Abby Rapoport

Abby Rapoport is a staff writer at The American Prospect. She was previously a political reporter for the Texas Observer. Her email is arapoport@prospect.org

Recent Articles

Minority Parties Get Feisty in Budget Battles

Bumpy roads ahead! (Flickr/401K)
Legislatures in Washington state and Virginia have both garnered plenty of national attention for their fights over culture wars—the push to recognize gay marriage and the controversial debate over requiring pre-abortion sonograms. But with their lawmaking sessions winding down, both states are in the midst of epic budget battles, that will almost definitely force them into special sessions. In both cases, parties out of power are using the budget debates to leverage their positions, gambles with big potential risks and payoffs should they succeed. In Virginia, the state Senate is split evenly, 20-20. However the chamber is run with a tough conservative bent, thanks to a tie-breaking vote from the Republican lieutenant governor. Republicans rule the chamber and have their pick of committee chairs. Senate Democrats argue they're shut out of committee chairmanships and don't have nearly the power they should, given their even numbers. The lieutenant governor cannot vote on the budget,...

So Long But Not Farewell to Dennis Kucinich

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( Ready Abby's response to Salon 's Glenn Greenwald .) The Daily Show , April 11, 2011: John Oliver: Help me understand how you have been re-elected in the state of Ohio? Representative Dennis Kucinich: Harmony and understanding, sympathy, and trust abounding. John Oliver: Are you quoting the musical "Hair"? In the end, there just wasn't much harmony and understanding in the race for Ohio's ninth district. Dennis Kucinich, among the wackiest members of Congress, got beat decisively last night by his colleague Marcy Kaptur in very nasty Democratic primary. The two incumbents got lumped together after Ohio lost two seats in redistricting. Kucinich was one of the least likely, most memorable members of Congress. He started his political career in the late '70s as the "Boy Mayor" of Cleveland. He entered Congress in 1996, and thanks to two no-shot-in-hell presidential bids, Kucinich came to be a favorite among lefty college kids and Birkenstock-wearers around the country. He was probably...

Will Florida Bar Jewish Divorce?

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Starting Wednesday, the Florida Senate can vote on a measure to ban Sharia law in the state. But in an unintended consequence, the measure would also ban traditional Orthodox Jewish divorces from being recognized. The bill, which has already been passed in the state House, bans "foreign law" in Florida family courts. According to The Florida Independent, the state representative pushing the measure has argued it's necessary to "stop the spread of Sharia law." There's no evidence of a spread. But among those who shmear, the bill also has some serious implications. Orthodox Jews rely on rabbinic "Beit Dins" to grant divorces, and under this measure, such divorce decrees would not be recognized. Ironically, while insulting Muslim Floridians, the bill would have a policy impact on the state's Jewish community. Both the regional Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations have condemned the measure. The Senate panel considering the bill dealt the concerns of both...

Crazy Idea: Laws To Encourage Voting

(Flickr/Katri Niemi)
Voter ID laws have been all the rage around the country, with conservative lawmakers pushing to make it harder to vote, often by requiring some form of government-issued photo identification. The goal, at least according to rhetoric, is to keep the process safe from fraud—despite there being no real evidence of in-person voter fraud , the only kind such laws would actually prevent. In the meantime, states struggle with low-turnout rates and sometimes low registration rates. In Texas, which recently passed one of the more stringent ID requirements, residents vote at among the lowest rates in the country. All of which makes Connecticut's current voting debate somewhat shocking by comparison. The secretary of state has taken the lead in proposing measures to increase voter turnout by—get this— making it easier to vote. Two proposals make it easier to register by offering same-day registration for those who show up on Election Day and creating an online voter registration system so people...

Parental Trigger Hits the Florida Senate

(Flickr/simonov)
Throughout Florida's legislative session, education reform groups and teachers' unions have done battle over proposals to pass a very controversial "parent trigger" law. The state House has already passed its version of the measure and the state Senate is schedule to vote on it tomorrow, while opponents make a last ditch effort to kill the bill. With the session ending on Friday, the stakes for both sides are high. As I wrote last week , Florida has long been at the forefront of the "reform movement" championing charter schools and doing away with teacher protections, in favor of merit pay and more comprehensive evaluations. The parent trigger idea takes things a step farther. If a school has received a failing rating for consecutive years (two in the Senate version, three in the House), a majority of parents could organize in support of an improvement option: replacing the principal, replacing the entire staff, closing the school, or turning it into a charter school. Florida State...

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