Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights a recall effort against LA County DA George Gascón and redistricting updates. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.
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Ballot Measures Update
Sixty-four (64) statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 30 states so far. No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.
Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for four additional initiatives in Alaska, Florida, and Ohio:
Enough signatures were verified for four initiatives in Massachusetts and Ohio to certify them to the legislature. If the legislature doesn’t enact them, proponents will need to gather a second round of signatures.
- Massachusetts Medical Loss Ratios for Dental Insurance Plans Initiative (2022)
- Massachusetts Changes to Alcohol Retail Licensing Initiative (2022)
- Massachusetts App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative (2022)
- Ohio Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2022)
States in session
Thirty-eight state legislatures—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.
Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review
In 2022, 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:
- February 8: Voters in the Seattle Public School district will decide two property tax levy measures.
Thirty-three (33) state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 15 states this year. Eight specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had controlled seven of the seats, and Republicans controlled one.
- In special elections between 2011 and 2021, 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 85 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six odd years (2011: 95, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017:98, 2019: 77, 2021: 66).
Upcoming special elections include:
- California State Assembly District 17 (primary)
- California State Assembly District 49 (primary)
- New York State Assembly District 60
- New York State Assembly District 72
- Connecticut House of Representatives District 5
- Michigan House of Representatives District 15 (primary)
- Michigan House of Representatives District 36 (primary)
- Michigan House of Representatives District 43 (primary)
- Michigan House of Representatives District 74 (primary)
Petitions to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón approved for circulation
Petitions to recall George Gascón from his position as the Los Angeles County District Attorney in California were approved for circulation on Jan. 27. To get the recall on the ballot, supporters must collect 566,857 signatures by July 6.
Recall supporters served Gascón with a notice of intent to recall on Dec. 7. They said that crime had risen in the county since Gascón had taken office. They published the following statement on their website about why they were pursuing a recall:
“As soon as he was sworn into office, District Attorney George Gascón began issuing directives to his prosecutors, instructing them to go soft on crime, coddle criminals, and trample upon the dignity and rights of crime victims. To keep our communities safe, to mete out just punishment to those who break our laws, and to provide justice to crime victims throughout Los Angles County, we must recall District Attorney George Gascón.”
At a press conference in December, Gascón defended his policies and said he was not responsible for the rise in homicides and robberies in the county. “We are trying to dramatically change a system that has served no one, not the victims of crime, not those who are accused and not the public,” Gascón said.
Gascón said he was trying to make the criminal justice system more efficient and more equitable. “We’re trying really hard to use the science that is currently available, the data that is currently available, to do our work,” Gascón said. “And I’m not going to be intimidated by political rhetoric.”
An earlier recall attempt against Gascón did not go to a vote in 2021. Recall supporters announced on Sept. 16 that they had not gathered enough signatures to meet the filing deadline.
Gascón was elected to a four-year term in the nonpartisan general election on Nov. 3, 2020, defeating incumbent Jackie Lacey with 53.5% of the vote.
In 2021, Ballotpedia covered a total of 351 recall efforts against 537 elected officials. This was the highest number of recall efforts and officials targeted since we started compiling data on recalls in 2012.
Hawaii, New York enact new legislative district boundaries
Hawaii’s Office of Elections formally published the state’s final legislative redistricting plan on Jan. 31 after the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission voted 8-1 on Jan. 28 to approve a legislative map proposal. The plans were originally approved for public comment on Oct. 28. On Jan. 6, the commission approved a motion to modify the legislative map plans after learning the initial plans had not properly accounted for the number of nonpermanent resident personnel on military installations in the state, who are not included in legislative redistricting. Under the modified proposal, one legislative district moved from Oahu to Hawaii. The maps will take effect for Hawaii’s 2022 state legislative elections.
Commission Chair Mark Mugiishi said the maps were drawn fairly. “I do believe the principle of the democratic process is a fair and well-run election,” Mugiishi said. Commissioner Cal Chipchase said, “They follow a long iteration of taking into account the best available data that we have received, and have been responsive to community concerns and questions where practicable.” Commissioner Robin Kennedy, who cast the only vote against the new maps, said, “I feel the community still doesn’t have the answers it needs.” Sandy Ma of Common Cause Hawaii said, “The proposed final maps do not take community concerns or testimonies into account and it still splits communities of interest.”
New York enacted new state legislative districts on Feb. 3 when Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed proposals approved by the legislature into law. Earlier that day, both chambers approved the state Senate and House maps, which were included in a single bill. The state Senate voted 43-20 to approve, and the state House voted 120-27 to approve. The maps will take effect for New York’s 2022 elections.
Following passage of the maps, Hochul said: “These bills are necessary to reapportion districts and to provide certainty and clarity regarding such districts in a timely manner, allowing for efficient administration of the electoral process.” State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy criticized the maps, saying: “There is a wild, partisan gerrymandering that took place here. It violates the state Constitution, and we’re going to try to get justice.”
Voters in New York approved a state constitutional amendment—Proposal 1—in 2014 which created a redistricting commission to draw legislative and congressional districts. On Jan. 3, the New York Independent Redistricting Commission voted 5-5 on two legislative redistricting proposals, one offered by Democrats on the commission and the other proposed by the commission’s Republicans. The New York legislature, which was not able to amend the proposals, rejected both maps on Jan. 10. The commission then had 15 days to draw new maps but announced on Jan. 24 it would not submit any new proposals. Since the commission did not submit a revised map by Jan. 25, the legislature was allowed to amend or create new redistricting proposals.
As of Feb. 4, 31 states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers, and one state has adopted maps that have not yet gone into effect. The state supreme court in one state has overturned previously enacted maps, and 17 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census.