Veto override used to enact maps in Kentucky

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 25, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Kentucky General Assembly enacts new district maps after overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes
  2. Committee supporting app-based driver initiative in Massachusetts reports over $17.8 million in contributions
  3. Four special elections taking place tonight

Kentucky General Assembly enacts news district maps after overriding Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes

On Jan. 20, the Republican-controlled Kentucky General Assembly overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of congressional and state House district maps, putting the new lines into effect. Beshear vetoed the two maps on Jan. 19. He did not veto the state Senate map, allowing it to take effect on Jan. 21 without his signature. 

Kentucky is one of six states that requires a simple majority to override a gubernatorial veto: at least 20 votes in the Senate and 51 in the House.

Beshear said he vetoed the congressional map “because it was drafted without public input and reflects unconstitutional political gerrymandering.” House Speaker David Osborne (R) said, “[Beshear] is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it. This proposal meets all legal considerations.” Bloomberg Government’s Greg Giroux wrote that congressional maps will likely preserve the existing 5-1 Republican advantage in the state’s U.S. House delegation.

In his veto message regarding the state House map, Beshear said he felt it split multiple counties for partisan reasons. Beshear also said, “[T]his plan appears to dilute the voices of certain minority communities.” State Rep. Jerry Miller (R) said, “This is constitutional, it fully meets the voting [rights act]. And I think [Beshear] was foolish to veto it.”

After the General Assembly overrode Beshear’s vetoes, a group of voters and the Kentucky Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Circuit Court challenging the congressional and House maps as partisan gerrymanders. Plaintiffs asked the court to order the legislature to create new maps.

Including Kentucky, two other states—Maryland and Wisconsin—have had redistricting maps vetoed by their governors. Like Kentucky,  both states have divided governments, meaning no single party controls the governorship and legislature. In Maryland, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a congressional map plan on Dec. 9, 2021. The Democratic-controlled General Assembly overrode that veto the same day. In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed congressional and legislative maps on Nov. 18, sending the process to the state supreme court.

Five other states with divided governments where governors may veto redistricting plans have not yet finished drawing new lines: Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

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Committee supporting app-based driver initiative in Massachusetts reports more than $17.8 million in contributions

Flexibility and Benefits for Massachusetts Drivers, the ballot measure committee supporting an initiative relating to the employment status of app-based drivers reported $17.8 million in donations through Dec. 31, 2021. The committee’s largest donor was the drive-sharing company Lyft, which contributed $14.4 million. Other top contributors include Instacart ($1.2 million), DoorDash ($1.2 million), and Uber ($1.0 million).

The initiative, submitted late last year, would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact several labor and wage policies. Sponsors submitted two versions of the initiative. Both are identical except one would require paid occupational safety training for contractors before accessing a company’s platform or mobile application.

There is one ballot measure committee, Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, registered in opposition to the initiative. It reported $1.0 million in contributions. Top donors include the Omidyar Network, Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Local 103 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Open Society.

On Jan. 18, 2021, the initiative’s opponents filed a lawsuit with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court alleging it violates the state’s constitutional requirement that initiative subjects be mutually dependent. As relief, plaintiffs requested that the court bar the initiative from the 2022 ballot.

Massachusetts uses indirect initiatives, meaning the state legislature must consider the proposal before it appears before the voters. If the legislature does not adopt the proposals by May 4 supporters will have until July 6 to submit an additional round of 13,374 signatures to qualify for a place on the 2022 ballot.

The initiative is modeled after California’s Proposition 22, which was approved with 59% of the vote in 2020. Proposition 22 was the most expensive ballot measure campaign in California’s history, according to available records. Supporters reported $202.9 million in contributions with app-based driving companies as top donors. Opponents reported $19.7 million, with unions as the top donors.

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Four special elections taking place tonight

Ballotpedia is covering four special elections across three states tonight as candidates compete to fill vacancies in state legislatures and city councils. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Connecticut House of Representatives District 144: Hubert Delany (D) and Danny Melchionne (R) are running to represent the district. The previous incumbent, Caroline Simmons (D), resigned to assume office as mayor of Stamford, Conn. Simmons was first elected to the district in 2014 after defeating incumbent Michael Molgano (R).
  • South Carolina State Senate District 31: Jay Jordan and Mike Reichenbach are running in a Republican primary with the winner facing Suzanne La Rochelle (D) on March 29. The former incumbent, Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R), died on Nov. 12, 2021.
  • Austin City Council District 4: Seven candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election to replace outgoing City Councilman Greg Casar (D). Casar announced his resignation to run for the U.S. House in the state’s newly-created District 35. Casar will hold office until his successor is elected.
  • Houston City Council District G: Five candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election to replace former City Councilman Greg Travis (R). Travis left office on Oct. 27, 2021, after announcing his intent to run for state House in District 133.

Ballotpedia has tracked state legislative special elections, specifically, since 2011. During that time, there has been an average of 74 special state legislative elections each year. As of Jan. 25, there have been 31 state legislative special elections scheduled in 15 states.

Check out our elections calendar to see other races coming up. Ballotpedia will be covering at least one election every Tuesday between today and June 28, 2022.

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