Virginia up next—state’s filing deadline is April 6

Welcome to the Monday, April 3, Brew. 

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

  1. Virginia’s General Assembly primary filing deadline is April 6
  2. Lawmakers advance legislation on ESG investments in Florida and Kansas
  3. Idaho, South Dakota enact bills prohibiting ranked-choice voting

Virginia’s General Assembly primary filing deadline is April 6

The filing deadline for candidates in Virginia’s General Assembly elections is April 6. Virginia is one of two states where both major parties control one chamber.

All 140 General Assembly districts are holding elections for the first time since 2019: 40 in the Senate and 100 in the House.

How parties select their nominees in those districts tends to vary. The April 6 filing deadline applies only to those candidates running in districts holding partisan primaries on June 20.

Virginia also allows party committees to hold other nominating contests—like mass meetings or conventions—to select their nominees. If a party chooses this method, it typically issues an official notice describing how and when the nomination will happen.

As of March 30, Ballotpedia has identified 10 Senate districts and 27 House districts holding nominating contests other than primaries, all of which are Republican. In 2021, there were nine Democratic nominating contests and 19 for Republicans.

Parties in districts not using primaries have until June 20 to select their nominees, with most selections scheduled for May.

Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2019 and enter the election with a 22-18 majority (after winning a special election in January).

Republicans have had a 52-48 majority in the House since 2021. This—plus the state’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, whose term ends in 2025—makes Virginia one of 11 states with a divided government.

CNalysis rates the Senate election as Tilt Democratic, with 20 districts trending toward Democrats and 17 toward Republicans. Three districts are rated as Toss-ups.

The outlet rates the House election as Lean Democratic, with 49 districts trending toward Democrats and 47 toward Republicans. Four districts are rated as Toss-ups.

These are Virginia’s first legislative elections since redistricting. In 2020, voters approved a constitutional amendment establishing a redistricting commission. But this commission missed the required deadlines to submit new maps. The state supreme court assumed control and approved new maps on Dec. 28, 2021.

Over the past 30 years, control of the state Senate has changed seven times, and control of the state House has changed four times.

The graphs below show the partisan balance after each election—shown as dots—since 1991. They are also shaded to show periods of control over time: blue for Democratic, red for Republican, and purple for power-sharing agreements. The values for 2023 show each chamber’s current makeup.

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Lawmakers advance legislation on ESG investments in Florida and Kansas

The Florida House of Representatives passed House Bill 3 (HB 3) on March 24, prohibiting the consideration of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors in public fund investments. 

The legislation requires fiduciaries to invest with the sole goal of maximizing returns based on financial factors. The House voted 80-31 in favor of the bill, which now moves to the Senate.

The Kansas House of Representatives passed a similar measure, House Bill 2436 (HB 2436), on March 23. It requires fiduciaries of the public employees’ retirement system to act solely in the financial interest of participants and beneficiaries. HB 2436 passed 85-38 and also proceeds to the state Senate.

Florida is one of 22 state governments with a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control both legislative chambers and the governorship.

Kansas is one of 11 divided state governments. While Republicans control both legislative chambers, Democrats control the governorship.

The votes on HB 3 and HB 2436 are recent examples of state legislative activity opposing ESG investment strategies, which consider non-financial factors in the management of funds and contracts, such as climate change, social justice, and diversity alignment.

The legislative strategy used with these two bills is called the sole fiduciary approach, where legislators mandate that fiduciaries of public funds use only financial factors when carrying out their duties. This is one of seven approaches legislators have used to oppose ESG investing.

At the other end of the spectrum is the non-financial criteria consideration approach, where legislators require public fund managers to consider ESG data and other non-financial criteria in their investment strategies. This is one of four approaches legislators have used to support ESG investing.

To stay informed about ESG developments, use the link below to subscribe to Ballotpedia’s Economy and Society newsletter, delivered every Tuesday.

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Idaho, South Dakota pass bills prohibiting ranked-choice voting

On March 24 and 27, respectively, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed bills prohibiting the use of ranked-choice voting in elections at any level of government.

Ranked-choice voting is an election method where voters rank their choices, and officials conduct a series of tabulations until one candidate has more than 50% of the vote.

These were preemptive measures. Idaho and South Dakota are two of the 37 states that do not use ranked-choice voting in any form. Both states’ governments have Republican trifectas. Florida and Tennessee—also both with Republican trifectas—instituted similar bans last year.

The bills in Idaho and South Dakota are two of the 2,254 pieces of election-related legislation we are tracking this year. At this point in 2022, we were tracking 2,358 such pieces of legislation, 4.6% more than this year.

Most of this year’s bills—1,957, or 87%—have had no activity, meaning they were introduced but have not gone before any legislative committees.

Sixty-seven bills have been enacted—3% of the total. Another 2% have either failed or were vetoed. The remaining 180 bills are all pending, having advanced out of at least one committee but without final action so far.

For more election-related developments, subscribe to The Ballot Bulletin, our weekly newsletter that delivers the latest updates on election policy. Every week, we track legislative activity, big-picture trends, recent news, and in-depth data from our Election Administration Legislation Tracker.

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