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Every State Is a Battleground Now

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Dennis Martino
May 1, 2023

In recent months, we have witnessed state courts and legislatures pass laws and make rulings that impact other states and the citizens thereof substantially. Social media and partisan commercial media have fanned these flames. We are in the midst of culture wars.

In Idaho, the state has made travelling out of state for purposes related to reproductive health a crime. According to ABC News, Texas’s anti-abortion law makes it a second-degree felony for any attempt by a medical professional to perform, induce or attempt an abortion, and a first-degree felony if the procedure is carried out.

As public administrators, we are faced with upholding our state laws and municipal statutes. If states continue to impose their will upon other states or jurisdictions for any reason, we are in for some hard struggles.

What will be next?

So far, we have observed these issues play out related to reproductive rights but what about firearms? Could a state pass a law that attempts to curtail gun sales? Or could a state pass a law to overturn more restrictive firearms laws? In Tennesee, three state representatives were sanctioned and two of them were expelled from the state’s House of Representatives for supporting protesters who were making their feelings known about a mass killing with automatic weapons.

These culture wars, which are caused in part, by partisan media, have emboldened lawmakers. Sadly, the lawmakers do not deal directly with the citizens as we public administrators do.

What should we do?

Maintain the highest level of ethics. We administer the laws and rules. But we must check with our hearts, as well as bare bones wording of rules and laws. We are the keepers of our civil society.

Author: Dennis Martino, MS, Ed.D, is the former director of the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training. He has taught organizational leadership and public administration courses at the graduate level at several colleges. Prior to his academic work, he worked in labor relations as a union advocate and contract negotiator. Martino is an NOHS educator and fellow, National CPM Consortium. He can be reached at [email protected]

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