CategoryFederal

SCOTUS takes up case questioning ACA’s individual mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in its October 2020-2021 term concerning the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case, California v. Texas, is consolidated with Texas v. California, and came on a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

In 2010, President Barack Obama (D) signed the ACA into law. The ACA established requirements for individuals to have health coverage and instituted fines for those without coverage.

In 2018, 20 states filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas challenging § 5000A of the ACA and claiming the law was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the law was invalid.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled § 5000A was unconstitutional and remanded the case. A group of states petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review, arguing (1) the respondents did not have the legal right to challenge the law and (2) the law was not unconstitutional.

SCOTUS will consider the following three issues:
(1) Whether the plaintiffs have established Article III standing to challenge the minimum coverage provision in § 5000A(a). The minimum coverage provision, also known as the individual mandate, requires individuals to have “minimum essential coverage.”

(2) Whether reducing the amount specified in § 5000A(c) to zero rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional.

(3) If so, whether the individual mandate is severable from the rest of the ACA.

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Statewide filing deadline passes in Nebraska

On March 2, the filing deadline passed for non-incumbents to run for elected office in Nebraska. The filing deadline for incumbents previously passed on February 18. Candidates filed for the following offices:

U.S. Senator
• Incumbent Ben Sasse (R) filed to run for re-election.

U.S. House Districts 1, 2, and 3
• Every incumbent filed to run for re-election.

Nebraska State Senate (25 seats)
• The incumbent did not file to run for re-election in Districts 9, 11, 19, 29, 31, and 45.

Public Service Commissioner
• The incumbent filed to run for re-election.

State Board of Education (4 seats)
• The incumbent did not file to run for re-election for State Board of Education Districts 3 and 4.

Ballotpedia is also covering retention elections for the following judicial offices:
• Nebraska Supreme Court (2 seats)
• Nebraska Court of Appeals (2 seats)

Finally, Ballotpedia is covering local elections in the following areas:
• Lancaster County
• Omaha
• Elkhorn Public Schools
• Millard Public Schools
• Norris School District 160
• Omaha Public Schools
• Ralston Public Schools
• Waverly School District 145
• Westside Community Schools

The primary is scheduled for May 12, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Nebraska’s statewide filing deadline was the 14th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next major party statewide filing deadline is on March 6 in Georgia.

Nebraska has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers, or in Nebraska’s case, the unicameral Nebraska State Senate.

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Georgia filing deadline is March 6

The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Georgia is on March 6, 2020. In Georgia, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:

• U.S. Senate (2 seats: 1 special election and 1 regular election)
• U.S. House (14 seats)
• Georgia Public Service Commission (2 seats)
• State Senate (56 seats)
• State House (180 seats)
• Georgia Supreme Court (3 seats)
• Georgia Court of Appeals (7 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• DeKalb County, Georgia
• DeKalb County School District
• Fulton County Schools
• Henry County Schools
• Muscogee County School District
• Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
• Cherokee County School District
• Clayton County Public Schools
• Cobb County School District
• Forsyth County Schools
• Gwinnett County Public Schools

The primary is scheduled for May 19, a primary runoff is scheduled for July 21 if needed, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. If needed, a general runoff election will be held on December 1, 2020, for state races and on January 5, 2021, for federal races.

Georgia’s statewide filing deadline is the 15th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 9 in Montana.

Georgia has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Nebraska filing deadline passes to run for U.S. congressional offices

On March 2, the non-incumbent filing deadline passed for candidates to run for elected office in Nebraska. The incumbent filing deadline passed on February 18. One U.S. Senate seat and three U.S. House seats are up for election in the state.

The Class II Senate seat currently held by Ben Sasse (R) is up for election. Sasse filed to run for re-election. In addition to Sasse, one Republican, seven Democrats, and one Libertarian filed to run for the seat.

The seats for House Districts 1, 2, and 3 are up for election. All three incumbents filed for re-election: Jeff Fortenberry (R) for District 1, Don Bacon (R) for District 2, and Adrian Smith (R) for District 3. Two Democrats and one Libertarian also filed to run in District 1. One Republican, three Democrats, and one Libertarian also filed to run in District 2. Four Republicans, one Democrat, and one Libertarian also filed to run in District 3.

The primary is scheduled for May 12, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Nebraska’s statewide filing deadline was the 14th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 6 in Georgia.

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22 of 149 congressional primaries on Super Tuesday advance to primary runoff

Five states held statewide primaries on March 3, 2020: Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas. In those states, 22 congressional races advanced to primary runoffs. Nine are Democratic primary runoffs, and 13 are Republican primary runoffs.

Alabama saw the highest percentage of primaries advance to primary runoffs. Of the six primaries on the ballot, four advanced to a primary runoff (67%)—three Republican primary runoffs and one Democratic primary runoff. Texas saw the next-highest percentage, with 17 of the 74 primaries advancing to a primary runoff (23%). North Carolina had one of 15 primaries advance to a primary runoff (7%). California does not hold primary runoffs. Arkansas’ congressional primaries were canceled for all four seats after one or fewer Democratic or Republican party candidates filed to run.

Overall, 149 primaries were held across a combined 117 seats up for election in the five states. California’s 25th Congressional District is up for regular and special election, and is counted twice in both figures. Of the primaries on the ballot, 47 were Republican primaries, 48 were Democratic primaries, and 54 were top-two primaries.

Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Thirty-five of the 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Federal Register weekly update; lowest weekly page total since first week of January

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity.

From March 2 to March 6, the Federal Register grew by 1,268 pages for a year-to-date total of 13,474 pages. Over the same period in 2019 and 2018, the Federal Register reached 8,588 pages and 10,552 pages, respectively. As of March 6, the 2020 total led the 2019 total by 4,886 pages and the 2018 total by 2,922 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 641 documents:
• 420 notices
• 11 presidential documents
• 30 proposed rules
• 59 final rules

Two proposed rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Trump administration in 2020 has issued nine significant proposed rules and 16 significant final rules as of March 6.

Not all rules issued by the Trump administration are regulatory actions. Some rules are deregulatory actions pursuant to President Trump’s (R) Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old significant regulations for each new significant regulation issued.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

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Congressional primaries in Mississippi on Tuesday

One of Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seats and all four of the state’s U.S. House seats are up for election this year, and the congressional primary is scheduled for March 10, 2020. All five races include the incumbent running for re-election, and four of the races feature a contested primary between one or both major parties. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in a given race, a primary runoff will be held between the top two vote recipients on March 31. The general election is on November 3, 2020.

• Three Democrats—Tobey Bartee, Jensen Bohren, and Mike Espy—are competing for the party’s nomination in the U.S. Senate race. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running unopposed for re-election in the Republican primary. Hyde-Smith was first elected to the seat in a special election in November 2018, although she was appointed to the seat in April of the same year. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Thad Cochran (R), resigned. Hyde-Smith defeated Espy in the 2018 special election runoff to win the seat.
• In District 1, only one candidate filed in each major-party primary. Antonia Eliason is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Rep. Trent Kelly is running unopposed for re-election in the Republican primary. Kelly was first elected to the seat in a special election in June 2015. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Alan Nunnelee (R), died. Kelly was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.
• In District 2, Rep. Bennie Thompson is facing challenger Sonia Rathburn in the Democratic primary. Thompson was first elected to the seat in a special election in April 1993. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Mike Espy (D), was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D) to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. This is the same Mike Espy who is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate this year. Thompson was re-elected every two years from 1994 through 2018. Three Republicans—Thomas Carey, Brian Flowers, and B.C. Hammond—are competing for the party’s nomination in the District 2 race.
• In District 3, Dorothy Benford and Katelyn Lee are competing in the Democratic primary. Rep. Michael Guest is facing challenger James Tulp in the Republican primary. Guest was first elected to the seat in a regular election in November 2018. It was an open-seat election to succeed incumbent Gregg Harper (R), who did not file for re-election.
• In District 4, no Democratic candidates filed to run. Rep. Steven Palazzo is facing three challengers—Carl Boyanton, Robert Deming, and Samuel Hickman—in the Republican primary. Palazzo was first elected to the seat in a regular election in November 2010. He defeated the incumbent, Gene Taylor (D), and two other candidates to win the seat. Palazzo was re-elected every two years from 2012 through 2018.
Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with Democrats. Only 35 out of 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. Both of Mississippi’s sitting U.S. Senators are Republicans. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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OIRA reviewed 44 significant rules in February

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 44 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in February 2020. The agency approved one rule without changes and approved the intent of 36 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew seven rules from the review process.

OIRA reviewed 23 significant regulatory actions in February 2019, 20 significant regulatory actions in February 2018, and three significant regulatory actions in January 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 40 significant regulatory actions each February.

OIRA has reviewed a total of 76 significant rules so far in 2020. The agency reviewed a total of 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of March 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 114 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

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What happens to Democratic delegates allocated to withdrawn candidates?

Seven Democratic presidential candidates have been allocated at least one pledged delegate each. Three have withdrawn from the race: Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. What will happen to their delegates?

The Delegate Selection Rules for the 2020 Democratic National Convention include two provisions dealing with the binding of delegates to the candidates they supported at the time of their selection.

  1. “No delegate at any level of the delegate selection process shall be mandated by law or Party rule to vote contrary to that person’s presidential choice as expressed at the time the delegate is elected.”—Rule 13.I (p. 14)
  2. “Delegates elected to the national convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.”—Rule 13.J (p. 14)

Beyond this, the Delegate Selection Rules do not directly address how a candidate’s withdrawal from the race before the convention affects the delegates pledged to that candidate.

In some states, however, statutes establish provisions releasing delegates upon a candidate’s withdrawal, at the candidate’s direction, or after a specific number of ballots have been taken at the national convention.

For example, Tennessee state law says that delegates to national nominating conventions are bound by the results of the presidential preference primary for the first two ballots taken at the convention. From the third ballot onward, delegates remain bound to their candidates so long as they maintain at least 20 percent of the total convention vote. Tennessee law also allows candidates to release their delegates, thereby freeing them to vote for other candidates.

Eleven states allow for the release of pledged delegates either upon a candidate’s withdrawal or at the candidate’s direction: Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Nine states allow for the release of pledged delegates after a specific number of ballots have been taken at the convention: Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee.

All together, 12 states have at least one of these provisions in place. Indiana has no candidate-withdrawal statute. Connecticut, Georgia, and Oklahoma do not have multiple-ballot release statutes. The remaining states have both in place: Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, and Tennessee.

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Siegel and Gandhi advance to TX-10 Democratic primary runoff

Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi advanced to a Democratic primary runoff election for Texas’ 10th Congressional District on March 3. With 97% of precincts reporting, Siegel received 44.0% of the vote, and Gandhi received 33.1%. Shannon Hutcheson was in third with 23.4%. The runoff will be held May 26, 2020. The winner of the primary runoff will run in the general election on November 3, 2020.

One of the main issues in the race was healthcare. Gandhi said he would support “Medicare for all that want it.” Siegel said he supported a single-payer, universal healthcare option.

All 435 House districts will be up for election on November 3, 2020, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of March 2020, Democrats have a 232-197 advantage over Republicans. If Republicans win 18 Democratic-controlled districts, they will win control of the House. If Democrats hold as many districts, they will maintain their control of the chamber.

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