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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #262: June 8, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in Hawaii and New York
  • A law prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements in Texas
  • Vaccine distribution
  • Lawsuits about state actions and policies 
  • State-level mask requirements
  • Diagnosed or quarantined public officials
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered yesterday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Hawaii (Democratic trifecta): 

  • Gov. David Ige (D) announced social gathering limits will expand to 25 people indoors and 75 outdoors when 60% of state residents are fully vaccinated. Restaurants will also be able to expand to 75% capacity.
  • Ige said all social gathering and capacity restrictions will end once 70% of state residents are fully vaccinated.

New York (Democratic trifecta): 

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced most coronavirus restrictions will end once 70% of adults 18 and older receive at least one dose of a vaccine. New York Forward guidance will be optional for businesses like restaurants, retailers, and gyms. Masks will still be required for unvaccinated residents, and restrictions will remain in place for large event venues, correctional facilities, and healthcare facilities. 
  • Cuomo also announced school districts can choose to end the indoor mask requirement. 

Texas (Republican trifecta): On Monday, June 7, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill prohibiting state and local government agencies from issuing COVID-19 documentation that could be used to verify a person’s vaccination status. The bill also prohibits government agencies and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to receive services or enter the premises. Abbott previously issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies and businesses that receive state funding from requiring proof of vaccination. 

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On June 7, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced “Joints for Jabs,” an initiative to encourage adults 21 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Under the initiative, adults who receive at least one dose of a vaccine are eligible to get a free marijuana joint from a state-licensed dispensary. 

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the June 3 edition of the newsletter. As of June 7, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

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 1,804 lawsuits, in 50 states, dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 541 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since June 1, we have added no new lawsuits to our database. We have also tracked no additional court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Noem v. Haaland: On June 2, Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota rejected South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) attempt to hold a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to commemorate the Fourth of July. Lange, an appointee of President Barack Obama (D), denied Noem’s request for a preliminary injunction after the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) denied the fireworks display. The Interior Department cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other environmental, cultural, and safety concerns. Noem alleged DOI’s permit rejection letter was “a patchwork of vague and speculative purported concerns” that violated a memorandum of understanding between the state and the Trump administration. Noem said the 2020 fireworks display “was a rousing success, and not a single COVID-19 case was traced back to it.” Lange wrote that “under governing law, the State is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims and has not met the requirements” to prove DOI acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner. Noem said she would appeal the decision: “[w]e will continue fighting to once again return fireworks to Mount Rushmore.”

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the June 1 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Ohio’s statewide mask mandate ended June 2. 

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

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

  • Federal
    • Three federal officials have died of COVID-19.
    • Sixty-five members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Ten state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • Two hundred thirty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Eighty-six state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least five local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 43 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since June 1, no candidates or officeholders have been diagnosed with, died from, or quarantined because of COVID-19.

This time last year: Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020:

  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ended the state’s stay-at-home order. Murphy first issued the order on March 21. 
  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense announced it was lifting travel restrictions on installations in 38 states, Washington D.C., and five countries (Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Japan). Service members could travel between those areas without needing permission. The Department maintained travel restrictions for a dozen states.


Four states have enacted donor disclosure laws so far in 2021

Four states have enacted donor disclosure laws so far in 2021

As we move into June, legislative session activity is beginning to wind down. As of June 8, 17 state legislatures are still in regular session, two are in special session, and the rest have adjourned. So far this year, four states – Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Tennessee – have enacted legislation prohibiting public agencies from disclosing identifying information about a nonprofit’s donors. Today, we take a look back at those bills. 

What the bills do

The four enacted bills are Arkansas SB535, Iowa HF309, South Dakota SB103, and Tennessee HB0159. While their details vary, they all prohibit public agencies from:

  • Requiring a tax-exempt nonprofit to provide a public agency with personal information about its donors, members, supporters, or volunteers. 
  • Requiring individuals to provide personal identifying information about their involvement with nonprofits.
  • Publicly disclosing any personal information a public agency might possess. 
  • Requiring a current or prospective contractor to provide a public agency with a list of the nonprofits the contractor has supported.

The bills do not bar public agencies from releasing personal information about a nonprofit’s donors, supporters, etc. pursuant to an active law enforcement investigation or a lawful warrant, subpoena, or other court order.

Enactment dates for these bills are as follows:

Political context   

Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, and Tennessee are all Republican trifectas. This means that Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature.

Other noteworthy developments

On April 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, a case involving a California law that requires nonprofits to file copies of their IRS 990 forms with the state. This includes Schedule B, which contains the names and addresses of all individuals who donated more than $5,000 to the nonprofit in a given tax year. Although the law does not allow the public access to Schedule B information, court documents show that inadvertent disclosures have occurred. 

In 2014, Americans for Prosperity challenged the law in U.S. district court, triggering a series of legal developments spanning several years. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make its ruling in the case sometime before the end of the month. 

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 38 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. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

For complete information on all of the bills we are tracking, click here

  • California SB686: This bill would require a limited liability company that qualifies as a committee or a sponsor of a committee under the state’s campaign finance laws to file a statement of members with the secretary of state. The statement of members must include a list of all persons who have a membership interest in the limited liability company of at least 10% or who made a cumulative capital contribution of at least $1,000 to the company after it qualified as a committee or sponsor of a committee, or within the 2 calendar years before it qualified..
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • The Senate passed the bill on June 2. It is now pending in the Assembly.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations. 



The Daily Brew: Colorado legislature passes bill to remove bond issue from 2021 ballot

Welcome to the Tuesday, June 8, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Colorado legislature passes bill to remove bond issue from 2021 ballot
  2. Reviewing the results from Texas’ municipal runoff elections on June 5
  3. New Jersey, Virginia holding statewide primary elections today

Colorado legislature passes bill to remove bond issue from 2021 ballot

We regularly cover the certification of new ballot measures here in the Brew. What happens less frequently is when a legislature removes a measure from the ballot that it had previously certified. Let me catch you up on the details.

The Colorado General Assembly passed a transportation funding bill on June 2, providing $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. It would also remove a transportation bond issue from the November ballot. Governor Jared Polis (D) is expected to sign the legislation, which was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bill would create new sources of dedicated funding for transportation and four new government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge. About $3.8 of the $5.4 billion in funds will come from new fees that take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The transportation bond measure would have issued $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years. The General Assembly first approved it in 2018 and put it on the 2019 ballot. Voters defeated two citizen initiatives that would have authorized transportation bonds in 2018. In 2019, the legislature delayed the measure to the 2020 ballot. In 2020, the General Assembly voted to delay the measure to 2021 due to economic concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

I asked our ballot measures director, Josh Altic, if he could recall other instances where a legislature approved and then removed a measure from the ballot. Here was his response: 

Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on July 30 that the state was removing a $3.0 billion bond measure from the 2020 ballot for projects related to the environment, natural resources, water infrastructure, and climate change mitigation. The legislature had approved the bond measure in April 2020, but the state budget director removed the measure after determining it would harm the state’s finances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislature had authorized the state budget director to make such a determination when it approved budget legislation last year.

In 2016, the Arizona legislature initially approved a measure that would have required revenue from the sale or use of state trust land to be earmarked for managing and improving the lands. Later that year, the legislature passed a bill ordering the secretary of state to remove the measure from the ballot. 

So, it’s not especially common, but it does happen.

If the Colorado bond measure is removed from the ballot, 24 statewide ballot measures will go before voters this year in six states, including 11 which were decided earlier this year in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The chart below shows the number of measures appearing on statewide ballots in odd years from 1987 to 2017.

Read on

Reviewing the results from Texas’ municipal runoff elections on June 5 

Several cities in Texas held municipal runoff elections on June 5. Here’s a review of the results our team tracked over the weekend:

Fort Worth Mayor

Mattie Parker defeated Deborah Peoples, 54% to 46%. Incumbent Betsy Price (R) did not run for re-election. Parker had endorsements from Price, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), the Dallas Morning News, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Arlington Mayor

Attorney Jim Ross defeated former city council member Michael Glaspie, 54% to 46%, in the city’s first open-seat mayoral election since 2003. Incumbent Jeff Williams (R) was term-limited. Ross had endorsements from Williams and four of the city’s police unions. 

Dallas City Council

Voters decided elections for six of 14 seats on the Dallas City Council. Of three races involving incumbents, one lost and two won. Three districts were open-seat contests because the incumbents were term-limited. After the elections, new members will hold four of the council’s 14 seats.

New Jersey, Virginia holding statewide primary elections today

Election day! The two states holding gubernatorial elections this year—New Jersey and Virginia—are both holding statewide primaries today—on June 8. Here’s a quick look at what voters are deciding in those states:

New Jersey

New Jersey is holding primaries for governor and all seats in both chambers of the state legislature—40 in the Senate and 80 in the Assembly. Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces one write-in candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Four candidates are competing for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. We’re also covering local primaries for Essex County sheriff and Hudson County register. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Virginia

Virginia voters are deciding Democratic primaries for three state executive offices, with five candidates running for governor, six for lieutenant governor, and two for attorney general. Both parties are holding primaries for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. The cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach are also conducting municipal primaries. The Republican Party of Virginia selected its nominees for the three statewide executive offices at an unassembled convention on May 8. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Virginia. 

Find out what’s on your ballot 



Bold Justice: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for June 1

Bold Justice

Welcome to the June 7 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Argument sessions may be in SCOTUS’ rearview mirror, but the court is rolling through opinion season before cruising into its summer recess. So let’s open the sunroof, turn up the jams, and hit the road.

Stay up to date on the latest news by following Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribing to the Daily Brew.

Grants

SCOTUS accepted four cases to its merits docket since our May 10 issue. To date, the court has agreed to hear 18 cases for the upcoming 2021-2022 term, scheduled to begin on October 4, 2021. 

  • Badgerow v. Walters concerns the federal courts’ jurisdiction to confirm or vacate an arbitration award under the Federal Arbitration Act. Badgerow originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
  • Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization concerns the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law prohibiting abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of medical emergencies or fetal abnormalities. The case is a direct challenge to the court’s decision in the case Roe v. Wade (1973). The question presented is “[w]hether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Dobbs originated from the 5th Circuit.
  • Shinn v. Ramirez concerns the scope of evidence a federal appellate court can consider when reviewing a petition for habeas relief. The question presented is “[d]oes application of the equitable rule this Court announced in Martinez v. Ryan render 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(2) inapplicable to a federal court’s merits review of a claim for habeas relief?” Shinn originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
  • Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP concerns copyright infringement claims involving fabric designs. The question presented to the court is “[d]id the Ninth Circuit err in breaking with its own prior precedent and the findings of other circuits and the Copyright Office in holding that 17 U.S.C. § 411 requires referral to the Copyright Office where there is no indicia of fraud or material error as to the work at issue in the subject copyright registration?” Unicolors originated from the 9th Circuit.

Opinions

SCOTUS has issued opinions in 10 cases since our May 10 issue. The court has issued 42 opinions so far in this term. Seven cases were decided without argument. Of the cases that were argued during the term, 22 have yet to be decided. 

Click the links below to review the court’s rulings in the most recently decided cases:

May 17, 2021

May 24, 2021

May 27, 2021

June 1, 2021

June 3, 2021

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • June 7: SCOTUS will release orders.
  • June 10: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices. 
  • June 14: SCOTUS will release orders.
  • June 17: SCOTUS will conference.
  • June 21: SCOTUS will release orders.
  • June 24: SCOTUS will conference.
  • June 28: SCOTUS will release orders.

Only one U.S. President has also served as a Supreme Court justice. Who was it?

  1. Grover Cleveland
  2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  3. Woodrow Wilson
  4. William Howard Taft

Choose an answer to find out!

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 1 to June 1. 

Highlights

Vacancy count for June 1, 2021

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

Six judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, the president nominates individuals to fill the vacancies. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies in the United States Courts of Appeals from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of June 1, 2021.

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) has announced six new nominations since the April 2021 report.

New confirmations

As of June 1, 2021, there have been no federal judicial confirmations during the Biden administration.

As of June 1 of the first year of President Donald Trump’s (R) presidency, the U.S. Senate had confirmed two of Trump’s Article III judicial nominees.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Hello, gentle readers! We resume our travels through federal judicial history via TWA flight and, oh my, is that a space race going on? Today’s edition of Bold Justice highlights President John F. Kennedy’s (D) federal judicial nominees from 1961 to 1963.


One hundred twenty-five of President Kennedy’s judicial nominees were confirmed. The U.S. Senate did not vote on 23 of the nominees. Among the most notable appointees were Supreme Court Justices Arthur Goldberg and Byron White. Both justices were nominated and commissioned in 1962.

President Kennedy’s first Article III appointee was confirmed on March 3, 1961—Judge William McRae to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. By the end of his first year in office, 56 of Kennedy’s nominees had been confirmed–11 to U.S. circuit court judgeships and 45 to U.S. district court seats. Kennedy averaged 44 judicial appointments per year. For comparison, President Jimmy Carter (D) had the highest average from 1901 to 2021 with 65.5 appointments per year.

We’ll be back on July 12 with a new edition of Bold Justice. Until then, gaveling out! 

Contributions

Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter, with contributions from Brittony Maag, Jace Lington, and Sara Reynolds.



Senate expected to vote today on first Biden judicial appointments

Welcome to the Monday, June 7, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Senate set to confirm first federal judges appointed by President Biden
  2. COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week
  3. Noah Valenstein resigns as secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection

Senate set to confirm first federal judges appointed by President Biden

The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation of Julien Xavier Neals and Regina Rodriguez to federal district court judgeships in New Jersey and Colorado, respectively. Both were part of President Joe Biden’s (D) initial group of 10 judicial nominations announced in March. Xavier Neals and Rodriguez were nominated to federal judgeships by President Barack Obama (D), and both nominations were returned when the 114th Congress adjourned in January 2017.

Today is 138 days since Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20. Below is a breakdown of when the Senate confirmed each president’s first Article III federal judge: 

Since 1980, Reagan made the most appointments during his first year with 41. Obama made the fewest with 13. The Senate confirmed 19 Article III federal judges that Trump appointed during his first year in office.

Since taking office, Biden has nominated 19 individuals to federal judgeships, including six judges on federal appeals courts, 13 on federal district courts, and one Washington, D.C., superior justice. There are currently 81 vacancies among Article III federal judges. Three of Biden’s nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote in the full U.S. Senate, four are awaiting a committee vote, and 12 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The chart below details the number of Article III judicial appointments during each president’s first term as of June 1 of their first year and December 31 of their fourth year. 

Link

COVID-19 policy changes and events one year ago this week 

Here are the latest tidbits in our series highlighting coronavirus-related policy changes and events that happened this time last year.

  • Federal government responses:
    • The Department of Defense announced on June 9 that it was lifting travel restrictions on installations in 38 states, Washington D.C., and five countries (Bahrain, Belgium, Germany, the U.K., and Japan). Travel restrictions remained in place in 12 states.
  • Stay-at-home orders:
    • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) ended the state’s stay-at-home order on June 9, which was first issued on March 21. 
  • Travel restrictions
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced on June 11 that he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state and returning travelers through July 31. He first issued the two-week quarantine requirement on March 17.
  • Election changes:
    • North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed legislation on June 12 reducing the witness signature requirement on completed absentee ballots from two to one.

Noah Valenstein resigns as secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein resigned on June 4. He had led the agency since former Gov. Rick Scott (R) appointed him to that office on May 23, 2017. The secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection heads the agency responsible for protecting the state’s natural resources, enforcing environmental laws, and overseeing Florida’s state parks and trails system.

Florida’s Secretary of Environmental Protection is an example of a natural resources commissioner, which is an office that exists in 49 states. Five states—Arkansas, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington—publicly elect a natural resources commissioner. Arkansas, South Dakota, and New Mexico divide these duties between two offices; a nonpartisan office appointed by the governor and a partisan office filled via election. In all other states, the office is nonpartisan and appointed.

Link



The State and Local Tap: New Jersey, Virginia to hold statewide primaries June 8

The State and Local Tap

Our weekly summary of state & local news previews the statewide primaries in New Jersey and Virginia on June 8, municipal election runoffs taking place on June 5 in Texas, and updates to the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

New Jersey, Virginia to hold statewide primaries

New Jersey and Virginia will both hold statewide primaries on June 8. New Jersey will hold primaries for governor, state Senate, and state House. Virginia will hold Democratic primaries for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Both parties will hold primaries for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in New Jersey and from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Virginia. 

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces a write-in candidate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R), 56% to 42%, in the 2017 general election to win his first term. Four candidates—Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh—are competing for the Republican nomination. All 40 seats in the New Jersey State Senate and all 80 seats in the New Jersey General Assembly are up for election in 2021. Two local elections are also taking place, with Essex County holding a primary for county sheriff and Hudson County holding a primary for county register. 

In Virginia, five candidates are running in the Democratic primary for governor, six in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, and two in the Democratic primary for attorney general. Glenn Youngkin defeated six candidates in the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention on May 8 to become that party’s gubernatorial nominee. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are up for election in 2021. The cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach will also hold municipal election primaries.

Voters in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas to decide municipal runoff elections on June 5

The cities of Fort Worth, Arlington, and Dallas, Texas, will hold runoff elections for municipal offices on June 5. 

Fort Worth

Voters will decide between Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker in Fort Worth’s mayoral election. Incumbent Betsy Price (R), the longest-serving mayor in Fort Worth’s history, chose not to seek re-election to a sixth two-year term. Peoples and Parker advanced to the runoff after receiving 34% and 31% of the vote, respectively, in the city’s ten-way May 1 general election.

While mayoral elections in Fort Worth are nonpartisan, Peoples, an AT&T executive, was chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party before the mayoral election. Parker, an attorney and former city chief of staff, received endorsements from noteworthy Republicans, including Price and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Voters will also decide runoff elections in four city council races, two of which feature incumbents and two of which are open seats.

Arlington

Voters will decide between Mike Glaspie and Jim Ross in Arlington’s first open-seat mayoral election since 2003. Incumbent Jeff Williams (R) is term-limited. Glaspie and Ross advanced to the runoff after receiving the two largest vote totals in the seven-way May 1 general election. Ross placed first with 47.9% of the vote followed by Glaspie with 21.3%. 

While mayoral elections in Arlington are officially nonpartisan, the Arlington Spectator, a local blog, posted a spreadsheet showing that Glaspie had voted in two of the previous six Republican primaries and Ross had voted in two of the previous six Democratic primaries. The mayorship in Arlington has been held by Republicans since at least 2003, making it one of 25 of the country’s largest 100 cities led by a Republican mayor.

Dallas

Six of Dallas’ 14 city council seats advanced to runoff elections. Three races are for open seats and three feature an incumbent. During the May 1 general election, eight incumbents won re-election outright.

In Districts 2, 11, and 13, incumbent council members are not running for re-election due to term limits. Incumbents advanced to runoff elections in Districts 4, 7, and 14. 

Voters can remove signatures on Newsom recall petitions until June 8

Voters who signed a recall petition targeting California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have until June 8 to request to have their signatures removed. At that point, if at least 1,495,709 signatures remain, the recall election will be certified and proceed to a budgeting and scheduling phase. If certified, political analysts expect the recall to take place in October or November 2021.

So far, 37 candidates have officially filed with the California secretary of state to run in the recall election. Among those candidates are eight Democrats, 17 Republicans, two Green Party candidates, and a Libertarian Party candidate. The remaining candidates filed with no party preference. Ballotpedia has tracked an additional 14 candidates who have declared their intent to run in the recall election but have not yet officially filed. In the 2003 recall election, 135 candidates ran.

Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall a sitting California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D) and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).

Ballot Measures Update

Twenty-five statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in six states so far.

Two new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week: 

Forty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 25 states so far.

One new measure was certified for the 2022 ballot last week: Louisiana Increase Maximum Amount Invested in Equities for Certain State Funds Amendment (2022).

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for three additional 2022 initiatives in California and Michigan.

Mike Hunter resigns as Oklahoma attorney general

Mike Hunter (R) resigned as attorney general of Oklahoma on June 1. Hunter cited “personal matters that are becoming public” as the reason for his resignation. The Oklahoman reported that Hunter allegedly had an affair with another state employee.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) appointed Hunter attorney general in 2017 after former state Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) was sworn in as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hunter was elected to a full term in 2018. 

The attorney general is an elected position in 43 states and the District of Columbia, including Oklahoma. When a vacancy occurs in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, the governor appoints a successor to serve until the next election. 

Ohio, Rhode Island end face-covering mandates 

Gov. Mike DeWine (R) ended Ohio’s statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on June 2, along with most of the state’s other COVID-19 health orders. An order requiring masks at healthcare facilities and nursing homes, however, remains in effect. 

Governor Dan McKee (D) ended Rhode Island’s statewide outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on June 2. McKee did not revise or end the indoor mask mandate, which applies only to unvaccinated individuals as of May 18.  

In total, 39 states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. At the time of writing, 15 states had statewide mask orders, including 13 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 15 states with statewide mask orders, at least 13 states exempted fully vaccinated residents from most indoor and outdoor masking requirements.

States in session

Seventeen states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Colorado Supreme Court strikes down proposed bill providing directions to state’s redistricting commissions

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on June 1 that Senate Bill (SB) 21-247, a bill that would have directed the state’s redistricting commissions “to take certain actions to account for census data delays,” would violate the state constitution. Specifically, SB 21-247 would have instructed the commissions to develop preliminary redistricting plans “using the data on the total population by state that will be released by the Census Bureau on April 30, 2021, and other population and demographic data from federal or state sources that are approved by the commissions.” 

The court ruled 5-2 on the matter, with Justice Monica Márquez writing the court’s opinion. Márquez noted that, because the constitutional amendments (Amendments Y and Z) forming the redistricting commissions did not require the “exclusive use of final census data,” the commissions were “thus free to consult other reliable sources of population data.” 

Special Elections

Thirty-eight state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 16 states so far this year. Twenty-seven special elections have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 13 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 14. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

June 8

June 12

June 15

Ruth Ruggero Hughs resigns as Texas secretary of state

Ruth Ruggero Hughs resigned as Texas secretary of state effective May 31, after the Nominations Committee of the state Senate did not take up her nomination for another term. Hughs previously served as the chair of the Texas Workforce Commission.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appointed Hughs on August 19, 2019, to succeed David Whitley after he did not receive enough confirmation votes from the state Senate to remain in office. 

The Texas secretary of state serves as the chief election officer for Texas, assists election officials at the county level, and ensures that election laws are uniform throughout Texas. Additionally, the secretary publishes government rules and regulations and commissions notaries public. Texas is one of nine states to select its secretary of state by gubernatorial appointment. So far, Gov. Abbott has appointed four secretaries of state.

Maryland to end $300 pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits on July 3

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced that Maryland would end its participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs, which included a $300 weekly add-on to state unemployment benefits, on July 3.  Hogan also said he would reinstate weekly work-search requirements starting July 4. 

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) was the first governor to announce on May 4 that his state would opt out of the federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits programs on June 30. Twenty-five states—all with Republican governors—have announced plans to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits related to COVID-19. Two states that have Republican governors have not announced an end to federal pandemic-related unemployment programs.

The American Rescue Plan, signed on March 11, 2021, extended federal unemployment benefit programs related to the coronavirus pandemic, including the federal government’s $300 per week add-on to state unemployment benefits, through Sept. 6, 2021.



The Federal Tap: Stansbury wins special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District

The Federal Tap

Our weekly summary of federal news looks at the resignation of U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers and the latest on the nomination of Eric Lander as OSTP director. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Melanie Ann Stansbury wins special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District

Melanie Ann Stansbury (D) defeated Mark Moores (R) and four other candidates in the special election in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District on June 1. According to The New York Times, Stansbury received 60.3% of the vote to Moores’ 35.7%. 

The election took place after the U.S. Senate confirmed Debra Haaland (D) as Secretary of the Interior on March 15. In the 2020 general election, Haaland defeated Michelle Garcia Holmes (R), 58% to 42%. 

Stansbury has served in the New Mexico House of Representatives since 2019. She received endorsements from Haaland, President Joe Biden (D), EMILY’s List, and the Sierra Club.

Stansbury led in fundraising and spending. According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, as of May 12 she had $1,348,453 in receipts and $874,861 in disbursements. Moores had raised $595,423 and spent $469,868.

The outcome of this race affected partisan control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 117th Congress. Leading up to the election, Democrats had a 219 to 211 majority over Republicans. When Stansbury is sworn in, Democrats will expand their majority to 220-211.

As of June 1, seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress. This year, voters have decided two such elections—in Louisiana’s Second and Fifth Districts—with the special election in Texas’ Sixth District to be decided in a July 27 runoff. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.

Eric Lander sworn in to Biden’s Cabinet as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Eric Lander was sworn in as the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy on June 2. The Senate confirmed him on May 28 by a voice vote. President Biden (D) elevated the office to a Cabinet-level position for the first time in U.S. history.

Lander, a geneticist, molecular biologist, and mathematician, served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. 

One position within Biden’s Cabinet remains unfilled: director of the Office of Management and Budget. Neera Tanden, Biden’s original nominee for the position, withdrew from consideration on March 2 following bipartisan opposition to her nomination. Biden has not yet named a replacement nominee. Shalanda Young is the acting director of the agency.

Where was the president last week?

  • On Monday, Biden gave a Memorial Day Address at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. 
  • On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
  • On Wednesday, Biden began the day in Washington, D.C., and traveled to his beach home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  
  • On Thursday, Biden remained in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. 
  • On Friday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C.

Federal Judiciary

  • 85 federal judicial vacancies
  • 17 pending nominations
  • 28 future federal judicial vacancies

Supreme Court issues rulings in three cases

The U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings in three cases last week. The court released its opinion in Garland v. Dai (consolidated with Garland v. Alcaraz-Enriquez) and United States v. Cooley on June 1 and Van Buren v. United States on June 3. As of June 3, the court had issued opinions in 42 cases this term. Seven cases were decided without argument.

Garland v. Dai concerned the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifically relating to the credibility of an immigrant’s testimony before an immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. In a unanimous opinion, the court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the 9th Circuit’s deemed-true-or-credible rule in immigration disputes cannot be reconciled with the INA’s terms. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the majority opinion of the court.

United States v. Cooley concerned the scope of tribal law enforcement officers’ search-and-seizure authority. In a unanimous opinion, the court vacated the 9th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that an Indian tribe’s police officer does have authority to search and temporarily detain a non-Indian traveling on a public right-of-way that runs through Indian territory. Justice Stephen Breyer delivered the opinion of the court.

Van Buren v. United States concerned the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). In a 6-3 opinion, the court reversed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that an individual “exceeds authorized access” under the CFAA when they access a computer with authorization but then obtain information located in computer files, folders, or databases that are off-limits to them. Justice Amy Coney Barrett authored the majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.

Supreme Court to hear case regarding copyright infringement next term

The U.S. Supreme Court released orders on June 1, granting one new case for argument during the upcoming 2021-2022 term

Unicolors, Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, LP originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and concerns copyright infringement claims involving fabric designs and copyright registration validity.

In 2011, fabric design corporation Unicolors, Inc. (“Unicolors”) registered copyrights for a group of 31 designs, nine of which were “confined” designs, reserved for specific customers’ exclusive use. In 2015, clothing retailer and designer H&M sold apparel using a design that Unicolors later alleged in U.S. district court was an infringement on Unicolors’ copyrighted designs. A jury found H&M liable for willful infringement. H&M appealed to the 9th Circuit, claiming that Unicolors’ copyright registration included false information. The 9th Circuit concluded that Unicolors’ copyright application had known inaccuracies, reversed the district court’s judgment, and remanded the case for further proceedings.

When SCOTUS accepted the case, it limited review to the first question presented to the court: Whether the 9th Circuit erred in holding that 17 U.S.C. §411 required referral to the Copyright Office where there is no indication of fraud or material error related to the work at issue in the copyright registration?

To date, the court has agreed to hear 18 cases during the October 2021 term. One case was dismissed after it was granted.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 52%, congressional approval at 25%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 52% approval and 43% disapproval as of June 3. At this time last month, his approval rating was also at 52%.

Biden’s highest approval rating during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. The lowest approval rating is 51%, last seen on March 29.

Congressional approval is at 25% and disapproval is at 59%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 27%.

The 117th Congress’ highest approval rating is 30%, last seen on May 11. The lowest approval rating is 20%, last seen on March 3.
At this time during former President Donald Trump’s (R) tenure, presidential approval was at 40% and congressional approval was at 17%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #260: June 4, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • Changes in coronavirus restrictions in New Jersey
  • A vaccine incentive initiative in Washington
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered yesterday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

Vermont (divided government): On Friday, June 4, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced a series of weekend pop-up vaccination clinics around the state. The clinics are part of an effort to get 80% of eligible residents inoculated with at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Scott has said that if the state reaches that 80% threshold, then he would end remaining COVID-19 restrictions. At the time of the announcement, the state said 78.6% of residents had received at least one shot.  

New York (Democratic trifecta): On June 3, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a pop-up vaccination site in Belmont Park to coincide with the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. On June 4 from noon to 6 p.m. and June 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., individuals can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine along with free general admission to next year’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Arizona (Republican trifecta): On June 3, the Arizona Health Department announced state-run vaccination sites would be closing by June 28. Vaccines will continue to be administered after that date at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, community health centers, and pop-up vaccination sites.

California (Democratic trifecta): On June 3, the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board passed rules requiring masks to be worn in workplaces where not all employees are fully vaccinated beyond June 15, the planned date for California to end its statewide mask mandate.

Maryland (divided government): On Thursday, June 3, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced the state will begin closing its mass vaccination sites. A site in Aberdeen will close June 19, with others around the state closing on July 2, July 3, and July 17. A few have not been given closing dates. Hogan said the state would shift resources to community and mobile clinics. 

New Jersey (Democratic trifecta): On June 4, all remaining gathering limits ended in the state, and capacity restrictions on large indoor venues (with fixed seating capacity of 1,000 people or more) were lifted.

Washington (Democratic trifecta): On Thursday, June 3, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced “Shot of a Lifetime,” a vaccine incentive initiative to encourage residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccinated individuals will be automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a $250,000 cash prize, culminating in a final drawing at the end of the month for a $1,000,000 prize. Vaccinated residents could also win higher education tuition credits, airline and sports game tickets, and gift cards. 

This time last year: Friday, June 5, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Friday, June 5, 2020:

  • Travel restrictions
    • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that travelers from Louisiana would no longer need to self-quarantine for 14 days. The requirements remained in effect for visitors from Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.
    • Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that he would lift the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers from counties across New England with similar COVID-19 caseloads to Vermont’s on June 8. Additionally, on June 8, Vermont residents would be allowed to travel to the non-quarantine counties and return home without quarantining for 14 days.
  • Election changes:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed HB751 into law, extending the candidate qualifying deadline for the Nov. 3, 2020, election to July 24.
  • Federal government responses:
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would resume committal services in all but two VA national cemeteries on June 9.


Union Station: Missouri Supreme Court voids public-sector collective bargaining law

Missouri Supreme Court voids public-sector collective bargaining law 

On June 1, the Missouri Supreme Court voted 5-2 to uphold a lower court ruling overturning a 2018 state law that exempted public safety labor unions from new requirements applying to other public-sector unions. 

House Bill No.1413 was a Republican-sponsored public-sector collective bargaining law that exempted public safety and department of corrections unions and employees from regulations such as requiring unions to obtain annual authorization from employees before withholding union dues. The bill was enacted in June 2018 with an effective date of Aug. 28. 

On Aug. 27, 2018, seven public-sector unions sued to block the new law, arguing that it was unconstitutional. On Jan. 27, 2020, St. Louis County Circuit Judge Joseph Walsh declared the law void and prohibited the state from enforcing it. According to the Supreme Court’s summary:

The circuit court granted summary judgment in the labor unions’ favor, finding various provisions of HB 1413 violated public-sector employees’ constitutional rights to collective bargaining and free speech and could not be severed from the remainder of the bill. The circuit court, therefore, permanently enjoined enforcement of HB 1413 in its entirety.

The state appealed the decision to the Missouri Supreme Court in March 2020. The court heard arguments in November 2020 and issued its decision on June 1. Writing for the court, Judge Mary R. Russell said:

The exemption of public safety labor organizations violates principles of equal protection. The exemption of public safety labor organizations permeates throughout HB 1413 and reaches all provisions. The operation of this exemption forces this Court to declare HB 1413 void in its entirety rather than sever the offending provision. The circuit court’s judgment is affirmed.

Russell, who joined the court in 2004 after being appointed by Gov. Bob Holden (D), was joined by Chief Justice George Draper (appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon (D) in 2011), Judge Paul Wilson (appointed by Nixon in 2012), Judge Patricia Breckenridge (appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R) in 2007), and former Judge Laura Denvir Stith (appointed by Holden in 2001).

Judges W. Brent Powell and Zel Fischer dissented. Gov. Eric Greitens (R) appointed Powell to the court in 2017. Blunt appointed Fischer in 2008. 

Powell wrote:

This Court’s role is not to determine whether the solution raised by the legislature is perfectly suited to the problem it purports to solve; rather, as long as the reason for distinguishing between public safety and non-public safety unions is plausible, there exists a rational basis for treating these labor organizations differently under the law. … Here, the distinctions between the public employees the separate labor groups wholly or primarily serve provides plausible explanations and justifications for the dissimilar regulatory framework for public safety and nonpublic safety labor groups and is not unconstitutional.

According to research published in Ballotpedia Courts: Determiners and Dissenters, judges Powell and Fisher were the two judges who allied most often with each other in 2020, agreeing in 52 of the 58 cases the court decided that year. 

In Missouri, the governor, with the assistance of a nominating commission, appoints judges to 12-year terms. After serving at least one year on the court, appointed judges must stand for election to remain on the bench.

The case name and number are Missouri National Education Association, et al. v. Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, et al., Ferguson-Florissant School District, et al. (No. SC98412). 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 92 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. 

  • Illinois HB2521: This bill would allow electronic signatures on petitions submitted for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. It would allow certification elections to be conducted electronically. It would also prohibit an employer from promising or taking action against an employee for participating in a strike.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • House passed May 30.  
  • Maryland HB894: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Maryland SB746: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for certain community college employees.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Maryland SB9: This bill would make revisions to the collective bargaining process for employees of the University System of Maryland.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) vetoed May 28. 
  • Oregon SB580: This bill would amend the law’s definition of “employment relations” to include class size and caseload limits as mandatory collective bargaining subjects for school districts.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Second reading in House June 1. 



Our latest primary competitiveness report

Welcome to the Friday, June 4, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 79% of New Jersey state legislative incumbents won’t face a contested primary this year
  2. Idaho governor rescinds lieutenant governor’s executive order banning mask mandates
  3. Sports betting initiative qualifies for 2022 ballot in California

79% of New Jersey state legislative incumbents won’t face a contested primary this year

Every year, our team of election analysts crunches the numbers on contested primaries. In odd years, it is a much easier task, with only two states holding regular state legislative elections in NovemberNew Jersey and Virginia. Let’s take a look at the figures.

  • Ninety percent of state legislative incumbents in New Jersey are seeking re-election this year. Of these 108 incumbents, 79%—85 legislators—will advance to the general election without a primary challenge.
  • The remaining 23 incumbents—nine Democrats and 14 Republicans—will face contested primaries on June 8.

An incumbent primary defeat—along with retirements and general election losses—contributes to the overall incumbent turnover during each election cycle. The most common cause of incumbent turnover is retirement, which, over the past decade, accounted for 70% of all state legislative turnover. Primary election defeats—at 10%—were the least common cause of turnover.

Primary election defeats of incumbents in New Jersey are especially rare. Since 2011, one state legislative incumbent has lost a primary: Assemb. Joe Howarth, who lost in a 2019 Republican primary.

Contested incumbent primaries became more common in New Jersey during the 2017 state legislative elections. In 2019, a third of incumbents faced primary challenges—the highest rate this decade. The rate decreased to around one-fifth of all incumbents facing contested primaries in 2021 but remains higher than rates from the first half of the past decade.

Virginia is also holding elections for its House of Delegates this year. Based on preliminary data, the state could have a decade-high rate of incumbents facing contested primaries at 18.1%. Out of 100 incumbents, 94 are seeking re-election, and 17 will face contested primaries. Political parties in Virginia use a mixture of primaries and conventions to select nominees. All primaries will take place on June 8. Each party’s district units chose the dates of their conventions. Ballotpedia will update its primary competitiveness data for Virginia as it becomes available.

Ballotpedia has analyzed competitiveness in state legislative elections every year since 2011. Our analysis of last year’s data found that 79.7% of state legislative incumbents advanced to the general election without a primary challenge, which was up from 78.1% in 2018. Interested in the data from your state? Click here to read our 2020 report.

Read more

Idaho governor rescinds lieutenant governor’s executive order banning mask mandates

Since early 2020, we’ve been tracking state government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. One aspect of our coverage is state-level mask requirements. Here’s a story we’re following from Idaho relating to mask mandates in the state. The story is a little confusing, so bear with me on this. I had to double-check with our team to make sure I had it right.

Here’s the setup. Idaho is a Republican state trifecta and is one of 11 states that did not issue a statewide face-covering order during the pandemic. Typically, when a governor is out of state, the lieutenant governor serves as acting governor. While Gov. Brad Little (R) attended a conference out of state, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued an executive order prohibiting state and local government entities from issuing mask mandates in order to mitigate the spread of contagious diseases, such as COVID-19. Several cities in Idaho, including Boise, had enacted face-covering requirements last fall. The Idaho Senate did not vote on a bill that the state House of Representatives passed in April prohibiting local governments from issuing mask mandates.  

McGeachin announced on May 19 that she was running for governor in the 2022 election. Little, who was first elected in 2018, has yet to announce whether he will run for re-election. 

In a statement posted to her gubernatorial campaign website, McGeachin wrote that she signed the order “to protect the rights and liberties of individuals and businesses by prohibiting the state and its political subdivisions—including public schools—from imposing mask mandates in our state.”

Upon returning on May 28, Little (R) rescinded McGeachin’s executive order, calling it an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt” that “amounts to tyranny—something we all oppose.” Little told the Idaho Capital Sun that McGeachin issued the executive order without his knowledge or approval. 

Idaho Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane issued an opinion on May 28 stating that McGeachin’s executive order exceeded her authority as acting governor. Kane wrote, “Oddly, it seems to have been issued in an effort to undermine the existing authorities of the state and its political subdivisions to issue mask mandates. This executive order appears to run counter to both the Idaho Constitution and the Governor’s statutory executive order authority.” 

Idaho’s governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and do not run on a joint ticket. Since 2010, four gubernatorial elections nationwide have had an incumbent governor running against the state’s lieutenant governor. In each case, the incumbent governor won either the primary or general election:

  • West Virginia (2011)—Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) defeated acting Lt. Gov. Jeffrey Kessler (D) in the Democratic primary of the state’s special gubernatorial election after Joe Manchin (D) was elected to the Senate.
  • South Carolina (2018)—Gov. Henry McMaster (R) defeated Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant (R) in the Republican primary.
  • Vermont (2020)—Gov. Phil Scott (R) defeated Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (Vermont Progressive Party/Democratic) in the general election.
  • North Carolina (2020)—Gov. Roy Cooper (D) defeated Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) in the general election.

Read more 

Sports betting initiative qualifies for 2022 ballot in California

Yesterday, I wrote about the first statewide ballot measure in Illinois to qualify for the 2022 ballot. Here’s a summary of a statewide sports betting initiative in California that also recently qualified for the state’s 2022 ballot.

California voters will head to the polls on Nov. 8, 2022, to decide an initiative that would legalize sports betting. The ballot initiative would amend the state constitution and state statutes to legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks in California. The measure would apply a 10% tax on profits from betting at racetracks and legalize roulette and dice games, such as craps, at tribal casinos. 

The Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering, which supports the proposal, launched in November 2019. On Dec. 14, 2020, the campaign filed 1,427,373 signatures. On May 26, 2021, the office of Secretary of State Shirley Weber announced that the initiative qualified for the ballot after counties found 1,061,282 signatures to be valid. The minimum number required was 997,139.

Several American Indian tribes support the Coalition to Authorize Regulated Sports Wagering. The campaign had raised $11.57 million through March 31, 2021. Mark Macarro, chairman of Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, said: “Californians should have the choice to participate in sports wagering at highly regulated, safe and experienced gaming locations. We are very proud to see tribes from across California come together for this effort, which represents an incremental but important step toward giving Californians the freedom to participate in this new activity in a responsible manner.”

Opponents launched the No on the Gambling Power Grab PAC, which terminated in late 2020. The PAC raised $1.09 million. Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association, said: “This initiative does nothing to advance sports wagering, and instead expands the tribal casinos’ tax-free monopoly on gaming and rewards those operators for prioritizing their own wealth over public health and safety.”

California is one of 21 states that has not legalized sports betting. Twenty-nine states and D.C. have legalized or passed laws legalizing sports betting. In California, a constitutional amendment is required to legalize sports betting because the state constitution defines what types of gambling are permitted in the state. Since 2018, four states have legalized sports betting through ballot measures. On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the federal government could not require states to prohibit sports betting, effectively allowing states to legalize it. Thirteen states had active sports betting industries as of November 2019.

The sports betting ballot initiative joins two other citizen-initiated measures on the 2022 general election ballot in California. 

Read more