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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has endorsed a bipartisan electoral count reform bill which seek to prevent future presidents from overturning the results of U.S. elections, The Washington Post reports.
"The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin III (D-WV), would amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and reaffirm that the vice president has only a ministerial role at the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, as well as raise the threshold necessary for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors," The Post's report states.
Speaking on the Senate floor this Tuesday, McConnell said the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, "certainly underscored the need for an update."
“The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path," McConnell said.
The Senate Rules Committee is expected to vote on the legislation next week.
"Their votes would all but cement the bill’s likelihood of passing the Senate. The bill already enjoyed strong bipartisan support, with 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators signing on to co-sponsor it last week," the newspaper reported.
Read the full report over at The Washington Post.
Weakened concealed carry laws are associated with an estimated 9.5% increase in rates of criminal assaults with firearms, according to research published last week.
That relationship is most pronounced in places that allow people convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes to carry a concealed firearm. Those states are associated with an estimated 24% increase in assaults with a gun.
“What we saw was that prohibiting violent misdemeanors from obtaining a permit actually ended up mattering a lot,” said Mitchell Doucette, an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Violence Solutions, the lead author on the research.
Additionally, Doucette said the research indicates that states removing a requirement that applicants complete live firearms training, like shooting at a gun range, are associated with an 18% increase in assaults with a firearm.
Concealed carry programs vary by state in terms of whether officials have discretion to deny permits even to those who meet all the legal requirements, sometimes for things like character “suitability” or a history of dangerous behavior. States that allow the discretion are known as “may issue” states, as opposed to “shall issue” states.
The study analyzes 34 states that relaxed their concealed carry programs between 1980 and 2019, and compares them against predicted crime rates based on data from “may issue” states. The research was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
According to the study, there’s a simple relationship between exposure to firearms outside the home and the likelihood of a violent gun crime. As cultural norms and laws around guns change, more hostile altercations are likely to involve guns, the authors wrote. It follows that those convicted of violent misdemeanors, who in some states can lawfully carry concealed weapons, commit gun crimes at seven times the rate of gun buyers without a criminal history.
Given the period studied, the research doesn’t consider several GOP states that have removed licensure requirements to carry concealed weapons or a key U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning New York’s may-issue program.
This summer, Ohio joined a list of 24 other states that do not require any special permit to carry a concealed weapon. The law passed solely with Republican support. Now, any adults who can lawfully possess a weapon may carry it concealed on their persons.
The recent research focuses on states that loosen concealed carry programs, but not those that remove licensure as a requirement to carry a concealed weapon. However, Doucette said the study suggests that Ohio may experience more gun crimes in the future by removing its ability to screen out people who have been convicted of violent assaults from carrying a concealed weapon.
“I do think that losing that screening ability is important,” he said. “I think it’s meaningful.”
Ohio’s concealed carry program still exists, but it’s no longer required in order to carry in-state. Applying gun owners must complete eight hours of training and pass a criminal background check to obtain a permit. While state law allows those convicted of violent misdemeanors to possess a weapon, it does not allow them to obtain a concealed carry permit.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion with major implications for state concealed carry laws. A 6-3 majority overturned a New York law that required those seeking to carry a concealed weapon to demonstrate that “proper cause” exists to carry a weapon for self-protection beyond that of the general public. This has prompted some may issue states to revisit their programs. Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court noted the federal ruling and asked parties to submit arguments in a case challenging a state law that prohibits people who are under indictment for violent crimes from possessing a weapon.
Doucette said the research indicates if states want to reduce gun crime, they should ensure their concealed carry laws prohibit those with violent misdemeanors from carrying a weapon.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a statement Tuesday calling Idaho’s abortion laws “extreme and backwards” in response to a memo issued by the University of Idaho cautioning employees not to provide reproductive health counseling to students, including abortion, or risk losing their jobs or face criminal prosecution.
“To be clear, nothing under Idaho law justifies the university’s decision to deny students access to contraception. But the situation in Idaho speaks to the unacceptable consequences of extreme abortion bans,” Jean-Pierre said in the statement. “The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in the right to birth control, as well as the right to abortion, without government interference.”
The university’s general counsel sent the memo to all employees on Friday, advising that Idaho law prohibits university employees from promoting, counseling or referring someone for an abortion, and prohibits the institution from dispensing drugs classified as emergency contraception except in cases of rape. The memo was intended to help UI staff understand the complexity of a law passed in the 2021 session of the Idaho Legislature dubbed the No Public Funds for Abortion Act. The University of Idaho and other public schools across Idaho are subject to the law since they are state-funded institutions.
University of Idaho spokesperson Jodi Walker said the memo was intended to help employees understand the legal significance and possible ramifications of the law, which includes individual criminal prosecution.
“While abortion can be discussed as a policy issue in the classroom, we highly recommend employees in charge of the classroom remain neutral or risk violating this law,” Walker said in an email to the Sun. “We support our students and employees, as well as academic freedom, but understand the need to work within the laws set out by our state.”
White House official: U.S. Supreme Court decision created a runway for birth control bans
University officials were told in the guidance not to dispense birth control unless it comes from student health facilities that are contracted through Moscow Family Health, and not to provide condoms except to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
An official with President Joe Biden’s administration told the Idaho Capital Sun the university’s memo is indicative of a larger trend across the country of Republican officials expressing support for contraception bans, including banning Plan B.
At the time the bill passed the Idaho Legislature, one of the state’s leading anti-abortion organizations — the Idaho Family Policy Center — supported it as a way to ensure “abortion providers do not have unfettered access to students at public schools, colleges and universities,” according to a statement from 2021.
“Our hard-earned tax dollars should never be spent on promoting abortion,” said Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti in a statement at the time. “(The act) will help create a culture of life in Idaho by making sure taxpayers do not subsidize something as morally problematic as abortion.”
Conzatti told the Capital Sun in July that he supports banning Plan B and other types of emergency contraception as well as IUDs, because he said anything that can end life after conception is problematic.
The White House official said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June paved the way for more restrictions.
“We’re seeing similar efforts pop up in various states across the country, and it’s part of a very disturbing trend that the Supreme Court created a runway for, and Republican officials are taking advantage of to go even further than some of the laws we’ve already seen,” the official said.
The official pointed people concerned about the issue to a website launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services summarizing reproductive rights across the country with links to resources and updated information.
“It’s important (for people) to identify medical professionals that have all the information about their reproductive rights and reproductive choices,” the official said.
Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Christina Lords for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Idaho Capital Sun on Facebook and Twitter.