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Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Union Station: Arkansas enacts bill prohibiting collective bargaining by state public-sector employees

Arkansas enacts bill prohibiting collective bargaining by state public-sector employees

Arkansas Senate Bill 341, which prohibits collective bargaining on the part of state public-sector employees, was enacted on April 8. 

About the bill 

The Republican-sponsored bill adds the following text to Arkansas Code Title 21:

(a) A public employer shall not recognize a labor union or other public employee association as a bargaining agent of public employees.

(b) A public employer shall not collectively bargain or enter into any collective bargaining contract with a labor union or other public employee association or its agents with respect to any matter relating to public employees, public employees’ employment with a public employer, or public employees’ tenure with a public employer.

The bill also makes public employee strikes illegal and requires public employers to fire an employee who strikes. It permits employee associations “for the purpose of promoting the public employees’ interests before a public employer.”

Public safety officers, including law enforcement and firefighters, and employees of Federal Transit Administration grant recipients are exempted from the law. 

The bill first passed the Senate 24-6 along party lines on March 9. On March 22, the House voted 62-22 in favor of the bill, with one Democrat supporting and four Republicans voting against it. After the Senate passed the amended House bill on April 5, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed it on April 8.       

Republicans have had trifecta control of Arkansas state government since 2015. 

North Carolina and South Carolina prohibit all public-sector collective bargaining. Like Arkansas, some states prohibit public-sector collective bargaining but make exceptions for police, firefighters, or teachers. 

Perspectives

Supporting

Bill sponsor Sen. Bob Ballinger (R) said, “If they are walking off the job, they are walking off the job that is basically tax payers. … If they are opposing something their employers do, they are actually opposing the tax payers.”

Rep. Jim Dotson (R) said, “This is specifically directed toward public employees who would try to physically impede … the activity or operations of a public employer and through that process strike, if they’re part of a union.”

Opposing 

Arkansas Education Association executive director Tracey-Ann Nelson said, “Already in this state we have limited access to bargaining. … Arkansas educators have been meeting what’s been asked of them for several years now and deserve to be treated as professionals. They deserve the same rights as other esteemed public employees and the same opportunity to have their voices heard.” 

Fayetteville Education Association president Anna Beaulieu said, “I have a lot of difficulty understanding why we would need legislation to keep educators from advocating for public schools, public education safe and fair working conditions.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 93 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Enacted April 8. 
  • Florida H0835: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50% to petition the state for recertification.   
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House State Affairs Committee reported favorably with committee substitute April 15. 
  • Florida H0947: This bill would require that public employees sign membership authorization cards in order to have dues deducted from their paychecks. It would also require a union to revoke that membership upon the employee’s request. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House State Affairs Committee reported favorably with committee substitute April 15. 
  • Florida S0078: This bill would require that public employees sign membership authorization cards in order to have dues deducted from their paychecks. It would also require a union to revoke that membership upon the employee’s request.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Rules Committee hearing April 14. 
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50% to petition the state for recertification.  
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Rules Committee hearing April 14. 
  • Indiana SB0251: This bill would establish that a school employee can leave a union at any time. It would also require an employee to annually authorize any payroll deductions of union dues. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate president pro tempore signed April 12 and speaker of the House signed April 13. 
  • Maine LD1402: This bill would remove the authority to require public employees who do not join a union to pay service fees to the union. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing scheduled for April 23. 
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers April 12.
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers April 12.
  • Nevada SB13: This bill would establish that local governments’ ending fund balances of up to 25% would not be subject to negotiation during collective bargaining.
    • Died April 10. 
  • Nevada SB373: This bill would authorize collective bargaining between state professional employers and professional employees. 
    • Referred to Senate Finance Committee April 12.
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee hearing scheduled for April 20. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate president signed April 10. 

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.



Census Bureau suggests data can be available to states, in legacy format, in August

Ballot Bulletin

Redistricting round-up: Census Bureau suggests data can be available to states, in legacy format, in August

On March 15, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that redistricting data could be made available to states in a legacy format by mid-to-late August 2021: “In declarations recently filed in the case of Ohio v. Raimondo, the U.S. Census Bureau made clear that we can provide a legacy format summary redistricting data file to all states by mid-to-late August 2021. Because we recognize that most states lack the capacity or resources to tabulate the data from these summary files on their own, we reaffirm our commitment to providing all states tabulated data in our user-friendly system by Sept. 30, 2021.” The legacy format would present the data in raw form, without the data tables and other access tools the Bureau will ultimately prepare for the states.

Earlier: On Feb. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would deliver redistricting data to the states by Sept. 30. This followed the Bureau’s announcement on Jan. 27 that it would deliver final apportionment counts by April 30. Under its original operational timeline, the Census Bureau was scheduled to deliver apportionment counts by Dec. 31, 2020, and redistricting data by March 31.

The census, reapportionment, and redistricting: The census is conducted every 10 years and kickstarts the entire redistricting process. Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires that congressional representatives be apportioned to the states on the basis of population. The U.S. House of Representatives has 435 members. Consequently, a state may gain representatives in the House if its population grows or lose representatives if its population decreases, relative to populations in other states. 

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and Texas are all expected to gain between one and three representatives each. Meanwhile, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are expected to lose representatives. These estimates are subject to change. 

Federal law requires that congressional and state legislative districts have equal populations (as nearly as practicable). To meet this requirement, redistricting authorities rely on detailed Census Bureau data. 

Alabama: State sues over census statistical methods, data delay 

On March 11, the state of Alabama sued the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Alabama Solicitor General Edmund G. LaCour, Jr. alleged the U.S. Census Bureau “intends to use a statistical method called differential privacy to intentionally skew the population tabulations given to States to use for redistricting.” This would prevent Alabama from having “accurate information about where Alabamians actually live.” LaCour also challenged the U.S. Census Bureau’s announced delay in delivering redistricting data to the states: “The Bureau has no authority to grant itself this extension and deprive Alabama of information to which it is entitled.” He asked that the court bar the use of the differential privacy method and direct the U.S. Census Bureau to deliver data to the states by March 31. On March 26, Judge R. Austin Huffaker, a Donald Trump (R) appointee,  ordered a three-judge panel to consider the case.

Ohio: U.S. district court dismisses suit over census data delay 

On March 25, Judge Thomas Rose, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, dismissed an Ohio lawsuit over the Census Bureau’s delay in delivering redistricting data to the states. Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers said, “The unavailability of decennial census data irreparably harms the State: the Ohio Constitution requires the State to use decennial census data during redistricting if the data is available, and allows the use of alternative data sources only as a second-best option. By blocking the State from conducting redistricting using decennial census data, the Census Bureau’s decision prevents the State from conducting redistricting in the constitutionally preferred manner.” Flowers sought “an injunction either prohibiting the defendants from delaying the release of Ohio’s redistricting data beyond March 31, 2021, or else requiring the defendants to provide the State with Ohio’s population data at the earliest date this Court deems equitable.” Rose denied the state’s request, writing, “The Court will therefore reject Ohio’s request for an order that pretends that the Census Bureau could provide census-based redistricting data by March 31, 2021. The Court cannot ‘order a party to jump higher, run faster, or lift more than she is physically capable.'” The state appealed Rose’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where it is currently pending.

  • Case name and number: Ohio v. Coggins (U.S. District Court: 3:21-cv-00064; U.S. Court of Appeals: 0:21-cv-03294).

Oregon: State supreme court proposes condensed timeline for legislative redistricting 

On March 10, Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) and Senate President Peter Courtney (D), on behalf of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, sued Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D) in the Oregon Supreme Court, asking the court to extend the state’s constitutional deadlines on legislative redistricting. In their complaint, attorneys for the plaintiffs said, “[Unless] this Court (1) enjoins the Secretary of State from moving forward with apportionment and (2) extends the deadlines set forth in Article IV, section 6 (and allows reapportionment to occur in a special legislative session), reapportionment will either not be done at all or will be done using old Census data that will result in malapportioned legislative districts. Neither result is constitutionally palatable.” Under Article IV, Section 6, the legislature has until July 1 of the year following the census to adopt new legislative district maps. If the legislature fails to do so, the secretary of state has until Aug. 15 to adopt a legislative district plan. The plaintiffs asked the court to extend these deadlines to three months following the release of census data (expected by Sept. 30).

On March 19, the Oregon Supreme Court proposed the following timeline:

Drafting and responses:

  • Oct. 15, 2021: Deadline for state legislature to adopt its own plan.
  • Oct. 22, 2021: Deadline for the secretary of state to adopt a plan if the legislature fails to do so.
  • Nov. 19, 2021: Deadline for electors to object to new district plan.
  • Dec. 3, 2021: Deadline for the legislature, secretary of state, and others to respond.
  • Dec. 10, 2021: Deadline for the submission of reply briefs.

Judicial review and enactment:

  • Dec. 17, 2021: Deadline for the state supreme court to file its opinion approving of the redistricting plan.
  • Dec. 31, 2021: Deadline for the state supreme court to file opinion rejecting the redistricting plan.
  • Dec. 28, 2022: Deadline for the secretary of state to submit a revised plan.
  • Feb. 11, 2022: Deadline for the state supreme court to make final revisions to the redistricting plan.

Attorneys for state lawmakers said they support the court’s proposal: “Implementing this Court’s tentative amended deadlines is the least disruptive option, given the extraordinary Census data delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and is the only option that ensures that all of the parties responsible for reapportionment—including the Legislative Assembly—are able to exercise their constitutional role in the reapportionment process.” Fagan’s office opposed the proposal: “The Secretary supports initially using non-census data to draw maps that can subsequently be evaluated—and revised if necessary—in light of the census. The Secretary continues to believe that this approach will achieve the most timely and accurate solution to this difficult problem, without requiring this court to significantly rewrite the Oregon Constitution.”

  • Case name and number: Oregon ex rel. Kotek v. Fagan (S068364).

Federal courts in Georgia, Michigan strike down ballot access requirements for select candidates

On March 29, federal courts in Georgia and Michigan struck down ballot access requirements for select candidates. 

Georgia

On March 29, Judge Leigh Martin May, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, struck down a Georgia law requiring minor-party and unaffiliated candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to submit petitions signed by at least 5 percent of the district’s registered voters. May, a Barack Obama (D) appointee, ruled that this requirement “overburdens [voters’ and candidates’] rights to vote and to associate with their preferred political party, and so it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

In her order, May contrasted the 5% signature requirement for U.S. House candidates with the 1% requirement for statewide candidates, “The [Georgia] General Assembly has deemed a 1% petition signature requirement adequate to guard against ballot crowding and frivolous candidacies on a statewide basis. It is not immediately clear why candidates for non-statewide office must clear a proportionally higher hurdle, the 5% petition signature requirement. [The state] has not offered any explanation for this disparity.” 

May directed the plaintiffs (the Libertarian Party of Georgia) to submit a brief within three weeks on proposed remedies. The state will then have an opportunity to respond before May issues further guidance. 

Under the 5% signature requirement, originally enacted in 1943, no minor-party candidate for the U.S. House has qualified for the general election ballot. In 2020, minor-party or unaffiliated candidates would have needed between 19,777 and 26,539 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot (the number varied by congressional district). 

It is not clear whether the state will appeal the decision.

Michigan 

On March 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision striking down Michigan’s petition requirement for unaffiliated candidates for statewide office. Writing for the court, Karen Moore (a Bill Clinton (D) appointee) said, “[It] is our responsibility to ensure that Michigan’s provisions for qualifying independent candidates for statewide office fall within the bounds of what the First and Fourteenth Amendments require. Our careful review of the facts and circumstances leads us to conclude that the 30,000-signature requirement, geographic-distribution requirement, and filing deadline, when viewed in combination, unconstitutionally burden Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.” Judge Ronald Lee Gilman (also a Clinton appointee) joined Moore’s opinion. Judge Richard Griffin (a George W. Bush (R) appointee) dissented.

The district court had earlier reduced the petition signature requirement for unaffiliated statewide candidates to 12,000, an order the state appealed. The appellate court upheld the district court’s remedy, calling it a “workable interim provision.”

It is not clear whether the state intends to appeal the appellate panel’s decision.

  • Case name and number: Graveline v. Johnson (U:S District Court: 2:18-cv-12354; U.S. Court of Appeals: 0:20-cv-01337).

Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills 

Redistricting legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 120 redistricting-related bills up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2021 
Current as of April 7, 2021

Electoral systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 131 bills dealing with electoral systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2021 
Current as of April 7, 2021

Primary systems legislation: So far this year, we’ve tracked at least 16 bills dealing with primary systems that are up for consideration in state legislatures. 

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2021 
Current as of April 7, 2021



State redistricting deadlines in 2021, 2022, and 2023

The U.S. Census Bureau announced in February that it would deliver the detailed datasets needed for redistricting to the states by Sep. 30, 2021, after the original April 1, 2021, deadline. Some states’ own redistricting deadlines predate the Census Bureau’s projected data delivery date, prompting states to consider postponements or alternative data sources.

State redistricting deadlines generally take one of three forms:

Constitutional deadlines are set out explicitly in state constitutions. Altering these deadlines typically requires either a constitutional amendment or a court order.

Statutory deadlines are set by state legislatures. They are subject to change at the legislature’s discretion.

• Redistricting deadlines can also be inferred from candidate filing deadlines. For example, if a state sets its filing deadline for congressional candidates for Feb. 1, 2022, it can be inferred that the congressional maps must be fixed by that point.

Congressional redistricting deadlines

Maine’s constitutional June 1, 2021, deadline for congressional redistricting is the earliest such deadline of any state. Five states – Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, and Ohio – have congressional redistricting deadlines in the third quarter of 2021. Another six states – Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington – have deadlines in the final quarter of 2021. The remaining states have deadlines in 2022.

State legislative redistricting deadlines

Indiana’s deadline for state legislative redistricting, which is set by statute, is April 29, 2021, earlier than that of any other state. Five other states – Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, and Oklahoma – have state legislative redistricting deadlines in the second quarter of 2021. Another eight states – Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, and Vermont – have deadlines in the third quarter of 2021. Nine states – Alaska, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington – have deadlines in the final quarter of the year. The remaining states have deadlines in either 2022 or, in the case of Montana, 2023.

Additional reading:



First quarter report on donor disclosure legislation

First quarter report on donor disclosure legislation  

Thus far this year, state legislatures have enacted two donor disclosure bills, down from six during the same period in 2019 and up from zero during the same period in 2020. Let’s take a closer look at how legislative activity in the first three months of 2021 compares to 2019 and 2020.

First quarter: 2021

In the first three months 2021, Ballotpedia has tracked 36 state bills dealing in some substantive way with donor disclosure policy. 

Geographic concentration: Lawmakers in 15 states, highlighted in varying shades of green on the map below, introduced donor disclosure bills in the first quarter of 2021. Ten bills have been introduced in New York, more than in any other state. 

Sponsorship: Of these 36 bills, Democrats have sponsored 16 (44.44 percent). Republicans have sponsored 11 (30.56 percent). Bipartisan groups or committees have sponsored the rest. 

Enacted bills: Two bills were enacted into law in the first three months of this year:

  • South Dakota HB1079: This bill prohibits executive agencies and officials from requiring nonprofits to make disclosures beyond those required under state and federal law.
    • Sponsored by the House Judiciary Committee. Enacted into law on March 3.
  • South Dakota SB103: This bill prohibits public agencies from requiring any person or nonprofit to provide identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors. It would also prohibit the disclosure of any such information currently in the possession of a public agency.
    • Republican sponsorship. Enacted into law on March 29.

How this compares to legislative activity in 2019 and 2020

At this same point in 2019, lawmakers in 34 states had introduced 73 donor disclosure bills, 50.68 percent fewer than in 2021. In the first three months of 2020, lawmakers in 19 states had introduced 45 relevant bills, 20 percent fewer than in 2021.

Democrats introduced more bills than Republicans in the first quarters of 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Enactments in the first quarter of 2019 (6) outpaced enactments in 2021: 

  • North Dakota HB1037: This bill reenacted previously rescinded disclosure requirements for contributions made to ballot measure campaigns.
  • South Dakota SB114: This bill required that campaign contributions by minors be attributed to their parents for campaign finance disclosure and reporting purposes.
  • Utah HB0131: This bill required political issues committees to disclose certain contributions within three days of receipt.
  • Utah HB0319: This bill established disclosure requirements for entities spending money on ballot proposition advertisements.
  • West Virginia SB622: This bill made general revisions to the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
  • Wyoming SF0018: This bill amended the state’s campaign finance and disclosure laws.

Enactments in 2021 outpaced 2020, when no donor disclosure bills were enacted into law in the first quarter. 

What we’re reading

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • Arkansas SB535: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Withdrawn, amended, and re-referred to Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee on April 5.
  • Tennessee HB0159: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Government Operations Committee hearing scheduled for April 5.
  • Tennessee SB1608: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing scheduled for March 30.
  • West Virginia HB2932: This bill would prohibit a state agency from imposing additional requirements beyond those currently in statute regarding the registration, reporting or operation of a charitable organization.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for March 30.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.



Union Station: Tenth Circuit rules in favor of AFSCME in union dues case

Tenth Circuit rules in favor of AFSCME in union dues case

On March 26, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico’s decision in Hendrickson v. AFSCME Council 18. The lower court had dismissed the suit, which alleged that the union’s policy of restricting membership resignation to certain opt-out windows and New Mexico statutes granting unions exclusive representation on matters of public policy violated the First Amendment.

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff was Brett Hendrickson, a quality control specialist employed by the New Mexico Human Services Department. The Liberty Justice Center, which says it “fights for the constitutional rights of American families, workers, advocates and entrepreneurs,” represented Hendrickson.

The defendants were American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 18 and New Mexico’s governor and attorney general in their official capacities.

What’s at issue, and how the lower court ruled

Hendrickson filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico on Nov. 30, 2018. His attorneys said AFSCME Council 18 had “violated Hendrickson’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association by refusing to allow him to withdraw his membership until an arbitrary two-week window of time and by continuing to charge him union dues based solely on a union card which could not have constituted ‘affirmative consent’ because it was signed before the Janus decision.” Hendrickson’s suit also claimed that New Mexico statutes granting unions exclusive representation on matters of public policy violated the First Amendment. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief and damages “in the amount of all dues deducted and remitted to the Union since he became a member.”

On Jan. 22, 2020, Judge Robert Brack, a George W. Bush appointee, dismissed the lawsuit, citing several of Hendrickson’s claims as moot, and granted the AFSCME Council 18’s motion for summary judgment. Brack wrote:

Hendrickson fails to point to any decision that applied Janus to void a union membership contract under similar circumstances. On the contrary, each court that examined this issue has rejected the claim that Janus entitles union members to resign and stop paying dues on their own—rather than on the contract’s—terms… As part of the contract, he knowingly agreed that he could only revoke his dues deduction authorization during a two-week opt-out window. He does not allege that he was coerced, and the parties agree that he was not required by state law to join. He could have paid a lesser fair share fee as a nonmember, but instead, he chose to join the Union.

Hendrickson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on Feb. 19, 2020. 

How the Tenth Circuit ruled

The three-judge panel—Judges Scott Matheson, Carlos Lucero, and Carolyn McHugh—unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling on March 26.

Writing for the court, Matheson said:

In Janus, the Court said the First Amendment right against compelled speech protects non-members of public sector unions from having to pay “agency” or “fair share” fees—fees that compensate the union for collective bargaining but not for partisan activity. Mr. Hendrickson contends that, under Janus, the Union cannot (1) retain dues that had been deducted from his paycheck, or (2) serve as his exclusive bargaining representative. The district court dismissed these claims. … 

We affirm the district court’s decisions to grant the Union’s motion for summary judgment and the New Mexico Defendants’ motion to dismiss. We remand to the district court with instructions to amend its judgment to reflect that (1) the dismissal of Mr. Hendrickson’s request for prospective relief on Count 1 as moot and (2) the dismissal of Count 2 against the New Mexico Defendants based on Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity, are both “without prejudice.” 

President Barack Obama appointed Matheson and McHugh to the court. President Bill Clinton appointed Lucero.

Hendrickson has 14 days to file a petition for rehearing.

The case name and number are Hendrickson v. AFSCME Council 18, et al. (20-2018). 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 86 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Rules Committee hearing March 29.  
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee hearing March 30. 
  • Connecticut SB00908: This bill would require public employers to furnish unions with personal contact information of employees belonging to the bargaining unit the union represents. It would also require employers to grant unions access to new employee orientations.
    • Referred to Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis March 29. 
  • Florida H0835: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Added to State Administration and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee agenda March 30.
  • Illinois HB0646: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to legislative assistants.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27. 
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27.
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Re-referred to House Rules Committee March 27. 
  • Indiana SB0251: This bill would establish that a school employee can leave a union at any time. It would also require an employee to annually authorize any payroll deductions of union dues.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • House Employment, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing April 1. 
  • Maine LD52: This bill would allow educational policies related to preparation and planning time and transfer of teachers to be subjects of collective bargaining negotiations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing March 29. 
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers as of March 29. 
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Re-referred to House Appropriations Committee March 30.
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House Appropriations Committee reported favorably March 30.  
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee Hearing April 1. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee executive session March 30. 
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for April 5. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Education Committee work session March 31. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee executive session March 31. 



Federal judge strikes down 5% petition requirement for minor-party and unaffiliated U.S. House candidates in Georgia

On March 29, 2021, Judge Leigh Martin May, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, struck down a Georgia law requiring minor-party and unaffiliated candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives to submit petitions signed by at least 5 percent of the district’s registered voters in order to appear on the ballot. May ruled this requirement “overburdens [voters’ and candidates’] rights to vote and to associate with their preferred political party, and so it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

May contrasted the 5-percent signature requirement for U.S. House candidates with the 1-percent requirement for statewide candidates, “The [Georgia] General Assembly has deemed a 1% petition signature requirement adequate to guard against ballot crowding and frivolous candidacies on a statewide basis. It is not immediately clear why candidates for non-statewide office must clear a proportionally higher hurdle, the 5% petition signature requirement. [The state] has not offered any explanation for this disparity.” 

May has not yet ordered a remedy. She directed the plaintiffs (the Libertarian Party of Georgia) to submit a brief within three weeks on proposed remedies. The state will then have an opportunity to respond to this proposal before May issues further guidance. 

Under the 5-percent signature requirement, originally enacted in 1943, no minor-party candidate for the U.S. House has qualified for placement on the general election ballot. In 2020, minor-party or unaffiliated candidates would have needed between 19,777 and 26,539 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot (the number varies by congressional district). 

It is not clear whether the state will appeal the decision.

Additional Reading:



South Dakota governor signs bill barring public agencies from collecting or releasing nonprofit donor information


South Dakota governor signs bill barring public agencies from collecting or releasing nonprofit donor information   

On March 21, the South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) SB103 into law, barring public agencies from requiring individuals or groups to disclose identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors. 

South Dakota is the first – and to date only – state that has enacted donor disclosure legislation in 2021. It is one of seven states that have passed laws explicitly barring public entities from collecting or releasing information about a nonprofit’s donors (the others are Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia)

What the bill does

SB103 prohibits any public agency (including state and municipal government units and courts) from:

  • Requiring a tax-exempt nonprofit to provide a public agency with “personal affiliation information,” defined as “any list, record, register, registry, roll, roster, or other compilation of any kind that directly or indirectly identifies a natural person as a member, supporter, volunteer, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support to any nonprofit corporation.” 
  • Publicly disclosing any such information a public agency may already possess. 
  • Requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide a public agency with a list of the nonprofits “to which it has provided financial or nonfinancial support.” 

The legislation does not bar public agencies from furnishing personal information about a nonprofit’s donors, supporters, etc., for:

  • Campaign finance reporting requirements.
  • A lawful warrant for personal affiliation information.
  • A lawful request for discovery of personal affiliation information in litigation, if the requestor “demonstrates a compelling need” for the information and “obtains a protective order barring disclosure” of information to anyone not named in the litigation.
  • A sales or use tax audit of a nonprofit by the Department of Revenue.
  • An audit, examination, or investigation of a nonprofit corporation conducted under state law.

Other states considering similar legislation: Arkansas (SB535), Iowa (HF309, HSB28, and SSB1036), Nebraska (LB370), and Tennessee (HB0159 and SB1608). All four states are Republican trifectas. The map below shows these states in light green. States shaded in dark green have enacted laws to this effect.

Legislative history   

Sens. Casey Crabtree and James Bolin and Reps. Kirk Chaffee, Tim Goodwin, and Tim Reed – all Republicans – introduced SB103 on Jan. 26. The state Senate approved the bill on Feb. 17, sending it to the South Dakota House of Representatives. On March 3, the House approved an amended version of the bill 55-13, with 55 Republicans voting in favor and eight Democrats and five Republicans voting against it. The Senate unanimously agreed to the amendments on March 8. Noem signed SB103 into law on March 21.

Political context: South Dakota is a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. South Dakota has been a Republican trifecta since 1995.

Other relevant legislation in South Dakota

HB1079, signed into law on March 3, prohibits any executive branch entity (e.g., the governor, the secretary of state, etc.) from requiring “any annual filing or reporting of a nonprofit corporation or charitable trust that is more stringent, restrictive, or expansive than that required by state or federal law.” It does not apply to information required “to determine eligibility for or compliance with a state grant or contract.” The bill also exempts information required for, or obtained during, a state fraud investigation or enforcement action.

Support and opposition

Support

  • Mark Miller, an attorney for Noem, said the following in support of HB1079: “What is this bill about? It’s really about the American way of life. … It’s also meant to return us to the traditional role of anonymity in support for certain causes that one believes in.” 
  • Dale Bartscher, executive director of South Dakota Right to Life, wrote in an op-ed for the Rapid City Journal: “With the passage of this legislation the privacy of South Dakota citizens would be protected, and information about the causes we support – whether it’s a church, local food bank, or social issue organization such as South Dakota Right to Life.  This legislation would assure that our protected private information – would be kept away from the prying eyes of government officials, the media, and activists who want to target us for our beliefs.”

Opposition

  • Rep. Ryan Cwach (D), who voted against both SB103 and HB1079, said, “We expect accountability and we expect transparency from our government, and so the idea that we want to try and keep how people are influencing our government anonymous goes against the whole bedrock of our society.”
  • Michael Beckel, research director of Issue One, said, “State agencies seeking to investigate politically active dark money groups would have less information available about such groups if there is no reporting of these groups’ donors to the state. Without being able to see the money flowing into these groups, it could be harder for investigators to connect the dots or to see the networks of wealthy individuals and special interests pumping cash into these groups.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 36 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • Illinois HB3735: This bill would require a political committee to include a list of the committee’s top contributors (i.e., those who give $50,000 or more) on specified advertisements and communications.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Re-referred to the House Rules Committee on March 27.
  • Iowa HF309: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Sponsorship not specified.
    • Senate Judiciary Committee reported favorably on March 24.
  • Maine LD1284: This bill would repeal a law requiring communications financed by independent expenditures include a statement listing the top three funders of the entity making the independent expenditure. It would also specify that only party committees and political action committees, and not individuals, are required to file reports of independent expenditures aggregating in excess of $250 during any one candidate’s election.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced and referred to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee on March 25.
  • Tennessee SB1608: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing scheduled for March 30.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations. 



Teacher sues LA union over ‘defund the police’ stance

Teacher sues Los Angeles union over ‘defund the police’ stance

On March 16, a Los Angeles teacher filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against his former union over its support for removing school police officers.

Parties to the suit

The plaintiff is Los Angeles public school teacher Glenn Laird. Attorneys from the Freedom Foundation, which says its mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government,” represent the plaintiff. 

The defendants are United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the Los Angeles Unified School District, and the attorney general of California. 

What is at issue

According to Laird’s complaint, UTLA “joined a public campaign to ‘defund the police’ and remove officers from campus,” a stance he morally opposed. Laird’s attorneys said he had “witnessed students strangled, stabbed, and even shot to death,” and that “[i]n many cases, the ready presence of campus police officers was the difference between life and death.” After one incident in which a student was killed, Laird “fiercely supported keeping a continued police presence on campus to be able to deal with threats to student safety on a moment’s notice.”

A June 2020 statement from the UTLA Board of Directors said: 

As the Board of Directors of UTLA, an ethnically and racially diverse body, we believe that we do not need armed police roaming our halls, we need counselors who are provided with resources, nurses with sufficient medical supplies, and librarians with enough books. That is why we voted to call for the elimination of the LAUSD school police budget and redirect resources to student needs, with a particular focus on the needs of Black students.

Laird, who had been a member of the union since 1983, attempted to resign his membership and end his dues authorization starting in June 2020. UTLA refused to end his membership until December 2020, during the union’s opt-out period, and continued collecting dues through January 2021. In February 2018, UTLA modified its authorization agreement to implement an opt-out window during which members could revoke deduction authorization. However, Laird’s attorneys argue that because he struck out the relevant portion of his authorization agreement, which UTLA accepted in 2018, the opt-out period did not apply to him. 

Laird’s attorneys argue that the union violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and ask the court for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages.   

Reactions to the suit

Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe said, “We don’t believe the ‘escape window’ would be constitutional under any circumstances. … But it’s even more unenforceable if the worker clearly did not agree to be bound by it in the first place.”

UTLA officials have not commented publicly on the lawsuit.

What comes next? 

The case is currently assigned to Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha, a Donald Trump appointee. No hearings have been scheduled yet. The case name and number are Glenn Laird v. United Teachers Los Angeles et al., 2:21-cv-02313.   

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 84 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee reported favorably March 23.  
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House passed amended bill, transmitted back to the Senate and re-referred to Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee March 22.    
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require that unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee substitute bill read for the first time March 23. 
  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Commerce Committee hearing March 26. 
  • Maine LD52: This bill would allow educational policies related to preparation and planning time and transfer of teachers to be subjects of collective bargaining negotiations.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for March 29.  
  • Maine LD97: This bill would bar public-sector and private-sector employers from requiring employees to join or pay dues to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing March 24.  
  • Maryland SB138: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to employees of the Baltimore County Public Library.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Second reading passed with amendments March 24. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 19, referred to House Appropriations Committee March 20.  
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 18, House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for April 1.  
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing March 25. Executive session scheduled for March 30.   
  • Oklahoma SB634: This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Second reading in the House March 22, referred to Rules Committee.  
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session scheduled for April 5. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Education Committee work session scheduled for March 31.   
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Finance, Ways, and Means Subcommittee hearing March 24. 
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled for March 30.  



U.S. House passes donor disclosure requirements as part of larger election policy bill


U.S. House passes donor disclosure requirements as part of larger election policy bill    

On March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives approved HR1, legislation that would expand donor disclosure requirements for corporations, unions, and nonprofit groups making expenditures in federal elections. It is now pending in the U.S. Senate.

What the bill would do

Under Title IV, Section 4111, of HR1, any covered organization (such as a corporation, labor union, or 501(c) nonprofit) spending more than $10,000 on campaign-related expenses in a federal election cycle would be subject to regular reporting requirements. Each campaign finance report would have to include the following information:

  • The organization’s name and principal place of business. A corporation would provide a list of its owners, including names and addresses.
  • The amount of each campaign-related expenditure exceeding $1,000, including the name and address of the recipient.
  • A certification by the organization’s chief executive officer that campaign-related expenditures were “not made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, authorized committee, or agent of a candidate, political party, or agent of a political party.”
  • For all donors contributing $10,000 or more in an election cycle, the name and address of the donor, the date and amount of the contribution, and the aggregate amount given by the donor during the election cycle covered in the report.

Organizations do not have to disclose contributions from donors who specify that they do not want their contributions used for political purposes.. HR1 also suspends these reporting requirements “if the inclusion of the information would subject [the donor] to serious threats, harassment, or reprisals.” 

HR1 does not focus exclusively on donor disclosure regulations. It would also implement a number of changes to voter registration, absentee/mail-in voting, early voting, and redistricting policies. 

Arguments

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which supports HR1, these donor disclosure provisions are necessary “to curb dark money, counter foreign interference in U.S. elections, and make it harder to sidestep campaign contribution limits.”

The lack of donor disclosure deprives voters of critical information about who is trying to influence them and what those spenders want from the government. It is donor disclosure, as the Citizens United court itself pointed out, that allows voters to determine whether elected leaders “are in the pocket of so-called ‘moneyed interests.'”

The Heritage Foundation says that these provisions would “impose onerous legal and administrative compliance burdens and costs on candidates, citizens, civil groups, unions, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.”

Many of these provisions violate the First Amendment, protect incumbents, and reduce the accountability of politicians to the public; its onerous disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations would subject their members and donors to intimidation and harassment—the modern equivalent of the type of disclosure requirements the U.S. Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) held violated associational rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Legislative history, and what comes next   

HR1 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 4 and debated on March 2. The House approved HR1 by a vote of 220-210 on March 3, with all but one present Democrat (Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson) voting in favor and all present Republicans voting against it. The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate on March 11. 

Political context: The U.S. Senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Vice President Kamala Harris (D), as president of the Senate, casts the decisive vote in the event of a tie, giving Democrats an effective majority, but not a filibuster-proof one. 

The term filibuster describes any effort to block Senate action on a bill by speaking at length, introducing multiple procedural motions, or engaging in other obstructive tactics. Under the Senate’s principle of unlimited debate, a filibuster can, in theory, extend debate on an issue indefinitely. To prevent this, and to end a filibuster, Senate rules allow for the invocation of cloture, which closes debate on an issue and forces a vote. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to invoke cloture. 

Some Democrats have proposed eliminating or reforming the filibuster in order to pass HR1 and other legislation. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, “I support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction. If the Senate retains the filibuster, we must change the rules so that a senator who wants to bring our government to a standstill endures — at least — some discomfort in the process. We need new rules that actually promote debate.” However, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have both expressed resistance to this idea. Manchin said, “Everybody’s talking, there’s so many different ideas out there. They’re all talking. And that’s it, there’s nothing wrong with it, that’s healthy when you want to talk about everything. But the bottom line is, you can’t get rid of the shoulder. … You cannot get rid of the filibuster unless your intention is to destroy the Senate.”

It is unclear whether Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would support eliminating or reforming the filibuster in order to aid passage of HR1. Schumer said, “We Democrats … believe we need big, bold change. We hope our Republican colleagues will work with us to produce that change. We will try to get them to work with us. But if not, we will put our heads together and figure out how to go, and everything is on the table.”

On March 17, Schumer and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) and Amy Klobuchar (D) introduced S1, the companion bill to HR1, in the Senate. It has not yet been assigned to a committee, and no Senate hearings have yet been scheduled.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 35 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • Idaho H0245: This bill would prohibit foreign contributions, independent expenditures, and electioneering in Idaho election campaigns.
    • Sponsorship not specified.
    • The Senate State Affairs Committee reported the bill favorably on March 19.
  • Illinois HB3735: This bill would require a political committee to include a list of the committee’s top contributors (i.e., those who give $50,000 or more) on specified advertisements and communications.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The bill was assigned to the House Ethics and Elections Committee on March 16.
  • Iowa HF309: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Sponsorship not specified sponsorship.
    • A Senate subcommittee reported the bill favorably on March 16.
  • Montana SB162: This bill would redefine “electioneering communication” to exempt any “communication by a religious organization exempt from federal income tax when compliance with [state campaign finance laws] would burden the organization’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practice.”
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • The bill was tabled in the House State Administration Committee on March 18.
  • Rhode Island S0620: This bill would revise the definition of a “business entity” under the state’s campaign finance laws to include nonprofits.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended the bill be held for further study on March 18.
  • Tennessee HB0159: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • The House Civil Justice Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 24.
  • Tennessee SB1608: This bill would prohibit a public agency from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • The Senate State and Local Government Committee scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 23.
  • Wyoming SF0153: This bill would prohibit state and local governmental entities from requiring any person to provide nonprofit affiliation information or otherwise compel the release of nonprofit affiliation information.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • The bill died in committee on March 19.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations. 



Public employee strike bill enacted

West Virginia public employee strike bill enacted without governor’s signature

West Virginia Senate Bill 11, which makes public employee strikes illegal, was enacted on March 16 without Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) signature. It will go into effect on June 2. 

About the bill

Senate Bill 11 codified the 1990 West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling in Jefferson County Board of Education v. Jefferson County Education Association. That decision upheld a circuit court ruling that a Jefferson County public school teachers’ strike was illegal. The Supreme Court of Appeals concluded, “In short, we decline to alter the common law judicially. Public employees have no right to strike in the absence of express legislation or, at the very least, appropriate statutory provisions for collective bargaining, mediation, and arbitration. In view of our legislature’s silence on these complex issues, we decline to intervene.”  

In 2018, West Virginia teachers went on strike for nine days. A year later, teachers participated in a two-day strike.  

The newly-enacted law says, “Public employees in West Virginia have no right, statutory or otherwise, to engage in collective bargaining, mediation, or arbitration, and any work stoppage or strike by public employees is hereby declared to be unlawful.” The law says striking is grounds for termination and requires forfeiture of prorated pay to the county board of education. 

The Republican-sponsored bill first passed the Senate 20-12 on Feb. 22. An amended version passed the House 51-44 on March 2 with 23 Republicans voting against it. The Senate amended the House version and passed the bill a second time on March 3 by the same margin. The final version of the bill passed the House 53-42 on March 4, with two Republicans changing their votes to support the bill. 

The bill was sent to Gov. Justice on March 10. According to the state constitution, “Any bill which shall not be returned by the governor within five days, Sundays excepted, after it shall have been presented to him shall be a law, in the same manner as if he had signed it.” Without Justice’s signature or veto, the bill became law on March 16. 

Justice was first elected governor in 2016 as a Democrat. On August 3, 2017, he announced he was switching parties, giving Republicans trifecta control of the state. Republicans currently hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Perspectives 

Supporting 

  • Sen. Patricia Rucker (R), the bill’s lead sponsor, said, “This bill simply clarifies work stoppages are illegal. This bill simply clarifies that it was not the legislature’s intent to facilitate illegal work stoppages. … This actually frees up the county boards of education to know how to act in the future. This is not a retaliatory bill.” 
  • Sen. Eric Tarr (R) said, “I’ve had parent after parent after parent reach out to me, through this pandemic especially, to say they’re worried for their kids. … They have not been able to get instruction in a consistent manner for four years. … This actually requires a superintendent to take pause — and do you automatically cave to organizations that cheer our teachers on to fail our children?”

Opposing 

  • Sen. Mike Caputo (D) said, “This bill does nothing to move West Virginia forward. It does nothing to further that profession. It’s mean-spirited — and I think it’s in retaliation for people standing up for what they believe in.”
  • American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia President Fred Albert said, “Not only is SB 11 a perfect example of [an attack against public education], it’s a redundant one at that. Public employee strikes are already illegal in West Virginia and have been for decades. The public doesn’t want retaliatory bills; they want to see the passage of bills that will positively affect our schools and help our students succeed.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 84 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Arizona SB1268: This bill would establish annual disclosure requirements for public-sector unions. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for March 23.
  • Arkansas SB341: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining on the part of public-sector employees. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Public Health, Welfare, and Labor Committee reported favorably with amendment March 16. 
  • Florida S1014: This bill would require unions certified as bargaining agents for educational support employees include certain information in registration renewal applications. The bill would also require such unions whose full dues-paying membership is less than 50 percent to petition the state for recertification. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee reported favorably March 17.  
  • Illinois HB3891: This bill would establish that police union contracts no longer supersede state law. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee March 16.
  • Illinois HB3892: This bill would limit peace officer contract negotiations to the subject of wages only. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee March 16.
  • Maine LD449: Existing law requires public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting.  This applies only if the parties have not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill would eliminate that exception. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Labor and Housing Committee hearing March 17. 
  • Maine LD52: This bill would allow educational policies related to preparation and planning time and transfer of teachers to be subjects of collective bargaining negotiations. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Education and Cultural Affairs Committee hearing scheduled for March 29. 
  • Maryland HB1321: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to become, remain, or refrain from becoming members of a union as a condition of employment.
    • Republian sponsorship.  
    • House Economic Matters Committee reported unfavorably March 17. 
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee reported favorably with amendment March 18. 
  • Maryland SB556: This bill would establish a separate collective bargaining unit for teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed second reading.
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Finance Committee reported favorably March 17. 
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed second reading. 
  • New Hampshire SB61: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services executive session scheduled for March 30. 
  • Oregon HB3029: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for authorizations designating bargaining unit representatives. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Business and Labor Committee work session March 15. 
  • Tennessee HJR0072: A constitutional amendment that would bar any person, corporation, or governmental entity from denying employment due to an individual’s affiliation status with a union or other employee organization. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • House Commerce Committee reported favorably March 16. Referred to House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.  
  • Washington SB5133: This bill amends the definition of a “confidential employee” for the purposes of collective bargaining. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee executive session March 19. 
  • West Virginia HB3124: This bill would permit collective bargaining by public-sector employees. 
    • Bipartisan sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Government Organization Committee March 12. 
  • West Virginia SB11: This bill would prohibit public-sector employees from striking.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Enacted without governor’s signature March 16.