New laws are separating blue and red states further

SACRAMENTO — After the Texas governor ordered state agencies to investigate parents for child abuse if they offer certain medical treatments to their transgender children, California lawmakers proposed legislation making the state a haven for transgender youth and their families power.

When Idaho proposed an abortion ban that would authorize relatives to sue anyone who helps terminate a pregnancy after six weeks, nearby Oregon approved $15 million to cover abortion costs for patients from abroad.

While Republican activists in state legislatures across the country are aggressively pursuing conservative social policies, liberal states are taking defensive action. Spurred by a US Supreme Court that is expected to soon overturn a number of longstanding rights, including the constitutional right to abortion, left-leaning lawmakers from Washington to Vermont have begun expanding access to abortion, strengthening voting rights and denouncing laws in conservative states target LGBTQ minors.

The tide of action, particularly in the West, is exacerbating the already obvious differences between life in liberal and conservative-run parts of the country. And it is a sign of the consequences as state governments are increasingly controlled by single parties. Control of the Legislature is now split between parties in only one state – Minnesota – compared to 15 states 30 years ago.

“We keep polarizing and fragmenting, so blue states and red states aren’t just a little different, they’re radically different,” said Jon Michaels, a law professor who majors in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Americans have been sorting themselves into opposing partisan camps for at least a generation, increasingly choosing to live among like-minded neighbors while lawmakers manipulate their states to bolster their political identities by entrenching one-party rule.

“As states get more red or bluer, it’s easier for them politically to legislate,” said Ryan D. Enos, a Harvard political scientist who studies partisan segregation. “Does that create a feedback loop where more sorting occurs? That’s the part we don’t know yet.”

With about 30 legislatures in Republican hands, conservative lawmakers, in many cases working with a common legislative language, have begun to enact a tsunami of restrictions that have been blocked for years by Democrats and moderate Republicans at the federal level. A recent spate of anti-abortion legislation, for example, was the largest since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Calf.

Similar moves recently targeted LGBTQ protection and voting rights. Teams of “election police” have been formed in Florida and Texas to deal with the rare crime of voter fraud stemming from former President Donald J. Trump’s flimsy allegations after he lost the 2020 presidential election.

Carrying concealed weapons without a permit is now legal in almost half the country. “Bounty” laws — enforced not by governments that can be sued in federal courts but by rewarding individuals for filing lawsuits — have proliferated on topics from classroom speech to vaccination since the Supreme Court of USA has refused to put down the legal tactics Texas.

The movements in an election year have raised questions about the extent to which they are performative rather than substantive. Some Republican bills appear bold but vague on the face of it. Some seem designed primarily to motivate grassroots voters.

However, many send a strong cultural message. And divisions will continue to grow, said Peverill Squire, a state law expert at the University of Missouri, if the Supreme Court gives states more power over issues like abortion and elections, as he did in 2019 when he said that there is partisan manipulation was outside the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Some legal analysts also say the expected rollback of abortion rights could upset a host of other state-level privacy rights, from contraception to health care. Meanwhile, entrenched partisanship that has already hampered federal decision-making could block attempts to impose tough national standards in Congress.

“We may be entering a new era of state-centric policymaking,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Riverside. “We could be heading towards a future where conservative states and progressive states could decide they are better off pushing their own visions of what government should be.”

In recent weeks, several states, including Colorado and Vermont, have taken steps to enact abortion rights. More – Maryland and Washington, for example – have expanded access or legal protections pending out-of-state patients.

But no state has been as aggressive as California in supporting alternatives to Republican legislation.

A package of pending California bills would expand access to California abortions and protect abortion providers from extrastate legal action. Another proposal would thwart the enforcement of out-of-state court orders that remove children from the care of parents providing them with gender-affirming health services.

Another would enforce a ban on ghost guns and assault weapons with a California version of Texas’ recent six-week abortion ban that includes $10,000 bounties to encourage lawsuits by private individuals against anyone who sells, distributes or distributes these types of firearms manufactures.

In a state of the state speech last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom took more than a half-dozen hits in Florida and Texas, comparing California’s expanded sick leave, family leave and Medicaid coverage during the pandemic to higher Covid-19 deaths Guessing in the two Republican-led states, alluding to states “where they ban books” and “where you can sue your history teacher for teaching history.”

After Disney World employees protested the company’s initial reluctance to condemn the Florida law, which opponents call “don’t say gay,” Mr. Newsom proposed to Disney that it move about 2,000 West Coast positions to a new campus to cancel in Florida. say on twitter that “the door is open to bringing those jobs back to California — the state that actually represents the values ​​of your workers.”

Dan Schnur, a former Republican strategist who now teaches political science at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley, said that without strong opposition from Republicans, Mr Newsom used the governors of Texas and Florida as straw men.

“It’s an effective way to fortify yourself at home and raise your name in conversations with the Democratic president,” Mr. Schnur said.

Conservatives in and outside California have criticized the governor for fueling division.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican presidential candidate, noted in an email that Disneyland had been closed three times longer than Disney World during the pandemic and that hundreds of thousands of Americans moved to Florida between April 2020 and July 2021, while hundreds of thousands left California. Mr. Newsom, she wrote, “does a better job as a U-Haul salesman.”

“California politicians have no veto power over legislation passed in Florida,” added spokeswoman Christina Pushaw. “Reg. Newsom should focus on solving the problems in his own state.”

The office of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas – who appeared in 2018 with the slogan “Don’t California My Texas” – did not respond to emails and calls asking for comment.

In an interview, Mr. Newsom noted that for decades California has struggled with the cultural and demographic changes that are only now affecting other parts of the country, including early struggles over issues such as gay rights and immigration. “I am broadly very concerned about what is happening and whether it will be understood by the majority, not only by the American people but also by people within my own party,” he said.

“We will not sit back and watch neutrally as 20th century progress is wiped out,” he added, condemning the “zeacity for demonization” and an “anti-democratic” bias in recent policies restricting voting rights and LGBTQ protection.

“If you don’t say anything, you’re complicit,” Newsom said. “You have to face these guys and push back.”

California’s stance has far-reaching implications. Though U.S. census numbers showed stalled growth for the state in 2020, its population is the largest in the country at nearly 40 million, comprising one in nine U.S. citizens.

“In a world where the federal government has given up some of its core responsibilities, states like California need to figure out what their responsibilities are,” said Mr. Michaels, the UCLA professor. “The difficult question is: where does it end?”

For example, he noted, the implications could mean that federal rights that generations have taken for granted may only be available to those who can afford to uproot their lives and move to the states that guarantee them.

“It’s easy for Governor Newsom to say to struggling Alabamaans, ‘I feel your pain,’ but then what? ‘Come and rent a studio in San Francisco for $4,000 a month?’”

Violet Augustine, 37, an artist, art teacher, and single parent in Dallas, worries about the limits of the interstate refuge. She said she’s considered for months moving with her trans preschooler daughter away from Texas to a state where she doesn’t have constant fears for her safety. When Mr. Abbott and the Texas Attorney General directed the state to investigate parents of transgender children for possible child abuse, their plan solidified.

An appeal on GoFundMe raised around $23,000, and she recently visited Los Angeles, stayed at a hotel in the heart of Koreatown and met with leaders of a community group that describes itself as “radically inclusive” for LGBTQ families designated.

“The city itself just felt like a safe haven,” Ms. Augustine said. But, she added, her $60,000 salary, which allows her to rent a house in Texas, would barely cover a California apartment: “We’re going to have to downsize.”

Michael wines contributed reporting. New laws are separating blue and red states further

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