Gowers messes around with political axioms.
Once-revered S.C. lawmaker freezes to death alone. Maybe it's OK to get in someone's business and force them to get help? A terrible way to go out.
In 1897, the Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill mandating that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle (pi) was 3.2. Now, 112 years later, their neighbors in the Illinois Senate have passed a resolution redefining Pluto as a planet, at least when it passes through the Illinois night sky. Of course, Pluto may not even travel through the Illinois night sky for some time.
Kentucky Lawmaker Wants to Ban Anonymous Internet Posting. This bill is pretty much a nonstarter, but should online defamation be criminalized? [pdf]
The partial veto, enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution since 1930, gives the governor the power to veto only a portion of a bill passed by the legislature. Since then, governors, both Republican and Democratic, have gotten increasingly creative about its application -- vetoing the word "not" to reverse the meaning of a bill, vetoing digits out of numbers to reduce appropriations, even vetoing individual letters from words in order to create new text, Humument-style. (This last power, the so-called "Vanna White" veto, was removed by Constitutional amendment in 1990.) Another attempt to strip the governor of the partial veto has just failed. Doesn't it sound like fun to be governor of Wisconsin? Try it yourself.
The Worst Congress Ever. How our national legislature has become a stable of thieves and perverts -- in five easy steps. By Matt Taibbi. [Via TalkLeft.]
"An Ohio legislative panel yesterday rubber-stamped an unprecedented process that would allow sex offenders to be publicly identified and tracked even if they've never been charged with a crime... [t]he concept was offered by Roman Catholic bishops as an alternative to opening a one-time window for the filing of civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse that occurred as long as 35 years ago." From Megan and Sarah to Amie to...well...this.
Nebraska has the only unicameral, non-partisan legislature in the United States. Created by constitutional amendment in 1935, Nebraska's legislature gained brief influence as a model of legislative politics after the "one man, one vote" Supreme Court rulings in the mid-60s. Many states had not reapportioned their districts for years, creating an imbalance in state and national legislative politics. The Supreme Court ruling which sparked the brief campaign for unicameral legislatures.