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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Texas Senate passes “Save Chick-fil-A” bill … Tax proposals scrapped in California … Louisiana debates abolishing the death penalty.
After a lawsuit, the city of Dayton, Ohio has agreed to allow an Indiana chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally in the city on May 25. The city sued the group in March but settled the suit last week, which means the rally can move forward. "We never asked for anything except for the right to assemble peacefully and the right to free speech," the group wrote in an email to the Associated Press. Dayton's city attorney, Barbara Doseck, said that the city’s primary goal is keeping residents safe. "The agreement does not mean that we accept their hateful views or that their presence is supported by our leadership, our community or our residents,” Doseck said. Under the consent decree ordered by the court, the KKK has agreed to not “incite any violence,” and to refrain from wearing paramilitary gear and carrying assault rifles, bats, flame throwers, shields, and knives. They can still carry firearms with permits and wear masks. The city plans to have a strong police presence at the event to avoid a violent conflict. Counter protesters do plan to attend. “Hate is an open attack on tolerance, decency and overall community health. We must not ignore it, but instead take action, unite against it, and create opportunities for sustained movement,” said Erica Fields, the executive director of the Dayton Human Relations Council. Dayton’s mayor Nan Whaley said the community response to the rally reflects the city's values. “Although we may choose to express our anger and frustration about this event differently, our community has certainly shown that we are united against hate,” she said. [Dayton Daily News; The Lima News]
RELIGIOUS BUSINESSES | The Texas Senate has passed a “Save Chick-fil-A” bill that would prohibit the government from penalizing businesses on the basis of their religious affiliations. The move comes a few months after the San Antonio City Council voted to remove a proposed Chick-fil-A from the city’s airport, citing the company’s history of donations to anti-LGBTQ organizations. Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes said that the state legislation was necessary following San Antonio’s actions. “I think you’ll find this is a reasonable response, this is a legitimate approach to defending First Amendment speech,” said Hughes. But opponents say the bill is discriminatory. "The bill does nothing but target the GLBT community. It sends the wrong message that Texas discriminates, plain and simple,” said Democratic Sen Borris Miles. The bill heads to the Texas House this week. [Dallas Morning News; NBC News]
TAXES | Many of the proposals to introduce new taxes in California were nixed during this legislative session. The new taxes would have brought in an anticipated $15 billion for the state. One proposal would have taxed companies making more than $10 million at a rate set by the ratio between the salaries of the CEO and a median employee. Nancy Skinner, the bill’s sponsor, said that she won’t stop the fight for it. “The concept is too important. We have corporations across the country showing record-high profits and CEOs with record high salaries at the same time regular people have had their wages stagnated,” Skinner said. Other tax proposals that failed would have affected sales of soda, guns, and gas. California’s current budget shows a $21.5 billion surplus. [The San Luis Obispo Tribune; CNBC]
DEATH PENALTY | Louisiana’s House could consider legislation to abolish the death penalty that advanced out of the criminal justice committee with a close 8-7 vote. The bill is unlikely to pass the Republican majority in the House, especially given that similar bills have all failed in recent years, as well as one this session that would have let voters make a decision about the abolishment of capital punishment. Republican Rep. Raymon Crews has been one of the strongest advocates for maintaining the death penalty, as he believes it "teaches people morality, it teaches people that life is absolutely sacred.” But Rep. Terry Landry, the bill’s author, is undeterred. "I believe death by government is wrong. No one said this process was going to be easy. I don't expect it to be easy. And I expect the debate to be as intense on the floor,” he said. Louisiana has not put anyone to death since 2010. [KTVE; The Advocate]
ABORTION | An analysis of data about the gender make-up of state legislatures shows that states that passed the most aggressive anti-abortion laws have some of the lowest percentage of female representation in their senates. Alabama and Kentucky, two of the states that have recently passed strict restrictions on abortion, each have only four female state senators, ABC News noted. Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the nonpartisan Center for American Women and Politics, the organization that crunches these numbers, said that women tend to bring marginalized voices into the policy conversation more often. “Abortion is an issue in which women on both sides of the aisle are particularly passionate, and they feel that they, as women, are best suited to speak to it because of its direct effect on women,” Sinzdak said. But Jeff Jones, a senior editor for Gallup, cautioned that women aren’t likely to stand against abortion bans just because of their gender—instead, they’ll likely vote along party lines. "Even though women are more Democratic than men, there are still 36% of women who are Republican or Republican leaning," Jones said. In Alabama, the House bill to ban abortions was sponsored by a woman, and the governor who signed it into law is also a woman, both of whom are Republicans. [The Hill; ABC News]
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.
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