Highlights from the Week
1. On February 3, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous material derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, starting a fire that sent poisonous gasses into the air for several days and forcing a one-mile evacuation of the area. This crisis has led to debate over the role of state and federal governments in environmental and health incidents, with several sides unsure of who is to blame and who is more responsible for solving the problem. Click here for a statement from President Joe Biden, here for a statement from Representative Bill Johnson, who represents East Palestine, here for Representative Chris Deluzio, who represents the Pennsylvania side most affected by the derailment, and here for a statement from both of Ohio’s U.S. Senators, Sherrod Brown (D) and J.D. Vance (R).
2. On February 18, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care and is forgoing any further treatment, choosing instead to spend his remaining time with his family. The former president, who is 98 and a founding member of Project Vote Smart, is the longest living president and former president in American history. To read a statement from President Joe Biden, click here. Additionally, to read a statement from Representative Nikema Williams of Georgia, please click here.
3. On February 20, U.S. President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine, the first since the war with Russia began. During the visit, which was timed around the first anniversary of the war, Biden announced bipartisan support for Ukraine’s effort as well as a half-million dollars in military assistance. Click here to read a statement from the White House on the visit, here for a statement from Representative Mike Quigley of Illinois, and here for a statement from Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
By the Elections Research team: Nick, Zachary, Courtney, Seth, and Caleb, and Elections interns: Reid, Hunter, and George
New Member of Congress: On February 21, voters in Virginia’s fourth congressional district elected State Senator Jennifer McClellan to represent them in the House of Representatives in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Representative Donald McEachin, who passed away in November of last year. McClellan will be the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress. Previously, Virginia was one of 28 states that had not elected a Black woman to Congress. Please click here to view McClellan’s biography and here to see the results of the election.
Biographies: Want to learn more about officials who have been sworn in at the federal level? You can see the full list of officials here:
Want to learn more about the leadership in each state legislature? You can see the full leadership rosters here:
Want to learn more about which committees elected officials are a part of? You can see the full list of committees for each state here:
Want to learn more about some special elections happening in 2023? You can see the elections that have been held so far this year here:
By the Officials Research team: Noah, Johanan, Neal, Thomas, Bibi, Craig, and Israel, and Officials interns: Brittany, Caroline, and Morgen
Public Statements: 556 statements were added this week. See highlights from the week for notable statements.
States: 26 new votes were added.
Idaho’s Senate passed S 1016 which seeks to prohibit local governments from requiring unisex multiple-occupancy restrooms. Click here to see the full bill text and highlights.
Iowa’s House passed HF 159 which seeks to prohibit the use of the transgender or gay panic defense in assault cases. This bill establishes that the defenses of justification and diminished capacity are not available to a person who is the subject of a nonviolent sexual advance who commits a violent crime, or to a person who commits an assault, upon another person as the result of the person’s discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the victim’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
North Carolina’s Senate passed SB 49 which seeks to establish a parental bill of rights for students in grades K-4 that requires schools alert parents before using a different name or pronoun for a student and prohibits discussion on gender identity and sexuality. Click here to see the full bill text and highlights.
Special Interest Groups:
This year to date, the SIGS team has entered 2,414 ratings and 588 endorsements for candidates.