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Filing deadline to pass for Maine House special election on Nov. 29

Political parties have until Nov. 29 to nominate candidates to run in the special election for District 27 of the Maine House of Representatives. The special election will be held on Jan. 11. Republicans have nominated Marine Corps veteran Tim Thorsen, and Democrats have picked former state Sen. Jim Boyle to run for the seat. The unaffiliated candidate filing deadline will also pass on Nov. 29.

The winner of the special election will serve until December 2022. The seat became vacant after Kyle Bailey (D) resigned on Oct. 15 to pursue another job opportunity. He was elected to the state House in 2020 with 59% of the vote.

Democrats currently have an 80-65 majority in the Maine House with five third-party members and one vacancy. Maine has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of November, 10 state legislative special elections have been scheduled to take place in 2022. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Maine held 15 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Hickman defeats Duong in Mississippi state Senate special runoff election

A special general runoff election was held for Mississippi state Senate District 32 on Nov. 23. Rod Hickman earned 59.8% of the vote, defeating Minh Duong, who earned 40.3%

State legislative special elections are nonpartisan in Mississippi, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot. 

Hickman and Duong had advanced from the general election held on Nov. 2, where they were the top two finishers, defeating seven other candidates. A runoff was necessary because no one earned a majority of the vote during the general election.

The special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) resigned on June 30. Jackson served from 1992 to 2021.

As of November 2021, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

Mississippi is a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that the Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans control the state Senate by a margin of 36 to 15, with one vacancy.

Our new tool helps you make sense of redistricting

Welcome to the Wednesday, November 24, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Our new map comparison tool for visualizing redistricting 
  2. A roundup of the latest redistricting news 
  3. Major party campaign committee fundraising

See what redistricting looks like in every state

Over the last few months, we’ve brought you periodic updates on the latest state legislative and congressional redistricting news. Now, we’re bringing you a tool that will allow you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state—and in all the others. 

Our side-by-side map widget, developed with Stadia Maps, helps you see and understand how redistricting changed—and is changing—district boundaries. For example, here’s the tool on Indiana’s redistricting page:

As shown below, if you select a district on one map, the widget highlights the corresponding district on the other map! Additionally, because zooming is synchronized, you can really see how districts compare to one another! For example, here’s Indiana’s 5th Congressional District before and after redistricting:

The redistricting process can be complicated and confusing for even the most informed voters, reporters, and researchers. That’s why we believe this new visual tool will be so helpful to you. After all, a picture is worth…well, you know how the saying goes. 

We’re installing these widgets as we obtain each state’s detailed district boundaries, so click here to see if your state’s map is ready to explore!

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Three more states adopt congressional maps 

Speaking of redistricting…

Three more states—Massachusetts, Ohio, and Oklahoma—recently enacted congressional redistricting plans, bringing the total number of states that have adopted such plans to 17. On this date in 2011, 27 states had adopted new congressional maps following the 2010 census.

  • Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed that state’s new congressional maps on Nov. 22 after the legislature approved it on Nov. 17. The state House approved the plan by a vote of 151-8 and the state Senate approved it, 26-13. In the previous redistricting cycle, Massachusetts adopted its congressional map almost 10 years ago to the day—on Nov. 21, 2011.
  • Ohio: Governor Mike Dewine (R) signed that state’s new congressional redistricting plan into law on Nov. 20. The Ohio Senate voted 24-7 along party lines to approve the redistricting measure on Nov. 16, and the state House approved it 55-36 on Nov. 18. In the House, 55 Republicans voted to approve the map, while five Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against the map. Since the map did not receive approval from one-half of the Democratic lawmakers, and in accordance with the Congressional Redistricting Procedures Amendment voters approved in 2018, the plan will last for two general election cycles—or four years—rather than 10. 
  • Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed that state’s congressional maps on Nov. 22. The legislature approved it in a special session that began Nov. 15. The state House passed the plan 75-19 on Nov. 17 and the state Senate passed it 36-10 on Nov. 19. After the 2010 census, Oklahoma enacted its congressional redistricting plan on May 10, 2011.

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Major party campaign committees raised $63 million in October

According to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports, the six major party committees raised a combined $63 million in October. In the first 10 months of the 2022 election cycle, they’ve raised a combined $662 million.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in October. The RNC raised $13.8 million and spent $16.5 million, while the DNC raised $11.5 million and spent $13.0 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC has raised 2.7% more than the DNC ($136.7 million to $133.0 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC led the DNC in fundraising by a larger 89.0% margin ($194.0 million to $74.5 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and National Republican Congressional Committee have raised 3.4% more than the DNC, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ($336.7 million to $325.4 million). Republicans had a 3% fundraising advantage over Democrats in September. 

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Redistricting committee updates in Connecticut and Virginia

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting committee updates from Connecticut and Virginia:

In Connecticut, the ​Reapportionment Commission selected John McKinney (R) as a ninth and potentially tie-breaking member. McKinney is a former state Senator who served as minority leader for seven years. The previous tie-breaking member, Kevin Johnson (D), resigned from the position. Though the commission is composed of eight members, it selects a ninth member who only votes in the event of a tie.

So far, the commission has enacted a state Senate map, and has a deadline of Nov. 30 to draw maps the state House and U.S. House. If the commission does not complete maps by that deadline, the maps will be subject to review by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

In Virginia​, the Redistricting Commission did not complete legislative maps by the Oct. 24 deadline, and did not complete congressional maps by the Nov. 8 deadline, which meant that authority to redraw maps passed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court requested the commissioners submit nominees for special masters to assist the Court in drawing the maps. On Nov. 1, Republicans and Democrats submitted three nominees each. The Court rejected all three Republican nominees and one Democratic nominee for special master on Nov. 12 and requested that legislators submit new nominations. On Nov. 19, after commissioners submitted new nominees, the Court unanimously approved two of them: Sean Trende, who was the Republican special master nominee, and Bernard Grofman, who was the Democratic nominee.

Additional reading:

Oklahoma enacts new congressional, legislative maps

On Nov. 22, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed new congressional and legislative maps into law. These maps will take effect for the state’s 2022 congressional and legislative elections. Oklahoma is the 17th state to complete congressional redistricting, and the 21st state to complete legislative redistricting.

The Oklahoma State Senate approved the Senate map in a 46-1 vote on Nov. 17, and the House approved the Senate map 95-1 on Nov. 19. The only dissenting votes came from Sen. Nathan Dahm (R) and Rep. Wendi Stearman (R). The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved the House map 88-3 on Nov. 17, and the Senate approved the House map 44-2 on Nov. 19. Reps. Stearman, Tommy Hardin (R), and Eric Roberts (R) cast no votes in the House. Sens. Dahm and George Young (D) cast no votes in the Senate.

The Oklahoma state legislature previously approved a different set of legislative maps for the 2020 redistricting cycle. The legislature drew the maps using the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data for 2015 through 2019, and Stitt signed them into law on May 13, 2021. On Aug. 23, the House and Senate redistricting committee chairs announced the first round of enacted maps would have to be redrawn following the release of 2020 census data.

The congressional map had narrower margins of approval in the legislature. The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 75-19 to approve the map on Nov. 17, and the Oklahoma State Senate voted to approve the map 36-10 on Nov. 19. Eighteen Democrats and one Republican voted no in the House. Nine Democrats and one Republican voted no in the Senate.

Rep. Collin Walke (D), who voted against the congressional map, said: “While I have no doubt that somebody wasn’t sitting there looking at the numbers of Democrats versus Republicans while literally drawing this map, I think we’d all be naive to assume that there weren’t political influences outside of this building dictating what happens inside of this building.” Rep. John Pfeiffer (R), who voted in support of the map, said: “We do like to fight about the change and the things that have changed. But the truth be told, although our population has increased, this map hasn’t changed that much.”

During the 2010 redistricting cycle, Oklahoma approved legislative and congressional maps on May 10, 2011, and May 20, 2011, respectively.

Additional reading:

Candidates set for Arkansas state senate special primaries

Candidates interested in running in the special election for Arkansas State Senate District 7 had until Nov. 22 to file. The primaries are scheduled for Dec. 14, and the general election is set for Feb. 8. 

Lisa Parks and Derek Van Voast will compete in the Democratic primary. The Republican primary includes Jim Bob Duggar, Colby Fulfer, Edge Nowlin, and Steven Unger. 

The special election was called after Lance Eads (R) left office to assume another position on Oct. 28. Eads served from 2017 to 2021. Eads also served as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2015 to 2017.

The District 7 special election was the first special legislative election called for 2022 in Arkansas. 

Additional reading: 

New PAC raising money in support of Sawant recall

Seattle’s District 3 voters will decide on Dec. 7 whether to recall City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on the grounds of misusing city funds for electioneering purposes, disregarding regulations related to COVID-19, and misusing her official position. 

Sawant’s official response referred to the effort as a right-wing recall and said, “The charges against Kshama Sawant are dishonest, and the courts haven’t found her guilty of anything.”

A new political action committee supporting the recall called A Better Seattle has begun fundraising. It reported $80,000 raised as of Nov. 17. It joins Recall Sawant, which raised $746,000. The one group filed in opposition to the recall, Kshama Solidarity, has raised $844,000.

Nov. 29 is the last day for people to register to vote or update their registration information for this election.

Major party campaign committees raise $63 million in October

Six party committees have raised a combined $662 million over the first ten months of the 2022 election cycle. In October, the committees raised $63 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent more than the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in October. The RNC raised $13.8 million and spent $16.5 million, while the DNC raised $11.5 million and spent $13.0 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC has raised 2.7% more than the DNC ($136.7 million to $133.0 million).

At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC led the DNC in fundraising by a larger 89.0% margin ($194.0 million to $74.5 million).

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $9.0 million and spent $7.1 million in October, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $7.0 million and spent $4.5 million. The NRSC has raised 13.8% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($85.2 million to $74.2 million). October was the seventh consecutive month where the NRCC outraised the DSCC.

The House committees raised more than their Senate counterparts last month, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raising $11.7 million and spending $6.8 million and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raising $9.8 million and spending $7.1 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DCCC has raised 2.8% more than the NRCC ($118.2 million to $114.8 million). This was the fourth consecutive month where the DCCC outraised the NRCC.

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC also led the DSCC in fundraising by 8.8%($54.4 million to $49.8 million). The DCCC also led the NRCC in total fundraising by 38.4% ($101.3 million to $70.4 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.4% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($336.7 million to $325.4 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is up from 3.0% last month.

Additional reading:

Economy and Society: Responses to ESG-disclosure rules

Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.

ESG Developments This Week

In Washington, D.C.

Responses to ESG-disclosure rules 

As discussion continues about the Labor Department’s ERISA retirement plan rule, which is in the comment period, and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposal on ESG-related disclosure rules, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University released a report on the subject by Amanda M. Rose, a professor of law at Vanderbilt University Law School. Rose concludes that general, all-purpose disclosure requirements are too vague and too broad and suggests that the SEC move more deliberately, more simply, and more incrementally:

“The breadth of topics embraced by ESG and the breadth of motivations spurring the ESG movement have created a big tent that has undoubtedly served a purpose by helping the various causes of those involved to gain momentum. But it has also created problems. For example, ESG performance ratings are inconsistent and difficult to decipher. Which of the myriad ESG issues are factored into a rating, how performance on those issues is measured, and the weight each issue is given are subjective, usually nontransparent determinations that vary across ratings providers.

The breadth of ESG topics also makes studies that purport to show a positive link between ESG performance and financial performance difficult to interpret. There is no a priori reason to believe that a company’s approach to climate change and a company’s approach to diversity or any other ESG issue will each have the same sort of impact on a company’s financial performance; yet these studies often bundle ESG issues together to measure ESG performance or rely on ESG performance ratings that themselves bundle the issues together. They therefore leave unanswered which, if any, discrete corporate policies related to ESG actually affect financial performance….

Many are urging the SEC to create a comprehensive, mandatory, ESG disclosure regime, and title I of H.R. 1187, a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, would require the SEC to do so….

The trouble with these proposals, however, is that they speak in generalities about the importance of ESG to investors without specifying which, if any, specific ESG topics are financially material, and they invite the SEC to model a mandatory ESG-disclosure framework after frameworks developed by private standard setters without strict regard for notions of financial materiality….

Questions of institutional competence and democratic accountability are particularly significant because advocates for ESG disclosure clearly see ESG disclosure as a mechanism for promoting certain types of corporate behavior and discouraging others. Mandating that such disclosures appear in SEC filings would amplify this effect by involving the board and executives who certify SEC filings in the ESG disclosure process. Advocates view this as a benefit of SEC-mandated ESG disclosure. But the SEC lacks the expertise and authority to broadly regulate corporate behavior.”

Professor Rose concludes by suggesting that: “Whether the SEC ought to mandate ESG disclosure and, if so, how it should do so can be approached and debated on a discrete, topic-by-topic basis, like any other item of arguably material information.” 

Will an emphasis on ESG compromise future retirements?

On November 19, RealClearMarkets published a piece on ESG in ERISA governed retirement funds by Bryan Bashur, a Federal Affairs Manager at Americans for Tax Reform and executive director of the Shareholder Advocacy Forum. Bashur argues against the Labor Department’s new proposed rule as follows:

“[R]eturns on ESG-driven investment strategies risk being lower than is the case with their more traditionally run counterparts. According to Pacific Research Institute research, $10,000 invested in an ESG fund would be around 44 percent lower than an investment in a fund that tracks the S&P 500 for ten years. 

In fact, some industry experts such as Tariq Fancy, a former chief investment officer for sustainable investing at BlackRock, believe that “the ESG industry today consists of products that have higher fees but little or no impact and narratives that mislead the public.”…

Biden is effectively allowing pension plan managers to redefine their fiduciary duty to the plan beneficiaries, in the name of ESG and other forms of socially responsible investing, a move that may well mean that could hit the amount in a beneficiary’s pension pot when the time comes to retire. 

Bashur also argues that the political warfare is not restricted to the federal level and some states are pushing back:

[T]here are solutions to ensure that Americans are secured after retirement. The Texas legislature passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed, a bill that would aim to maximize returns for state employee pensions and retirement funds by punishing governmental entities from contracting with or investing in financial institutions boycotting fossil fuel companies. The bill went into effect in September. 

Under the new Texas law, retirement funds will not be subjected to using taxpayer dollars to pay high fees for ESG products more focused on political initiatives than creating real economic value for employees.”

In education

The rise of ESG in business schools

A recent New York Times “DealBook” column detailed the rise of ESG in business schools. As it turns out, two years before, The Financial Times did its own rundown of the burgeoning field of ESG studies in business and management education. Among other things, FT noted:

“The University of Chicago has long been considered the epitome of free-market thought. No wonder: this was the intellectual home of economists such as Eugene Fama and Milton Friedman, who championed the pursuit of profit and the doctrine of shareholder primacy which has driven corporate America for nearly half a century.

“In a free-enterprise, private-property system, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business, ” Friedman wrote in a highly influential 1970 essay. “His primary responsibility is to them.”

But today something striking is under way in Chicago, says Randall Kroszner, an esteemed economist who teaches at Chicago Booth business school (and formerly served on the Federal Reserve Board).

While the business school remains a bastion of free markets, it has also started to teach its students about environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) — including the importance of serving “stakeholders” such as customers, employees and communities rather than just shareholders. “We have been changing,” explains Mr Kroszner, who argues that it is entirely wrong to view Chicago today just through the narrow lens of Friedman-style economics.

It is a powerful symbol of a bigger paradigm shift….

[W]hile investors watch the C-suite to see if it can (or cannot) live up to these lofty new goals, what has hitherto grabbed less attention is the crucial role that business schools are playing in this pivot to a more socially responsible model of capitalism….

Take Harvard Business School — an institution that was once viewed as the seminary of the religion of red-blooded, profit-focused American capitalism. Two years ago, Vikram Gandhi, a Wall Street veteran, developed the first HBS impact investing course which he teaches as part of the elective MBA curriculum. “We have written more than two dozen new case studies [for the course],” he says, including entities ranging from BlackRock to private equity group TPG’s Rise Fund and Japan’s government pension investment fund. “We, like others, recognise that ESG isn’t a fad — it’s part of a long-term trend.”

George Serafeim, another Harvard Business School professor, is overseeing a course that explores how companies and consumers can adopt ESG in their own lives….

New York University’s Stern School of Business has established a special ESG hub run by Tensie Whelan, formerly of the Rainforest Alliance, which offers intensive study on how ESG impacts specific business sectors, such as the auto industry.

Other business schools, such as Thunderbird in Arizona, or Berkeley in California, are also developing significant ESG footprints.”

In his book on ESG investing The Dictatorship of Woke Capital, independent market analyst Stephen Soukup writes that “When the histories of this era are written, 2019 will go down as the year of ESG….” It appears, at least according to The Financial Times, that many business schools would likely agree.

On Wall Street and in the private sector

Will the Labor ERISA rule further empower proxy advisory services?

In a piece published November 12, the editors of PlanAdvisor magazine suggested that the Biden Department of Labor’s proposed rule on ESG in ERISA-compliant plans will require some plans to change their fiduciary disclosures and guidelines, perhaps increasing their reliance on the two proxy advisory services that dominate that market, Glass-Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). As the editors point out in the text, PlanAdvisor is owned by ISS:

“Under the DOL’s proposal, funds or asset owners increasing their focus on ESG factors may require changes in their proxy voting disclosures and guidelines, according to Adam Shoffner, fund chief compliance officer at compliance and technology firm Foreside. For example, an asset owner that subscribes to a standard set of proxy advisory opinions may need to update the type of proxy advice it receives.

Gabriel Alsina, head of Americas, Continental Europe (ex-France) and global custom research at ISS, says ISS’s benchmark policy reviews environmental and social considerations when providing voting recommendations in some situations. ISS also offers specialty policies that focus on sustainability, socially responsible investing (SRI) and climate.

The DOL’s prior guidance hadn’t diminished the importance of ESG issues to institutional investors, says Alsina, who adds that demand for environmental and social research has increased. “E, S and G have become inseparable to most institutional investors, providing distinct avenues to assess risk and preserve long-term shareholder value,” he says. “Proxy voting guidelines have evolved to add more environmental and social criteria into consideration, not less.”…

Separate from the DOL action, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed amendments to Form N-PX, “Annual Report of Proxy Voting Record of Registered Management Investment Company.” According to a legal update from Stradley Ronon, the proposed amendments are designed to enhance disclosure by requiring funds to identify the subject matter of the reported proxy votes.

From an adviser’s perspective, the information on the revised Form N-PX would provide greater insight into how closely a fund’s voting patterns align with the plan sponsor’s values. For example, if BlackRock’s change causes more fund managers to allow split proxy voting, it could create new opportunities for plans to vote their values versus defaulting to the fund manager.

It could also result in the development of proxy advisory services that focus on specific themes. Hoeppner says the industry isn’t there yet, but he speculates that proxy advisory services that have pro-environment or pro-manufacturing perspectives, for instance, could emerge. Plan advisers could use these services to help their plan clients determine their votes.”

In the spotlight

Incentivizing corporate leaders to meet ESG metrics on the rise while critics skeptical of impact

The incentivization of corporate leaders to meet ESG metrics was the topic of a November 14 piece in the The Financial Times, which summarized that “[s]enior management pay is increasingly linked to sustainability targets, but critics are sceptical this will amount to meaningful change”:

“As climate change has advanced up the boardroom agenda, so, inexorably, it has started to find its way into the incentives of senior executives. That has raised questions, not only about the clarity and solidity of the underlying goals and the ease with which chief executives might hit them, but about the purpose and effectiveness of monetary rewards as a way of changing corporate behaviour.

For now absolute numbers of companies using climate targets to calculate chief executives’ bonuses and long-term incentives remain low: just 24 companies in the FTSE 100, and only 20 in the S&P 500, according to ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services. But from a low base, the number of companies using climate pay targets more than doubled between 2019 and 2020. A survey by Deloitte in September suggested a further 24 per cent of companies polled expected to link their long-term incentive plans for executives to net zero or climate measures over the next two years.

“We have not seen that sort of increase since TSR became the measure in vogue” in the early 2000s, says Phillippa O’Connor, a partner at PwC, who advises companies on executive rewards, referring to total shareholder return, the metric of choice for tying executives’ incentives to financial performance.

The push to integrate climate goals, and wider ESG targets, into pay plans has been led by consumer companies such as Unilever. Investors have also intensified the pressure on oil and gas groups such as Royal Dutch Shell to follow suit. According to ISS ESG, 39 per cent of energy companies in the world’s biggest indices had incorporated climate targets into their chief executives’ pay by last year, the highest proportion of any sector.

Harlan Zimmerman, senior partner at Cevian Capital, an activist investment group, sees the introduction of targeted pay as a “forcing mechanism” to change mindsets about climate change.”

SCOTUS releases January argument calendar

Welcome to the Tuesday, November 23, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. U.S. Supreme Court releases January argument calendar
  2. Biden announces two new federal judicial nominees
  3. Tax-related ballot measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in Arizona and Colorado

U.S. Supreme Court releases January argument calendar

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court released its January argument calendar for the 2021-2022 term. The eight cases set for argument range from immigration to campaign finance. Click on the case names below to learn more.

Jan. 10

Jan. 11

  • Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez concerns the right of non-citizens in immigration detention to a bond hearing.
  • Garland v. Gonzalez concerns the right of non-citizens in immigration detention to a bond hearing and the jurisdiction of federal courts to grant certain types of relief in such cases.

Jan. 12

Jan. 18

Jan. 19

To date, the court has agreed to hear 49 cases during its 2021-2022 term. Four cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument. The chart below compares the 2021-2022 term to previous terms. The figure for 2021-22 will change as new cases are scheduled.

Keep reading 

Biden announces two new federal judicial nominees

Speaking of federal courts, here is an update on judicial nominations. President Joe Biden (D) nominated two individuals to lifetime Article III judgeships on Nov. 18. The two nominees are:

With the addition of these two, Biden has nominated a total of 62 individuals to Article III judgeships since the start of his term. To date, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 28 of Biden’s nominees: nine to appeals courts and 19 to district courts. As of Nov. 1 of his first year, Biden has made both the most appeals and district court appointments compared to every president since at least Ronald Reagan (R).

As of Nov. 17, 73 of the 870 Article III judgeships were vacant. Article III of the Constitution created and enumerated the judiciary’s powers. Article III judges are appointed for what are effectively life terms. A vacancy occurs only when a judge resigns, retires, assumes senior status, or dies. 

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Tax-related ballot measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in Arizona and Colorado

Voters in Arizona and Colorado will decide measures regarding the income tax in their respective states in 2022. Last week, citizen-initiated ballot measures in both states were certified to appear on the Nov. 8, 2022, ballot. In Arizona, which has a Republican trifecta, voters placed a veto referendum on the ballot that would overturn a tax decrease the legislature passed earlier this year. In Colorado, which has a Democratic trifecta, voters will decide a citizen initiative that would reduce the state’s income tax rate.


The veto referendum would repeal Sections 13 and 15 of Senate Bill 1828 (SB 1828), which would reduce the number of income tax brackets in the state from four to two. SB 1828 would also further reduce the tax brackets to a flat rate when state revenue exceeds a certain amount. 

As of 2021, for single filers, the lower income tax rate in Arizona is 2.59% on income below $26,501 and the highest is 4.50% on income above $159,000. Under SB 1828, the tax rates for a single filer would be 2.55% on income between $695 and $27,272 and 2.98% on income above $27,272. Those brackets would be reduced to a flat rate of 2.5% when state revenue exceeds $12.976 billion.

A vote “yes” would uphold SB 1828 and reduce the number of brackets while a vote “no” would repeal SB 1828 and maintain the state’s existing four brackets.


The initiative would decrease Colorado’s state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40% for tax years commencing on or after Jan. 1, 2022. The measure would also reduce the tax rate for corporations operating in Colorado from 4.55% of their net income earned in the state to 4.40%.

This is the second tax-related initiative Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute and state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R) have introduced in recent years. The two also sponsored Proposition 116 in 2020, which decreased the state income tax rate for individuals, estates, trusts, and the corporations mentioned above from 4.63% of federal table income to 4.55%. Voters approved that measure 58% to 42%

A vote “yes” would lower the state’s income tax rate to 4.40% while a vote “no” would maintain the state’s existing rate of 4.55%.


To date, 63 ballot measures have been certified for 2022 ballots across 30 states. Of that total, 52 are constitutional amendments or statutes referred to a public vote by a state legislature, three were automatically referred to the ballot, and eight were placed on the ballot through signature petitions. Keep an eye out for these numbers to change as legislators return for their 2022 sessions and signature gathering deadlines pass.

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