Friday, January 6, 2023

Last Call For Ohio Takes Your Vote

The Ohio GOP's first order of business: permanently disenfranchising Black voters in the state's largest urban counties with photo ID requirements and by limiting all counties to one early voting drop box.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed a major overhaul of state election laws on Friday that will require voters to present a photo ID at the polls.

Under the new law, voters must present a photo ID when they cast their ballot in person, although the ID doesn't need to have their current address on it. Qualifying IDs include an Ohio driver's license, state ID, U.S. passport, passport card, military ID or interim identification issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Voters could previously use alternative forms of identification at the polls, such as utility bills or bank statements.

As part of the new rules, any Ohioans 17 and older will be eligible to receive a free state ID card. Ohio licenses and ID cards must also note if the person is not a U.S. citizen.

The law also:

  • Requires completed mail-in ballots to arrive within four days of Election Day, instead of 10.
  • Requires voters who want to vote by mail to submit an application at least seven days before Election Day, instead of three.
  • Permits only one ballot drop box per county that's installed at the county board of elections office.
  • Eliminates in-person voting the Monday before Election Day and reallocates those hours to another time.
  • Gives provisional voters until four days after the election to provide missing information to election officials, instead of seven days.
  • Give boards of elections until eight days after the election to determine whether provisional ballots can be counted.
  • Eliminates most special elections in August unless the county, municipality or school district is under a fiscal emergency.
  • Prohibits curbside voting, unless the voter has a disability and is unable to enter their polling place.
  • Allows all 17-year-olds to serve as election officials, not just high school seniors.
Nearly every one of these measures is designed to make it more difficult for voters in large, urban counties like Hamilton and Cuyahoga to vote, particularly if they are not able to vote in person, or unable to spend a day at the DMV getting a state ID. The citizenship requirement is also there to scare off Hispanic voters.  

Ohio remains one of the most lawless states in the nation when it comes to the GOP ignoring state supreme court rulings and vote suppression tactics, and there's zero reason to believe things will improve in the state at all.

A Big Nasty Wedge Salad

One of the biggest reasons that Republicans are ruthlessly trying to destroy LGBTQ+ folks and trans folks in particular is because it's successfully being used as a wedge issue to try to crack the Obama coalition apart, and Black voters in particular.
Republicans and Democrats in the United States differ widely in their views on gender identity and transgender issues. But there are notable differences among Democrats, too, especially by race and ethnicity.

Overall, 60% of U.S. adults say that whether someone is a man or woman is determined by their sex at birth, while 38% say someone can be a man or woman even if that is different from their sex at birth, according to a May 2022 Pew Research Center survey. Most Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (86%) say someone’s gender is determined by sex at birth, while a majority of Democrats and Democratic leaners (61%) say someone’s gender can differ from their sex at birth.

But Democrats’ views differ widely by race and ethnicity. Around two-thirds of Black Democrats (66%) say that whether someone is a man or woman is determined by their sex at birth. By contrast, 72% of White Democrats, 61% of Asian Democrats and 54% of Hispanic Democrats say that someone can be a man or woman even if that is different from their sex at birth. On this question, Black Democrats’ views are closer to those of Republicans than to the views of other Democrats.
And the differences are also pretty stark when it comes to trans kids as well.

Among Democratic K-12 parents, views again differ by race and ethnicity. Majorities of Black and Hispanic Democratic parents either prefer that their K-12 children learn that sex at birth determines whether someone is a boy or girl – or say that their children should not learn about this subject at school at all. By contrast, nearly two-thirds of White Democratic K-12 parents (64%) prefer that their children learn at school that someone can be a boy or girl even if that differs from their sex at birth. (There were not enough Asian American Democratic K-12 parents in the September 2022 survey to analyze separately.)

What explains Black Democrats’ differences with other Democrats on questions related to gender identity and transgender people?

Black Democrats are generally more likely than other Democrats to describe their political views as moderate and less likely to describe their views as liberal. Black Democrats have also differed from other Democrats on certain social issues, including whether the legalization of same-sex marriage has been good for society. They tend to be more religious than other Democrats as well – and more likely to say religion influences their views on gender identity, according to the Center’s May 2022 survey.

Around four-in-ten Black Democrats (37%) say their religious views have a great deal or fair amount of influence on their views about whether someone’s gender can differ from their sex at birth. Fewer White (11%), Hispanic (21%) and Asian Democrats (22%) say the same. White Democrats, by comparison, are more likely than Democrats in all other major racial and ethnic groups to say their views on gender identity are influenced a great deal or fair amount by knowing someone who is transgender. White Democrats are also more likely than most other Democrats to say their views are influenced a great deal or fair amount by what they’ve learned from science.
So yes, the gap between Black and white Democrats on trans issues is pretty big, and Republicans are more than happy to keep pounding on that in order to try to break off Black support.  Ron DeSantis in particular is using this tactic to great success in Florida against both Black and Hispanic Dems.

This is something Democrats are going to have to deal with, or we're going to continue to bleed support from both communities.

And yes, I've known trans friends for decades now, they are awesome, they are wonderful, and they are very much under assault on a daily basis.

The Big Bluegrass Breakdown

Kentucky Republicans, in a position where they can pass anything they want with a supermajority and override any veto by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, are set to turn the commonwealth into the poorest state in the nation.
The top priority bill of the Kentucky General Assembly's Republican supermajority, which would lower the state's individual income tax rate to 4% beginning in 2024, passed through the state House Thursday.

House Bill 1, which would also codify an automatic reduction of the tax rate from 5% to 4.5% for Jan. 1 of this year, was passed out of the chamber on a near party-line vote of 79-19, advancing the GOP supermajority's long-term plan to eventually eliminate Kentucky's income tax.

The tax cut bill passed through the House budget committee earlier that morning, with Republicans touting it as a way to put more money back into the pockets of taxpayers and spur future economic and population growth.

"It's putting more money back (to) the hard-working Kentuckians across the commonwealth," said Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville, the lead sponsor of the bill and budget committee vice chair. "They'll be able to spend their money like they see fit, they'll be able to pay down debt, they'll be able to save for their families and spend accordingly."

All four Democrats on the budget committee voted against HB 1, arguing it would deprive the state's General Fund of more than $1 billion in tax revenue annually from the previous 5% rate, while largely benefiting the wealthiest in the state.

"This particular piece of legislation hurts lower-income Kentuckians and helps the wealthier, higher-income Kentuckians," said Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington. "It is not sustainable. Future legislators will have to raise taxes and we are not being fiscally responsible."

The tax cut bill is a product of Republicans' landmark House Bill 8 that passed in the 2022 session, which seeks to trigger automatic reductions of .5% to the individual income tax rate each year — so long as two budget conditions are met — until the income tax is eliminated.

Those HB 8 conditions are that the budget reserve trust fund (often called rainy day fund) is at least 10% of tax revenue for the previous fiscal year, and those same receipts exceed spending by at least the amount of revenue that would be lost by cutting the tax rate a full percentage point.

While the reduction of the tax rate from 5% to 4.5% beginning this year was automatic due to those conditions being met, HB 1 codifies that change, while also approving the further reduction to 4% beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

A fiscal note for HB 1 estimated it would reduce state tax revenue by $316 million through just the first half of 2024.

Pam Thomas with left-leaning think tank Kentucky Center for Economic Policy told the committee a 4% tax rate would result in state revenues dropping by roughly $1.2 billion annually from what they would be at 5% — more than what the state appropriates for its entire higher education system.

Noting the income tax reduction under the bill would be permanent, Thomas said the sales tax may have to be raised in the future if the economy hits a downturn and the state doesn't have enough revenue to meet critical obligations, disproportionately hurting lower-income people.

However, Rep. Jason Petrie, the Republican chair of the budget committee, dismissed those fears, saying Democratic critics have warned of pending increases to the sales tax rate since the legislature cut individual and corporate income tax rates from 6% to 5% in 2018, which hasn't happened.

"The rate of the sales tax remains the same," Petrie said. "We have every intent of continuing with that same sales tax rate."

Under House Bill 8, dozens of services previously exempt from a sales tax lost that exemption, though the estimated revenue from those moves was roughly $100 million — far from making up for revenue lost from the income tax cut.
The goal of course is to eliminate the state's income tax completely in a decade, leaving the state dependent on double digit sales taxes on goods and services, while also cutting as much as they can from schools, roads, social programs and basic government services.   The state's budget surplus will vanish, and the wealthiest Kentuckians will get tens of thousands of dollars.

Without income tax, the state's general fund will collapse, or have to be replaced with billions in additional sales tax, which is exactly what's going to come in the years ahead.
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