Sunday, May 26, 2013

Far from Finished

So this has been one hell of a Memorial Day weekend for many of us. It's especially been an awkwardly rough weekend for those citizen activists who worked tirelessly on AB 230 and improving teen safety. Last Friday, PLAN's Bob Fulkerson and Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood [NAPPA]'s Elisa Cafferata provided further perspective on what had just happened on "Ralston Reports".

Last Friday, we saw plenty of raw emotion explode all over the progressive blogosphere and social media. And yes, it even happened right here. I couldn't help it. I was so stunned, so verklempt.

Since then, we've had a chance to step back and notice the larger picture of what happened. For a "so angry one must laugh" take, check out Laura Martin's GIF loaded explanation. And if more catharsis is needed, check out Sin City Siren.

So now, let's take a moment and discuss the big picture some more. For so long, we've become accustomed to seeing the powers that be in Carson City as Kings and Queens of Pain who continually disappoint by agreeing to continue the failed status quo. That's actually a reason why We the People will be deciding on change at the ballot box next year.

Yet this session, we've also seen something we had not been accustomed to experiencing in Carson City: a slew of progressive victories. SJR 13 (marriage equality), SJR 15 (mining tax reform), SB 229 (saving Lake Tahoe), SB 303 (driver's authorization cards), and more progressive priorities have actually been advancing and winning in the Nevada Legislature. At times, activists have pinched each other to see if this is for real.

Yet while the bubble of happiness occasionally leaked with reminders of continuing fiscal madness, it didn't completely burst until Friday. The shocking demise of AB 230 reminded progressive activists of the continuing headwinds hindering further progress. How on earth could such common sense legislation aimed at protecting teens face such a ghastly demise?

It comes down to this: There's still a Republican Governor. And there are not enough votes in #NVLeg to override his veto(es). So it limits opportunities. Governor Sandoval had to be shamed into backing SB 229 and SB 303, and his action wasn't needed on SJR 13 and SJR 15. Yet on AB 230, he dug in his heels and refused to budge on his opposition... To educating kids on how to prevent teen pregnancies and spreading dangerous infections.

Could Senate Democrats have joined their Assembly colleagues in passing the bill anyway? Perhaps so. It would have been vetoed by the Governor, and perhaps it would have been fodder for the coming campaign cycle. (And it may still be anyway.)

Should Senate Democratic leaders have done this? It's often been recommended to "do what's right and let the consequences follow". I can't help but wonder why they couldn't have at least laid the blame directly on Governor Sandoval and shown everyone why comprehensive sex education couldn't become law in Nevada. Instead, there's no more bill... And these very Democratic leaders are being blamed for the bill's demise. Was it really good politics to treat good policy so badly?

Yet with that being said, it still would have resulted in AB 230's death. So what then? As NAPPA's Elisa Cafferata explained on Friday, there's still the possibility of parts of AB 230 being resurrected and amended into other bills. Perhaps this way, it will be harder for Governor Sandoval to veto it all way.

But whatever happens to the remains of AB 230 in the final days of the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature, progressive organizers and activists will again have to figure out how to regroup and move forward on this and other issues left by the wayside in Carson City. As we've learned the hard way on the above mentioned victories, they were all long and hard fought. They didn't come overnight, and they all met plenty of resistance along the way.

So what made the difference? You did. We did. The grassroots did. It took relentless advocacy to get us to the point where we are now. And clearly, we're still far from finished.

All too often, leaders in Carson City need for the grassroots to lead the way. That's clearly the case now. Regardless of what happens in the coming days, we're far from finished. One election can't change everything. Not even one legislative session can. It will take longer to achieve victories on issues like sex education and public education funding, but activists shouldn't throw in the towel just because of screwy politics in Carson City... Far from it.

We're far from finished.

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