When J.B. Pritzker took over as the governor of Illinois this year, Democratic lawmakers, who had spent four years at an impasse with his Republican predecessor, vowed that their party’s new grip on the State Capitol would bring immediate change.
The pace has been startling. In recent months, Illinois legislators have moved sharply to the left, deeming abortion a fundamental right for women no matter what the Supreme Court might decide, raising the minimum wage, taking steps to legalize recreational marijuana and introducing a graduated income tax.
Some 700 miles to the south, the Alabama State Capitol, dominated by Republicans, has raced in the opposite direction.
Alabama lawmakers voted during this term to ban most abortions. They eliminated marriage licenses, so that probate judges opposed to same-sex marriage would not have to sign marriage certificates. And they approved requiring sex offenders who commit crimes involving children to undergo chemical castration at their own expense.
Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama, a fellow Republican, earlier signed the abortion and marriage license bills, and on Monday her office announced that she had signed the castration legislation.
It is the first time in more than a century that all but one state legislature is dominated by a single party. Most legislative sessions have ended or are scheduled to end in a matter of days in capitals across the nation, and Republican-held states have rushed forward with conservative agendas as those controlled by Democrats have pushed through liberal ones.