Author

Joel Williams

Joel Williams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Learn more about the arguments in the debate over lockdown/stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing). Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of lockdown/stay-at-home orders:

  1. The orders are necessary,
  2. The orders are better for the economy long-term,
  3. The orders are legal, and
  4. The orders are limited.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against lockdown/stay-at-home orders:

  1. The orders are unnecessary,
  2. The orders are worse than the coronavirus pandemic itself,
  3. The orders are illegal, and
  4. The orders go too far.

To read more about these issues, click the links below.

Additional reading:



Learn more about the arguments in the debate over expanding absentee/mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing). Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of expanding absentee/mail-in voting due to the pandemic:

  1. Absentee/mail-in voting reduces the spread of COVID-19 and is necessary to facilitate access to voting,
  2. Absentee/mail-in voting is unlikely to increase fraud, and
  3. Absentee/mail-in voting is fair to both major parties.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against expanding absentee/mail-in voting due to the pandemic:

  1. Absentee/mail-in voting is less reliable than in-person voting,
  2. Absentee/mail-in voting poses a higher risk for fraud,
  3. Absentee/mail-in voting opens the door to flawed election policies, and
  4. Absentee/mail-in voting can create election controversies.

Additional reading:



Learn more about the arguments in the debate over travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing). Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those in favor of travel restrictions:

  • Travel restrictions prevent the spread of the virus,
  • Travel restrictions promote a state’s safety image,
  • Travel restrictions are constitutional, and
  • Travel restrictions protect tourism workers.

We’ve identified the following arguments as some of those against travel restrictions:

  • Travel restrictions are unfair to tourism businesses,
  • Travel restrictions are difficult to enforce,
  • Travel restrictions are ineffective, and
  • Travel restrictions damage local economies.

To read more about these issues, click the links below.

https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_about_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_in_favor_of_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Arguments_against_travel_restrictions_during_the_coronavirus_(COVID-19)_pandemic,_2020



Presidents lose an average of 81 same-party members of the U.S. House during their first term

On average, presidents from Lyndon Johnson (D) through Donald Trump (R) took office with 241 members of the same political party serving in the U.S. House. An average of 81 same-party members did not run for re-election at the time of the next presidential election, creating an average U.S. House member attrition rate of 33.4 percent.

This House attrition rate is calculated by examining whether a member of the House from a president’s political party in office when the president was sworn-in runs for the same seat in the following presidential election year.

Among presidents since Johnson, President Trump had the highest rate of House attrition at 46.9 percent. President George W. Bush (R) had the lowest rate of House attrition at 23.4 percent.

To read more and see full attrition lists by president, click the “Learn More” button below.



Learn more about the arguments in the debate over school closures during the coronavirus pandemic

Discussions about policy responses to the coronavirus are happening at a fast pace. As part of our ongoing coverage Documenting America’s Path to Recovery, Ballotpedia has published a series of articles capturing the regular themes in support of and opposition to these policy responses.

Here’s how it works. First, we identify a topic area, (such as mask requirements or testing. Next, we gather and curate articles and commentary from public officials, think tanks, journalists, scientists, economists, and others. Finally, we organize that commentary into broad, thematic summaries of the arguments put forth.

We’ve identified the following arguments in favor of school closures:
  1. School closures are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
  2. Evidence from past pandemics supports the efficacy of school closures.
  3. Reopening Universities will increase COVID-19 spread
  4. Reopening schools puts people of color at higher risk.
  5. We should keep schools closed because COVID-19 outbreaks are inevitable.
We’ve identified the following arguments in opposition to school closures:
  1. School closures are ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus.
  2. School closures pose significant unintended consequences.
  3. School closures and reopening plans have disparate economic effects.
  4. School closures and distance learning exacerbate digital divide
  5. We need to reopen schools to protect the economy.
  6. School-aged children have reduced COVID-19 risk.
Additional reading


Coronavirus weekly update: August 28 – September 3, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
The Coronavirus Weekly Update summarizes major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on Aug. 27:

  • Election changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Travel restrictions
  • Ballot measure changes
  • 1918 story
  • Federal responses
  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts

For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
    • No states have postponed elections since Aug. 27.
  • Nineteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
    • No states have made candidate filing modifications since Aug. 27.
  • Forty states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
    • Six states have made voting procedure modifications since Aug. 27.
  • Political parties in 19 states have made modifications to party events on a statewide basis.
    • No state parties have made modifications to party events since Aug. 27.

Details:

  • Georgia: On Aug. 31, Judge Eleanor L. Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued an order extending the return deadlines for absentee ballots in the general election. Ross ordered officials to accept as valid any absentee ballots postmarked Nov. 3 and received by 7:00 p.m., Nov. 6.
  • Maine: On Aug. 27, Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed an executive order extending the mail-in voter registration deadline from Oct. 13 to Oct. 19.
  • New Jersey: On Aug. 28, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed three bills into law, making a number of modifications to the state’s absentee/mail-in voting procedures for the general election (including the extension of the receipt deadline for ballots postmarked on or before Election Day to Nov. 9).
  • New York: On Sept. 2, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the launch of an online absentee ballot request portal for the general election.
  • Oklahoma: On Aug. 28, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued an executive order extending Oklahoma’s state of emergency by 30 days. This triggered the implementation of several modifications to Oklahoma’s absentee ballot procedures (including suspension of the notarization requirement, provided the voter submits a copy of his or her identification).
  • Utah: On Aug. 31, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed into law legislation making several changes to administration procedures for the general election (including the requirement that counties provide some form of in-person Election Day and early voting).

School closures and reopenings

Read more: School reopenings in the 2020-2021 academic year after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Overview:

In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not end in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.

The current status of school reopenings is as follows:

  • Four states (N.M., R.I., Vt., W.V.) have a state-ordered school closure
  • Two states (Calif., Hawaii) have a state-ordered regional school closure
  • Three states (Del., N.C., Va.) are open for hybrid or remote instruction only
  • Five states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Mo., Texas) have state-ordered in-person instruction
  • Thirty-six states have reopenings that vary by school or district

Details:

  • Connecticut – On Aug. 31, schools were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction. Schools in the state were initially closed on March 16.
  • Florida – On Aug. 28, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals put a hold on Leon County Judge Charles Dodson’s ruling that Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s order requiring schools to open for in-person instruction was unconstitutional.
  • Maryland – On Aug. 27, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that all 24 school districts met the state’s benchmarks for opening to at least some in-person instruction. All school districts have previously announced a return to school with full online learning, while 16 have announced plans to resume at least some in-person instruction starting in mid-September. On Sept. 1, the state Board of Education approved new minimum requirements for instruction. Schools must be open at least 180 days and offer at least six hours of instruction, of which 3.5 hours must be synchronous instruction (all students taught at the same time) for grades K-12.
  • Rhode Island – On Aug. 31, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced every public school district in the state except Providence and Central Falls will be permitted to resume in-person instruction when schools reopen for the 2020-2021 academic year. Raimondo said in-person classes are still scheduled to start Sept. 14. Raimondo also signed an executive order extending Phase III of the state’s reopening plan.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 879 lawsuits, across all 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 318 of those lawsuits.
    • Since Aug. 27, we have added 60 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional nine court orders and/or settlements.
  • Ballotpedia has separately tracked another 227 lawsuits, in 46 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 141 of those lawsuits.

Here are three lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • 300 West Sahara, LLC v. Nevada: On Aug. 24, a Las Vegas hotel, after being fined for hosting an “Evangelicals for Trump” event, filed suit in the Clark County District Court seeking an order invalidating Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. In its complaint, the Ahern Hotel argues that Sisolak’s Directive 21, which allows restaurants and casinos to operate at 50% capacity while limiting other gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, “is unreasonable because there is no rational basis for treating” businesses that host events differently than “similarly situated non-essential business.” The hotel says the disparity is an “unlawful, arbitrary, capricious” and “clearly erroneous” violation of its rights to equal protection and due process. The hotel is seeking a court order allowing convention centers, hotels, and restaurants to host events if they meet other health and safety standards under Phase II of Nevada’s Reopening Response Plan. The city and state have not commented on the suit.
  • New York Independent Venue Association v. Bradley: On Aug. 25, a group of businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging restrictions that prevent venues from hosting ticketed live music events and other events with cover charges. Venues are also barred from advertising live entertainment. The plaintiffs argue that the New York Liquor Authority rule “is not just unworkable, it is unconstitutional.” The plaintiffs allege the rule violates the constitutional guarantees of free speech, procedural and substantive due process, and state agency rulemaking procedures. Justin Kantor, the New York Independent Venue Association co-chair, said, “These venues are doing everything possible to safely reopen and offer work to both artists and employees, even if it is at a financial loss, only to have New York state impose knee-jerk regulations that have now added unnecessary and unlawful restraints to our already devastated industry.” The New York Liquor Authority has not commented publicly on the suit, which has been assigned to Judge Gregory H. Woods, an appointee of President Barack Obama (D).
  • Neville v. Polis: On Aug. 28, the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge against more than three dozen executive orders issued by Gov. Jared Polis (D), including a statewide mask mandate. The denial came two days after Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R) and activist Michelle Malkin filed the case. Neville and Malkin alleged the Colorado Disaster Emergency Act, which gives the governor expanded powers during an emergency, is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers doctrine. “[The] chief executive by executive order is purportedly making new laws and implementing new public policies which wholly usurp the power of the legislative department to make the laws, a power which has been delegated by the People through their Colorado Constitution exclusively to the legislative department.” Plaintiffs said that Polis’ actions, and those of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the El Paso and Denver health departments resulted in “unjust injury to [their] fundamental civil rights, liberty interests, and property rights.” Polis said, “We are free to be on the side of a deadly virus that has taken the lives of too many friends, parents, and loved ones, or on the side of Coloradans. I’m on the side of Coloradans.” The plaintiffs said they intended to re-file in the trial court for Denver County.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 25 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 14 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since Aug. 27, four states have modified their travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Massachusetts –  On Aug. 2, the state added Colorado, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to its list of lower-risk states, exempting travelers and returning residents from those areas from having to quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Massachusetts.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – On Sept. 1, Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Alaska and Montana had been placed back on the joint travel advisory list, after having been removed Aug. 25. The travel advisory requires travelers entering the tristate area to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 19 lawsuits were filed in 13 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 18 cases, with appeals and motions for stays pending in some.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 27 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
  • At least four initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On Nov. 5, the Charleston News and Courier reported on the reopening of movie theaters.

In view of the announcement that the Spanish influenza quarantine be lifted at midnight Wednesday, the Pastime Amusement Company announced yesterday that its moving picture theaters would open at the regular hours on Thursday. The remodelled Victory Theater on Society Street, which is to be Charleston’s vaudeville house this winter, will not open until Monday, since it will be impossible to arrange for bookings before that time.

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Aug. 27, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sent a letter to governors asking states to expedite licensing and permitting so that COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites can be operational by Nov. 1.
  • On Aug. 28, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had authorized the drug Remdesivir to be used on all patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Previously, the FDA had permitted the use of Remdesivir on patients with severe cases of COVID-19.
  • On Sept. 1, White House spokesman Judd Deere announced the U.S. would not join an international initiative called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) Facility, whose goal is to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, and the Epidemic Preparedness Innovations are spearheading Covax. Deere said, “The United States will continue to engage our international partners to ensure we defeat this virus, but we will not be constrained by multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”
  • On Sept. 1, the White House announced that the CDC would issue a moratorium on residential evictions through Dec. 31. The moratorium does relieve tenants of the responsibility of paying rent, and landlords can still evict tenants for reasons other than the nonpayment of rent.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of Sept. 3, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state supreme court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Seven states never issued stay-at-home orders.

California and New Mexico, both of which have a Democratic governor, are the only remaining states with an active stay-at-home order.

Details:

  • New Mexico – Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunklel extended the state’s stay-at-home public health order through Sept. 18.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • Since Aug. 27, one state ended a moratorium on evictions, two states extended moratoriums on evictions, and one state instituted a moratorium.
  • Twenty-three states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • Pennsylvania – On Aug. 31, the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expired.
  • Florida – On Aug. 31, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Oct. 1. To avoid eviction, the order requires tenants to file a motion in court showing a coronavirus hardship caused them to miss payments. Landlords are permitted to seek an eviction judgment in court, but final judgments are postponed until the end of the moratorium.
  • California – On Aug. 31, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that prevents evictions for nonpayment of rent through Jan. 31, 2021. Landlords can evict tenants for reasons other than nonpayment. Landlords can also begin eviction proceedings against tenants for nonpayment of rent if the tenant cannot pay 25% of the amount owed and does not provide a declaration that COVID-19 is the cause of the financial hardship. Landlords can begin collecting unpaid rent beginning Jan. 31, 2021.
  • Oregon – On Aug. 31, Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued an order extending the statewide foreclosure moratorium through December. A statewide moratorium on evictions was scheduled to expire at the end of September.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Thirteen members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-three federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Seventy-nine state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-seven state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 22 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 27 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Aug. 27, one state representative has tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Florida state Rep. Chris Latvala (R), who represents District 67, announced on Aug. 30 he tested positive for COVID-19.

State legislation

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 3,065 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • We have tracked 54 additional bills since Aug. 27.
  • Of these, 405 significant bills have been enacted into law, about 13 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
    • We have tracked 10 additional significant bills since Aug. 27 (also omitting ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business).

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. All four of those have since reconvened.
  • Thirty-nine legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • One legislature has adjourned since Aug. 27.
  • Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  • Two state legislatures are in special session.

Details:

  • California – The California legislature adjourned on Aug. 31.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide
    • Since Aug. 27, one court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • California – The Superior Court of San Diego announced that jury summons had been mailed out to prospective jurors for the first time since the court closed in March. The summons asks recipients to be at the San Diego courthouse on Oct. 9.
  • Maryland – Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera announced that the Maryland Judiciary would move into Phase IV of the reopening plan on Aug. 31. Phase IV allows most in-person proceedings to resume, with the exception of jury trials, which remain prohibited.

Learn more

Click here to learn more.



Diana Harshbarger wins 16-candidate TN-01 Republican primary

Diana Harshbarger defeated 15 other candidates in Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District’s Republican Party primary on August 6, 2020. Incumbent Rep. Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, is not running for re-election.

Harshbarger received 19.2% of the vote, followed by Timothy Hill with 16.8%, Rusty Crowe with 16.1%, Josh Gapp with 14.2%, and Steve Darden with 12.4%.

 

Harshbarger will face Blair Walsingham (D) and Steve Holder (I) in the general election. Three race-tracking outlets rate the general election as Safe/Solid Republican. In the 2016 presidential election in the district, Donald Trump (R) received 77% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 20%.

 

Elections to the U.S. House will be held on November 3 and coincide with the 2020 presidential election. All 435 House districts will be up for election, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of July 2020, Democrats had a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There was one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.


Rep. Jim Cooper defeats two challengers in TN-05 Democratic primary

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D) defeated Keeda Haynes and Joshua Rawlings in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary on August 6, 2020. With 52% of precincts reporting, Cooper received 56.6% of the vote to Haynes’ 40.8% and Rawlings’ 2.6%.

No Republican candidate filed to run for the seat, so Cooper will appear on the November 3 general election ballot unopposed. Cooper has served in the U.S. House since 2003.

Elections to the U.S. House will be held on November 3, 2020, and coincide with the 2020 presidential election. All 435 House districts will be up for election, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of July 2020, Democrats had a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There was one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.



Hagerty wins Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Tennessee

Bill Hagerty won the 15-candidate Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Tennessee. With 31% of the vote reporting, Hagerty had received 52.5% of the vote and Manny Sethi had received 37.9%. George Flinn Jr. was the only candidate with more than 3% of the vote.

Incumbent Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), first elected in 2002, did not run for re-election.

Hagerty received endorsements from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and U.S. President Donald Trump (R), whose administration he previously served in as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Sethi, an orthopedic surgeon, received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), founder of the Senate Conservatives Fund and the former president of the Heritage Foundation.

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Hagerty raised $12.3 million, the second-highest total among all non-incumbent Republicans in 2020 U.S. Senate primaries at the time. He reported $2.7 million cash on hand. Sethi raised $4.6 million with $386,000 on hand. Satellite spending totaled over $4 million primarily in the form of campaign ads. Standing With Conservatives spent $110,000 on ads supporting Hagerty and $1.2 million opposing Sethi. America One spent $375,000 opposing Sethi. Conservative Outsider PAC and Protect Freedom PAC spent $1 million opposing Hagerty and $1.5 million supporting Sethi, respectively.

Hagerty will face the winner of the Democratic primary on November 3, 2020. Three race forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Republican.

Republicans currently control 53 seats in the Senate. Democrats control 45. There are two Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

Thirty-five elections will take place for the U.S. Senate in November, including special elections in Arizona for the seat that John McCain (R) won in 2016 and in Georgia for the seat that Johnny Isakson (R) won in 2016.

 



Coronavirus weekly updates: July 2, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics: Coronavirus Weekly Updates
From March 18 to June 10, Coronavirus Daily Update provided a daily summary of major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic in politics, government, and elections. Now, we cover those same stories in a weekly format sent out on Thursday afternoons.

Today, you will find updates on the following topics, with comparisons to our previous edition released on June 25:

  • Stay-at-home orders
  • Federal responses
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies
  • Election changes
  • Ballot measure changes
  • School closures and reopenings
  • Travel restrictions
  • State legislation
  • State legislative sessions
  • State courts
  • Prison policies
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials

We're tracking states' reopenings — subscribe to Documenting America's Path to Recovery to learn more
For daily news on state reopening plans and which industries and activities are permitted across the country, subscribe to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

As of July 2, stay-at-home orders have ended in 41 states. Nineteen of those states have Republican governors and 22 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order).

The two states with active stay-at-home orders have Democratic governors. They are (with expiration date):

  • New Mexico (July 15)
  • California (no set expiration date)

Details:

  • New Mexico – On July 1, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced the health order was extended on June 30 through July 15. The order was initially set to expire on June 30

1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The United States held midterm elections as scheduled during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. More than 50 million people perished from the disease worldwide, including about 675,000 in the U.S., making it one of the deadliest pandemics in recorded history. Each week, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On Nov. 5, 1918, the Toledo News – Bee reported that while orders closing businesses were beginning to lift, saloons and entertainment would remain closed on Election Day.  Officials believed lack of crowding on election night would slow the spread of the influenza.

“The gradual abatement of the flu and the gradual resumption of business thru the suspension of the influenza quarantine are moving along together…

“On Thursday the closing order is lifted from everything except schools, which open Monday morning, and except for ‘airing’ houses for movies and theaters some time between shows.

“The order of Mayor [Cornell] Schreiber and Health Commissioner Waggoner, to close all eating places between 8 and 11 on Tuesday night will be obeyed generally.

“There will be no places of amusement or entertainment open, and consequently no great reason for election night crowds, officials say, a fact which they believe will give further aid to the elimination of the flu through nonassemblage.”

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On July 1, the U.S. Department of the Interior released public health guidance for the Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall on July 4. The Department recommends people who are not members of the same household keep six feet apart and asks people to wear masks. The Department is providing 300,000 cloth masks at the event.
  • On June 30, the Treasury Department and the IRS announced that the tax deadline would not be extended beyond July 15. The deadline was postponed from April 15 to July 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • On June 29, the Defense Department announced it had lifted travel restrictions on military installations in ten more states, allowing service members to resume recreational travel and change-of-station moves. Restrictions were also lifted on troops in Guam, Puerto Rico, and South Korea.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 320 lawsuits, across 45 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 121 of those lawsuits.
    • Since June 25, we have added 42 lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked an additional 28 court orders and/or settlements.
  • Ballotpedia has separately followed another 119 lawsuits, in 36 states, dealing with election issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 59 of those lawsuits.

Here are three recently tracked lawsuits that have either garnered significant national media attention or involve major advocacy groups.

  • Flores v. Barr: On June 26, Judge Dolly Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer migrant children held at ICE Family Residential Centers (FRCs) to their families or sponsors by July 17. The order is the result of a complaint filed on March 26, in which plaintiffs, representing detained minors in a longstanding class action, alleged that continued detention of the minors “in congregate detention facilities in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and public health national emergency” violated the Flores settlement. The Flores settlement is a 1997 court-supervised stipulated settlement agreement which governs the detention conditions and treatment of noncitizen migrant children held in federal custody. Gee’s order is limited to minors held at FRCs for more than 20 days. It provides that removal “shall be undertaken with all deliberate speed.” The order goes on to state that before removal, “ICE shall urgently enforce its existing COVID-19 protocols,” including social distancing, masking, and enhanced testing at all detention centers. On April 24, Gee ordered the federal government to “continue to make every effort to promptly and safely release” the minors, an order ICE appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on June 23. Gee was appointed to the court by President Barack Obama (D).
  • In re: American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations: On June 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an emergency petition filed by the AFL-CIO. The labor union had sought a court order (a writ of mandamus) to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard for Infectious Diseases (ETS) to protect working people from occupational exposure to COVID-19. On March 6, the union petitioned Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia to issue the ETS, but Scalia did not act on the petition, prompting the AFL-CIO to take the matter before the D.C. Circuit. The union cited a federal law requiring the issuance of an ETS when “employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards.” The D.C. Circuit refused to compel action, saying OSHA is “entitled to considerable deference” and the agency had “reasonably determined that an ETS is not necessary at this time.” Judges Karen Henderson, an appointee of George H.W. Bush (R), Robert Wilkins, an appointee of Barack Obama (D), and Neomi Rao, an appointee of Donald J. Trump (R), made the per curiam decision. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement the day of the decision, saying, “the court’s action today fell woefully short of fulfilling its duty to ensure that the Occupational Safety and Health Act is enforced.”
  • League of Independent Fitness Facilities and Trainers, Inc. v. Whitmer: On June 24, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted an emergency stay in favor of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), barring indoor gyms from reopening due to continued risks associated with COVID-19. Whitmer had appealed Judge Paul Maloney’s June 19 preliminary injunction, which barred enforcement of Executive Order 2020-110, Section 12(b). The executive order closed “indoor gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities, exercise studios, and the like” in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While Maloney prevented the order from taking effect, saying  Whitmer had offered “nothing in support of the restriction” nor “any set of facts on which the gym restriction has a rational relation to public health.” The Sixth Circuit ruled Whitmer used “rational speculation” that “heavy breathing and sweating in an enclosed space containing many shared surfaces creates conditions likely to spread the virus.” The Sixth Circuit found that the “public interest weighs in favor of a stay” of Maloney’s injunction. The unanimous three-judge panel, comprised Judges Julia Gibbons and Deborah Cook, both appointed by George W. Bush (R), and Chad Readler, who was appointed by Donald Trump (R). Following the Sixth Circuit’s ruling, Whitmer’s office said: “In the fight against a global pandemic, courts must give governors broad latitude to make quick, difficult decisions.” An attorney for the plaintiffs said they were exploring their options regarding an appeal.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty states have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
    • No new states have postponed elections since June 25.
  • Eighteen states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
    • No new states have made modifications since June 25.
  • Thirty-six states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
    • One new state has made modifications since June 25.
  • Political parties in 19 states have made modifications to party events on a statewide basis.
    • No state parties have made modifications to party events since June 25.

Details:

  • New Mexico – On June 26, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed SB4 into law, authorizing county clerks to automatically mail absentee ballot applications to registered, mailable voters in the Nov. 3 general election.
  • Texas – On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to reinstate a district court order that had expanded absentee voting eligibility in Texas. An appeals court stayed the district court’s order, a decision that was allowed to stand as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • At least 15 lawsuits were filed in 12 states seeking court orders suspending or changing signature requirements and deadlines.
  • Rulings or settlements have been issued in 14 cases.
    • Last week, at least one appeal was filed, and two rulings were issued in cases previously appealed.
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 25 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Seven states and D.C. changed ballot measure procedures through executive orders or legislative action.
  • At least three initiative campaigns initially targeting 2020 reported they would shift their focus to 2022.

Details:

School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • In March and April, 48 states closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year. Those states accounted for 99.4% of the nation’s 50.6 million public school students. Montana and Wyoming did not require in-person instruction for the year. Montana schools were allowed to reopen on May 7 and Wyoming schools were allowed to reopen on May 15.
  • Seven states (Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wyoming) have reopened their campuses for students and staff.
    • Two new states have reopened campuses since June 25.
  • Ten states have released reopening guidance and also announced a scheduled reopening.
    • Five new states have done so since June 25.
  • Three states have announced schools will reopen in the fall but have not released reopening guidance.
    • One new state has made a reopening announcement since June 25.
  • Officials in 13 other states have released guidance for reopening schools to in-person instruction, but have not indicated when or whether they plan to do so.

The map below details states that have released guidance for school reopenings, announced the future reopening of schools to in-person instruction, or have allowed schools to reopen to in-person instruction. States are categorized in the following manner.

  • No announcements – Ballotpedia has not identified a key state official that has made an announcement about reopening schools or released reopening guidance.
  • Reopening guidance released – A key state official has released reopening guidance for schools but not made a statement on when schools would reopen.
  • Reopening announcement made – A key state official has announced when schools would reopen but there had not been any reopening guidance released.
  • Guidance and announcement – Reopening guidance for schools has been released and a key government official has announced when schools would reopen.
  • Schools allowed to reopen – Schools in the state are currently allowed to reopen.
  • Local decision – State officials are delegating reopening decisions to local officials.

Details:

  • Alabama – On June 26, Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey released reopening guidance for schools. The guidance allows local school officials to determine face-covering requirements and physical distancing protocols.
  • Connecticut – On June 25, Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said his department was proposing all schools reopen to students in the fall.
  • Hawaii – The Department of Education announced public schools would begin reopening starting Aug. 4.
  • Indiana – Schools in the state were allowed to reopen beginning July 1. The reopening was announced on June 5.
  • Iowa – The Iowa Department of Education announced schools would be allowed to reopen beginning July 1. Officials announced there would be no requirement for students or staff to wear face coverings, undergo health checks, or social distance.
  • Michigan – On June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) released the “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap,” a set of guidelines local districts can use to draft their own reopening plans for the fall. The guidelines, which include both requirements and recommendations, are tiered to the phases in the state’s broader reopening plan. The state is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan. Full details on requirements and recommendations by reopening phase can be accessed here.
  • New Jersey – On June 26, the New Jersey Department of Education released a 104-page reopening plan that includes social distancing guidelines and a face-covering requirement for teachers and staff. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said schools would reopen to in-person instruction this fall.
  • Ohio – On July 2, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) released guidelines for reopening schools in the state. The guidelines include a requirement that all staff wear masks and a recommendation that students in third grade or higher wear masks.
  • Utah – On June 29, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) approved a Utah State Board of Education plan for reopening schools in the fall. The Board is requiring all public schools to create and post a reopening plan online by August 1.
  • Wyoming – On July 1, the Wyoming Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools in the state. The state’s 48 school districts are responsible for developing reopening plans in accordance with the guidance and submitting those plans for state approval. Each plan must account for three scenarios: traditional learning, hybrid learning (a mix of in-person and distance learning), and distance-only learning. Schools were allowed to reopen facilities on May 15.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Governors or state agencies in 24 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 12 of those orders have been rescinded.
    • Since June 25, no new states have implemented travel restrictions.  Eight states altered their existing travel restrictions.

Details:

  • Kansas – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its travel-related quarantine guidelines to include South Carolina and Florida. Travelers to Kansas, as well as Kansas residents who have recently traveled to South Carolina and Florida will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York – Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that eight more states had been added to a joint travel advisory requiring out-of-state visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days. The governors announced the travel advisory June 24 and originally included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. The list was expanded to include California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee.
  • Maine – Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced she was lifting the quarantine requirement on travelers from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Restrictions remain in place for travelers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
  • Massachusetts – Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that visitors to Massachusetts from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey will no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The advisory to self-quarantine remains in effect for visitors from other parts of the country.
  • Rhode Island – Out-of-state visitors and Rhode Island residents traveling to Rhode Island from parts of the country with a positive coronavirus test rate of 5% or higher will need to provide a negative test result or quarantine for 14 days.
  • Vermont – Beginning July 1, out-of-state visitors arriving from low-risk counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia in a personal vehicle will no longer need to quarantine for 14-days after arriving in Vermont. Vermont residents who visit those counties and then return home will also no longer need to quarantine.

State legislation

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Seven state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Six of those have since reconvened.
    • Four legislatures that had suspended their sessions have adjourned since June 25.
  • Thirty-seven legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • Four legislatures have adjourned since June 25.
  • Five state legislatures are in regular session.
  • One state legislature is in special session.

Details:

  • Delaware – The Delaware legislature adjourned on June 30.
  • Georgia – The Georgia legislature adjourned on June 26.
  • Louisiana – The Louisiana legislature adjourned on June 30.
  • New Hampshire – The New Hampshire legislature adjourned on June 30.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
    • Since June 25, one court has extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials.
  • 16 states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level

Details:

  • Texas – The Texas Supreme Court extended the prohibition on jury trials through Sept. 1. The Southern District of Texas courthouse and the federal courthouse in Galveston County closed on Friday, June 26 through July 10. The Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas extended an order that closed the courthouse to the public through Aug. 3.

Prison inmate responses

Read more: State and local governments that released prison inmates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-one states have released inmates at the state level.
    • No states have released inmates at the state level since June 25.
  • Twelve states have released inmates on the local level.
  • Eleven states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  • Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  • Four states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

Details:

  • California – On June 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that officials had identified 3,500 inmates who could potentially be released from prison. The inmates meet the same criteria as 3,500 other inmates released earlier this year. Each is within 150 days of release and considered medically vulnerable to coronavirus.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-six states have current moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
    • New Hampshire ended one moratorium on evictions.
  • Sixteen states have ended moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • California has current local moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures.
  • Seven states did not issue a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on the state or local level.

Details:

  • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) extended an authorization allowing local governments to stop evictions through Sept. 30.
  • Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) extended a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through Aug. 1.
  • Nevada – Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed an order that allows residential summary evictions to resume for actions that do not include the non-payment of rent, including violations of controlled substance laws and nuisance, on July 1. Evictions for non-payment of rent will resume Sept. 1. The order allows landlords and lenders to begin eviction actions on commercial tenancies and mortgages beginning July 1.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) moratorium on evictions ended July 1. Sununu said he would use CARES Act funds to help people who were struggling to pay rent or make payments on a mortgage.
  • Oregon – The Oregon Legislature voted to extend the state’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions Sept. 30. The bill also gives renters until March 31, 2021, to pay back nonpayment balances. Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the bill on June 30.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • Seven members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty federal officials quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Four state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Forty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Seventy-four state-level incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least two local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 16 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since June 25, two state politicians have tested positive for coronavirus.

Details:

  • Florida State Rep. Shevrin Jones (D), who represents District 101, announced on June 30 that he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Oklahoma State Rep. Cynthia Roe (R), who represents District 42, announced on June 26 that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

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