Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Trump administration advances executive branch restructuring

Today’s Brew highlights the administration’s proposals to reorganize the executive branch + previews Tuesday’s elections  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, August 6, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Trump administration moving forward with executive branch reorganization
  2. Mississippi state legislative, Seattle city council primaries among elections we’re following Tuesday
  3. Kansas governor to fill two state supreme court vacancies

Trump administration moving forward with executive branch reorganization

The Trump administration released a report in June 2018 that proposed 34 organizational changes to executive agencies. Congress has considered at least 10 of these proposals—through hearings, legislation, or discussions with members or their staff—regarding the Trump administration’s reorganization plan.

The plan seeks to improve alignment between program administration and agency missions. It aims to consolidate and restructure several agencies as well as shift the administration of certain federal programs—such as the food stamps program—to different agencies.

The full plan’s 34 proposals seek to align the core missions and responsibilities of executive agencies. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimated that implementation of the full plan would take three to five years.

The status report also highlighted that:

  • The Trump administration’s 2020 budget included all or part of 18 reorganization proposals.
  • Agencies are implementing more than 20 of the proposals through existing statutory authorities. 

The president has the authority to reorganize federal agencies within existing statutory limits. However, Congress must delegate reorganization authority in order for the president to implement statutory changes to agencies. Once the president presents a reorganization plan to Congress, members must issue a resolution of approval in order for the plan to take effect.

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Mississippi state legislative, Seattle city council primaries among elections we’re following Tuesday 

In addition to Mississippi’s gubernatorial primaries, today we’re following elections in five states. Here are three highlights: 


Mississippi is holding statewide legislative primaries for all 52 seats in the state Senate and 122 seats in the state House. Republicans currently hold a 31-18 majority in the Senate with three vacancies and a 74-44 majority in the House with two independents and two vacancies. Forty state Senate incumbents and 107 state House incumbents are running for re-election. Eight Republican and four Democratic seats are open races in the state Senate, while eight Republican, five Democratic, and two independent seats are open races in the state House. 


Seattle holds nonpartisan primary elections for the seven members of its city council that are elected by district. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November 5 general election. Incumbents in Districts 1, 3, and 5 are seeking re-election, while races for the other four seats are open. Across the seven races, 55 candidates are running. 

The primary elections have seen more than $800,000 in total satellite spending through August 1.

Around $350,000 of the spending has been by Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the local Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee. The Chamber of Commerce—along with Amazon—opposed a head tax that was passed and then repealed by the city council in 2018. The tax required businesses grossing at least $20 million to pay $275 per employee to fund affordable housing programs for the homeless. District 1 and 3 incumbents Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant supported the tax, although Herbold subsequently voted for its repeal. CASE has endorsed and spent in support of challengers to each councilmember. Amazon has contributed $250,000 to the political action committee.


Voters in King County and Seattle will decide one ballot measure each to authorize or re-authorize certain property taxes. 

Proposition 1 in King County would authorize the county to levy a property tax for six years to replace an expiring tax that would be earmarked for parks, recreation, open space, public pools, zoo operations, and aquarium capital improvements. 

Proposition 1 in Seattle would authorize the city to levy a property tax for seven years that would be earmarked to fund library operations, materials, and maintenance and capital improvements.

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Kansas governor to fill two state supreme court vacancies

344 supreme court justices sit on the highest courts of the fifty states and Washington, D.C. 167 justices in 27 states are appointed by the governor, while the rest are elected. In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly (D) will appoint two justices in 2019 to the seven-member state supreme court to fill vacancies resulting from retirements. Justice Lee Johnson—who was appointed to the court by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) in 2007—will retire in September. Chief Justice Lawton Nuss—who was appointed to the court by Gov. Bill Graves (R) in 2002—will retire in December. 

Kansas law specifies that the governor select a new state supreme court justice from a list of three individuals submitted by the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission. Newly appointed justices serve for at least one year, after which they must run for a subsequent six-year term in a retention election. Johnson’s and Nuss’ replacements will be Gov. Kelly’s first two nominees to the court. 

The Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission is a nine-member independent body created by the state’s constitution to recommend individuals to the governor for appointment to the state supreme court. When a vacancy occurs, the commission reviews applications and interviews candidates in public hearings before recommending three candidates to the governor.

After Kelly’s appointments, the Kansas Supreme Court will consist of five justices selected by Democratic governors and two justices selected by Republicans.

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