46.80% of all state legislators are Democrats and 52.07% are Republicans, according to Ballotpedia’s October partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States.
Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans hold a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats hold a majority in 39 chambers. Alaska’s chamber is the only one to have a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.
Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Democrats hold 875 state Senate seats—gaining one since September—and 2,580 state House seats—up one from last month. Republicans hold 3,844 of the 7,383 state legislative seats—1,084 state Senate seats (up three seats) and 2,760 state House seats (up one from last month). Independent or third-party legislators hold 34 seats, of which 30 are state House seats and four state Senate seats. There are 50 vacant seats.
In the October prior to the 2016 general election, Democrats held 818 state Senate seats (57 fewer than today) and 2,332 state House seats (a decrease of 248), while Republicans held 1,086 state Senate seats (an additional two when compared to today) and 3,016 state House seats (an increase of 256).
U.S. Department of Labor proposes changes to union reporting requirements
On Oct. 13, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a series of proposed changes to reporting requirements for unions subject to the disclosure provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).
Enacted in 1959, LMRDA requires certain unions to file annual financial reports. These reports must include the following information:
- The reporting union’s assets and liabilities at the beginning and end of the fiscal year.
- All revenues and their sources.
- Salary and other compensation for any union officer or employee receiving $10,000 or more from the union in a reporting year.
- Direct and indirect loans made to union officers, employees, or members.
- Direct and indirect loans to businesses.
- Union membership figures.
LMRDA grants the secretary of labor the “authority to issue, amend, and rescind rules and regulations prescribing the form and publication of reports” required under the law. Since 2012, the labor secretary has delegated this authority to the director of the Office of Labor-Management Standards. The forms used for these reports are referred to as LM-2 forms.
Unions that represent public-sector workers exclusively are not subject to these requirements. Unions representing both private-sector and public-sector workers are required to file reports.
The revised LM-2 forms would require unions to:
- Disclose whether an officer or employee receiving $10,000 or more from the union also received $10,000 or more from another union.
- Disclose the existence and, if applicable, amount of a union’s strike fund.
- Report the date of the latest change to a union’s bylaws.
- Report sales and purchases of investments and fixed assets as four distinct entries.
- Report spending for political activities and lobbying as two distinct entries.
- Provide more detailed information about membership (e.g., membership status, how many members are paying full dues, etc.).
The proposed changes do not directly affect the exemption for unions representing only public-sector workers.
What are the reactions, and what comes next?
Edwin Hill, Jr., an international representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, opposed the proposal: “I do not see the necessity to further burden local union offices with additional documentation regarding their financial responsibility to its members and in accordance with existing laws. … [The existing report form] suits the needs of interested and regulatory parties as it stands today.”
Writing for the National Legal and Policy Center, Carl Horowitz supported the proposed changes: “Labor leaders understandably oppose this. But the proposal rule change addresses real problems, which however frequently detected and punished, require adequate tools.”
The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 13. The comment period for this proposed rule change is open through Dec. 14. For more information about the next steps in the rulemaking process, click here.
What we’re reading
- Iowa City Press-Citizen, “University of Iowa, Iowa City, Johnson County public employees vote again to maintain their unions,” Oct. 28, 2020
- The Wall Street Journal, “New York City’s Largest Municipal Union, Mayor de Blasio Reach Deal to Avert Layoffs,” Oct. 28, 2020
- The Center Square, “Seven California home health care providers appeal over SEIU taking Medicaid payments from their paychecks,” Oct. 26, 2020
The big picture
Number of relevant bill by state
We are currently tracking 102 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 bill by current legislative status
Number of relevant bill by partisan status of sponsor(s)
Recent legislative actions
No legislative actions have been taken on relevant bills since our last issue.
This week we discuss early voting, the Supreme Court’s ruling on ballot deadlines, and compare the candidates’ stances on Social Security.
Presidential Race Ratings
Inside Elections updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:
- Texas moved from Tilt Republican to Toss Up.
- Georgia and North Carolina moved from Toss Up to Tilt Democratic.
The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings on October 28, 2020:
- Texas moved from Leans Republican to Toss Up.
Notable Quotes of the Week
“For Mr. Biden, an all-in strategy could carry risks.
Mrs. Clinton was criticized for not visiting Wisconsin in the general election, even as she campaigned during the final days of the race in Arizona, which Mr. Trump ended up winning. Some of her former aides later acknowledged they put too many resources in states that wound up not being competitive.
Mr. Trump’s team during the current campaign has frequently pointed to polling in 2016 that showed Mrs. Clinton leading in the final weeks and has noted that Mr. Trump was significantly outspent.”
– Sabrina Siddiqui and Ken Thomas, The Wall Street Journal
“But I would argue that Trump and his campaign will make the same mistake they made in 2018 if they focus on an issue that is of limited interest to voters outside the two parties’ bases. On the Friday before the midterm election two years ago, Republicans got a gift when the monthly jobs report announced that 250,000 jobs had been created, in what was then a 49-year low. Even a former economic adviser to Biden called it ‘pretty much everything you could want in a monthly jobs report.’
But rather than playing their strongest card — Trump’s historic record of job creation versus the Obama-Biden weak economic recovery — Republicans spent the weekend before the election talking about immigration and the caravans heading toward the border. Immigration is important, but in the big scheme of things, the economy and Trump’s record-setting progress were more important to more voters. But that’s not what they heard.”
– David Winston, adviser to congressional Republicans
Week in Review
|Trump on the campaign trail • On Monday, Trump held three rallies in Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Trump campaigned in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.• On Wednesday, Trump held two rallies in Arizona.• On Thursday, Trump held a rally in Tampa.• On Friday, Trump is campaigning in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.||Biden on the campaign trail • On Monday, Biden visited Pennsylvania.• On Tuesday, Biden campaigned in Atlanta and Warm Springs, Georgia.• On Thursday, Biden held rallies in Broward County and Tampa in Florida.• On Friday, Biden is campaigning in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.|
More than 84 million ballots cast early in the general election
As of Friday afternoon, 84.7 million early votes had been cast in the general election, according to the United States Election Project.
More than 9 million ballots have been cast early in Texas, surpassing the state’s total number of votes in the 2016 presidential election. Other states at 85% or more of the 2016 turnout are Washington, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Georgia.
Spending in presidential election exceeds $6 billion
Advertising Analytics reported that Donald Trump, including joint spending with the Republican National Committee, had reserved $27.3 million in ad buys between Monday and November 3. Joe Bidenreserved $42.9 million over the same time period.
The pro-Trump America First placed $2.5 million in national ads to run through Election Day.
Ballot deadline cases reach SCOTUS
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to expedite consideration of a Republican challenge to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order that extended the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots until November 6 for ballots postmarked by November 3.
The Supreme Court also declined to intervene in a North Carolina case, leaving the deadline for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received by November 13.
Eighth Circuit panel grants injunction in Minnesota deadline case
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that postmarked Minnesota ballots received after Election Day but before November 10 will be separated from other ballots until a final decision is made on whether they should be counted.
Trump, Biden on the campaign trail in Rust Belt
Donald Trump is campaigning across Pennsylvania on Saturday with events in Bucks County, Reading, and Butler.
Want more? Find the daily details here:
- Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing – October 30, 2020
- Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing – October 29, 2020
- Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing – October 28, 2020
- Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing – October 27, 2020
- Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing – October 26, 2020
Campaign Ad Spotlight
Candidates on the Issues: Social Security
What we’re reading this week
- Associated Press: ‘We need you’: GOP hunts for new voters in Trump territory
- The Atlantic: The 11,000 Votes That Haunt Michigan Democrats
- Axios: Pre-bunking rises ahead of the 2020 election
- FiveThirtyEight: Why Many Americans Don’t Vote
- USC Dornsife: Are these experimental polling questions pointing to a Trump victory?
Flashback: October 26-30, 2016
- October 26, 2016: Hillary Clinton campaigned in Florida on her 69th birthday.
- October 27, 2016: Michelle Obama campaigned with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina.
- October 28, 2016: James Comey notified Congress that the FBI was reviewing additional emails related to Hillary Clinton’s private email use.
- October 29, 2016: Donald Trump questioned mail-in voting in Colorado during a rally in the state.
- October 30, 2016: The Presidential Mask Index, which correctly predicted the presidential winner of every election since 1996 based on Halloween mask sales, projected Donald Trump would win.
Forty-four states and five United States territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S Virgin Islands—are holding state legislative general elections on November 3, 2020. There are 5,904 seats up for regular election, and 15 seats up for special election, meaning 5,919 state legislative seats are on the ballot on November 3. Incumbents running for re-election make up 82.4 percent (4,870) of the candidates running for the state legislative seats. Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia are the six states not holding regular state legislative elections in 2020.
- State legislative special elections, 2020
- 2020 elections coverage by office
- U.S. Territories
- State legislature
There are 2,336 local seats on the ballot this November in America’s 100 largest cities based on population, the 200 largest school districts based on student enrollment, and Washington, D.C. Ballotpedia is also covering a cumulative 113 seats in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. Incumbents are on the ballot for 1,869 seats out of the total 2,449 seats Ballotpedia is covering. Mayoral offices account for 118 seats. With 98 incumbent mayors in November 3 races, 20 mayorships will be won by non-incumbents.
Ballotpedia is covering 196 state executive seats across 29 states, Washington, D.C., and the five U.S. territories on November 3. Our coverage includes 13 governors, 10 lieutenant governors, 10 attorneys general, seven secretaries of state, and 156 down-ballot seats. There are 118 incumbents on the ballot, leaving 78 seats guaranteed to go to newcomers. Governors in Montana, Utah, and American Samoa did not file for re-election.
- Gubernatorial elections, 2020
- Lieutenant gubernatorial elections, 2020
- Attorney General elections, 2020
- Secretary of State elections, 2020
Incumbent Ted Wheeler and Sarah Iannarone are running for mayor of Portland, Oregon on November 3. Teressa Raiford is a write-in candidate.
Nineteen candidates ran in the May 19 primary. Wheeler received 49.1%—short of the majority needed to win the election outright. Iannarone received 24%, and Raiford received 8.5%. As the top two vote-getters, Wheeler and Iannarone advanced to the general election.
Wheeler says he has led on police reform and the city’s COVID-19 response. He says the city needs continued leadership to get through these challenges. Iannarone says Wheeler hasn’t shown leadership and describes herself as the progressive alternative.
Wheeler has support from United for Portland, a group that formed in October and includes the Services Employees International Union, the Portland Business Alliance, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, and the Portland NAACP. Iannarone’s endorsers include Our Revolution and the Oregon Progressive Party.
Before being elected mayor, Wheeler served as Oregon’s Democratic state treasurer from 2010 to 2017. Iannarone is an urban policy consultant and has served on several City of Portland committees.
The mayoral race is nonpartisan. As of October 2020, 63 mayors in the largest 100 cities by population are affiliated with the Democratic Party, 29 are affiliated with the Republican Party, three are independents, and five identify as nonpartisan or unaffiliated. While most mayoral elections in the 100 largest cities are nonpartisan, most officeholders are affiliated with a political party.
On November 2, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States will begin its November sitting. All arguments during its November and December sittings will be conducted via teleconference with live audio. The court made the decision to hold proceedings this way in accordance with public health guidance in response to COVID-19.
In the first week of November, the court will hear arguments in five cases. Each case will be allotted one hour for oral argument:
• In U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, the Sierra Club challenged a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule and a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, Services). During that litigation, the Sierra Club submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for draft documents from a consultation between the three agencies that took place between 2011 and 2014. The Services released some documents but withheld others under FOIA Exemption 5. The Sierra Club sued Services in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which ruled Services had to disclose some documents but could withhold others. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s decision. The government petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
The issues: Whether FOIA’s Exemption 5 protects draft documents from compelled disclosure if the documents were (1) created during a formal interagency consultation process under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and (2) later modified in the consultation process.
• In Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board, Manfredo Salinas applied for disability annuity with the United States Railroad Retirement Board’s Disability Benefits Division in 2006. The application was denied. Salinas appealed to the Board to reconsider. The Board denied the request. In 2013, Salinas filed a new application for disability annuity. The Board granted the annuity. Salinas appealed the annuity’s start date and the amount and requested that his prior applications be reviewed. The Board denied the request. On appeal, the 5th Circuit dismissed Salinas’ petition for review. In 2019, Salinas petitioned SCOTUS for review.
The issue: Whether, under Section 5(f) of the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act and Section 8 of the Railroad Retirement Act, the Railroad Retirement Board’s denial of a request to reopen a prior benefits determination is a final decision that is subject to judicial review.
• In Jones v. Mississippi, Brett Jones, a fifteen-year-old, killed his grandfather. Jones was tried for murder in the Circuit Court of Lee County, Mississippi. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama (2012), the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered the county circuit court to hold a sentencing rehearing. The circuit court resentenced Jones to life in prison without parole. Jones appealed to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, which rejected his argument to reverse the sentence. The state supreme court then held oral arguments for the case before dismissing it. Jones petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
The issue: Whether the 8th Amendment requires the sentencing authority to make a finding that a juvenile is permanently incorrigible before imposing a sentence of life without parole.
• In Borden v. United States, Charles Borden Jr. pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, relying on the 6th Circuit Court’s decision in United States v. Verwiebe (2017) sentenced Borden to nine years and seven months of imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). Borden objected to his sentence, arguing the district court’s application of Verwiebe to his case violated due process protections. On appeal, the 6th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. Borden petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.
The issue: Does the “use of force” clause in the ACCA encompass crimes with a mens rea of mere recklessness?
• In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services began an investigation into two of its foster care provider agents for potential violations of the city’s anti-discrimination laws in 2018. The investigation was based on an allegation that the agencies refused to work with same-sex couples seeking to become foster parents. One of the agencies was a religious nonprofit organization, Catholic Social Services (“CSS”). CSS confirmed that it would not certify same-sex couples as foster parents. The city stopped referring foster children to the agency. CSS filed suit against the city in district court, citing violations of its rights under the First Amendment and under Pennsylvania’s Religious Freedom Protection Act. The district court denied the request. CSS appealed to the 3rd Circuit, seeking emergency injunctive relief pending appeal. The circuit court denied the request. Then, CSS filed an emergency application to the Supreme Court for an injunction pending appeal or an immediate grant of certiorari. The Court denied the request. On appeal, the 3rd Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. Sharonell Fulton petitioned the Supreme Court for review.
(1) Whether free exercise plaintiffs can only succeed by proving a particular type of discrimination claim—namely that the government would allow the same conduct by someone who held different religious views—as two circuits have held, or whether courts must consider other evidence that a law is not neutral and generally applicable, as six circuits have held?
(2) Whether Employment Division v. Smith should be revisited?
(3) Whether a government violates the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statements that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs?
Upcoming SCOTUS dates
Here are the upcoming dates of interest in November:
• November 2: SCOTUS will release orders and hear arguments in two cases.
• November 3: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
• November 4: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
• November 6: SCOTUS will conference.
• November 9: SCOTUS will release orders and hear arguments in two cases.
• November 10: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
• November 13: SCOTUS will conference
• November 16: SCOTUS will release orders.
• November 20: SCOTUS will conference.
• November 23: SCOTUS will release orders.
• November 30: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
As of October 28, SCOTUS has agreed to hear 41 cases during its 2020-2021 term. Of those, 12 were originally scheduled for the 2019-2020 term but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club
- Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board
- Jones v. Mississippi
- Borden v. United States
- Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) appointed Todd Eddins to the Hawaii Supreme Court on October 23, 2020. Pending confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate, Eddins will succeed Justice Richard W. Pollack, who retired on June 30, 2020, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years. Eddins is Ige’s first nominee to the five-member supreme court.
Under Hawaii law, state supreme court justices are selected through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission. The nominee requires confirmation from the Hawaii State Senate.
Eddins became a judge of the O’ahu First Circuit of Hawaii in 2017 after being appointed by Gov. Ige on February 9. The Hawaii State Senate confirmed Eddins on March 3, 2017.
Before his appointment to the O’ahu First Circuit, Eddins worked as a trial lawyer for the Office of the Public Defender. He also served as a clerk for Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Eddins earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawaii Law Review.
The Hawaii Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of October 2020, three judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge on the court was appointed by a Republican governor.
In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.