Sister District Alums — Feeding the Policy and Leadership Pipelines
In 2017 and 2018, 15 of the 16 state legislative candidates that Sister District supported in Delaware, Washington, Virginia, and Florida won. These newly minted legislators introduced and pushed for dozens of pieces of legislation, many of which were eventually signed into law. Below we provide a quick reminder about why states matter, and then we highlight some of the legislative accomplishments achieved by Sister District alums in their sessions this year.
A central premise of Sister District is that states matter. While the reasons are many, there are three right at the core:
1) Redistricting. In most states, the state legislature draws electoral district lines just once every 10 years after the census. When those lines are drawn to strategically favor the party in power (this is gerrymandering), this affects the balance of power in both the state legislature and in Congress. The GOP currently controls more than ⅔ of all state legislative chambers. The next census is in 2020 — which means that this year, we’ll be electing most of the state legislators who will be in office the next time redistricting happens. So the 2018 state elections will have consequences that will last for the next ten years.
2) Policy Pipeline. State legislatures are proving grounds for progressive policy. States are “laboratories for democracy,” and policies move from state to state, and from state to federal. Successful, progressive state policies will serve as the building blocks for the positive vision of America that we want to advance. A policy window of opportunity will eventually open at the federal level — progressives need to be ready with policies that have been tested and proven.
3) Leadership Pipeline. State legislatures are training grounds for the next generation of national leaders. Half of all presidents (including Obama) started as state legislators. In our current Congress, 44 Senators and 220 House members formerly served as state legislators. Successful, proven state leaders will serve as the farm team for the next crop of national candidates and leaders. When a leadership window of opportunity opens up at the federal level, progressives need to be ready — with leaders who have learned in the states.
Sister District Alums — Chief Patrons / Authors of Bill:
Below are just a few of the ‘greatest hits’ accomplishments achieved by our 15 Sister District legislators. The below highlights bills for which our legislators were Chief Patron, and which have now been enacted into law.
Sister District Alums — Significant Co-Sponsored Bills:
Beyond serving as Chief Patron introducing various bills, our alumni also acted as Co-Chief Patrons of a great number of bills, several of which were enacted. Here are just a few:
Significant 2018 State-Wide Accomplishments
Beyond the accomplishments of individual legislators, entire legislatures were able to come together and pass significant laws because of the sheer number of new Democrats elected in VA, and the fact that Democrats were able to gain a fragile majority — and trifecta — in WA, and hold on to a fragile legislative majority and trifecta in DE.
Why Does Telling These Stories Matter?
The laws we’ve highlighted above are sure to make a tremendous difference in the lives of average folks in Delaware, Washington, Florida and Virginia. But the reach of these policies can be even wider. If these policies are successful, they can be transported to other states, and even to the federal level. This is how we grow the progressive policy pipeline. By tracking, highlighting, and disseminating stories about the successes of state policies. The same is true of the legislators who proposed these new laws. These folks are gaining invaluable training and expertise.
A policy window is coming at the national level — it won’t be today, but it will be soon. The question is, will progressives be ready? When that window opens, progressives will need proven policies and leaders ready to go. They will come from the states. We’ve got to double down now, on growing these pipelines and telling these stories, so that when that window of opportunity opens, we know what to ask for and who can deliver the goods.