Snapshot: Ten Key Moments from NewDEAL’s 2024 Legislative Preview

The NewDEAL
4 min readFeb 5, 2024
Photo by Olivia Connell on Unsplash

In late January, NewDEAL Leaders and the State Democracy Action Fund, the advocacy arm affiliated with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), hosted a 2024 Legislative Preview with leaders from four key states:

  • Connecticut Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff;
  • Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell;
  • Pennsylvania Speaker Joanna McClinton; and
  • Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari.

Each of the NewDEAL Leaders laid out their priorities for the year ahead on a wide variety of policy areas such as:

  • Infrastructure, including using federal funds to bolster both infrastructure projects and address climate change;
  • Affordable housing, including returning control to local cities to address the housing shortage and building more housing units;
  • Gun Safety, including common-sense solutions like regulating who can open-carry weapons in public and taking guns meant for warzones off the streets;
  • Defending Democracy, including pragmatic ways to ensure free, fair, and secure elections;
  • Education, including specific proposals to increase funding for public schools;
  • Health Care, including specific legislation to ensure access to abortion care; and
  • Freedom, including reiterating the Democratic ideals that freedom means creating the conditions to people can succeed and prosper.

If you were not able to join the online discussion, here are ten key moments from the conversation. These key moments focus on…

Infrastructure

1.Majority Leader Duff highlighted how Connecticut is using federal funds to invest in infrastructure, as well as action to address climate change.

“Thankfully, because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, lots of money is flowing to the states,” Duff said. In addition to addressing climate change, Duff said he was using the funds to make the state more friendly for pedestrians while still growing economy.

Affordable Housing

2. Affordable housing continues to be a major issue around the nation, and Democratic legislators have solutions.

Leader Driskell highlighted the need for Florida to invest in affordable housing, in large part by empowering local communities, towns, and cities rather than lawmakers in Tallahassee.

Driskell noted that a bill favored by Democrats pushes the state away from telling localities what to do. “Let’s actually work with them more,” Driskell said. “Let’s try to understand these local solutions. Let’s empower local solutions.”

3. Leader Duff noted that because of economic growth in Connecticut, he and his legislative partners are focused on building more housing — and more affordable housing — in the state.

“We have probably over 120,000 units of housing that need to be built,” Duff said. “We have over 100,000 jobs that need to be filled… as people come in here from New York and Jersey and Massachusetts and even folks from Florida.”

Gun Safety

4. Gun violence continues to traumatize far too many families across the country. NewDEAL Leaders are working to put common-sense gun safety laws in place, especially in the wake of several tragic mass shootings in the states.

“We have a coalition of bipartisan leaders and community folks and business owners that really are trying to push back against Tennessee being an open carry state,” Leader Akbari said. She added that crimes that previously would have been committed without a gun are now being committed with a gun.

5. “We in state capitals have the responsibility to do everything possible to keep what would be weapons of war out of the average person’s hand,” Speaker McClinton said. She noted that Pennsylvania has experienced tragic mass shootings, from rural areas to the anti-Semetic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Defending Democracy

6. Speaker McClinton highlighted the work Pennsylvania has done ensure fair, safe, and secure elections continue. “We want to continue to defend democracy,” McClinton said, encouraging everyone to participate in the election this year.

Education

7. Speaker McClinton discussed a recent court case in Pennsylvania requiring the legislature to increase education funding in order to ensure that every child has fair and equal access to schooling. Therefore, a top priority is to follow the court ruling and increase education funding.

8. While some legislators are pushing forward positive legislation, some must spend their time fighting against backwards-looking Republican proposals.

Leader Akbari discussed one such proposal in Tennessee, which could see the state lose up to $2 billion in federal education funding.

Abortion Access

9. After the Supreme Court took away the Constitutional right to abortions, many states have imposed abortion bans that put the lives of women at risk. NewDEAL Leaders are working on ways to protect women’s access to health care.

Leader Driskell warned of court decisions that could make Florida have “one of the most draconian” abortion laws in the country. She filed legislation to protect access to abortion in the state.

Freedom Agenda

10. Leader Duff highlighted the NewDEAL and New Democrat Coalition’s 2024 Freedom Agenda, and contrasted what freedom means to Democrats compared to what it means to Republicans.

“Their idea of freedom is really more control,” Duff said about Republicans. “Our idea of freedom is having people succeed and prosper and live the American dream. So we’re going to continue to focus on on those kinds of things.”

You can watch the full Legislative Preview here.

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The NewDEAL

Leading on solutions for the new economy & making government work. Learn more at newdealleaders.org and newdealforum.org