Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights endorsements in the Boston mayoral race and changes to the Florida public school quarantine requirements. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.
Ballot Measures Update
Thirty-nine statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.
- Statewide measures for 2021 are finalized. No new measures are expected to be added to the ballot.
- 24 measures are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
- 4 measures are on the Nov. 13 ballot.
- 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
- 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.
Sixty statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.
- No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.
States in session
Eight states—Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.
Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review
In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:
- Oct. 5 – Alaska: Voters in Juneau will decide a 3% sales tax renewal measure.
- Oct. 12 – Nebraska: Voters in the Ralston Public Schools District will decide a $83.75 million bond issue.
Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 18 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 22. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.
- In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
- An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
- An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).
Upcoming special elections include:
Redistricting Roundup: Redistricting proposals rejected in Nebraska, legal challenges expected to enacted maps in Ohio
Here’s a summary of this week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Nebraska, Oregon, and Wisconsin:
Nebraska: On Sept. 20, the Nebraska Senate voted 27-18 to end debate on its state legislative map proposal, which was short of the 33 votes needed to advance the measure to a full vote. This comes after the state’s unicameral legislature voted 29-17 in support of ending debate on a congressional map on Sept. 17, which was also short of the 33 ‘yes’ votes necessary to advance the proposal.
The Lincoln Journal-Star reported on Sept. 21 that Senate Speaker Mike Hilgers (R) said he may adjourn the legislature’s special redistricting session, which is expected to end by Sept. 30, without enacting new maps. Hilgers said if new maps are not approved this month, the legislature would take up redrawing congressional and legislative district boundaries during the Senate’s regular session in January, which could force the state to delay next year’s primary elections.
Oregon: Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) announced the creation of two special legislative committees to review congressional and state legislative maps during the first day of the legislature’s special redistricting session on Sept. 20. Kotek appointed two Democrats and one Republican to the House Special Committee on Congressional Redistricting, and four Democrats and four Republicans to the House Special Committee on State Legislative Redistricting. Previously a single committee—the House Special Committee on Redistricting—had the responsibility of considering both the legislative and congressional maps.
Also, the Oregon Senate approved the Senate Redistricting Committee’s legislative and congressional redistricting proposals 18-11 on Sept. 20 along party lines. All 18 Democratic legislators voted to approve the maps, and 10 Republicans and one independent legislator voted against.
Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided 4-3 on Sept. 22 to hear a redistricting case filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty asking the court to establish a timeline for the legislature and Gov. Tony Evers (D) to agree on new maps and to draw the maps themselves should they be unable to. The state supreme court’s majority opinion said that lawsuits concerning the state’s district maps should be heard in state, rather than federal, courts, stating, “This court has long deemed redistricting challenges a proper subject for the court’s exercise of its original jurisdiction.”
On Sept. 21, a three-judge federal district court panel asked all parties to a lawsuit associated with the state’s redistricting process to submit a proposed schedule to complete a trial by the end of January so that district maps can be finalized by March 1, 2022. The lawsuit was filed by a group of plaintiffs on Aug. 13 and asks the court to set a deadline for legislators to redraw district maps. The suit also asks the court to intervene and draw maps if the deadline is not met. The panel’s opinion stated, “If history is any guide, to put it mildly, there’s at least a substantial likelihood that divided government in the state of Wisconsin will have trouble, as it has in the past, drawing its own maps.”
Federal law requires that a three-judge panel hear constitutional challenges to congressional or state legislative redistricting plans. The judges on the panel are appeals court justice Amy St. Eve and district court judges James Peterson and Edmond Chang. St. Eve was nominated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by Donald Trump (R) and Chang and Peterson were nominated by Barack Obama (D).
Florida changes quarantine requirement for asymptomatic public school students
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that under a new state Department of Health (DoH) rule, asymptomatic public school students who’ve had a close contact with a COVID-19 positive person will not necessarily be required to quarantine at home. Instead, the quarantine decision will be left up to parents, according to the DoH.
Previously, the DoH required students who had direct contact with someone infected with COVID-19—whether in school or outside of it—to quarantine for up to 10 days. The quarantine period could be shortened with a negative COVID-19 test.
Under the new rule, symptomatic students or students who test positive for COVID-19 will still need to quarantine at home.
Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria retires
Paolo DeMaria retired as Ohio’s superintendent of public instruction on Sept. 24. DeMaria was first appointed to the position in May 2016 by the Ohio State Board of Education.
DeMaria announced on July 1 that he intended to retire, saying in a statement, “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the State Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Education, the education community and school children and the people of Ohio since June 2016 as State Superintendent, and for 30 years in various agencies of state government.”
The Board of Education selected Stephanie K. Siddens to serve as the interim superintendent until they choose a permanent replacement.
Aaron Lieberman (D) announced on September 20 that he would resign his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives to focus on his 2022 campaign for governor.
Arizona Rep. Aaron Lieberman resigns to focus on 2022 run for governor
Lieberman first won election to the House to represent District 28 in 2018, alongside incumbent Kelli Butler (D).
Ballotpedia has identified three Democratic candidates, five Republican candidates, and two third-party candidates who have declared for the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election. Incumbent Doug Ducey (R) is not able to run for re-election due to term limits.
Vacancies in the Arizona legislature are filled by appointment by the board of county supervisors. The political party committee is involved in the appointment process only if the legislative district has thirty or more elected precinct committeemen.
The Arizona House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the Arizona State Legislature. Currently, there are 28 Democrats, 30 Republicans, and two vacancies in the House.
Boston mayoral candidates receive new endorsements following primary wins
Since Boston’s Sept. 14 mayoral primary, endorsements have come in for the top-two winners.
Michelle Wu, who received the most votes in the seven-candidate primary field at 33.4%, has been endorsed by gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D), state Rep. Liz Miranda (D), and SEIU 1199, which represents healthcare workers.
Annissa Essaibi George received recent endorsements from the local sprinkler fitters union and IBEW Local 103, which represents electrical workers. Essaibi George was second in the primary with 22.5%.
Essaibi George had several union endorsements heading into the primary, along with backing from former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. Wu also had several endorsements from unions as well as state legislators.
The candidates offer different backgrounds, policy areas of emphasis, and positions on issues including housing and policing. For more information, click here.