Welcome to the Thursday, April 13, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- North Dakota’s House overrides veto of bill banning ranked-choice and approval voting methods
- Biden signs resolution ending the national coronavirus state of emergency while four states still have active emergency orders
- Listen to the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast
North Dakota’s House overrides veto of bill banning ranked-choice and approval voting methods
On Monday, the North Dakota House of Representatives voted 71-17 to override Gov. Doug Burgum’s (R) veto of HB1273, a bill that would ban the use of approval and ranked-choice voting methods in the state.
If a two-thirds majority in the Senate does the same, the legislation will become law. The Senate originally approved the bill 31-13 on March 30, one more vote than needed to override the veto.
Approval voting allows voters to select any number of candidates they choose. The candidates receiving the most votes are elected until all the offices up for election are filled. Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots.
Fargo, North Dakota, alongside St. Louis, Missouri, is one of two jurisdictions in the United States that uses approval voting. Fargo voters approved a ballot measure instituting the process 63.5% to 36.5% in November 2018.
Burgum vetoed HB1273 on April 6, calling it an example of state overreach. Burgum said the bill “blatantly infringes on local control and the ability of residents in home rule cities to determine which method of local city election is best for their communities based on the unique aspects of city elections.” Burgum said none of the bill’s Republican sponsors were representatives of Fargo.
House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R), who voted to override the veto, said approval voting was “a broad departure from how the majority of the state conducts its elections.”
North Dakota is one of several states considering prohibitions on using ranked-choice and other similar multiple-round or tabulated voting methods. Florida and Tennessee became the first states in the country to enact such bans in 2022, followed by South Dakota and Idaho, which did so in the 2023 legislative sessions. All four states had Republican trifectas when these laws were adopted.
North Dakota also has a Republican trifecta. Republicans have an 82-12 House majority and a 43-4 Senate majority. Burgum, a Republican, was first elected in 2016.
Similar bills in three other states have passed at least one legislative chamber this year: Arizona’s HB2552, Montana’s HB598, and Texas’ SB92. Republican lawmakers in Alaska and Maine, where voters approved statewide ballot initiatives that allowed ranked-choice voting for some federal and state-level elections, have introduced legislation that would repeal their state’s current use of the voting system.
Biden signs resolution ending the national coronavirus state of emergency while four states still have active emergency orders
President Joe Biden (D) signed a bill ending the national coronavirus state of emergency on April 10, 1,135 days after it was officially implemented during the Trump administration.
The bill, H.J.Res. 7, was sent to Biden’s desk for signature after the Senate approved it 68-23 on March 29. Forty-eight Republicans, 20 Democrats, and three independents voted in favor. The House approved the bill 229-197 on Feb. 1, with 218 Republicans and 11 Democrats voting in favor. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) introduced the resolution on Jan. 9.
Biden had previously said he planned to end the state of emergency through executive action in May 2023. On April 11, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “Since Congress moved to undo the national emergency earlier than intended, we’ve been working with agencies to address the impacts of ending the declaration early.”
The national coronavirus state of emergency officially began on March 1, 2020. President Donald Trump (R) issued the proclamation on March 13, 2020, and the state of emergency retroactively began on March 1. The emergency declaration allowed the federal government to take measures unavailable during non-emergencies, such as issuing waivers for federal health programs and granting states and territories temporary flexibilities for programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
During the Senate vote on H.J.Res. 7, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who voted for the bill, said, “Emergency powers are given to the executive branch so the commander in chief has the flexibility to quickly act in the event of a crisis. … That declaration was appropriate in 2020, but now it’s time for the proper constitutional checks and balances to be restored. It’s time to end any and all authoritarian control and unilateral spending decisions without congressional consent.”
During the House vote, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) said, “With these complex issues still facing business, local leaders and the American people, it would be harmful and irresponsible to force a premature end to the flexibility offered by the presidential emergency declaration from March 2020. …President Biden has no intention of using these emergency powers forever. We know that because he announced his intention to end the COVID-19 national emergency on May 11. … There’s no need for Congress to act now before the president acts on this issue.”
A separate federal public health emergency will end on May 11.
The president can declare national states of emergency under the authority of the National Emergencies Act. During a national state of emergency, additional powers and authorities are granted to the executive branch, often through the provisions of other laws.
At the state level, COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 46 states and are active in four. Three of the four states with active emergency orders—Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island—currently have Democratic trifectas. The fourth, Texas, has a Republican trifecta.
On April 10, Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee (D) extended the statewide emergency order through May 5, 2023. The most recent state to end its COVID-19 emergency was New Mexico, where Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham (D) ended the statewide emergency order on March 31, 2023.
In Massachusetts, a modified emergency declaration issued in May 2021 will expire alongside the federal public health emergency on May 11.
Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources like reserves of medical goods and equipment, and temporarily waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. Governors and state agencies relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals.
Listen to the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast
On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.
In this week’s episode, host Victoria Rose and Elections Staff Writer Myj Saintyl dive into the latest happenings in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022-2023 term. Victoria and Myj explore the number of cases with 5-4 and 8-1 rulings so far, which justice has been the most prolific opinion writer, and the number of lower court opinions that have been reversed. Plus, they discuss how President Biden’s judicial nominations stack up against those of previous presidents during their first terms.
Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of April 13, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!
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