This week’s election seemed to carry a clear message: The debate over abortion rights and restrictions kicked off by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision two years ago to overturn Roe v. Wade is playing out to Democrats’ advantage, and Republicans are struggling to come up with an effective response.
There may have been another message buried in the outcomes: The GOP’s effort to win over suburban parents who want a greater say in their children’s education — “parental rights,” in the political shorthand — isn’t working.
Moms for Liberty, the right-wing group that fielded candidates in school board races across the country, largely fell flat on Tuesday. Voters in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virginia, Minnesota, New Jersey and elsewhere rejected those candidates, opting instead for more traditional public school advocates. Parental rights was at the heart of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) 2021 campaign, but his party lost its majority in the House of Delegates.
Republicans who are already in office have had a remarkable year reshaping education, mostly through expanded voucher programs in states like Iowa, Arkansas, Florida and elsewhere (as we’ve written about before). But beyond voucher expansion, parental rights isn’t turning into the silver bullet the GOP once hoped.
Here are nine other things that happened in the states this week:
ABORTION: Abortion rights advocates are aiming to secure ballot access for initiatives and constitutional amendments in next year’s presidential contests. Potential ballot measures are collecting signatures or navigating the legal process in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington. (Pluribus News)
TRUMP: The Minnesota Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to ban former President Donald Trump from the ballot in 2024 over the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. The court did not rule on the clause itself; justices ruled that state law allows political parties to put any candidate they want on primary ballots. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
HEALTH CARE: More than 10 million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid over the last six months after expiration of a pandemic-era requirement that extended coverage. The public health group KFF found 71% of those disenrolled lost coverage for procedural reasons. Federal figures show 18 million people are still on Medicaid. (Stat)
ENERGY: The Illinois House approved a measure lifting a moratorium on nuclear energy in a broad bipartisan vote. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signaled he supports the measure after the bill’s chief sponsor added new inspection requirements. (Chicago Tribune)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: California’s Assembly will convene a special Select Committee on Retail Theft to consider measures to address the growing problem. Some lawmakers have called for reforms to Proposition 47, a voter-approved measure from 2014 that reclassified some nonviolent crimes — including commercial theft under $950 — as misdemeanors. (Sacramento Bee)
Oregon lawmakers are hearing testimony over proposals to recriminalize some drug possession, after voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 to roll back criminal penalties to focus instead on treatment. Legislators have not decided what steps they should take, though law enforcement officials testified Monday that criminalizing possession would help the treatment process. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
INFRASTRUCTURE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has fast-tracked construction of a $4.5 billion reservoir in rural Glenn and Colusa counties, a facility that will capture water from the Sacramento River during wet years. It’s the state’s first major reservoir project in 50 years. (Sacramento Bee)
IMMIGRATION: Texas lawmakers have begun a fourth special session in an attempt to pass legislation making illegal border crossings a state crime. Sen. Charles Perry (R) and Rep. David Spiller (R) introduced identical versions of a bill that would allow Texas law enforcement officers to arrest undocumented immigrants. The bill would require state judges to order someone to return to Mexico in lieu of prosecution. (Texas Tribune)
Massachusetts House leaders are proposing to spend $250 million to address the surge of homeless and migrant families that are straining the state’s shelter system. Massachusetts can house up to 7,500 families, a limit they are likely to hit today or tomorrow. (Boston Globe) Illinois and Chicago officials are partnering with the White House to open a one-stop work authorization clinic aimed at addressing the migrant surge. The clinic will be able to help about 150 migrants a day. (Chicago Tribune)
EDUCATION: The Wisconsin Assembly voted to bar the University of Wisconsin system from considering race when deciding how to distribute financial aid to students. Gov. Tony Evers (D) is likely to veto the bill. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
POLITICS: Oregon Republican senators who boycotted the legislature for six weeks this year have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a voter-approved measure that bars members with too many unexcused absences from seeking re-election. Sens. Dennis Linthicum (R), Brian Boquist (R) and Cedric Hayden (R) say they were expressing their First Amendment rights and shouldn’t be disqualified from seeking re-election. (Associated Press)
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner (D) has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn a new state law that requires partisan labels for Supreme Court and appellate court candidates. Brunner wants the federal court to overturn another part of the law that requires judges to resign before running for a nonjudicial office. (Columbus Dispatch)
Brunner has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2026.
Also in Ohio, a proposed constitutional amendment to change the way Ohio draws its legislative and congressional district lines will begin collecting signatures after Attorney General Dave Yost (R) approved ballot language. The amendment had been delayed for about a week because of a typo. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
North Carolina Auditor Beth Wood (D) will resign from office, two days after she was indicted on charges that she misused a state-owned vehicle for personal errands. Wood had already said she would not seek re-election; on Thursday, she said she would resign effective Dec. 15. (Associated Press)