Welcome to the Monday, June 19, Brew.
By: Juan Garcia de Paredes
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- More bills related to Juneteenth introduced and enacted so far this year than in all of 2022
- Texas surpasses Tennessee as the state with the most enacted legislation so far this year
More bills related to Juneteenth introduced and enacted so far this year than in all of 2022
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to deliver the news of the end of slavery and the Civil War. In 2021, it officially became America’s 11th federal holiday.
In today’s edition, we’ll take a look at recent state-level legislative activity related to Juneteenth, the status of the holiday’s recognition across the country, and the legislative journey that led to it becoming a federal holiday.
State-level legislative activity
Ballotpedia (with the help of our partners at BillTrack50, which aggregates legislative data from all 50 states) began tracking state legislation on Juneteenth in 2020, and our data goes back to 2011. Between 2011 and June 15, 2023, state lawmakers introduced 381 bills or resolutions related to Juneteenth, more than 147 of which have been enacted. These numbers include bills signed into law or simple resolutions passed by state legislatures commemorating, establishing, observing, or recognizing the Juneteenth holiday or local Juneteenth celebrations. Resolutions memorializing or recognizing individuals or groups are not included.
State lawmakers have introduced 62 Juneteenth bills or resolutions so far this year, and have enacted 13. That’s already more than the total number of bills or resolutions both introduced and enacted in 2022. Between 2011 and 2023, the most bills or resolutions were both introduced and enacted in 2021, with 73 bills introduced and 24 enacted.
Mississippi legislators have introduced the most bills so far this year, with eight. Texas, which in 1980 became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday, has enacted the most, with four.
Some of the bills enacted in 2023 include the following:
- Minnesota Senate File 13: Enacted February 2023 with bipartisan sponsorship. Recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday on June 19, rather than a state observance on the third Saturday in June.
- Nevada Assembly Bill 140: Enacted June 2023 with bipartisan sponsorship. Made Juneteenth a legal holiday, rather than a day of observance.
- Tennessee Senate Bill 269: Enacted May 2023 with bipartisan sponsorship. Made Juneteenth a legal holiday, rather than a day of observance.
Additionally, Michigan Senate Bill 50, a Democratic-sponsored bill that would make Juneteenth a public holiday in the state, passed the Legislature on June 14.
Texas has had the most legislative activity related to Juneteenth since 2011, with 21 bills or resolutions enacted.
At the state level, recognition of the holiday varies across the country. All 50 states observe the day in some form, and more than half have adopted it as an official state holiday.
Path to becoming a federal holiday
In June 2018, the Senate passed SR 547, a bipartisan resolution “designating June 19, 2018, as ‘Juneteenth Independence Day’ in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which slavery legally came to an end in the United States.” U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced a similar resolution, H.Res.948, in the House of Representatives that month, but lawmakers took no further actions on the bill after it was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
On June 19, 2020, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D) introduced S.4019, a bill to make Juneteenth an official federal holiday. Rep. Jackson Lee also introduced corresponding legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that day. The bills were referred to committees, and lawmakers took no further action.
Finally, on June 15, 2021, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed S.475, a bill to establish June 19 as a legal public holiday called Juneteenth National Independence Day. The U.S. House passed the bill the following day by a vote of 415-14. President Joe Biden (D) signed the bill into law on June 17, 2021.
There are currently 11 federal holidays. The last federal holiday established before Juneteenth was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which President Ronald Reagan (R) signed into law in 1983.
Texas surpasses Tennessee as the state with the most enacted legislation so far this year
Let’s end with our weekly update on election-related legislation. As of June 15, legislators across the country have enacted 208 election-related bills this year, 42 more than the 166 bills states had enacted at this point in 2022.
Texas has enacted the most bills this year, with 20, surpassing Tennessee, which has enacted 17. In 2022, Tennessee enacted the most bills at this point (16).
Texas legislators have also introduced the most election-related bills this year (394). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022, with 417 bills introduced.
Of this year’s 208 enacted bills, Republicans sponsored 127, or 61%, up from 51% of the total enacted at this point last year. Democrats sponsored 18%, down from 23% in 2022. Bills with bipartisan sponsorship make up 13% of the total enacted, down from 18% last year. Those with unclear partisan sponsorship are up to 9% from 8% in 2022. To see all bills approved this year, click here.
This past week, state legislators enacted 19 new election-related bills, including:
- Senate Bill 57, in Delaware, which establishes that a political party contesting the position of presidential elector must submit the names of an elector nominee and an alternate elector nominee for each presidential elector position, and makes other changes to Title 15 of the Delaware Code relating to Presidential Electors.
- House Bill 311, in Louisiana, which proposes a constitutional amendment to be submitted to voters on Oct. 14, 2023, prohibiting “funds, goods, or services donated by a foreign government or a nongovernmental source” from being used for “any function or duty established in the election code or to conduct an election” except when authorized by the secretary of state.
- House Bill 3159, in Texas, which provides that a person eligible for early voting by mail may receive and cast a ballot using an accessible absentee mail system approved by the Secretary of State.
In addition to these 19 newly-enacted bills, 16 other bills have moved further along in the legislative process over the past week: eight passed both chambers and are awaiting final approval, and 18 passed one chamber, moving on to the next.
You can view a full list of enacted bills this year here.
To stay up-to-date with the latest news in election-related legislation, subscribe to The Ballot Bulletin, our weekly newsletter—dropping every Friday afternoon—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.