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Three states consider bills barring public agencies from disclosing nonprofit donor information

Thus far this year, lawmakers in at least three states – Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee – have introduced bills that would bar public agencies from publicly disclosing identifying information about nonprofit donors.  

What the bills propose

The four bills (HSB28 and SSB1036 in Iowa, LB370 in Nebraska, and HB0159 in Tennessee) propose largely similar policies. All four would prohibit public agencies from: 

  • Requiring tax-exempt 501(c) groups to provide public agencies with personal identifying information about their donors, members, supporters or volunteers. 
  • Releasing any personal identifying information public agencies might possess. 

These prohibitions would not apply to requests for personal identifying information made “pursuant to a lawful warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.” 

Under the Iowa bills, an individual alleging a violation of the law could bring a civil action seeking damages of at least $2,500 for each violation. For intentional violations, this amount would increase to a maximum of $7,500. The Iowa bills also define criminal penalties for knowing violations of the law: imprisonment for up to 90 days, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. 

The Nebraska and Tennessee bills do not define the associated civil and criminal penalties with comparable specificity. 

Bill status and political context   

Iowa: HSB28 and SSB1036 were introduced in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate, respectively, on Jan. 13. The state legislature’s website does not identify sponsors for either bill. HSB28b has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. SSB1036 is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Political context: Iowa has been a Republican trifecta since 2016. That means Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Nebraska: Sen. Rita Sanders (R) introduced LB370 on Jan. 15. It is pending before the Judiciary Committee. 

Political context: Nebraska has been a Republican trifecta since 1999. 

Tennessee: Rep. Ryan Williams (R) introduced HB0159 on Jan. 13. It has not yet been assigned to committee. 

Political context: Tennessee has been a Republican trifecta since 2011. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 15 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • Nebraska LB370: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Referred to Judiciary Committee Jan. 15.
  • New York S01464: This bill would require that state legislators who receive contributions for the payment of legal services disclose the identities of donors.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Ethics and Internal Governance Committee Jan. 12.
  • Tennessee HB0159: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced Jan. 14.

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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: January 19, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): The state started Phase 1-B of vaccine distribution on Jan. 18. Individuals age 70 and older and school staff are eligible to receive the vaccine.
  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced people age 65 and older are eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Phase 1B. Previously, the phase made the vaccine available to individuals age 75 and older.
  • Connecticut (Democratic trifecta): Individuals age 75 and older were allowed to schedule vaccination appointments starting Jan. 18, marking the beginning of Phase 1b. Lamont said other groups included in Phase 1b will be allowed to make appointments once the supply increases and more individuals in the 75+ age group receive vaccines. Frontline essential workers, residents and staff in congregate settings, individuals between the ages of 65 and 74, and individuals with underlying health conditions are also included in Phase 1b. In Phase 1a, the state vaccinated healthcare workers and nursing home residents.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): The Department of Health adjusted the state’s mitigation metrics to reflect additional hospital staff and capacity. The change allowed regions 8, 9, 10, and 11 to begin operating under Tier 2 mitigation restrictions. Regions 1, 2, and 6 were allowed to move to Tier 1 (the least restrictive mitigation level), and regions 3 and 5 were allowed to resume Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan with no additional mitigation measures. Before the adjustment, the entire state was under Tier 3 (most restrictive) mitigation since November 20, 2020. For more information on what activities are permitted in each mitigation tier, click here.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced individuals age 65 and older will be able to receive vaccinations at 67 Publix pharmacies in Palm Beach County, two Publix pharmacies in Monroe County, and seven Publix pharmacies in Martin County. Registration will open Jan. 20, and appointments will start Jan. 21.
  • Maryland (divided government): The state moved to Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan beginning Monday, Jan. 18. In Phase 1B, all residents over the age of 75 are eligible for the vaccine. Additionally, people in assisted living facilities, teachers, daycare providers, and inmates in correctional facilities also become eligible. 
  • Minnesota (divided government): On Monday, Jan. 18, Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced the state would open nine sites to vaccinate people 65 and older, school staff and teachers, and child care workers.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended the state’s regional mask order and Safe Return order (including the 10-person indoor and 50-person outdoor gathering limits) until Feb. 3.
  • Missouri (Republican trifecta): Phase 1b – Tier 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan started Jan. 18. It includes individuals age 65 or older and any adult with a high-risk condition (like COPD, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or severe obesity). Previously, Phase 1b – Tier 1 started Jan. 14, making the vaccine available to first responders and public health professionals.
  • North Dakota (Republican trifecta): The statewide mask mandate expired Monday, Jan. 18. Gov. Doug Burgum (R) said he would not renew the mandate on Friday, Jan. 15, citing the decline in COVID-19 cases across the state. 
  • Ohio (Republican trifecta): The next step in Ohio’s vaccination plan, Phase 1B, began Tuesday, Jan. 19. In the first week of Phase 1B, vaccines are reserved for those 80 and older. Beginning Jan. 25, people 75 and older, and those with severe congenital or developmental disorders, become eligible. On Feb. 1, eligibility expands to people 70 and older and K-12 staff and teachers who want to return to in-person learning. On Feb. 8, eligibility expands to people 65 and older. 
  • Vermont (divided government): On Friday. Jan. 15, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that people age 75 and older will become eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine when the next phase of the state’s distribution plan goes into effect Jan. 25. 
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Monday, Jan. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that individuals 65 and older are now eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. He also announced the creation of the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, a new mobilization effort to administer 45,000 vaccines a day with help from the National Guard and volunteers. 

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,368 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 431 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Jan. 12, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional seven court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Big Tyme Investments, LLC v. Edwards & 910 E Main, LLC v. Edwards: On Jan. 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ (D) authority to order COVID-19-related bar closures and alcohol restrictions. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the decisions of two lower courts, dismissing arguments that Edwards’ order violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Judges James Dennis, a Bill Clinton (D) appointee, Stephen Higginson, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, and Don Willett, Donald Trump (R) appointee, heard the case. Higginson wrote the opinion, and Willett filed a separate concurrence. Edwards said, “None of the decisions I have made for the past 10 months have been easy, especially when it comes to limiting businesses, and I am pleased that another court has upheld what I have always said: that these orders are completely constitutional, legal and necessary to protect public health.” Alexandria attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who represents the bar owners, said the plaintiffs have not decided whether they will file another appeal.

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Jan. 12 edition of the newsletter. Since then, North Dakota’s mask requirement expired Jan. 18. For more information, see our entry in Since our last edition above.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Two federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Fifty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Eight state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One-hundred and seventy-five state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-four state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 37 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Jan. 12, two U.S. representatives, three state senators, eight state representatives, and one city council member announced positive COVID-19 test results. One state representative announced a self-quarantine. 

Details:

  • On Jan. 12, Georgia state Sen. Mike Dugan (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 13, Arkansas state Rep. Milton Nicks Jr. (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 13, Arkansas state Rep. Milton Nicks Jr. announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 14, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R)  announced he would self-quarantine after a possible exposure to someone with COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 14, Texas state Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 14, Pennsylvania state Rep. Matthew Bradford (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 14, Texas state Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 14, Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 15, Pennsylvania state Rep. Patty Kim (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 15, Georgia state Sen. Freddie Sims (D) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 15, Arlington, TX, city council member Ruby Faye Woolridge announced she tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Jan. 16, Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 17, Pennsylvania state Rep. Aaron Kaufer (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 18, North Carolina state Rep. Brian Turner (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Jan. 18, North Dakota state Sen. Terry Wanzek (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.


Biden elevates presidential science advisor to Cabinet-level position

January 19, 2021: Joe Biden named Eric Lander presidential science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and made the position Cabinet-rank.

Prior to taking office on January 20, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden (D) and his team must prepare for the transition between presidential administrations, including selecting senior White House staff and appointees to top government positions.

In 2020, there were 1,472 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,118 positions required Senate confirmation and 354 did not. The new administration is also responsible for filling thousands of other positions across the federal government, including in operations and policy. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden presidential transition.

Appointments and Nominations

Eric Lander, presidential science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Biden announced on Saturday that he had selected geneticist Eric Lander as his presidential science advisor and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Biden also said that he was elevating this position to be Cabinet-rank.

Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a biomedical and genomic research center. He is also a professor of biology at MIT and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School. During the Obama administration, he was the co-chair of the presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Gary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

On Monday, Biden announced that he had picked Gary Gensler as his nominee for chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gensler served in the Obama administration as the chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2009 to 2014. He also advised on the writing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Gensler also advised the presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Biden also announced on Monday that Rohit Chopra, a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, would serve as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Chopra previously worked in the agency as an assistant director.

News

  • Five of Biden’s Cabinet nominees will participate in confirmation hearings on Tuesday:
    • Lloyd Austin, nominee for secretary of defense, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
    • Janet Yellen, nominee for secretary of the treasury, will appear before the Senate Finance Committee.
    • Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of homeland security, will appear before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
    • Tony Blinken, nominee for secretary of state, will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    • Avril Haines, nominee for director of national intelligence, will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
  • Jennifer Granholm, Biden’s energy secretary nominee, submitted her financial disclosure forms. Granholm and her husband owned between $4.4 million and $16.8 million in investments, including in the energy industry. She said she would step down from her role on Proterra Inc.’s board of directors and divest if confirmed.

Transition in Context

What We’re Reading



SEIU asks California Supreme Court to declare Proposition 22 unconstitutional

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and four app-based drivers sued the state government in the California Supreme Court on January 12, 2021. The SEIU is seeking to have Proposition 22 declared unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Proposition 22 was approved at the election on November 3, 2020, with 58.6% of the vote. The ballot initiative defined app-based transportation (rideshare) and delivery drivers as independent contractors and not employees or agents. The ballot measure overrode Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), signed in September 2019, on the question of whether app-based drivers are employees or independent contractors.

In October 2020, the California First District Court of Appeal ruled that Lyft and Uber were misclassifying their drivers as contractors but gave the companies 30 days to implement changes unless Proposition 22 was approved.

DoorDash, InstaCart, Lyft, Postmates, and Uber funded the campaign Yes on Proposition 22, which received $203.0 million in contributions. Opponents of Proposition 22 received $19.7 million, and the top-five donors were labor unions, including the SEIU Local 721, SEIU Local 1021, and SEIU-UHW West. With $225.0 million between supporters and opponents, Proposition 22 was the most expensive ballot measure in California history, surpassing the next closest measure by $70.5 million. 

Following the announcement of litigation against Proposition 22, Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU California, said, “Prop. 22 doesn’t just fail our state rideshare drivers, it fails the basic test of following our state constitution. The law as written by Uber and Lyft denies drivers rights under the law in California and makes it nearly impossible for lawmakers to fix these problems.” Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for Yes on Proposition 22, provided a statement from an app-based driver, which said, “Meritless lawsuits that seek to undermine the clear democratic will of the people do not stand up to scrutiny in the courts.”

Petitioners argued that Proposition 22 violates Section 4 of Article XIV of the California Constitution, which “grants to the Legislature ‘plenary power, unlimited by any provision of this Constitution’ to establish and enforce a complete system of workers’ compensation.” Proposition 22, according to the petitioners, removed app-based drivers from the state’s system of workers’ compensation and therefore limited the legislature’s constitutional power to extend workers’ compensation benefits to app-based drivers. Petitioners also argued that Proposition 22 violated the single-subject rule for initiatives and included a definition of the word ‘amendment’ that is too expansive and “impermissibly usurped this Court’s authority to ‘say what the law is’ by determining what constitutes an ‘amendment'”, and “impermissibly invaded the Legislature’s broad authority to legislate in areas not substantively addressed by the initiative.”

Additional reading:



SCOTUS vacates appellate court ruling, remands case to bankruptcy court in City of Chicago, Illinois v. Fulton

Image of the front of the United States Supreme Court building

On January 14, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a unanimous ruling in the case City of Chicago, Illinois v. Fulton. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and concerned retained property under the federal Bankruptcy Code. The case was argued during the court’s October term for 2020-2021 on October 13, 2020. Oral arguments were initially scheduled for April 20 but were postponed in response to public health guidance on COVID-19.

The case: The City of Chicago towed and impounded Robbin Fulton’s vehicle. Fulton filed a petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and a repayment plan in federal bankruptcy court. Fulton requested that the City return her vehicle. The City declined to do so. Fulton moved for sanctions against the City of Chicago. The City asserted that it would retain possession of the vehicle and cited an exemption from the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay.

The bankruptcy court ruled that the City was required to return the vehicle, imposed sanctions, and sustained Fulton’s objection to the City’s assertion of its status as a secured creditor. The City moved to stay the order, but the court denied the request. The City returned the vehicle and appealed to the 7th Circuit. The court affirmed the bankruptcy court’s ruling.

The issue: “Whether an entity that is passively retaining possession of property in which a bankruptcy estate has an interest has an affirmative obligation under the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay, 11 U.S.C § 362, to return that property to the debtor or trustee immediately upon the filing of the bankruptcy petition.”

The outcome: In an 8-0 opinion, the court vacated the 7th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case, holding that retaining property after a bankruptcy petition is filed does not violate the Bankruptcy Code.

As of January 14, 2021, the court had issued opinions in 11 cases this term. Four cases were decided without argument.

Additional reading:



Filing deadline approaches in New York City Council special elections

Candidates interested in running in the special elections for New York City Council Districts 11 and 15 have until January 19, 2021, to file. The general election is scheduled for March 23.

The special election in District 11 was called after Andrew Cohen (D) won the November election for New York Supreme Court 12th Judicial District. Cohen served on the council from 2013 to 2021. 

In District 15, the special election was called when Ritchie Torres (D) was elected to represent New York’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House. Torres served from 2013 to 2021.

In 2019, New Yorkers passed a ballot measure that instituted ranked-choice voting in special elections to local offices. In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority. 

Ranked-choice voting in New York City is the subject of an ongoing court challenge. On December 16, 2020, a state trial court declined to block the implementation of ranked-choice voting in a February city council special election. The decision is currently being appealed.  

The New York City Council consists of 51 members. New York is the largest city by population in the U.S.

Additional reading:



Oklahoma school board candidates vie for 33 seats in 2021

On December 9, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for 33 school board seats across 26 school districts covered by Ballotpedia in Oklahoma. Of the 58 candidates who filed in these school board races, 24 are incumbents seeking re-election to their seats. 

The primary is scheduled for February 9, 2021, and the general election is scheduled for April 6, 2021. In Oklahoma, school districts cancel primary elections if fewer than three candidates file to run for each seat up for election, and the candidates automatically advance to the general election. Both the primary and general elections are canceled if only one candidate files for a seat up for election, and the unopposed candidate is automatically elected. 

The largest school district covered by Ballotpedia and holding elections in Oklahoma in 2021 is Oklahoma City Public Schools. The district served 39,806 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Additional reading:



Decade-low 227 state legislative incumbents defeated on Nov. 3

In the November 2020 general election, 227 state legislative incumbents were defeated, the lowest number in any even-numbered year in the past decade. By party, those defeated incumbents include 165 Democrats, 52 Republicans, and 10 independents and members of a third party.

The 227 incumbents defeated marked a 29.5% decrease from the 322 defeated in 2018 and was 54.8% lower than the decade-high 502 incumbents defeated in the 2010 general election.

By party, a larger number of Democrats were defeated in the 2020 general election compared to Republicans. This was the fourth cycle since 2010 where the number of incumbent Democrats defeated exceeded that of Republicans. The number of incumbent Republicans defeated in general elections exceeded Democrats’ in the 2012 and 2018 state legislative elections.

The chart below shows the number of incumbents defeated in general elections since 2010 broken down by party affiliation.

Incumbents defeated in the general election represent one part of Ballotpedia’s calculation of total incumbent turnover, which measures the number of seats that will be held by newcomers in 2021. The other components of the calculation are incumbents defeated in primaries and incumbents who retired.

Incumbent turnover in 2020 reached a decade-low 1,247, meaning, overall, state legislatures will see the lowest number of newcomers since before 2010.

By party, incumbent turnover was 621 for Democrats and 626 for Republicans, the smallest gap between the two parties over the preceding decade. A greater number of Republicans were defeated in primaries than Democrats. Both Democrats and Republicans saw their lowest numbers of retirement since at least 2010 at 396 and 480, respectively.

The table below shows turnover figures from 2010 to 2020. The rightmost column shows the decade average for each metric.

For additional analyses and a full list of defeated incumbents, click here.



Federal Register weekly update: Trump administration’s highest weekly final rule total 

Banner with the words "The Administrative State Project"

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

From January 11 through January 15, the Federal Register grew by 3,138 pages for a year-to-date total of 4,874 pages. Over the same period in 2020, 2019, and 2018, the Federal Register reached 1,730 pages, 106 pages, and 2,028 pages, respectively. As of January 15, the 2021 total led the 2020 total by 3,144 pages, the 2019 total by 4,768 pages, and the 2018 total by 2,846 pages. 

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 730 documents:

• 558 notices

• four presidential documents

• 50 proposed rules

• 118 final rules

One proposed rule withdrawing three proposed rules previously issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and three final rules concerning drinking water, unmanned aircraft systems, and small businesses certification were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2021 has issued two significant proposed rules and five significant final rules.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

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

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2019, 2018, and 2017.

Additional reading:

  • Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018.


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