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Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

In hyperlocal news this week, we launched a Ballotpedia Store, allowing you to be a Ballotpedia evangelist from your front porch! Check out our selection of t-shirts, totes, and mugs here.

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the final candidate list released in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and a federal court upholds the CDC’s COVID-19 cruise line restrictions. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-three statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one additional 2022 initiative in Michigan. One indirect initiative in Michigan was approved by the legislature last week. The initiative repealed Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing will decide a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit will, pending a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, decide whether to adopt a revised city charter that makes changes to policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters will decide a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County will decide property tax measures.

Special Elections

Forty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the districts, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No districts have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

July 27

Aug. 3

Aug. 17

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney dies

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney (R) died while in office on July 17, due to long-term health issues. 

Carney was first elected to represent House District 51 in 2008. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Richard Steele (D) 78.6% to 21.4%. He was elected state House majority leader in 2018 and served in that role until January 2020, when House Republicans named Rep. Steven Rudy (R) to serve as acting majority leader while Carney was ill. 

Carney was admitted to the ICU with pancreatitis in December 2019. He had spent the past year and a half in hospitals and was diagnosed with pneumonia in June 2021. He died on July 17 at age 51.

Carney is the second member of the Kentucky legislature to die this month; former state Senator Tom Buford (R) died on July 6. Kentucky is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

On July 21, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) released the final list of 46 candidates that qualified for the gubernatorial recall election. The recall election seeking to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will take place on Sept. 14, 2021. Among the candidates that qualified were nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Larry Elder (R).

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.

New Jersey state Sen. Chris Brown resigns to take new role in Murphy administration

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) appointed state Sen. Chris Brown (R) to a position in the Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services on July 19. The position required Brown to leave the state Senate. Brown started his new job on July 20.

Brown first won election to the Senate to represent District 2 on Nov. 7, 2017, defeating incumbent Colin Bell (D) 53.52% to 46.48%. Brown had announced in February that he would not seek re-election.

Vacancies in the New Jersey legislature are filled by interim appointment by the county leadership of the party that last controlled the district. 

The New Jersey Senate is the upper chamber of the state legislature. Currently, there are 25 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one vacancy in the Senate.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appoints new state supreme court justice, public service commissioner

Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed Verda Colvin to the Georgia Supreme Court and Fitz Johnson to the Georgia Public Service Commission on July 20 and 21, respectively. Colvin will fill the vacancy left by Justice Harold Melton, who retired on July 1 of this year, while Johnson will take former Commissioner Chuck Eaton’s position. Governor Kemp appointed Eaton to the Fulton County Superior Court on July 20. 

Founded in 1845, the Georgia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has nine judgeships. As of July 2021, Republican governors appointed seven judges (eight once Colvin is sworn in) on the court and one was initially selected in a nonpartisan election. Judges are selected using the nonpartisan election of judges system. They serve six-year terms. When an interim vacancy occurs, the seat is filled using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection with the governor picking the interim justice from a slate provided by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. 

The Georgia Public Service Commission is a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative state body responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities: electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms. The commission is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms. If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next general election. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson must win election in November 2022 to serve the remainder of Eaton’s term, which expires in 2024.

Federal court upholds CDC COVID-19 cruise line restrictions

On July 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court order that blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) restrictions on the cruise industry, allowing the restrictions to stay in place. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sued the CDC in April, arguing the agency overstepped its authority when it issued its four-phase plan for reopening the cruise industry. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday sided with DeSantis on June 18, granting Florida a preliminary injunction against the restrictions.

The CDC’s plan requires 95% of passengers and 98% of crews to be fully vaccinated. Florida’s Senate Bill 2006, which DeSantis signed into law on May 3, prohibits businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccination. 

DeSantis said he would appeal the ruling. 

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.



Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District

The Federal Tap

This week Ballotpedia launched its first-ever store! Now you can share your love of informed voting by rocking our gear. See what we have in store for you!

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the runoff election in the special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District and the primaries for the special election for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday and Tuesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Wednesday, Biden participated in a CNN town hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

On Thursday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 82 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 51%, congressional approval at 23%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 51% approval and 43% disapproval as of July 22. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 52%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. This week’s approval rating matches his lowest of 51% on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 23% and disapproval is at 56%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 19%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is the 36% received last week (July 15). The lowest approval rating it has received is 19%, last seen on June 23.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 41% and congressional approval was at 19%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Voters to decide runoff election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27

Texas’ 6th Congressional District will hold a special election runoff on July 27. Jake Ellzey (R) and Susan Wright (R) are running to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Ronald Wright (R), who died from COVID-19 related complications on Feb. 7. The district is located in the northeastern portion of the state and includes Ellis and Navarro counties and an area of Tarrant County.

Susan Wright is Ronald Wright’s widow. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed her on April 26. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Ellzey.

Since both runoff candidates are Republicans, the district will not change party hands as a result of the election. The two advanced from a 23-candidate special election on May 1. Wright received 19.2% of the vote, while Ellzey received 13.8% of the vote.

Three special elections to the 117th Congress have taken place so far in 2021. The election in Texas’ 6th is one of four more currently scheduled.

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.

Primaries for the special election to Ohio’s 15th Congressional District on Aug. 3

Ohio’s primary on Aug. 3 is less than two weeks away, and in the state’s 15th Congressional District, four Republican candidates are leading media attention and endorsements: Mike Carey, Ruth Edmonds, Jeff LaRe, and Bob Peterson

The Republican nominee will face the winner of the Democratic primary in a special election on Nov. 2, 2021. Greg Betts and Allison Russo are running in the Democratic primary.

The special election will fill the vacancy left by Steve Stivers (R), who resigned to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, effective May 16, 2021. Stivers had held the district since 2011 and won his last re-election in 2020 with a 26.8 point margin-of-victory against Joel Newby (D).

Carey, past president and chairman of the Ohio Coal Association and U.S. Army National Guard veteran, has said he will “bring back America First policies and rebuild the American economy.” He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump (R).

Endorsed by the Right Women PAC, Edmonds is an ordained minister and former president of the Ohio NAACP. She has said she is “Committed to Life [and] to ending the hateful rhetoric around race.”

Private security executive and member of the Ohio state legislature, LaRe has said his “top priority is keeping our communities and our families safe.” He was endorsed by the previous officeholder, Steve Stivers.

Peterson was endorsed by the Ohio Right to Life PAC. A farmer and member of the Ohio state legislature, he has said he is a “tireless advocate for faith, family and freedom.” 

The seven other candidates also running in the primary are: John Adams, Eric M. Clark, Thad Cooperridder, Ron Hood, Tom Hwang, Stephanie Kunze, and Omar Tarazi.

As of July 2021, the Ohio House delegation consisted of three Democrats and 11 Republicans, with two seats up for special election this year. The overall partisan composition of the U.S. House is 220 Democrats and 211 Republicans. The general election is rated as Solid Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Campaign finance data has not yet been released on the race, but on July 14, Politico cited advertising data to report that Rep. Stivers had “spent nearly $300,000 in remaining funds from his campaign account” on LaRe’s campaign, while the Protect Freedom PAC had reserved $216,000 in advertising time for Hood.

To learn more about the candidates’ platforms or to find out what other races are on your ballot, check out Ballotpedia’s Sample Ballot Lookup tool.

Vice President Harris casts eighth tie-breaking vote in Senate

Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her eighth tie-breaking vote in the Senate on July 21 to confirm Jennifer Ann Abruzzo as general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board. The Senate voted 50-50 along party lines.

Harris previously cast tie-breaking votes related to the confirmation processes of Kiran Ahuja for director of the Office of Personnel Management and Colin Kahl for under secretary of defense for policy.

In the past four decades, vice presidents have cast a total of 40 tie-breaking votes. Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast the most during this time period with 13 tie-breaking votes.

John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789. In total, there have been 276 tie-breaking votes from 37 vice presidents. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office.



Minneapolis City Council votes to certify Nov. 2 ballot language for initiative to replace police department

On July 23, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to approve a ballot question and explanatory note for a citizen initiative that would replace the police department with a department of public safety. The measure will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The initiative would remove language on the city’s police department from the city charter, including provisions requiring minimum funding for the department and giving the mayor control over the police department. It would also create a department of public safety. The measure would allow the new department to include “licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department.” Under the initiative, the mayor would nominate and the city council would appoint the commissioner of the public safety department.

Yes 4 Minneapolis submitted more than the required 11,906 valid signatures for the initiative on April 30. The city clerk certified the petition on May 14.

The city council’s vote was to (a) set the ballot language for the measure and (b) accept a city attorney report stating the measure concerned a proper subject matter for the city charter and is constitutional. The resolution now goes to the mayor’s desk; he has five days to sign or veto it. Mayor Jacob Frey opposes the initiative, but the resolution before him does not affect whether the measure will go on the ballot.

Frey’s office stated, “Mayor Frey maintains that giving the Minneapolis City Council control over public safety work would mark a major setback for accountability and good governance. The mayor will not be signing the measure, but appreciates the careful work and thorough analysis done by City staff to prepare fair and accurate language for voters to consider this fall.”

Yes 4 Minneapolis stated, “It all started in Minneapolis. Following the murder of George Floyd last summer, we witnessed a community movement against state-sanctioned violence — a movement to better protect Black lives. […] Our movement demands our city leaders move away from violent policing to create a department that addresses community safety holistically and with a public health approach. Our movement believes that the community should decide what safety looks like. To do so, we must amend the city charter that was written in 1961 and forces us to build on a broken system. We are proud to bring this issue to voters this November.”

The city council considered putting its own charter amendment to replace the police department on the Nov. 2 ballot. But sponsors withdrew the measure when Yes 4 Minneapolis’ initiative qualified for the ballot citing concerns over confusing voters. The city council passed a similar charter amendment in 2020, but the city’s charter commission effectively blocked the measure from the November 2020 ballot by taking the full time allotted to it for review.

Additional reading:



Union Station: Minnesota Court dismisses challenge to state collective bargaining agreement

Minnesota District Court dismisses Republican legislators’ challenge of state collective bargaining agreement   

On July 19, Minnesota’s Second Judicial District Court dismissed a lawsuit that two Minnesota Republicans brought against the state’s office of management and budget. The legislators alleged that the state’s collective bargaining agreement violated state law because it was implemented without being ratified by both chambers of the state legislature.    

Parties to the suit

The plaintiffs are Minnesota state Rep. Marion O’Neill (R) and state Sen. Mark Koran (R) in their official and individual capacities. Attorneys from the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) represent the plaintiffs. The UMLC says its “mission is to initiate pro-freedom litigation to protect against government overreach, special interest agendas, Constitutional violations, and public union corruption and abuses.” 

The defendants are Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Schowalter in his official capacity and Minnesota Management and Budget, which is “responsible for producing the state budget, economic forecast, payroll, and human resource policies for the state enterprise.” State attorneys represented the defendants. 

What’s at issue 

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on December 30, 2020, in the Second Judicial District Court. The UMLC said: “Under Minnesota law, a majority vote of both the House and Senate must approve the state employee union bargaining agreements for them to be legally implemented. In this case, MMB implemented the agreement even though the Senate failed to approve the bill. Representative O’Neill and Senator Koran seek a writ of quo warranto or declaratory judgment to have the invalid bargaining agreements set aside.”

In a March 30 memorandum in support of their motion to dismiss, the defendants’ attorneys said, “Two legislators seek to overturn lawfully bargained-for and legislatively approved pay raises for approximately 50,000 State employees. … As a legal matter, however, this case is simple. Petitioners Representative Marion O’Neill and Senator Mark Koran do not have standing to pursue these claims.” State employee organizations filed an amicus curiae brief on April 7. The groups said that “by waiting until the challenged collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) have been in effect for many months before filing suit, Petitioners have ensured that granting the requested relief would have the maximum disruptive impact on established CBA terms and on the collective bargaining process under the Public Employment Labor Relations Act … Accordingly, Petitioners’ unreasonable delay in asserting their purported rights would result in significant prejudice to the bargaining parties and to the public if the requested relief were granted.” 

A hearing was held on April 27. 

How the court ruled

On July 19, Judge Lezlie Ott Marek, who Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) appointed in 2010, wrote:

Legislator standing is extremely narrow. Members of a legislature have standing to sue in their capacity as legislators only when they demonstrate injuries that are personal to them, as opposed to institutional injuries to the legislative body as whole. … Where a legislator fails to establish personal standing via vote nullification, the alleged injury is institutional. … Here, the Petitioners allege an injury that belongs to the legislature as whole—not to them as individuals. …

No Minnesota court has ever found that individual taxpayers have standing to seek an Order enjoining the implementation of negotiated collective bargaining agreements. Here, extending the doctrine of taxpayer standing on the facts of this case would make bad public policy on labor relations. The purpose of [the Public Employment Labor Relations Act] is to “promote orderly and constructive relationships between all public employers and their employees.” … The amicus brief filed by the unions correctly notes that allowing this lawsuit to proceed would interfere with the ”delineation of separate and distinct roles for the Commissioner and for the Legislature to establish an orderly and constructive system on collective bargaining.” …

For all of the reasons stated herein, Petitioners lack standing to bring this lawsuit, either as legislators or taxpayers, and the Petition must be dismissed on this threshold ground alone. Because the motion to dismiss has been granted, Petitioners’ motion for temporary injunction has been mooted and does not require ruling.

The case name and number are O’Neill v. Schowalter (62-CV-20-5865). Case documents can be viewed here.

Responses

Julie Bleyhl, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, said, “We are pleased that the courts have dismissed the harmful and egregious lawsuit … that would have directly harmed tens of thousands of state employees and our rights as workers. … As many thousands of our members are currently negotiating their next contract, it is clear that our union members will continue to fight for contracts that treat all workers with the respect and dignity they deserve and demand and lift up all workers throughout our state.”

James V. F. Dickey, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “We respectfully disagree with Judge Marek’s decision. … It’s unclear how any taxpayer in Minnesota could ever challenge illegal government spending based on the decision.” Dickey said the plaintiffs plan to appeal the ruling. An appeal would go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  

About Minnesota’s Second Judicial District Court 

The Minnesota district court system handles criminal, civil and family cases in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The counties are divided into ten judicial districts. The Second Judicial District encompasses Ramsey County. There are 29 judges on the court. 

The Minnesota Court of Appeals hears appeals from the state’s district courts, and the Minnesota Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 98 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 relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Maine LD449: Existing law requires public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting.  This applies only if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carried over to the next session on July 19.
  • Maine LD555: This bill would grant most public-sector employees the right to strike. Select public safety and judicial employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Carried over to the next session on July 19.



$15 per hour minimum wage initiative qualifies for November ballot in Tucson, Arizona

On July 22, 2021, the Tucson City Clerk confirmed that enough signatures were submitted for an initiative backed by Tucson Fight for $15 to qualify for the November 2 ballot.

On July 2, Tucson Fight for $15, the campaign behind a local minimum wage increase, submitted 29,526 raw signatures to the city’s clerk office.

In Tucson, Arizona, petitioners needed to submit 14,826 valid signatures by July 2, 2021, to qualify for the November 2021 ballot. The signature requirement was based on 15% of the votes cast for mayoral candidates in the previous mayoral election. After signatures are certified for an initiative in Tucson, the measure goes before the city council. The city council has two options: approve the initiative, precluding an election, or send the initiative to the ballot.

The initiative would amend the city code to incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The minimum wage would increase by the following increments:

  1. $13 by April 1, 2022,
  2. $13.50 by January 1, 2023,
  3. $14.25 by January 1, 2024, and
  4. $15.00 by January 1, 2025.

The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards by April 1, 2022. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative. A violation of the initiative would be a civil infraction with a civil penalty of up to $100 per employee affected by the violation paid to the city. If multiple violations occur, the city may revoke, suspend, or decline to renew any licenses of the employer.

Tucson Fight for $15 filed the initiative on February 27, 2021. Billy Peard, the co-author and co-organizer of Tucson Fight for $15, said, “Tucson’s has one of the fastest-growing rents and housing costs in the country. Tucson is the second poorest city in the southwestern United States, as measured by per capita income. There’s simply no way that a family, or even an individual without children, can pay a one-bedroom apartment these days on the current minimum wage of $12.15.”

Tucson Business Owners Inc. is leading the campaign in opposition to the measure. Carlos Ruiz, owner of HT Metals in Tucson and a member of Tucson Business Owners, said the initiative is more than just about raising the minimum wage to $15. He said, “Interested parties can initiate actions against businesses and if successful those interested parties get 30% of the fines and penalties that are assessed against that business. And the city of Tucson gets 70% of the fines. So there’s an incentive for outside parties becoming activists to go after employers in the city of Tucson.”

In 2016, Arizona passed Proposition 206, which increased the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, and then incrementally to $12 by 2020, and created a right to paid sick time off from employment. It was approved by a margin of 58.33% to 41.67%.



Signature deadlines approaching for Colorado 2021 initiatives

Four initiatives targeting the November 2 ballot in Colorado were approved for signature gathering. The deadline for signature submission to qualify for the 2021 ballot is August 2. Colorado also has deadlines specific to each initiative since initiatives can be circulated for no more than six months. Details about the four initiatives are below:

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative:

This initiative, which would amend the state constitution and state law, would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative and reported $1 million in contributions from Unite for Colorado.

To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021. Constitutional amendments in Colorado require a 55% supermajority vote to be ratified and added to the state constitution. This requirement was added by Amendment 71 of 2016.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative:

This initiative would amend state law to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17 in subjects including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, career education, and specialized support for those with special needs. The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program. The initiative would result in a state revenue increase of $137,600,000 annually.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The committee reported $948,270 in contributions, with all but $20 coming from Gary Community Investment Company.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative. The committee had not yet reported campaign finance activity. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative:

This initiative would amend state law to reduce the residential and non-residential property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers. Each version differs regarding how the $25 million in retained revenue could be spent. Suzanne Taheri and Michael Fields of Colorado Rising Action filed the initiative.

Cut Property Taxes registered as an issue committee to support the initiative and reported $750,000.00 in contributions from Unite for Colorado. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

State Income Tax Rate Reduction Initiative:

This initiative, sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%. Ballotpedia did not identify issue committees registered to support or oppose the measure. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by October 29, 2021.

The initiative campaign committees with campaign finance activity surrounding the three measures with contributions reported a combined total of $2.7 million in contributions from two donors. The committees reported a combined total of $2.14 million in expenditures.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994. Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.



71 candidates file for 13 municipal offices in New Orleans

The filing deadline to run for office in New Orleans passed on July 16. The city is holding general elections for mayor, sheriff, assessor, coroner, civil district court clerk, criminal district court clerk, and seven city council seats on Nov. 13. A primary is scheduled for Oct. 9.

A total of 71 candidates filed to run for these 13 seats. The races for civil district court clerk and coroner were both canceled when the incumbents were the only candidates to file. Both were automatically re-elected to their positions.

The mayoral race attracted 14 candidates, including incumbent Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D). She was first elected to the position in the general election on Nov. 18, 2017. In her bid for re-election, Cantrell is running against four Democrats, one Republican, four independents, and four candidates who indicated they had no party preference in the primary election. 

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Democratic mayors oversaw 64 of the 100 largest cities at the beginning of 2021. New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana and the 51st-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Additional reading:

City elections in New Orleans, Louisiana (2021)

Partisanship in United States municipal elections (2021)

United States municipal elections, 2021

United States mayoral elections, 2021



The politicians who were Olympians

Welcome to the Friday, July 23, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Politics & Olympians
  2. Group submits signatures for November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in Tucson, Arizona
  3. #Fridaytrivia

Politics & Olympians

Today kicks off the 2020 Tokyo Olympics—held one year later than scheduled due to COVID-19. We thought it would be interesting to bring you an overview of the politicians who have also been Olympians. From time to time, we enjoy looking into the crossover between politics and other areas of interest. For example, we featured a story in February looking at politicians who have run in the Superbowl

We found examples of at least seven politicians who participated in at least one Olympics before serving as a member of Congress. Of those seven, three won gold medals in their events. Bill Bradley (D) won gold as a member of the Olympic basketball team in the 1964 Olympics before becoming a Democratic U.S. Senator for New Jersey. Bob Mathias (R) won his gold medal in the decathlon in both 1942 and 1958, going on to represent California’s 18th Congressional District. Ralph Metcalfe (D), who later represented Illinois’ 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House, won gold in the 4 x 100 meter relay in 1936.

These Olympians-turned-politicians represented seven different states—California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Two of these Olympians served in the U.S. Senate, four served in the U.S. House, and one (Ben Nighthorse Campbell) served in both the U.S. Senate and House.

The table below contains the full list that we found.

Keep reading

Group submits signatures for November ballot measure that would increase the minimum wage in Tucson, Arizona

On July 2, Tucson Fight for $15, the campaign behind a local minimum wage increase, submitted 29,526 signatures to the city’s clerk office.

In Tucson, Arizona, petitioners needed to submit 14,826 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November 2021 ballot. If enough signatures are certified, the measure will go before the city council. The city council will have two options: approve the initiative, precluding an election, or send the initiative to the ballot.

The initiative would amend the city code to incrementally increase the city’s minimum wage from $12.15 (the state’s minimum wage) to $15 by January 1, 2025, and increase it every January thereafter by the rate of inflation rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05. The minimum wage would increase by the following increments:

  • $13 by April 1, 2022,
  • $13.50 by January 1, 2023,
  • $14.25 by January 1, 2024, and
  • $15.00 by January 1, 2025.

The initiative would also establish a Department of Labor Standards by April 1, 2022. The department would be authorized to receive complaints from employees, investigate employers, and educate workers about their rights under the initiative. A violation of the initiative would be a civil infraction with a civil penalty of up to $100 per employee affected by the violation paid to the city. If multiple violations occur, the city may revoke, suspend, or decline to renew any licenses of the employer.

In 2016, Arizona passed Proposition 206, which increased the minimum wage to $10 in 2017, and then incrementally to $12 by 2020, and created a right to paid sick time off from employment. It was approved by a margin of 58.33% to 41.67%.

Since 2016, Ballotpedia has tracked 18 local minimum wage ballot measures, including the 2021 measure in Tucson. 

The average state minimum wage in 2021 is about $9.59, up from $9.17 in 2020. The highest statewide minimum wages are

  • $14.00 in California,
  • $13.69 in Washington, and
  • $13.50 in Massachusetts.

Keep reading 

#Fridaytrivia

On Tuesday, I wrote about the federal judicial vacancies, nominations, and confirmations six months into Biden’s presidency. So for today’s quiz, we’re asking:

How many judicial vacancies did Biden inherit at the start of his term?

  1. 37
  2. 60
  3. 72
  4. 46


Initiative to repeal Michigan law granting governor emergency powers heads to state legislature

The Michigan State Legislature approved the indirect initiative that repealed the Emergency Powers of Governor Act. On July 15, 2021, the Michigan State Senate voted 20-15 to approve the initiated measure. Senate Republicans voted to pass the initiated measure, and Senate Democrats voted against the proposal. On July 21, 2021, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 60-48 to approve the initiated measure. House Republicans, along with four House Democrats, supported the proposal. The remaining 48 House Democrats opposed the initiated measure. The governor cannot veto the legislature’s approval of an indirect citizen-initiated measure.



Democratic, Republican candidates advance unopposed to special election in Tennessee state House district

The special primary election for Tennessee House of Representatives District 29 is on July 27. DeAngelo Jelks is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Greg Vital is running unopposed in the Republican primary. The candidates will advance to the general election, scheduled for Sept. 14.

The special election was called after Mike Carter (R) died from cancer on May 15. Carter served from 2012 to 2021.

The filing deadline to run for the seat passed on June 17.

Tennessee has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Tennessee House of Representatives by a margin of 73 to 26.