Happy New Year, Sirens!
Now that the confetti and champagne have been cleared away, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. We’ve got work to do Sirens!
It’s an election year, baby:
Get ready for another year of political ad-overload. All of Nevada’s four House seats are on the docket this election season, as are the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general seats. While it’s likely that Gov. Brian Sandoval is safe in his re-election bid, the LG seat could get interesting if Assemblywoman Lucy Flores (long rumored to be mulling a bid) jumps into the fray — curiously without Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s blessing, no less. This wouldn’t help increase the number of female Dems in governor’s mansions — currently one compared to R’s four — but it would be an interesting race for one of the least exciting statewide seats in Nevada. In addition, look for hot races in the Legislature (11 of 21 seats on the Senate and 42 seats in the Assembly) — including our guy Sen. Justin Jones (more on him in a sec).
Taxes, taxes, taxes:
Get ready to hear the “T” word a lot this year. As if hot races weren’t enough on the ballot, we’re going to see some controversy in initiatives, too. Both the proposed margins tax and mining tax are up. Look for a lot of rhetoric on why taxes are bad even though the margins tax — which would funnel much-needed money into our 48th ranked failing education system — and the initiative to remove tax protections from mining inexplicably embedded in the state constitution have overwhelming public support across several demographics. But even with strong public support, it’s going to be interesting to watch Democrats dance around the issue of taxes while campaigning for what they hope will be more seats in the Legislature and at least one new D in a statewide or congressional seat. Our memory doesn’t have to be all that long to remember how Ds managed to trip into victories or more often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory more than once during the 2013 Legislature.
Comprehensive sex education is (probably) back:
You know you can’t keep a good woman, or a good idea, down. You all know that Sen. Justin Jones — who is in one of the three most pivotal legislative races this election season — made my shit list with the unceremonious dump of AB230 at the Legislature. But never let it be said that I can’t forgive. (Forget, not so much.) After the Legislature ended, the Senator and I actually sat down for a cup of coffee. (I’m not that scary in real life, I promise.) At that coffee meeting, Jones looked me in the eye and promised to do what he can to bring comprehensive sex education back to the table. As many of Nevada’s 17 counties — including Lyon and Clark — look at revising outdated (and in some cases homophobic) sex education curriculum, we’ve never been more aware of how important a medically accurate, statewide update is. As Jones stares down an election season that looks to be even more heated than last time, when he beat a Republican challenger by just 300 seats — thanks in no small part to the campaigning of pro-choice women’s activists — you can bet that I’m not the only progressive who will be watching his work as the chair of the Legislative Committee on Health Care, which has its first meeting Jan. 8.
Abortion will continue to be center-stage in reproductive rights:
Just as we prepare for The Supreme Court to decide whether to take up abortion rights (in two cases) in 2014, Israel starts offering free abortions on demand in the new year. There have been a record amount of proposed anti-abortion laws in the past few years — with 300 state-level bills between January and June 2013 alone — and there looks to be no signs of slowing in that trend. While the Michigan and Ohio legislatures approved so-called “rape insurance” bills, anti-choice laws have drastically cut the number of open clinics nationwide. Well before 2013 drew to a close, lawmakers in several states were crafting anti-choice bills that could bring some real pain this year.
With the new year comes a raise in the minimum wage in 13 states. That brings the total of states with minimums higher than the national benchmark to 21. But as fast-food worker strikes have shown, it’s hard out there for a low-wage earner to get by without help from the social safety net. Since the majority of low-wage workers (64 percent) are women and parents, expect the issue of economic justice to become an even bigger deal in 2014.