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How is 2020’s legislative activity shaping up?

Comparing legislative activity in 2020 and 2019                   

In this week’s edition, we compare legislative activity on public-sector labor issues in the first seven months of 2020 with activity during the same period in 2019.

2019 legislative activity, January through July  

In the first seven months of 2019, legislatures nationwide took up 101 bills related to public-sector labor policy. Seven became law. 

  • Total number of bills introduced or carried over from prior sessions: 101
    • Bills sponsored by Democrats: 50
    • Bills sponsored by Republicans: 38
    • Bills sponsored by bipartisan groups: 6
    • Bills sponsored by committees: 7
  •  Total number of enacted bills: 7
    • Illinois SB1784: This bill requires that public-sector union representatives be granted an opportunity to meet with new hires. It requires employers to furnish unions with worker information, including addresses, contact numbers, and email addresses. It also permits unions to limit the period during which members can resign and rescind dues deduction authorizations. 
    • Nevada SB135: This bill provides for collective bargaining rights for state employees.
    • Oregon HB3009: This bill requires public employers to provide unions with access to new employees. This bill also permits individuals who are not union members to make payments in lieu of dues to unions. 
    • Oregon HB2016: This bill requires public employers to grant paid time to employees participating in certain union activities. It also requires employers to furnish unions with access to employees. 
    • Rhode Island H5259: This bill authorizes unions to impose fees on non-members for administrative matters.
    • Rhode Island S0712: This bill authorizes unions to impose fees on non-members for administrative matters. It requires employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It also requires employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions.
    • Washington HB1575: This bill declares that public employers and public-sector unions are not liable for claims involving agency fees paid to unions before Janus. It repealed statutes requiring employees to join unions or pay dues as a condition of employment. It also amends dues deduction authorization laws, allowing authorizations to be initiated via electronic, voice, or written communication. It also requires authorizations to be discontinued by a written request made to the union.
  • States with the most legislative activity:
    • Oregon: 10 bills
    • Pennsylvania: 9 bills
    • Washington: 8 bills
    • Massachusetts: 6 bills
    • New Hampshire: 6 bills
    • Oklahoma: 5 bills

2020 legislative activity, January through July

In the first seven months of 2020, legislatures nationwide have taken up 99 bills related to public-sector labor policy. This is roughly on par with the number of relevant bills taken up during the same period in 2019. Three bills became law. 

Although sessions in many states were either suspended or otherwise affected as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the similarity between the total number of bills introduced or carried over in 2019 and 2020 shows that most of this activity occurs in the first two or three months of the year when legislatures first convene. 

  • Total number of bills introduced or carried over from prior sessions: 99
    • Bills sponsored by Democrats: 52
    • Bills sponsored by Republicans: 34
    • Bills sponsored by bipartisan groups: 5
    • Bills sponsored by committees: 8
  •  Total number of enacted bills: 3
    • Virginia HB582: This bill repealed an existing ban on collective bargaining by public employees.
    • Virginia SB939: This bill permitted local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • Washington HB2017: This bill established collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges.
  • States with the most legislative activity:
    • Pennsylvania: 10 bills
    • Oklahoma: 8 bills
    • Washington: 8 bills
    • Maryland: 7 bills
    • California: 6 bills 
    • New Hampshire: 6 bills

The stacked bar chart below compares the 2019 and 2020 figures by partisan affiliation of bill sponsors. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 99 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

  • California AB2850: This bill would specify that the Public Employment Relations Board has jurisdiction to enforce statutory provisions governing employer-employee relations within the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee hearing, scheduled Aug. 5, postponed.


Debate commission rejects Trump campaign request for fourth debate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 7, 2020: The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s request to add a fourth debate or alter the debate schedule. Kanye West discussed his campaign in an interview with Forbes.

Notable Quote of the Day

“The real margin of error is often about double the one reported. The notion that a typical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points leads people to think that polls are more precise than they really are. Why is that? For starters, the margin of error addresses only one source of potential error: the fact that random samples are likely to differ a little from the population just by chance. But there are three other, equally important sources of error in polling: nonresponse, coverage error (where not all the target population has a chance of being sampled) and mismeasurement. Not only does the margin of error fail to account for those other sources of potential error, it implies to the public that they do not exist, which is not true.

Several recent studies show that the average error in a poll estimate may be closer to 6 percentage points, not the 3 points implied by a typical margin of error. While polls remain useful in showing whether the public tends to favor or oppose key policies, this hidden error underscores the fact that polls are not precise enough to call the winner in a close election.”

– Courtney Kennedy, Pew Research Center

Election Updates

  • In a video released Thursday, Joe Biden was interviewed by a panel of journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists 2020 virtual convention. He said he supported free coronavirus testing and vaccination for immigrants residing the U.S. without legal permission.

  • Politico reported that Jill Biden, Kamala Harris, John Kasich, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren will be featured at the Democratic National Convention.

  • Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of 100 supporters in Cleveland at the Burke Lakefront Airport on Thursday. He also visited the Whirlpool Corporation Manufacturing Plant, where he made the following six promises: defeat the coronavirus, create job prosperity and economic resiliency, turn America into the top medical manufacturer, onshore millions of manufacturing jobs, bring back American jobs, and put American workers first.

  • The Commission on Presidential Debates rejected the Trump campaign’s request to add a fourth debate or alter the schedule. “While more people will likely vote by mail in 2020, the debate schedule has been and will be highly publicized. Any voter who wishes to watch one or more debates before voting will be well aware of that opportunity,” the commission’s co-chairs said.

  • Jo Jorgensen will make campaign stops in Mississippi and New Orleans over the weekend as part of her #BrakeTheBus tour.

  • Kanye West discussed his campaign in an interview with Forbes on Thursday. When asked if his campaign was a spoiler since he would not be on enough ballots to win 270 electoral votes, West responded, “I’m not going to argue with you. Jesus is King.” On potentially hurting Biden’s chances in the race, West said, “I’m not denying it; I just told you.”

Flashback: August 7, 2016

John Kasich said the Trump campaign had contacted his aides about his interest in running for vice president.blank

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 6, 2020

Each day, we:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states.
  • Compare the status of one industry or activity across the country.
  • Answer key questions about state school reopening plans.
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): The Hawaii High School Athletic Association voted to postpone moderate- and high-risk fall sports to January 2021. The change affects cheerleading, cross country, football, and girls volleyball.
  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order on Aug. 6 requiring children over the age of two and all employees to wear face masks at Michigan camps and childcare centers.
  • North Carolina (divided government): Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced on Aug. 5 that the state would stay in Phase 2 of reopening for five more weeks.
  • Rhode Island  (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 5, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced a new metric for determining if schools can reopen to in-person instruction. Schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents will be prohibited from fully reopening to in-person instruction.
  • West Virginia (Republican trifecta): Gov. Jim Justice (R) released reopening guidance for public schools. Justice set a target reopening date of Sept. 8 and counties are required to submit their reopening plans by Aug. 14.

Tracking industries: Nursing home visits

All 50 states are reopening in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: in which states may you visit someone in a nursing home? This does not include end-of-life or other emergency-related visits. Visits limited to family members only, or that are only allowed outdoors, are counted as “visitors allowed” in the chart and map below.

We last looked at nursing home visitation in the July 30th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states have allowed or restricted visitation.

This is an in-depth summary of two state plans to reopen public K-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Maryland’s Maryland Together

On June 10, the Maryland Department of Education released Maryland Together, the state’s school reopening plan. Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said, “As we move forward, State and local education leaders must recognize that long-standing gaps in educational opportunity and access have been further exposed and widened by the COVID-19 crisis. We want to ensure that students most impacted receive intense focus and priority in our recovery efforts.”

On July 22, Salmon said the goal for schools should be to return to in-person instruction by the end of the calendar year. She said districts would be left to decide whether to teach in-person or virtually in the fall.

Maryland does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Maryland traditionally start the academic year in late August to early September, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 12, Salmon ordered all schools in the state to close from March 16 to March 27. The closure was extended on March 25 (through April 24) and April 17 (through May 15). On May 6, Salmon closed schools for the remainder of the school year.

Context

Maryland has a divided government. The governor is a Republican, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a divided government in 2015.

The following tables show public education statistics in Maryland, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Maryland public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $16,553 13
Number of students (’18-’19) 896,827 20
Number of teachers (’16-17) 59,703 17
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,418 25
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.8 28
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 46.7% 27
Maryland public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $14,521,045,000 13
Percent from federal sources 5.7% 44
Percent from state sources 43.5% 33
Percent from local sources 50.8% 15

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are responsible for developing their own specific reopening plans. Plans are due for state review and approval by Aug. 14. Districts must post their reopening plans on their official website.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidelines leave the decision for how to return to school for the fall semester up to school districts. Districts may choose from in-person, hybrid, or online-only options. The state guidelines recommended the following:

  • One-day rotation where 25% of students would attend once per week on alternating days
  • Two-day rotation where 50% of students would attend twice per week on alternating days
  • Alternating weeks where 50% of students would attend four times per week every other week
  • Elementary in-person learning and secondary distance learning
  • Grade band phase-in with elementary students returning to in-person learning first, followed by middle and high school in successive weeks

Mask requirements

The Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Education released joint guidance on the use of cloth face coverings in schools on July 21.

  • School staff must wear cloth face coverings while in the school building, on school grounds when not contraindicated due to a medical condition, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or other conditions or safety concerns;
  • All students, school staff, and bus drivers must wear a cloth face covering while on school bus when not contraindicated due to a medical condition or developmental or safety considerations;
  • Other adults must wear cloth face coverings when they must enter the school building or grounds for essential functions;
  • Students, especially students in middle and high school, must wear cloth face coverings in the school building and on school grounds as much as possible when not contraindicated due to a medical condition or developmental or safety considerations;
  • The use of cloth face coverings is most important at times when physical distancing measures cannot be effectively implemented especially when indoors;
  • Local education agencies should examine the structure and schedule of the education program to identify when physical distancing may be a challenge;
  • Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under 2 years and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidelines recommend the following considerations be made in district reopening plans:

  • Determine if face coverings (not PPE) are to be utilized by faculty/staff/students and what the LSS policy will be for adherence to the policy
  • Review procedures for sending ill persons home from the school facility
  • Determine if pre-designated entry and exit paths will be utilized
  • Determine pre-designated drop-off points for buses, parents
  • Determine if class changes are static (students remain in room, teachers change classrooms) or Fluid (Students change classrooms)
  • If fluid period/topic changes occur, determine:
    • Is locker use allowed, if not, secure from use
    • Determine distance and flow paths through facility, mark flooring, walls appropriately
    • Determine communication and outreach methods to students and parents for notification of above
    • Determine a “Use of restroom” policy that maintains distancing

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidelines say that based on recommendations from the CDC, a 77-passenger bus would only be able to transport 8 students. The guidelines acknowledge districts may not be able to handle such transportation demands and offers the following ways to modify transportation:

  • Encouraging use of face coverings when use of alternate rows for seating is not possible.
  • Allowing siblings from the same household to sit together in the same seat.
  • Recommending passengers sit in the same seat going to and returning from the trip.
  • Allowing for alternate transportation arrangements, such as riding with a parent

Responses

Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, criticized the guidelines for not providing enough specifics. “The newly released Maryland reopening plan is lacking in so many areas and punts on too many decisions,” she said.

Rhode Island’s Back to School RI

On June 19, Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and Rhode Island Department of Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green released Back to School RI, the state’s guidance for reopening schools. It includes a blend of recommendations and requirements. The Rhode Island Department of Education required schools to submit reopening plans that take account of four different scenarios ranging from full in-person learning to full distance learning by July 17.

Gov. Raimondo, Commissioner Infante-Green, and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander said in a joint statement on July 17, “Every step of the way, our state’s response to COVID-19 has been driven by science. We have rejected the false choice of an all-or-nothing approach and taken targeted, data-driven steps to keep Rhode Islanders safe. As we look toward reopening schools, we will continue to put public health first and to rely on facts and science in making the best decisions for the mental, physical, and intellectual needs of our students.”

Raimondo is expected to make a final announcement about when schools can reopen the week of Aug. 16. Previously, Raimondo said all schools would begin the year on Aug. 31.

According to EdWeek, public schools in Rhode Island typically start the academic year in late August or early September.

On Aug. 5, Raimondo announced schools in any city or town with more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 residents will be prohibited from fully returning students to classrooms for in-person instruction.

Raimondo first ordered schools to close on March 13. She extended that closure on March 30 and announced schools would not reopen to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on April 23.

Context

Rhode Island has a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2013.

The following tables show public education statistics in Rhode Island, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Rhode Island public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $11,531 36
Number of students (’18-’19) 138,444 45
Number of teachers (’16-17) 9,777 45
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 702 41
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.1 34
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 37.9% 43
Rhode Island public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $1,254,995,000 43
Percent from federal sources 8.1% 32
Percent from state sources 40.5% 39
Percent from local sources 51.3% 14

Details

District reopening plans

The Rhode Island Department of Education requires all schools to submit reopening plans based on Back to School RI.

In recognition of the uncertainty, the State is requiring all schools to prepare for different scenarios, in accordance with the guidelines established below. RIDE and RIDOH will continue to update this document, and others, as more public health information and guidance become available.

Public schools will be required to submit their plans to RIDE by July 17, and RIDE will give feedback given to each school on an ongoing basis through July 28. Each Local Educational Agency (LEA) will be required to make its plan available to families and post it on their schools’ website no later than July 31.

While this document is written for public LEAs, private schools are also required to complete school reopening plans that are in alignment with the provided guidance and template documents to ensure the health and safety of their school community. While private schools are not required to submit their plans to RIDE, they should be able to produce plans upon request by RIDOH if a positive case or outbreak occurs. Each private school is required to have its plan available on its website by July 31.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan asks schools to develop reopening plans for three different scenarios: limited in-person learning, partial in-person learning, and full in-person. Back to School RI covers a third scenario—full distance learning for all—but schools are not required to include that scenario in the plans they submit to the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Back to School RI includes general guidance for how the three in-person scenarios incorporate distance learning:

  • Full In-person: Students who are unable to attend in-person classes must be provided with distance learning. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine, or other reasons.
  • Partial In-person: Some students attend classes in person while others participate in distance learning. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine or other reasons.
  • Limited In-person: Many students participate in distance learning classes. LEA plans should address how distance learning will be utilized for classes, groups of students, or individual students who are home sick, due to quarantine, or other reasons.

Mask requirements

According to a Back to School RI FAQ posted on the Rhode Island Department of Education website, masks are required for all students, even when social distancing is possible. A previous version of Back to School RI did not require face masks in situations that allowed for social distancing.

Face coverings play a critical role in mitigating risk related to COVID-19. As of 7/29/2020, the Governor, Commissioner, and RIDOH have decided that face coverings are required for staff and students in the K-12 setting, even when students are in stable groups and socially distanced (6+ feet apart). Schools may want to refer to the CDC guidance for wearing face coverings. Schools should acquire additional face coverings for students and/or staff who may forget them or not have their own. Additionally, when necessary and if available, teachers may use clear face coverings to improve communication, but face shields do not replace the need to wear a face covering. Any visitor must also wear face coverings. Children should be provided with the opportunity for mask breaks when it is safe to do so.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

Back to School RI includes guidance on class and group size limits and classroom layouts for high school students and students in elementary and middle schools under the three scenarios outlined above:

  • Full In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of up to 30 (analogous to the pod method for summer camp and childcare). This capacity includes both students and staff. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Stable groups are designed to spend all or most of the day together as a group. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod.
  • High Schools: Recognizing that it is more difficult to establish and maintain stable groups in a high school schedule, more than one approach is possible. Stable groups are recommended and should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., students should stay in the same classroom and teachers should rotate rooms whenever possible). If stable groups are not possible, high school students must maintain six feet of physical distance and require the wearing of face masks if maintaining six feet of distance is not possible.
  • Partial In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of up to 30 (analogous to the pod method for summer camp and childcare). This capacity includes both students and staff. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Stable groups are designed to spend all or most of the day together as a group. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod
  • High Schools: High Schools can select which of the following requirements they will follow:
    • Stable groups (up to 30 people) should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., student groups should stay the same and teachers rotate whenever possible); or,
    • If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 50% of the students in a high school can be present in person at any one time.
  • Limited In-person Reopening Scenario
  • Elementary and Middle Schools: These students will be required to maintain stable groups of 15 or fewer in classrooms. Stable groups help to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. It is still expected that individuals within stable groups maintain as much physical distance as possible. Each class/pod will be expected to physically distance (14 feet) from every other class/pod.
  • High Schools: High Schools can pick which of the following two requirements they follow: o Smaller stable groups (maximum of 15) should be maintained whenever possible (i.e., student groups should stay the same and teachers rotate whenever possible); o If not able to maintain stable groups, approximately 25% of the students in a high school can be in person at any one time.

Guidance for classroom layouts and the use of school spaces include the following:

  • General Spacing and Movement: Stable groups must occupy consistent space as much as possible. This means each stable group uses the same classroom every day, the same entrance every day (if possible), the same hallways, bathrooms, and other areas of the school building. When shared space is used by multiple stable groups or by high school students who are not in stable groups, disinfecting must occur in between the times when stable groups or groups of high school students use the space. Equipment and materials in shared spaces and in classrooms should not change from one student to another. Whenever possible, shared objects should be limited to sharing within that stable group.

The plan requires schools in the partial and limited in-person reopening scenarios to use assigned seating in each classroom. The plan recommends that assigned seating be used even under the full in-person scenario. The plan also requires students to face the same direction as much as possible.

The plan requires the following for hallways:

  • Hallways: During reopening in the fall, outlining a plan for hallway use and minimizing congestion will be an important step in the planning process. LEA plans must include strategies such as staggered passing times or one-way traffic in hallways. Plans must include how lockers may be used, with the strong recommendation of having students carry backpacks instead of using lockers

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Back to School RI includes guidance on busing and student transportation under the three scenarios outlined above:

Some of the recommendations and requirements under the full in-person reopening scenario include:

  • All students on buses are required to wear masks (with the exception of children younger than age two and anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance).
  • Students using the bus are scheduled as a stable group, and the bus group is considered its own stable group
  • Hand sanitizer must be available and used when entering and exiting the bus.
  • Students are screened when getting on the bus and are seated to physically distance as much as possible.
  • All students have assigned seats on the bus and ride the same bus to and from school.
  • Students must sit one per seat, unless students are from the same household. Siblings and students from the same household should sit together.

The requirements are the same under the partial in-person reopening scenario, except that the overall capacity of the bus is reduced to 50%. Capacity is further reduced under the limited in-person reopening scenario to include one student person seat, using every other seat.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • Maricopa County Department of Public Health Director Marcy Flanagan said she believed schools in the metro Phoenix area were not yet ready to reopen. “We would not recommend in-class, teacher-led learning at this point,” Flanagan said. Flanagan said her department would release a data dashboard in the next week to help guide reopening decisions.
  • Boston Public Schools released a first draft of its reopening plan. The plan will allow parents to choose between a hybrid and remote learning model. The district set Sept. 10 as the first day of school.
  • Florida Education Association v. DeSantis: On Aug. 3, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, filed an emergency motion requesting a status conference in its case against Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Florida Commission of Education. The union is seeking to block a state order it alleges mandates that schools physically reopen five days a week or lose critical funding. In response, Judge Spencer Eig, of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, set a hearing for Aug. 6 in which he was expected to rule on whether the suit is currently in the proper court. In its original complaint, the union argued that the state’s emergency order to reopen physical school classrooms “imposes mandates that make it impossible to comply with CDC guidelines on physical distancing, hygiene, and sanitation.” The union also alleges the order “comes with severe pressure” to physically reopen schools, as only those schools with state-approved reopening plans will be granted flexibility on student enrollment reporting, including funding based on pre-COVID full-time enrollment forecasts. According to the union, the state order violates Article IX, Section 1(a), of the Florida Constitution, which mandates safety and security in public schools. The union also alleges the order is an “unreasonable, inconsistent, and arbitrary and capricious” deprivation of the plaintiffs’ due process rights. The union is seeking an “injunction to prohibit all named defendants from taking actions to unconstitutionally force millions of public school students and employees to report to brick and mortar schools that should remain closed during the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.” An attorney representing DeSantis said that if the case is not transferred to a different court, they will file an appeal.


Trump and RNC raise $165 million in July, topping Biden and DNC’s $145 million

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 6, 2020: Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $165 million in July. Joe Biden and other speakers will not travel to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention.


Campaign Ad Comparison
DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("Made in America" – Joe Biden)

DPNB campaign ad comparison feature, 2020 ("Cards" – Donald Trump)

Notable Quote of the Day

“The fact that Biden and Trump are taking such radically different approaches to person-to-person voter outreach may be something of a wild card in the election.

Trump’s team sees its field program, which has been up and running in several states for months, as a major advantage. Biden’s campaign hired senior aides in some swing states, including Pennsylvania, as late as July.

Democrats, on the other hand, say that virtual organizing helped Jill Karofsky win a state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin earlier this year. Progressive insurgents around the country have also successfully built online volunteer operations recently.”

– Holly Otterbein, Politico

Election Updates

  • The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that Joe Biden and other speakers would not travel to Milwaukee for the national convention. Biden will instead accept the nomination from Delaware.

  • The Biden campaign released a national ad targeting Black voters on Thursday. “And just like our ancestors who stood up to the violent racists of a generation ago, we will stand up to this president and say, ‘No more,’” the ad’s narrator says.

  • Club for Growth is launching a $5 million advertising campaign in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin attacking Biden for opposing emergency parental choice grants for school. The ad will begin airing on August 10 and run for three weeks.

  • Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) announced on Wednesday that they raised $165 million in July, topping the $140 million raised by Biden and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the same month. Trump and the RNC ended the month with more than $300 million on hand, while Biden and the DNC had $294 million.

  • Facebook removed a video from Trump’s personal page where he said in an interview that children were almost immune from COVID-19. Twitter removed a similar tweet from Trump’s election campaign account. Both companies said the posts violated their rules regarding coronavirus misinformation.

  • Representing the Trump campaign, Rudy Giuliani sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates requesting a fourth debate be held in early September before states begin sending out absentee ballots. If not, Giuliani said the third debate should be moved from October 22 to the first week in September.

  • Jo Jorgensen will make a campaign stop in Nashville on Thursday as part of her #BrakeTheBus tour.

Flashback: August 6, 2016

Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka received the Green Party’s nominations for president and vice president, respectively.blank

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 5, 2020

Each day, we:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states.
  • Compare the status of one industry or activity across the country.
  • Answer key questions about state school reopening plans.
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Arkansas (Republican trifecta): Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that public schools in the state were still on track to reopen beginning Aug. 24. “We need to have school this year. Absolutely. I’m firm on that. The educators are firm on that. Public health is firm on [that]. We need to have school,” he said.
  • Delaware (Democratic trifecta): Gov. John Carney (D) announced that schools across the state could reopen using a combination of in-person and remote learning starting in September.
  • Louisiana (divided government): Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced he will extend Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan through Aug. 28, including the statewide mask mandate. The current order is scheduled to end on Aug. 7.
  • Michigan (divided government): On Aug. 4, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order requiring the Michigan State Police and state departments to prioritize enforcement of her COVID-19 orders. She also ordered licensing agencies to consider license suspensions when violations occur.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) issued a statewide mask order. Everyone five years of age or older must wear face coverings in indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing cannot be practiced. He also mandated that all students and teachers wear masks on school property. Reeves delayed school reopenings in eight counties to Aug. 17. Previously, the counties were allowed to set their own start dates for the academic year.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Aug. 4, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced that the Washington Legislature had extended two of his COVID-19 proclamations through September 1. Inslee had requested the extensions in a July 23 letter. One proclamation says CARES Act payments and state and federal unemployment benefits may not be garnished for consumer debt. The other allows dental, dental hygiene, and pharmacy graduates to obtain temporary licenses.

Tracking industries: Restaurants

All 50 states are reopening in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: in which states may you dine in at a restaurant?

We last looked at restaurants in the July 29th edition of the newsletter. Since then, no new states opened or closed dine-in services. The following policy changes regarding restaurants have occurred:

  • On July 29, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced the state’s guidance for restaurants will become requirements, effective Aug. 3. The order requires employees and patrons to wear masks at dining establishments, prohibits customers from gathering around bar areas, and limits dine-in to 50% occupancy.
  • On July 28, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) issued an executive order that prohibits restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries from serving alcohol between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. The order took effect on July 31 at 11:00 p.m.

This is an in-depth summary of two state plans to reopen public K-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Delaware’s Returning to School plan

The Delaware Department of Education published its school reopening guidance on July 15. Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said, “This guidance document is meant to be used as support for district and charter leaders as they continue planning for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. Essential safety protocols must be implemented by all Delaware schools, PreK-12. Additionally, actionable planning steps have been included for districts and charter schools to consider as they develop their own site-based plans.”

Delaware does not have a statewide date to reopen public schools, but Gov. John Carney (D) is expected to announce how schools will resume operations later in August, depending on the community spread of the coronavirus. According to EdWeek, public schools in Delaware traditionally start the academic year between Aug. 22 and Sept. 9.

On March 13, Carney closed schools from March 16 to March 27. On March 23, Carney extended the closure to May 15. The governor closed schools for the rest of the academic year on April 24.

Context

Delaware is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2009.

The following tables show public education statistics in Delaware, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Delaware public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $16,490 14
Number of students (’18-’19) 138,405 46
Number of teachers (’16-17) 9,208 47
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 227 50
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 14.4 32
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 48.1% 22
Delaware public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $2,077,887,000 45
Percent from federal sources 8.7% 28
Percent from state sources 57.7% 12
Percent from local sources 33.6% 35

Details

District reopening plans

The document does not specifically require schools to develop individual reopening plans for approval or publishing. Schools are required to follow the state’s minimum basic requirements. Districts are encouraged to develop plans for three possible situations, based on the document’s guidance: Scenario 1 (minimal community spread), Scenario 2 (minimal-to-moderate community spread), and Scenario 3 (significant community spread).

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan calls for fully in-person, hybrid, or fully remote classes, depending on the state’s rate of community spread. In Scenario 1, schools are open to fully in-person operations. Scenario 2 allows schools and districts to use a hybrid model to minimize contact and exposure. School buildings are not permitted to open in Scenario 3 and all learning must be conducted remotely. Later in August, Gov. Carney will announce which Scenario schools will need to use and if there are any regional differences in the state’s approach to reopening.

Mask requirements

All staff and students in grades 4-12 are required to wear masks in school buildings. The document recommends that students in pre-K through third grade also wear masks.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan contains the following general safety guidelines for in-person operations:

  • Social distancing:
    • Students and staff should maintain the recommended distance of 6 feet or greater between individuals and must maintain a minimum of 3 feet apart with face coverings, including when seated at desks or standing in classrooms.
    • Individual desks should be used, reducing or eliminating shared table seating, to the extent practicable. When tables have to be shared, students should be seated the recommended 6 feet or greater between individuals and must be a minimum of 3 feet apart with face coverings.
    • Desks must be arranged so they are facing the same direction.
    • Hallways or corridors should flow either in one direction only or, if not possible, one direction on each side of the hallway with ample 6 feet of distance between students in single file flow on each side.
    • In group classes without tables, such as physical education, teachers should design activities that allow for social distancing.
  • Minimizing mixing and contact:
    • Students should be kept in stable groups throughout the day with little to no mixing of classes.
    • Families, outside visitors, and others entering the school should be as limited as absolutely possible. Adults who are assigned to work at the school, such as student teachers or before- and after-school staff, may be allowed as needed.
    • Off-site field trips must be discontinued.
    • Large-scale gatherings of more than 50 people should be avoided. Attendees at large-scale gatherings must be able to maintain 6 feet of social distancing at all times from non-household members.
  • Health status and monitoring:
    • Students and staff must stay home if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 or have been confirmed to have COVID-19 or if required by DPH to isolate or quarantine.
    • Students and/or their families should complete a health assessment every morning before leaving for school, to the extent practicable.
    • Staff should also complete a health assessment every morning before leaving for school.
    • Schools must identify an area or room separated from others where a student or staff member who becomes ill at school can wait until they can be picked up, which should be arranged as soon as possible, or transported to a medical facility if necessary.
    • Testing educators and staff is a priority for the state. DDOE and DPH will work with all schools on how to make testing available and convenient. Additional guidance regarding testing is forthcoming.

For more specific guidelines, click here (starting on page 7).

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The document directs school districts and charter schools to implement the following general mitigation tactics on buses:

  • Capacity must be limited by the number of students that can be seated between 3 or more feet apart on the school bus with face coverings (one student per row in staggered fashion, if possible). Students from the same family may sit together in one row, however. All staff and students 4th grade and higher must wear face coverings except when doing so would inhibit the individual’s health.
  • High-touch surfaces on buses (handrails, seat tops, particularly in first few rows) must be cleaned between every bus run with an EPA-approved solution.
  • Windows should be open to allow ventilation, as weather permits.

For more specific transportation guidelines, click here (starting on page 17).

Idaho’s Back-to-School Framework

On July 9, the Idaho Board of Education approved the Back-to-School Framework. The document says that it “outlines the expectations, support for local governance and decision-making, and guidance and best practices on the key operational components for safe reopening in the fall.”

The Framework replaced initial reopening guidelines that the Board had released on May 5 that was aligned with Gov. Butch Otter’s (R) reopening plan for the state as a whole.

Idaho does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in Idaho traditionally start the school year between late August and early September, with the exact start date varying by district.

On March 23, the board closed public schools across the state from March 24 to April 20. On April 6, the board closed public schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year or until social distancing protocols in the state were lifted. Officials said that individual schools could be approved to reopen if local social distancing orders were lifted and the school met criteria laid out by the board.

Context

Idaho is a Republican trifecta. The governor is a Republican, and Republicans have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Republican trifecta in 1995.

The following tables show public education statistics in Idaho, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Idaho public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $8,615 50
Number of students (’18-’19) 309,875 38
Number of teachers (’16-17) 16,204 39
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 759 38
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 18.5 6
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 45.8% 28
Idaho public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $2,294,497,000 44
Percent from federal sources 10.7% 16
Percent from state sources 65% 6
Percent from local sources 24.3% 46

Details

District reopening plans

Local school boards are responsible for developing plans and procedures for responding to the pandemic while providing student instruction. Local health districts are expected to advise these boards on health safety plans and procedures.

The framework does not specify whether plans have to be approved by the state or posted publicly for review.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

Under the framework, local health districts will assign categories (levels) to schools based on the level of transmission within their community using criteria established in the statewide reopening plan. Each of those categories has a definition and recommended level of school operations.

  • Category 1: No Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Evidence of isolated cases, case investigations underway, no evidence of exposure in large communal setting, e.g., healthcare facility, school, mass gathering.
    • Level of Operations: School buildings open with physical distancing and sanitation
  • Category 2: Minimal to Moderate Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Widespread and/or sustained transmission with high likelihood or confirmed exposure within communal settings, with potential for rapid increase in suspected cases.
    • Level of Operations: School buildings open but option of limited/staggered use of school buildings with physical distancing and sanitation
  • Category 3: Substantial Community Transmission
    • Definitions: Large-scale community transmission, healthcare staffing significantly impacted, multiple cases within communal settings like healthcare facilities, schools, mass gatherings, etc.
    • Level of Operations: Targeted, short-term, or extended building closure

Mask requirements

The framework provides recommendations on masks based on the category assigned by local health districts.

  • Category 1: Masks recommended for students and staff but not required.
  • Category 2: Masks recommended for students, staff, and visitors when practical.
  • Category 3: If staff are allowed in the building, all staff must follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on the use of masks. As of Aug. 5, those guidelines recommended that people wear masks in public settings.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The framework provides health recommendations for use in all three categories of community spread for the following school operations: preventative measures, testing, student assessment, instruction, social emotional learning, at-risk populations, food service, transportation, and student athletics. To view specific recommendations and requirements in each area, click here.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

Transportation recommendations are also based on the category of community spread.

  • Category 1: Drivers and students are encouraged to wear masks.
  • Category 2: Masks required for drivers and recommended for students. Utilize spaced seating and establish protocols for loading and unloading children from different households.
  • Category 3: Limit transportation to small groups of students from the same family that need to go to school facilities to receive services. Mask requirements are not outlined in the framework.

Responses

On July 20, Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly said:

When school buildings across the state were closed this spring, the decision-making was based on science and data. That approach seems to have been abandoned in the rush to reopen schools this fall. Idaho is at or near the highest percentage growth in COVID-19 cases in the nation. That is a troubling backdrop for a rush to reopen schools where large numbers of people will be gathering, and health precautions will be difficult to achieve.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • The University of Connecticut canceled its 2020 football season, becoming the first member of the Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision to do so. “The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk,” said Athletic Director David Benedict.
  • Chicago Public Schools will begin the school year with online-only classes. School officials said that meal delivery for at-risk students would continue and that free broadband would be expanded to up to 100,000 families.
  • On Aug. 3, as the result of a challenge by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), Judge J. Paul Oetken of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York vacated portions of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule implementing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA mandates that certain employers provide paid emergency sick and/or family leave to employees who are unable to work due to mandated COVID-19 quarantine or symptoms. The mandate extends to parents and guardians in the event of school or childcare unavailability. New York argued that the DOL violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the final rule restricts eligibility under the FFCRA in a manner that is “not authorized by, and conflicts with, the FFCRA. New York further argued the rule exceeds the FFCRA’s statutory by imposing additional burdens on employees seeking to claim benefits. In so doing, New York argued, the DOL was responsible for denying “vital financial support and exposing millions of American workers and their communities to further transmission of infectious disease in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.” Oetken vacated the final rule’s work-availability requirement, which made employees ineligible for leave under the FFCRA if their employer had no work for them because of COVID-related slowdowns or temporary closures. Oetken also struck down the DOL’s broad definition of a non-eligible health care provider, the requirement that an employee secure employer consent for intermittent leave, and the requirement that documentation is provided before taking leave. The remainder of the final rule was allowed to stand. Neither party has commented on the ruling, nor has the DOL indicated whether it will appeal or issue a new rule. Oetken is an appointee of Barack Obama (D).


Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 29 (August 5, 2020)

This week: Jake LaTurner defeats incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins, Marshall wins Kansas Senate nomination over Kobach, Hamilton, and Collins launches TV ad against Loeffler in Georgia.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Aug. 4.

  • United States Senate, Kansas: Roger Marshall defeated Kris Kobach, Bob Hamilton, and eight others. Marshall received 40% of the vote followed by Kobach and Hamilton with 26% and 19%, respectively. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote. Incumbent Pat Roberts (R), who was first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election. The last time Kansas had an open Senate seat was in 2010.
  • Kansas’ 1st Congressional District: Tracey Mann won. He received 54% of the vote to Bill Clifford’s 33%. Incumbent Rep. Roger Marshall (R) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving this safe Republican seat open. 
  • Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District: Jake LaTurner won with 49% of the vote to incumbent Steve Watkins’ 34% and Dennis Taylor’s 17%. Watkins and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) were the sixth and seventh incumbent representatives defeated in a primary in 2020. Watkins was first elected in 2018, defeating Paul Davis (D) by less than 1 percentage point. 
  • On July 14, Watkins was charged with voter fraud, having used the address of a UPS store on his voter registration form. Watkins said he mistakenly used his mailing address instead of his residential address and that the charges were politically motivated. 
  • Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District: Amanda Adkins won with 31% of the vote, defeating Sara Hart Weir (23%) and Adrienne Vallejo Foster (20%). Adkins will face incumbent Sharice Davids (D) and Steve Hohe (L) in the general. Davids was first elected in 2018 after challenging and defeating incumbent Kevin Yoder (R), who had represented the 3rd District since 2011. 
  • Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District: Peter Meijer won with 50% of the vote and 51% of precincts reporting. Lynn Afendoulis received 26% and Tom Norton received 16%. The seat was left open after incumbent Justin Amash joined the Libertarian Party and decided not to pursue a third-party candidacy. 
  • Michigan’s 10th Congressional District: With 80% of precincts reporting, Lisa McClain led with 41% of the vote, followed by Shane Hernandez with 38% and Doug Slocum with 21%. Incumbent Paul Mitchell (R) did not seek re-election, leaving this safe Republican seat open. 
  • Missouri governor: Incumbent Mike Parson won the primary with 75% of the vote. Four candidates ran. 
  • Washington governor, top-two primary: Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) were the top two finishers among a field of 36 candidates and will compete in the general election. With half of precincts reporting, Inslee received 52% of the vote and Culp received 17%.
  • United States Senate, Arizona: Incumbent Martha McSally won with 76% of the vote, followed by Daniel McCarthy with 24%. Sean Lyons, a write-in candidate, also ran. As of 9:55 a.m. Eastern Time, write-in vote totals had not yet been reported. McSally will face Mark Kelly (D) in the general election. Both candidates have raised over $40 million for their respective campaigns as of mid-July.
  • Kansas State Senate: Ten Republican incumbents faced primary challengers. Six incumbents were defeated, three won, and one race remains too close to call. High Plains Public Radio reported that “Control of the Kansas Legislature could turn on dozens of down-ballot races … in which many of the contests … pit conservative Republicans against moderate incumbents.”
  • Arizona State Senate: Wendy Rogers defeated incumbent Sylvia Allen in Senate District 6. Rogers received 59% of the vote to Allen’s 41%. We covered this primary on July 29 after Allen received an endorsement from the Gila County GOP, which does not usually weigh in on primaries. Both candidates were opposed and supported by satellite spending totaling over $300,000.
  • Sheriff, Maricopa County, Arizona: Jerry Sheridan leads former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Republican primary, 37% to 36%. Arpaio lost his 2016 re-election bid to Democrat and current incumbent Paul Penzone. Sheridan was chief deputy under Arpaio. In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt when a judge ruled that he had violated a court order requiring him to stop detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without reasonable suspicion that they had committed a crime. In August 2017, President Donald Trump (R) pardoned Arpaio.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On voting by mail

“We have also seen that voting by mail can slow the counting of votes. Particularly in close races, this sometimes makes it impossible to declare a result on election night. Occasionally, as some primary races have shown us this year, it can take days or even weeks. But the fact that results take longer does not mean those results are tainted. The work of counting mail-in votes, and especially of verifying signatures and resolving disputes, can take time, but this is precisely the work of assuring that results are legitimate and reliable.

“It’s essential that public officials help the American public understand this in advance of the fall election, to help voters see that the fact that results may not be available within hours doesn’t mean the results aren’t reliable.”

Yuval Levin, National Review, July 30, 2020

“Americans should insist on their right to vote in-person in their polling places in November, where they can be sure their ballots are safely received and counted.

 

“No one disputes that those most at risk from the coronavirus pandemic may want to vote by absentee ballot. But as the New York Times correctly said back in 2012, ‘votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth.’

 

“That assessment is just as true today as it was eight years ago. Voters should not be forced to deal with the problems that massive voting by mail would create.”

Hans von Spakovsky, Fox News, July 30, 2020

U.S. Congress

Collins’ first TV ad criticizes Loeffler on stock sales, wealth

Doug Collins’ first TV ad criticizes incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) over stock sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ad says Loeffler is using her family fortune to attack Collins and “high-priced lawyers to help her get away with” her stock transactions.

In March, media outlets began reporting that Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, sold $3 million in stocks at the beginning of the year following a briefing for senators on COVID-19 that Loeffler attended. Financial disclosures released in April showed more than $18 million in stock sales on Loeffler’s behalf from mid-February to mid-March. Loeffler denied wrongdoing, saying in March, “There is a range of different decisions made every day with regard to my savings and 401(k) portfolios that I am not involved in.” 

Loeffler launched a $4 million ad campaign in May defending herself against criticisms around the stock sales. The ads say the allegations of wrongdoing are lies. The ads also highlight $1 million Loeffler donated to a hospital and the use of her personal plane to bring home four Georgians stranded on a cruise ship.

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the all-party special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held Jan. 5, 2021. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to the Senate seat after Johnny Isakson (R) resigned in December. 

Six primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Click on candidates’ names below to read their responses.

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Club for Growth spends $2.4 million supporting Donalds, opposing Askar in FL-19

Club for Growth Action has spent $1.4 million supporting Byron Donalds and $937,000 opposing Casey Askar in Florida’s 19th Congressional District Republican primary

The group has released ads calling Donalds a true conservative who has fought for lower taxes and stands with police. The group’s ads say Askar donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and not Donald Trump’s.

Donalds has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016. Askar is a franchisee for Dunkin’ Donuts, Church’s Chicken, and other businesses. They are among nine candidates running in the primary. Incumbent Francis Rooney (R) is retiring, leaving this safe Republican district open.

Most other satellite spending in the race has surrounded Dane Eagle, who has served in the state House since 2012. Conservative Outsider PAC spent $251,000 opposing him, and Concerned Conservatives Inc. spent $167,000 supporting him.

Six primary candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. To read their responses, click on candidates’ names below. 

The primary is Aug. 18.

State executives

Riggleman considers independent gubernatorial run in 2021 after Republican primary defeat

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) said he is considering running for governor of Virginia in 2021 as an independent candidate. Riggleman lost his re-election bid for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District in June. Bob Good (R), a former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, defeated him at the Republican Party’s district convention by a margin of 16 points.

“The Virginia Republican Party is so broken. Maybe it is time for a third-party run,” Riggleman said in an interview. He added that he would decide by September or October.

Former Virginia State House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) also announced this week that he was looking at joining the race. Cox would join state Sen. Amanda Chase (R), who has already declared her candidacy. 

Virginia is the only state to prevent governors from serving consecutive terms, meaning the office is open in every election year. The gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 2, 2021. 

Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. Except for the 2013 election, every Virginia gubernatorial race since 1973 has been won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska AFL-CIO, former challenger encourage voters to support Sen. Cathy Giessel (R) in Senate District N primary

On Aug. 2, Must Read Alaska’s Suzanne Downing reported that the Alaska AFL-CIO, headed by Vince Beltrami (I), has been conducting door knocking and literature drops encouraging voters to request a Republican ballot and support Senate President Cathy Giessel (R) in the Senate District N primary.

Beltrami challenged Giessel in the district’s 2016 general election. Giessel received 52% of the vote to Beltrami’s 48%. This year, Giessel faces a primary challenge from Roger Holland (R), a state Department of Transportation employee and Coast Guard reservist.

The contest between Giessel and Holland has centered on Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividends (PDF), a yearly dividend paid out to Alaska residents. In December 2019, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) budget proposed setting the dividend at nearly $3,000 per person. Dunleavy would have used state savings to supplement the payment.

Giessel opposed the plan, saying, “Should we institute an income tax, even a statewide sales tax, for the sole purpose of paying a very large dividend?” She recommended the state modernize its formulas used to calculate the PFD rather than using savings. The 2020 PFD ultimately paid out at $992 per recipient.

On his campaign website, Holland wrote, “Now is not the time to take PFD funds from Alaskans to allow continued irresponsible spending by state government.” He said, “proposed changes should be studied by the experts and put before the people for a vote.”

The AFL-CIO is also distributing materials encouraging voters to support Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in his House District 24 primary against challenger Tom McKay, which we covered on July 29.

Candidates participate in forum for open Wyoming Senate District 18 seat

On July 23, the Park County Republican Women hosted a candidate forum for the upcoming Aug. 18 primary in Wyoming’s Senate District 18. Four candidates—Stefanie Bell, Tim French, Richard Jones, and state Rep. David Northrup—are running. Incumbent Sen. Henry Coe (R-08) is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open for the first time since he took office in 1989.

Each of the four candidates has held or currently holds a public office. Bell is a member of the Park County School District Board of Trustees, a position she has held for 20 years. French served as a Park County Commissioner from 2000 to 2018. Jones served on the Planning and Zoning Boards for the City of Cody and Park County. Northrup has represented House District 50 since 2013.

The forum’s first question asked candidates whether they supported increases in a state income tax, corporate income tax, or sales tax. Currently, Wyoming does not have a personal income or corporate income tax. 

Bell and Jones said they generally oppose tax increases and instead suggested the state take a closer look at spending and efficiencies. Bell said the budget should be simplified so more citizens can weigh in each year. Jones went into greater detail in his Candidate Connection survey, saying, “New taxes and fees may be needed but should have the approval of the voters not just imposed by legislation.”

French said he opposed raising any taxes, citing the economic conditions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. “What are you gonna tell those people,” French said, “‘I want you to cut this out of your life,’ ‘I need you to cut this’? They’re already struggling, what are they supposed to cut?”

Northrup also mentioned the economy. He said financial reserves could be used to balance the budget over the upcoming two years, but the state needed to have a longer-term strategy. “If we blow all of our … savings right off the bat trying to figure out how to get through this, then what?” Northrup said one option to explore would be an optional penny sales tax with a sunset provision.

Power players

“The NRRT focuses on the unique legal and data demands of redistricting and coordinates a nationwide redistricting strategy with the Republican Party’s national and state committees and conservative organizations around the country.” – National Republican Redistricting Trust website

Launched in 2017 in response to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRTT) says it aims to position Republicans favorably for redistricting through litigation and data analysis. Adam Kincaid acts as executive director, and in 2019 former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was brought on as financial director.

The NRRT has previously said that it planned to raise $35 million by 2020. In May 2020, the organization filed paperwork to establish the National Republican Redistricting PAC. Kincaid told The Hill that this “would give his group access to small-dollar donors who are increasingly crucial to political success.”



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 29 (August 5, 2020)

This week: Cori Bush defeats incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay, Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad, and Ocasio-Cortez appears in an ad for Ed Markey.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Aug. 4.

  • Arizona’s 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Tom O’Halleran defeated Eva Putzova. O’Halleran received 59% to Putzova’s 41% with 98% of precincts reporting. O’Halleran, a former Republican member of the state legislature, was first elected to the seat as a Democrat in 2016. He co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition. Putzova is a former member of the Flagstaff City Council.
  • Arizona’s 6th Congressional District: Hiral Tipirneni won with 54% of the vote to Anita Malik’s 36%, with 95% of precincts reporting. In the general election, Tipirneni will run against incumbent David Schweikert (R) in a district rated lean Republican.
  • Michigan’s 13th Congressional District: Incumbent Rashida Tlaib won with 66% of the vote to Brenda Jones’ 34%, with 87% of precincts reporting. The race was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the district’s regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election. Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary.
  • Missouri’s 1st Congressional District: Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay and Katherine Bruckner. Bush received 49% of the vote to Clay’s 46%. Clay is one of seven incumbent representatives who have lost in primaries in 2020, along with Steve Watkins who lost the Republican primary in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District on Aug. 4.
  • Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 primary, which Clay won with 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%. Clay was first elected in 2000. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed his re-election bid. Bush received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman, a candidate for New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the district’s June 23 Democratic primary. 
  • Washington’s 10th Congressional District, top-two: As of 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 5, this race had not been called. Marilyn Strickland (D) led with 21.4% of the vote. Beth Doglio (D) had 14.4%, Kristine Reeves (D) had 13.2%, and Rian Ingrim (R) had 10.6%. Nineteen candidates—eight Democrats, eight Republicans, one independent, one Essential Workers Party candidate, and one Congress Sucks Party candidate—ran in the primary. Denny Heck (D), in office since 2013, sought election as lieutenant governor, leaving the seat open.
  • Washington governor, top-two primary: Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) were the top two finishers among a field of 36 candidates and will compete in the general election. With half of precincts reporting, Inslee received 52% of the vote and Culp received 17%.
  • St. Louis Circuit Attorney: Incumbent Kimberly Gardner won the Democratic primary for circuit attorney in St. Louis. She received 61% of the vote to Mary Pat Carl’s 39%. The race was a rematch. Gardner and Carl ran in the four-candidate Democratic primary in 2016, where Gardner received 47% of the vote and Carl was second with 24%.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On vice-presidential ambition

“Biden’s biggest strength is that he has from the beginning of the primary contest polled best in head-to-head matchups against Trump. ‘Electability’ was always the number one issue for most Democratic primary voters desperate to put an end to Trump’s reign … But that doesn’t mean even older, more moderate Democratic voters want Biden determining the character of the party going forward–much less the younger … progressive wing winning an increasingly larger share of the party’s internal battles. Biden is a calming caretaker for our democracy, not the face of the Democratic Party’s future. His vice-presidential pick shouldn’t be determining that, either.

 

“In short, an underrated characteristic of Biden’s vice-presidential pick should be that she not necessarily want the job in four to eight years. Not as a knock against anyone he might choose, but because after the immediate danger of Trump is passed, Democratic voters should be at liberty to freely choose the direction of the party over the next decade without being locked into the defensive, electability-driven calculations of the Biden campaign in 2020.”

David Atkins, Washington Monthly, Aug. 1, 2020

“Fourteen American vice presidents have gone to become president, including John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush. But even as Joe Biden vies to become the 15th, a warped, sexist narrative has emerged in recent days that his female running mate should not have presidential ambitions herself …

 

“Political ambition is tantamount to striving for power, and when it comes from women, it makes people deeply comfortable. American culture tends to like unassuming models and actresses who are discovered magically, serendipitously, plucked from obscurity, aw-shucks-ing their way up the ladder. To try is to offend the increasingly delicate status quo of white-male rule and the evident fragility of Biden’s inner circle. The truth is: Every woman on their short list is powered by ambition. They could never have become senators and governors and congressional leaders without it—especially not in the male-dominated world of politics, with people like Biden’s top donors working against them.”

Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, Aug. 3, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad in MN-05

Rep. Ilhan Omar released her first TV ad ahead of the Aug. 11 primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. 

In the ad, Omar says, “We can translate our cries for justice into legislation, and that’s the fight we have been leading in Congress.” In a second ad, Omar said Antone Melton-Meaux, one of the five primary candidates, was a partner at “one of the worst union-busting law firms in the country” and that he used nondisclosure agreements to prevent women from talking about sexual harassment.   

Melton-Meaux says he would find common ground with others to reach progressive goals. In a recent ad, he said, “I won’t be chasing cameras or selling books. I’ll work for you.” Melton-Meaux’s campaign slogan is “Focused On the Fifth.”

As we recently reported, Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. As of July 22, Omar had raised a total of $4.3 million to Melton-Meaux’s $4.2 million.

Two primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Click on candidates’ names below to read their responses.

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Ocasio-Cortez appears in Markey ad

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared in an ad for Sen. Ed Markey, who faces Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary

Ocasio-Cortez said Markey was an original cosponsor of Medicare for All legislation and that he co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with her in 2019. She said, “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts. It’s the age of your ideas.”  

Markey, 74, has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy, 39, has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Kennedy says he supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. At a recent debate, he said Markey hadn’t done enough to implement the Green New Deal. Kennedy has said the race is part of the “fight of my generation,” but also said, “This isn’t about age, and it isn’t about seniority. … It’s about meeting this moment and doing everything that you can possibly do to take it on.”

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Markey. Recently, the Massachusetts Teachers Association backed him.

Kennedy’s endorsers include Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died last month. 

A recent JMC Analytics poll found Markey with 40% support, Kennedy with 36%, and 24% undecided. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 4.4 percentage points.

The poll also asked if Markey’s 44 years in Congress would make respondents more or less likely to vote for him—30% said less likely, 30% said more likely, and 40% said it made no difference. When asked about the effect of the Kennedy family name, 20% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate with it, 24% said less likely, and 57% said it made no difference. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

Feltes, Volinsky spar over unemployment benefits in New Hampshire gubernatorial debate

State Sen. Dan Feltes (D) and New Hampshire Executive Councilman Andru Volinsky (D) discussed the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery plans in their first in-person gubernatorial debate on July 29.

Feltes criticized Volinsky’s position on reevaluating enhanced unemployment insurance, saying, “This election is about who’s [sic] side are you on – working people and working families. You got to be on their side full time, not part time.”

Volinsky, who said the amount of the weekly $600 federal benefit should be reconsidered, defended his record as an attorney and public servant. “No one gets to claim that mantle in this race. We’re both committed to working-class people,” Volinsky said.

The primary is scheduled for Sept. 8. On the Republican side, incumbent Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016, faces two opponents. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the general election and a third says it leans Republican.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Cabrera and Farmer participate in Connecticut Senate District 17 debate

On July 28, Jorge Cabrera and Justin Farmer participated in a virtual debate sponsored by The Valley Independent Sentinel, WNHH Radio, and The New Haven Independent. Cabrera and Farmer are vying for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Sen. George Logan (R-17). 

Cabrera is an organizing director with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 919. He received endorsements from the Connecticut branches of the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union as well as from the District 17 Democratic Party.

Farmer is a member of the Hamden Legislative Council. The Democratic Socialists of America, Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut, and the Connecticut Young Democrats endorsed his campaign.

On a question about healthcare, Cabrera discussed his support for a public option, saying, “I’m a big believer in high-quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.” Farmer said, “I am a big proponent of Medicare for All,” adding that “We can have a Connecticut option to allow our undocumented community members to be covered.”

In Connecticut, candidates participate in conventions before proceeding to primaries. A candidate can win the nomination outright at a convention so long as no other candidates receive more than 15% of the delegate vote. On May 27, we covered the convention vote setting up the contest between Cabrera and Farmer. Delegates supported Cabrera over Farmer 39-10, enough votes to net Cabrera the party’s endorsement, but not enough to win the nomination outright.

In 2018, Logan defeated Cabrera, that cycle’s Democratic nominee, 50.1-49.9%, a margin of 85 votes. In 2016, District 17 supported Hillary Clinton (D) over Donald Trump (R), 53-44%.

Sunrise Rhode Island endorses challenger Potter in House District 16 primary against Rep. Millea

On July 29, Sunrise RI, the Rhode Island affiliate of the national Sunrise Movement, endorsed Brandon Potter (D) in the House District 16 primary, where he is challenging incumbent Rep. Christopher Millea (D-16). Sunrise Movement describes itself as “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.”

Announcing the endorsement, Potter, a sales manager, said, “We not only have a moral obligation to protect our environment, we have a major economic opportunity to invest in renewable energy.” In addition to Sunrise RI, he received endorsements from the Rhode Island affiliates of Planned Parenthood Votes! and Our Revolution.

Millea was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Robert Lancia (R), 53-47% in the general election. In his campaign announcement, Millea said that he “has been a constant champion for education reform and governmental transparency.” He added, “There is far more work to be done for the residents of District 16, but we have made tremendous progress.”

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Maryann Lancia (R), the wife of former Rep. Lancia, in the general election. 

Power players

“The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is the centralized hub for executing a comprehensive redistricting strategy that shifts the redistricting power, creating fair districts where Democrats can compete.” – National Democratic Redistricting Committee website

Since 2017, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee says it has been working to position Democrats favorably for redistricting through litigation, legislation, and elections. Currently led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, it also counts President Barack Obama (D) among its notable supporters. 

As of June 30, its PAC has raised $3,899,804 and spent $2,397,598 this election cycle. Among its largest campaign contributions are $250,000 to Common Good Virginia, a committee supporting Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), $75,000 to the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, and $75,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

Click the following links to view the organization’s 2019-2020 electoral targets and endorsements.



Biden launches $280 million ad campaign in 15 battlegrounds

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 5, 2020: Joe Biden reserved $280 million in ads that will target Donald Trump on his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Sixth Circuit ruled that ballot access laws in Ohio were not unconstitutionally burdensome given the coronavirus pandemic.


Presidential Facebook ads, 2019-2020 (July 27 - August 2, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“There isn’t the same degree of rancor as there was four years ago; the Biden/Sanders task forces formed to create a unified approach to writing the platform, while producing a document not wholly satisfying to progressives, was still a good-faith effort to bridge differences.

But leaving grassroots delegates in the dark as to how the convention will work—and reducing their role to passive online viewers—runs the risk of producing a massive letdown that could leave hundreds of delegates alienated. What this may mean is that at the conclusion of the party confab, many first-time Sanders delegates (and some old-timers, as well), instead of being energized and engaged, may turn off their computers feeling deflated and dejected. The unity so necessary for victory will not have been achieved.”

– James Zogby, The Nation

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden reserved $280 million in advertising—$220 million for television and $60 million for digital—that will target Donald Trump on his response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ads are airing in 15 states, including 10 that Trump won in 2016:  Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, and Ohio.

  • Biden issued his agenda for the Latino community on Tuesday. It is based on the following five pillars: invest in Latinos’ economic mobility, make investments to end health disparities by race, expand access to high-quality education, combat hate crimes and gun violence, and modernize the immigration system.

  • Vote Common Good and the Lincoln Project are launching an initiative on Wednesday to mobilize faith voters against Trump.The partnership is focusing on white evangelicals and Catholics.

  • In an interview with Axios released on Monday, Trump discussed U.S. coronavirus deaths, Black Lives Matter, and the Russian bounty file, among other issues.

  • Trump said that he supported mail-in voting in Florida. “Over a long period of time, they’ve been able to get the absentee ballots done extremely professionally. Florida is different from other states,” he said. His campaign filed a lawsuit against Nevada for its plan to expand mail-in voting on Tuesday.

  • Illustrating the difference between each candidate’s canvassing approach, the Trump campaign said it knocked on over 1 million doors in the past week, while the Biden campaign reported zero.

  • The Sixth Circuit ruled on Monday that ballot access laws in Ohio were not unconstitutionally burdensome given the coronavirus pandemic. Howie Hawkins and independent candidate, Dario Hunter, had filed the suit for ballot access relief.

Flashback: August 5, 2016

U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) endorsed Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, becoming the first member of Congress to do so.blank

Click here to learn more.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: August 4, 2020

Each day, we:

  • Track the status of reopening in all 50 states.
  • Compare the status of one industry or activity across the country.
  • Answer key questions about state school reopening plans.
  • Give you the latest stories on other reopening plans and ideas.

Want to know what happened yesterday? Click here.

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Michigan (divided government): Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed an executive order allowing casinos in Detroit to open at 15% capacity on Aug. 5.
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is expected to make an announcement and sign an executive order regarding school reopenings on Aug. 4.

Since our last edition

What is open in each state? For a continually updated article on reopening status in all 50 states, click here. For our last edition, click here.

  • Arizona (Republican trifecta): Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she believed schools in Arizona should not reopen for in-person instruction yet. Hoffman wrote, “As school leaders, we should prepare our families and teachers for the reality that it is unlikely that any school community will be able to reopen safely for traditional in-person or hybrid instructions by August 17th.”
  • California (Democratic trifecta): The California Department of Public Health created a waiver for elementary schools in counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list. The waiver would allow schools to open for in-person instruction as long as they meet certain criteria.
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) modified the mask mandate for schools to allow students to remove masks in a classroom when they can maintain three to six feet of distance between themselves and others.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the state would not count any remote-learning days towards required instructional time for schools that did not offer at least 50% in-person instruction.
  • Nevada (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced the state would take a county-by-county approach to coronavirus restrictions. Officials will review data by county and the state will work with counties deemed at risk to determine further restrictions to prevent spread.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jay Inslee (D) released updated fitness guidance on Aug. 3 for counties in Phase 2 and Phase 3 of reopening, including a requirement that occupancy may not exceed 25% in large exercise facilities (more than 12,000 square feet).

Tracking industries: Indoor gathering limits

All 50 states are reopening in some way. Here, we give the status of one industry or activity across the states. Today’s question: what is the indoor gathering size limit in each state?

We last looked at indoor gathering size limits in the July 28th edition of the newsletter. Since then:

  • New Jersey’s limit decreased from 100 to 25.
  • Oregon’s limit decreased from 50 to 10.
  • Pennsylvania’s limit decreased from 250 to 25.

This is an in-depth summary of two state plans to reopen public K-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

California’s Stronger Together

The California Department of Education released a 55-page guidance document for reopening schools to in-person instruction on June 8. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said the guidance was not mandatory and the document’s goal was to provide multiple scenarios schools could choose from based on need.

On July 17, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) ordered counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list to begin the year with schools using fully remote learning. As of Aug. 4, 37 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. The list is based on new infections per capita, test positivity rate, and hospitalization rate.

California does not have a statewide date for public schools to reopen—individual districts in counties not on the watch list can choose how and when to reopen. According to EdWeek, public schools in California traditionally start the school year between late August and early September.

Context

California is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2011.

The following tables show public education statistics in California, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

California public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $13,943 21
Number of students (’18-’19) 6,171,666 1
Number of teachers (’16-17) 271,287 2
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 10,437 1
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 23.1 2
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 58.1% 12
California public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $74,395,627,000 1
Percent from federal sources 9.6% 20
Percent from state sources 57.2% 14
Percent from local sources 33.2% 37

Details

District reopening plans

Districts are intended to use the guidelines to develop their own specific reopening plans.

The intent of this document is to be a guide for local discussion on reopening schools. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” document; rather, it is a document that honors the varied local contexts of each of our local educational agencies (LEAs). This guidance document was developed with the most current information known at the time and may be updated as new data becomes relevant. This guide will provide checklists, essential questions for consideration, and examples of best practices. . . . LEAs need to work with their local health departments and local stakeholders to ensure that their protocols align with the most current scientific knowledge and community expectations. It is also reasonable to expect that the protocols schools implement will change as the local conditions change.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The guidelines do not provide one specific requirement or recommendation for LEAs. Instead, the guidelines provide several scheduling model options LEAs can use to build their own plans. Those scheduling models are:

  • Example A: Two-Day Rotation Blended Learning Model
    • Students report to school on two designated days based on grade level for in-person instruction (example: Monday/Wednesday for grade levels K–3, Tuesday/Thursday for grade levels 4–6). On the other days, students are engaged in enrichment opportunities aligned with academic goals established by the school through various programs, either on site or with community partners, that are coordinated by school instructional staff.
  • Example B: A/B Week Blended Learning Model
    • Half of the student population attends in-person learning opportunities four full days per week while the other half is engaged in distance learning opportunities. The students would alternate each week. All grade bands would be included. The instructional program would be sequenced to accommodate both asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities for students.
  • Example C: Looping Structure
    • For schools serving grade levels TK–8, there is an opportunity for students to stay with the same teacher in cohorts for multiple grade levels. Looping provides opportunities for improved relationships between students and teachers, more targeted and efficient instruction, and a higher attendance rate. For example, a teacher and student cohort would stay together for first and second grade, increasing the opportunity for literacy rates on or above grade level. Teachers and students staying together over multiple grade levels can build a better understanding of health and safety, decreasing risks to students and staff.
  • Example D: Early/Late Staggered Schedules
    • Grade level bands would have staggered start and dismissal times, such as AM/PM rotations (for example, TK–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–10,11–12). The bell schedule would accommodate multiple recesses and lunch periods and multiple meal distribution points, along with time for students to engage in handwashing before entering classrooms. Students could be in a homeroom with teachers rotating to decrease student congregation in hallways

Mask requirements

The guidelines say that based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, all staff should wear face coverings. Teachers may instead use face shields so students can see their faces.

The guidelines say “students should use cloth face coverings, especially in circumstances when physical distancing cannot be maintained.” If LEAs require the use of face coverings, the guidelines require LEAs to provide face coverings for students.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The guidelines provide suggestions and checklists for LEAs in building plans in the following 10 areas:

  • Local conditions to guide reopening decisions
  • Plans to address positive COVID-19 cases or community surges
  • Injury and illness prevention plan
  • Campus access
  • Hygiene
  • Protective equipment
  • Physical distancing
  • Cleaning/disinfecting
  • Employee issues
  • Communication with students, parents, employees, public health officials, and the community

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The guidelines recommend that students wear face coverings while on a bus.

The guidelines leave determining bus occupancy up to LEAs based on physical distancing guidelines. The state also recommends that students be seated in order of boarding/unloading to prevent students from passing one another. Buses should be assigned aides to ensure distancing, enforce seating arrangements, and screen for symptoms.

Responses

On July 9, the California Teachers Association sent a letter to state officials in response to school reopening plans.

Simply said, California cannot reopen schools unless they are safe. Unfortunately, many local districts and communities don’t have the necessary resources or capacity to maintain even the most basic prevention measures of six feet physical distancing and limiting contacts, much less the other important preventative actions such as personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and tracing, or adequate ventilation and cleaning supplies. While no one method of prevention by itself is 100 percent effective, layered strategies boost prevention with each measure knocking off some percentage of exposure and potential infection. This includes a clear and manageable plan to implement measures like physical distancing of six feet, reducing the number of contacts, face coverings, handwashing, daily health screening, support for sick and at-risk people to stay at home, robust testing, good ventilation (with absolutely no recirculated air), and cleaning and disinfecting.

Connecticut’s Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together

On June 25, Gov. Ned Lamont (D) and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona announced “Adapt, Advance, Achieve: Connecticut’s Plan to Learn and Grow Together,” a reopening framework centered around six guiding principles and a series of operational considerations. The plan includes a mixture of requirements and optional guidance based on best practices. The plan was last updated on Aug. 3.

Lamont said, “While we’ve made good strides to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Connecticut, the virus hasn’t gone away and we need to do what we can to keep students and staff safe while also doing our best to provide our young people with access to an education that prepares them for the future. Working with public health and medical experts, and with the support of our educators, we are preparing a number of steps that protect the health and safety of everyone who makes contact with our school system.”

According to EdWeek, Connecticut schools typically start the last week in August. The Connecticut State Department of Education asks districts to plan for all students to return to classrooms this fall so long as public health continued to support the state’s school reopening model.

On March 15, Lamont first ordered schools closed to in-person instruction from March 16 to March 31. He extended the closures on March 23 and April 9, before closing schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year on May 5.

Context

Connecticut is a Democratic trifecta. The governor is a Democrat, and Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state became a Democratic trifecta in 2011.

The following tables show public education statistics in Connecticut, including a rank comparing it to the other 49 states. Rank one is the highest number of each figure, rank 50 is the lowest. All data comes from the Common Core of Data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Connecticut public school metrics
Category Figure 50-state rank
Per pupil spending (’16-’17) $21,628 2
Number of students (’18-’19) 514,698 30
Number of teachers (’16-17) 42,343 26
Number of public schools (’18-’19) 1,023 35
Student:teacher ratio (’18-’19) 12.3 45
Percent qualifying for free/reduced lunch (’16-’17) 35.7% 48
Connecticut public school revenue
Category Figure 50-state rank
Total revenue $11,376,740,000 18
Percent from federal sources 4.2% 49
Percent from state sources 41% 37
Percent from local sources 54.8% 8

Details

District reopening plans

All Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools, were required to submit reopening plans to the Connecticut State Department of Education by July 24. The State Department of Education said while it would not approve the plans, it would hold on to the plans in case schools required technical assistance.

The guidance states:

While the guiding principles of this document will require all LEAs to approach this with a certain level of consistency, LEAs retain discretion in implementing the approach to full time reopening. School boards are encouraged to develop local teams and secure input from all members of the community regarding the complex approach to resuming classes in the fall. The CSDE will stand ready to provide technical support and anticipates that this document will be followed by ongoing support documents, resources, and a variety of templates to assist local planning.

In-person, hybrid, and online learning

The plan says schools should plan to return students to classrooms in the fall, so long as the public health data supports doing so.

LEAs should plan to have all students, in all districts, return to schoolhouses for fulltime instruction at the beginning of 2020–2021, so long as public health data continues to support this model. This model will be supported with more intensive mitigation strategies and specific monitoring, containment and class cancellation plans. In addition to full-time instruction plans as indicated above, LEAs must be prepared to modify their plans to support a partial reopening or to allow for scaling back at a future date if the public health data changes.

The plan also says schools should: “Plan for educational opportunities to be primarily in-person, but allow for students and parents to choose not to participate based upon individual considerations.”

The plan includes a tiered system for helping schools determine which education model to adopt. The “Low”, “Moderate,” and “High” tiers correspond to the spread of COVID-19 in an area.

In the “Low” category, schools can operate “up to 100% capacity, students/staff with underlying medical conditions should consider restrictions and blended/remote learning.” Buses can operate “up to full capacity with bus monitors recommended, facial coverings in place during transit, controlled loading/unloading of riders.”

In the “Medium” category, schools can operate  “at reduced capacity, with more reliance on hybrid model, blended/remote learning, prioritize access to school building for students who need the more learning support, including but not limited to those receiving special education, ELs or limited access due to devices or connectivity issues.” Buses can operate at “reduced capacity with bus monitors strongly recommended, facial coverings in place during transit, controlled loading/unloading of riders, spaced seating between unrelated riders.” The plan also calls for indoor extracurricular activities to be suspended.

In the “High” category, schools are “closed, 100% remote learning, bus transportation suspended, extracurricular activities, including sports, should be suspended.”

The plan requires schools to do the following:

  • Develop a plan for school class cancellations and reopening to be implemented in the event that the superintendent, their designee, or state government suspends or cancels in-school classes for some or all participants.
  • Assume that any decision about school closure, reopening, or cancellation of school events will be made in coordination/collaboration with local health officials, and with the advice of the school medical advisor (if any) and school nurse supervisor.
  • Prioritize ongoing educational opportunities when drafting the plan for shutdown. Materials for continuity of learning must be made available to allow for school sessions to continue remotely

Mask requirements

The plan requires staff and students to wear face coverings when inside school buildings and provides suggestions for communicating those policies.

The plan requires the following:

  • Adopt policies requiring use of face coverings for all students and staff when they are inside the school building, with certain exceptions listed below.
    • For anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance, face coverings and masks should not be required, per CDC guidance.
  • Be prepared to provide a mask to any student or staff member who does not have one.

Other suggestions include:

  • Teach and reinforce use of cloth face coverings.
  • Set clear guidelines regarding limited exceptions to use of face coverings when other mitigating practices are in place, such as:
    • For students, while eating, drinking, during PE, or when students are outside, and effectively practicing social distancing and any other possible mitigants. Exceptions may also be necessary for certain special education students or other special populations
    • For teachers and staff, while teaching so long as they are properly socially distancing or remaining static behind a physical barrier as described herein, while eating, drinking, or when outside and effectively practicing social distancing and any other possible mitigants.

In-person health recommendations and requirements

The plan requires the following for classroom layout:

  • Maximize social distancing between student workstations, achieving 6 feet when feasible, when determining the classroom layout. Desks should face in the same direction (rather than facing each other), or students should sit on only one side of tables, spaced apart.
  • Where necessary, assess other space that may be repurposed for instruction in the school, in municipal or other community space, or if the school will require additional modular space.
  • Maximize space between the teacher and students due to the risk of increased droplets from teachers during instruction. If a teacher removes face covering or mask during instruction, spacing should be increased beyond six feet. For teachers who stay seated, a physical barrier may be an effective option.

The plan encourages schools to sort students into stable cohorts.

  • Implement the key strategy of establishing stable cohorts within the school population, when feasible. Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K–8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9–12.
  • Assign classroom groups with teams of teachers and support personnel, and as much as possible restrict mixing between teams.
  • When possible, have teachers of specific academic content areas rotate, instead of student groups.
  • Where schools have different entrances, assign cohorts a specific entry and exit that remains consistent day-to-day. Consider similar design for assignment of restrooms, classrooms, and outside space where it is possible to restrict primary use to a single cohort, or consistent group of cohorts.

Transportation and busing requirements and restrictions

The plan includes the following recommendations for preparation:

  • Consider gathering data from families to properly plan for resuming classes in the fall, including an assessment of the number students expected to attend, and whether parents or guardians plan to transport their children.
  • Consult with municipal leaders, including public safety officials, to assess the approach if the school determines parents/guardian transportation is an option, including whether the school can safely accommodate the traffic, and whether local streets will be impacted.
  • Understand that parents or guardians generally cannot be compelled to transport their children if they choose not to, in which case the LEA maintains responsibility for transporting the student.
  • Include all transportation providers, including public and contracted bus company representatives where applicable, in planning a return to service.

The plan includes the following recommendations for pick up/drop off:

  • Assess if a staggered arrival and drop off, properly communicated, will enhance safety protocols in place.
  • Plan vehicle flow and logistics particularly if there are more family transport vehicles.
  • Consider arrival/departure procedures that limit unnecessary entrance of parents and guardians into the building.

Responses

On June 25,  Connecticut Education Association (CEA) President Jeff Leake and AFT Connecticut Vice President Mary Yordon released a statement in response to Lamont’s reopening plan:

Governor Lamont’s plan, released today, is short on specifics and doesn’t address some of the most pressing issues associated with reopening our buildings this fall. The new plan raises many concerns and leaves dozens of unanswered questions regarding how schools will operate in a COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) world. Simply directing district officials to follow generic CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations, without customizing requirements for the realities of our school settings, is insufficient for a safe statewide reopening.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, as well as influencers relevant to recovering from the pandemic.

  • On July 29, a group of inmates at the Tulare County Jails sued Sheriff Michael Boudreaux in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, seeking the implementation of an array of COVID-19 safety measures. The plaintiffs are asking that the court issue an order directing Boudreaux to:
    • provide universal staff and inmate COVID-19 testing,
    • release inmates who are medically vulnerable and pose a low-flight-risk,
    • provide (and require staff to wear) personal protection equipment,
    • allow attorney access to incarcerated clients, and
    • quarantine those exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • Plaintiffs allege that because Boudreaux has failed to implement CDC-recommended response measures, he has “actively interfered with incarcerated people’s ability to protect themselves.” The plaintiffs allege they have been placed in “imminent danger of serious illness or death from the virus.” Plaintiffs also allege Boudreaux’s visitation policy “has prevented incarcerated people from engaging in confidential attorney visits.” They say the policy interferes with “efforts to meet confidentially with civil rights attorneys about the appalling conditions in the jail.” The plaintiffs allege Boudreaux’s actions violate the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Boudreaux said, “We are doing everything that we can with the information and tools available to us to keep our inmates safe and healthy.”


Trump pledges to sue Nevada over universal mail-in ballot law

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
August 4, 2020: Donald Trump said he would sue Nevada over plan to send mail-in ballots to all active voters. Joe Biden likely won’t name vice presidential pick until next week.


Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (CBS News/YouGov • Georgia • July 28-31, 2020)


Presidential poll highlights, 2019-2020 (CBS News/YouGov • North Carolina • July 28-31, 2020)

Notable Quote of the Day

“November is going to be like the Super Bowl of misinformation tactics. You name it, the U.S. election is going to have it.”

– Graham Brookie, director Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab

Election Updates

  • During a virtual campaign fundraiser on Monday, Joe Biden criticized Donald Trump for comments he made about delaying the election and mail-in ballots. Biden said, “He suggested we should postpone the election, full of just bald-faced lies about how mail-in votes were fraud.”

  • The Biden campaign is starting a virtual fundraiser tour in Ohio, beginning in Kent on Tuesday.

  • The Washington Post reported that Biden would likely not make his vice presidential announcement until the second week of August.

  • The Republican National Convention will have a different theme each night: land of heroes, land of promises, land of opportunity, and land of greatness. Each night will also have a “nightly surprise factor,” Axios reported.

  • The Donald Trump campaign released a new Spanish-language ad that connects Biden and progressive policies to socialism in Latin America.

  • Trump said he planned to file a lawsuit against Nevada after the governor signed a bill that would automatically send mail-in ballots to active voters. He tweeted on Monday, ‘In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

  • Trump encouraged supporters to wear masks in a campaign email on Monday. He wrote, “I don’t love wearing them either. Masks may be good, they may be just okay, or they may be great. They can possibly help us get back to our American way of life that so many of us rightfully cherished before we were so terribly impacted by the China Virus.”

  • New York Magazine reported that one of Kanye West’s electors in Vermont, Chuck Wilton, is also a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Gregg Keller, the former executive director of the American Conservative Union, was listed as West’s point of contact in Arkansas. West has filed to appear on the ballot in seven states.

Flashback: August 4, 2016

The Green Party began its national convention in Houston.blank

Click here to learn more.



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