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Feb 1, 2024

In this week’s episode, host and NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan partners with State Democracy Action Fund (SDAF) interim Executive Director Kate Stoner to convene four NewDEALers who are in state legislative leadership roles in red, blue, and purple states for a conversation about their priorities for 2024. Connecticut Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton, Tennessee Senate Minority Leader Raumesh Akbari, and Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell reflect on opportunities to make progress on issues like housing, gun violence, and education, and the outlook on reproductive rights and voting access while analyzing the political landscape in their states ahead of the 2024 election. They discuss whether bipartisan agreement is possible this year and concerns for Democrats operating in the minority.  Tune in for a comprehensive look at what we can expect to take center stage in state legislatures in the coming months.


  • (01:07) Introducing today’s episode with Kate Stoner, Senator Bob Duff, Speaker Joanna McClinton, Senator Raumesh Akbari, and Representative Fentrice Driskell. 
  • (02:58) Senator Duff’s focus on affordable housing, healthcare, and consumer protection in Connecticut. 
  • (05:47) Representative Driskell’s agenda in Florida, including the Freedom to Be agenda and Medicaid expansion.
  • (09:18) Good news for Florida Democrats: Representative Tom Keen’s election. 
  • (10:28) Why Senator Akbari and Tennessee Democrats are thinking more about defense than offense and what that means. 
  • (15:50) Speaker McClinton’s priorities around education and jobs for Pennsylvanians.
  • (19:26) State legislatures’ responsibility to protect Americans by enacting common sense gun control measures. 
  • (23:26) How the upcoming election is influencing activity in each state.
  • (25:04) How Representative Driskell is working across the aisle to serve Floridians. 
  • (27:01) Dispelling election conspiracy theories and enacting automatic voter registration in Pennsylvania.
  • (27:56) Senator Duff outlines the stakes of this year’s election in safeguarding democracy.
  • (30:09) Issues Senator Akbari expects to fight against in the superminority in Tennessee.
  • (35:08) Debbie’s perspective on making government work as the way to fix democracy. 
  • (35:50) How federal funding is making government work in communities across the country, from lowering the cost of childcare to spurring new climate solutions.