CategoryLocal

Coronavirus daily update: April 14, 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 of changes for April 14, 2020.
Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
In the national debate over how to reopen the American economy, one key point involves the relative balance of power between the federal, state, and local governments. Today, we turn our attention to some of the recent arguments in this area.
  1. At yesterday’s White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing, President Donald Trump (R) said, “The president of the United States has the authority to do what the president has the authority to do, which is very powerful. The president of the United States calls the shots. If we weren’t here for the states, you would have had a problem in this country like you’ve never seen before. We were here to back them up, and we more than backed them up. We did a job that nobody ever thought was possible. It’s a decision for the president of the United States. Now, with that being said, we’re going to work with the states because it’s very important.”
  2. In an interview this morning on CNN, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said, “Certain responsibilities are state responsibilities. Health, welfare, quarantine. Those are health responsibilities. So the president should not even think of going there. That would be divisive and political and it would be totally contrary to everything we’ve been trying to do by working in a cooperative fashion. … If [Trump] ordered me to reopen in a way that would endanger the public health of the people of my state, I wouldn’t do it. And we would have a constitutional challenge between the state and the federal government, and that would go into the courts.”
  3. In an interview with USA Today, Kathleen Bergin, a law professor at Cornell University, said, “It’s so plain and obvious it’s not even debatable. Trump has no authority to ease social distancing, or to open schools or private businesses. These are matters for states to decide under their power to promote public health and welfare, a power guaranteed by the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.”
  4. In an interview with the Associated Press, David B. Rivkin, Jr., an attorney who served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said, “President Trump has authority under the Defense Production Act to compel the reopening and continued operations of various industrial and agricultural facilities and enterprises. Therefore, as a practical matter, he can reopen a large portion of the American economy.”
 
The 1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, 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 October 17, 1918, the Indianapolis Star published an article titled “Fall Campaign Still Hindered.” The article discussed how the pandemic affected political campaigning in the state.
The outlook last night was that the epidemic of influenza will further demoralize the plans of the Republican and Democratic state committees for speaking campaigns.  Secretary Hurty of the state board of health stated yesterday afternoon that it is probable the prohibition of all public gatherings may be extended for a week from next Monday, which is the date set by the Republicans and Democrats for opening the campaign.  Secretary Hurty will determine Friday what course shall be taken.
Federal responses
  1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that the Senate would not reconvene until at least May 4. The Senate was originally scheduled to reconvene April 20.
  2. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a similar announcement about the House on Monday afternoon. The House was also originally scheduled to reconvene April 20.
Election changes
Overview:
  1. Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
  2. Ten states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Twenty-one states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 16 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – The Mississippi Republican Party has postponed its state convention, originally scheduled for May 15-16, indefinitely.
  2. South Dakota – South Dakota will mail absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in advance of the state’s June 2 primary election.
  3. Virginia – The Republican congressional committee of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District voted to postpone its convention, originally scheduled for April 25, indefinitely.
Ballot measure changes
Overview:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 19 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  3. At least four lawsuits have been filed seeking court orders suspending or changing ballot measure requirements and deadlines.
Details:
  1. Michigan – Steven Liedel, legal counsel for Fair and Equal Michigan, said the campaign was transitioning to gathering electronic signatures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Nebraska – TRUE Nebraskans announced that it was suspending its signature-gathering efforts for the Nebraska Income Tax Credit for Paid Property Taxes Initiative.
State legislative responses
Overview:
  1. To date, 480 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Seventy-six significant bills have been enacted into law, 16 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Five of those have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
State court changes
Overview:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Delaware – Delaware Chief Justice Collins Seitz Jr. extended court closures in the state through May 14. except for Delaware’s three Justice of the Peace courts.  The three 24-hour courts will remain open to accept bail payments for all courts and Justice of the Peace Court emergency criminal and civil filings.
  2. New York – The New York Unified Court System expanded the use of virtual court proceedings beyond essential and emergency matters, which allows the court to hear pending matters.  New nonessential fillings are prohibited.
  3. Louisiana – On April 6, the Louisiana Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and the suspension of jury trials through May 4.
Prison inmate responses
Overview:
  1. Fifteen states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Sixteen states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Fourteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  5. Three states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
Details:
  1. Washington – Gov. Jay Inslee announced that the state plans to release almost 1,000 inmates early to slow the spread of coronavirus. The inmates considered for early release are those vulnerable to the disease and nonviolent offenders already scheduled to be released.
  2. Colorado – The Colorado Department of Corrections announced that 52 prisoners were granted early release last week.
  3. North Carolina – North Carolina prison officials announced that the state started to release some inmates early due to the coronavirus pandemic. The inmates considered for early release include inmates who are pregnant, inmates 65 and older with underlying health conditions, female inmates who are 50 or older with health conditions and a 2020 release date, inmates who are 65 or older and have a 2020 release date, inmates who are on home leave with a 2020 release date, and inmates on work release with a 2020 release date.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview:
  1. Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.
School closures
Overview:
  1. Twenty-two states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 43.1% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  2. All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – Gov. Tate Reeves (R) announced that schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools in the state were scheduled to remain closed through April 17.
Travel restrictions
Overview:
  1. Eighteen states issued executive orders on interstate travel restrictions.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
Overview:
  1. Thirty-three states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures.
Lawsuits about state actions and policies
Details:
  1. Texas – On Monday afternoon, the Fifth Circuit issued a per curiam ruling allowing for individuals in Texas to obtain medication abortions. The court issued the ruling after Planned Parenthood appealed its previous decision (which did not allow for medication abortions) to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  2. The initial lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas, sought to overturn Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order that banned abortions in the state as part of a broader action on elective surgeries.


Coronavirus daily update: April 13, 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 of changes for April 13, 2020.
Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
To date, 20 states have made temporary modifications to their absentee/mail voting procedures in response to the pandemic. This includes, most recently, Maryland and New Hampshire. Today, we turn our attention to the emerging debate over expanding or universalizing absentee/mail voting.
  1. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal published April 10, John R. Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said, “‘Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” That quote isn’t from President Trump, who criticized mail-in voting this week after Wisconsin Democrats tried and failed to change an election at the last minute into an exclusively mail-in affair. It’s the conclusion of the bipartisan 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III. … Mail-in voting is a throwback to the dark old days of vote-buying and fraud. Because of this, many countries don’t allow absentee ballots for citizens living in their country, including Norway and Mexico. Americans deserve a more trustworthy system.”
  2. In an op-ed for The Washington Post published April 9, Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California at Irvine, said, “Given that expanded mail-in voting is going to be an inevitable piece of the November election because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is important that Americans understand what risks come from voting by mail and what can be done about those risks before November, so that voters can have confidence that the election can be fairly conducted, in part, through mail-in balloting. To begin with, election fraud has been rare in this country for decades. Impersonation fraud, where one person shows up at the polling place claiming to be a voter who died or moved, is practically nonexistent, yet it has formed the excuse for some Republican-led states to pass strict voter-identification laws that many Democrats believe are motivated by a desire to deter their likely voters.”
  3. For more information about the debate over expanding absentee/mail voting, see this article.
The 1918 influenza pandemic
The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, 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 October 10, 1918, the Indianapolis Star published an article titled, “Influenza Mars Suffrage Plans.” The article discussed how the pandemic affected the women’s suffrage movement.
“‘Everything conspires against woman suffrage,’ one local suffragist said Wednesday. ‘Now it is the influenza which is trying to prevent a spread of suffrage doctrine, but obedient to the demands of the health authorities the suffragists will refrain from public gatherings.’
Miss Florence Huberwald was scheduled to open the suffrage speaking campaign in New Orleans with a mass meeting in Lafayette Square Saturday night.  Dr. Oscar Dewling, president of the State Board of Health has said the people may go into parks, because plenty of fresh air can be found there, but on stricter analysis, Lafayette Square might not be described as a ‘fresh air park.’  The suffragists, however, have decided the question for themselves and Miss Huberwald announced Wednesday that the meeting for Saturday night had been cancelled.”
Federal responses
  1. The Supreme Court of the United States announced it would hear 13 cases by teleconference in May. The court announced it would release live audio of the proceedings to the public for the first time in history.
  2. President Donald Trump (R) announced the members of his Council to Re-Open America. Those members are Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Ivanka Trump, senior adviser Jared Kushner, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Director of the United States National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
  2. Ten states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Twenty states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 15 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Maine – Maine postponed its statewide primary, originally scheduled for June 9, to July 14. The petition deadline for unaffiliated candidates was extended to July 1.
  2. Maryland – Maryland’s June 2 primary election will be conducted predominantly by mail. Every eligible voter in the state will receive a ballot by mail. At least one in-person voting center per county will be open.
  3. New Hampshire – Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald advised election officials that “any voter may request an absentee ballot for the September 2020 Primary and November 2020 General Elections based on concerns regarding COVID-19.”
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 18 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  3. At least four lawsuits were filed seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 438 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Seventy-five significant bills have been enacted into law, about 17 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Five of those have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. Arizona – Arizona’s session suspension has been extended to an indefinite date. Previously, the suspension had been scheduled to lift April 13.
  2. Colorado – Colorado’s session suspension has been extended to last through May 18. It had originally been scheduled to last through March 30. It was then extended to April 2 before being extended again to May 18.
  3. Connecticut – Connecticut’s session suspension has been extended to last through April 23. The suspension had originally been scheduled to lift at the end of March. It was then extended to April 13 before being extended again to April 23.
  4. Rhode Island – Rhode Island’s session suspension has been extended through April 17. The suspension had originally been scheduled to last through April 3. It was then extended to April 10 before being extended again to April 17.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Iowa – The Iowa Judicial Branch extended restrictions on in-person proceedings through June 1.  The court also suspended criminal trials through July 13, and civil trials through August 3.
  2. Michigan – The Michigan Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through April 30.
  3. Minnesota – The Minnesota Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 4.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Thirteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Sixteen states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Sixteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  5. Three states temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
Details:
  1. Texas –  On April 10, Texas 261st District Court Judge Lora Livingston issued a ruling that temporarily blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 29 order prohibiting the release of certain inmate populations without paying bail. The ruling followed a lawsuit filed against Gov. Abbott and Attorney General of the State of Texas Ken Paxton, by Harris County’s misdemeanor judges, criminal defense organizations and the NAACP of Texas.  Livingston’s ruling limited the governor and attorney general from enforcing the March 29 order against judges and set an April 24 hearing for the plaintiff’s application for a temporary injunction.
  2. New Jersey– Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an executive order on April 10 that established a process for certain inmates to be released to temporary home confinement or to be granted parole due to coronavirus. Those qualified for release include low-risk incarcerated individuals vulnerable to the disease based on age and health status, and low-risk inmates who have been denied parole within the last year, or whose sentences are set to expire in the next three months.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Tennessee – Gov. Bill Lee extended the state’s “safer at home” order to April 30
  2. The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington announced that they would coordinate in order to reopen their states’ economies using a shared approach.
  3. The governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island announced a joint task force to discuss reopening their states’ economies. Each state will nominate a public health official, economic development official, and chief of staff to serve as part of the working group.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-one states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 42.1% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  2. All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Travel restrictions
Overview to date:
  1. Eighteen states have issued executive orders on interstate travel restrictions.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
Overview:
  1. Thirty-three states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures
Details:
  1. Vermont– In a remote vote on April 10, the Vermont State Senate passed bill S.333, which approved a measure to pause evictions and foreclosures due to the coronavirus pandemic, with exceptions for tenants that pose a risk to the public. The moratorium would end 30 days after the governor terminates the state of emergency. The bill was sent to the Vermont House of Representatives.
  2. Iowa – The Iowa Judicial Branch stated in their order which extended restrictions on in-person proceedings in the state through June 1, that eviction cases set to begin before June 15 would be suspended, with an exception for tenants who pose a risk to the public or in cases where the district court makes the decision to proceed via phone.
  3. Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on April 3, part of which prohibited state, county, and local law enforcement from displacing residents from their home through the end of the order, which is scheduled to end April 30.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Notable influencers who tested positive for coronavirus
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos


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

State and local governments have implemented a range of policies affecting evictions and foreclosures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some governors have issued executive orders affecting evictions and foreclosures.  Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), for example, issued executive orders suspending evictions and foreclosures for a set period of time.  Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) issued an executive order suspending evictions for those who receive assistance from the state’s Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

Judicial branch changes also affect evictions and foreclosures. The Rhode Island State Judiciary issued an order closing all courts to non-emergency matters through May 17. Eviction proceedings were included in the order, and the court precluded new filings or hearings from being heard until May 17. California’s Judicial Council temporarily suspended evictions and foreclosures statewide for 90 days until after the state of emergency ended, however, the order did not prohibit landlords from starting an eviction. Several courts have suspended in-person proceedings entirely, which includes eviction cases.

Some local governments have implemented policies at the local level. In Georgia, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms temporarily suspended evictions and filings for 60 days.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) issued an executive order that prohibited landlords from evicting residential tenants in the City of Los Angeles during the local emergency if the resident was able to demonstrate their inability to pay due to impact from the coronavirus.


Three recall efforts fail in Westminster, California

Recall elections against Mayor Tri Ta and council members Kimberly Ho and Chi Charlie Nguyen were on the April 7 ballot in Westminster, California. Unofficial results show all three officials surviving their recall elections. In-person voting was canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Westminster residents were required to postmark their mail-in ballots by April 7.

Voters were presented with a yes/no question for recalling each official. Candidates were on the ballot to succeed the officials if the recall was approved in the first question.

  • The recall against Ta had 59.3% of the vote in favor of keeping him as mayor. Council member Tai Do was the leading candidate to replace Ta.
  • The recall against Ho had 57.3% of the vote in favor of keeping her as a council member. Planning Commissioner Carlos Manzo was the leading candidate to replace Ho.
  • The recall against Nguyen had 57.7% of the vote in favor of keeping him as a council member. Westminster Elementary Board of Education member Jamison Power was the leading candidate to replace Nguyen.

Recall petitions against Ta, Ho, and Nguyen accused the officials of corruption and ethics violations. Notices of intent to recall council members Tai Do and Sergio Contreras were filed as a response to the recall efforts against the other three officials. The notices against Do and Contreras cited grandstanding. Ta, Ho, and Nguyen represent the majority on the council, with Do and Contreras representing the minority.

Petitioners needed to gather 8,736 valid signatures by December 6, 2019, to put the recall on the ballot. About 11,000 signatures were turned in. The Westminster City Clerk’s Office certified the signatures on December 23, 2019.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.

Additional reading:


Coronavirus daily updates: April 10, 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 of changes for April 10, 2020.
Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Today, the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected that daily deaths resulting from COVID-19 would peak in the United States on or about April 10. Its model presumes that existing social distancing measures will remain in place through the end of May. At some point, Americans will begin getting back to regular activities. Stay-at-home orders will be lifted, schools will reopen, courts will resume activities, etc. When and how that should happen will be subject to debate. President Trump has said that the federal government will leave these particulars up to governors and the states.
Policymakers, public health professionals, and other stakeholders are debating both the timetables and methods for rolling back current restrictions and resuming more typical governmental, business, and social activities. Moving forward, we will be presenting some of the statements and arguments being made in this debate as a regular part of this briefing. We will publish articles on these topics next week.
  1. On April 8, at the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Donald Trump (R) responded to a question about what has to happen in order to reopen the country: “I think we can say that we have to be on that downside of that slope and heading to a very strong direction that this thing has gone. And we could do it in phases. We can go to some areas which you know, some areas are much less effective than others. But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country or certainly most of our country. And I think we’re going to do that soon.”
  2. In an interview today with Fox News, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “There are places around the country that have seen consistently low levels. And as we ramp up testing and can feel more confident that these places actually can do surveillance and can do public health follow-up, some places will be able to think about opening on May 1. Most of the country will not, to be honest with you, but some will. And that’s how we’ll reopen the country: place by place, bit by bit, based on the data.”
  3. In an interview today with CNBC, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said, “The shelter-in-place is making a big difference, but we really don’t have an evaluation until we know the extent of the problem: testing, testing, testing. … Data, data, data, evidence, science — that is the answer to when we can go back.”
  4. In an interview today with MSNBC, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said, “If we’re not expecting a second wave or a mutation of this virus, then we have learned nothing. I think this is one of the new normals now in public health, like we go through the environment, like we’ve gone through the economy. That is why it is such an important period for government.”
  5. Yesterday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said the following during a press conference, “I will guarantee you, we’re not going to keep these orders on one day longer than we have to. What I’m asking Ohioans to do is hang in there. All the evidence that we have indicates if we don’t hang in there, if we don’t continue to do what we’re doing, it’s going to cost a lot of lives and it’s going to delay our ability to economically recover.”
Federal responses
  1. President Donald Trump (R) announced he was forming a new council to discuss the process of reopening the U.S. economy. Trump referred to the group as the Opening Our Country Council and said members would be announced on April 14.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections. Another five states have postponed, or authorized the postponement of, municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Nine states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Nineteen states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 15 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 18 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  3. At least four lawsuits seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 396 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Seventy-two significant bills have been enacted into law, 18 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Five of those have since reconvened.
  2. Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  1. Wisconsin – The legislature has adjourned the special session called by Gov. Tony Evers (D) to consider modifications to the spring election, although the legislature is expected to convene sometime in the not-too-distant future to consider a COVID-19 relief bill.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Vermont – The Vermont Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 31.
State executive orders
  1. Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly (D) filed a lawsuit against the Legislative Coordinating Council, a seven-member group of the state’s legislative leaders. On Wednesday, the council voted to revoke Kelly’s order limiting religious gatherings to 10 people. Her lawsuit argues that only the full legislature may vote to revoke executive orders. The Kansas Supreme Court announced it would hear the case via video conferencing on April 11.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Fourteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Sixteen states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Sixteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  5. Two states temporarily released certain populations of inmates.
Details:
  1. New York – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that more than 1,500 inmates were released from city jails since March 16.
  2. Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that certain inmate populations would be released temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nonviolent inmates due to be released within the next nine months, or vulnerable inmates who are within 12 months of their release date are being considered. Inmates would return to prison upon the expiration of the state of emergency to serve the remainder of their sentences.
  3. Illinois – On April 6, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed an order allowing the Illinois Department of Corrections to temporarily release “medically vulnerable” inmates as long as the governor’s disaster proclamation is in effect.
  4. New Mexico –  On April 6, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) issued an executive order which would allow early release for inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes and scheduled to be released in the next 30 days. The order requires inmates to have parole in place prior to release.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 36 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott (R) extended Vermont’s stay-at-home order. The order is set to expire on May 15.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 41.5% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  2. All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Details:
  1. Alaska – On Thursday evening, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
Travel restrictions
Overview to date:
  1. Eighteen governors or state agencies have issued an executive order.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
Overview:
  1. Thirty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced a grace period for rents due in April and May. His executive order allowed an automatic 60-day grace period for April rent and a 60 day grace period for May rent, upon request, for tenants who lost their jobs or income due to the coronavirus pandemic. The order also prohibits landlords from serving “notice to quit” or “service of summary process” before July 1, with an exception for “serious nuisance.”


Anchorage holds all-mail municipal elections

The city of Anchorage, Alaska, held general elections on April 7 for six city council seats, two school board seats, and 15 special district seats. The election was vote-by-mail, and all of the races were nonpartisan. Election officials will release updated results daily until they are certified on April 21. The election results below are based on the results posted on April 8.

The Anchorage City Council, also known as the Anchorage Assembly, had six of its 11 seats on the ballot in 2020. District 2-Seat C incumbent Fred Dyson was the only assembly incumbent to not file for re-election.

• District 1 – Seat B: Incumbent Christopher Constant was unopposed in the general election.
• District 2 – Seat C: Jamie Allard is leading the race against Roger Branson and Stephany Jeffers with 59% of the vote. Jeffers has received 33% of the vote, and Branson has received 7% of the vote.
• District 3 – Seat E: Incumbent Austin Quinn-Davidson is leading the race against Nick Danger and MoHagani Magnetek with 63% of the vote. Danger has received 29% of the vote, and Magnetek has received 6% of the vote.
• District 4 – Seat G: Incumbent Felix Rivera has a slim lead in his race against Christine Hill with 50% of the vote. Hill has received 49% of the vote.
• District 5 – Seat I: Incumbent Pete Petersen is leading the race against Monty Dyson and David Walker with 55% of the vote. Dyson has received 35% of the vote, and Walker has received 9% of the vote.
• District 6 – Seat K: Incumbent Suzanne LaFrance has a slender lead in her race against Rick Castillo with 51% of the vote. Castillo has received 48% of the vote.

The Anchorage School District had two of the board’s seven seats on the ballot in 2020. Incumbents Dave Donley and Andy Holleman both filed for re-election.

• Seat C: Incumbent Dave Donley faced James Smallwood in the general election. Donley is leading the race with 55% of the vote. Smallwood has received 43% of the vote.
• Seat D: Incumbent Andy Holleman, JC Cates, and Phil Isley ran in the general election. Holleman is leading the race with 54% of the vote. Cates has 23% of the vote, and Isley has 21% of the vote.

In 2020, Ballotpedia is covering elections in 52 of America’s 100 largest cities by population.

Additional reading:
United States municipal elections, 2020



Statewide filing deadline approaches in Michigan

The major party filing deadline to run for elected office in Michigan is on April 21, 2020. In Michigan, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (all 14 seats)
• State Board of Education (2 seats)
• University of Michigan Board of Regents (2 seats)
• Michigan State University Board of Trustees (2 seats)
• Wayne State University Board of Governors (2 seats)
• Michigan House of Representatives (all 110 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Wayne County, Michigan
• Detroit Public Schools Community District
• Dearborn Public Schools
• Ann Arbor Public Schools

The primary is scheduled for August 4, 2020, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

The filing deadline has so far been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. Ballotpedia is tracking changes in election dates, procedures, and administration.

Michigan’s statewide filing deadline is the 35th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on April 24 in Florida.

Michigan has a divided government, which means that no party holds a 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:
Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Michigan
United States House of Representatives elections in Michigan, 2020
United States Senate election in Michigan, 2020
Michigan state executive official elections, 2020
Michigan House of Representatives elections, 2020



Candidate filing period for state and local races ends in Arizona, North Dakota, and Oklahoma

The major party filing deadlines passed to run for elected offices in three states. Arizona and North Dakota’s filing deadlines were April 6, and Oklahoma’s was April 10.

In Arizona, candidates filed for the following state offices:
• Corporation Commission (3 seats)
• State Senate (30 seats)
• State House (60 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas, though the filing deadline for these offices is not until July 6:
• Phoenix, Arizona
• Mesa, Arizona
• Chandler, Arizona
• Glendale, Arizona
• Gilbert, Arizona
• Scottsdale, Arizona
• Maricopa County, Arizona
• Pima County, Arizona
• 42 school districts

In North Dakota, candidates filed for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Treasurer
• State Auditor
• Commissioner of Insurance
• Public Service Commissioner
• Superintendent of Public Instruction
• State Senate (23 seats)
• State House (47 seats)
• Supreme Court (1 seat)

In Oklahoma, candidates filed for the following state offices:
• Corporation Commissioner
• State Senate (24 seats)
• State House (101 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Tulsa, Oklahoma
• Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
• Tulsa County, Oklahoma
• Cleveland County, Oklahoma
• Canadian County, Oklahoma
• Osage County, Oklahoma
• 25 school districts (the filing deadline for these elections was December 4, 2019)

Arizona and Oklahoma are also holding retention elections for their state supreme courts and their state intermediate appellate courts on November 3, 2020.

The primary in Arizona is scheduled for August 4, the primary in North Dakota is scheduled for June 9, and the primary in Oklahoma is scheduled for June 30. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum (R) authorized counties to conduct the June 9 primary election entirely by mail in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The general elections for all three states are scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Arizona, North Dakota, and Oklahoma’s statewide filing deadlines were the 32nd, 33rd, and 34th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on April 21 in Michigan.

Arizona, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have Republican state government trifectas. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:
Arizona elections, 2020
North Dakota elections, 2020
Oklahoma elections, 2020



Coronavirus daily update: April 9, 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 of changes for April 9, 2020.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections. Another five states have postponed, or authorized the postponement of, municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  2. Nine states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  3. Nineteen states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in 15 states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Georgia – Georgia postponed its statewide primary and presidential primary elections to June 9. The primary runoff was postponed to August 11. The state had previously postponed its presidential primary to May 19, the original date of its statewide primary.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  1. Ballotpedia tracked 18 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  2. Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  3. At least four lawsuits seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  1. To date, 388 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  2. Seventy-two significant bills have been enacted into law, 19 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  1. Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Five of those have since reconvened.
  2. Eighteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  3. Four state legislatures are in regular session.
  4. Two state legislatures (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) are in special session.
  5. One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  1. Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  2. Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  1. Rhode Island – The Rhode Island state judiciary closed courts to non-emergency matters through May 17.
Prison inmate responses
Overview to date:
  1. Fourteen states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  2. Eighteen states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  3. Sixteen have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  4. Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  1. So far, 43 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 36 announced end dates.
Details:
  1. Michigan – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order to April 30.
  2. Georgia – Gov. Brian Kemp (R) extended the state’s stay-at-home order to April 30.
School closures
Overview to date:
  1. Nineteen states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 41.5% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  2. All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 20, was extended through May 20.
  2. Missouri – Gov. Mike Parson (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 24.
  3. Oregon – On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Kate Brown (D) ordered schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were scheduled to be closed through April 28.
  4. Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools had been closed indefinitely from March 16.
Travel restrictions
Overview to date:
  1. Eighteen states have issued executive orders on interstate travel restrictions.
Details:
  1. Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued an order requiring all visitors over the age of 18 who enter Utah through airports or roadways to complete a travel declaration within three hours of entering the state.
Eviction and foreclosure policies
Overview:
  1. Thirty-one states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures.
Details:
  1. California – On April 6, California’s Judicial Council temporarily suspended evictions and foreclosures statewide for 90 days until after the state of emergency ends. This order does not prohibit landlords from starting an eviction.
  2. Rhode Island – In their order closing courts to non-emergency matters through May 17, the Rhode Island state judiciary suspended eviction proceedings. The court precluded new eviction filings and hearings from being heard before the court until May 17.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal politicians who tested positive for coronavirus
  1. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL)
State politicians who tested negative for coronavirus
  1. State Senator Joyce Elliott (D-AR)


Signatures verified in Idaho county commissioner recall effort

A recall effort seeking to remove two of the three Lincoln County commissioners in Idaho was approved for the ballot on April 6, 2020. The recall election for Rick Ellis and Roy Hubert is scheduled for August 25.

The two commissioners were targeted for recall after they voted to build a new courthouse in a different location in the county. Recall supporters said they were seeking to recall Ellis and Hubert due to a “willful disregard for the wishes and desires of the public” and “deliberately ignoring the results of two public surveys regarding the renovation of the courthouse.”

Ellis said the issues surrounding the courthouse started when the community took a survey detailing what they wanted in regards to renovations. He said that the survey results showed that “they wanted to renovate the existing courthouse and build a new, approximately 12,000 square foot annex.” He said that the same survey showed that residents would vote in favor of a bond for that project. However, when it came time to vote, he said, “fifty-one percent showed up to support the bond, and it failed. Because it took a super majority of 67 percent to win.”

Recall supporters had to submit petitions with 442 signatures in April 2020 to get the recall on the ballot. They submitted 608 signatures on April 3, and the county verified 563 of the signatures on April 6.

In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.



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