In two separate rulings issued on May 17, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2017 law that amended collective bargaining rights for the state’s public-sector workforce. The court ruled 4-3 in the state’s favor in both cases.
- What was at issue? In 2017, then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed into law a series of amendments to Iowa’s public-sector labor relations law. As a result, collective bargaining units with less than 30 percent public-safety personnel (defined generally as firefighters and police officers) cannot negotiate insurance, hours, vacations, holidays, overtime, and health and safety issues unless their employers elect to do so. Collective bargaining units exceeding the 30-percent threshold are exempted from these restrictions.
- Who were the parties to the suits? The plaintiffs, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 61 (AFSCME Council 61) and the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), argued the amendments violated their equal protection and associational rights under the state constitution. The defendants were the state of Iowa and the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board. Both cases were filed in state district courts, which ruled against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs appealed these decisions to the state supreme court.
- How did the court rule? In each case, the court ruled 4-3 in the state’s favor.
- In the majority opinion covering both cases, Justice Thomas Waterman wrote: “The 2017 amendments do not infringe on a fundamental right of association. The plaintiffs ‘come to us with a problem suitable only for political solution.’ The plaintiffs are free to attempt to persuade public employers, such as the State and local governments and school boards, to voluntarily bargain over formerly mandatory terms. The plaintiffs otherwise must look to the ballot box and the elected branches to change this lawfully enacted statute.” Justices Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, and Christopher McDonald joined Waterman’s opinion.
- All four of these justices were appointed by Republican governors (Branstad appointed Waterman and Mansfield; Kim Reynolds appointed Christensen and McDonald).
- Chief Justice Mark Cady and Justices Brent Appel and David Wiggins dissented. In his dissent, Cady wrote: “[The] Iowa statute ends up treating many similarly situated public employees in Iowa differently based solely on the bargaining unit they belong to and not for the reason the constitution would justify different treatment of public employees. Our constitution requires laws to treat similarly situated people equally unless there is an adequate reason otherwise. In this case, the overinclusiveness and underinclusiveness written into the statute drowned this reason out.”
- Brent and Wiggins were appointed by Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. Cady was appointed by Branstad, a Republican.
- What are the responses?
- Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) supported the ruling: “Since its implementation, I have heard story after story of school districts and local governments implementing creative solutions to improve the education of Iowa’s students and the provision of services Iowans need. This reform is about returning power to locally elected officials and giving them the ability to pay more to great teachers and employees, fire the occasional bad actor and protect Iowa taxpayers.”
- Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen (D) opposed the ruling: ” By taking away the rights of teachers, firefighters, nurses, correctional officers, and other public servants, Republican politicians have done harm to all Iowa workers. Working Iowa men and women are the real victims of the assault by the Branstad/Reynolds administration and Republican-controlled Legislature.”
- The case names and numbers are: AFSCME Council 61 v. Iowa (No. 17–1841) and Iowa State Education Association v. Iowa (No. 17-1834).
The big picture
Number of relevant bills by state: We are currently tracking 100 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.
Number of relevant bills by current legislative status:
Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s):
Recent legislative actions
Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken in the last week. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.
- California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
- Read a second time in the Assembly and ordered to a third reading May 20.
- Maine LD1232: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to join a union or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.
- Died May 23 (placed in legislative files).
- Oregon HB2016: This bill would require public employers to grant paid time to employees participating in certain union activities. It would also require employers to furnish unions with access to employees.
- Senate Workforce Committee work session May 21.
- Oregon HB3009: This bill would require public employers to provide unions with access to new employees. It would also permit individuals who are not union members to make payments in lieu of dues to unions.
- Senate Workforce Committee work session May 23.
May 24, 2019: John Delaney released a $4 trillion climate action proposal. Bill Weld said he will focus his campaign on states with crossover voting.
We’ll be back on Tuesday, May 28!
Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.
Zach Graumann is a former financial planner and executive. He has no prior campaign management experience.
2014-present: Suit Up Incorporated, co-founder and chief executive officer
2014-2018: UBS Wealth Management, director of client philanthropy solutions
2012-2014: UBS Wealth Management, associate director
2011-2013: St. Mary’s Catholic Academy, treasurer
What he says about Yang:
“An outsider candidate raising nearly $2 million in two months in entirely small contributions is unheard of. Andrew Yang has proven he can build an online fundraising army from scratch — the Yang Gang effect is real.”
“Still six years short of the Constitution’s minimum age requirement to be president herself, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez’s massive social media following and ability to generate news headlines has made her a key player in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
With progressives looking to stand out in the crowded field of more than 20 candidates, some Democrats believe that no endorsement—other than the Obamas—would be more potent in [sic] than one from Ocasio-Cortez.”
– Eric Bradner, CNN national political reporter
- Michael Bennet introduced the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act to fund programs to address the opioid crisis through a general fine on opioid manufacturers and distributors covered by federal health programs beginning in 1993.
- Cory Booker announced more than a dozen new national campaign staff, including Amanda Perez as national policy director, Emily Norman as chief innovation officer, and Jen Kim as states chief of staff.
- Steve Bullock has also hired 10 new staffers in Iowa with Nick Marroletti as state organizing director and Jack Segal and Alexandra Cleverly as Iowa political coordinators.
- Pete Buttigieg said he supported athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. “I felt that I was watching Americans exercise a right that I had put my life on the line to defend,” he said.
- In an appearance on NPR’s Morning Edition, Julián Castro discussed immigration and border crossings.
- John Delaney released a $4 trillion climate action proposal that would introduce a carbon tax and set out to reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050.
- During an interview on Fox News, Tulsi Gabbard said a U.S. conflict with Iran would likely lead to a destabilized region and millions of refugees fleeing into Europe.
- In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Kirsten Gillibrand discussed abortion and trade policy with China. “We can use the WTO, we can use multilateralism to effect a different outcome on how they deal with competitors and how they deal with the world economy. And I would hold them accountable. I would prosecute these cases of dumping of steel,” she said.
- Mike Gravel called for a federal investigation into the police shooting of a Lakota man named Clarence Leading Fighter.
- John Hickenlooper will campaign in Connecticut over the weekend, including a meet and greet with the Connecticut High School Democrats.
- Tim Ryan introduced a bill to establish a chief manufacturing officer who would coordinate manufacturing policies and strategy across government.
- Eric Swalwell will accept donations in cryptocurrencies, becoming the second candidate after Yang to do so.
- Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin questioning him about his possible involvement in the decline of Sears.
- By polling at 1 percent in a Monmouth University poll released Thursday, Marianne Williamson has met the polling criteria for the first primary debate, likely guaranteeing her a spot on the debate stage. Earlier this month, she met the fundraising criteria.
- Vanity Fair reported on how the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign are conducting and planning to use opposition research against Biden.
- Bill Weld discussed his primary strategy in an interview with Politico. “I’ll be focusing on the 20 states that permit crossover voting. It’s not just Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, it’s 17 other states,“ Weld said.
What We’re Reading
- The Hill: Gillibrand ‘very unhappy’ with ‘Game of Thrones’ finale
- Politico: Warren and AOC knock ‘Game of Thrones’ finale in new video
- Twitter: Andrew Yang: That was a beautiful ending to the best show on TV.
Flashback: May 24, 2015
The Washington Post reported on the rise of student loan debt as a key campaign issue. “A part of the reason student debt is so important for Democrats is that it’s a crucial motivator to get younger people to vote,” Democratic pollster Geoff Garin said. “Student debt is often the defining economic fact of their lives.”
Welcome to the Friday, May 24, Brew. I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend. I will not be popping into your inbox on Monday, and will instead see you again, bright and early, Tuesday morning. Next week, Ballotpedia will also begin our annual Ballotpedia Society membership drive. In case you didn’t know, Ballotpedia is a nonprofit organization, and we rely on the donations of our readers to keep informative products like the Brew going! We don’t like to bug you often, but we are excited to tell you more about what we are working on, and how you can help.
But until then, it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start today:
- Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron challenge in case involving UPS, Amazon
- Alaska state representative targeted for recall
- Quiz: Which states do not have a state income tax?
Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron challenge in case involving UPS, Amazon
Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which the plaintiff challenged the Chevron doctrine—a 35-year old court precedent. The case also involves two of the largest corporations in the United States: Amazon and UPS.
The Chevron doctrine is an administrative law principle that compels federal courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that Congress delegated to the agency to administer. The principle derives its name from the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. That decision guided courts to consider whether Congress’ intent in writing a statute was ambiguous and whether the agency’s interpretation of the statute is reasonable.
In the suit, the United Parcel Service (UPS) challenged how the D.C. Circuit applied Chevron deference in upholding the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) cost allocation and pricing formulas. USPS package delivery rates are set by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). UPS argued that the D.C. Circuit made a mistake in its May 2018 opinion which applied the Chevron doctrine to uphold the formula used by the PRC to set rates. Amazon was among several organizations which filed briefs supporting the PRC.
In its petition, UPS asked the Court to reconsider the Chevron doctrine in light of the following criticisms:
- “It threatens the proper separation of powers by shifting legislative and judicial responsibilities to executive agencies”
- “There is no legal basis for the assumption that Congress implicitly delegates interpretive authority to agencies”
- “Chevron (with its attendant limitations) is enormously difficult to apply in practice.”
- “Several Justices have recognized that this powerful criticism warrants a reconsideration of Chevron by the Court.”
A 2017 study by Michael Kagan at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, found that the Chevron doctrine has been cited in legal arguments 81,000 times since it was introduced. That same study also found that all nine current Supreme Court justices “have at least once signed an opinion explicitly holding that Chevron should not apply in a situation where the administrative law textbooks would previously have said that it must apply.”
In deciding not to take the case, the Supreme Court upheld the D.C. Circuit’s decision letting the PRC’s interpretation stand and upholding the cost and pricing formulas used by the postal service. Click the link below to read more about the Chevron doctrine, or click here to take one of our Learning Journeys to explore the topic in depth.
Alaska state representative targeted for recall
The Alaska House of Representatives elected a Speaker of the House for its 2019 session on February 14—thirty days after its members were sworn into office. During that time, majority or minority leaders and committee chairpersons were not selected and little legislative business was conducted. Last week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) called the legislature into a 30-day special session to address bills related to criminal reform, education funding, and the state’s operating, capital and mental health budgets.
Earlier this month, a committee was formed to gather signatures to recall Alaska state Rep. Gary Knopp (R) for what recall supporters state was his role in the delays and disruptions to the 2019 legislative session.
In the November 2018 elections for the Alaska House of Representatives, Republicans won 23 seats, Democrats won 16 seats, and a Democratic-aligned independent won another race. On December 8, Knopp announced that he was leaving the Republican caucus in order to form a majority coalition with Democrats. Rep. Bryce Edgmon—who switched his party affiliation from Democratic to unenrolled—was eventually elected House Speaker by 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents. Both parties also split control of committee leadership positions in a power-sharing agreement. Alaska currently has divided government, as Republicans control the governor’s office and state Senate.
Recall supporters need about 1,000 signatures to request a recall petition from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R). If Meyer accepts the application, supporters will need about an additional 3,000 signatures to force a recall election. Alaska is one of 18 states to allow the recall of state legislators. Since 2011, 80 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 55 did not go to a vote, and seven are still ongoing. The most recent recall of a state legislator was in 2018 when California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled.
The only grounds for recalling an elected official in the state are misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties. Recall supporters stated in their petition that they are seeking to recall Knopp because he “did not show up for several key votes this session,” “demonstrated his incompetence in representing a conservative district,” and “admitted that he had deceived his fellow lawmakers and constituents.”
Knopp responded to the recall by stating, “In the recall petition, they are welcome to do what they want to do. I don’t think they have cause, but if they want to move forward with it that’s their prerogative. I just wish it would be done by people in the district not the haters across the state who aren’t getting what they want.”
Knopp was elected to the state House in 2016 with 66.5% of the vote. He won re-election unopposed in 2018.
Want to learn more about recalls? Check out this short Ballotpedia video from our Beyond the Headlines series.
Quiz: Which states do not have a state income tax?
I brought you a story yesterday about voters in Texas who will decide later this year whether to add an amendment to their state constitution prohibiting the adoption of a state income tax. Texas does not have currently have a state income tax and is one of just seven states without one. Four of the seven states without an income tax are Florida, Washington, Alaska, and Nevada.
Today’s quiz question is, what are the other two states without a state income tax?
Correction: A story in Thursday’s Brew incorrectly stated that Amanda Green-Hawkins and Beth Tarasi advanced from Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The two candidates that advanced from the Democratic primary were Amanda Green-Hawkins and Daniel D. McCaffery. We apologize for the error.
Welcome to the Wednesday, May 23, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- Texas voters to decide constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax
- We’re collecting maps to improve your sample ballot
- More of Tuesday’s election results from Kentucky and Pennsylvania
Texas voters to decide constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax
Voters in Texas will decide a constitutional amendment in November 2019 to prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals. Texas is one of seven states without a personal income tax.
The measure would ban the adoption of a personal income tax and would require a subsequent constitutional amendment to enact one in the future. This requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of each legislative chamber in addition to being approved by voters. Under current law, voters in Texas must approve an income tax as a statewide referendum but only a majority vote in each chamber is necessary to place it on the ballot. These provisions were established when voters approved Proposition 4 in 1993. Proposition 4 also specifies that if an income tax is enacted, any revenues raised would be dedicated to education and would also be used to limit local school tax rates.
Twenty Democrats joined 80 Republicans in voting to approve the 2019 amendment in the state House. One hundred votes were needed in that chamber to pass. All 42 votes opposing the amendment were cast by Democrats, and three Republicans and five Democrats were absent or didn’t vote. In the state Senate, 21 votes were needed for passage. All 19 Republicans joined three Democrats in approving the amendment and all 9 votes opposing the measure were cast by Democrats.
Seven statewide ballot measures have been certified for the November 2019 ballot in Texas. The state legislature is expected to adjourn on May 27 and could refer additional constitutional amendments before they adjourn. An average of 13 measures appeared on odd-year statewide ballots in Texas between 1995 and 2017. Voters approved 91 percent—145 out of 159—of the constitutional amendments during this 22-year period.
Across the country, 12 statewide ballot measures in four states have been certified to appear before voters in 2019.
We’re collecting maps to improve your sample ballot
One of our primary aims here at Ballotpedia is filling the ballot information gap. The further down the ballot you go, the more the ballot information gap widens. At the most local level, voters typically have little information about who or what they’re voting for. We will consider ourselves many steps closer to achieving our mission when we can offer a comprehensive sample ballot.
Ballotpedia currently offers two lookup tools for voters: a preview of your ballot, and a tool to find out your current representatives. These tools are partly powered by digital maps, and so are limited by the maps that are available. We’ve faced a variety of challenges in getting maps for city council seats and county commission seats. Without these maps, voters cannot view a sample ballot specific to these local districts.
Our goal: to be able to place each address in the country correctly inside their respective districts. This would be the first step toward being able to show every voter in the country a list of candidates through their most local elections, including school boards and special districts. That’s what we mean when we talk about offering a comprehensive sample ballot.
Earlier this year, we conducted a study evaluating how we can get all the maps we need to provide a comprehensive, accurate, and specific sample ballot. We hope that we will be able to build off this work and start bringing you more ballot information, state by state.
If we are successful in comprehensively gathering and building these maps, we will be meeting voters needs in a way they haven’t been met before. Any voter in the United States could search their address and find a list of candidates for their local school board, or the names of the individuals representing a special district in their area. That is what the future looks like when we succeed in our mission of providing a comprehensive, universal sample ballot.
Launch our tools
More of Tuesday’s election results from Kentucky and Pennsylvania
Yesterday’s Brew highlighted the results of Kentucky’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the other races we were following on Tuesday:
State Rep. Fred Keller (R) defeated college professor Marc Friedenberg (D) in a special election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat representing Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Unofficial returns showed Keller receiving 68% of the vote to Friedenberg’s 32%.
The vacancy occurred when former Rep. Tom Marino (R) resigned in January. Marino beat Friedenberg by 32 points in November 2018 and Donald Trump (R) carried the district by 36 points in the 2016 presidential election.
This was the first special election to fill a vacancy in the 116th Congress. Two special elections—in North Carolina’s 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts—will occur on September 10.
Incumbent James Kenney defeated former City Controller Alan Butkovitz and state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Democratic primary for mayor of Philadelphia. Kenney received 67% of the vote to Williams’ 24% and Butkovitz’ 9%. Kenney, who served 23 years on the city council before his election as mayor in 2015, was endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), and all three of Philadelphia’s representatives in the U.S. House.
Kenney will face attorney Billy Ciancaglini (R) and any independent or third-party candidates in the November 5 general election. Since 1951, no incumbent Philadelphia mayor has lost a re-election bid, and no Republican has won a Philadelphia mayoral election since 1947.
Philadelphia voters also approved four charter amendments on Tuesday, according to election night results. Voters approved changing gender-specific references in the city charter to gender-neutral ones, making the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs permanent, and creating a new class of law enforcement officers to assist with regulating traffic but that are not allowed to carry firearms. Voters also approved a charter amendment asking the Pennsylvania legislature to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. This measure does not actually affect Philadelphia’s minimum wage since Pennsylvania has preempted local governments, such as cities, from setting their own minimum wage standards. All charter amendments on Tuesday’s ballot were approved by at least 68% of voters.
Amanda Green-Hawkins and Beth Tarasi were the top two finishers in the Democratic primary for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck were the top two finishers for the Republican nomination for those seats.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania’s two statewide intermediate appellate courts. It reviews most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the courts of common pleas in the state’s 67 counties. Judges of the superior court are chosen in partisan elections to 10-year terms. Existing judges are subject to retention elections to win successive 10-year terms.
Voters selected nominees for five down-ballot state executive offices in Kentucky—attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, state auditor, and state treasurer. Republican incumbents Ryan Quarles, Mike Harmon, and Allison Ball won their primaries for agriculture commissioner, state auditor, and state treasurer, respectively. All three were first elected in 2015.
Daniel Cameron defeated Wil Schroder in the Republican primary for the open-seat race for attorney general. Former state Attorney General Greg Stumbo won the Democratic nomination unopposed. Incumbent Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) won his party’s nomination for governor. Heather French Henry (D) and Michael Adams (R) won their party’s primaries for Kentucky Secretary of State to succeed incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who is term-limited.