Sign up for this year’s Ballotpedia Expeditions

Welcome to the Wednesday, May 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Sign-ups are now open for this year’s Ballotpedia Expeditions!
  2. Dunbar concedes to Bronson in Anchorage mayoral race
  3. Comparing state response times to FOIA requests

Sign-ups are now open for this year’s Ballotpedia Expeditions!

As we regularly discuss in the Brew, government agency rules touch almost every aspect of modern life. Are you interested in learning more about federal agencies? Do you want to know more about how and when agencies make rules? 

We have a way to help you understand this topic – how about joining us for a Ballotpedia Expedition? Ballotpedia’s Expeditions are scholarly mini-courses centered around the pillars of the administrative state. Join us as we guide you through the foundations of nondelegation or judicial deference through a series of key readings, questions, and exclusive expert interviews. This year, we’re offering an Expedition on both topics:

June 7 – July 5, 2021 – Nondelegation:  The nondelegation doctrine says constitutional powers can’t be delegated to a different authority such as a government agency. In our Expedition on this topic, we’ll explore the reasoning behind the nondelegation doctrine as well as the areas of debate surrounding nondelegation in both a modern legal and historical context.

July 6 – August 3, 2021 – Judicial Deference: Judicial deference to administrative agencies happens when a court yields to the agency’s interpretation of statutes or regulations. Our Expedition on judicial deference guides you through the ins and outs of when and why courts defer to administrative agencies’ interpretation of their statutes and regulations. Learn about different types of deference and why they matter, the reasoning behind judicial deference as a legal concept, and how judicial deference is exercised in the modern administrative state.

Ready to Sign Up?

Head to the Expeditions home page and sign up for the mini-course you would like to take. Then we’ll send you instructions on how to access our exclusive content.

Reserve your spot today!

Dunbar concedes to Bronson in Anchorage mayoral race 

The mayoral runoff election held two weeks ago—on May 11—in Anchorage, Alaska, concluded on May 21 when Forrest Dunbar conceded to Dave Bronson. Unofficial results showed Bronson with 50.66% of the vote to Dunbar’s 49.34%. In a Facebook post, Dunbar wrote, “With today’s results released, and the public session of canvas nearly complete, it is clear that Dave Bronson will be Anchorage’s next mayor.” Dunbar led Bronson by 114 votes out of 72,144 ballot cast—0.16%—in the first round of unofficial results the city released but trailed Bronson in all results released since May 12.

The Anchorage Assembly was scheduled to certify the results yesterday, the deadline for receiving overseas ballots. Domestic mail-in ballots were counted if they arrived by May 21. Voters must have had their ballots postmarked by election day. 

The voter turnout rate of 38.3% was a record, exceeding the previous mark of 36.3% set in the 2018 mayoral election. The city had received 90,720 ballots as of May 21, surpassing the 79,295 votes cast in 2018 and the 75,441 cast in the April 6 general election. Bronson had received 33% of the vote and Dunbar 31% in a 15-candidate field in the general election last month. No other candidate received more than 15% of the vote in that race.

Municipal elections in Anchorage are officially nonpartisan. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) endorsed Bronson. Dunbar previously ran as a Democrat for the U.S. House in 2014. Anchorage’s last elected mayor, Ethan Berkowitz (D), resigned from office on Oct. 23, 2020, due to what he said was “unacceptable personal conduct that has compromised my ability to perform my duties with the focus and trust that is required.” Austin Quinn-Davidson has served as acting mayor.

Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic was a central issue in the race. Dunbar said he supported maintaining safety measures that the Anchorage Assembly enacted, such as a mask mandate and business restrictions. Bronson said that he supported reconsidering or removing restrictions. Homelessness and crime were also key topics, with the candidates disagreeing over shelter funding and locations and prevention methods. 

Read On 

Comparing state response times to FOIA requests

Each state has laws governing public access to government records. These laws are sometimes known as open records laws, public records laws, or FOIA laws (which refers to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that governs the federal government’s release of public records). These FOIA laws define the procedures people can use to obtain access to these records and set the length of time within which a public body must respond to a records request. I was talking to one of our team members recently and got to discussing one of our articles that contains summary data on FOIA. Here’s a recap of some interesting data points. 

The response times in each state is as follows:

  • 13 states do not have a specific response time set by law. 
  • 8 states require responses in 3 days or less, 
  • 10 states specify a response in 5 days or less, 
  • 13 require responses in 10 days or less, and 
  • 6 states require a response in 20 days or less. 

The longest possible response times are in Iowa and South Carolina, which both require responses to be made within 10 days but allow extensions of up to 20 days. The shortest possible response times are in Indiana and Mississippi, where public entities must respond to most requests within 24 hours.

Of the 37 states that have time limits for responses, 10 allow agencies to extend response times in certain cases, while 27 states allow no exceptions. Some state laws allow a range of response times based on certain circumstances. For example, California law says a response must be given within 10 days for most requests, but also allows responses within 14 days under unusual circumstances.

Read On