NH House partisan control at stake in Sept. 19 special election

Welcome to the Tuesday, September 12, Brew. 

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

  1. NH House partisan control at stake in Sept. 19 special election
  2. Protect Kids California files three initiatives related to gender and schools, sports, and healthcare for the 2024 ballot 
  3. 54.86% of state legislatures are Republican, 44.29% Democratic

NH House partisan control at stake in Sept. 19 special election

In the New Hampshire House of Representatives, control of the chamber could be determined by a Sept. 19 special election. 

Let’s look at the details of what will be the country’s 40th state legislative special election this year. 

As of this writing, the partisan composition of the New Hampshire House is 199 Republicans, 197 Democrats, two independents, and three vacancies. Democratic victories in Rockingham 1 and the other two vacant districts, Grafton 16 and Hillsborough 3, would bring the House’s partisan composition to an even 199-199. 

The two independents, Dan Hynes and Shaun Filiault, left their respective parties in June. Hynes was previously a Republican, while Filiault was a Democrat. 

Hal Rafter (D) and James Guzofski (R) are running in the special general election to represent Rockingham 1. Benjamin T. Bartlett IV (R), the previous incumbent, resigned on April 26 for health reasons.

New Hampshire is a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office. Control of the Senate is also closely divided, with Republicans holding a 14-10 majority

Rafter is a partner for Waterline, an organization that provides river flow information for boaters and anglers. He previously worked for New Hampshire Housing for more than 35 years, and served on the Nottingham School Board for eight years, and the Nottingham Board of Selectmen for three years. Rafter said, “This election is important because the outcome could result in a NH House that is divided equally between Democrats and Republicans. … If you are concerned about Republican attacks on education, women’s rights, voting rights, and their lack of attention to climate change, this election can make a difference.”

Guzofski is a Northwood selectman and a chaplain for the Northwood Fire Department. He has been a minister for 34 years. Guzofski said, “I have been elected twice to the office of selectman in Northwood dedicated to keep your taxes low. As selectman I have implemented plans for better communication between town officials and you. … For years I have served our Nottingham and Northwood community, fighting for your needs in town.”

In 2020, former President Donald Trump (R) carried Rockingham 1 49.1% to 48.7%. In 2022, U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) won the district 50% to 48%, while Democrats lost one of the district’s three state House seats by 10 votes. 

New Hampshire held 34 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2022. The largest number of special elections took place in 2017 when 10 special elections were held. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and the New Hampshire Executive Council have called five this year. 

Overall in 2023,  51 state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states. 

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Protect Kids California files three initiatives related to gender and schools, sports, and healthcare for the 2024 ballot 

Public school education policies have become flashpoints in state politics around the country. That’s true in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and several local districts have recently wrangled over curriculum and gender policies.

Three ballot measures filed on Aug. 28 in California represent a continuation of this policy battle.   

Protect Kids California filed three citizen initiatives on gender in schools, sports, and healthcare. The campaign will need to collect 546,651 signatures per initiative to place them on the ballot, but only after the attorney general issues titles and summaries. The campaign said it expects to begin collecting signatures in November. 

Since 2012, campaigns in California filed 478 citizen-initiatives and 54 (11.3%) appeared on the ballot. 

  • The first initiative would require schools to notify parents or guardians when a student requests to be treated as a gender identity that differs from the student’s listed sex in the student’s record. Notification would be required within three days of the student’s request.
  • The second initiative would prohibit males—defined in the initiative as people with XY chromosomes—from competing in female sports in public schools and universities. The initiative defines females as people with XX chromosomes. The law would repeal language that allows students to participate in sports and use facilities that do not correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates. The law would also require sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms.
  • The third initiative would prohibit healthcare professionals from prescribing hormones or performing procedures that would stop or delay puberty or alter a minor’s appearance for the purpose of changing a person’s gender identity. The initiative includes the following exceptions:
    • allowing medically necessary procedures or treatments for minors born with a medically verifiable sexual development disorder; and 
    • allowing minors who have already received sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures and desire to reverse the effect of the prescription or procedures

Jonathan Zachreson, founder of Protect Kids California and Roseville City School Board member, said, “These are common sense issues. Unfortunately, California is controlled by an out-of-touch legislature that refuses to engage in protecting parents or kids.”

Evan Minton (D), a candidate for the state Assembly to represent District 6, said, “[The initiatives are] pushed by those who deny the reality that thousands of Californians are trans and that we live in every community. They cynically exploit LGBTQ+ children as pawns to advance their narrow agenda. This manipulation is sickening and must end.”

As of Sept. 6, 47 statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in 22 states for elections in 2024, including nine in California.

We cover conflicts in education in Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on school board politics and education policy. Click here to subscribe today!

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54.86% of state legislatures are Republican, 44.29% Democratic

Earlier in this edition, we looked at a special election in New Hampshire that could decide which party controls the state House of Representatives. Let’s zoom out and look at the percentage of state legislative districts held by Republicans and Democrats in chambers across the country. 

At the end of August 2023, 54.86% of all state legislatures in the United States are Republican while 44.29% are Democratic. There are 7,386 state legislative seats in the country.

Republicans control 57 chambers, while Democrats hold 40. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

  • Democrats hold 851 state Senate seats and 2,420 state House seats, having lost five seats since last month. Republicans hold 1,109 state Senate seats and 2,943 state House seats, having lost six seats since last month.
  • Independent or third-party legislators hold 27 seats across 10 different states, including 22 state House seats and five state Senate seats. There are 28 vacant state House seats and eight vacant state Senate seats across 34 different states.

Compared to August 2022, Democrats have lost 13 state Senate seats (864 v. 851) and gained 11 state House seats (2,409 v. 2,420). Republicans have gained 17 state Senate seats (1,092 v. 1,109) and gained 43 state House seats (2,900 v. 2,943). 

Learn more about the partisan composition of state legislatures at the link below.

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