NF Legislative Roundup: Week of Feb. 15, 2021

It’s that time again! Welcome to Neighborhood FORWARD’s weekly Legislative Roundup, where we flag bills of note in state legislatures across the country. This week, Arizona targets our fundamental rights, Maryland aims for a redemption arc, and more. Check out our highlights below!

ARIZONA

  • HB2309
    • Why we’re watching: HB2309 is just one of a slew of bills targeting people for exercising their First Amendment right to peaceful protest. HB2309’s broad language means that even if someone did not commit an act of violence or property damage, they can be charged with a felony just for participating in a protest. This bill and others like it are a thinly-veiled jab at the Black Lives Matter movement. Clearly the folks in power are worried by our mass mobilization last summer, so we must be doing something right.
  • SB1713
    • Why we’re watching: Oh, Arizona… you’re catching our eye for all the wrong reasons. The legislature is trying to push through multiple voter suppression bills, including SB1713, which would require Arizonans to submit photocopies of certain documents in order to vote by mail. Considering Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud, it’s clear the state’s 2020 election results have some legislators desperately searching for underhanded ways to keep their seats.

CALIFORNIA

  • SB464
    • Why we’re watching: Introduced this week, SB464 would expand California’s food assistance program, CalFresh, to include people whose immigration status currently precludes them from the program, such as undocumented immigrants or DACA recipients. Everyone is struggling due to the pandemic, and immigrants are no exception. No one deserves to go hungry. Period.

MARYLAND

  • SB0224
    • Why we’re watching: Kudos to Maryland! Last week, they made our “naughty” list thanks to a prohibition-esque bill seeking to criminalize some types of tobacco, but today they make a comeback with the Value My Vote Act. This bill would require state correctional facilities to provide incarcerated individuals with a voter registration application and documentation that their voting rights have been restored upon their release. SB0224 has garnered bipartisan support and is backed by multiple advocacy groups, including Schools Not Jails and Out for Justice.

MINNESOTA

  • HF904
    • Why we’re watching: While Maryland escaped our critique this week, Minnesota is not so lucky. Like bills we’ve seen in other states, HB134 is a bill with good intentions that doesn’t seem to consider the unintended consequences it may cause. By criminalizing a tobacco product that is smoked almost exclusively by Black adults, this bill and others like it give law enforcement yet another reason to target Black and Brown folks. There are ways to impact public health without singling out minority groups.

As always, we encourage you to pay close attention to what your local government is focused on and how legislation could affect your neighborhood. See a bill you’re excited about or one that concerns you? Send it our way at info@neighborhoodforward.com or message us on any of our social channels and we may feature it next week!

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