The Daily Brew: Recall rate down 50 percent compared to 2016-2018

Today’s Brew summarizes our semiannual recall election analysis and discusses state legislative walkouts  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Friday, June 28, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. This year’s recall efforts down by half compared to last three years
  2. So, what exactly is a state legislative walkout?
  3. Supreme Court rules on partisan gerrymandering claims

Recall efforts down by half compared to prior three years

I look forward to this day each June – the day we release our mid-year figures on political recalls.

During the first half of 2019, Ballotpedia’s recalls coverage discovered a 50 percent decline in the total number of recall efforts compared to the same times in 2016, 2017, and 2018. 

The figure below depicts the total recall efforts through the first 6 months of the calendar year:

Recall successThere has been a higher amount of recall efforts targeting state legislators so far this year compared to the previous three years. In 2016, there were seven recall efforts targeting state legislators. 2017 saw three, and 2018 saw four. In the first half of 2019, however, nine state legislative recalls have accounted for 8% of the year’s recall efforts.

2019 did match previous years’ recall statistics in other ways. As in 2016, 2017, and 2018, California led the way in the highest number of officials targeted for recall in 2019, and city council officials also drew the focus of more recall petitions than any other group.

Of the recall efforts covered in the first half of 2019, 37% are still underway as of June 27 and another 11% have recall elections scheduled. A total of 17% of the efforts have not gone to the ballot. Of those that have made it to the ballot, 15% were approved and 10% were defeated.

Dig deeper for more recall data in the full report below.

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Summer camp begins next week! We’re looking for stories from our readers. What are you looking forward to this summer? What has been your favorite political story so far this year? Click here to share your thoughts.

Summer Camp

Oregon Senate Republicans are currently out of state. What is a state legislative walkout?

On June 20, 2019, the 11-member Republican minority of the Oregon State Senate did not come to a scheduled legislative session to discuss HB2020, a cap-and-trade bill. With only 18 Democratic members, the chamber fell short of the 20 members needed for quorum and business halted. Although Senate President Peter Courtney announced June 25 that HB2020 did not have the votes necessary to pass, Republicans have remained out of state away from the legislature.

We’ve seen legislative walkouts before, so we thought this would be a good time to set the landscape on the subject.

Quorum requirements for legislatures to conduct official business are laid out in state constitutions. In many states, there are also statutory requirements for quorum if a bill involves taxes or state finances. Forty-five states require a majority of legislators present for quorum. Four states, including Oregon, require two-thirds of legislators be present for quorum. Massachusetts requires two-fifths of state senators or three-eighths of state representatives to be present for quorum.

Oregon’s Republican legislators are the most recent example of a state legislative walkout, where minority party members leaving the capitol, or the state, to prevent legislative action. Listed below are three examples of state legislative walkouts that occurred prior to 2019.

  • In February 2011, 37 Democratic members of the Indiana House of Representatives did not come to a scheduled legislative session, citing right-to-work legislation as the reason.

  • Also in February 2011, 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate did not come to a scheduled legislative session to prevent a vote on right-to-work legislation.

  • In May 2003, 11 Democratic members of the Texas State Senate did not come to a scheduled legislative session to prevent the passage of a redistricting plan they said would have benefited Republicans. Republicans held 20 seats, one short of the 21 members needed for quorum.


U.S. Supreme Court finds partisan gerrymandering claims are beyond jurisdiction of federal courts

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings Thursday on partisan gerrymandering.  The 5-4 decisions in Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina) and Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland) held that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions that fall beyond the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary. The high court combined the cases and issued a single joint decision covering both.

Chief Justice John Roberts penned a majority opinion, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Roberts noted that the Framers, “aware of electoral districting problems … [assigned] the issue to the state legislatures, expressly checked and balanced by the Federal Congress, with no suggestion that the federal courts had a role to play.” 

Justice Elena Kagan wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan wrote: “The partisan gerrymanders in these cases deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights…In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.”

The high court remanded both cases to the respective lower courts with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The lower court decisions had thrown out existing congressional district plans as impermissible partisan gerrymanders. As a result of Thursday’s decisions, those district maps will remain in place for the 2020 congressional elections.  

Stay tuned Monday for our full SCOTUS roundup of the 2018-2019 term. Subscribe to Bold Justice to get that delivered straight to your inbox, free.

Just launched: Ballotpedia’s Learning Journey on Enumerated Powers

We are excited for you to join us and deepen your understanding of a foundational principle of the United States Constitution—enumerated powers. This Learning Journey guides you through the powers given to Congress and how they relate to the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government.

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U.S. Supreme Court fails to resuscitate nondelegation doctrine

The Checks and Balances Letter delivers news and information from Ballotpedia’s Administrative State Project, including pivotal actions at the federal and state levels related to the separation of powers, due process and the rule of law.

This edition:

In this edition, we review the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision declining to uphold the nondelegation doctrine, a SCOTUS decision requiring notice-and-comment rulemaking for changes to Medicare policy, an effort to standardize cost-benefit analysis procedures at the Environmental Protection Agency, and two recent SCOTUS cases demonstrating the reluctance to apply Chevron deference.

At the state level, we highlight an Idaho proposal to simplify or retire roughly one-third of the state’s regulatory code, a new Michigan law that seeks to protect citizens against civil asset forfeiture, a ruling from the Texas Supreme Court aimed at protecting citizens’ due process rights in spite of agency misinformation, and the Texas governor’s executive order to prevent the expiration of the state’s plumbing regulations. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 220 proposed rules and 264 final rules added to the Federal Register in May and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

The Checks and Balances Letter

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In Washington

U.S. Supreme Court fails to resuscitate nondelegation doctrine; Alito concurrence, however, suggests a change in precedent might be forthcoming

  • What’s the story? In Gundy v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) did not violate the nondelegation doctrine, the constitutional principle forbidding Congress from delegating its legislative powers to the executive.
  • Justice Elena Kagan’s plurality opinion noted that the court has only declared delegations of authority unconstitutional twice in its history and that past courts have upheld broader delegations with less guidance from Congress. Justice Alito, however–who voted to uphold SORNA–wrote a separate opinion stating his willingness to reconsider how the court approaches future nondelegation doctrine challenges, suggesting changes in precedent might still be coming. Justice Kavanaugh did not vote on the case, which was heard before he joined the court.
  • Justice Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion arguing that SORNA is unconstitutional because it gives the U.S. attorney general the power to write and enforce his own criminal code. He argued, “The Constitution promises that only the people’s elected representatives may adopt new federal laws restricting liberty. Yet the statute before us scrambles that design. It purports to endow the nation’s chief prosecutor with the power to write his own criminal code governing the lives of a half-million citizens. Yes, those affected are some of the least popular among us. But if a single executive branch official can write laws restricting the liberty of this group of persons, what does that mean for the next?”
  • Herman Gundy was convicted for failing to register as a sex offender under SORNA even though his offense occurred before SORNA passed. He argued that Congress improperly gave away legislative power to the attorney general when it allowed him to decide whether and how to apply SORNA to sex offenders who were convicted earlier.
  • The last time the U.S. Supreme Court found that Congress violated the nondelegation doctrine was in two 1935 cases involving the National Industrial Recovery Act passed during the New Deal.
  • Want to go deeper?

SCOTUS reins in HHS by requiring notice-and-comment rulemaking; declines to draw line between substantive and interpretive rules

  • What’s the story? The United States Supreme Court on June 3 declined to draw a defining line between substantive rules and interpretive rules in a 7-1 decision in Azar v. Allina Health Services. Instead, the court narrowly held that the Medicare Act requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to follow notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures when it makes substantive changes to Medicare policy, including substantive changes issued through interpretive rules.
  • Justice Brett Kavanaugh was recused from the case because he authored the appellate court opinion while serving on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Justice Stephen Breyer dissented.
  • A group of hospitals that provide healthcare to low-income Medicare patients and challenged HHS’ method of calculating the disproportionate share hospital adjustments for the 2012 fiscal year. These adjustments serve to increase reimbursement payments to hospitals that treat a disproportionately high number of low-income patients. The hospitals argued that the Medicare Act required HHS to provide “the public with notice and opportunity for comment” before changing the formula.
  • The district court ruled that HHS was not required to follow notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures because the formula change to calculate the 2012 adjustments was instituted through an interpretive rule, a type of agency guidance document. Unlike substantive rules, interpretive rules lack the force and effect of law. The district court held that the Medicare Act incorporated the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) exemption of interpretive rules from notice-and-comment rulemaking.
  • The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the district court in finding that the Medicare Act does not except interpretive rules from notice-and-comment requirements.
  • In an opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the D.C. Circuit ruling, arguing that the Medicare statutes of 1987 require notice-and-comment rulemaking for changes to substantive legal standards, including those issued via interpretive rules.
  • Want to go deeper?

Cost-benefit analysis overhaul at EPA in response to Trump executive order

  • What’s the story? Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a memo on May 13 directing agency leadership to develop new rules standardizing the agency’s application of cost-benefit analysis in the rulemaking process.
  • The EPA is instituting the new rules in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, which directed agencies to identify regulations with costs that exceed benefits. The memo lists the following guidelines for the new cost-benefit analysis rules:
  • The EPA should evaluate and consider both costs and benefits in regulatory decision-making.
  • The EPA should have consistent interpretations of key terms and concepts, such as “practical,” “appropriate,” “reasonable,” and “feasible.”
  • The EPA should explain the factors considered in a regulatory analysis and their role in shaping the regulatory outcome.
  • Analyses should follow best practices as well as sound economic and scientific principles.
  • Want to go deeper?

Recent SCOTUS cases avoid Chevron doctrine

  • What’s the story? The U.S. Supreme Court has not overturned the Chevron doctrine, but two recent cases demonstrate the court’s reluctance to apply it.
  • The court on May 20 rejected a petition to hear United Parcel Service v. Postal Regulatory Commission, a case in which the United Parcel Service challenged the appellate court’s application of Chevron deference to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) method of setting postal rates.
  • In the court’s May 28 decision in Smith v. Berryhill, the justices unanimously rejected the argument that Chevron deference should apply when Congress gave no clear instructions about the availability of judicial review for those seeking disability benefits before the Social Security Administration. Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated in the opinion that the scope of judicial review “is hardly the kind of question that the Court presumes that Congress implicitly delegated to an agency.”
  • The Chevron doctrine—named for the 1984 United States Supreme Court decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defence Council—compels courts to defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of the unclear laws that they administer.
  • Want to go deeper?

In the States

Idaho governor proposes dramatic reductions to state regulatory code

  • What’s the story? Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) on May 21 proposed simplifying or allowing for the expiration of 139 full chapters and 79 partial chapters—roughly 34%—of the state’s regulatory code.
  • Idaho’s entire regulatory code was effectively repealed as of July 1 after the state legislature failed to reauthorize the 8,200 pages of rules.
  • Regulations in Idaho must be reauthorized each year, but lawmakers failed to do so by the end of the legislative session.
  • Little directed agencies to submit their regulations to the Division of Financial Management by May 10 for temporary approval in order for the rules to remain in effect until the legislature reconvenes in January.
  • Little’s proposal was open for public comment through June 11. Approved rules were published in the June 19 edition of the Idaho Administrative Bulletin, followed by a 21-day comment period.
  • Want to go deeper?

New Michigan law protects against civil asset forfeiture

  • What’s the story? Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a law on May 9 that prevents law enforcement from permanently keeping property under $50,000 acquired through civil asset forfeiture until the owner is convicted in a court of law.
  • Under civil asset forfeiture, law enforcement routinely seize cars, cash and other property as alleged proceeds of crime.
  • The new law aims to protect individuals’ property and due process rights against civil asset forfeiture and expedite the process for individuals seeking to recover seized property.
  • The law is the latest in a series of civil asset forfeiture reforms approved by Michigan lawmakers in recent years. Legislation passed in 2015 raised the standard of evidence for civil asset forfeiture and established transparency requirements. A 2016 bill repealed the bond requirements for individuals challenging forfeitures.
  • Want to go deeper?

Texas Supreme Court upholds due process in the face of agency misinformation

  • What’s the story? The Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled on May 21 in Mosley v. Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that state agencies can’t provide erroneous information to citizens and later deny them due process after they follow the government’s inaccurate instructions.
  • The case concerned a decision by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to add Patricia Mosley, a home health care provider, to the department’s Employee Misconduct Registry. Mosley challenged the decision but lost in a hearing before a state administrative law judge (ALJ).
  • The department sent Mosely a letter after the hearing instructing her to file a petition for judicial review in district court within 30 days in order to appeal the decision. The letter, however, failed to instruct Mosley to first file a motion for rehearing before seeking judicial review as required by statute. As a result, Mosley’s petition for judicial review was dismissed by the district and appellate courts for failing to first file a motion for rehearing.
  • The Texas Supreme Court disagreed, arguing that “the government can’t hold [Mosley] responsible for the consequences of its own ignorance.” The court ordered the department to reinstate Mosely’s case and allow her the opportunity for a rehearing.
  • Want to go deeper?

Texas governor issues executive order to extend plumbing oversight

  • What’s the story? Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order on June 13 to continue the existence of the Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners and the state’s plumbing regulations through May 2021 without the need for a special legislative session.
  • Texas plumbers asked Abbott to call a special legislative session after the Texas State Legislature failed to approve sunset review legislation last month that would have continued regulatory oversight of plumbers in the state.
  • Lawmakers disagreed over the sunset bill’s proposal to move the responsibilities of the plumbing board under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Supporters of the bill argued that the move would improve efficiency, such as reducing the state’s eight-month processing period for issuing a plumbing license. Opponents claimed that the lengthy licensing period and other alleged inefficiencies of the plumbing board served to protect public health and safety in a specialized industry.
  • Without Abbott’s intervention, the legislative inaction would have resulted in the expiration of the state’s plumbing code on September 1, 2019, and the end of the plumbing board operations by September 2020.
  • Want to go deeper?

New study breaks down scope and impact of federal regulations

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in May released a new issue of the Ten Thousand Commandments—the group’s annual report detailing the scope of federal regulatory activity and its economic impact. Below is a selection of the report’s conclusions:

The Pacific Legal Foundation provided the following summary of the report’s key findings:

  • “Each U.S. household’s estimated regulatory burden is at least $14,615 annually on average. That amounts to 20 percent of the average pre-tax household budget and exceeds every item in that budget, except housing.”
  • “In 2018, Washington bureaucrats issued regulations at a rate of 11 for every one law Congress enacted. The average for this “Unconstitutionality Index” for the past decade has been 28 to one. The five agencies issuing the most rules are the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and the Treasury.”
  • “In the pipeline now, 67 federal departments, agencies, and commissions have 3,534 regulatory actions at various stages of implementation … according to the fall 2018 ‘Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.’”
  • “Of the 3,534 regulations in the Agenda’s pipeline, 174 are ‘economically significant’ rules, which the federal government describes as having annual economic effects of $100 million or more. Of those 174, 38 are deemed ‘deregulatory’ for purposes of E.O. 13,771.”

Click here to read the full report.

Regulatory Tally

Federal Register

  • The Federal Register in May reached 25,492 pages. The number of pages at the end of each May during the Obama administration (2009-2016) averaged 31,268 pages.
  • The Federal Register included 220 proposed rules and 264 final rules during May 2019. The regulations included new rules for Medicare Part D, an electronic signature option for U.S. Postal Service deliveries, and an increase in H-2B visas, among other rules.
  • Want to go deeper?

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s May regulatory review activity included:
  • Review of 36 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 46 significant regulatory actions each May.
  • Recommended changes to 34 proposed rules.
  • Agencies withdrew two rules from the review process.
  • As of June 2019, the OIRA website listed 113 regulatory actions under review.
Want to go deeper?

Biden, Sanders, and 8 other candidates take the stage in Miami

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

June 27, 2019: The second set of 10 Democratic presidential candidates take the debate stage in Miami. Donald Trump raised $36 million in the first week since he formally launched his re-election campaign. 

The second set of 10 Democratic presidential candidates will take the debate stageThursday night in Miami, Florida. José Diaz-Balart, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow, and Chuck Todd will moderate the debate.

Tune in to NBC News, MSNBC, or Telemundo at 9 PM ET to watch the event live. You can also stream the debate via, the NBC News apps, Telemundo, or YouTube.

Notable Quote of the Day

“I think it’s the people who are worried about making it through the summer and being on the stage in the fall [with the most pressure]. It’s pretty clear that Sanders is going to be on the stage, and it’s pretty clear that Biden is going to be on the stage. I think if you’re Kamala or Warren, you’ve got to be like a really good rebounder in a basketball game. You’ve got to hang around the hoop, and you’ve got to get rebounds. I think [for] the folks that aren’t going to make the stage in September … they need to change the game for themselves so that they’re viable. They’re hoping just to make it until the early states [begin voting], and then it’s a totally different game.”

– Danny Diaz, 2016 Jeb Bush presidential campaign manager

Debate Highlights

  • Cory Booker said economic policy and gun regulations were not working in his community, which he described as low-income, black, and brown. He also discussed violence against transgender Americans.
  • Julián Castro advocated establishing a Marshall Plan for Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. He also condemned the metering policy on migrants seeking asylum and said he would decriminalize illegal border crossings. 
  • Bill de Blasio criticized calls to keep private insurance as a healthcare option and shared his personal experiences as the son of a World War II veteran who took his own life and the father of a black son.
  • John Delaney opposed Medicare for All and said that Democrats should focus on lowering pharmaceutical prices, infrastructure, and job creation, rather than the Mueller report or impeachment proceedings.
  • Tulsi Gabbard said that nuclear war was the greatest threat to national security and called for the U.S. to return to a nuclear agreement with Iran. She also discussed her shift on LGBT policy, coming from a socially conservative household to serving alongside LGBT servicemembers.
  • Jay Inslee highlighted his executive experience in Washington, saying he was the only candidate who passed laws on abortion and health insurance. He also discussed climate change and his support for unions.
  • Amy Klobuchar responded to Inslee by saying there were “three women on this stage” who also fought for abortion. She discussed her electability, saying she had won districts in Minnesota that went for Trump by double digits.
  • Beto O’Rourke defended private insurance as a healthcare option and said pharmaceutical companies need to be held accountable for their connection to the opioid crisis.
  • Tim Ryan criticized General Motors for closing a facility Lordstown, Ohio, and manufacturing cars in Mexico after receiving a tax break. He also said the center of the Democratic Party needed to shift from “coastal and elitist and Ivy League” to “the forgotten communities.”
  • Elizabeth Warren joined de Blasio in being the only candidates on stage to support abolishing private health insurance. She also named climate change as the greatest threat to the United States.


  • Michael Bennet posted a clip on social media of his decade-long support for lifetime bans on members of Congress becoming lobbyists.
  • The Atlantic surveyed 23 Democratic candidates on whether they supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Joe Biden, who advocated for the agreement during the Obama administration, declined to say he would. Delaney was the only candidate to explicitly support the deal.
  • The New York Times profiled Steve Bullock’s campaign, describing his retail politics and messaging focus on electability and results in Montana.
  • In its podcast, The Washington Post reported on the evolution of Kirsten Gillibrand’s position on gun policy. 
  • Wayne Messam shared his impressions of the first presidential debate in an interview with NBC News.
  • Seth Moulton aired ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to introduce himself during and before coverage of the first Democratic primary debate.
  • Bernie Sanders posted an online ad to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube on the housing crisis in Reno, Nevada.
  • Joe Sestak spoke about disability policy at the Hiawatha Community Center.
  • Eric Swalwell tweeted about gun policy and his plan to “ban and buy back every single assault weapon” during the debate.
  • NowThis featured Marianne Williamson in its latest segment of “20 Questions for 2020” with campaign finance and climate crisis as topics.
  • Andrew Yang tweeted that he had reached 128,000 unique donors, nearing the 130,000-donor threshold to qualify for the third presidential debate.


  • Donald Trump raised $36 million in the first week since launching his re-election bid, including more than $24 million in the first 24 hours.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 27, 2015

Chris Christie launched his presidential campaign website. He formally announced his candidacy three days later.


First 10 Democratic candidates take the debate stage in Miami

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

June 26, 2019: The first Democratic presidential primary debate of the 2020 election will take place in Miami, Florida. The Trump campaign is sending surrogates to battleground states to respond to the debate.


The first set of 10 Democratic presidential candidates will take the debate stageWednesday night in Miami, Florida. José Diaz-Balart, Savannah Guthrie, Lester Holt, Rachel Maddow, and Chuck Todd will moderate the debate.

Tune in to NBC News, MSNBC, or Telemundo at 9 PM ET to watch the event live. You can also stream the debate via, the NBC News apps, Telemundo, or YouTube.


Notable Quote of the Day

“What about the Puerto Rican vote? They’re not going to forget that this administration abandoned them during Maria. But they won’t be giving their vote away for free. What about the 72,000 Venezuelans who could benefit from TPS? … And I don’t see how we can have a debate in Miami and not talk about U.S.-Cuba policy.

Latinos are still seen as a monolith. Politicians as a whole still don’t get it, and that’s a problem.”

–  Liz Alarcon, Project Pulso director


  • The FEC’s second quarter fundraising deadline is June 30. Fundraising figures are key to qualifying for the next presidential debate and showing campaign health. Expect presidential candidates to make last-minute drives for donations and one-liner quips in the debates to repurpose for fundraising.
  • Michael Bennet discussed U.S.-China relations and his experience as a city school district superintendent and a member of the Gang of Eight bipartisan immigration group in an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now
  • The Washington Post reported on Joe Biden’s assets, including money earned from speaking engagements worth up to $200,000 each, a $2.7 million vacation home, and an $8 million book deal.
  • Bill de Blasio shared how he was preparing for the debate—mock sessions and question drills—along with several other 2020 presidential candidates in an NBC News article.
  • Cory Booker will attend a fundraiser hosted by New Jersey power brokers Joseph DiVincenzo and George Norcross Friday. The New York Times also interviewedBooker about his campaign.
  • Steve Bullock will participate in a locally televised town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, and take questions from online viewers. 
  • ABC News reported on Pete Buttigieg’s trips to Afghanistan and Iraq as a McKinsey consultant prior to his military deployment.
  • In an interview with Religion NewsJulián Castro spoke of his Catholic upbringing, the relationship between religion and policy, and hate crimes.
  • PredictIt is hosting a “shareholder call” with John Delaney about his presidential campaign.
  • Tulsi Gabbard is expected to focus on her opposition to regime change wars and conflict in the Middle East during the debate, according to a Hawaii Tribune-Heraldreport. 
  • The Mike Gravel campaign tweeted that Gravel needs two more polls to qualify for the second presidential debate.
  • Kamala Harris will introduce a bicameral version of the Accountability for Wall Street Executives Act, which would allow state law enforcement oversight of national banks regarding compliance with state law. Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are also backing the bill.
  • John Hickenlooper discussed his debate strategy in an interview on CNN.
  • The Atlantic reported that Jay Inslee will expand his presidential campaign theme from climate change to his experience as a governor during the presidential debate. 
  • Amy Klobuchar is bringing Nicole Smith-Holt and Shelly Elkington—two Minnesota mothers who lost their adult children to insulin and opioids, respectively—to the first debate.
  • In an op-ed in FortuneWayne Messam wrote that campaign finance laws and inequitable media coverage affected his ability to qualify for the first presidential debate.
  • Seth Moulton will make several media appearances across Miami, including interviews on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.
  • In an interview with The RootBeto O’Rourke said that Americans need to better understand the history and repercussions of slavery before the government could consider reparations.
  • Tim Ryan discussed his shift on abortion policy in 2015 and gun policy after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in an interview on CNN.
  • Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed in Foreign Affairs, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and defining climate change and global inequality as security threats.
  • National Interest interviewed Joe Sestak about his foreign relations and military policy positions.
  • Eric Swalwell, along with 14 other candidates, has pledged to seek gender parityin his senior-level national security appointments.
  • Warren issued an election security policy to standardize federal election rules, mandate automatic voter registration, and ban election roll purges.
  • The Marianne Williamson campaign sent a press release Tuesday seeking to redefine the candidate as an author and activist rather than a spiritual guru or adviser to Oprah Winfrey.
  • Slate profiled Andrew Yang and his experience building a test prep company and the nonprofit Venture for America.


  • More than four dozen surrogates for Donald Trump will make media appearances in battleground state markets during and after the Democratic presidential primary debate. 
  • Bill Weld appeared in an interview on Concord News Radio in New Hampshire.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage was protected under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 2016 presidential candidates reacted with tweets and public statements ranging from praise to condemnation.


The Daily Brew: The first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle is here!

Today’s Brew highlights the details regarding the first set of presidential debates + three Idaho school board members face an August 27 recall election  
The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, June 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. First Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight
  2. Voters to decide whether to recall three Idaho school board members
  3. Cabán wins election for Queens District Attorney

First Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight

The first Democratic presidential debate takes place tonight in Miami. Over the next two nights, 20 candidates—10 each night—will participate. This will be the first of 12 Democratic primary debates scheduled for the 2020 presidential election cycle. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) used a random drawing to distribute the candidates across both debate nights. 

The Democratic party is holding more primary debates and starting them earlier than the last election cycle. The first Democratic primary debate in the 2016 election was held on October 13, 2015, and the DNC sponsored nine debates altogether. There were 12 Republican debates last cycle and the first one took place August 6, 2015.

The highest-polling candidates in qualifying polls will be positioned in the center of the stage each night. Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke will be in the middle at tonight’s debate and Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will be center stage on Thursday.

The debate will be hosted by NBC, MSNBC, and Telemundo and streamed on,, and all Telemundo digital platforms. It will be held from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Candidates will have 60 seconds to answer questions posed by the moderators, and 30 seconds to reply to follow-up questions. Participants can make closing statements but there will be no opening remarks.

Here are the candidates who will be in tonight’s debate:

And here are the candidates who will be in Thursday night’s debate:

The candidates all met one or both qualifying thresholds to participate. Candidates qualified by receiving 1% support or more in three eligible national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada. Candidates could also qualify by providing verifiable evidence that they received donations from at least 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 donors per state in at least 20 states.

Learn more

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Voters to decide whether to recall three Idaho school board members

This Friday, Ballotpedia will release its annual mid-year recall report, where we’ll take a closer look at the recall trends across the country so far this year, and compare them to prior years. Just to give you a small taste, here’s an update on a recent recall effort in Idaho. 

Recall efforts against Tim Winkle, Alicia McConkie, and Marianne Blackwell of the Middleton School District board of trustees in Idaho were certified by the Canyon County Elections Office earlier this month and will appear before voters on August 27.

Recall organizer David Morgan said the effort against Winkle and McConkie was prompted after they voted to accept the superintendent’s personnel recommendations—which did not renew the contract of the high school principal—at a May 6 board meeting. The recall petition against Blackwell said she “set an unprofessional and unacceptable precedent for school board trustees” and violated the board’s code of ethics.

Recall supporters also targeted another board member—Kirk Adams—but the petition was rejected by the county because he had not yet served 90 days in office. The school board’s fifth member resigned in April due to personal reasons.

Winkle said that since the decision not to renew the principal’s contract was a personnel matter, the board was limited in what they could share with the public. McConkie said she has served the best she could for the last two years and felt she was being targeted for recall over a single decision. Blackwell has not responded to the recall effort against her.

In order for the Middleton School District board members to be removed from office, a majority of voters must vote in favor in the recall election. Additionally, the number of voters who cast ballots in favor of the recall must also be higher than the total number of people who voted for the officeholders when they were last up for election. In the May 2017 election, 253 voters cast ballots in McConkie’s district and 82 cast ballots in Blackwell’s district. 

In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials.Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.

Cabán wins election for Queens District Attorney

Public defender Tiffany Cabán won the Democratic primary election for Queens County District Attorney. Former Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown (D)-who announced in January that he would not run for re-election-died in May after serving in the office for 28 years. Queens County is the state designation for the Borough of Queens in New York City.

Cabán defeated five other Democratic primary candidates and will face attorney Daniel Kogan (R) in the November 5 general election.

The primary attracted national attention and endorsements from two presidential candidates.

Local election watchers had identified Cabán, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and former Judge Gregory Lasak as frontrunners. 

Cabán was endorsed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), and The New York Times.

Katz was endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), four members of the U.S. House, the county Democratic Party, and City Councilor Rory Lancman (D), who dropped out of the race June 21. Former Rep. Joseph Crowley, whom Ocasio-Cortez unseated in 2018, fundraised on Katz’s behalf. 

Lasak was endorsed by the New York Daily News, the New York Post, and Rep. Kathleen Rice (D). 

Also running were attorney Betty Lugo, former New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board director Mina Malik, and prosecutor Jose Nieves. 



Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak becomes 25th notable Democratic candidate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

June 24, 2019: On Sunday, former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.) announced he is running for president, becoming the 25th notable Democratic candidate. Twenty-two Democratic candidates spoke at the South Carolina Democratic Convention Saturday.

There are three new candidates running since last week, including two Democrats (Sestak has not yet officially filed with the Federal Election Commission, so he’s not included). Six individuals are no longer filed as candidates with the FEC, including three Democrats. In total, 748 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“A divided vote among black Democrats, who represent 60 percent of the primary electorate in this state [South Carolina], could profoundly transform the race, leading to a drawn-out and more brutal fight for the nomination. The race could go on well past South Carolina and Super Tuesday, which are just three days apart next year and will offer the best test of candidate strength with voters of color.” 

— Jonathan Martin and Astead W. Herndon, The New York Times


  • Twenty-two notable Democratic candidates (all but Steve Bullock and Mike Gravelspoke at the South Carolina Democratic Convention Saturday. This was a record-breaking number of presidential candidates speaking at the state party’s convention, The Greenville News reported.
  • Twenty candidates attended a forum hosted by Planned Parenthood Saturday. Eight candidates—Pete ButtigiegJulián CastroJohn HickenlooperAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeBernie SandersEric Swalwell, and Elizabeth Warrenparticipated in a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) forum Friday.
  • Michael Bennet and a group of other senators introduced a bill called the Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019 that would allow the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program to provide meals that can be eaten off-site and create an option to give parents $30 per child per summer month to buy eligible food items.
  • Joe Biden was endorsed by the Iowa Professional Fire Fighters union for the 2020 Iowa caucuses.
  • On ABC’s This Week SundayCory Booker said Trump has no strategy on Iran. Booker said that, if elected president, he would strengthen relationships with U.S. allies to denuclearize Iran.
  • Bullock campaigned in New Hampshire this weekend.
  • On Sunday, Buttigieg held a town hall in South Bend, Indiana, with police chief Scott Ruszkowski, where they responded to residents’ questions related to an officer-involved shooting that occurred June 16.
  • Castro referred to a Trump tweet saying he called off a military strike against Iran 10 minutes before it was set to happen, and to Trump delaying raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the weekend, as “bull**** politics.” Castro said Trump is “a political conman.”
  • John Delaney spoke about his candidacy on CBSN’s Red & Blue Friday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard discussed “ending wasteful regime change wars” as her priority on NBC’s Nightly News.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) on Friday introduced a bill called the Summer Meals Act of 2019 that would expand eligibility for the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and provide transportation for children to meal sites.
  • Related to an officer-involved shooting in South Bend, Indiana, Mike Gravel tweeted, “The media has given Buttigieg a pass on a lackluster record in South Bend that shows him to be more concerned about public acclaim than the lives of average people. Why the pass? Because he’s an articulate white kid with all the right credentials. His constituents know the truth.”
  • Kamala Harris on CBS’ Face the Nation criticized Trump’s approach to Iran and said the U.S. should re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. She also discussed tensions within the Democratic Party over whether to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump.
  • Hickenlooper said at Friday’s NALEO forum that people living in the country without legal permission should be given 10-year visas.
  • Jay Inslee is in Everglades Holiday Park in Florida today, where his campaign said he’ll make a major policy announcement.
  • Wayne Messam was interviewed on Caribbean Riddims, a South Florida radio show.
  • Seth Moulton criticized Trump’s Iran strategy. Moulton said if he were president, he would “respond to Iran by turning off the power in the grid in the southern part of the country where the Iranian missile system is based,” Roll Call reported.
  • Politico reported that O’Rourke hired Carmel Martin as his national policy director. Martin served as policy adviser to John Kerry’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns; she has also worked for the Department of Education and the Center for American Progress.
  • Tim Ryan on MSNBC’s Saturday Night Politics discussed the upcoming Democratic debate, the economy, and Iran. He criticized Trump for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Sanders said at Friday’s NALEO forum that his Medicare for All plan would include healthcare for people in the country without legal permission.
  • Joe Sestak announced he is running for president. In his announcement video, Sestak said, “We must convene the world for two primary objectives: Putting a brake on climate change and putting an end to an illiberal world order’s injustices.”
  • Warren published a post on Medium outlining her plan to ban private prisons and detention facilities.
  • New York Magazine published a profile of Marianne Williamson.
  • Andrew Yang talked about his support for a universal basic income and his opposition to private prisons and cash bail with Al Sharpton on MSNBC.


  • Donald Trump said Friday that he called off a military strike on Iran that he had approved Thursday night in response to a U.S. drone having been shot down in Iranian airspace last week. He cited concerns over casualties as the reason for calling off the strike. Saturday, Trump announced he would delay Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in 10 major cities for two weeks to give Congress more time to develop a solution.
  • Bill Weld spoke at the New Hampshire Free State Project’s Porcfest event and attended Portsmouth PRIDE events in New Hampshire Saturday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: June 24, 2015

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) announced his candidacy for president, bringing the 2016 Republican primary field to 13 notable candidates.


President Trump unveils Republican counterpart to ActBlue

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

June 25, 2019: President Trump launched a Republican counterpart to Democratic fundraising site ActBlue. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate that would cancel all outstanding federal student loans.


Which presidential election featured the largest popular vote margin by a winning candidate?

Notable Quote of the Day

“Interviews with nearly 20 Democratic elected officials, party chiefs, labor leaders and operatives the past week revealed an air of foreboding verging on alarm that the debates will degenerate into a two-night, bare-knuckle brawl. With the divisive 2016 Democratic primary fresh in their minds and the current presidential candidates starting to take swipes at one another, the fear is that voters will be left with the impression of a bickering, small-minded opposition party.”

— Holly Otterbein, Politico


  • The Democratic National Committee released the rules for this week’s Miami debates. Candidates will have 60 seconds to respond to questions and 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups.

  • Michael Bennet hired former DCCC executive director Dan Sena and ad producer Scott Kozar as media consultants, also hiring pollster Pete Brodnitz.

  • Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in the Miami Herald criticizing Trump’s policies on immigration and relations with Latin America.

  • TIME Magazine published an article exploring Cory Booker’s Iowa operations.

  • Steve Bullock sat down for an interview with NBC’s Harry Smith on his top priority if elected, which would be to limit large donors’ political influence.

  • The Atlantic published an article exploring Pete Buttigieg’s response to an officer-involved shooting in South Bend, Indiana.

  • Julián Castro signed a pledge to revoke the 2001 Authorization of Military Force which has covered U.S. deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, among other areas.

  • John Delaney issued a press release on healthcare identifying cutting costs as his priority over Medicare for All and similar policies.

  • The Washington Post published an article exploring Kirsten Gillibrand’s stance on firearms regulations.

  • Mike Gravel sat for an interview with Jacobin Magazine on his political history and his proposal to create a Legislature of the People.

  • Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) endorsed Kamala Harris.

  • Jay Inslee issued his fourth plan related to energy and the environment, the Freedom from Fossil Fuels plan.

  • Amy Klobuchar sat for an interview with NBC’s Harry Smith on her top priority if elected, which would be to improve mental healthcare and addiction treatment.

  • Seth Moulton began running ads in early voting states calling for a new generation of leadership.

  • Beto O’Rourke issued a veterans’ healthcare plan which is funded by a war tax.

  • Tim Ryan appeared on Meet the Press Daily, where he discussed Iran policy.

  • Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate Monday which would cancel all outstanding federal student loans.

  • Eric Swalwell visited a migrant detention center in Homestead, Florida.

  • CNN published a profile of Elizabeth Warren’s policy team.

  • In an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertAndrew Yangannounced he would give a third family $1,000 per month.


  • Donald Trump unveiled WinRed, a fundraising site positioned as a counterpart to the Democratic Party’s ActBlue.

  • Bill Weld sat for an interview with The Keene Sentinel, where he discussed the goal of his campaign.

Flashback: June 25, 2015

The Supreme Court issued its ruling in King v. Burwell, upholding a portion of the Affordable Care Act providing tax credits to individuals purchasing healthcare plans from the federal exchange. TIME Magazine explored the response from Republican presidential candidates.blank

New Jersey governor signs donor disclosure bill; prospect of follow-up legislation uncertain

On June 17, Governor Phil Murphy (D) signed S1500 into law after conditionally vetoing the bill in May. The measure will require 501(c)(4)s, super PACs, and other entities to disclose their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.

What does the legislation do?

  • As enacted, the new law defines an independent expenditure committee as any person or group organized under sections 501(c)(4) or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that spends $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about any of the following:
    • “the outcome of any election or the nomination, election, or defeat of any person to any state or local elective public office”
    • “the passage or defeat of any public question, legislation, or regulation”
  • Independent expenditure committees will be required to disclose all expenditures exceeding $3,000. These committees will also be required to disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.

How are lawmakers responding?

  • Murphy’s office said in a statement he signed the bill “based on an express commitment from my colleagues in the legislature” to pass subsequent legislation to amend the provisions of S1500. Murphy wants to exempt some nonprofit groups from the new regulations (e.g., groups not engaged in election activities, such as the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters). Murphy told, “We had a very clear commitment … to do just what I said: They would pass the law, I would sign it and there was a commitment to work together to clean up particularly the stuff specifically to the advocates, within the month of June.”
  • Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) disputed this: “There was no reason for me to make any deal. We had the votes to do an override. All I’ve said is if there’s any unintended consequences, then we would adjust it.” Asked whether he would call for a vote on Murphy’s revisions by the end of the month, Sweeney said, “No. It hasn’t even been enacted yet. What am I fixing right now? What’s broken? What’s wrong with it? There was no need for a deal.”
  • Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said, “My understanding is our commitment was to work together to resolve any issues or concerns that remain after the bill was signed, so I took that to mean that we would work together.”

How are outside groups responding?

  • The New Jersey chapter of the ACLU reiterated its opposition to the legislation: “Civil rights organizations have pointed out the clear constitutional violations of this bill since its introduction. The courts have made it clear time and again that the Constitution does not allow the government to target organizations simply for speaking on issues of public concern. While the ACLU of New Jersey will continue to advocate for a legislative remedy, signing this bill into law also forces us to prepare for legal action.”
  • David Goodman of Represent NJ, a nonprofit group that advocated on behalf of S1500, said, “[S1500] level the playing field between publicly accountable political committees and secret independent ‘dark money’ groups swamping our politics and elections. Disclosure and transparency would shine light and inform the electorate. That’s what makes it a good government bill — pure and simple!”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 72 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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.

Disclosure Digest map June 24, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Disclosure Digest status chart June 24, 2019.png

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

Disclosure Digest partisan chart June 24, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills in the past week. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. Know of any legislation we’re missing? Please email us so we can include it on our tracking list.

  • New Hampshire SB105: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
    • Enrolled June 18 and awaiting governor’s action.
  • New Hampshire SB156: This bill would require that political contributions made by limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits.
    • Enrolled June 18 and awaiting governor’s action.

The Daily Brew: Wisconsin high court upholds legality of legislature’s 2018 special session actions

Today’s Brew highlights a Wisconsin high court ruling regarding the legislature’s session last December + the single-party control of some governorships up for election in 2020  
The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, June 24, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Wisconsin Supreme Court affirms constitutionality of December 2018 legislative session
  2. Four states holding 2020 elections have had governors from the same party since 1992
  3. School board election apparently decided by four votes in El Paso, Texas

Wisconsin Supreme Court affirms constitutionality of December 2018 legislative session

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Friday that the legislature’s December 2018 extraordinary session did not violate the state constitution. That decision overturned a March 2019 state circuit court ruling that had blocked the actions taken during the session, including the confirmation of 82 appointees made by outgoing Gov. Scott Walker (R). The case resulted from a lawsuit filed by a group of plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters.

Although state Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin are nonpartisan, liberal and conservative groups typically coalesce around specific candidates. The four justices who joined the majority opinion were originally appointed by a Republican governor or have been supported by conservative groups. The three justices who dissented have been supported by liberal groups.

In November 2018, Tony Evers (D) defeated Walker, 49.5% to 48.4%, resulting in divided government in Wisconsin when Evers was inaugurated in January 2019. Republicans have controlled both chambers of the legislature since 2013.

Evers renominated 67 of the 82 appointments made by Walker that were confirmed by the legislature during the special session. Evers did not reappoint 15 appointees. The state Supreme Court had ruled April 30 that those 15 appointees could continue in their positions pending the resolution of the legality of the extraordinary session.

The legislature also passed three bills during the extraordinary session that were signed into law by then Gov. Walker. According to a summary published by, the legislation::

  • requires “the governor to request permission from lawmakers before creating certain administrative rules and making changes to programs managed jointly by the state and federal governments.”

  • requires that the attorney general obtain legislative approval prior to the state’s withdrawing from a lawsuit.

  • limits in-person absentee voting to 14 days before an election and makes other changes to in-person absentee voting

Judge Rebecca Bradley, in her majority opinion, stated, “The extraordinary session comports with the constitution because it occurred as provided by law. The terminology the Legislature chooses to accomplish the legislative process is squarely the prerogative of the Legislature. The Wisconsin Constitution itself affords the Legislature absolute discretion to determine the rules of its own proceedings.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Rebecca Dallet wrote, “The plain constitutional text of Article IV, Section 11 makes clear that with the exception of the Governor’s ability to call special sessions, the Legislature has authority to “meet” only at “such time as shall be provided by law.” Yet, the majority opinion ignores this clear language and instead concludes that a joint resolution work schedule is “law” that allows for a continuous, perpetual legislative session and the ability to convene at any time without notice.”

Earlier this year I wrote several times in the Brew about the significance of Wisconsin’s April 2 election for a seat on the state supreme court.

Brian Hagedorn defeated Lisa Neubauer 50.2% to 49.8% in the race to replace Shirley Abrahamson, who had served on the court since 1976. Hagedorn was supported by conservatives and Neubauer—like Abrahamson—was backed by liberals. Hagedorn’s term on the court begins August 1.

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Four states holding 2020 elections have had governors from the same party since 1992

Four states holding gubernatorial elections in 2020 have not seen that office change partisan control in 28 years. Those four states—Delaware, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington—represent one-third of the 12 states holding gubernatorial elections next year.

The Republican candidate for governor of Utah has won the past 10 elections. The last Democrat to win election to the office was in 1980. Should Republicans win their 11th consecutive gubernatorial election in the state, they would surpass the 10-election winning streak Oregon Democrats achieved in the 2018 elections. Utah and Oregon currently hold the longest streak of gubernatorial elections won by the same party.  

In Washington, the last five governors of the state have been Democrats, and the most recent Republican to be elected to that office was also in 1980. Jay Inslee (D)—who is a candidate for president—is the current governor of Washington. He has not ruled out running for re-election if he drops out of the presidential race.

Both Utah and Washington have gubernatorial winning streaks that started in 1984, but Utah held a special election in 2010, giving Republicans one win more.

Delaware and North Dakota have seen the same party control the governor’s office since 1992. Democrats have won seven consecutive gubernatorial elections in Delaware and Republicans have won seven consecutive gubernatorial elections in North Dakota. Both state’s incumbent governors—John Carney (D-Del.) and Doug Burgum (R-N.D.)—have not yet announced whether they will run for re-election next year.

Two states holding gubernatorial elections in 2020 saw control of the office change hands in the previous election. Republicans won the Missouri governorship in 2016 after two terms of Democratic control. Democrats won the North Carolina governor’s race in 2016 after one term of Republican control.

Read more about next year’s gubernatorial elections→

School board election apparently decided by four votes in El Paso, Texas

The margin in the runoff election for a seat on the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees in Texas is four votes, according to unofficial results. Joshua Acevedo leads Rene Vargas, 578 votes to 574, in the runoff held June 15 for an open seat on the seven-member board.

Vargas has not yet decided whether to challenge the election results or request a recount, according to elections department officials contacted by Ballotpedia. A recount must be requested within two days after the school district completes canvassing the results.

In 2013, the Texas Education Commission replaced all seven elected members of the El Paso school board with a state-appointed board of managers due to a cheating scandal that ultimately led to the indictment of the district’s former superintendent. Control of the school district was returned to elected trustees in 2015.

The El Paso Independent School District served 59,424 students in the 2016-17 school year.



Litigation in the wake of Janus

On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, finding that public-sector unions cannot require non-members to pay agency fees to cover the costs of non-political union activities. Since then, a number of related lawsuits have been filed. Listed below in reverse chronological order are five of the most noteworthy cases.

  • AFSCME Council 61 v. Iowa and Iowa State Education Association v. Iowa: In two separate rulings issued on May 17, 2019, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2017 law that amended collective bargaining rights for the state’s public-sector workforce. The court ruled 4-3 in the state’s favor in both cases.
    • At issue: The 2017 law mandated that collective bargaining units with fewer than 30 percent public-safety personnel (defined generally as firefighters and police officers) cannot negotiate insurance, hours, vacations, holidays, overtime, and health and safety issues unless their employers elect to do so. Collective bargaining units exceeding the 30-percent threshold are exempted from these restrictions.
    • Complaint: The plaintiffs—AFSCME and the Iowa State Education Association—argued these provisions violated their equal protection and associational rights under the state constitution.
  • California v. Azar: On May 13, 2019, attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
    • At issue: On May 6, 2019, HHS issued a final rule barring states from making Medicaid payments to third parties on behalf of individual home health care providers. The rule applies to voluntary payroll deductions made to pay union dues.
    • Complaint: The state attorneys general allege the rule “would undermine laws and agreements that have improved the provision of homecare to the States’ residents … [and] would disrupt well-established collective bargaining relationships and weaken an organized workforce infrastructure.”
  • Leitch v. AFSCME Council 31: On May 1, 2019, nine current and former Illinois state workers filed a class-action lawsuit against AFSCME Council 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to recover more than $2 million in agency fees previously paid by approximately 2,700 state workers.
    • At issue: Plaintiffs allege that, after May 1, 2017, AFSCME Council 31 “should have known that its seizure of [agency fees] from non-consenting employees violated the First Amendment.”
    • Complaint: The plaintiffs seek to recover for themselves and for all affected workers the full amount of all fees deducted from their wages between May 1, 2017, and June 27, 2018, plus interest.
  • Janus v. AFSCME (distinct from the original Janus): On March 18, 2019, Judge Robert Gettleman, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, ruled that public-sector unions cannot be required to refund agency fees paid to them before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Janus.
    • At issue: Harris v. Quinn (2014) struck down an Illinois statute compelling a specific class of home health care workers to pay fees to the Service Employees International Union. In this case, the workers in question were not employed directly by the state, but did receive state funds indirectly via subsidy payments.
    • Complaint: The plaintiff (Mark Janus, also the plaintiff in Janus) argued that Harris suggested the ultimate unconstitutionality of agency fees. Janus also argued unions were not acting in good faith when they continued to collect agency fees and should be held liable for refunds.
  • Miller v. Inslee: On Feb. 26, 2019, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a Washington state policy granting exclusive bargaining rights to a union does not violate workers’ First Amendment rights.
    • At issue: In 2006, the state authorized child-care providers working under a state-subsidized program to select an exclusive representative for the purposes of collective bargaining. The workers chose Service Employees International Union Local 925. Workers are not required to join the union, but SEIU Local 925 has the exclusive right to represent this class of workers.
    • Complaint: The plaintiff, child-care worker Katherine Miller, alleged that this practice, in light of Janus, violated her First Amendment rights because it authorizes SEIU Local 925 to speak and negotiate on her behalf without her express consent.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 101 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.

Union Station map June 21, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart June 21, 2019.png

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

Union Station partisan chart June 21, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions on relevant bills since the beginning of the year. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state and then by bill number.

  • Maine LD1451: This bill would grant collective bargaining agents greater access to employees and employee information. It would also authorize unions to use government buildings for meetings.
    • Senate and House passed June 18.
  • Maine LD900: This bill authorizes certain classes of public-sector employees to strike.
    • Carried over to any special or regular session June 20.
  • Pennsylvania HB785: This bill would require public employers to inform non-union employees and new employees that they do not have to join or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Removed from table June 19.
  • Rhode Island H5259: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members for administrative matters.
    • Recommitted to House Labor Committee June 20.
  • Rhode Island S0712: This bill would authorize unions to impose fees on non-members for administrative matters. It would require employers to notify unions within five days of hiring new employees. It would also require employees to file written notice with the state controller in order to discontinue dues payroll deductions.
    • House Labor Committee recommended passage of substitute bill June 19.