From a Democratic Party email listing 10 positive items I wasn’t aware of. If you feel you could use some upbeat news, read on.
10. Paid Sick Leave: Thanks to Democratic leadership, New Mexico joined 15 other states in passing landmark paid sick leave legislation. And as of this year, Mainers, Coloradans, and Connecticans are now eligible for the benefit.
9. Anti-Discrimination: This year, Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, and Maryland all banned the so-called “gay panic defense” that’s been used to excuse violent hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. Six Dem-majority states banned hair discrimination, which dispoportionately targets, shames, and punishes Black and indigenous students and workers.
8. Housing Assistance: Access to safe and affordable housing has always been a challenge, but a global pandemic only heightened the threat. Democrats in states like New York and Virginia allocated billions of dollars in federal COVID relief to help renters struggling to pay the bills.
7. Gun Reform: While Republican-controlled state legislatures spent the year making it easier than ever to purchase and carry a gun, Democrats doubled down on efforts to prevent senseless violence and keep dangerous weapons away from people who intend to do harm. Virginia banned convicted domestic abusers from having a gun, as did Colorado – which also implemented a waiting period for gun purchases and passed a law requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons.
6. Cannabis Legalization: This year, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Virginia, and Connecticut all legalized marijuana, addressing long-standing racial inequities in our criminal justice system and benefitting the states economically through increased tax revenue.
5. Education Investments: This year, California approved funding to establish universal pre-K. Virginia Democrats gave teachers a 5% raise and made community college free for tens of thousands of low and middle-income students pursuing jobs in high-demand fields.
4. Police Reform: The legacies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of police violence continued to inspire major reforms in blue states this year. Maryland’s Democratic legislators overrode the Republican governor’s veto to pass a police reform package that included the establishment of a civilian review board, restrictions of no-knock warrants, and mandated body cameras. California passed its own package of reforms, raising standards and aiming to take badges away from police who lie, use excessive force, or display racial bias.
3. Voting Rights: While Republicans are in the midst of a well-funded, well-coordinated effort to roll back voting rights, Democratic majorities in the states moved quickly to expand access to the ballot box. Virginia became the first state in the South to enact a Voting Rights Act. Democrats passed automatic voter registration in Delaware, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Nevada, which also pushed through legislation to permanently expand mail voting after a successful 2020 election administration during the pandemic.
2. Going Green: Hawaii became the first state in the nation to declare a climate emergency. New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts passed legislation setting a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050. In all, at least 12 Democratic-majority states passed legislation this year to tackle climate change and create clean energy jobs.
1. Abortion: With the Supreme Court dangerously close to overturning Roe v. Wade, Democratic state legislatures are increasingly our last line of defense when it comes to defending reproductive freedom. This year, New Mexico repealed a law criminalizing abortion. Virginia, Washington, and Colorado all made insurance coverage for abortion far more accessible, while Hawaii and Maine expanded access by widening the category of health care workers who can administer abortion care.