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A proposed referendum aimed at restricting foreign government influence on Maine elections has enough signatures to appear on the 2023 ballot. The secretary of state’s office said Thursday that validated 67,550 signatures. That means that the proposal will go to the Maine Legislature for considering. If it isn’t passed by lawmakers, then it would go to state voters in November. The proposal was spurred by the costliest referendum in state history — a proposal to stop a power line in western Maine — in which Canada’s Hydro Quebec was one of the big donors.
An Oklahoma man is preparing to try to gather over 173,000 signatures and millions of dollars in fundraising to put abortion access up for public vote in a state with one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws. It's part of a growing trend of citizen-led initiatives across the nation. Voters in six states this year rejected measures to restrict abortion access and supported efforts to protect it. Carolyn Ehrlich is a senior political strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union. She says such initiatives can serve as a “roadmap in states where the legislature is a roadblock.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced a new initiative that would allow authorities to more aggressively intervene to help people in need of mental health treatment. The mayor said in announcing the program Tuesday that there is “a moral obligation” to act, even if it means providing care to those who don’t ask for it. The mayor’s directive would give outreach workers, city hospitals and police the legal authority to involuntarily hospitalize anyone they deem a danger to themselves or who is unable to care for themselves. The mayor’s announcement was met with caution by civil rights groups and advocates for the homeless.
The extended Senate campaign in Georgia between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger, football legend Herschel Walker, has grown increasingly bitter ahead as their Dec. 6 runoff nears. With Democrats already assured control of the Senate, it’s a striking contrast from two years ago, when the state’s twin Senate runoffs were mostly about which party would control the chamber in Washington. Warnock casts Walker as unqualified and unfit for office. Walker mocks Warnock as a hypocrite beholden to President Joe Biden. The broadsides reflect the candidates’ furious push in the four weeks between the Nov. 8 general election and runoff to persuade their supporters to cast another ballot.
Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has again withstood challenges from a conservative faction within her party to win reelection. Murkowski defeated Kelly Tshibaka on Wednesday for her fourth term in the Senate. Tshibaka was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Murkowski drew Trump’s wrath after calling on him to resign and then voting to impeach him after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Murkowski won the race with a coalition of support from independents and Democrats. In 2010, Murkowski mounted a successful write-in campaign to win the general election after losing the primary to a Republican tea party favorite.
Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has won reelection, defeating a fellow Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Murkowski beat Kelly Tshibaka in the Nov. 8 ranked choice election. The race also included Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley, who suspended his campaign after the primary and endorsed Tshibaka. Murkowski was the only Senate Republican who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial last year who was on the ballot this year. Trump was not convicted. But her vote was a sore point raised by Trump, who had vowed to campaign against her.
The Georgia Supreme Court has reinstated the state’s ban on abortions after roughly six weeks of pregnancy. The high court on Wednesday put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney had ruled on November 15 that the state’s abortion ban was invalid, because when it was signed into law in 2019, U.S. Supreme Court precedent under Roe. v. Wade and another ruling had allowed abortion well past six weeks. The decision immediately prohibited enforcement of the abortion ban statewide. Doctors had resumed providing abortions past six weeks.
Pope Francis has named a Catholic priest from New York to succeed Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin when the conservative cleric retires, potentially next year. Tobin held a press conference Wednesday morning at the cathedral in Providence to announce the changes. The Most Reverend Richard G. Henning is the new coadjutor bishop of Providence with a right of succession. When he does take over, Henning will replace a religious leader whose conservative stance on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage had prompted backlash. Tobin turns 75 on April 1 and must submit his resignation then to Francis, who can decide to accept it or keep him on.
Once they all assume office, California will be the first state where it's believed more than 10% of legislators identify publicly as LGBTQ. The legislators in California are proud of their success but say it underscores the hard work that remains in their own state and elsewhere. That includes handling the fallout of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and its imitators, as well as laws in other states that limit transgender students’ participation in sports or block gender-affirming medical care for youths. The milestone is further shrouded by the fatal mass shooting over the weekend at a gay bar in Colorado.