CategoryNewsletters

Biden outraises Trump in March, lags in cash on hand

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
April 21, 2020: Joe Biden raised $46.7 million in March. Donald Trump said he planned to suspend immigration to the United States.        

Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the presidential primary updates you need to know:

  • Connecticut: Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order postponing the state’s presidential preference primary to August 11. It had previously been postponed from April 28 to June 2.

Poll Spotlight

Notable Quote of the Day

“The idea of an Biden-Obama ticket is as much rooted in warm fuzzy nostalgia for the last Democratic administration as it is a product of the cold, hard data of polling.

In terms of popularity, no one else in the party is in the league of Michelle Obama, who last year overtook actress and philanthropist Angelina Jolie for the mantle of ‘most admired woman’ in a global survey conducted by YouGov. Barack Obama was the world’s second-most admired man behind Bill Gates.”

– Marc Caputo, Politico

Election Updates

  • Joe Biden raised $46.7 million in March, outraising Donald Trump’s $13.6 million and marking his best fundraising month so far. Trump leads in cash on hand with $98.5 million to Biden’s $26.4 million.
  • Biden and the Democratic National Committee together have $57.2 million in cash on hand, after accounting for unpaid debts, according to The New York Times. This is approximately $187 million less than Trump and the Republican National Committee have.
  • The Biden campaign released a new digital ad about the role of the president and Trump’s response to the coronavirus.
  • Trump said on Monday that he planned to suspend immigration in response to the coronavirus pandemic. He tweeted, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: April 21, 2016

The Rules Committee of the Republican Party rejected a proposal to switch convention procedure from the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives to Robert’s Rules of Order. At the center of the debate was whether the convention chair should have the power to allow the nomination of additional candidates.

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Joe Biden and America First Action air dueling ads on China

Note:  This headline has been changed from the original headline to reflect subsequent revisions to the briefing.

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
April 20, 2020: Donald Trump encouraged protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia. Joe Biden and America First Action are airing dueling ads on China. blank   blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


When did the Electoral College grow to its current size of 538 members?

Notable Quote of the Day

“The pandemic may have robbed Donald Trump of a growing economy. It may have trapped Joe Biden in his basement. But it may yet do something even worse to the Libertarian and Green party nominees: Keep them off the ballot in many of this year’s key states. …

For America’s third parties, this is nothing less than an existential crisis. Without ballot access, national pollsters won’t feel obligated to include Green and Libertarian candidates in their surveys; voters will be less aware of their nominees and platforms; journalists will be less likely to pay any attention to them; and the probability diminishes that either the Libertarians or Greens can reach the holy grail of 5 percent of the popular vote—the point at which they would finally qualify for federal campaign matching funds.”

– Bill Scher, Politico

Democrats

  • The Joe Biden campaign is airing an ad in battleground states that says Donald Trump should have sent a CDC team to China and did not properly prepare the United States for the epidemic.

  • Biden won the Wyoming Democratic caucuses with 72% of the vote, the state party announced on Sunday. In-person caucus events were canceled in response to the coronavirus outbreak, and the Democratic Party encouraged voters to participate by mail. The deadline for receiving completed ballots was April 17.

  • Former Jay Inslee presidential campaign staffers, who are part of the new organization Evergreen Action, have pitched a revised climate change proposal to the Biden campaign.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump said on Sunday that he will use the Defense Production Act to order the production of 20 million more coronavirus testing swabs.

  • Trump encouraged protesters demonstrating against lockdowns in certain states in a series of tweets and his press conference on Friday. He wrote, “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump said the protesters were “people expressing their views” and “they seem to be very responsible people to me, you know, they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”

  • America First Action released three ads in a series titled #BeijingBiden as part of its $10 million ad campaign in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The narrator in one clip says, “Now more than ever America must stop China and to stop China you have to stop Joe Biden.”

Flashback: April 20, 2016

Ted Cruz criticized Donald Trump for not participating in any Republican primary debates in 41 days.blank

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Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: April 11-17, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“A politically inexperienced and highly divisive president, a presidential campaign waged under the shadow of a deadly pandemic, and an establishment candidate from the opposing party who promises to restore the country to a less turbulent time.

Those were the elements of the U.S. presidential election exactly 100 years ago that swept Warren G. Harding into office. The similarities to the 2020 race and Joe Biden‘s quest to unseat Donald Trump in November are unmissable.”

– Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg

“A turnout surge among Democratic voters does appear to have helped Karofsky win [the Wisconsin Supreme Court race]. She outperformed Hillary Clinton in the red counties surrounding Milwaukee, but also in numerous rural ones across the state. Karofsky also outperformed in the southwest corner, flipping several counties from red to blue.

As such, Karofsky’s map in Wisconsin was far more akin to the one that got Tammy Baldwin reelected to the Senate in 2018 than to Clinton’s map in 2016, Wikler pointed out.

On the other hand, with Trump on the ballot in a presidential race, he may drive far larger turnout and vote share in many of those rural counties. The total number of votes may be twice as high, so all bets are off.”

– Greg SargentThe Washington Post

Week in Review

Sanders, Obama endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Biden

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Joe Biden during a joint livestream on Monday. “We need you in the White House. And I will do all that I can to see that that happens,” Sanders said to Biden. They agreed to form six working groups on the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and health care.

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Biden in a video statement on the following day. He said Biden had the leadership required to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Obama also acknowledged Sanders in the clip and said the country needed real structural change.

Louisiana postpones presidential primary for second time to July 11

Louisiana’s presidential primary was postponed a second time from June 20 to July 11. It was originally scheduled for April 4. This is the latest scheduled primary in the election cycle, surpassing New Jersey’s primary rescheduled for July 7.

Trump issues guidelines to reopen the economy

Donald Trump issued guidelines for reopening the economy. The plan has three phases beginning with restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, and select other businesses opening if they observe social distancing practices. In the second phase, schools can open and nonessential travel can resume. In the third phase, large public venues can operate as normal with limited social distancing rules and senior care facilities and hospitals can allow visitors.

Trump said on Thursday that the decision to loosen restrictions belonged to governors. Earlier this week, Trump had said he had total authority over reopening the economy.

Satellite spending starts up in general election race with $10 million ad buy

America First Action PAC announced on Thursday that it was launching a $10 million ad campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that presents Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as financially connected to China.

Republicans for the Rule of Law is also airing an ad on Fox & Friends on Friday criticizing Donald Trump for saying earlier this week that he had total authority.

The Biden campaign indicated its super PAC preference for Priorities USA over Unite the Country in a statement this week. The campaign said, “As Democrats across the country come together to achieve this goal, we are pleased that Priorities USA will be a leader of an unprecedented and united community of organizations focused on winning in November.” No other Democratic super PACs were mentioned in the statement.

Amash considers independent presidential run

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who left the Republican Party in 2019, said he was considering an independent presidential run following comments Trump made about executive authority. Amash tweeted, “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.”

Trump, RNC raise $212 million

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee together raised $212 million in the first quarter of 2020. Their fundraising total for March alone was $63 million, down from a record high for the campaign of $86 million in February.

More than half of Democratic convention staff cut

The Democratic National Convention’s host committee reduced its staff from 31 employees to 14 on Thursday. “As we work to help our staff transition through this difficult time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to hosting a successful and safe Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August,” Raquel Filmanowicz, the committee’s CEO, said.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Tim Murtaugh is a Republican staffer with experience in political communications and messaging. He graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1991.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2006 Thelma Drake (R-Va.) U.S. House campaign, campaign manager
  • 2005 Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.) gubernatorial campaign, press secretary
  • 2000 George Allen (R-Va.) U.S. Senate campaign, press secretary

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: United States Department of Agriculture, director of communications
  • 2013-2017: Office of Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), director of communications
  • 2011-2013: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2010: Republican Governors Association, director of political communications
  • 2009: Republican Party of Virginia, director of communications
  • 2008-2009: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, director of communications and public affairs
  • 2007-2008: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2001-2005: Office of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.), director of communication
  • 2001: Republican National Committee, deputy director of communications
  • 1994-1999: NBC29 WVIR-TV, state capitol bureau chief
  • 1992-1993: WBQB-FM/WFVA-AM, news anchor and reporter

What We’re Reading

Flashback: April 13-17, 2016

  • April 13, 2016: Hillary Clinton proposed establishing an Office of Immigrant Affairs, which would coordinate immigration policies across federal, state, and local governments.
  • April 14, 2016: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Brooklyn, New York. It was the final Democratic primary debate of the election cycle.
  • April 15, 2016: In a CNN interview, John Kasich discussed the Republican primary, sexual assault, small businesses, and religious liberty laws.
  • April 16, 2016: Bernie Sanders won 16 of the 23 delegates selected at the Colorado Democratic state convention, bringing his total delegate haul in the state to 41. Hillary Clinton won the other 25 pledged delegates.
  • April 17, 2016: In an interview with The Washington Post, Donald Trump said that the Republican National Convention should be a “monumentally magnificent convention and it should be brilliantly staged.” He continued, “It’s very important to put some showbiz into a convention, otherwise people are going to fall asleep.”

In the past century, which presidential election had the lowest estimated voter turnout?

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Local governments in Nevada suspend public-sector union contracts in response to COVID-19

Local governments in Nevada have suspended more than 25 public-sector collective bargaining agreements in the past month in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The suspensions have affected at least 18,000 public-sector workers, including all unionized employees of Clark County and the city of Las Vegas.

A collective bargaining agreement, or union contract, is a legally binding document agreed to by both an employer and the union representing that employer’s workers. It governs wages, working hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. If a union contract is suspended, the employer may not abide by all or some of the terms of the contract.

What is at issue?

Section 288.150(5)(b) of the Nevada Revised Statutes authorizes a local government employer to “take whatever actions may be necessary to carry out its responsibilities in situations of emergency such as a riot, military action, natural disaster or civil disorder,” including, “the suspension of any collective bargaining agreement for the duration of the emergency.”

Nevada reported its first COVID-19 case on March 5. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Nevada has reported 3,214 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 137 deaths to date. Clark County accounts for 2,559 confirmed cases and 115 deaths.

On March 31, Clark County Manager Yolanda King notified Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1107 of the county’s decision to suspend the contracts of local public-sector workers represented by the union. King cited Section 288.150(5)(b). Other public employers, including the University Medical Center, followed suit.

What are the responses?

Michael Urban, an SEIU negotiator, said the union was “clearly prepared to take legal action” over the contrast suspensions. Urban added, “But that’s not what we should be concentrating on in these bad times. We should be concentrating on working together to try to get a resolution that saves jobs and protects the health and safety of workers.”

On April 8, the Clark County Commission informed SEIU Local 1107 that “employee protections such as whistleblower laws and the Merit Personnel System will stay in place, labor-management committees may continue to meet as long as social distancing practices are adhered to, and contract provisions will be followed in the event of layoffs, according to a copy of the letter.”

Commissioner Justin Jones said, “We wanted to make it very clear that if there are economic considerations in regards to people’s employment or layoffs that those aren’t going to be done under the auspices of the suspension that was put in place last week.”

SEIU Local 1107 Executive Director Grace Vergara-Mactal and President Brenda Marzan said, “Now, thousands of frontline healthcare and public sector workers can go to work with peace of mind that their wages, benefits, and majority of their job protections are secure.”

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 93 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 April 17, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart April 17, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart April 17, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state, then by bill number. The partisan affiliation of bill sponsor(s) is also provided.

  • Virginia HB582: This bill would repeal the existing prohibition against collective bargaining by public employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Returned with proposed amendments April 11.
  • Virginia SB939: This bill would permit local governments to recognize unions as bargaining agents for public-sector workers.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Returned with proposed amendments April 11.


America First Action launches $10M anti-Biden ad campaign

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
April 17, 2020: America First Action is launching a $10 million ad campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Donald Trump issued his guidelines on Thursday for reopening the economy.         

Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Tim Murtaugh is a Republican staffer with experience in political communications and messaging. He graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1991.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2006 Thelma Drake (R-Va.) U.S. House campaign, campaign manager
  • 2005 Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.) gubernatorial campaign, press secretary
  • 2000 George Allen (R-Va.) U.S. Senate campaign, press secretary

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: United States Department of Agriculture, director of communications
  • 2013-2017: Office of Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), director of communications
  • 2011-2013: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2010: Republican Governors Association, director of political communications
  • 2009: Republican Party of Virginia, director of communications
  • 2008-2009: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, director of communications and public affairs
  • 2007-2008: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2001-2005: Office of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.), director of communication
  • 2001: Republican National Committee, deputy director of communications
  • 1994-1999: NBC29 WVIR-TV, state capitol bureau chief
  • 1992-1993: WBQB-FM/WFVA-AM, news anchor and reporter

Notable Quote of the Day

“There is historical precedent for a losing candidate to focus on influencing their party’s convention even when their nomination was out of reach. When Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984 and 1988, he also used his position to push for rules reform in the Democratic nominating process, which he argued had unfairly hurt black candidates and other outsiders running as progressives. Jackson successfully pushed for abolishing the ‘winner-take-all’ delegate standard, and now delegates are divided up proportionally according to a candidate’s share of the vote. It was these reforms that enabled Barack Obama to win his presidential primary in 2008.”

– Rachel M. Cohen, The Intercept

Democrats

  • During a coronavirus town hall on CNN on Thursday night, Joe Biden said the federal government should subsidize half of some salaries with employers paying the other half to reduce the number of pandemic-related layoffs. “Keep people on the payrolls and just have straight flat payment, a flat payment where the government pays half the salary of everybody on there,” he said. “You can keep everybody doing half the work they were doing but everybody stays employed.”
  • Biden said during a virtual fundraiser on Thursday that he was building a post-election transition team and considering making certain White House offices into Cabinet-level positions, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a defunct global health security team, and a new climate change team.
  • The Democratic National Convention’s host committee reduced its staff from 31 employees to 14 on Thursday. “As we work to help our staff transition through this difficult time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to hosting a successful and safe Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August,” Raquel Filmanowicz, the committee’s CEO, said.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump issued his guidelines on Thursday for reopening the economy. The plan has three phases beginning with restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, and select other businesses opening if they observe social distancing practices. In the second phase, schools can open and nonessential travel can resume. In the third phase, large public venues can operate as normal with limited social distancing rules and senior care facilities and hospitals can allow visitors.
  • America First Action PAC announced on Thursday that it was launching a $10 million ad campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that presents Biden and his son, Hunter, as financially connected to China.
  • Republicans for the Rule of Law is airing an ad on Fox & Friends on Friday criticizing Trump for saying earlier this week that he had total authority.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: April 17, 2016

In an interview with The Washington Post, Donald Trump said that the Republican National Convention should be a “monumentally magnificent convention and it should be brilliantly staged.” He continued, “It’s very important to put some showbiz into a convention, otherwise people are going to fall asleep.”

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus Daily Update: April 16th, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for April 16, 2020.

Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Read more: Arguments in support of and opposition to government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

On April 14, President Donald Trump (R) announced that his administration was suspending funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) and opening an investigation into the group’s handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Today, we turn our attention to the debate over this action. 

  • In announcing his decision, Trump said, “The world depends on the WHO to work with countries to ensure that accurate information about international health threats is shared in a timely manner, and if it’s not, to independently to tell the world the truth about what is happening. The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable.  It’s time, after all of these decades.  The WHO failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan that conflicted directly with the Chinese government’s official accounts.  There was credible information to suspect human-to-human transmission in December 2019, which should have spurred the WHO to investigate, and investigate immediately.”
  • In a statement, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said, “We can only be successful in defeating this global pandemic through a coordinated international response with respect for science and data.  But sadly, as he has since Day One, the President is ignoring global health experts, disregarding science and undermining the heroes fighting on the frontline, at great risk to the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world.  This is another case, as I have said, of the President’s ineffective response, that ‘a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility.  A weak person blames others.’ This decision is dangerous, illegal and will be swiftly challenged.”
  • The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote the following in support of Trump’s action: “From the start of the crisis, WHO leadership let political considerations color what should have been unbiased public-health advice. The decisions to oppose early travel bans and to delay declaring a “public-health emergency of international concern” were particularly deadly. Instead of demanding more transparency from Beijing—which has provided dubious data and punished domestic truth-tellers—WHO officials echoed Chinese claims.”
  • In an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof criticized the decision to suspend funding to the WHO: “Thousands of Americans would be alive today if President Trump had spent more time listening to the World Health Organization instead of trying to destroy it. Trump’s announcement that he is halting American funding for the W.H.O. just as the world is facing a raging pandemic is a dangerous attempt to find a scapegoat for his own failings. It is like taking away a fire department’s trucks in the middle of a blaze.”

The 1918 influenza pandemic

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On November 18, 1918, the Oakland Tribune published an article titled “Was the ‘Flu’ to Blame?” It questioned the closure of a voting precinct in a state Senate race that was decided by three votes.

“How important results sometimes hinge on inconsiderable and unexpected incidents is illustrated in the fight in the second senatorial district. Because of the prevalence of the influenza, the polls of Ingot precinct in Shasta county remained closed on election day. In that precinct, 95 voters are registered

“It is believed that the State Senate will be so constituted by this result that ratification of the national prohibition measure may be defeated. Eifendahl might have been elected if the polls of Ingot precinct had been open. It is also possible that a refusal by California to endorse this national amendment may be the turning of a tide against it.”

 

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On a call with caucus members, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) suggested a temporary rules change that would allow for remote voting on coronavirus-related legislation.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.
  • Ten states have modified their candidate filing requirements.
  • Twenty-two states have made modifications to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in 17 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Ballotpedia tracked 20 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
  • At least five lawsuits seeking court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines.

Details:

  • Missouri – New Approach Missouri, which proposed the Missouri Marijuana Legalization Initiative, announced that it was suspending its campaign.

State legislative responses

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • To date, 518 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Eighty-four significant bills have been enacted into law, 16 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview: 

  • Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Four of those have since reconvened. 
  • Seventeen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.   
  • Four state legislatures are in regular session. 
  • Three state legislatures (Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin) are in special session. 
  • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.

Details:

  • Utah – The Utah State Legislature convened a special session on April 14.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin State Legislature convened a special session on April 14.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.

Details:

  • Maine – The Maine Supreme Court issued an order on April 14 extending the suspension of certain in-person proceedings through May 1. Petit and grand jury proceedings are suspended through May 29.
  • Maryland – Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera ordered all courts closed to the public through June 5.  

Prison inmate responses

Read more: State and local governments that released prison inmates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Fifteen states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  • Sixteen states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  • Fourteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  • Two states have prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.
  • Three states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

Details:

  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued temporary reprieves for the first group Pennsylvania state inmates who qualified under criteria established in Wolf’s April 10 order.  Inmates considered for release under Wolf’s order are nonviolent inmates due to be released within the next nine months, or vulnerable inmates who are within 12 months of their release date. The inmates would return to prison upon the expiration of the disaster emergency to serve the remainder of their sentences.
  • Michigan – The Michigan Department of Corrections reported that nearly 5,000 of the state’s 38,000 inmates are eligible for parole.  Officials are looking to first release eligible inmates who are nonviolent and over the age of 60 with health issues.  However, according to the agency, no offenses are off-limits.  According to the Prison Policy Initiative, the number of inmates paroled in the state reportedly increased by about 1,000 people per month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Maryland – On April 14, Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera ordered trial courts in the state to identify and release inmates who are vulnerable to coronavirus and pose no risk to the public. 

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 36 announced end dates.

Details:

  • Missouri – Gov. Mike Parsons (R) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 3. The initial order took effect on April 6 and was set to expire on April 24.
  • New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the state’s stay-at-home order was extended through May 15. Cuomo said that the order was helping to reduce the state’s hospitalization and intubation rates, but not enough to lift the order. According to Cuomo, New York’s rate of infections caused by sick individuals was down to 0.9 people per sick individual.
  • Wisconsin – Gov. Tony Evers (D) extended the state’s stay-at-home order to May 26. Executive Order #12 was first issued on March 24 and initially set to expire on April 24.

School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-five states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 47.8% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Details:

  • Tennessee – On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Bill Lee (R) recommended that schools close for the remainder of the academic year. Schools in the state were previously ordered closed from March 20 through April 24

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • 19 governors or state agencies have issued an executive order restricting out-of-state visitors

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Forty states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.

Details:

  • California – City leaders in San Jose extended a temporary moratorium on residential evictions through May 31.  They also announced a plan which prohibits landlords from increasing rent temporarily.
  • Maine – On April 14, The Maine Supreme Court issued an amended order suspending eviction cases through May 1.

Lawsuits about state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 33 lawsuits in 20 states relating to actions or policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rulings have been issued in seven of those lawsuits.

Details:

  • Kentucky – On Tuesday, three residents filed suit against Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and other state officials, arguing that executive orders limiting mass gatherings violated their religious freedom. The plaintiffs in the case argue that the governor specifically targeted religious services. “In his evening briefings, the Governor made clear that he was going to target religious services for these notices, apart from other gatherings. Based on the activity of the Kentucky State Police on April 12, 2020, the Governor carried out his threat,” they wrote.

    • Last Friday, Beshear said that at least six churches in the state still intended to hold in-person Easter services and issued an emergency order making it a misdemeanor to attend mass gatherings of people. At a press conference he said, “This opportunity to worship, which is so important, is still there. We just ask folks to choose one that doesn’t spread the coronavirus.”

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

State politicians who tested positive for coronavirus

  • State Rep. Delores McQuinn (D-VA)


Coronavirus pandemic has mixed effects on agency rulemaking and adjudication

Administrative State-5 Circles-dark text-straight with header-edited.png

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 month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review effects of the coronavirus pandemic on federal agency rulemaking and adjudication; federal agency efforts to boost access to N95 respirator masks; Justice Neil Gorsuch’s argument against the use of Chevron deference in criminal cases; and a recent SCOTUS decision making it easier to challenge certain deportation cases.

At the state level, we review a challenge over the scope of the Kansas governor’s emergency powers and the temporary suspension of recently enacted plastic bag bans. We also highlight the on-going tracking of deregulatory actions in response to the coronavirus outbreak. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 161 proposed rules and 281 final rules added to the Federal Register in March and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.

The Checks and Balances Letter

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In Washington

Coronavirus pandemic has mixed effects on agency rulemaking and adjudication

What’s the story? Federal agencies are moving forward with rulemaking and adjudication during the coronavirus outbreak, albeit with technological modifications and revised timelines in certain cases.
Rulemaking: Agency rulemaking is continuing during the coronavirus outbreak, despite calls from some, including state attorneys general, to pause rulemaking until the pandemic passes. Weekly published rule totals in the Federal Register are on pace with previous years of the Trump administration, and the Federal Register reached its highest running page total in the first week of April since 2013.
Selected pending regulations include a revised proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) modifying the agency’s approach to certain scientific data, a proposed rule from the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) allowing government workers to stop paying union dues after one year, and an EPA proposal to modify an Obama-era regulation governing coal-burning power plant waste.
Comment periods: As agency rulemaking continues, state and local governments and federal lawmakers have asked federal agencies to pause or extend their comment periods during the coronavirus outbreak. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) advised agencies to extend comment periods on a case-by-case basis. The EPA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) extended public comment periods for selected rules, including the EPA’s proposal to modify its approach to certain scientific data. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has an internal regulation requiring public comment on its guidance documents, announced on March 20 that it would implement coronavirus guidance documents without holding comment periods and would allow for revisions based on public feedback at a later date.
Adjudication: Agency adjudication is continuing during the coronavirus outbreak and many agencies, including the Board of Veterans Appeals, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration, have suspended in-person hearings in favor of video or telephone hearings where feasible. Other agencies, such as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), have suspended hearings until a later date.
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Federal agencies respond to respirator masks requirements

What’s the story? Demand for N95 respirator masks—the type of mask used to protect healthcare workers from coronavirus—has put pressure on the federal government’s emergency supply and led some agencies to suspend regulations in an effort to boost mask availability.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated in early March that the nation’s stockpile of N95 respirator masks would likely meet only one percent of anticipated demand during the coronavirus outbreak.
In response to the shortage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on March 22 granted discretion to Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories to purchase personal protective equipment, including masks, produced outside the United States. Federal law otherwise requires the territories to purchase personal protective equipment produced in the United States—limiting their flexibility to manage the supply shortage.
In another response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on March 24 issued an Emergency Use Authorization allowing health care workers to use protective masks that meet comparable N95 specifications in Europe as well as Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico. On April 3, the agency issued guidance permitting the use of the alternative KN95 mask produced in China.
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Justice Gorsuch argues against Chevron deference in criminal cases

What’s the story? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on March 2 released a statement critical of applying Chevron deference to laws involving criminal penalties.
Gorsuch’s statement accompanied the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear Guedes v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a case challenging the Trump administration’s decision to outlaw bump stocks through regulation.
Under Chevron deference, federal courts must defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute. Gorsuch argued that Chevron “has nothing to say about the proper interpretation of the law” at issue in the bump stock case because “whatever else one thinks about Chevron, it has no role to play when liberty is at stake.”
In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a rule that expanded the definition of machinegun in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act to include bum stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic firearms to shoot more than once with a single pull of the trigger using recoil energy to keep firing. Under the rule, owners of bump stock devices must destroy or surrender them or face federal prison time.
Gorsuch agreed with the court’s decision not to take the case, but stated that “waiting should not be mistaken for lack of concern.”
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SCOTUS makes it easier to challenge deportation decisions

What’s the story? The U.S. Supreme Court on March 24 ruled 7-2 in the consolidated cases Guerrero-Lasprilla v. Barr and Ovalles v. Barr that courts may review how immigration agencies applied the law in certain deportation cases, allowing noncitizens in these cases the opportunity to challenge their deportation orders in federal court.
Congress barred federal courts from reviewing decisions of the Bureau of Immigration Affairs (BIA) in deportation appeals brought by noncitizens convicted of certain crimes—except in cases that raise questions of law.
The court ruled that the questions of law exception applies when federal appellate courts review BIA decisions that apply a legal standard to undisputed facts in the case. A longstanding presumption in favor of judicial review of administrative actions, argued the majority in part, gives federal courts the authority to review agency applications of legal standards to objective facts in order to ensure that the agency applied the legal standard correctly.
Though the court’s decision only applies to a small subset of deportation cases, it helped clarify the scope of judicial review over BIA appeals.
Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the opinion of the court joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion, joined in part by Justice Samuel Alito. Thomas argued in part that the majority expanded the scope of judicial review beyond the meaning of the statutory text, which he claimed does not allow the questions of law exception to apply to mixed questions of law and fact.
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In the states

Lawmakers challenge Kansas governor’s emergency powers

What’s the story? Republican legislators in Kansas challenged Democratic Governor Laura Kelly over the scope of the governor’s emergency powers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Republican-majority Kansas Legislature on March 19th unanimously passed a resolution ratifying Kelly’s emergency declaration, but prohibiting her from using her emergency powers to limit the sale of firearms or seize ammunition.
On April 8, Republican members of the Legislative Coordinating Council (LCC)—the state’s acting legislative body while the full legislature is out of session—voted to reverse Kelly’s executive order limiting religious gatherings and funerals, claiming that the order unfairly targeted religious groups.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) further directed police officers and prosecutors not to enforce the order, stating, “I am confident Kansans of faith can be trusted to follow that important advice without their government threatening criminal sanctions for disobedience.”
Kelly responded on April 9 by filing suit against the LCC in the Kansas Supreme Court, arguing that the resolution approving the emergency declaration did not transfer the legislative authority to reverse executive orders to the LCC. “Not only does this action threaten the lives of Kansans,” stated Kelly, “it runs directly contrary to the Kansas Constitution.”
The Kansas Supreme Court upheld Kelly’s order on April 11, arguing that the legislature’s resolution ratifying Kelly’s emergency declaration did not grant the LCC the authority of the full legislature to overrule the governor’s action.
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Coronavirus puts pause on plastic bag bans

What’s the story? State and local governments nationwide have suspended or delayed enforcement of plastic bag bans in the fight against coronavirus.
Officials in Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Oregon, and local jurisdictions across the country (as of April 8) had limited the use of reusable bags during the coronavirus outbreak due to scientific studies demonstrating that reusable bags might harbor bacteria and viruses.
The Maine Legislature delayed enforcement of its plastic bag ban, which was scheduled to take effect on March 17, until June 15. New York state officials delayed enforcement of its plastic bag ban, which a lawsuit had already delayed until April 1, until May 15.
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Tracking deregulation post-COVID-19

Americans for Tax Reform (ATF) is tracking the on-going suspension of federal and state regulations in response to the coronavirus outbreak. ATF had identified 230 suspended or waived regulations as of April 10, including the following selected actions:
  • FDA allows state leeway in virus testing
‘The FDA will allow states to take responsibility for tests developed and used by laboratories within their borders. The labs will not have to pursue Emergency Use Authorization from the agency, an emergency clearance that is normally required.’ – STAT News (3/16/20)
  • FDA loosens regulations on distribution of newly developed tests
‘Under certain circumstances, the agency will not object to any manufacturers that distribute newly developed tests before the FDA grants emergency clearance, and a similar stance will be taken toward labs that use these new tests.’ – STAT News (3/16/20)
  • EPA easing enforcement of environmental legal obligations
‘The EPA will exercise the enforcement discretion specified below for noncompliance covered by this temporary policy and resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic…
The consequences of the pandemic may affect facility operations and the availability of key staff and contractors and the ability of laboratories to timely analyze samples and provide results. As a result, there may be constraints on the ability of a facility or laboratory to carry out certain activities required by our federal environmental permits, regulations, and statutes. These consequences may affect reporting obligations and milestones set forth in settlements and consent decrees. Finally, these consequences may affect the ability of an operation to meet enforceable limitations on air emissions and water discharges, requirements for the management of hazardous waste, or requirements to ensure and provide safe drinking water… The enforcement discretion described in this temporary policy do not apply to any criminal violations or conditions of probation in criminal sentences. Appropriate consideration of potential criminal liability is discussed separately.” – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (3/26/20)’
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Regulatory tally

Federal Register

  • The Federal Register in March reached 18,104 pages. The number of pages at the end of each March during the Obama administration (2009-2016) averaged 17,767 pages.
  • The March Federal Register included 161 proposed rules and 281 final rules. These included a rule banning the use of electrical shock therapy devices for certain behaviors, a rule discontinuing the Disaster Loan Program, and a rule implementing changes to the federal Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP).
Want to go deeper?

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s recent regulatory review activity includes:
  • Review of 41 significant regulatory actions. Between 2009-2016, the Obama administration reviewed an average of 42 significant regulatory actions each March.
  • Two rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 38 proposed rules; one rule withdrawn.
  • OIRA reviewed 27 significant rules in March 2019, 19 significant rules in March 2018, and one significant rule in March 2017.
  • As of April 2, 2020, OIRA’s website listed 121 regulatory actions under review.
Want to go deeper?
Click here to learn more.


Biden campaign indicates super PAC preference

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
April 16, 2020: The Joe Biden campaign indicated its super PAC preference for Priorities USA over Unite the Country in a statement on Wednesday. Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee formed by the Donald Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, is establishing finance chairs in all 50 states. blank    blankblank   


Ballotpedia is monitoring changes made to election dates and procedures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the presidential primary updates you need to know:

  • Louisiana: The presidential primary was postponed a second time from June 20 to July 11. It was originally scheduled for April 4.


Notable Quote of the Day

“Online popularity doesn’t always lead to electoral success. (If it did, New Yorkers would be listening to daily coronavirus briefings from Gov. Cynthia Nixon.) But underestimating the internet’s influence is a mistake, too. In 2016, Mr. Trump’s surging popularity among the internet’s grass roots was a bellwether that indicated his candidacy might be stronger than it appeared in traditional polls. Conversely, Mr. Biden’s lack of support from meme makers and viral-content mavens could signal trouble ahead. …

Mr. Biden’s biggest problem is structural. Most of our online political communication takes place on internet platforms that are designed to amplify content that provokes strong emotional reactions, often by reinforcing tribal identities. Mr. Trump’s unfiltered, combative style is a natural fit for the hyperpolarized audiences on Facebook and Twitter, whereas Mr. Biden’s more conciliatory, healer-in-chief approach can render him invisible on platforms where conflict equals clicks.”

– Kevin Roose, The New York Times

Democrats

  • The Joe Biden campaign indicated its super PAC preference for Priorities USA over Unite the Country in a statement on Wednesday. The campaign said, “As Democrats across the country come together to achieve this goal, we are pleased that Priorities USA will be a leader of an unprecedented and united community of organizations focused on winning in November.” No other Democratic super PACs were mentioned in the statement.

  • On Wednesday, Biden attended a virtual town hall with frontline healthcare workers moderated by Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones.

Republicans

  • Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee formed by the Donald Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, is establishing finance chairs in all 50 states. In 2016, the group launched with finance chairs in 33 states.

  • Trump said he was considering adjourning Congress, in order to make recess appointments, since his administrative and judicial nominees were not able to go through the confirmation process. “If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” Trump said. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro-forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam that they do.”

Flashback: April 16, 2016

Bernie Sanders won 16 of the 23 delegates selected at the Colorado Democratic state convention, bringing his total delegate haul in the state to 41. Hillary Clinton won the other 25 pledged delegates. blank

Click here to learn more.



Coronavirus Daily Update: April 15, 2020

Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics

Debate over government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Read more: Arguments in support of and opposition to government responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he would issue an executive order requiring people who cannot maintain a six-foot distance from others in public settings to wear face masks. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) announced he would issue an order requiring people to wear face coverings in retail establishments and grocery stores and when using public transit. There is debate within the public health community over the effectiveness of face coverings in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

  • On April 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance on the use of face coverings: “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

  • On April 6, the World Health Organization released guidance on the use of face coverings: “There is limited evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals in the households or among contacts of a sick patient, or among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a preventive measure. However, there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

The 1918 influenza pandemic

Read more: 1918 influenza pandemic (Spanish Flu) and the 1918 midterm election cycle

The 1918 midterm elections occurred during the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the most severe in history. Each day, we’ll look back at a story from the 1918 elections to see how America met the challenges of holding elections during a national health emergency.

On November 2, 1918, the Oakland Tribune published an article titled, “Voting is Safe If You Wear Your Mask.”

“Voters are receiving assurances from the state and local health authorities that there is no danger of contracting the influenza by going to the polls on Tuesday…

There is not the slightest danger in voting if you wear your mask.  If you are staying at home, you are not being benefited by the fresh air and sunshine that you will enjoy, performing your patriotic duty as an American citizen.”

Click here to read the original article, courtesy of the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing’s Influenza Encyclopedia.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Tuesday afternoon, President Donald Trump (R) announced that the U.S. was suspending funding to the World Health Organization pending a review of the group’s actions in response to the coronavirus.

Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections.

  • Ten states have modified their candidate filing requirements.

  • Twenty-two states have made modifications to their voting procedures.

  • Political parties in 16 states have adjusted party events on a statewide basis.

Details:

  • Louisiana – Louisiana postponed its presidential preference primary to July 11. This marks the second postponement of the presidential preference primary, which was first postponed to June 20. It was originally scheduled to take place on April 4.

  • Maryland – Limited in-person voting will be permitted in the April 28 special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. In-person voting will be limited to those who cannot vote by mail.

  • Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C., will send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in advance of the district’s June 2 primary election.

Ballot measure changes

Read more: Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Ballotpedia tracked 19 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.

  • Five states changed ballot measure procedures.

  • At least five lawsuits have been filed seeking court orders suspending or changing ballot measure requirements and deadlines.

State legislative responses

Read more: State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, 506 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.

  • Seventy-eight significant bills have been enacted into law, 15 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.

State legislative session changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative session dates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-five state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Four of those have since reconvened.

  • Nineteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.

  • Four state legislatures are in regular session.

  • One state legislature (Oklahoma) is in special session.

  • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.

State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.

  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.

Details:

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 31.

  • Idaho – The Idaho Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings through April 22 and suspension of jury trials through June 1.

  • Washington – The Washington Supreme Court extended their restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 4.

Prison inmate responses

Read more: State and local governments that released prison inmates in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Fourteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.

  • Sixteen  states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.

  • Fifteen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.

  • Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.

  • Three states have temporarily released certain populations of inmates.

Details:

  • Massachusetts –  State prisons and county jails in Massachusetts have released 367 inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. The releases follow an April 3 order from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which directed officials to release most people being held in jail pretrial.

  • Ohio – Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, at the request of Gov. Mike DeWine, approved the early release of 141 inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. The inmates considered for release were within 90 days of their original release date and were not convicted of violent or sex offenses.

  • Oregon –  Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that she would not release inmates due to the coronavirus pandemic. During a press conference on April 14, Brown stated that she was concerned about coronavirus in state prisons and that she had reviewed the Oregon Department of Corrections plan for containment. The governor said, “Whether an adult in custody should be released before the end of their sentence or not is a decision that must be weighed based on the individual merits of their situation…I want to be clear: at this time, I have no specific plans to abandon that case-by-case approach.”

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court issued a new emergency release schedule and emergency drug-testing schedule which temporarily expands its Administrative Release Program to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Kentucky’s Administrative Release Program expedites the pretrial release of low-to-moderate risk defendants charged with nonviolent and nonsexual offenses. The order is in effect through May 31.

State stay-at-home orders

Read more: States with lockdown and stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Forty-three states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.

Details:

  • Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the state’s stay-at-home order through April 30. Prior to the announcement, the order was scheduled to end on April 15.

  • Kansas – Gov. Laura Kelly extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 3. Prior to the announcement, the order was scheduled to end on April 19.

School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Twenty-four states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Those states account for 44.3% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.

  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure in some form.

Details:

  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.

Travel restrictions

Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Nineteen governors or state agencies have placed restrictions on out-of-state travelers

Details:

  • Idaho – Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) issued an order requiring all out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days unless engaged in essential activities.

Eviction and foreclosure policies

Read more: Changes to rent, mortgage, eviction, and foreclosure policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Thirty-four states have implemented policies related to evictions or foreclosures on either the state or local level.

Details:

  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court ordered that eviction filings would not be accepted until 30 days after the expiration of Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) March 25 order. In his order, Gov. Beshear suspended evictions in the state for the duration of the state of emergency due to coronavirus.


Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 14 (April 15, 2020)

This week: Kobach releases ad featuring Trump in KS Senate primary, League of Conservation Voters endorses Fitzpatrick in PA-01, and Woody Thrasher outraises Jim Justice in West Virginia gubernatorial election.

On the news

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

“It is clear that the time is approaching that will be absolutely decisive for this presidency and for the country’s near-term future. The president will have to decide on an economic relaunch plan, and this will make or break him and his opponents. … 

Obviously, if the country strangles itself into a profound and lengthy recession, the Democrats’ electoral chances improve. The longer such a state of affairs continues, the harder and less relevant it will be to recall President Trump’s achievement in generating an immense economic boom and one that profoundly bettered the lot of the lower half of American income-earners, whose real income had stalled for over 15 years. …

If the president acts carefully and puts the issues squarely, he will succeed, the economy will recover quickly, and he will be invincible in November. He knows the gravity of what he must do. If he does it right, the exaggerated fears of disaster that will be expressed by his opponents, one more time and for the greatest stakes of all, will not occur.”

Conrad Black, American Greatness, April 13, 2020

“With some signs that the ‘curve is flattening,’ and growing concern about the impact of the epidemic on the economy, there is increasing pressure on President Trump and many governors to relax ‘stay-at-home’ orders, enabling more businesses to reopen and people to return to their jobs. President Trump describes himself as a wartime president, and I’d argue, that, like other wartime presidents, he should focus on the battlefield and not the politics. …

Whatever decision he makes in the coming days will not be judged until September or October, at the earliest. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, people know why the economy is tanking — and it’s neither party’s fault. Rather they want to see what happens during and after this crisis — and only then will voters make their decisions.

Just like other wartime presidents, he’s not going to be judged by the initial popularity of the war, but by its effectiveness. … 

The lesson for Trump: Beware of polls or pundits telling you in which direction to go: If you choose to reopen the country, and there’s a huge second wave of infection in September, the same folks will blame you — for following their advice. And if you choose to keep the country shut, and other economies start to boom, the same will occur.”

 Arnon Mishkin, Fox News, April 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Kobach releases ad featuring Trump in Senate primary in KS 

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach released his first TV ad of the Senate primary in Kansas. Politico reported the ad cost at least $48,000 to run on cable for two weeks.

The ad features footage of President Donald Trump speaking in support of Kobach at a rally in October 2018, when Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor. In the ad, Kobach says he’ll help get a border wall built if elected.

The president endorsed Kobach ahead of the 2018 Republican primary against incumbent Jeff Colyer. Kobach won the primary 40.6% to 40.5% and lost the general election to Laura Kelly (D) 43% to 48%.

The president has not endorsed in the 2020 Senate primary.

The current eight-candidate primary field includes U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, who Colyer endorsed

The Club for Growth has not endorsed in the race but spent $33,000 on newspaper and digital ads featuring criticisms of Marshall from women who said they were his patients when he was a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist. Marshall’s campaign called the ads “amateur garbage from a D.C. office.”

In 2019, The Associated Press’s John Hanna reported, “Many Republicans fear a repeat of last year, when Kobach narrowly won a crowded GOP primary only to lose the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly,” and, “Some Republicans question whether Marshall can win over the hard right and even described him as a moderate in the weeks before he entered the race.”

The filing deadline is June 1. The primary is Aug. 4.

Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts is not seeking re-election. Three forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Republican.

League of Conservation Voters endorses Fitzpatrick in PA-01

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund endorsed incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, saying he has a “strong record addressing climate change, fighting PFAS pollution, advocating for public lands and so much more.”

Roll Call wrote that Fitzpatrick is the only Republican the LCV has endorsed this cycle.

Fitzpatrick said, “Climate change and the irresponsible management of our resources put a strain on the health of our communities – and our children. Clean air and clean water are essential to the health, safety, and development of the next generation of Americans. That is why I have been fighting hard for these priorities during my time in Congress.”

Fitzpatrick is one of two Republican House incumbents seeking re-election in a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Financial advisor Andrew Meehan is challenging him in the June 2 primary.

On his campaign website, Meehan calls Fitzpatrick “the Anti-Trump RINO Congressman” and says, “Unlike the incumbent, Andy will go to Washington DC to stand up and fight for our Republican values, our President and his America First agenda.”

Fitzpatrick was first elected to represent the state’s 8th District in the House in 2016. Following redistricting, he was elected to the 1st District in 2018 with 51.3% of the vote to Scott Wallace’s (D) 48.7%.

Super PAC releases ad opposing Herrell in NM-02

The super PAC Citizens for a United New Mexico released a TV ad saying former state Rep. Yvette Herrell “worked to undermine Trump’s campaign for president” in 2016 and attended an anti-Trump gathering. The group spent $55,000 on the ad.

The Associated Press’s Russell Contreras reported, “All of the Republican candidates have tried to position themselves as Trump’s most reliable ally and have accused each other of not backing Trump enough.”

Claire Chase, director of government relations at Mack Energy Corporation, and Mathys Properties owner Chris Mathys are also running in the June 2 primary.

Herrell said the ad contained “false attacks from Claire’s desperate Super PAC should be immediately pulled from the airwaves.”

Chase’s campaign manager Mike Berg said the campaign “can’t control what outside groups do” and, “It looks like some folks got sick and tired of Yvette’s sleazy attack ads against Claire and decided to expose her for what she is: a lying never-Trumper hiding in the closet.”

Herrell has criticized Chase for social media posts she made criticizing Trump during his 2016 presidential bid. Chase said, “I’m going to say something politicians rarely say. I was wrong. … And I’ve been very pleased with President Trump and what he has done.”

Herrell was the district’s Republican nominee in 2018. Xochitl Torres Small (D) defeated Herrell 50.9-49.1%.

New Mexico’s 2nd is one of 31 House districts the president carried in 2016 and a Democratic House candidate won in 2018.

VA-05 GOP Convention delayed

We recently reported that Republican conventions to determine the party’s nominees in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Districts were up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 5th Congressional District Republican Committee has decided to delay their convention, originally scheduled for April 25. The Roanoke Times’s Amy Friedenberger reported, “The committee hasn’t selected a new date, but members said the end of May would be the earliest possible time it would hold a convention.”

State executives

Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman qualifies for primary ballot

Jon Huntsman qualified as a gubernatorial candidate for the June 30 primary hours before Monday’s 5:00 p.m. deadline. He joined Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright as the third candidate to qualify for the ballot via signature collection. Jan Garbett was the other Republican candidate seeking to qualify by petition, but she did not submit the required 28,000 signatures by the deadline. 

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) endorsed Huntsman last week. In a statement, Lee said, “I have seen firsthand what a remarkable leader and a true conservative Jon Huntsman really is.”

In addition to the three candidates who qualified via petition, four candidates have focused on winning a spot on the primary ballot at their party’s nominating convention. Republican delegates can place up to two candidates on the primary ballot. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans will hold a virtual convention on April 25.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980.

Woody Thrasher outraises Jim Justice in West Virginia gubernatorial election

Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year show West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher leading incumbent Jim Justice in receipts, while Justice finished with a cash-on-hand advantage. 

Thrasher raised $84,242 and loaned his campaign $1,045,000. He spent $1,193,184 and finished the period with $42,272 on hand. Justice raised $94,228, loaned his campaign $526,000, and spent $619,104 to finish Q1 with $68,306 on hand.

Justice’s campaign spokesman said the Governor was focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and instructed his campaign to cease fundraising. Thrasher said his campaign would focus on helping West Virginians through the pandemic.

The May 12 primary will be open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. No Republican has won election as governor of West Virginia since Cecil Underwood in 1996. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 69% to 27%. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party on August 3, 2017.

Legislatures

Oklahoma Republicans pick up Democratic House seat at the filing deadline

The filing deadline to run in Oklahoma’s state legislative races passed on April 10 and Republicans are already set to gain one seat currently held by a Democrat. 

House District 7’s current representative, Ben Loring (D), did not seek re-election. The only candidate filed to run in District 7 at the deadline was Steve Bashore (R). As the only candidate running for the seat, Bashore will likely be elected in November.

At the deadline, 46 of the legislature’s 147 incumbents have no opponents in either the primary or general elections, likely guaranteeing they will win re-election. Of those 46 incumbents, 41 are Republicans and 5 are Democrats. Republicans currently hold supermajorities in both the House (77-22) and Senate (38-9).

Two county commissioners will meet in WA state Senate primary

Washington’s state Senate District 19 will have a Republican primary between two commissioners—Wes Cormier (R) and Jeff Wilson (R)—after Wilson announced he would challenge Cormier in the Aug. 4 primary.

Cormier has been a Grays Harbor County commissioner since 2012. Before his election, he worked as a real estate appraiser. As a county commissioner, Cormier said he opposed the use of eminent domain and supported relief for flood victims. Cormier said, “I will continue to advocate for access to public lands and protect your property rights.”

Wilson was elected to the Port of Longview Commission in 2015 and currently serves as its vice president. Wilson said he led efforts to reduce taxes, bring jobs to southwest Washington, and eliminate fees. Wilson’s website says, “Jobs and an economy that is stable and sure are critical components to Jeff’s goals for the district.”

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face the incumbent, Sen. Dean Takko (D). Takko was appointed to the seat in 2015 and elected to a full four-year term in 2016. The filing deadline is May 15.

Special election set to fill vacancy in GA Senate District 4

On Monday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced that a special election to fill the vacant 4th Senate District seat will be held on June 9. The District’s former incumbent, Sen. Jack Hill (R) died April 6. Candidates were given until Wednesday to pay the filing fee necessary to appear on the special election ballot.

So far, three candidates—Scott Bohlke (R), Billy Hickman (R), and Kathy Palmer (R)—have qualified for the special election.

Hill was first elected in 1990 as a Democrat before switching parties following his 2002 re-election. He was serving his fifteenth two-year term, making him the state’s longest-serving state Senator at the time of his death.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Hill’s term. A separate regularly scheduled general election for a full, two-year term will be held Nov. 3.

Power players

“VIEW PAC strives to support credible, electable Republican women running for federal office and encourages others to do the same.  What began as a way to raise money and contribute money now also serves as a network of people who care about helping other women succeed.  More women are taking the leap to run for federal office, in part because they believe they will have the support they need to be successful.” – VIEW PAC website 

Founded in 1997, the Value In Electing Women Political Action Committee (VIEW PAC) says its mission is “to raise money for direct financial contributions to viable Republican women candidates for Congress.” According to the VIEW PAC website, the group has raised over $8.5 million for candidates since its founding. The organization says, “Our singular goal is to strategically provide financial support where and when it is needed most; whether it be for a vulnerable incumbent or a competitive candidate.”

VIEW PAC says it does not have a litmus test for the candidates it supports. Click here to see the 50 congressional candidates currently supported by the organization.