The Daily Brew: Six national party committees raised twice as much last cycle as the previous one

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Six national party committees raised a combined $2.65 billion last cycle
  2. Iowa public schools required to offer full-time, in-person instruction as of Feb. 15
  3. New York voters to decide constitutional amendment about environmental rights

Six national party committees raised a combined $2.65 billion last cycle

Democrats and Republicans each have three major national committees: an overall national party committee, one dedicated to U.S. Senate elections, and one dedicated to U.S. House elections. These six committees raised a combined $2.65 billion during 2019 and 2020, up from $1.3 billion during the previous congressional election cycle in 2017 and 2018. 

The three Republican committees raised $1.51 billion28% more than the $1.14 billion the three Democratic committees raised.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $890 million and spent $833 million. It raised $325 million during the 2018 election cycle. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $490 million and spent $462 million during 2019 and 2020. It raised $176 million during the 2018 cycle.

The table below shows the amounts raised by the parties’ six national campaign committees over the last three general election cycles:

In the 2019-20 campaign cycle, the RNC raised 58.0% more than the DNC, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised 10.7% more than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Democrats led in House fundraising, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raising 20.7% more than the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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Iowa public schools required to offer full-time, in-person instruction as of Feb. 15 

Iowa public schools began offering full-time, in-person instruction for all grades as of Feb. 15 after the state enacted legislation in January with the requirement. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the bill on Jan. 29.

The law allows parents to request a hybrid or all-remote option for their children. Additionally, schools can request a waiver from providing in-person instruction based on factors such as the number of teachers quarantining because of coronavirus. Previously, Iowa public schools had to provide in-person instruction for at least half the time pursuant to an order Reynolds issued in July.

Iowa is one of five states requiring schools to open at least partially for-in-person instruction

  • The Texas Education Agency required public schools to offer daily, in-person instruction options, or risk losing state funding, no later than Oct. 19. The order allowed schools to stay remote for the first eight weeks of the school calendar year, which began Aug. 24, 2020.
  • Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key ordered public schools to offer in-person instruction five days per week as of Aug. 26, 2020.
  • The Florida Department of Education ordered public schools to reopen at least five days per week for all students as of Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Starting on Jan. 19, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) required all public and private pre-K, elementary, and middle schools to resume full-time, in-person instruction, or a hybrid (at least two in-person days every week), regardless of their county’s transmission rates.

Four states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, and New Mexico—and Washington, D.C., currently have state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only. The 41 remaining states have left the decision about how to open to individual schools or districts.

In Chicago, the third-largest school district in the country, pre-K and special education students returned to in-person classroom instruction on Feb. 11 after the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools reached a reopening agreement on Feb. 9. Under the plan, students from kindergarten through fifth grade will return for hybrid instruction (two days per week in-person) on March 1. Students in grades 6-8 will adopt the hybrid schedule starting March 8.

Our free newsletter on government responses to the coronavirus pandemic—Documenting America’s Path to Recovery—highlights everything from mask requirements to curfews to vaccine-related policies each business day. Click here to subscribe and stay informed about major policy developments nationwide and in your state.

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New York voters to decide constitutional amendment about environmental rights

Voters in New York will decide a ballot measure in November that would add the following language to the state constitution’s bill of rights: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” The measure would make New York the third state, after Pennsylvania and Montana, to adopt an environmental rights amendment. Pennsylvania and Montana both adopted their amendments in the 1970s. 

State legislators can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot in New York by approving them in two successive legislation sessions. The state Senate approved the amendment 48-14 in January, with all 42 Democrats and six Republicans voting for it. The state Assembly approved the amendment on Feb. 8—124 to 25—with all 106 Democrats, 17 Republicans, and one independent voting ‘yes.’ Legislators previously approved the proposal in 2019. New York became a Democratic trifecta as a result of the 2018 elections.

Between 1995 and 2020, the New York state legislature referred 25 constitutional amendments to the ballot, with voters approving 19 (76%) of them. The last New York election with amendments on the ballot was in November 2017. 

November’s election in New York could have as many as six amendments to the state Constitution. On Jan. 20, the legislature approved an amendment that would make changes to the state’s redistricting process, including the current redistricting cycle. The measure would change vote thresholds for adopting a redistricting plan when one political party controls both legislative chambers and would add requirements for counting certain persons for redistricting purposes. The Environmental Rights Amendment is the second such measure approved for the ballot.

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About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.