Patriotism is a funny thing these days. We have Tea-Party Patriots, we have Civil Patriots, we have Democratic Patriots, we even have high-crime patriots (Edward Snowden being one example). Each of us is a patriot in our own way. This is a shout-out to my good friend Kyle Wolfe, who, today, in solidarity with his other organizers was among one of the 120 people arrested in the North Carolina State Assembly for failing to disperse when ordered. Today the North Carolina Legislature is considering several very controversial bills. A few of the most serious ones are SB 666 which would prohibit parents of dependent students from claiming said student if he votes in a jurisdiction outside the state where he or she is attending college or university. Then there's the legislation that threatens to cut off unemployment benefits to over 71,000 families across the state, as well as laws about hydraulic fracturing, and a few other bills. Today, the participants in these "Moral Monday" demonstrations have drawn over 3,000-5,000 protesters to the state capital and has put North Carolina in the national spotlight. In speaking with Kyle, he told me "its weird I'm PROUD of being arrested."
Like many other states in this legislative session, almost all the legislatures being picketed, demonstrated, and canvassed for their radical views and policies, most are from heavily Republican-controlled states. Recently, Wisconsin saw it's own drama when the President of the State Senate shouted obscenely at Democratic Senators because they attempted to call attention back to the debate they desired on a highly controversial abortion bill requiring a vaginal ultrasound. The speaker shouted at opponents of the bill whom, they believe rushed the bill to a vote shutting down all debate on the legislation abruptly. In that instance, he broke his gavel while trying to maintain order in the chamber.
The Texas Legislature attempted to pull a fast one on the public by calling a special session of the Legislature to attempt to steamroll sweeping anti-abortion legislation through the House and Senate before anyone could blink. But currently, at this time, Senator Wendy Davis is mounting a good old-fashioned, 13 hour filibuster of the original kind, standing without the right to a break or to lean on anything and speak until the time to vote on the bill expires as 12-Midnight, local time. The move was spawned from a public-organized citizens' filibuster where hundreds of people piled into committee meetings to speak publically about the anti-abortion legislation that would essentially close 37 of the 40 abortion clinics in the state, leaving millions of women without access to women's health care services and abortion services, as well as cutting off all of Western Texas entirely. We'll have to see of Ms. Davis is successful in her efforts at the end of the day.
Washington State has drawn it's own Republican backlash as Republicans, who make up 95% of the Majority Coalition Caucus, a bipartisan (used loosely) collaborative body of 24 Republicans and 2 renegade Democrats who have chosen to caucus together forming a majority even though Democrats technically have the most members present, are threatening a state-shutdown of government due to severe differences in taxation and spending...most of which revolves around the Estate Tax and education funding provisions. Republicans are demanding that the money being invested in Education not go to teacher salaries, while Democrats are objecting fervently at the attempt to squelch teacher pay increases. And recently, a member of the The People's House, Republican Liz Pike from the 18th Legislative District, came under harsh criticism for sounding off on her views regarding teachers on her Facebook page, by posting this Open Letter:
A life in the day of a WA State Representative...This unleashed a firestorm of responses from across the state about her indignation towards educators and the Education and Teaching unions who are constantly fighting with the legislature for more funding for the state's already impaired Education system. This also following a Supreme Court Ordered increase in funding to meet the state's constitutional obligation to provide public education to it's citizens.
I spent the morning answering emails from constituents. I receive a lot of emails from teachers complaining about their cost of living increases being suspended.
Here's an open letter to public educators!
Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.
Instead, I chose to work a career in private sector business so that I could be one of those tax payers who funds your salaries and benefits as a state employee in a local school district.
First, let me be clear, thank you for your service to our schools. I hope you are one of the excellent instructors who is inspiring our children to reach their full intellectual potential and learn the value of true leadership in our community. I hope you are one of the brightest and best in your teaching profession who is willing to raise the bar in our public education system that unfortunately continues to plummet when compared to worldwide education standards. The big difference between the U.S. public education system and others in the world is that we have unions that only care about the adults in the system. Since the rise of teachers' unions in this nation, our public education system has deteriorated.
I always encourage folks to choose a job they love! If you are uninspired because of the lack of a cost of living increase, I encourage you to speak with your neighbors who work in the private sector. Ask them when was the last time they were guaranteed pay increases that were not based on performance standards. Furthermore, teachers who are dissatisfied with their pay and benefits should look for work elsewhere so that someone who is inspired to greatness can take their place in the classroom. Our children deserve an exceptional and inspired teacher in every classroom. Don't you agree?
If you look at all the possible things the state can do for its citizens, you will quickly realize there will never be enough money for all of the programs that some legislators want. Just like you and I do in our own household budgets, so must the legislature. For me, it's all about priorities and spending less money that the state takes in. If we do this, we will have a reserve for emergencies and economic downturns so that we can avoid raising yet more taxes.
I am a State Representative with core values in smaller, more efficient government, more personal responsibility and less reliance on government in our everyday lives. My positions were clearly stated in my year long campaign before I was elected and they should come as no surprise.
To every excellent teacher in Clark County. Thank you for the great work you are doing in our classrooms. Enjoy your summer!
Liz PikeWashington State House of Representatives18th Legislative District"Protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
Across the nation, citizens and Republican-Controlled legislatures are either gridlocked or clashing horribly as unpopular, pro-business, anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-human measures are passed through these houses. Only time will tell if this backlash will allow Republicans to survive the 2014 elections.