The Daily Brew: Congressional Review Act deadline is April 4

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 24, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. April 4 is the deadline for Congress to repeal regulatory activity from the end of the Trump administration
  2. Register for our Feb. 25 briefing on incumbency in last year’s state legislative elections
  3. Indiana secretary of state announces resignation

Yesterday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) set the special election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District for May 1. The seat became vacant when Rep. Ron Wright (R) died on Feb. 7. In Texas, all special election candidates appear on the same ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers compete in a runoff election on a date that will be determined after the runoff results are certified. Candidates that wish to run must file with the secretary of state by March 3.

April 4 is the deadline for Congress to repeal regulatory activity from the end of the Trump administration

The Biden administration has until April 4 to use the provisions of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal final rules issued at the end of the Trump administration. Here’s how this works.

The CRA is a 1996 federal law that creates a 60-day review period during which Congress can overturn a new federal agency rule. To do this, Congress must pass a joint resolution of disapproval which the president must then sign. 

The Feb. 3 edition of the Congressional Record stated that Congress has 60 days from Feb. 3 to use the CRA to rescind regulations and informal rules issued at the end of the Trump administration. Daniel Pérez, a senior policy analyst at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, estimates there may be as many as 1,354 of these rules.

The law defines this 60-day period as days where Congress is in continuous session. This means the projected deadline to block end-of-term regulatory activity from the Trump administration is April 4. That date could move later into April if either chamber of Congress adjourns for longer than three days before then.

Since the law’s creation in 1996, Congress has used the CRA to repeal 17 rules published in the Federal Register. Before 2017, Congress had used the CRA successfully one time—in 2001—to overturn a rule on ergonomics in the workplace. In the first four months of his administration, President Donald Trump (R) signed 14 CRA resolutions from Congress undoing a variety of rules issued near the end of Barack Obama’s (D) presidency. Congress ultimately repealed 16 rules using the CRA during the Trump administration.

To stay informed about whether Congress uses the CRA during the Biden administration, you can bookmark and visit the page linked below, or subscribe to our monthly Checks and Balances newsletter, which covers the latest information on federal rulemaking and regulatory activity. 

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Register for our Feb. 25 briefing on incumbency in last year’s state legislative elections

Voters in 44 states decided state legislative elections last year, with partisan control changing in two chambers. The National Conference of State Legislatures reported that this was the fewest changes in party control on Election Day since at least 1944.

We’re hosting a briefing on Thursday—Feb. 25—that examines these results, and specifically, how incumbents performed in last year’s state legislative elections. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the data points we’ll be discussing:

  • 227 state legislative incumbents lost in last year’s general elections, the lowest number since at least 2010. This was 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. 
  • Since 2010, an average of 307 incumbents have been defeated in even-year general elections.
  • In the 2020 cycle, 381 incumbents lost re-election in total, with 154 defeated in a primary or nominating convention.

The chart below shows all state legislative incumbent losses in even-numbered years from 2010 to 2020:

Join me at 11 a.m. Central Time as Doug Kronaizl from our marquee team looks closer at this data, identifies those states that had the most defeated incumbents, and what it all means for this year’s state legislative sessions.

Click here or on the link below to register, and if you can’t attend live, we’ll send you a link to the recording so you can watch it on your schedule. Hope to see you there!


Indiana secretary of state announces resignation 

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R) announced on Feb. 15 that she would resign, citing health and family reasons. Lawson said she will leave office after Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) appoints her successor, and that person is ready to take office. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) first appointed Lawson as secretary of state in March 2012 to fill the vacancy created when Charlie White (R) resigned. Lawson was elected to the position in 2014 and 2018. Her tenure of nearly nine years is the second-longest in the history of the office. Indiana’s first secretary of state, Robert New, served for nine years and one month from 1816 to 1825.

The Indiana secretary of state is one of five statewide elected offices established by Indiana’s Constitution. The secretary of state is responsible for maintaining state records, overseeing elections, chartering new businesses, and overseeing the state’s securities and motor vehicle dealership industries. 

Lawson’s replacement will serve until the office’s next scheduled election in November 2022. Last year, eight state executives nationwide left office before their terms expired. 

The office of secretary of state exists in 47 states. It does not exist in Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah. Voters elect the secretary of state directly in 35 states. In the other 12, the governor or state legislature appoints the secretary of state. The current partisan composition of the nation’s secretaries of state is 25 Republicans, 21 Democrats, and one independent. Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state—Veronica Degraffenreid—is not affiliated with either party. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) appointed Degraffenreid on Feb. 1.

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