Last week saw Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduce two bills intended to make access to voting easier. One bill allows people to register and vote on the same day in federal elections. The other bill bans states from requiring voters to show voter idea.
Ellison says the bills would prevent millions from being disenfranchised and argues that Republicans are trying to suppress historically Democrat blocs, such as youth and minority voters.
“Eligible voters deserve access to the polls. By passing these bills, we can ensure our nation lives up to its ideals and protect the most fundamental right in our democracy,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Daily Kos.
The proposals won praise from liberal MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
“We are seeing some signs of life in Congress,” she said.
Ellison’s Republican challengers countered that the move infringes on states authority.
“King Keith wants to take a basic constitutional right away from States. Are your rights next? Everyday he's in office, Everyone suffers,” Chris Fields, who threw his name into the GOP primary last month, wrote on Twitter.
‘Secret’ Farm Bill
Ellison joined 25 other representatives in a letter voicing concerns that four agriculture committee members—including Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL-MN) want to use the deficit-reduction process to slice $23 billion from the Farm Bill, according to The Minnesota Independent. The plan hasn’t yet been released, but it’s expected to cut direct payments to farmers in favor of programs focused on lost revenues.
The proposed changes arise out of the Super Committee tasked with cutting $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The recommendations must receive an up-or-down vote and are not subject to amendment or filibuster. Critics say the committee members are using the deficit-reduction process to introduce new programs into the Farm Bill without congressional oversight.
“We urge the Joint Select Committee to resist proposals that would go beyond its mandate of deficit reduction and authorize new, complicated agriculture programs that have not been the subject of congressional review,” the letter reads. “If the agricultural committees believe that these cuts will require a fundamental redesign of agricultural programs, those committees can and should move legislation through regular order.”
Ellison and other community leaders will host a panel discussion Wednesday about how the district, state and nation can be made more inclusive for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) families. The panel should discuss issues such as a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota. Also on the table are bills that have been introduced to give legal recourse to students bullied in school because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and bills to repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act," which prohibits federal agencies from recognizing nearly all LGBT families.
The panel speakers will be:
- Minneapolis State Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL- District 60)
- Monica Meyer, executive director of OutFront Minnesota
- Phillip M. Miner, director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Programs Office at the University of Minnesota
- Jann Garofano, Anoka-Hennepin teacher, Education Minnesota
- Justin Anderson, OutFront Minnesota intern
The event takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.