Janus comes to Alaska

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, October 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Alaska issues administrative order requiring opt-in procedure for state employee unions
  2. 12 Democrats expected to qualify for October presidential primary debate
  3. 1,732 candidates have filed to run for Congress in for 2020

Alaska issues administrative order requiring opt-in procedure for state employee unions

I find it interesting when news events overlap across two or more of our coverage areas here at Ballotpedia. Alaska recently adopted a new procedure regarding membership in state employee unions via an administrative order that is significant both for public-sector union policy and regulatory procedures.

Alaska officials announced the enactment of an opt-in membership procedure for public-sector unions representing state employees. Previously, Alaska had set an annual 10-day period during which public-sector employees could opt out of union membership. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R), Attorney General Kevin Clarkson (R), and Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka announced the change via administrative order on September 26. 

Dunleavy was elected as governor of Alaska in 2018 by a 7-point margin. Prior to his election, the state had been governed by independent Bill Walker, who was elected in 2014. Following the 2018 elections, there were 23 Democratic and 27 Republican governors in the U.S. 

Here’s a brief summary of how this policy change affects both public-sector unions and regulatory policy: 

Public-sector union policy: Dunleavy said in a statement, “As Governor of Alaska, I am legally obligated and compelled to ensure state employees’ free speech rights are protected.” Dunleavy directly cited Janus v. AFSCME, a 2018 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that public-sector unions and employers cannot compel employees to become members of or give any financial support to unions as a condition of employment. The Court held that such requirements infringe upon employees’ free-speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. 

The administrative order establishing this policy change applies to the approximately 15,000 workers employed by the state government; it does not apply to municipal government workers. After the new system takes effect, employees will be able to opt in or out of union membership at any time. The opt-in system appears to be the first of its kind issued in the wake of Janus.   

Implementing policy through executive action: Dunleavy announced the policy change through an administrative order. This type of executive action is called an executive order at the federal level and in many other states. The Alaska Constitution grants the governor the authority to issue administrative orders as part of his exercise of executive power and his duty to supervise the departments and agencies of the executive branch. 

To continue to follow this story—and more like it—you’ll want to subscribe to Union Station, our newsletter about public-sector union policy, or Checks and Balances, our monthly newsletter about administrative and regulatory policy. Or you could do what I do and subscribe to both!

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12 Democrats expected to qualify for October presidential primary debate

Tuesday was the final day for candidates to qualify for the fourth Democratic presidential primary debate on Oct. 15. Candidates were required to reach both the polling threshold of 2% support or more in four national or early state polls and a fundraising threshold of 130,000 unique contributors.

Twelve Democratic candidates were expected to meet the requirements:

    •    Joe Biden
    •    Cory Booker
    •    Pete Buttigieg
    •    Julián Castro
    •    Tulsi Gabbard
    •    Kamala Harris
    •    Amy Klobuchar
    •    Beto O’Rourke
    •    Bernie Sanders
    •    Tom Steyer
    •    Elizabeth Warren
    •    Andrew Yang

The first two Democratic debates were held over two nights so that no more than 10 candidates were on stage at one time. The third Democratic debate—on September 12—featured only 10 participants on a single night; Gabbard and Steyer did not appear.

The Democratic National Committee announced September 27 that this fourth debate will take place on one day.  With 12 participants, it will be the most candidates on stage in a single presidential primary debate. Eleven Republican candidates debated on September 16, 2015.

This debate will be held at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. It will be broadcast on CNN and Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey are scheduled to moderate.

1,732 candidates have filed to run for Congress in 2020

The Democratic presidential race isn’t the only 2020 election starting to take shape. On Monday—September 30—Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) announced that he would not run for re-election in 2020. And yesterday—October 1—Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) resigned from the House.

Four Senators—three Republicans and one Democrat—and 22 Representatives—17 Republicans and five Democrats—have announced they are not running for re-election. Five Republican members of Congress—one senator and four representatives—have resigned or otherwise. In 2018, 55 members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.

As of September 30, 1,732 candidates have filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for Congress in 2020, broken down as follows:

  • 254 candidates filed with the FEC to run for the U.S. Senate. Of those, 226—121 Democrats and 105 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.

  • 1,478 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for the U.S. House in 2020. Of those, 1,385—717 Democrats and 668 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.

On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly-scheduled elections, one is a special election in Arizona, and another is an expected special election in Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, where all the seats are up for election, there are currently 235 Democrats, 197 Republicans and one independent with two vacancies.