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Biden announces Shalanda Young as nominee for director of Office of Management and Budget

Image of the south facade of the White House.

President Joe Biden (D) announced Shalanda Young as his nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Nov. 24, 2021. Young was previously confirmed as deputy director of the OMB on March 2 and has been serving as the agency’s acting director. 

Earlier this year, Biden nominated Neera Tanden as OMB Director. Tanden withdrew her nomination on March 2 before the Senate voted on her confirmation. The position was last held by Russell Vought, who served from 2020-2021 during the Trump Administration.

So far, the Senate has confirmed 22 of Biden’s Cabinet members. After Tanden’s withdrawal, OMB Director has been the last remaining unfilled position. Young’s path to confirmation will include hearings before the Senate Committees on Budget, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, followed by a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

Before Young’s confirmation as deputy director of the OMB, she had worked for the House Appropriations Committee since 2007. In 2016, she became the Democratic deputy staff director of the committee. She became Democratic staff director in 2017.

The Office of Management and Budget is a United States executive agency formed in 1970 to, according to its mission statement, “serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive Branch.” Its chief responsibilities are managing the development and execution of the annual federal budget, overseeing federal agencies and executive branch operations, and coordinating and reviewing agency regulations.

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SCOTUS begins December argument session

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its December sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Nov. 29. The court is hearing arguments in person and providing audio livestreams of arguments.

This week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in four cases. Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Nov. 29

Nov. 30

Dec. 1

Next week, SCOTUS will hear arguments in five cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 50 cases this term. Four cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Nine cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

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Federal Register weekly update: Tops 25,000 total documents

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From November 22 through November 26, the Federal Register grew by 2,126 pages for a year-to-date total of 67,648 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 510 documents:

  • 399 notices
  • Five presidential documents
  • 47 proposed rules
  • 59 final rules

Five proposed rules, including one to address criminal fraud affecting Medicare Income Related Monthly Adjusted Amounts (IRMAA) from the Social Security Administration, and four final rules, including an increase to the minimum wage for federal contractors from the Labor Department were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 101 significant proposed rules, 127 significant final rules, and four significant notices as of November 26.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

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Redistricting map updates: advancements, vetoes, and enactments between Nov. 17 and 24

Between Nov. 17 and Nov. 24, the Georgia State Legislature advanced its congressional map plan to the governor’s desk and Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed a set of Republican-backed maps in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, five states enacted new congressional and state legislative district maps.

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Georgia: On Nov. 22, the Georgia State Legislature approved maps redrawing the state’s 18 congressional districts, sending the proposal to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for final approval. The legislature previously sent state House and Senate maps to the governor, which are also awaiting his final decision.

The Associated Press’ Jeff Amy wrote, “Republicans now hold an 8-6 edge in Georgia’s 14 congressional districts, down from 10-4 a decade ago. The proposed map would shift that edge to 9-5, despite a roughly even divide among the electorate statewide.”

House Minority Leader James Beverly (D) said, “The majority party had an opportunity … to work across party lines on maps that are equitable for all Georgians … Instead, they chose the process of closed doors.”

House Speaker David Ralston (R) said, “[W]e have released a proposed map that reflects Georgia’s growing, diverse population, respects jurisdictional lines and communities of interest, and conforms to applicable legal standards including the Voting Rights Act.”

Vetoed

Wisconsin: On Nov. 18, Gov. Tony Evers (D) vetoed a series of state legislative and congressional maps passed along party-line votes by the Republican-led state legislature on Nov. 11.

Evers said, “I’ve said all along I’d veto these maps if they came to my desk … They’re gerrymandering 2.0.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said, “[The maps] are constitutional, they’re compact and contiguous, we follow all of the principles.”

With Evers’ veto, the redistricting process will now advance to the courts. Cases are currently pending in both state and federal court.

Enacted

Four states—Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Oklahoma—enacted new congressional district maps between Nov. 17 and 24. Oklahoma also enacted new state legislative maps and Connecticut approved its new state House districts.

As of Nov. 24, 18 states had finished their congressional redistricting and 21 states had approved new state legislative lines along with Connecticut’s House maps.

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What is your state’s unemployment tax rate?

State unemployment taxes are employment taxes employers must pay to support the joint federal-state unemployment insurance program. State unemployment taxes are also known as SUTA taxes, state unemployment insurance (SUI) taxes, or reemployment taxes.

Employers usually pay a percentage of an employee’s salary in SUTA taxes up to the wage base (the maximum amount of wages per employee on which an employer must pay unemployment taxes). The SUTA tax rate varies by state and by the employer’s experience rating, which allows states to collect unemployment taxes from employers according to the amount of unemployment insurance benefits drawn by their former employees. The more unemployment claims an employer has, the higher their experience rating and state unemployment tax (SUTA) rate.

For example, Alabama’s wage base is $8,000 and the maximum SUTA tax rate is 6.8% (for employers with many unemployment claims). The maximum SUTA tax an Alabama employer could pay per employee would be $544.

New employers usually start out paying a flat SUTA tax rate for the first few years until they become experience-rated.

The following list provides a summary of the range of SUTA tax amounts across states in 2021:

  • Regular rates ranged from 0% for employers with the lowest experience rating in seven states up to 20.6% of each employee’s base wage in Arizona for employers with the highest experience ratings.
  • The new employer rate ranged from 0.55% in South Carolina to 3.69% in Pennsylvania.
  • Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee had the lowest wage bases at $7,000.
  • Washington had the highest wage base at $56,500.

To learn more about your state’s unemployment tax amounts, click here.

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Illinois enacts new congressional district maps

Photo of the Illinois State Capitol building

Illinois enacted new congressional districts on Nov. 24, 2021, when Gov. J.B. Pritzer (D) signed a proposal approved by the legislature into law. Illinois was apportioned 17 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, one set less than it was apportioned after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Illinois’ 2022 congressional elections.

On Oct. 28, the Illinois Senate passed a map in a 41-18 vote, which the House then approved on Oct. 29 in a 71-43 vote. Released on Oct. 28, this was the fourth congressional map that legislative Democrats proposed.

The Associated Press‘ Sara Burnett wrote, “The map … was intended to eliminate two Republican-held districts and make elections easier for Democratic candidates.” Burnett also said the map “added a second predominantly Latino district, after census data showed Illinois’ Latino population grew over the past decade. They also maintained three predominantly Black districts.”

State Sen. Don Harmon (D), president of the Senate, said the map “reflects the diversity of the state of Illinois,” and combined communities “that shared political philosophies and policy objectives.” State Sen. Don DeWitte (R) said, “This will be the most gerrymandered map in the country, and this process will be used as the poster child for why politicians should never be allowed to draw their own maps.”

As of Nov. 24, 18 states had adopted new congressional maps, one map was approved but had not yet taken effect, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 25 states had not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of Nov. 24 in 2011, 27 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 159 of the 435 seats (36.6%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Runoff elections for Atlanta Public Schools districts to be held Nov. 30

Runoff elections for District 2 and At-Large District 7 of the Atlanta Public Schools school board will be held on Nov. 30, 2021. Aretta Baldon and Keisha Carey advanced to a runoff election for the District 2 seat, while Tamara Jones and KaCey Venning advanced to a runoff for the At-Large District 7 seat.

Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—were up for general election on Nov. 2. Districts 1, 4, 5, and 6 and At-Large Districts 8 and 9 were decided in the general election.

Baldon is the District 2 incumbent and ran against challengers Carey and Bethsheba Rem in the general election. Baldon received 48.5% of the vote and Carey received 29.5%, followed by Rem with 22%. At-Large District 7 is an open seat, as incumbent Kandis Wood Jackson did not seek reelection. Five candidates ran for the seat, with Jones receiving 39.5% of the vote, Venning receiving 20%, and candidates Patricia Crayton, Royce Carter Mann, and Stephen Spring receiving 15% or less.

With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue.

The 2021 election was the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered. The winner in At-Large District 7, an odd number district, will serve a two-year term that will expire on December 31, 2023. The winner in District 2, an even number district, will serve a four-year term that will expire on Dec. 31, 2025.



Brown defeats Walton in Buffalo, New York mayoral election

Byron Brown (D) defeated India Walton (D) in the general election for mayor of Buffalo, New York, on November 2, 2021. Brown, who ran as a write-in candidate in the general election, received 59.6% of the vote to Walton’s 40%.

Walton defeated Brown in the June 22 Democratic primary. Following his primary defeat, Brown announced he would run in the general election as a write-in candidate. Walton received 51% of the vote in the June 22 primary followed by Brown with 46%. Brown was first elected mayor of Buffalo in 2005 and won re-election three times before the 2021 election. Before losing the 2021 primary, he had won the four preceding Democratic mayoral primaries by an average margin of 26.5 percentage points.

A write-in victory in one of the country’s 100 largest cities is rare but not unheard of. Mike Duggan, the mayor of Detroit, Mich., advanced from a 2013 primary as a write-in candidate. And Beverly O’Neil won re-election to a third term as mayor of Long Beach, Calif., in 2002 as a write-in.

Before the election, the New York Times’ Jesse McKinley said the mayoral race “reflects the defining tension within the national Democratic Party, pitting its new generation of left-wing politicians against its more moderate establishment,” referring to Walton and Brown, respectively.

Walton, a nurse and community activist, said Brown had not delivered results as mayor, and that his record “showed that he doesn’t have much care … for the people of Buffalo, unless they’re wealthy developers or heads of large corporations.” She received endorsements from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the local and national branches of the Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party of New York. She also received a general election endorsement from the Erie County Democratic Party, which endorsed Brown in the primary but switched its support to Walton following her primary election victory.

Brown, who became the city’s longest-serving mayor in January 2021, said Walton was “an unqualified, inexperienced, radical socialist,” and described the general election as “a choice between proven results and false, empty promises.” He received general election endorsements from U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Common Councilmembers Joseph Golombek (D), Christopher Scanlon (D), and Ulysees Wingo (D), and former Mayor Anthony Masiello (D). He also received endorsements from The Buffalo News and the local, county, and state police benevolent associations.

Both Walton and Brown also received support from satellite organizations. The Working Families Party’s national PAC supported Walton with satellite spending, while the New York State Association of Realtors and the New York Republican Party supported Brown.

Sean “Jaz” Miles (R), Benjamin Carlisle (I), William O’Dell (I), and Taniqua Simmons (I) also ran in the general election as write-in candidates.

As of December 2021, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 are affiliated with the Republican Party, four are independents, six identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated, and one mayor’s affiliation is unknown. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.

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Massachusetts enacts new congressional district maps

Massachusetts enacted new congressional districts on Nov. 22 when Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed a proposal approved by the legislature into law. Massachusetts was apportioned nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, no change from after the 2010 census. The map will take effect for the state’s 2022 congressional elections.

Both chambers of the legislature approved the new maps on Nov. 17. The state House approved the plan by a vote of 151-8 with 127 Democrats, 23 Republicans, and one independent voting in favor and six Republicans and two Democrats voting against. The state Senate approved the new congressional maps 26-13, with 24 Democrats and two Republicans voting in favor and 12 Democrats and one Republican opposed. In the previous redistricting cycle, Massachusetts adopted its congressional map almost ten years ago to the day—on Nov. 21, 2011. 

Nik DeCosta-Klipa wrote at Boston.com after the legislature approved the maps, “unlike the partisan redistricting fights happening across much of the country, the map has been an argument among Democrats in reliably-blue Massachusetts. While the proposal does not dramatically alter the general contours of the state’s nine Democrat-held House districts…some of the tweaks around the edges have elicited vocal — to some, surprising — outcry.” According to Chris Lisinski of the State House News Service, “The new district boundaries put Fall River fully in the 4th Congressional District and keep New Bedford in the 9th District. Debate over the fate of the two South Coast cities split elected officials, who offered competing arguments for combining them into a single district and for keeping the region divided across two districts.”

As of Nov. 23, 17 states have adopted new congressional maps, one state’s legislature has approved congressional district maps that have not yet taken effect, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 26 states have not yet adopted new congressional maps. As of this date in 2011, 27 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

States have completed congressional redistricting for 142 of the 435 seats (32.6%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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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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