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Florida GOP Bill Would Let Doctors Deny Health Care to Anyone if They Just Felt Like It

The bill is expected to target women, people of color, and LGBTQ people in the state.

Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Florida’s House of Representatives will vote next week on a bill that would allow doctors and health insurance companies to deny care to anyone they want.

According to the bill, “a health care provider or health payor has the right to opt out of participation in or payment for any health care service on the basis of a conscience-based objection,” meaning based on their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.

Providers and insurers would face no consequences under the measure and would not be required to refer patients to a place that would provide the needed care. If they are penalized for denying care or coverage, the doctor or company can sue.

House Bill 1403 makes no mention of protections against gender- or race-based discrimination. Critics are worried that the sweeping nature of the text would let providers deny care or coverage to women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.

Kara Gross, the legislative director and senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Florida, slammed the state legislature for government overreach, pointing out that the bill does not set a standard for potential objections.

There is no definition of ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ in the bill. Who determines what constitutes a sincerely held moral or ethical belief, and more importantly, why should access to health care be denied based on such vague, imprecise, and subjective terms?” Gross said in a statement Wednesday. She cited examples that could lead to people denying care, such as believing people should not have children before marriage.

“Medical standards, not individual, subjective beliefs, should guide medical and health care services.”

HB1403 is the latest in an onslaught of measures that Florida Republicans have put forward attacking people’s rights and health care access. They have especially targeted LGBTQ rights, particularly for transgender people. Just Wednesday, the House passed a bill that would let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care.

But HB 1403 makes clear that Republicans are perfectly fine with stripping rights away from everybody. Also on Wednesday, the House passed an anti-drag bill that is already stopping Pride parades and festivals in the state.

During the debate on that measure, Democrat Daryl Campbell warned that “right now, [Republicans are] going after the LGBTQ+ community. For those watching, they will come after you when it’s in their interest.”

It appears that is already happening in Florida.

Students Across Florida Are Protesting Ron DeSantis’s Entire Agenda

Students are walking out of school and discussing history lessons banned in classrooms.

Students from the Miami-Dade County Public Schools School for Advanced Studies–Wolfson campus protest during a statewide walkout on April 21.
Joe Raedle/Getty Image

Florida students across the state are conducting a two-day protest and walkout against pretty much Ron DeSantis’s entire policy agenda. Students from at least 300 high schools, every state HBCU, and 90 percent of Florida’s overall colleges were slated to be participating, according to organizers.

The efforts began Friday, as students walked out of class, choosing instead to learn a banned history lesson about Black and LGBTQ historical figures. The students also checked their voter registration and began sending letters to school board officials and DeSantis himself, vowing to use their votes to defend student rights.

Students also held a rally at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus, in solidarity with Floridians being attacked by an array of bills pushed by state Republicans.

Students are trying to bring attention to laws that would ban the teaching of race, gender, and intersectionality; ban “any speech or expressive activity” that “advocate[s] for diversity, equity, and inclusion”; and criminalize anyone who has an undocumented person in their home or car. They also are protesting the state’s new six-week abortion ban and permitless carry laws.

Demonstrators during the “Walkout 2 Learn” rally in Miami on Friday, April 21
Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg/Getty Images

“Republicans … claim that they hate cancel culture,” Democratic Representative Angie Nixon told local affiliate WJXT. “However, they are literally the ones trying to cancel cultures. They’re trying to cancel our communities. They’re trying to cancel the ability for our students—our babies—to learn, to be taught true history, Black history, LGBTQ history, trans history, our history, American history.”

The protest follows Florida’s expansion of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law up through high school. It also comes as groups begin to cancel Pride celebrations in the wake of Florida Republicans’ forthcoming drag ban, which is so extreme it would also ban high school kids from watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show or even the musical Hair.

“The overwhelming majority of Florida students, faculty, and community members reject these attacks on our education, livelihood, and safety,” organizers with Stand for Freedom said. “We understand that diversity is what makes our schools and nation strong … students will be rallying to unite against these infringements on our individual freedoms.”

Ohio Republicans Are Making It Harder to Change the Constitution

The move could block abortion protections, gun reform, and more.

Ohio state Capitol building
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Ohio Republicans are making it harder to amend the state Constitution—affecting things like abortion rights, increases to the minimum wage, and gun reform.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate passed a bill to set up a $20 million taxpayer-funded election to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments. Since 1912, voters have just needed a simple 50-plus-one majority to add an amendment to the Constitution. Now Republicans want to raise that number to 60 percent, allowing a smaller minority of voters to stop any potential amendments from passing.

Of course, this isn’t happening in a vacuum; this isn’t preparation for an unknown future. For instance, Ohioans may be voting on abortion rights this November and on a raise to Ohio’s minimum wage next year. The push to set up a special election this August is meant as a final Hail Mary to block those referendums (sound like a familiar conservative formula?).

Four states—Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Michigan—voted by simple majority to affirm abortion rights just in the past year. Two others, Vermont and California, voted above the 60 percent threshold.

Also last year, Nevada and Nebraska both voted in simple majorities in favor of raising their minimum wages.

Critics have noted that Ohio’s August election would be a costly endeavor, all for a likely low-turnout affair. (Last year’s August election garnered a whopping 8 percent in turnout.) Senator Nathan Manning, the lone Republican to vote against the bill, agreed.

“I don’t think spending $20 million on a low turnout election was the right decision,” Manning told the Columbus Dispatch.

As for the principle of it all, Ohio lawmakers in December actually moved to eliminate most August special elections, on the same grounds of cost and turnout. The change was supported by Republicans, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

The issue of turnout is all the greater when, comically, a vote to raise the threshold of referendums from 50 percent to 60 percent would itself only require 50 percent to pass.

Now the bill’s fate is left to the Ohio House, where Republicans have a supermajority.

Republicans’ Big Plan for 2024 Is to Make It Harder for College Kids to Vote

Leaked audio from a top Republican strategist reveals where the party’s priorities are.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
A woman votes in the 2022 midterm election on Election Day in East Lansing, Michigan.

Republicans know that the majority of young voters don’t support them. So rather than appeal to the next generation, the GOP has decided the best course of action is to make it harder for young people to vote.

Top Republican strategist Cleta Mitchell gave a presentation at the RNC donor retreat over the weekend that was ironically titled “A Level Playing Field for 2024,” journalist Lauren Windsor reported. Mitchell worked with former President Donald Trump to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and has continued to work closely with the Republican Party since Trump left office.

Leaked audio recordings of her presentation reveal Mitchell called on the GOP to limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration, and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters. Both young voters and mail-in votes tend to skew Democratic.

“What is this young people effort that they do? They basically put the polling place next to the student dorm so they just have to roll out of bed, vote, and go back to bed,” Mitchell complained.

At one point in her presentation text, Mitchell insisted that her organization, the Election Integrity Network, is “NOT about winning campaigns.” But her presentation gave no other explanation for why campus and mail-in voting should be restricted, and she also said the U.S. electoral systems must be saved “for any candidate other than a leftist to have a chance to WIN in 2024.”

Republicans are starting to see the writing on the wall, but they’re taking away the wrong message. During the 2022 midterms, young voters turned out in record numbers and overwhelmingly voted Democratic. The GOP response was to call to raise the voting age.

Rather than implementing policies about things that young people actually care about—such as environmental protection, increased abortion access, and LGBTQ rights—Republicans are instead embracing stances that alienate huge swathes of the new generations of voters. And then they get upset when young people don’t support them.

It’s easy to poke fun at the GOP over this, but it’s important to keep in mind that Mitchell’s plan is terrifying. It’s a blatant violation of voter rights. The Republican Party has not formally backed her plan, but they haven’t denounced it either.

The nonprofit Gen-Z for Change slammed Mitchell’s plan as “disgusting.”

“Republicans are actively trying to suppress our ability to participate in democracy, to make changes in the world that WE have to live in,” the group tweeted.

Texas Republicans Pass Bill Requiring Ten Commandments in Every Classroom

Separation of church and state or nah?

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The separation of church and state isn’t doing too great in Texas right now.

Republican senators passed a bill Thursday that would require all public schools to display a nearly two-foot-tall copy of the Ten Commandments in every classroom. Each poster must be printed “in a size and typeface that is legible to a person with average vision from anywhere in the classroom” and displayed in a “conspicuous place.” The bill’s sponsor had previously cited Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the Supreme Court case that said a football coach at a public high school in Washington state could pray at games, as paving the way for this legislation.

The Senate also passed a bill that would let public school districts and charter schools implement a policy that requires every campus to set aside time every day for students and employees to pray and read the Bible “or other religious texts.” While the bill does not restrict the prayer or texts to Christianity, it’s safe to say that reading, for instance, the Quran is not what lawmakers had in mind.

Both bills now go to the House of Representatives. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hailed the legislation as “one step we can take to make sure that all Texans have the right to freely express their sincerely held religious beliefs.” This would be the same man who, in 2007, while serving as a senator, boycotted the first prayer delivered in the chamber by a Muslim cleric.

Texas has been increasingly regulating what can and cannot be taught in state public schools—or even who can attend. Republicans introduced a bill in March that would ban students from China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea from all public colleges and universities. The measure, widely decried as racist and xenophobic, has yet to make it out of committee.

State Republicans also want to ban public school libraries from having books that feature same-sex couples and transgender characters. And in March, the Texas Education Agency announced it would forcibly remove the Houston Independent School District’s elected board and seize control of the district, which is the largest in the state.

All of this is part of a wider movement among Republicans to clamp down on freedom of thought and expression. Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in particular, seem to be in a twisted game of one-upmanship to see who can impose the most restrictive policies on their constituents.

Fox News Accidentally Touts Benefits of the Green New Deal

Sean Hannity (almost) sees the light.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

For conservatives, the problem with trying to attack the Green New Deal is that not only is it necessary for the survival of the planet, but it’s also just flat out appealing for anyone interested in living a nice life.

On Thursday, leading sponsors Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reintroduced the Green New Deal, which aims to “tackle the climate crisis with a 10-year mobilization that puts millions of Americans to work in good-paying, union jobs.” It’s the twenty-first-century analogue to the popular and nation-changing New Deal set out by FDR.

And on Thursday evening, Fox’s Sean Hannity implored his viewers to see provisions like “food security” and “additional paid vacation time” as deplorable.

More family and medical leave? That’s just time for you to be there for your family or even to take care of yourself with less stress. More paid vacation time? Everyone understands the slog of our current economic system, where work is primal and everything else about life takes a backseat. Wouldn’t it be nice for “everything else” to have a bigger presence in our lives? Universal health care? Everyone in this country has a run-in with exorbitantly high costs for necessary care; it is hard to justify the current system as better than any possible alternative. Green housing? The government upgrading my home while helping to protect the environment that surrounds it? Sign me up! Food security? When is all this supposed to be bad again?

Of course, some chunk of the Fox audience may just adopt the line, and see life-changing ideas as undesirable. But the core issue with trying to paint something as bad is that it is difficult to do so when that something is just, meritably good. Though it may be under the guise of vacuous criticisms like “Who Is Going to Pay for It?” Fox is still helping its viewers begin to imagine what society could look like instead.

Tennessee Republicans Issue Stupidest Possible Statement on Gun Control

Republican lawmakers are really creative when it comes to ignoring their own constituents.

A sign reads "Protect Kids from Books Drag Guns" with Books and Drag crossed out.
Seth Herald/Getty Images
Students walked out of schools to gather at the Tennessee State Capitol building to demand gun reform on April 3.

On Wednesday, Tennessee House Republicans announced on Twitter that “any red flag law is a non-starter,” and also that they are “focused on finding solutions that prevent dangerous individuals from harming the public.”


Just to spell it out: The point of red flag laws are to prevent individuals with … “red flags” from … “harming the public.”

The nonsensical statement comes in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting that left three children and three adults dead. Thousands of Tennesseans have been protesting since the incident demanding gun reform. The movement has only gained momentum after Republicans expelled two since-reinstated Black Democrats, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, for interrupting House proceedings to stand in solidarity with the protesters. And the tides beneath the clamoring for change has only swelled amid a string of mass and targeted shootings throughout the country.

Republican Governor Bill Lee recently expressed interest in some form of a red flag law, but he did not go into specifics, and apparently he has not worked to convince the rest of his party it’s actually necessary.

Despite the increasing demands by the public for any action to stop the onslaught of gun violence, Tennessee Republicans have largely remained intransigent. Tennessee actually loosened gun laws on the day of the Nashville shooting. Republicans have also repeatedly shut down a red flag law that could have prevented the shooting in the first place: once two years ago, and again just last week.

The disinterest in public safety stems beyond red flag laws. Before the shooting, state Republicans also passed a bill allowing people 21 and older to openly carry handguns without permits. Republicans are now pushing to allow 18- and 19-year-old residents to carry any firearm—including weapons like AR-15s and shotguns—without permits.

As of 2020, Tennessee was among the top 10 deadliest states in the country from guns.

Top Tennessee Republican Who Voted to Expel Democrats Resigns Over Sexual Harassment Charges

Tennessee Republicans are suddenly under the spotlight after voting to expel Democratic lawmakers—and it’s not looking good.

Seth Herald/Getty Images

A top Tennessee Republican who voted alongside his party to expel three Democratic representatives for breaking House “decorum” has resigned after the findings of a sexual harassment investigation became public.

NewsChannel5 reported that a secret ethics subcommittee found state Representative Scotty Campbell, vice chair of the House Republican caucus, guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern, and likely two.

The findings were sent nearly three weeks ago to House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who is facing his own ethics issues over reports that he doesn’t actually live in the district he represents. Sexton made no move to expel Campbell, who only resigned after the charges were made public on Thursday.

The ethics investigation into Campbell details the extent of his sexual harassment. In an email the victim wrote to university officials, given to NewsChannel5 by a family member, she recounted some of Campbell’s gross behaviors.

On one occasion, after watching the victim and another 19-year-old female intern enter her apartment, Campbell allegedly later “made comments about how … he was in his apartment imagining that we were performing sexual acts on one another and how it drove him crazy knowing that was happening so close to him.”

The victim told Campbell, uncomfortably, that that was not happening; the Republican representative insisted that he knew it was happening and asked her to tell him all about it. She responded that the other girl was her friend. Campbell allegedly went on to explain how sexually attractive he finds her as well.

NewsChannel5 reports that the other girl is likely the second complainant against Campbell.

Campbell also reportedly made repeated comments about how he is “very, very lonely” and wishes “he had someone with whom he could just cuddle.”

In another instance, Campbell asked the victim how many men she slept with. After she said zero, Campbell insisted she was lying, then asked how many women she had slept with. He “said he bets girls go crazy over me,” the victim wrote in the email. Campbell then apparently offered her cannabis gummies in exchange for being able to see her tattoos and piercings.

“I told him absolutely not, and he begged me for several hugs,” she wrote in her email. She grew more and more fearful; Campbell grew more and more brazen, reaching out and grabbing her neck.

“I recoiled and said I felt sick and immediately left. That was the last night I ever spoke with or saw him. I blocked his number after that.”

Campbell has repeatedly insisted that the conversations he had with the intern were “consensual adult” ones.

Meanwhile, the legislature is slow to release much further information, including how much taxpayer money was spent covering up the disturbing behavior. NewsChannel5 reports that potentially thousands of dollars have been spent to relocate the victim from the apartment building that she and Campbell both lived in, to ship her furniture back home to another part of Tennessee, and to place her in a hotel for the remainder of her internship.

Again: Tennessee taxpayers have had to foot the bill of protecting a victim from sexual harassment—and from potentially facing further harassment—by a sitting Republican lawmaker.

Before Tennessee Republicans sought to expel three Democrats—and succeeded in expelling the two Black ones, Justin Pearson and Justin Jones—for standing in solidarity with thousands of Tennesseans protesting gun violence, they have long been making up and manipulating the rules in order to avoid public accountability. Such behavior has led them to vote down bills with abandon and introduce last-minute amendments to legislation that the public is seldom aware of. And in so doing, Republicans have established arbitrary standards that brought them to so brazenly expel Pearson and Jones, while ignoring when their own colleagues are sexual harassers, child molesters, or allegedly assaulting others on the House floor.

“Take That Pope Francis”: Twitter’s Blue Check Purge Begins

If nothing else, the reactions to the Twitter blue check apocalypse are amazing.

Twitter account on Twitter is seen displayed on a phone screen
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Twitter on Thursday began removing blue verification checkmarks from people who do not pay for the platform’s subscription plan.

People can pay $8 a month for Twitter Blue to receive increased visibility on the platform. Those who don’t are having a field day with jokes now that they have lost their once-coveted blue check.

Some of the major people who have lost blue check status include Donald Trump, Beyonce, and Bill Gates.

Elon Musk still has his because he’s an “affiliate of Twitter.”

Nancy Mace Says Republicans Are the “Feminists of Today” With Anti-Trans Bill Passage

This is not how feminism works, Nancy.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Representative Nancy Mace thinks her party is the new wave of feminists because it passed a bill banning transgender women and girls from women’s sports.

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would amend Title IX, a civil rights law that bans sex- or gender-based discrimination, to limit a person’s sex to the one they were assigned at birth. The measure passed entirely along party lines and is not expected to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

At one point during the debate, Mace suggested that Republican support for women’s equality in sports (except for trans women) makes them “the feminists of today.”

“As a woman who is pro-LGBTQ, I don’t care how you dress, I don’t care what pronoun you take, I don’t care if you change your gender, but we ought to protect biological women and girls in their athletics,” she said.

Mace suggested another amendment to conduct a study of the supposed adverse psychological effects on cisgender women and girls of letting trans women play women’s sports.

Democratic Representative Mark Takano clapped back that nothing is “further from the truth.”

“This amendment perpetuates false arguments that allowing transgender girls to participate in school sports teams will undermine the well-being of cisgender girls,” he said.

Democrat Pramila Jayapal pointed out that the only way for schools to enforce this rule would be to conduct genital exams on students.

Mace is rapidly becoming a classic “pick-me girl.” She keeps trying to show she’s not like other Republicans, even denouncing them to stand out from the crowd. Mace has repeatedly urged her party to adopt a more centrist stance on abortion rights. She also said she would oppose kicking Ilhan Omar off the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

But at the end of the day, she voted with Republicans every time.