by Countable | 11.8.17
With two gubernatorial wins in Tuesday’s elections, the flipping of the state senate in Washington, and a statewide referendum in Maine, some major policy changes may be afoot in which could reverberate across the country.
The GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House at the moment, but some states are staking their claim to policies that pushback against the GOP agenda. With Tuesday’s elections we are likely to see significant policy changes around healthcare, the environment and marijuana legalization in select states, which could complicate things for the GOP.
In Maine voters approved a statewide referendum to expand Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. Republican Governor Paul LePage has vetoed legislation to initiate the expansion five times, according to the Portland Press Herald. He is still refusing to enact it unless or until the state legislature fully funds it:
"…my administration will not implement Medicaid expansion until it has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated, and I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families, raiding the rainy day fund or reducing services to our elderly or disabled.”
It is unclear, however, if he and the Maine GOP can, by law, block the measure.
For those in other GOP controlled states who have blocked the Medicaid expansion, the referendum and resulting fight for enactment in Maine may provide a roadmap for expanding healthcare against GOP opposition.
The Washington Post outlined a variety of ways that Democratic wins on Tuesday could advance the "green agenda". First among them is the move towards sustainable energy being called for by New Jersey gubernatorial winner Phil Murphy. Murphy wants to aggressively move the state towards 100 percent renewable energy, despite the current prevalence of natural gas usage:
"Murphy has pledged to bring the Garden State to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 and set what his campaign calls "the most ambitious offshore wind target in the country" by promising to bring 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind power online by 2030. That's a sea change for a state with a significant oil and gas refining sector. (ExxonMobil was once Standard Oil of New Jersey.) Even into 2016, natural gas met more than half the state's electricity demand, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”
In Washington State, where Democrats now control the state Senate, Governor Jay Inslee has a clear path to enacting a strong carbon pricing strategy in concert with California, Oregon and Canada. The New York Times outlined his upcoming strategy on Monday:
"Mr. Inslee said the special election in Eastside Seattle could open the way for broad action, including taxing carbon but also joint initiatives on energy efficiency, research and clean water.
"We intend to make a full-scale effort in the next session of the Legislature if we win," he said. “It will be a bell in the night, showing hope for the country, rejecting the Trump agenda of denying climate science.” A coastal alliance, Mr. Inslee added, especially when cities such as Seattle and Portland, Ore., and throughout California are booming economically, would help make the case to a national audience that addressing climate change through energy policy is good for business and job creation.”
Vox details that soon-to-be New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made legalizing marijuana recreationally for anyone over 21 part of his platform. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state. Murphy claims it is a justice issue:
"The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana. And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just."
The legislature seems poised to follow Murphy’s lead, which would make New Jersey the ninth state to fully legalize marijuana. If they do it will be the first time legalization has happened through a legislature rather than a citizen referendum.
Are you expecting policy changes as a result of Tuesday’s election results? What are you hoping for, or what do you fear?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Rachana D Pradhan via Twitter)
Written by Countable