Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest: June 2023

Welcome to Ballotpedia’s Donor Privacy and Disclosure Digest! This monthly newsletter provides news and information on key policy changes, a breakdown of state legislation, and an overview of pivotal legal decisions and case developments. In this issue, you’ll find:

  • Missouri Legislature passes bill amending privacy act: The Missouri General Assembly approves modifications to the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act.
  • In the courts: The latest on pivotal judicial decisions and developments across the country.
  • State by state: An analysis of this month’s state legislative activity, including bill status, topic, partisan sponsorship, and more. 
  • What we’re reading: Keep up to date on the stories and analyses we’ve been reading this month.
  • Dig deeper: Want more information on the topics covered in this issue? We’ve got you covered.

Missouri Legislature passes bill amending privacy act

On May 10, the Missouri General Assembly passed SB28, a bill modifying provisions of the state’s Personal Privacy Protection Act. Under the Act, government agencies are prohibited from disclosing information identifying a person as a member, supporter, or donor to a nonprofit organization. The bill now heads to Gov. Mike Parson (R) for consideration.

The Personal Privacy Protection Act was enacted through HB2400. Rep. Dan Houx (R) introduced the bill, which was originally related to retirement and welfare benefits plans, on Jan. 11, 2022. The state House passed the bill unanimously on April 4, and the state Senate passed an amended version 27-6 on May 6, with 10 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting for the bill. Rep. Jered Taylor (R) offered an amendment to the bill containing the Personal Privacy Protection Act on May 12. Taylor said the act would “protect an individual’s right or ability to donate to a cause that they believe in.” The amended legislation received bipartisan support in the House, with 28 Democrats and 101 Republicans voting in favor of the bill on May 12. Parson signed the bill into law on June 30. Five other states, Georgia, Indiana, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia, also enacted donor privacy laws in 2022.

SB28 would allow government agencies to disclose information with the written permission of all individuals who might be identified through the release. It also specifies that the Personal Privacy Protection Act does not prevent the disclosure of donor information contained in a financial interest statement. It creates additional exceptions to the Act for information disclosed as part of a legal investigation and records nonprofits submit to obtain government contracts. 

SB28 originally focused on regulating access to public records of the Missouri Highway Patrol. Sen. Justin Brown (R) introduced the bill on Jan. 4, 2023, and the Senate passed it on Feb. 3. Lawmakers added the provisions relating to donor privacy on May 1, and the bill passed the House of Representatives on May 10. 

The General Assembly considered two other bills modifying Missouri’s privacy laws this year.  Rep. Sean Pouche (R) introduced a bill that would have changed the Personal Privacy Protection Act, HB667, on Jan. 5, 2023. Rep. Ben Baker (R) introduced the other bill, HB1064, on Feb. 7. Neither bill passed both chambers of the legislature. HB667 advanced from committee on March 21 but was not scheduled for a floor vote before the state’s legislative session ended on May 12. HB1064 passed the House on April 11 and was referred to committee in the Senate, but did not advance.

Supporters of SB28 say it allows the state to effectively partner with nonprofits while still protecting donor privacy. Opponents say the original law does not need modifications. Office of Administration representative Chris Moreland said the bill is a compromise that would “allow the state to continue conducting business and partnering with nonprofits while maintaining protections around donor privacy.” Jeremy Cady, state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the issue was with the interpretation of the existing act under the current administration, not with its language: “A number of states have passed similar laws. We haven’t seen these issues in other states. So we’re not entirely sure why this has become as much of an issue as it has been.” 

Missouri has a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. Republicans have a 24-10 majority in the Missouri Senate and a 111-52 majority in the Missouri House of Representatives. 

In the courts

Groups sue New York attorney general over donor records

Nonprofit groups Empire Center and New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF) filed a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) on May 16. The groups alleged James’ office improperly received IRS documents containing nonprofit donor information, including donors’ names and addresses. Plaintiffs also cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta, which held that requiring donors’ names and addresses violated the First Amendment. The Empire Center’s president and CEO Tim Hoefer said, “For years, the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau wrongfully collected confidential donor information, and we now know that data hasn’t been kept secure. The Attorney General’s actions, or lack thereof, since the leaks have shown she has no plan to stop violating donors’ First Amendment rights, leaving us with no option but to take her to court to enforce the law.” James has not commented on the lawsuit, but said in October 2022 that her office had conducted an internal investigation into potential disclosures of donor information. 

State by state

Since May 3, state legislatures have acted on 15 donor privacy and disclosure bills, down from the 16 bills acted on last month. These 15 bills represent 28.8% of the 52 bills we are tracking in 2023. Eight of these bills are from states with Democratic trifectas, five are from states with Republican trifectas, and two are from states with a divided government. In comparison, we tracked 51 bills at this point in 2022 and 40 bills at this point in 2021. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

5 bills were introduced (or had pre-committee action).

  • Democratic trifectas: 3
  • Republican trifectas: 2

1 bill advanced from committee

  • Democratic trifectas: 1

6 bills passed one chamber (or had pre-adoption action in the second chamber). Those bills, with their official titles, are listed below. 

  • Democratic trifectas: 4
    • CA SB724: Political Reform Act of 1974: communications.
    • CT SB01058: An Act Concerning The Attorney General’s Recommendations Regarding Consumer Protection And Financial Reporting By Charitable Organizations.
    • NY S06863: Relates to reporting requirements of SUNY and CUNY; relates to financial information and identifying vendor information of each contract; relates to a list of all foundation and state university employees by campus, department and location including salaries, job titles and descriptions.
  • Republican trifectas: 1
    • NH HB195: Relative to the definition of political advocacy organization.
  • Divided governments: 1
    • NV AB258: Enacts certain provisions governing the confidentiality of certain personal information of a donor, member or volunteer of a nonprofit organization. 

2 bills passed both chambers. Those bills, with their official titles, are listed below. 

  • Republican trifectas: 1
    • AL HB184: Relating to charitable organizations; to amend Section 13A-9-71, Code of Alabama 1975, to prohibit the imposition of certain filing or reporting requirements on certain charitable organizations.
  • Divided governments: 1
    • NV AB52: Makes various changes to the Open Meeting Law. 

1 bill was enacted. Those bills, with their official titles, are listed below.  

  • Divided governments: 1
    • IN HB1212: Privacy of nonprofit donor information.

The charts below show bill progress by state trifecta status and compare tracked legislation by legislative status and partisan sponsorship in 2022 and 2023. 

What we’re reading

Keep up with the latest events in the world of donor privacy and disclosure policy by exploring the stories linked below. 

Dig deeper

Are you hungry for more information on the topics we covered in this edition? Check out the following Ballotpedia pages:

Tuesday’s election results roundup: One incumbent loses in New Jersey, and Denver gets a new mayor

Welcome to the Thursday, June 8, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Tuesday’s election results roundup: One incumbent loses in New Jersey, and Denver gets a new mayor
  2. On this date in 1976: Ohio voters approved the Ohio Joint Election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor Amendment
  3. A roundtable of Ballotpedia reporters discuss highlights from this year’s state legislative sessions in the latest episode of On the Ballot

Tuesday’s election results roundup: One incumbent loses in New Jersey, and Denver gets a new mayor 

New Jersey held municipal and statewide legislative primaries on Tuesday, while Denver, Colorado, held a runoff election for mayor. Let’s dive into the key results:

One incumbent defeated in New Jersey’s state legislative primaries

Seventeen incumbents faced contested primaries on Tuesday, and all but one advanced to the general election. 

Democratic Sen. Nia Gill lost her primary, representing 1.1% of the 93 incumbents running for re-election. Overall, 76 incumbents, or 82% of the total running for re-election, didn’t face primary challengers and were guaranteed to advance to the general election. 

It is uncommon for New Jersey legislative incumbents to lose in primaries. 

From 2011 to 2017, no incumbents lost in primaries. In 2019, one Republican incumbent lost. A decade-high three incumbents lost primaries in 2021. 

Gill’s defeat comes in the state’s only incumbent v. incumbent primary, where she faced fellow incumbent Richard Codey (D). The two ended up in the same district following redistricting, guaranteeing at least one would lose.

Both incumbents were long-standing members of the Senate. Gill assumed office in 2002 and Codey in 1982. Codey is running unopposed in the November general election.

Click here to learn more about state legislative incumbents defeated so far in 2023. 

New Jersey is one of four states holding state legislative primaries in 2023, and the first to do so this year. 

The next state legislative primary date is June 20 in Virginia, where 17 incumbents are running in contested primaries, including two incumbent v. incumbent primaries.

Mississippi will hold its state legislative primaries on Aug. 8, followed by Louisiana on Oct. 14.

HDCO-endorsed incumbents advance in Hudson County

In Hudson county, a slate of candidates who received endorsements from the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) defeated a slate who received endorsements from the Progressive Democrats of Hudson County (PDHC) in the six contested Democratic primaries for the board of commissioners.

Five of the Democratic primaries had an incumbent, and one was for an open position. The HCDO endorsed all five contested incumbents as well as Robert Baselice in the open race. None of the six PDHC endorsees were incumbents, including Stephanie Martinez running in the open race.

The HDCO is the county-level affiliate of the state Democratic Party, and the PDHC is the county-level affiliate of the Progressive Democrats of New Jersey. 

No district had contested Republican primaries.

Additionally, HDCO-endorsed candidate Craig Guy defeated PDHC-endorsed Eleana Little in the Democratic primary for county executive. Guy is running unopposed in the November general election. Incumbent Thomas Degise (D), in office since 2002, did not seek re-election. 

Elsewhere in New Jersey, Essex County held primaries for county surrogate and its board of commissioners. Click here to view those results. 

Johnston defeats Brough in Denver’s mayoral runoff

In Colorado, former State Sen. Mike Johnston (D) defeated former Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Kelly Brough in the runoff election for Denver mayor. As of this writing, Johnston had 56% to Brough’s 45%. 

Johnston and Brough advanced from a field of 22 candidates in the April 4 general election. Incumbent Michael Hancock (D), first elected in 2011, was term-limited. This was Denver’s fifth open mayoral election since 1959.

Ahead of the general election, Denverite’s Kyle Harris wrote that Brough and Johnston were “centrist candidates … [who] cleaved toward the middle, offering an optimistic vision while gently pushing for using policing in their homelessness solutions.” 

Both candidates highlighted public safety, homelessness, and housing affordability as key issues in this race.

Johnston’s endorsers included U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D), former Mayor Federico Peña, and a number of local unions. Brough’s endorsers included Gov. Bill Ritter (D), the Denver Police Protective Association, and the Denver Republican Party.

While the election was officially nonpartisan, Brough and Johnston are both Democrats.

We previewed this race in our May 30 edition. Click here to read more. 

Keep reading

On this date in 1976: Ohio voters approved the Ohio Joint Election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor Amendment

Earlier this week, we told you about a historical ballot measure of note—Prop 13 on June 6. Today let’s explore another measure in our database, this time from Ohio. 

Forty-seven years ago today, Ohio voters approved the Ohio Joint Election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor Amendment, a constitutional amendment providing that the lieutenant governor and governor run as a joint ticket in general elections.

The amendment also removed the lieutenant governor’s duty to preside over the state Senate and gave the General Assembly the power to determine the method for nominating the lieutenant governor and governor. 

Before the amendment’s implementation, Ohio’s governors and lieutenant governors were elected separately, which could result in officeholders from different parties. This happened 10 times in the 20th century, including in 1970, when Democrat John J. Gilligan was elected governor, and Republican John W. Brown was elected lieutenant governor.

In 1971, the Constitutional Revision Commission, a body created to suggest revisions to the state constitution, recommended “the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor be elected as a team, and that the General Assembly provide by law for the joint nomination of candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.” The commission stated the change would “strengthen the executive role of the Lieutenant Governor and, by requiring political harmony between the two offices, insure continuity of public policy in the event of an abrupt transition of government.”

Gilligan and Brown both testified in favor of the change. Addressing the commission, Gilligan said:

“[…] It is the constitutional responsibility of the Lt. Governor to assume the duties of the Governor if the latter dies or becomes disabled. A close working relationship between the Governor and Lt. Governor will substantially ease the problems of the gubernatorial transition. I am certain that a Lt. Governor of the Governor’s own party will play a major role in much of the discussion and decision making process in the Governor’s office and will, therefore, be better equipped in an emergency to take over the duties of the State’s Chief Executive.”

Following the commission’s recommendation, the Ohio General Assembly referred the amendment to the ballot. Voters approved the measure 61% to 39% on June 8, 1976. 

The amendment’s approval didn’t take place in time to prevent the same situation from happening one last time, though. In the 1974 general election, two years before the amendment’s approval, both Gilligan and Brown lost to challengers from the opposing parties: Gilligan to Republican James Rhodes and Brown to Democrat Richard Celeste.

Today, Ohio is one of 26 states in which the lieutenant governor is selected on a ticket with the governor. 

In 18 of these states, including Ohio, gubernatorial candidates may pick their own running mates in a similar fashion to presidential candidates. In the remaining eight states, there are separate primaries for governor and lieutenant governor, with the winning candidate in each primary appearing on the general election ticket.

The lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor in 17 states. In Tennessee and West Virginia, the title of lieutenant governor is given to the president of the state Senate.

Arizona was the last state to approve a measure to make the governor and lieutenant governor appear on a joint ticket. On Nov. 8, 2022, voters approved Proposition 131 55% to 45%. The measure created the position of lieutenant governor and provided that it should be elected on a joint ticket with the governor, beginning in 2026. Currently, Arizona is one of five states—alongside Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming—where the position of lieutenant governor doesn’t exist. 

As of June 7, Louisiana, North Carolina and Vermont are the only states where the lieutenant governor and the governor are from different parties. Louisiana and North Carolina both have Democratic governors and Republican lieutenant governors, while Vermont has a Republican governor and a Democratic lieutenant governor. 

Keep reading 

A roundtable of Ballotpedia reporters discuss highlights from this year’s state legislative sessions in the latest episode of On the Ballot

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

In this week’s episode, host Victoria Rose and a roundtable of Ballotpedia’s reporters discuss highlights and trends from this year’s state legislative sessions as they begin to wind down. Among the topics they discuss is the increase in election-related legislative activity this year. States have enacted 175 election-related bills so far in 2023, compared to 156 at this point in 2022. Republicans sponsored more of the bills enacted this year than last, while the number of Democrat-sponsored bills has remained nearly the same.

Interested? Tune in! Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of June 8, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!

Don’t miss out on the latest content! Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.
Keep reading

Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #64

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over classical education 
  • In your district: reader replies on district reading programs
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • A comprehensive analysis of Oklahoma’s April 4 elections
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Email us at to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over classical education

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Classical education typically emphasizes philosophical, scientific, and literary texts beginning in Ancient Greece and Rome and continuing through the Medieval and Renaissance periods (though classical curriculum can include more recent texts). Authors often include Aristotle and Homer, as well as Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Recently, public charter schools in Florida, Texas, New York, Michigan, and elsewhere have offered curricula built around classical education.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board writes that classical learning is too Eurocentric, religious, and lacking in diverse perspectives. The Board says public schools should teach with more contemporary materials that contain diverse perspectives relevant to students’ experiences.

Cornel West and Jeremy Wayne Tate argue that classical educational materials convey timeless truths that spur and direct positive social changes. West and Tate also say that classical materials help students reason better and understand the world without referring to contemporary issues that can be political. 

DeSantis embraces ‘classical education,’ but what is it? | The Editorial Board, South Florida Sun Sentinel

“[Classical learning] leads students to views that are out-of-date and Eurocentric. Since many of those great texts were crafted in theocratic societies, they tend to be more overtly religious, and the religion is almost exclusively Christianity, which is generally portrayed as tantamount to virtue. The roles of women and ethnic minorities are less likely to be included in lessons, and there’s little mention of marginalized communities. Students are rarely exposed to the perspective of someone ‘other’ through ethnicity or sexuality. There are certainly ways to adapt classical learning models to avoid these pitfalls. But DeSantis’ version of classical education is far more rigid than those idealistic models — and his apparent allergy to diversity, equality and inclusion plays into that. External reviews of common, contemporary classical curriculum show that they downplay the contributions of women and minorities — lessons that many classical educators describe as a ‘focus on victimhood,’ but are really a welcome dose of reality that matches well in a world where women are more likely than men to attend college and are moving closer to parity in formerly male-dominated professions like medicine and law. Many of the classical texts were originally written by and for the elite class in Eurocentric cultures and downplay the reality of poverty and racial discrimination.”

DeSantis’s Revolutionary Defense of the Classics | Cornel West and Jeremy Wayne Tate, Wall Street Journal

“But the greatest works of civilization have always been about spurring—not preventing—radical change. They teach us about the revolutionary ideas of the past and help us better understand the present. The richest ideas of what it means to be human are those that have stood the test of time. … Revolutionary figures of the past give us insight into the present and allow for reflection on the consequences of their choices. Julius Caesar, one of antiquity’s most recognizable leaders, teaches us the cost of revolution through his histories. By crossing into Rome with his armies, he ended the republic and created the Roman Empire, a crime for which he paid with his life. But in his firsthand descriptions of the often-brutal tactics he employed to achieve political transformation, he left behind deep insight. Caesar’s direct and simple prose conveys the reality of going to war—all without reference to contemporary conflicts. … That’s one of the virtues of the classics: They are a means of considering what is true without invoking the blind partisanship that encourages thoughtless action. There is nothing we need more today than the cultivation of reason and understanding. That’s why Mr. DeSantis’s support of classic education has universal merit that transcends partisanship. Education based on values, logic and discipline isn’t Republican—it’s timeless.”

In your district: reader replies on partisan elections

We recently asked readers the following question about the reading program in place in their local districts:

Should the law allow school districts to hold partisan elections?

Thank you to all who responded. Today, we’re sharing a handful of those responses. We’ll return next month with another reader question. If you have ideas for a question you’d like to see us ask, reply to this email to let us know!

A school board candidate from New Hampshire wrote:

No. They should not be partisan. Doing so would necessitate candidates labeling themselves, perhaps even joining a party, to be categorized. As currently structured, candidates may choose to affiliate themselves with a party but, on the ballot, they are not identified as such.  Voters must vote for a person, not a party. This encourages voters to learn about the candidates and not make assumptions typically associated with party affiliations.

A school board president from Michigan wrote:

Good luck stopping them. It appears that in most elections people are already aligned with a party.

A teacher from Virginia wrote:

No, and I would go farther and prohibit parties from even endorsing candidates. Things are already divisive enough in education and bringing political parties into the process would just make the polarization even worse.

A school board member from Wisconsin wrote

No. However, non-partisan elections simply means you do not need to declare a party or have a party primary. A candidate can still state their political affiliation/ideology and get support from a political party. Everyone has a political ideology, philosophy or belief as to the role of government and a candidate should not hide their ideology behind the label ‘non-partisan.’

A community member from Pennsylvania wrote:

No. School board policies should focus on the needs of students instead of political advantage. Our municipality allows “cross-listing”, that is registering as a candidate in both parties, which local parties use as a means to confuse voters (who’s the real Dem/Rep?) and gain more board seats for the party. This definitely places the interests of students behind partisanship.

Readers from Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and Wisconsin answered “yes” to the question but did not elaborate. 

Share candidate endorsements with us! 

As part of our goal to solve the ballot information problem, Ballotpedia is gathering information about school board candidate endorsements. The ballot information gap widens the further down the ballot you go, and is worst for the more than 500,000 local offices nationwide, such as school boards or special districts. Endorsements can help voters know more about their candidates and what they stand for. 

Do you know of an individual or group that has endorsed a candidate in your district? 

Click here to let us know.

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. This year, Ballotpedia is covering elections for approximately 8,750 seats in 3,211 school districts across 28 states—or about 36% of all school board elections this year. Click here to read more about our 2023 school board coverage.

Upcoming school board elections


We’re covering runoff elections for the following Texas districts on June 10. In Texas, if no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top-two vote-getters in the general advance to a runoff.

We covered general elections in Texas on May 22.

South Dakota

We’re covering school board elections in some South Dakota districts on June 20. District include:

  • Clark School District
  • Hanson School District
  • Burke School District
  • Britton-Hecla School District
  • Tea Area School District
  • Watertown School District

In South Dakota, districts schedule their own elections between April and the end of June. 


Washington is holding school board primary elections on Aug. 1. We’re covering elections in the following districts:

A comprehensive analysis of Oklahoma’s April 4 elections

In last week’s edition, we brought you a deep dive into Wisconsin’s April 4 school board elections, including an unprecedented look at the national and state organizations endorsing candidates. Wisconsin is one of 10 states this year—along with Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington—whose school board elections we are comprehensively covering. 

Today, we’re looking at Oklahoma’s April 4 school board elections. We’ll begin our analysis with our research on candidates’ partisan affiliations. (who run in nonpartisan elections). Then, we’ll look at how incumbents fared. Here’s a summary of what we found:

  • Registered Republicans won 72% of seats, registered Democrats won 24%
  • Nearly half of all incumbents in contested elections lost

Candidate partisan affiliations

In the April 4 elections, registered Republicans won 401 seats (72%), registered Democrats with 131 (24%), and registered independents or minor party candidates won 24 (4%).

Oklahoma is one of 41 states that holds nonpartisan school board elections, so how did we figure out with which party school board candidates are registered?

Oklahoma is one of 11 states that make its file of registered voters publicly available at no cost. We used candidate filing information and other publicly-available data to match every school board candidate with a voter in the state’s voter file. 

Here’s what we found once we crunched the data.

  • There were 439 uncontested elections, representing 79.0% of all seats up for election. In Oklahoma, uncontested elections are canceled, meaning they never appear on the ballot. Only one candidate ran in 425 of these uncontested elections. For the other 14, there was a February primary election but one candidate won more than 50% of the vote, winning outright and canceling the April general election.
  • 76 elections were intra-party, meaning they featured candidates registered with the same political party.
  • Of the 556 seats up for election, 41 (7%) were contested between candidates registered with different political parties.
  • Registered Republicans won 72% of all uncontested elections and 93% of all intra-party. Registered Democrats won 54% of all contested elections.

The chart below shows the number of seats won by party registration status as well as breakdowns by different election types:

Voters in 110 districts (22% of those holding elections) elected only registered Democrats compared to those in 341 districts (70%) that elected only registered Republicans.

Voters in 18 districts (4%) elected candidates with different party affiliations, and voters in 21 districts (4%) elected only independents or minor party candidates.

Open seats and incumbents 

Overall, 447 incumbents ran for re-election (80%), of which 410 (92%) won and 37 (8%) lost.

That overall loss rate is well below the average of 16% we’ve seen across school board elections nationwide over the past five years. It’s also lower than the 11% loss rate we told you about in Wisconsin last week.

But 82% of those incumbents who ran for re-election were unopposed in the general election, more than double the 36% rate of unopposed incumbents we’ve usually seen.

When looking just at the 80 incumbents who ran in contested elections, the loss rate increases to 46%, 20 percentage points higher than the average contested loss rate for incumbents in our traditional coverage scope.

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey. And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also appear in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey.

Another marijuana legalization measure may be heading to the 2024 ballot

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 7, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Marijuana legalization on Florida’s 2024 ballot pending state supreme court review
  2. Twenty upcoming vacancies among Article III judges
  3. Hall Pass sneak peek: partisan school board elections

Marijuana legalization on Florida’s 2024 ballot pending state supreme court review

On June 1, state officials in Florida confirmed that Smart & Safe Florida, a campaign supporting a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in the state, had submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot.

This measure would amend the state’s constitution to legalize marijuana for adults 21 years and older and allow the possession of up to three ounces of marijuana. If approved, Florida would become the 24th state to legalize marijuana for recreational usage. 

Whether the measure goes before voters next year depends on an upcoming state supreme court review required for all proposed initiatives under Florida law. Republican governors appointed all of the court’s seven justices.

The court must determine if the measure complies with the state’s single-subject rule, the appropriateness of its title and summary, and whether it “is facially valid under the United States Constitution.” Briefings are due by June 12.

Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) has already announced she does not believe the measure meets these requirements.

In 2021, Moody similarly argued against a proposed 2022 initiative to legalize marijuana, saying the ballot title was misleading and inaccurately stated the measure would legalize something that is illegal under federal law.

The state supreme court agreed and ruled 5-2 that the measure could not appear on the 2022 ballot. 

The ballot language for the proposed 2024 initiative includes a sentence saying, “Applies to Florida law; does not change, or immunize violations of, federal law.”

If this measure passes supreme court review, it would be the first marijuana-related measure to qualify for a statewide ballot in 2024. 

Ballotpedia is tracking three other potential statewide marijuana-related ballot measures in:

  • Florida, where there is a separate measure to legalize the home cultivation of medical marijuana. Florida legalized medical marijuana in 2016, with 71% of voters in favor and 29% opposed;
  • Nebraska, where supporters have until July 5, 2024, to submit the required number of valid signatures; and,
  • Ohio, where supporters qualified to submit a marijuana legalization measure to the Legislature for consideration. The Legislature did not act on the proposal by May 3, meaning supporters now have until August to gather 124,046 additional signatures in order to qualify for the 2023 ballot.

Beyond ballot measures, state legislatures in Delaware and Minnesota have legalized marijuana this year. Both states have Democratic trifectas.

As of June 5, 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized the possession and personal use of marijuana for recreational purposes. This includes 16 states with Democratic trifectas, two with Republican trifectas, and five with divided governments.

Voters decided on legalization measures in 14 states and D.C. The average yes vote was 58%, and the average no vote was 42%, with an average margin of victory of 16 percentage points.

Keep reading 

Twenty upcoming vacancies among Article III judges

According to data from the U.S. Courts, there are 20 announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. This is in addition to the 73 current federal judiciary vacancies out of the 870 such judgeships. The 93 vacancies represent 11% of the federal judgeships.

These announced upcoming vacancies are not yet vacant but will be at some point in the future, with every judge having announced their intent to either leave the bench or assume senior status. In the meantime, these judges continue to serve in their current positions. 

The president does not need to wait for a judgeship to become vacant before beginning the confirmation process for a successor.

The next scheduled vacancy occurs on June 8, when Judge Micaela Alvarez assumes senior status on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Article III judgeships refer to federal judges serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of International Trade, one of the 13 U.S. courts of appeal, or one of the 94 U.S. district courts. The president appoints judges to lifetime terms subject to Senate confirmation.

As of June 5, the Senate has confirmed 130 of President Joe Biden’s (D) Article III nominees. That’s the second-most among any president at this point in their presidency since Ronald Reagan’s (R). By June 1 of the thor year in his term, only Bill Clinton (D) had made more appointments at 145.

Keep reading 

Hall Pass sneak peek: partisan school board elections

Today, we’re bringing you a sneak peek from one of our latest reader-response questions in Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter on the policies and politics of America’s schools.

If you’re already a Hall Pass subscriber, you know that we often ask you—the reader—a question about your thoughts and what’s happening in your school district. Then, we share some of the replies we receive.

Recently, we’ve asked questions about district reading programs, four-day school weeks, and proposed budgets.

Last week, we asked Should the law allow school districts to hold partisan elections?

This is an important question, and one more and more voters are experiencing firsthand. In 2021, Tennessee became the most recent state to allow for partisan school board elections. And voters in Florida will decide whether to change to a partisan election method in 2024.

Even in states that hold nonpartisan school board elections, it’s common for political parties to weigh in and endorse candidates. This year, in Wisconsin, Republican Party affiliates endorsed 152 candidates, and Democratic Party affiliates endorsed 62.

Here are a few replies we’ve received so far:

A teacher from Virginia wrote:

No, and I would go farther and prohibit parties from even endorsing candidates. Things are already divisive enough in education and bringing political parties into the process would just make the polarization even worse.

A school board member from Wisconsin wrote:

No. However, non-partisan elections simply means you do not need to declare a party or have a party primary. A candidate can still state their political affiliation/ideology and get support from a political party. Everyone has a political ideology, philosophy or belief as to the role of government and a candidate should not hide their ideology behind the label ‘non-partisan.’

Readers from Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and Wisconsin answered “yes” to the question but did not elaborate.

If you want to see more replies, subscribe to Hall Pass, where we will have a full story out later today, June 7!

By subscribing, you’ll also be getting a weekly roundup of the sharpest commentary and research from across the political spectrum on education, as well as the latest on school board elections and recall efforts.

Keep reading 

ESG pressure on CFO decision-making

Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.

ESG developments this week

In the states

Alabama anti-ESG legislation heads to Governor’s desk

On May 31, the Alabama House followed in the footsteps of the state senate, passing a far-reaching bill restricting the use of ESG in the investment of public funds. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk:

The Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday that would prevent state entities from doing businesses with companies that boycott other businesses for a variety of conservative stances.

This includes boycotting firearms companies, producers of fossil fuels, companies that fail to meet certain environmental criteria, and companies that don’t facilitate abortion or gender-affirming care.

Sb261 by Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, is one of several sweeping the country in opposition to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria being used by companies to decide who to do business with—some conservatives have called it a “woke report card.”

“This bill requires companies that contract with the state to certify that they don’t boycott other companies based on any purpose other than ordinary business purposes,” said Rep. Chip Brown, R-Hollinger’s Island, who carried the bill in the House….

The bill passed 76-27 along party lines and now only needs a signature from Gov. Kay Ivey to become law in the state.

Summarizing the state of ESG and ESG pushback

As 2023 approaches the halfway point, ESG-oriented publications are beginning to take stock of the developments in the field thus far this year. State-level action by elected officials continues to dominate these developments and, therefore, to dominate publications’ recap efforts. Ryan Mills engaged in such a retrospective assessment on May 30 at National Review Online:

Despite reports that the effort is “backfiring” and has “few big wins,” at least eleven states have passed legislation this year to combat public-investment strategies that prioritize left-wing social and environmental goals over providing the best financial return for taxpayers.

Supporters of the conservative movement to bar public-asset managers from taking into account so-called environmental, social, and corporate governance factors, or ESG, say they’ve made great strides in the last two years building awareness of ESG and passing laws against it.

“We’ve come in the last year and a half from nothing to having a quarter of the states passing stuff and having half of the states engaging,” said Derek Kreifels, CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation, a free-market non-profit that promotes fiscally responsible public policy. “To go from nothing to this in the last 18 months or so has been phenomenal.”…

Mainstream-news outlets have often portrayed the anti-ESG movement as floundering and failing. In February, the Washington Post reported that the “conservative battle against ‘woke’ banks is backfiring.” Bloomberg Law reported in April that the anti-ESG movement has gotten a lot of hype by has “few big wins” in statehouses.

But Catherine Gunsalus, director of state advocacy for Heritage Action, said the mainstream-media narrative that the anti-ESG movement is falling flat “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“I think the math shows that,” she said. “I think they’re nervous on the other side of this that this movement to push back on ESG is actually being successful.”

The pushback against ESG only started a couple of years ago. In 2021, Texas lawmakers passed a law that bars the state from doing business with financial companies that favor renewable-energy firms over fossil fuels for environmental rather than financial reasons. “This bill sent a strong message to both Washington and Wall Street that if you boycott Texas energy, then Texas will boycott you,” Texas representative Phil King said during debate over Senate Bill 13.

Last year, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Idaho followed suit.

“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction,” Riley Moore, the state treasurer from West Virginia, said of his state’s anti-ESG legislation, which takes aim at financial firms that “have weaponized our tax dollars against the very people and industry that have generated them to begin with. That is why we’re pushing back against this ESG movement.”…

This year, more than two dozen states introduced anti-ESG-style bills, and so far at least eleven – Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia – have passed and enacted some version. The various bills address the ESG issue from different angles: Many require that investment decisions involving taxpayer money be based solely on prospective financial returns, while others address government contracting, local bonds, and bank boycotts and discrimination….

Anti-ESG legislation hasn’t passed everywhere it’s been proposed. Democrats have defeated most anti-ESG bills in blue states, and in some cases have passed laws promoting the consideration of ESG factors in their investment decisions. Some conservative state legislatures, including in Mississippi and Wyoming, rejected anti-ESG bills this year.

A day later, on May 31, Thompson-Reuters published its own retrospective, detailing a slightly different path of the pushback against ESG:

A growing number of states are passing laws to restrict the use of environmental, social & governance (ESG) factors in making investment and business decisions. Proponents of these laws claim ESG threatens investment returns and uses economic power to implement business standards beyond those required by law.

Together, these new laws create an uneven regulatory patchwork that has already resulted in the divestment of billions of dollars in state funds from investment managers. Investors and businesses increasingly face a choice between complying with these new state laws and achieving the ESG goals promised to investors and stakeholders. New laws introduced in 2023 expand the scope of anti-ESG laws and present significant uncertainty for an increasing range of businesses.

Federal regulators and conservative lawmakers in some states are taking opposing approaches to defining the duties of fiduciaries. Investors making decisions using ESG frameworks include factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, which go beyond traditional fiduciary criteria like return on investment. The conflict reflects a philosophical disagreement between the belief that companies should work only to maximize returns, on one hand, and consideration of the interests of a wider range of stakeholders and outcomes, on the other.

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a final rule addressing when fiduciaries may consider ESG factors in accordance with their fiduciary duties under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Under ERISA, retirement plan fiduciaries have a duty to act solely in the interest of plan participants and beneficiaries. The new rule clarifies that fiduciaries may consider ESG factors such as climate change and may select from competing investments based on collateral economic or social benefits. In late-January, 25 states filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction against the new rules.

Even before the release of the DOL final rule, several states proposed laws prohibiting the use so-called “non-pecuniary factors” in making investment decisions for state pensions and other funds. Earlier in 2022, the American Legislative Exchange Council introduced the State Government Employee Retirement Protection Act, model legislation that closely mirrors fiduciary duty bills later introduced in several states….

Several states have already started the process of divesting retirement system and other funds from financial companies they claim boycott fossil fuel companies. For example, a 2021 Texas law requires the State Comptroller to publish a list of boycotting companies. The Comptroller’s initial criteria for inclusion included membership in Climate Action 100 and the Net Zero Banking Alliance/Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, two major financial industry initiatives focused on climate change.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill into law on March 15 that goes beyond state investments to prohibit companies from coordinating or conspiring with another company to eliminate viable options for another company to obtain a product or service “with the specific intent of destroying a boycotted company.” A boycotted company is defined by the law as one that engages in aspects of the firearms industry or does not meet certain ESG standards….

The volume of anti-ESG bills introduced in state legislatures is growing. Many are passing as the topic gains political salience, particularly on the political right. As these laws pass, they serve as models for similar legislation in other states. However, the success of future legislation faces significant headwinds.

On Wall Street and in the private sector

Philip Morris and ESG

The CEO of Phillip Morris has declared that his mission is to turn the cigarette manufacturer into an ESG company:

The chief executive of Philip Morris International says the maker of Marlboro cigarettes is charting a path to becoming an ESG stock as part of a push to win back investors that have shunned the stock because of tobacco exclusion policies.

PMI’s pivot away from cigarettes towards less harmful vapour-based nicotine alternatives, which accounted for about a third of its revenues last year, placed the tobacco group’s new product line “on the podium” when it came to environmental, social and governance impact, argued Jacek Olczak….

Speaking to the Financial Times, Olczak said there had been tentative re-engagement from some funds including one-to-one meetings with PMI’s investor relations team, although he did not specify which ones.

“I’m not saying that they are building a position in Philip Morris . . . but the asset managers will not spend the time on talking with you if they don’t have in mind that one day is coming that they should reconsider the exclusion [policy],” he said.

When asked if he believed that PMI in the future could be classified as an ESG stock because of its push away from cigarettes, Olczak responded: “I think so.”

Notable quotes

CFO’s feel ESG pressure

Last Thursday, published the results of a survey of corporate executives which suggest that ESG may be playing an outsized and unjustified role in their decision-making:

As CFOs and their executive teams look to hit Q2 goals, while looking ahead to Q3 challenges, pressures in the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) space may be drawing productivity away from their organizations’ limited resources.

The corporate equality index (CEI), a rating system separate from revenue and brand recognition, pushes to drive conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Its emergence is evidence of the continued expansion and ambiguity of ESG and its subsets.

These areas, many of which have their own leadership — some even in executive roles — desire quick changes to internal and external operations. Those changes, according to data, are putting pressure on many leaders who already have their hands full.

According to CFO’s 2023 Q2 outlook report, all executives, not just CFOs, feel the pressures of ESG adherence.  Nearly all (94%) of executives surveyed said they strongly or somewhat agree that they feel external pressure to prioritize ESG initiatives at their companies. 

Virginia holding a decade-high number of state legislative primaries on June 20

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 6, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott and Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing Virginia’s June 20 primaries
  2. On this date in 1978: California voters approved Proposition 13 limiting property taxes
  3. 62 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

Previewing Virginia’s June 20 primaries

Today is primary day in New Jersey. In case you missed our preview, get caught up here. Now, let’s look ahead to Virginia’s June 20 primaries.

The Virginia General Assembly is holding a decade-high number of state legislative primaries on June 20.

In total, there are 47 contested primaries—31 for Democrats and 16 for Republicans—up 88% from 2021 and up 34% from 2019, the last time both the Senate and House held elections. Unlike in other states, in Virginia, local party organizations can decide whether to hold primary elections or some other method, like conventions, for selecting general election candidates. Fifty-five district Republican parties—42 in the house and 13 in the Senate—scheduled conventions to select candidates. 

These totals include 17 incumbents facing contested primaries—12 Democrats and five Republicans—representing 18% of all incumbents running for re-election.

Most of the incumbents facing challengers are in the Senate, making up more than one-third of those running for re-election. The six incumbents facing challengers in the House represent 9% of those running for re-election.

Based on media coverage and other competitiveness metrics, Ballotpedia identified 14 battleground primarieseight in the Senate and six in the House.

Here’s a preview of some of the races we are watching closely.

Senate District 12

Incumbent Amanda Chase, nonprofit founder Tina Ramirez, and former state Sen. Glenn Sturtevant are running in the Republican primary.

Chase assumed office in 2016. The chamber censured her in 2021 following comments she made supporting events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella wrote, “Chase’s challengers … are trying to convince voters in a newly drawn suburban district south of Richmond that they’d cut the same staunchly conservative figure in the Capitol as the incumbent — without the drama.”

Elections Daily’s Joe Szymanski said the presence of two challengers, rather than one, could affect the primary’s outcome, writing, “[I]t’s nowhere near a certainty that [Chase] loses and with multiple opponents, in only increases the chances she survives.”

House District 55

Amy Laufer and Kellen Squire are running in the Democratic primary for this open district.

Laufer, a former teacher, served on the Charlottesville City School Board from 2011 to 2019 and is a former Chair of the Albemarle County Democrats.

Squire is an emergency room nurse and C.E.O. of a nature advocacy organization.

Szymanski described this race as “a primary that could end up being the closest of them all” and said, “Squire has taken the more progressive wing here- hyping his large base of small donors, one of the largest in Virginia.”

Szymanski said “Laufer is still progressive, albeit slightly less so than Squire, and has key institutional support,” pointing to endorsements from state Sens. Scott Surovell (D) and Louise Lucas (D).

Incumbent v. incumbent primaries

Our list of battleground primaries also includes the General Assembly’s two incumbent v. incumbent primaries. This is Virginia’s first election following redistricting. Under new lines, multiple incumbents might end up living in the same district and running against each other for re-election.

In the Senate, there is an incumbent v. incumbent primary in District 18 between Sens. Louise Lucas (D) and Lionell Spruill (D). Lucas assumed office in 1992 and is the chamber’s current President Pro Tempore. Spruill assumed office in the Senate in 2016 after having served in the House since 1994.

In the House, District 47 has an incumbent v. incumbent primary between Dels. Marie March (R) and Wren Williams (R), both of whom assumed office in 2022.

Virginia is one of 11 states with a divided government. Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Senate, while Republicans control the governorship—which is not up for election until 2025—and have a 50-46 majority in the House.

While the primaries are first on the calendar, control of both chambers will likely come down to just a handful of races in November.

CNalysis rates both chambers as Lean Democratic. In the 40-member Senate, the outlet rates two districts as Toss-Ups, with the other 38 favoring one party or the other. The outlet has four Toss-Up districts in the 100-member House.

Keep reading 

On this date in 1978: California voters approved Proposition 13 limiting property taxes

Today, June 6, marks the 45th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 13 in California. 

This initiated constitutional amendment limited property tax to no more than 1% of a property’s assessed value in 1976 and limited annual increases for the inflation rate or 2%, whichever is less.

The Hoover Institution’s Steven Hayward wrote, “The widespread public backlash against high taxes that began in California,” with the passage of Prop. 13, “contributed to Ronald Reagan’s election to the White House in 1980 … and pushed taxes to the top tier of national political issues.” In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown (D), running for re-election, said he would not seek to change the law: “Prop. 13 is a sacred doctrine that should never be questioned. That doesn’t mean that we can’t look at our tax code in various ways.”

Voters approved the measure 65%-35%.

In addition to its property tax limitations, Prop. 13:

  • Prohibited the Legislature from enacting new taxes on the value or sale of properties;
  • Required local governments to refer special taxes to the ballot where they need a two-thirds majority to pass; and,
  • Require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase non-property taxes.

Prop. 13 has also had a lasting effect on Californians’ ballots. Since its passage, voters have decided 34 statewide measures to change rules, requirements, and rates tied to Prop. 13, approving 24 and rejecting 10.

Most recently, in 2020, voters weighed in on Props. 15 and 19:

  • Prop. 15 would have required that most commercial and industrial properties be taxed based on their market value rather than purchase price. Voters defeated this measure 52 to 48%.
  • Prop. 19 changed rules regarding the transference of tax assessments when moving or inheriting property and directed additional revenue or savings to counties and wildfire agencies. Voters approved this measure 51% to 49%.

Keep reading 

62 candidates filed for federal and statewide offices last week

Last week, 62 candidates filed to run for congressional and state offices—including for elections in 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026. That’s the same number of candidates who declared for congressional and state offices two weeks ago.

This year, we’ve tracked 1,118 declared candidates for congressional and statewide offices. At this time in 2021, we had identified 1,372 declared candidates for 2022, 2023, and 2024 races.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates who declared last week:

Of the partisan nature of the declared candidates: 

  • 36 are Democrats.
  • 20 are Republicans.
  • 4 are running as Libertarians. 
  • Two independents. 

Of the offices tracked:

  • 50 candidates filed for Congress.
  • 10 candidates filed for state legislature. 
  • 2 candidates filed for governorships.

Between March 6 and May 17, we tracked an average of 26 candidates who filed for congressional or state elections. Between April 17 and May 29, that average increased to 45 candidates.

We cover elections for tens of thousands of offices across the country, and part of that work includes keeping tabs on the candidates who file to run for those offices. We’ll periodically update you on how many candidates are signing up to run for state and congressional offices. We process both official and declared candidates.

Click here to read more about our definition of candidacy. Click the link below to see a list of all declared candidates for federal elections in 2024. 

Keep reading

A preview of tomorrow’s New Jersey primaries

Welcome to the Monday, June 5, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A preview of tomorrow’s New Jersey statewide primaries
  2. Biden issued two executive orders in May on sanctions and coronavirus vaccine requirements
  3. States continue to enact more election-related legislation this year than in 2022

A preview of tomorrow’s New Jersey statewide primaries

Tomorrow is Tuesday, and that means it’s Election Day somewhere. This week, that somewhere is New Jersey.

The Garden State is holding municipal and state legislative primaries tomorrow. The state is one of four, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia, holding state legislative elections this year. Tomorrow’s primary is the first state legislative primary date of the 2023 election cycle.

Here’s what you need to know. 

State legislative districts

The 28 open seats this year are the most in a decade, with eight open in the Senate and 20 in the General Assembly. There were 12 open seats in 2021 and 13 in 2017, when the entire Legislature was up for election.

All 120 seats in the state legislature are up for election this year: 40 in the Senate and 80 in the General Assembly

This is New Jersey’s first election under new state legislative maps following the 2020 redistricting, The number of open seats tends to rise following redistricting. 

Some incumbents may opt against running for re-election because the partisan makeup has changed. Others may not run because they now live in a district with another incumbent.

This year, 27 incumbents are retiring, 20 in the General Assembly and seven in the Senate.

Seventeen incumbents face contested primaries this year. There were 10 such primaries in 2021 and 25 in 2019.

Overall, 21 primaries—12 Democratic and nine Republican—are contested. That’s the most since 2017, when 25 primaries were contested. 

Three incumbents are running in new districts this year: 

  • In the Senate, Sen. Nia Gill (D) is leaving her District 34 seat open to run in District 27. Gill will face the district’s incumbent, Sen. Richard Codey (D), in a Democratic primary.

Democrats currently have a 45-34 majority in the General Assembly, with one vacancy, and a 25-15 majority in the Senate. Governor Phil Murphy is a Democrat, making the state a Democratic trifecta.

New Jersey Assembly members serve two-year terms, with all seats up for election every two years. New Jersey Senators serve four-year terms, except in the first term of a new decade (like the current one), which only lasts for two years.

New Jersey’s General Assembly and Senate are two of eight state legislative chambers up for election this year. There are 99 chambers throughout the country.

Municipal elections

Essex and Hudson counties—where Newark and Jersey City, respectively, are located—are holding primaries for their board of commissioners. All nine board seats are up for election in each county. 

Essex County is also holding primaries for county surrogate—a probate judge with jurisdiction over the handling of wills and other estate matters. Incumbent Alturrick Kenney, in office since 2019, is the only candidate running in the Democratic primary. Peter Russo is the only candidate running in the Republican race. 

The office of county executive is also on the ballot in Hudson County. Eleana Little and Craig Guy are running in the Democratic primary. There are no candidates on the ballot in the Republican primary. Incumbent Thomas Degise (D), in office since 2002, is not running for re-election. 

What else should I know?

New Jersey conducts semi-closed primaries, meaning a voter generally must be registered as a party member in order to participate in that party’s primary. An unaffiliated voter can participate in a party’s primary if they affiliate with a party on the day of the election. Otherwise, voters must indicate their party preference (e.g., via an updated voter registration) no later than the 55th day preceding the primary.

Winners in New Jersey primaries are determined via plurality vote, meaning that the candidate with the most votes wins even if they did not win more than 50 percent of votes cast. There are no runoffs.

The general election for all the seats up for election tomorrow is Nov. 7. 

Keep reading 

Biden issued two executive orders in May on sanctions and coronavirus vaccine requirements

President Joe Biden (D) issued two executive orders in May, bringing his total to 115. That’s more than the number of executive orders the three previous presidents had issued at this point in time. President Donald Trump (R) had issued 109 executive orders at this point, President Barack Obama (D) had issued 86, and President George W. Bush (R) had issued 110. 

The two orders he issued last month were:

  1. Executive Order on Moving Beyond COVID-⁠19 Vaccination Requirements for Federal Workers (May 9, 2023)
  2. Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons Destabilizing Sudan and Undermining the Goal of a Democratic Transition (May 4, 2023)

Biden issued 25 executive orders in January 2021, more than any other month of his presidency. He did not issue any executive orders in November 2022 and January 2023.

Biden is averaging 48 executive orders per year, tied with Ronald Reagan (R) for the second-most among presidents since 1981. Donald Trump (R) averaged 55 executive orders per year, the most in that time. Barack Obama (D) averaged 35 per year, the fewest in that time. Presidents over the last 40 years have issued an average of 40 executive orders per year.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) issued an average of 307 executive orders per year, the most of all U.S. presidents. William Henry Harrison (Whig) averaged the fewest, issuing none during his one month in office. Three presidents issued only one executive order each: James Madison (Democratic-Republican), James Monroe (Democratic-Republican), and John Adams (Federalist).

Keep reading 

States continue to enact more election-related legislation this year than in 2022

As of June 1, legislators across the country have enacted 174 election-related bills this year, 32 more than the 142 bills states had enacted at this point in 2022.

Tennessee has enacted the most bills this year (17). In 2022, New York and California had enacted the most bills at this point. 

Of this year’s 174 enacted bills, Republicans sponsored 106, or 63%, up from 54% of the total enacted at this point last year. Democrats sponsored 16%, down from 18% in 2022. Bills with bipartisan sponsorship make up 12% of the total enacted, down from 18% last year. Those with unclear partisan sponsorship are up to 10% from 9% in 2022. To see all bills approved this year, click here

This past week, state legislators enacted five new election-related bills, including:

  • House Bill 05004, in Connecticut, which implements early voting in the state. 
  • Senate Bill 2258, in Texas, which authorizes certain cities to change the date on which their general election for officers is held.
  • House Bill 0508, in Vermont, which establishes that the City of Burlington will use ranked choice voting to elect the offices of mayor, city council, school commissioner, and ward election officer.

In addition to these five newly-enacted bills, 47 other bills passed one chamber this week, moving on to the next. No bills passed both chambers of a state legislature this week. 

You can view a full list of enacted bills this year here.

To stay up-to-date with the latest news in election-related legislation, subscribe to The Ballot Bulletin, our weekly newsletter—dropping every Friday afternoon—that delivers the latest updates on election policy. Every week, we track legislative activity, big-picture trends, recent news, and in-depth data from our Election Administration Legislation Tracker.

Keep reading 

ICYMI: Top stories of the week


Taking stock of 2024 presidential and statewide primary dates

As of May 26, 23 states have confirmed the dates for their 2024 presidential preference primaries. The remaining 27 states have not formally or officially confirmed their dates.

Of the 23 states that have confirmed presidential preference primary dates for 2024, seven—Alabama, California, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Texas—will hold their statewide primaries for other offices on the same day. South Carolina has the earliest confirmed 2024 presidential preference primary date on Feb. 3.

Read more

An update on this year’s ballot measure certification

Twenty-six statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in eight states. That’s 11 more than the average number—15—certified at this point in odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021.

Seven new measures were certified for the 2023 ballot last week:

  1. Louisiana Constitutional Right to Worship in a Church or Place of Worship Amendment
  2. Louisiana Prohibit Property Tax Exemptions for Nonprofits Owning Damaged Residential Property Amendment
  3. Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund Amendment
  4. Texas Changes to Teacher Retirement System Amendment
  5. Texas Energy Fund Amendment
  6. Texas University Fund and Appropriations Limit Exemption Amendment
  7. Texas Water Fund Amendment

Read more

Three special elections called so far in the 118th Congress

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I., 1st) became the most recent lawmaker to leave Congress this week. A special election to replace Cicilline is scheduled for Nov. 7, 2023. The other two special elections in this Congress are for a U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska, scheduled for Nov. 5, 2024, and for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which took place on Feb. 21.

A fourth special election will be called to complete the term of Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah, 2nd) once he leaves Congress.

Read more

Explore how A.I. could affect political news on the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

This week, On the Ballot host Victoria Rose sat down with Joe Amditis, assistant director of products and events at the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University, for a wide-ranging conversation about how A.I. might affect news, misinformation, and our political media ecosystem.

This is the first in what will be a series of episodes exploring how A.I. will affect the media and politics. Listen at the link below or wherever you get your podcasts!

Listen here

The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration, June 2, 2023

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed three election bills into law this week as the state continues to have the highest rate of election-related legislative activity this year.

Welcome to The Ballot Bulletin: Ballotpedia’s Weekly Digest on Election Administration. Every Friday, we deliver the latest updates on election policy around the country, including legislative activity, nationwide trends, and recent news. In each issue, you’ll find updates on legislative activity and recent news

Legislative highlights


  • States enacted five bills during the past week. In the same week in 2022, states enacted 12 bills. 
  • States have enacted 174 bills in 2023. By this point in 2022, states had enacted 142 bills. 
  • Of the bills active over the past week, Democrats sponsored 32, a 37.3% decrease from the 51 Democrat-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. Republicans sponsored 30 of the bills acted on this past week, a 56.5% decrease from the 69 Republican-sponsored bills state legislatures acted on the week before. 
  • The bill topics with the most legislative activity this week were voter registration and list maintenance (12), audits and oversight (11), ballot access (11), election dates and deadlines (11), and Election Day voting (10).

Recent activity and status changes

We’ve tracked the following election-related bills in 2023: 

  • 174 enacted bills (10 more than in our last edition)
  • 5 that have passed both chambers (-1)
  • 242 that have passed one chamber (+10)
  • 2 that have advanced from committee (No change)
  • 1,856 introduced bills (-10)
  • 261 dead bills (No change)

Enacted bills

States have enacted 174 election-related bills in 2023, compared to the 142 bills enacted at this point in 2022. Of these 174 bills, Democrats sponsored 32 (18.4%), Republicans sponsored 106 (60.9%), and 20 (11.5%) had bipartisan sponsorship. Committees or legislators with independent or other party affiliations sponsored the remaining 16 (9.2%) bills. To see all bills approved this year, click here

Bills enacted since May 26, with their official titles, are listed below. 

Connecticut (Democratic trifecta)

Texas (Republican trifecta)

  • TX SB2258: Relating to authorizing certain cities to change the date on which their general election for officers is held.
  • TX SB1054: Relating to requirements for a trial in the contest of an election on a proposed constitutional amendment.
  • TX SB825: Relating to the deadline for submitting certain recount petitions.

Vermont (Divided government)

  • VT H0508: An act relating to approval of an amendment to the ranked choice voting provisions of the charter of the City of Burlington

Bills that passed both chambers

Five bills have passed both chambers (but have not yet been enacted or defeated) in 2023, compared to 65 bills that had passed both chambers at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have currently passed both chambers, click here.

No bills have passed both chambers since May 26.

Vetoed bills

Governors have vetoed 17 bills this year, compared to 12 vetos at this point in 2022. To see all bills that have been vetoed in 2023, click here.

Three bills have been vetoed since May 26. They are listed with their official titles below. 

Arizona (Divided government)

  • AZ SB1180: Voter registrations; payment prohibited
  • AZ SB1066: Election mailings; third-party disclosures
  • AZ SB1135: Spoiled early ballots; election day

Enacted bills by topic and sponsorship, 2022 vs. 2023

Recent activity by topic and sponsorship

The chart below shows the topics of the bills state legislatures acted on since May 26. Click here to see a full list of bill categories and their definitions.

* Note: Contest-specific procedures refers to primary systems, municipal election procedures, recall elections, special election procedures, and other systems unique to a particular election type. 

All 2023 bills by topic and sponsorship

The chart below shows the topics of a sample of the 2,557 bills we have tracked this year. Note that the sums of the numbers listed do not equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.  

Recent activity by state and trifecta status

Twenty-seven (36%) of the 75 bills with activity this week are in Democratic trifecta states, 26 (34.7%) are in Republican trifecta states, and 22 (29.3%) are in states with divided governments. 

Of the 69 with activity over the same week in 2022, 36 (52.2%) were from states with Democratic trifectas, 11 (15.9%) were from states with Republican trifectas, and 22 (31.9%) were from states with divided governments. 

The map below shows election-related bills acted on in the past week by state trifecta status.

All 2023 bills by state and trifecta status

Of the total bills introduced in 2023, 1,109 (43.4%) are in states with Democratic trifectas, 1,141 (44.6%) are in states with Republican trifectas, and 307 (12%) are in states with divided governments. 

Texas legislators have introduced the most election-related bills this year (389). Texas holds legislative sessions in odd years only, and so had no activity in 2022. The Texas State Legislature is in a special session as of June 2, with the regular session having adjourned on May 29. New York was the most active state at this point in 2022. Tennessee has enacted the most bills this year (17). In 2022, New York and California had enacted the most bills at this point. 

The map below shows the number of election-related bills introduced by state in 2023 by state trifecta status.

Recent news

Groups challenge Mississippi voter assistance bill

On May 31, Disability Rights Mississippi and the League of Women Voters of Mississippi filed a lawsuit challenging SB2358, a bill regulating who can assist voters with completing mail-in ballots, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The bill prohibits anyone other than election officials, postal workers, family members, household members, or caregivers from assisting voters with completing and returning mail-in ballots. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the bill into law on March 23. Co-president of the League of Women Voters of Mississippi Peg Ciraldo said, “Voters — especially those with disabilities — depend on the assistance of community groups, friends, and neighbors. Now these neighborly efforts are being criminalized, and Mississippi voters in need of assistance are being silenced. Democracy in Mississippi cannot be whole when these voters are disenfranchised.” Reeves said the bill was needed to preserve “the absolute integrity of our election process,” adding that, “Ballot harvesting is when a political operative collects and handles massive amounts of absentee ballots. This process is an open invitation for fraud and abuse and can occur without the voter ever even knowing.” So far in 2023, legislators have introduced 80 bills dealing with voter assistance, 50 of which relate specifically to absentee/mail-in voting assitance. States have enacted six absentee/mail-in voting assitance bills this year. 

Montana voters request redo of local election

Four voters in Cascade County, Montana filed a lawsuit on May 26 arguing that county officials mishandled a May 2 school board election. The suit asks the court to order a redo of the election at least 85 days after a decision in the case. Plaintiffs said Cascade County officials sent ballots to ineligible residents in the Fort Shaw Irrigation and West Great Falls Flood Districts, while eligible voters in these districts received no ballots. They also argued that officials did not “accept valid change documents regarding qualified electors and/or designated agents at least 14 days prior to the election, by failing to notify the election office within four days of receiving said change documents, and by failing to provide the necessary information regarding the changes to the election office in order for the election office to administer the proper ballots.” The county’s election office published a statement on the official county website saying that although election officials faced “many obstacles, some of which included the closing of our mail services, COVID, and technical difficulties with the vote tabulation equipment, and a completely new election system at the state level, the election was completed.” In another lawsuit filed this month in response to the May 2 election, a county judge granted plaintiffs’ request to appoint an election monitor to oversee an upcoming mill levy election.

Ballot measures certifications outpacing 10-year average

Welcome to the Friday, June 2, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott and Juan Garcia de Paredes 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An update on this year’s ballot measure certifications  
  2. State supreme courts issued 89 opinions from May 22-28  
  3. #FridayTrivia: How many states have laws allowing for charter schools?

An update on this year’s ballot measure certifications  

Now that we’ve entered June, let’s see where ballot measure certifications stand right now. 

Thus far, 26 statewide measures have been certified for the ballot in eight states. That’s 11 more than the average number—15—certified at this point in odd-numbered years from 2011 to 2021

The last time we looked at this year’s certified measures, on May 19, 13 had been cleared for the ballot. We often see a jump in certifications around this time of the year because, in many states, legislative sessions are ending, and lawmakers often wait until the end of the session to pass legislation.  

Here’s an update on the latest ballot measure activity.

Seven new measures were certified for the 2023 ballot last week:

  1. Louisiana Constitutional Right to Worship in a Church or Place of Worship Amendment
  2. Louisiana Prohibit Property Tax Exemptions for Nonprofits Owning Damaged Residential Property Amendment
  3. Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund Amendment
  4. Texas Changes to Teacher Retirement System Amendment
  5. Texas Energy Fund Amendment
  6. Texas University Fund and Appropriations Limit Exemption Amendment
  7. Texas Water Fund Amendment

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one initiative in Michigan:

  1. Michigan $15 Minimum Wage Initiative (2024)

Signatures were verified for three indirect initiatives in Maine, and the initiatives are now before legislators:

  1. Maine Prohibit Foreign Spending in Elections Initiative
  2. Maine Voter Approval of Borrowing Above $1 Billion by State Entities and Electric Cooperatives Initiative
  3. Maine “Right to Repair Law” Vehicle Data Access Requirement Initiative

The first two Maine measures above are related to another measure certified for the ballot this year in the Pine Tree State—the Maine Creation of Pine Tree Power Company Initiative. The story of that initiative spans from Canada to Maine to Spain and includes power lines, consumer-owned utility companies, and fierce disagreement over a cross-border electricity transmission project. Click here to read more. 

In Ohio, one initiative to legalize marijuana was certified to the Legislature, which had four months to act on the proposal. Because the Legislature took no action, a second 90-day signature-gathering period began on May 3.

For 2024, 38 statewide measures have been certified in 20 states. That’s six more measures than the average number certified at this point from 2010 to 2022.

Two new measures were certified for the 2024 ballot last week:

  1. Connecticut No-Excuse Absentee Voting Amendment
  2. Nevada Revising Language Related to Public Entities for Individuals with Mental Illness, Blindness, or Deafness Amendment

Learn more about 2023 and 2024 ballot measures at the link below. 

Keep reading

State supreme courts issued 89 opinions from May 22-28  

We’re at that time of the year when the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) releases its most consequential rulings, inevitably drowning out news from the country’s lower courts (bookmark this page to stay up to date on those decisions as they’re released through June). That said, we like to keep a close eye on rulings from the country’s 52 state courts of last resort, otherwise known as state supreme courts (yes, 52 – Oklahoma and Texas each have two different courts of last resort). 

Here’s a look at recent state supreme court rulings. 

State supreme courts issued 89 opinions from May 22-28. The Delaware Supreme Court led the field with nine opinions issued, followed by Massachusetts, Montana, and New York, with six each. Last week’s 89 opinions account for 3% of the year-to-date total of 2,754. The West Virginia Supreme Court leads with 201 opinions issued since Jan. 1, followed by Pennsylvania with 194 and Delaware with 168.

State supreme courts have been issuing an average of 131 opinions per week so far this year. This figure is less than the 2022 weekly average of 143. It’s also less than the average of 160 opinions issued per week in 2021.

Supreme courts in 16 states have issued fewer than 25 opinions since the start of the year.

Some of the state supreme court opinions issued this year include those in:

  1. Tennessee, where the court held that “a defendant healthcare provider cannot be compelled to provide expert opinion testimony about a co-defendant healthcare provider’s standard of care and/or deviation from that standard;”
  2. New York, where the court “held that the negligence claims brought in this case involving two separate murders on property owned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) should advance to a jury trial;” and,
  3. Colorado, where the court affirmed that “when a defendant presents psychiatric evidence supporting their insanity defense, they can open the door to the admission of psychiatric evidence rebutting that defense, even if the evidence includes the defendant’s voluntary but non-Miranda-compliant statements. Additionally, the Court held that § 16-8-103.6(2)(a), C.R.S. (2022)’s waiver of privilege as to ‘communications made by the defendant to a physician or psychologist’ includes communications made to a physician’s or psychologist’s agents.”

Supreme courts in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, and Delaware regularly end the year as some of the country’s most active courts. Collectively, they accounted for 26% of all opinions issued in 2021 and 2022, and, to date, 28% in 2023.

Supreme courts do not hear trials of cases. Instead, they hear appeals of decisions made in lower courts. The number of justices on each state supreme court ranges between five and nine.

In 2020, we conducted a study identifying the partisan balance on every state supreme court. You can find that research here. We also identified which justices ruled together most often in our Determiners and Dissenters report found here.

Learn more about state supreme court rulings at the link below. 

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: How many states have laws allowing for charter schools?

In the May 30 Brew, we looked at a recent story we featured in Hall Pass, our school board and education newsletter, about Montana becoming the latest state to allow for public charter schools. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation authorizing the creation of charter schools on May 18. 

Minnesota was the first state to pass a law authorizing charter schools in 1991. Since then, such schools have expanded across the country. 

How many states now have laws allowing for the creation of charter schools?

  1. 32
  2. 25
  3. 46
  4. 39