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Coronavirus daily update: March 18, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary for March 18, 2020.

Federal responses
• The Senate passed the coronavirus relief bill sent by the House earlier this week.
• The U.S.-Canada border is closed to nonessential travel.

Election changes
• Alabama – Governor Kay Ivey (R) announced that the state would postpone its primary runoff election, originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, to July 14.
• Missouri – Governor Mike Parson (R) ordered the postponement of all municipal elections originally scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 2.
• Ohio – On March 17, the Democratic Party of Ohio sued Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) over his postponement of in-person voting in the primary to June 2.

State legislative changes
• California – Session suspended until April 13.
• Hawaii – Session suspended indefinitely effective March 17.
• Iowa – Session suspended for at least 30 days.
• Louisiana – Session adjourned until March 31.
• Maine – Session adjourned effective March 16.
• Maryland – Session adjourned effective March 18.
• Minnesota – Legislative activity conducted remotely through April 14.
• Nebraska – Session suspended effective March 17.
• New York – Session suspended until at least March 18.
• Pennsylvania – Lawmakers voted to allow remote voting on legislative actions.

School closures
• Nationwide – Forty states have ordered statewide closures of public schools. The schools impacted by these closures served 33.9 million students as of the 2016-17 school year (most recent available data), accounting for 67 percent of the 50.6 million public school students nationwide.
• Kansas – Governor Laura Kelly (D) closed all schools in the state from March 23 through May 31.
• Wisconsin – Governor Tony Evers (D) announced that the statewide closure, originally ordered to end April 5, would instead last indefinitely.

Judicial changes
• Arkansas – The Supreme Court of Arkansas suspended in-person proceedings in all appellate, circuit, and district courts.
• Connecticut – The Judicial Branch announced it would curtail courthouse operations. One courthouse in each of the 13 judicial districts will remain open for priority court business.
• Massachusetts – All courts will be closed to the public from March 18 until at least April 6.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
• Colorado – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R) and U.S. Representative Jason Crow (D) both announced they entered a self-quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
• Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht announced a self-quarantine on March 17 after one of his children tested positive for coronavirus.

Additional Reading:
Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
State Court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020



Six statewide filing deadlines pass in second week of March

Six states had major party filing deadlines from March 9 to March 13. These were: Montana on March 9; New Mexico and Oregon on March 10; and Idaho, Iowa, and Nevada on March 13.

At the federal level, all six states have U.S. House seats up for election, and all but Nevada also have a U.S. Senate seat on the ballot. At the state level, all six states will hold elections for both chambers of their state legislatures and for seats on their state supreme courts. Montana is the only state holding a gubernatorial election, but it is not holding state appellate court elections like the remaining five states. Idaho is the only one of the six states with no state executive offices on the ballot in 2020.

Fifteen states had filing deadlines before March 9; Nebraska and Georgia had filing deadlines in the first week of March. Eight more states have major party filing deadlines between March 16 and March 31.

From November 2019 to July 2020, Ballotpedia will cover an average of six statewide major party filing deadlines each month. Sixteen states have statewide filing deadlines in March 2020, making it the busiest month for candidate ballot access deadlines for the 2020 elections. November 2019, February 2020, and July 2020 are tied for the fewest with two each.

Additional reading:
Elections
Ballotpedia’s Election Analysis Hub, 2020
Twenty Quality Benchmarks for Election Transparency



Filing deadlines approach in Maine, Colorado, and Utah

The filing deadlines to run for elected office in Maine, Colorado, and Utah are approaching. Maine’s filing deadline is March 16, Colorado’s is March 17, and Utah’s is March 19.

In Maine, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (2 seats)
• State Senate (35 seats)
• State House (151 seats)

In Colorado, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (7 seats)
• State Board of Education (3 seats)
• State Board of Regents (3 seats)
• State Senate (18 seats)
• State House (65 seats)
• Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Denver
• Adams County
• Arapahoe County
• El Paso County

In addition, Colorado will hold retention elections for two Colorado Supreme Court justices and four Colorado Court of Appeals justices.

In Utah, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• U.S. House (4 seats)
• State Senate (15 seats)
• State House (75 seats)
• Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Alpine School District
• Canyons School District
• Davis School District
• Granite School District
• Jordan School District
• Nebo School District

In addition, Utah will hold retention elections for one Utah Supreme Court justice and six Utah Court of Appeals justices.

The primary in Maine is scheduled for June 9, 2020, while the primaries in Colorado and Utah are scheduled for June 30. The general election in each state is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Maine, Colorado, and Utah’s statewide filing deadlines are the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 26, 2020, in Virginia.

Maine and Colorado have Democratic state government trifectas, while Utah 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.

Additional reading:
Maine elections, 2020
Colorado elections, 2020
Utah elections, 2020



Cincinnati City Council member steps down to join Trump administration, replacement sworn in

Photo credit: Arun Sreeranganathan

Former Cincinnati City Council member Amy Murray resigned from the city council on March 4, 2020, to take a position with the United States Department of Defense. She was first elected to the nonpartisan council in 2013. Murray ran for lieutenant governor on the Ohio gubernatorial ticket with former Rep. Jim Renacci (R) in 2018, up until Renacci withdrew from the race.

Murray’s replacement on the Cincinnati City Council is Elizabeth “Betsy” Sundermann, an attorney who was working as a probate court magistrate at the time of her appointment. Sundermann also worked as an assistant prosecutor in Hamilton County, Ohio from 2003 to 2016.

The Cincinnati City Council is made up of nine members, each of whom is elected at large. There is currently one vacant place on the council. That position was vacated by Tamaya Dennard, who resigned on March 2, 2020, after her arrest on federal bribery charges.

Additional reading:
Amy Murray
U.S. Department of Defense
Tamaya Dennard



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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



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.

Additional reading:



Voters in Forsyth County, North Carolina, approve 0.25% sales tax


Voters approved a quarter-cent Forsyth County sales tax increase on Tuesday by a vote of 60% to 40% according to unofficial election night results. The measure will increase the total sales tax rate in the county from 6.75% to 7%.

North Carolina state law does not permit the purpose of a sales tax measure to be printed with the ballot language. The resolution approved by the Forsyth Board of Commissioners to put the measure on the ballot specifies that the revenue would help “fund the educational needs of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system.”

Forsyth County voters rejected a 0.25% sales tax in 2018.



San Francisco voters approved Proposition E

In San Francisco, voters approved four measures on Tuesday. The fifth, Proposition D, is too close to call with certainty, but was ahead 68% to 32% and needs 66.67% to pass.

Proposition E, the City Office Development Limit Initiative, was the only citizen-initiated measure on the ballot. Proposition E was approved by 55% of voters. It required a simple majority to pass. The measure was put on the ballot through a signature petition drive sponsored by Housing Forward San Francisco. The measure limits city office development if the city does not meet annual housing production goals. The allowed office development will be reduced by the percentage of housing units by which the city falls short of goals. The measure also sets the minimum housing production goal in the city at 2,042 units.

Office development was first limited to 950,00 square feet annually in 1986 with the approval of Proposition M. This annual limit established by Proposition M would be further cut by Proposition E if San Francisco does not produce enough housing affordable to specific income levels to meet the goal established by Proposition E.

Voters also approved Propositions A, B, and C. Proposition A was approved by 70.75% of voters and authorized the San Francisco Community College District to issue $845 million in bonds. It required 55% approval. Proposition B authorized the city to issue $628.5 million in bonds to fund emergency services. It required a two-thirds supermajority and was approved by 81% of voters. Proposition C amended the city’s charter to allow for retiree healthcare coverage for certain former employees of the San Francisco Housing Authority. It was approved by 68% of voters and required a simple majority.

 




On Tuesday, 52.8% of voters in Oklahoma City rejected a proposed 0.125% sales tax to fund city parks. The measure was put on the ballot through a citizen initiative petition drive. It would have increased the total sales tax rate in the city from 8.625% to 8.75%. City officials estimated that the proposed 0.125% tax would have raised $15 million per year in revenue. OKC voters approved a 1% sales tax measure in December 2019 to fund the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPs 4) plan.

In Tulsa County, voters approved a measure authorizing the sale of alcohol on Sundays. According to election night results, 73% of voters were in favor of the measure. A state law allowing alcohol sales on Sunday in a county if voters approve a proposition such as this one was approved by the state legislature and went into effect in October 2018.

https://ballotpedia.org/March_3,_2020_ballot_measures_in_Oklahoma



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