State Democrats Borrow GOP Playbook, Score Fast Wins on Guns, Abortion

Lawmakers in Michigan, Minnesota taking advantage of their newly won power
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2023 12:50 PM CST
State Democrats Borrow GOP Playbook, Score Fast Wins on Guns, Abortion
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate on Jan. 25, 2023, at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.   (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Michigan Democrats are quickly remodelling the state, seizing on the trifecta of control they earned in the 2022 election. They took over the state House, Senate, and governor's office for the first time since 1983, which made it possible to pass a slew of measures on "some of the country's most contentious topics," including abortion, guns, and gay rights on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. While the state Senate repealed an unenforceable abortion ban, the House of Representatives expanded background checks for gun purchases, solidified civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, and repealed a right-to-work law that allowed employees of unionized workplaces to opt out of union dues.

"We're in a unique position to do something about this right now," Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II said of the gun legislation, which follows a mass shooting at Michigan State University, per the Washington Post. According to the Times, Democrats are using "some of the same act-fast tactics honed by Republicans when they came into power." That can also be seen in Minnesota, where Democrats took full control of the state government. Lawmakers there "have already codified abortion rights, set ambitious clean energy goals, allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and restored the voting rights of an estimated 55,000 former prisoners," per the Times. And on Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order protecting access to medical care for trans people.

According to the States Project, a group that supports Democrats, the Minnesota Senate and Michigan House passed more bills in January than in the first month of the last six sessions combined, per the Post. Many are related to gun control. "For several years now, we've passed these bills in the House … but have been blocked by the Republican controlled Senate," Minnesota state Rep. Dave Pinto tells the Post. Now, "we can actually have our bills heard and considered in ways that we just never could have before." Gun control laws could be undone, however. As the Post reports, a 2022 Supreme Court ruling that eliminated a New York law restricting concealed weapons presents an "unprecedented legal threat." (More Democrats stories.)

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