Amendment to make school board elections partisan advances in Florida

Welcome to the Wednesday, April 5, Brew. 

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

  1. Florida voters may decide whether to make school board elections partisan
  2. President Joe Biden issued two executive orders in March bringing his total to 109
  3. Biden ends March with 43% approval rating

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow about Tuesday’s elections. Follow along at here.

Florida voters may decide whether to make school board elections partisan

On March 31, the Florida House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 31 (HJR 31), a constitutional amendment that would use partisan elections for seats on the state’s 67 school boards. 

Lawmakers in two other states, Indiana and Kentucky, introduced similar proposals this year, but, unlike Florida’s, neither advanced from their chamber of origin before the necessary deadline.

In Florida, House members approved the measure 79-34, breaking along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

If HJR 31 passes the Senate—where Republicans hold a veto-proof majority—the amendment will appear on the 2024 ballot, where it would need at least 60% of the vote to pass. If approved, the amendment would take effect during the 2026 school board elections.

State Rep. Spencer Roach (R), the amendment’s sponsor, said, “This is not about … advancing the cause of one political party over another … [I]t’s about transparency.”

State Rep. Angie Nixon (D) said, “[T]his bill is not about transparency at all. This bill is about making our school-board elections and our school boards more contentious, more like D.C.”

Florida is one of 41 states that hold nonpartisan school board elections where every candidate appears on the same ballot without party labels.

Four states—Alabama, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania—hold partisan school board elections, where candidates can choose to run under a specific party’s label.

The rules vary in Georgia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Some districts use partisan elections, while others use nonpartisan elections with differences typically based on specific state or local laws.

Tennessee is the most recent state to change how it elects school board members. In 2021, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed into law a bill allowing county party committees to decide whether they want to use partisan or nonpartisan elections. Previously, all school board elections were nonpartisan.

The Florida proposal comes less than a year after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) endorsed a slate of school board candidates across the state who aligned with his education platform. More recently, the Illinois Democratic Party, with support from Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), spent $300,000 on library and school board elections statewide.

Keep reading 

President Joe Biden issued two executive orders in March, bringing his total to 109

President Joe Biden (D) issued two executive orders in March, bringing his total to 109 since taking office in January 2021.

Looking at recent presidencies, Biden is tied with Ronald Reagan (R) with the second-highest average of 48 executive orders annually, behind Donald Trump (R), who averaged 55 yearly.

A century ago, it wasn’t uncommon for a president to issue an average of more than 200 executive orders every year.

Biden issued an executive order on March 14 regarding firearm laws, dealing primarily with the implementation of Senate Bill 2938—titled the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—which Congress passed last year. The order also directs various agency heads to create safe storage promotional materials and provide proposals regarding mental health support, among other items. Read the full order here.

On March 27, Biden issued an executive order prohibiting the federal government from using commercial spyware programs that pose risks to national security. Read the full order here.

The most executive orders Biden issued in one month was 25 in January 2021, his first month in office. Biden has issued at least one executive order every month since, apart from November 2022 and January 2023, when he issued none.

Since the country’s founding, Franklin Roosevelt (D) issued the most executive orders on average at 307 per year.

William Henry Harrison (Whig) issued no executive orders during his one month in office.

Three presidents issued only one executive order: John Adams (Federalist), James Madison (Democratic-Republican), and James Monroe (Democratic-Republican).

Keep reading 

Biden ends March with 43% approval rating

At the end of March, polling averages showed President Joe Biden (D) with a 43% approval rating. Fifty-three percent of voters disapproved of his performance.

Biden’s approval rating ends the month down a percentage point from his rating of 44% at the end of February. 

Biden’s lowest approval rating was 38% on July 27, 2022. His highest was 55% on May 26, 2021.

Congressional approval ratings fluctuated between 22% and 30% throughout March, ending at 28%.

The lowest approval rating for the 118th Congress, which began last January, was 21% on Jan. 18. Its highest approval rating was 30% on March 16.

At this point in former President Donald Trump’s (R) administration, presidential approval was also at 43%, and congressional approval was seven percentage points lower at 21%.

We calculate these approval figures every weekday by taking an average of polls conducted over the preceding 30 days. In addition to the average, we show every poll included in our calculations side-by-side to paint a clearer picture of public opinion than one individual poll can provide.

Keep reading