Author

Jerrick Adams

Jerrick Adams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at jerrick.adams@ballotpedia.org

Federal judge dismisses two class-action lawsuits seeking repayment of agency fees

On Nov. 27, Judge Renee Bumb, of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, dismissed two class-action lawsuits in which the plaintiffs sought repayment of agency fees paid to their unions before the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the high court held that unions cannot compel members or represented workers to pay union fees.

Who are the parties to the suit?

  • Smith v. New Jersey Education Association
    • Plaintiffs: Ann Smith, Leonardo Santiago, Michael C. Sandberg, Karl Hedenberg, Melissa H. Poulson, and Rachel Curcio, all current or former public school teachers in New Jersey.
    • Defendants: New Jersey Education Association, National Education Association, Clearview Education Association, Harrison Township Education Association, Clearview Regional High School District Board of Education, Gov. Phil Murphy (D), and the members of the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (Joel M. Weisblatt, Paul Boudreau, Paula B. Voos, John Bonanni, and David Jones).
  • Fischer v. Murphy
    • Plaintiffs: Susan Fischer and Jeanette Speck, both current or former public school teachers.
    • Defendants: Gov. Phill Murphy (D), New Jersey Education Association, and Township of Ocean Education Association.

What is at issue? Plaintiffs Smith and Hedenberg were compelled to pay union fees prior to Janus. They sought repayment of those fees, which they argued were collected unconstitutionally without their affirmative consent. The other plaintiffs contested a provision of the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act, a New Jersey law enacted in 2018. The plaintiffs argued that the law unconstitutionally restricts the time and circumstances under which employees can withdraw from their unions and revoke their dues deduction authorizations.

How did the court rule? Because the two cases dealt with similar issues, Bumb issued a joint ruling covering both. Regarding the claim for refunds of previously paid union fees, Bumb wrote, “While Plaintiffs’ arguments are well-taken, this Court finds that the Union Defendants would prevail based upon their good-faith belief that these agency fee deductions, which were sanctioned by the Supreme Court in Abood, complied with statutory and constitutional law.”

Regarding plaintiffs’ arguments against the Workplace Democracy Enhancement Act, Bumb wrote, “If Plaintiffs demonstrated that State Defendant or the Union Defendants were using the WDEA’s revocation language to override and narrow contractually agreed upon resignation rights, such enforcement would certainly have established injury. However, no such circumstances existed in these matters.”

What are the reactions?

  • Patrick Semmens, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation, which represented the plaintiffs in Fischer v. Murphy, said his organization expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • As of Dec. 6, none of the defendants have made public statements about the ruling.

Case information: Bumb was appointed to the bench in 2006 by President George W. Bush. The case names and numbers are Smith v. New Jersey Education Association (18-10381) and Fischer v. Murphy (18-15628).

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 106 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.

Union Station map December 6, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart December 6, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart December 6, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Virginia HB67: This bill would limit an existing prohibition against government employee strikes to law-enforcement officers.
    • Introduced Dec. 5.


North Carolina court allows remedial U.S. House map to stand for 2020, opens candidate filing period

On December 2, 2019, a three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court ruled unanimously that U.S. House elections in 2020 will take place under a remedial map adopted last month by state lawmakers. The court had earlier ruled that the original map constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The court also ordered that the candidate filing period open immediately, having previously delayed the filing period pending consideration of the remedial map and the objections to it.
 
How did this start? On September 27, 2019, opponents of North Carolina’s congressional district plan filed suit in state superior court, alleging that the district map enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle.
 
On October 28, 2019, the court granted this request, enjoining further application of the 2016 maps. In its order, the court wrote, “The loss to Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution will undoubtedly be irreparable if congressional elections are allowed to proceed under the 2016 congressional districts.”
 
The court did not issue a full decision on the merits, stating that “disruptions to the election process need not occur, nor may an expedited schedule for summary judgment or trial even be needed, should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and with all due haste to enact new congressional districts.” The same three-judge panel, comprising Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite, and Alma L. Hinton, struck down the state’s legislative district plan on similar grounds on September 3, 2019.
 
On November 14, 2019, the state House approved the remedial map (HB1029) by a vote of 55-46 .The vote split along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats voting against it. The state Senate approved the bill on November 15, 2019, by a vote of 24-17, also along party lines.
 
What were the reactions to the remedial map? Democrats opposed the remedial plan and announced their intention to challenge it in court. Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said, “The congressional map passed by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature simply replaces one partisan gerrymander with a new one. This new map fails to respond to the court’s order by continuing to split communities of interest, packing voters in urban areas, and manipulating the district lines to provide Republicans with an unfair partisan advantage.”
 
Meanwhile, Republican Representative Patrick McHenry dismissed these criticisms: “Eric Holder and (former President) Barack Obama have raised a lot of money for this outcome, and they’ve pursued a really aggressive legal strategy for their partisan outcomes, and right now they’re calling it partisan gerrymandering, but what they’re seeking is partisan gerrymandering for the left. We basically have a Wild West of redistricting. This will be the fourth map in six cycles, and I think that is so confusing for voters and has a major negative impact on voters.”
 
What comes next? In 2020, all 13 of North Carolina’s seats in the U.S. House will be up for election. Heading into 2020, Republicans hold 10 of those seats, and Democrats hold the remaining three. In the wake of the court’s Dec. 2 order confirming the implementation of the remedial map in 2020, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, said via Twitter, “Not going to officially make NC House ratings changes until we know the new map is final, but here’s what’s tenatively coming: NC-2: Likely R to Safe D; NC-6: Safe R to Safe D; NC-8: Safe R to Likely R; NC-13: Likely R to Safe R. Ratings changes suggest a two-seat D net gain.”
 


New York City councillor to introduce legislation expanding donor disclosure requirements

Earlier this month, New York City Councillor Brad Lander, who represents District 39, announced his intention to introduce legislation that would expand donor disclosure requirements for entities making independent expenditures in municipal elections.

What are the existing requirements? Currently, entities making independent expenditures on behalf of candidates or ballot questions are required to file disclosure statements with the New York City Campaign Finance Board. However, expenditures made on behalf of candidates are not the same as those made on behalf of ballot questions. Entities making independent expenditures totaling $5,000 or more on behalf of a single candidate are required to disclose identifying information about their donors (complete details about specific disclosure requirements can be accessed here). The same is not true for entities making independent expenditures on behalf of ballot questions. Communication materials (e.g., print advertisements, television advertisements, etc.) that refer to candidates must identify the top three donors to the entity that produced the material. The same requirement does not apply to communication materials that reference ballot questions.

What is the proposal? In a statement given to Gotham Gazette, Lander said, “In 2014, we created a great law to provide disclosure for independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, and there is already evidence that it is working. This year, the first significant expenditure on behalf of a ballot measure revealed to us the need to expand our disclosure rules, already among the strongest in the nation for candidates, to cover spending for ballot measures as well. I am working on introducing legislation to do just that, to ensure that the same level of transparency applies across the ballot.”

The “first significant expenditure” Lander alludes to in the above statement is spending on behalf of Question 1, a charter amendment establishing ranked-choice voting for select municipal elections. The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting NYC, which supported the amendment, spent a total of $986,017 on digital, television, and direct mail advertising between mid-September and Election Day. According to the New York Daily News, the committee received a total of $1,996,948 in contributions.

What comes next? As of Nov. 22, Lander had not formally introduced legislation. Should Lander introduce this legislation and win city council approval, the measure would then go to Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who would have 30 days to act on it. The city council can override a mayoral veto by a two-thirds vote.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 74 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.

Disclosure Digest map November 25, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart November 25, 2019.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart November 25, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills in the past two weeks. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. Know of any legislation we’re missing? Please email us so we can include it on our tracking list.

  • Michigan HB5240: This bill would rescind an existing requirement that campaigns report the occupations, employers, and principal places of business of contributors who give more than $100.
    • Introduced in the House and referred to the Committee on Elections and Ethics Nov. 13.
  • Pennsylvania SB11: This bill would define an independent expenditure as an expenditure “expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for nomination or election or promoting the success or defeat of a clearly identified ballot question.” It would require anyone making independent expenditures in excess of $100 per calendar year to abide by the same campaign finance reporting requirements as candidates and political committees. It would also require that communications by independent expenditure entities bear the names of the entities’ top five contributors.
    • Introduced in the Senate and referred to the Committee on State Government Nov. 20.


California Supreme Court finds bill requiring presidential candidates to disclose income tax returns unconstitutional

On November 21, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that SB 27, which requires presidential candidates to file copies of their income tax returns with the California secretary of state in order to qualify for placement on the primary ballot, violates Article II, Section 5(c) of the state constitution.
 
Article II, Section 5(c) stipulates that “the Legislature shall provide for partisan elections for presidential candidates, and political party and party central committees, including an open presidential primary whereby the candidates on the ballot are those found by the Secretary of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States, and those whose names are placed on the ballot by petition, but excluding any candidate who has withdrawn by filing an affidavit of noncandidacy.”
 
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, joined by Associate Justices Goodwin Liu, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Carol Corrigan, Leondra Kruger, Ming Chin, and Joshua Groban, wrote the following in the court’s opinion: “The Legislature may well be correct that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns could provide California voters with important information. But Article II, Section 5(c) embeds in the state Constitution the principle that, ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.”
 
Enforcement of SB 27, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) on July 30, 2019, had already been enjoined by Judge Morrison England of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. In his opinion, dated October 1, 2019, England wrote, “[The] Court finds that Plaintiffs are likely to prevail on the merits of their arguments that the Act 1) violates the Presidential Qualifications Clause contained in Article II of the United States Constitution; 2) deprives Plaintiffs of their rights to associate and/or to access the ballot, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution; 3) further violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause as set forth in the Fourteenth Amendment; and 5) is preempted by the provisions of [the Ethics in Government Act of 1978] in any event.”
 
On October 8, 2019, Padilla appealed this latter ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has yet to weigh in on the matter.
 
 


Federal judge hears challenge to payroll deductions for public-sector union dues

On Nov. 19, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, heard oral arguments in Mendez v. California Teachers Association, a case involving payroll deductions for public-sector union dues.

What is at issue? The plaintiffs allege that their First Amendment rights were violated when their unions continued to deduct dues from their wages over their stated objections. The plaintiffs argue that this practice violates Janus v. AFSCME, a 2018 case in which the Supreme Court held that public-sector workers cannot be compelled to provide financial support to unions. The plaintiffs argue that unions must obtain informed consent before deducting dues from wages and refund any illegally obtained dues.

Who are the parties to the suit? The lead plaintiff is Bethany Mendez, a special education instructor. Six additional plaintiffs, all public-school teachers, later joined the suit. The plaintiffs are represented by San Francisco attorney Harmeet K. Dhillon and the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit whose self-described mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.” The defendants are the California Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the state of California, and the individual school districts for which each of the plaintiffs works.

  • The California Teachers Association (CTA) is an affiliate of the National Education Association. With its approximately 310,000 members, CTA is among the state’s largest public-sector unions.

What are the reactions?

  • Karin Sweigart, litigation counsel for the Freedom Foundation, said, “Janus protects the rights of public employees to decline union dues deduction. But it also makes clear that anytime someone signs up for dues deduction, they are waiving their First Amendment rights – and Constitutional rights cannot be waived knowingly.”
  • When the lawsuit was filed in March, Claudia Briggs, a representative for the California Teachers Association, said, “This is just another lawsuit from the Freedom Foundation to continue the attack on public education and public employees.”

What comes next? Rogers, who was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D), has not indicated when she expects to reach a verdict. The case name and number are Mendez v. California Teachers Association, 3:19-cv-01290.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 106 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.

Union Station map November 22, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart November 22, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart November 22, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

No legislative actions have occurred since our last issue.



North Carolina court delays U.S. House candidate filing period

On November 20, 2019, a three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court issued an order delaying the congressional candidate filing period for the 2020 election cycle pending finalization of the state’s congressional district plan. The filing period had been set to open on December 2, 2019, and close on December 20, 2019.
 
On September 27, 2019, opponents of North Carolina’s congressional district plan filed suit in state superior court alleging that the district plan enacted by the state legislature in 2016 constituted a partisan gerrymander in violation of state law. The plaintiffs asked that the court bar the state from using the maps in the 2020 election cycle. On October 28, 2019, the court granted this request, enjoining further application of the 2016 maps. In its order, the court wrote, “The loss to Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution will undoubtedly be irreparable if congressional elections are allowed to proceed under the 2016 congressional districts.”
 
The court did not issue a full decision on the merits, stating that “disruptions to the election process need not occur, nor may an expedited schedule for summary judgment or trial even be needed, should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and with all due haste to enact new congressional districts.” The same three-judge panel, comprising Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite, and Alma L. Hinton, struck down the state’s legislative district plan on similar grounds on September 3, 2019.
 
On November 14, 2019, the state House approved a remedial district plan (HB1029) by a vote of 55-46 .The vote split along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the bill and all Democrats voting against it. The state Senate approved the bill on November 15, 2019, by a vote of 24-17, also along party lines. In its November 20 order, the court scheduled a hearing for December 2, 2019, to consider both the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ motions for summary judgment in the case.
 


Illinois legislature passes public-sector union bill

On Nov. 13, the Illinois Senate voted 45-9 to approve SB1784, a bill that would make a series of changes to the state’s existing public-sector labor relations laws. The House approved the bill 93-23 on Oct. 29. The bill now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who has not indicated whether he plans to sign it.
 
What does the bill propose?
The bill would make the following changes to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act:
 
  1. Require public employers to furnish unions with a complete list of the names and addresses of the public-sector workers in their bargaining units.
  2. Prohibit employers from discouraging employees from participating in unions.
  3. Permit union representatives to meet with new employees during working hours.
  4. Permit unions to limit the time periods during which members can resign or rescind their dues deductions.
  5. Declare that public employers and public-sector unions cannot be held liable for claims involving the payment of dues or agency fees before June 27, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
 
In Janus, the Supreme Court held that compelling workers to pay dues or fees to a union violates workers’ First Amendment rights.
 
As originally introduced on Feb. 16, SB1784 did not have any bearing on public-sector unions. Instead, it dealt with state government ethics.
 
What are the reactions?
Rep. Jay Hoffmann (D), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “This is an attempt to restore employee rights and lay out what public employers in Illinois can and cannot do with regard to union representation and an employee joining a union. This does not overturn the Janus decision, this is post-Janus.”
 
Joe Tabor, a policy analyst for Illinois Policy, said, “Public employees are ill-served by SB1784, which would restrict the exercise of their constitutional rights to distance themselves from unions and their politics. It would empower unions to indoctrinate new employees and call workers’ cell phones. It tries to legislate after the fact by stopping litigation to recover workers’ money that should never have been taken from them, which is sure to draw court challenges.”


Illinois legislature approves changes to state public-sector labor relations law

On Nov. 13, the Illinois Senate voted 45-9 to approve SB1784, a bill that would make a series of changes to the state’s existing public-sector labor relations laws. The House approved the bill 93-23 on Oct. 29. The bill now goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who has not indicated whether he plans to sign it.

  • What does the bill propose? As originally introduced on Feb. 16, SB1784 did not have any bearing on public-sector unions. Instead, it dealt with state government ethics. The House amended the bill to make the following changes to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act:
    • Require public employers to furnish unions with a complete list of the names and addresses of the public-sector workers in their bargaining units.
    • Prohibit employers from discouraging employees from participating in unions.
    • Permits union representatives to meet with new employees during working hours.
    • Permits unions to limit the time periods during which members can resign or rescind their dues deductions.
    • Declares that public employers and public-sector unions cannot be held liable for claims involving the payment of dues or agency fees before June 27, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
      • In Janus, the high court held that compelling workers to pay dues or fees to a union violates workers’ First Amendment rights.
  • What are the reactions?
    • Rep. Jay Hoffmann (D), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “This is an attempt to restore employee rights and lay out what public employers in Illinois can and cannot do with regard to union representation and an employee joining a union. This does not overturn the Janus decision, this is post-Janus.”
    • Joe Tabor, a policy analyst for Illinois Policy, said, “Public employees are ill-served by SB1784, which would restrict the exercise of their constitutional rights to distance themselves from unions and their politics. It would empower unions to indoctrinate new employees and call workers’ cell phones. It tries to legislate after the fact by stopping litigation to recover workers’ money that should never have been taken from them, which is sure to draw court challenges.”
  • Also in Illinois …
    • On Nov. 12, Judge Sharon Coleman, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, upheld a state law requiring that a union represent all the employees within its bargaining unit, including those who are not dues-paying members. Plaintiffs James Sweeney and the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, had alleged that this requirement violated their First Amendment rights. Coleman rejected this argument, citing a recent ruling in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that “unions designated as exclusive representatives were (and still are) obligated to represent all employees, union members or not, ‘fairly, equitably, and in good faith.'” Coleman was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D).

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 106 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.

Union Station map November 15, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart November 15, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart November 15, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Illinois SB1784: This bill would require that public-sector union representatives be granted an opportunity to meet with new hires. It would require employers to furnish unions with worker information, including addresses, contact numbers, and email addresses. It would also permit unions to limit the period during which members can resign and rescind dues deduction authorizations.
    • Senate approved Nov. 13.


Ballot Bulletin: NYC adopts RCV

New York City adopts ranked-choice voting for municipal primaries, special elections

On Nov. 5, voters in New York City approved a city charter amendment establishing ranked-choice voting (RCV) for municipal primary and special elections beginning in 2021. The amendment, which passed with 74 percent of the vote, makes New York the largest city in the nation to use RCV for local elections. 

Voters in Easthampton, Massachusetts, also approved ballot measures providing for RCV in elections for mayor and city council. Easthampton expects to implement RCV beginning in 2021. 

How many jurisdictions have adopted RCV?

On the map below, states shaded in blue and gold contain jurisdictions that have adopted RCV as part of their election processes. States shaded in gold have implemented RCV. States shaded in blue have adopted, but have not yet implemented, RCV. Nineteen jurisdictions (18 municipalities and one state) have implemented RCV. Another four cities have adopted, but have not yet implemented, RCV.

Ranked-choice voting map

What lies ahead for RCV in 2020?

Maine is expected to use RCV in the 2020 presidential election, making it the first jurisdiction to do so. On Sept. 6, Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) announced in January she would allow legislation requiring the use of RCV in presidential elections to become law without her signature. The law will not take effect in time for the March 3 primaries, but it will be in effect for the 2020 general election. 

According to FairVote, a group that advocates for the expanded use of RCV, the following presidential preference primaries and nominating caucuses will incorporate RCV in 2020: 

  • Nevada: Early voters in Democratic caucuses in February 2020  
  • Hawaii: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Alaska: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020  
  • Kansas: All voters in Democratic primary in May 2020
  • Wyoming: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020

Pennsylvania governor signs omnibus election bill into law

On Oct. 31, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed SB421, an omnibus election bill, into law. The law makes the following changes to the state’s electoral system: 

  • All voters will be eligible to cast absentee ballots, effective with the April 28, 2020, primary election.
  • Voter registration will remain open until the 15th day preceding an election. The deadline previously fell on the 30th day preceding an election. 
  • Straight-ticket voting, wherein a voter can select one party’s entire slate of candidates for every office by making a single mark on the ballot, will be eliminated. 

Wolf said, “These changes will make it easier for people to vote, participate in our democracy, actually to take care of the most fundamental responsibility of citizenship: voting.” 

The state House passed the bill 138-61 on Oct. 29, with 105 Republicans and 33 Democrats voting in favor.  The Senate followed suit the same day, approving the bill 35-14, with 27 Republicans and eight Democrats voting in favor. State Rep. Malcom Kenyatta (D), who voted against the bill, took issue with the provision eliminating straight-ticket voting: “We’re making this process more difficult. We’re ignoring the cultural concerns of people who have voted in that way for years and years and years. And we’re doing it all at a time when we are changing the entire voting system, which is going to lead to lines lead to delays – and, actually, maybe lead to people not exercising their right to vote.” 

Redistricting in North Carolina: litigation update

On Oct. 28, 2019, a three-judge panel of North Carolina’s state superior court approved new legislative district maps. The state legislature adopted the remedial maps after the panel struck down the existing district plan as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander under the state constitution. The panel was composed of Judges Paul C. Ridgeway, Joseph N. Crosswhite, and Alma L. Hinton.

The same three-judge panel also temporarily blocked the use of the state’s congressional district maps in the 2020 elections. The move came after the maps’ opponents filed a lawsuit alleging that it, too, was unconstitutional partisan gerrymander under state law. The panel did not issue a full decision on the merits, noting that “disruptions to the election process need not occur, nor may an expedited schedule for summary judgment or trial even be needed, should the General Assembly, on its own initiative, act immediately and with all due haste to enact new congressional districts.”

Democrats praised the court’s order. Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said, “For nearly a decade, Republicans have forced the people of North Carolina to vote in districts that were manipulated for their own partisan advantage. Now – finally – the era of Republican gerrymandering in the state is coming to an end.” State Republicans criticized the court’s order, although it is not yet clear whether they will appeal. State Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger (R) said, “With judges deciding behind closed doors how many Members of Congress from each party is acceptable, judicial elections have become the most consequential in America.” 

On Nov. 1, 2019, the plaintiffs petitioned the North Carolina Supreme Court to review eight remedial state House districts in the Forsyth-Yadkin and Columbus-Pender-Robeson county groupings, alleging these districts were still unconstitutional. On Nov. 4, 2019, state lawmakers announced the formation of an interim committee to consider how to proceed on the question of the congressional district plan. The committee held a public hearing on Nov. 5, 2019.

Political context

In 2020, North Carolina will hold elections for its 13 U.S. representatives and all 170 members of the state legislature. Ballotpedia has identified the North Carolina state House and Senate as battleground chambers in 2020. Republicans currently control both chambers. Democrats would need to gain four Senate seats and six House seats in order to win majorities in the two chambers. The primary election is slated for March 3, 2020, and the filing deadline for major party candidates is currently set for Dec. 20, 2019.

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

The maps below show which states are considering redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems legislation. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills. 

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Nov. 12, 2019

Redistricting legislation in the United States, 2019
 

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Nov. 12, 2019

Electoral systems legislation in the United States, 2019

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2019 

Current as of Nov. 12, 2019

Primary systems legislation in the United States, 2019



Illinois House approves changes to state public-sector labor relations law

On Oct. 29, the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB1784, legislation proposing a series of changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.

What does the bill propose?
As originally introduced on Feb. 16, SB1784 did not have any bearing on public-sector unions. Instead, it dealt with state government ethics. The House amended the bill to make the following changes to the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act:

  • Require public employers to furnish unions with a complete list of the names and addresses of the public-sector workers in their bargaining units.
  • Prohibit employers from discouraging employees from participating in unions.
  • Permits union representatives to meet with new employees during working hours.
  • Permits unions to limit the time periods during which members can resign or rescind their dues deductions.
  • Declares that public employers and public-sector unions cannot be held liable for claims involving the payment of dues or agency fees before June 27, 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus v. AFSCME.
    • In Janus, the high court held that compelling workers to pay dues or fees to a union violates workers’ First Amendment rights.

What are the reactions?

  • Rep. Jay Hoffmann (D), who voted in favor of the bill, said, “This is an attempt to restore employee rights and lay out what public employers in Illinois can and cannot do with regard to union representation and an employee joining a union. This does not overturn the Janus decision, this is post-Janus.”
  • Joe Tabor, a policy analyst for Illinois Policy, said, “Public employees are ill-served by SB1784, which would restrict the exercise of their constitutional rights to distance themselves from unions and their politics. It would empower unions to indoctrinate new employees and call workers’ cell phones. It tries to legislate after the fact by stopping litigation to recover workers’ money that should never have been taken from them, which is sure to draw court challenges.”

What comes next?
The House voted 93-23 to approve SB1784, with 73 Democrats and 20 Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Because the House amended the bill as passed by the Senate, it must now return to the Senate for a concurrence vote. If the Senate approves the amended legislation, it will then go to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). In the House, Democrats hold 74 of 118 seats. In the Senate, they hold 40 of 59 seats.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 105 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.

Union Station map November 1, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart November 1, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart November 1, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • Illinois SB1784: This bill would require that public-sector union representatives be granted an opportunity to meet with new hires. It would require employers to furnish unions with worker information, including addresses, contact numbers, and email addresses. It would also permit unions to limit the period during which members can resign and rescind dues deduction authorizations.
    • House amended and passed Oct. 29. Sent to Senate for concurrence.
  • New Hampshire SB19: This bill would prohibit disclosure of information regarding a public employee’s home address, email address, or phone number. An exemption would be made for unions.
    • Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services work session schedule Oct. 30.


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