Welcome to the Monday, August 9, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- 22 states allow recall of school board members
- Proponents of three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by Aug. 2 deadline
- COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week
22 states allow recall of school board members
Thirty-nine states allow for the recall of elected officials at some level of government. Of those 39, 22 specifically allow for the recall of school board members. For the purposes of this count, we are defining a school board recall as the process of removing an elected school board member from office before their term is completed. Here are a few things to know about the 22 states.
- Six states that allow school board recalls require proponents of such a recall to show specific grounds—such as malfeasance or misfeasance in office—for the effort to move forward.
- In all but one state—Virginia—recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. The recall process is different in Virginia than in other states. Recall organizers must gather signatures from 10% of the number of people who voted in the last election for that office. If enough signatures are collected, a circuit court trial is held to determine if the official should be recalled. Proponents must show that the official demonstrated neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence. If the judge rules in favor of the recall, the official is removed from office, and voters elect a replacement in a special election.
- The number of signatures required to place a school board recall question on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the board member’s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In Virginia, if enough signatures are collected, a circuit court trial is held to determine if an election should take place.
- The amount of time recall petitions circulate also varies by state. Georgia, Nebraska, and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation time, at 30 days. Of the states with a time limit for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest period at 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia do not have a time limit for when proponents can circulate petitions.
Between 2006 and 2020, Ballotpedia covered an average of 23 recall efforts against an average of 52 school board members each year. The number of school board recalls in 2021 has surpassed that average with 57 efforts against 143 members as of Aug. 3. This is the highest number of school board recalls Ballotpedia has tracked in one year since our tracking began in 2010. The next highest year was 2010, with 39 efforts against 91 school board members.
Proponents of three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by Aug. 2 deadline
Proponents of three statewide initiatives in Colorado submitted signatures by the Aug. 2 deadline to qualify for this year’s ballot. The Colorado secretary of state’s office is reviewing those signatures to determine whether enough are valid for the measures to go before voters. To get an initiated state statute or constitutional amendment on the ballot this year, proponents needed to have collected 124,632 valid signatures—5% of the total votes cast for secretary of state in the last general election.
Here is a brief summary of each proposed measure:
- Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative
- This initiative would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds—which is state revenue not generated through taxes, such as pension and court-approved settlement funds—from the state treasurer to the state legislature.
- Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative
- This initiative would create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, which is designed to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17. It would also increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program.
- Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative
- This initiative would reduce property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.
Colorado law requires that ballot measures in odd-numbered years be limited to topics that concern taxes or fiscal matters arising under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. This includes measures proposing new taxes, tax increases or extensions, and changes to fiscal obligations. This requirement was added in 1994.
From 1999 through 2019, an average of one statewide measure appeared on odd-year ballots. The last time Colorado voters decided a citizen initiative during an odd year was 2013.
COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week
Here’s a look at some noteworthy policy changes and events regarding COVID-19 that took place one year ago this week:
- On Aug. 11, the Trump administration, including the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, announced a $1.5 billion agreement with pharmaceutical company Moderna Inc. to develop and deliver 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a partnership on Aug. 14 with healthcare company McKesson Corp. to help distribute a coronavirus vaccine when one was available.
- Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) directed each county election board on Aug. 12 to provide one drop-box for absentee/mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) announced on Aug. 14 that the state would automatically send mail-in ballots to all voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
- Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton issued an order extending the state’s judicial emergency, which had been set to expire on Aug. 11, through Sept. 10. Jury trials and most grand jury proceedings remained prohibited.