The Daily Brew: Want your city to host the Olympics? Denver voters may decide to put it to a vote


Welcome to the Friday, May 31, Brew. We are halfway through our Ballotpedia Society membership drive! If you haven’t already, please consider supporting the work we do through a monthly donation. You can find more information about the program here. Now, here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Denver ballot measure requires voters to approve spending public funds to host Olympics
  2. Illinois voters to choose whether to change state’s income tax from flat to graduated rate
  3. State regulation of plumbers in Texas to expire in September

Denver ballot measure requires voters to approve spending public funds to host Olympics

Denver voters will decide Tuesday whether a future attempt to bring the Olympics to the city will require citywide voter approval.

Initiated Ordinance 302 (I-302) would prohibit the city and county from using public funds in connection with future Olympic Games unless a majority of voters approve at a municipal election.

In 2018, the city of Denver proposed spending $1.9 billion to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games in a bid to the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). The USOC identified Denver and Salt Lake City as its top two finalists and ultimately selected Salt Lake City as its choice to bid for the games before the International Olympic Committee.

After Denver’s USOC proposal, the group Let Denver Vote led the petition effort to place I-302 on the ballot. Proponents were required to collect 4,726 valid signatures or 5 percent of the votes cast for mayoral candidates in the preceding mayoral election.

Proponents of the measure submitted their arguments supporting it in the city’s official local ballot question guide, which included, “Hosting the Olympics brings significant financial risk and long-lasting impacts. Host cities are expected to cover the consistent (every year since 1968) cost overruns of the Olympic games, and Denver voters deserve a right to decide if they are comfortable writing a blank check to cover such overruns.”

Opponents submitted arguments against I-302 to the official ballot question guide, which included, “This seemingly innocuous initiative to ‘protect the taxpayer’ is dangerously broad, has extensive unintended consequences, and is brought by a group that is woefully misinformed about the risks, namely potential costs to the taxpayer of bidding and hosting an Olympic & Paralympic Games, that the ballot initiative seeks to mitigate.”

I-302 is the only local ballot measure being voted on in Denver on Tuesday. The city is also holding runoff elections for mayor, city clerk and recorder, and five seats on the city council, since no candidate in any of those races received a majority of the vote in the city’s municipal election on May 7.

Last month, Denver voters approved a measure that decriminalized the adult possession and use of psilocybin mushrooms and rejected a measure which would have allowed people to engage in activities such as resting and sheltering oneself in a non-obstructive mannerin outdoor public places without limits.

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Illinois voters to choose whether to change state’s income tax from flat to graduated rate  

Illinois—one of eight states that has a flat tax rate—may join the 33 states with a graduated income tax.

Voters in Illinois will decide on a constitutional amendment in 2020 that would repeal the current requirement that the state personal income tax be a flat rate and instead allow the state to enact legislation implementing a graduated income tax.

In 1970, Illinois held a constitutional convention and drafted a new state constitution, which voters approved on December 15, 1970. That document enabled the state to assess a flat-rate income tax but prohibits a graduated one. The constitution also set limits on the relationship between the tax rates imposed on corporations relative to individuals.

To approve the 2020 ballot measure, both chambers of the state legislature needed to approve it by a 60% supermajority. All 40 state Senate and 73 state House Democrats voted in favor, and all 19 Senate and 44 House Republicans voted against. In 2018, Democrats gained seven seats in the state House to achieve a supermajority in that chamber.

The ballot measure itself would not enact a graduated income tax, just allow for one. In 2018, the personal income tax in Illinois was a flat rate of 4.95 percent. On May 1, 2019, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 687 (SB 687), which would go into effect only if voters approve the constitutional amendment in 2020. SB 687 would change the state’s income tax from a flat rate to six graduated rates—ranging from 4.75 to 7.99 percent—beginning on January 1, 2021. It is estimated that the new tax rates would bring in $3.3 billion of additional state revenue. The state House has not yet passed SB 687.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D)—a supporter of the measure—issued a statement which said, “Middle-class families bear too much of the burden under the current tax system, and a Fair Tax will enable us to make the wealthy pay their fair share to balance the budget and invest in critical resources like education and health care—all while providing relief for 97% of taxpayers.”

Republican representative Paul Schimpf (R), who opposed the initiative, told the Belleville News-Democrat, “Changing our taxing structure, without providing a means to limit spending or make it more difficult to raise taxes in the future, solves nothing. In fact, this plan will most likely only lead to more tax increases and higher spending in the future.”

In Illinois, a ballot measure amending the state constitution must be approved by either a 60 percent vote of those voting on the ballot measure or a simple majority vote of those voting in the election. The initiative allowing for a graduated income tax will be the 23rd constitutional amendment to be decided by state voters since 1970. Fourteen of the previous 22 amendments have been approved, while eight were rejected.

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State regulation of plumbers in Texas to expire in September

The Texas Board of Plumbing Examiners will disband and the state’s plumbing regulations will cease to exist after the state legislature declined to approve sunset review legislation before it adjourned last Sunday. The state plumbing code will expire on September 1, 2019, and the state agency that enforced it will wind down operations by September 2020.

Sunset review legislation—a type of legislation that establishes a date on which an agency or law will expire without specific legislative action—was proposed to move the responsibilities of the plumbing board under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Lawmakers who supported the bill stated that the move would improve efficiency, such as reducing the state’s eight-month processing period for issuing a plumbing license. Opponents stated that the lengthy licensing period and other alleged inefficiencies served to protect public health and safety in a specialized industry. A proposal to maintain existing plumbing regulations and delay the sunset review process to the next legislative session—which in Texas is not until 2021—was not voted upon.

The Texas Tribune reported that some plumbers have asked Governor Greg Abbott (R) to call a special legislative session to address plumbing oversight. While Abbott has not specifically commented about plumbing regulations, on Monday he tweeted his thanks to state legislators for their efforts during the session which included the phrase, “NO SPECIAL SESSION.”

In the 2017 session, the legislature did not pass reauthorizations for five government agencies, including the Texas Medical Board. Abbott called a special session where the legislature passed the reauthorizations and also considered additional legislation proposed by the governor. The additional bills were related to bathroom usage, property taxes, school finance, and mail-in ballot fraud.

In the absence of a state plumbing code, oversight of plumbers will occur at the local level through municipal plumbing regulations and ordinances.

To stay up to date on actions at the federal and state level related to rulemaking, the separation of powers, and due process, subscribe to our free monthly Checks and Balances newsletter.
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Booker, Buttigieg, and Gillibrand call for impeachment proceedings for the first time

May 30, 2019: The 2020 Democratic candidates respond to Robert Mueller’s statement. Beto O’Rourke released his immigration platform.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Poll Spotlight

Notable Quotes of the Day

“For the [Democratic primary] debates to be meaningful, they have to winnow down the participants. This is the uncomfortable reality both the DNC and the candidates have to face.”

–  Patti Solis Doyle, 2008 Clinton presidential campaign manager


“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at that criteria and know who’s going to get kicked out. It’s easy to see that the debates in the fall are going to be a bunch of white men and, if that’s the case, that’s a big misstep.”

– Jess Morales Rocketto, 2016 Clinton presidential campaign adviser


  • Following special counsel Robert Mueller’s statement about his investigation into potential foreign intervention in the 2016 presidential campaign and obstruction of justice, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Kirsten Gillibrand said for the first time that impeachment proceedings should begin against Donald Trump.
  • Eric Swalwell said he was “preparing for impeachment” as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m the only candidate that has to try the case, so I want to make sure that I’m doing all I can as we go down this road,” Swalwell added.
  • Neither Joe Biden nor Bernie Sanders called for impeachment. Sanders said he would support the House Judiciary Committee if it initiated proceedings.
  • Michael Bennet joined four other presidential candidates in supporting the call for a Democratic primary debate dedicated to the issue of climate change.
  • Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) endorsed Biden. Dallas is the ninth largest city in the country.
  • During an interview on The Gaggle podcast, Julián Castro discussed how his economic and immigration policies would affect Arizona.
  • The Center for Responsive Politics examined personal finance information from the 12 Democratic presidential candidates who have filed financial disclosures with the Office of Government Ethics. John Delaney had the highest net worth with an estimated $56 million to $280 million.
  • During a town hall in Greenville, South Carolina, Kamala Harris discussed increasing teacher pay, addressing gun violence, and the Mueller’s statement.
  • John Hickenlooper proposed increasing Title X funding by $700 million to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices.
  • Jay Inslee met with Washington state employees Wednesday to discuss ways to improve the safety, efficacy, and accountability of the workforce.
  • Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Nevada Thursday, including a meeting with the Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families Caucus.
  • Wayne Messam discussed his efforts to improve infrastructure in Miramar in Mass Transit Magazine.
  • Beto O’Rourke released his immigration platform proposal, including ending plans for a border wall, creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million individuals residing in the United States without legal permission, and expanding naturalization and visa processes.
  • Sanders is campaigning in Nevada until Friday and California over the weekend. According to The Washington Post, Sanders is also developing a plan to mandate large businesses give a portion of their stocks to a fund paying out dividends for employees.
  • Elizabeth Warren will hold a town hall in Oakland, California, Friday.
  • Marianne Williamson will campaign in Santa Monica, California, Friday.
  • VICE News interviewed Andrew Yang during a campaign stop in South Carolina.


  • Donald Trump responded to Mueller’s press conference, tweeting, “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
  • Axios reported that the Trump campaign was developing digital micro-targeting operations for three demographic groups: black, Hispanic, and suburban women voters. The potential messaging would be criminal justice policy, school choice, and funding childhood cancer research for each respective group.


What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 30, 2015

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he was running for president, joining Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary.

The Daily Brew: Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) rules ballot measure distribution requirement unconstitutional

The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Thursday, May 30, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) rules ballot measure distribution requirement unconstitutional
  2. Acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R) resigns
  3. Join Ballotpedia for three upcoming webinars

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) rules ballot measure distribution requirement unconstitutional

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) issued a legal opinion last week stating that the distribution requirement and other provisions affecting the state’s initiative process passed in 2018 are unconstitutional. The attorney general’s opinion was requested by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who would have been involved in the enforcement of the new initiative petition rules. Nessel’s opinion is binding on state officials unless a court ruling overturns it.

On December 31, 2018, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed Michigan House Bill 6595, which limited the number of ballot initiative petition signatures collected in any one congressional district to 15% of the total required. This limit effectively would require that petition signatures must be obtained from at least seven of the state’s 16 congressional districts. It also required that petitions disclose whether the petitioner is paid or volunteer and made other changes regarding petitioners, valid signatures, and the timeline for certification.

In the state Senate, 26 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and one Republican joined all 11 Democrats in opposition. In the House, 56 Republicans were joined by one Democrat in voting to approve it. Five Republicans and 42 Democrats were opposed.

Besides Michigan, 16 other states have laws imposing distribution requirements that require that ballot measure petitions be signed by a minimum percentage of voters from different political subdivisions in order for the ballot measure to qualify for the ballot. This requirement can be based on a state’s counties, congressional districts, or state legislative districts.

Signature requirements by state

Nessel’s opinion stated that the distribution requirement provisions of HB 6595 imposed an additional obligation for qualifying an initiative for the ballot beyond what was required or authorized by the Michigan Constitution. She cited a 2018 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that held that the initiative and referendum rights “can be interfered with neither by the legislature, the courts, nor the officers charged with any duty in the premises.”

Rep. Jim Lower (R)—a sponsor of HB 6595—said to the Washington Post in response, “I don’t think anybody’s surprised. I disagree with the conclusions she has come to, and I think it will be litigated.” Lower argued that spreading signature gathering efforts out across more of the state is a common-sense requirement and demonstrates that a proposed initiative has broader support.

Michigan voters approved three citizen initiatives in 2018:

  • a marijuana legalization initiative;
  • a redistricting commission initiative; and
  • an initiative adding eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting.

Michigan is currently under divided government as Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and Gretchen Whitmer (D) is governor. In the 2018 elections, Democrats were elected governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—all offices held by Republicans going into 2018.

In the attorney general race, Nessel defeated Tom Leonard (R) and three other candidates to succeed Bill Schuette (R), who was term-limited. Nessel received 49.0% of the vote to Leonard’s 46.3%. In the secretary of state election, Benson defeated Mary Treder Lang (R) and two other candidates to succeed Ruth Johnson (R), who was also term-limited. Benson received 52.9% of the vote to Lang’s 44.0%.

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Acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R) resigns

Acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley (R) resigned May 27 just before the end of the Texas legislative session. Whitley was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on December 17, 2018, but needed to receive confirmation from two-thirds of the state Senate—21 out of 31 senators—to continue serving in a permanent capacity through 2021.

Whitley was supported by all 19 Republicans in the Senate, but all 12 Democrats announced their opposition to his confirmation earlier this year.

The secretary of state in Texas is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate, and Abbott will nominate Whitley’s replacement. The office of secretary of state exists in 47 states and is directly elected in 35 of them. Texas is one of nine states where the governor appoints the secretary of state; in three states, he or she is appointed by the state legislature. In 37 states, the secretary of state is the chief elections officer with ultimate oversight over state elections and voter registration.

Whitley thanked Abbott in his resignation letter, writing, “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve Texas. Working alongside the employees in the secretary of state’s office, county election officials, and representatives of our #1 trading partner, Mexico, has been my distinct honor and privilege.”

Learn more

Join Ballotpedia for three upcoming webinars

As the calendar turns to June, I want to let you know about three upcoming Ballotpedia events for you to put on your calendar.

Next week I’ll be hosting a webinar with David Luchs—one of our staff writers—about the June 8 mayoral runoff elections in Dallas and San Antonio. We’ll also discuss why mayoral races matter and the significance of local elections. The webinar will take place on Tuesday, June 4, and will begin at noon ET.

Later in June, Sarah Rosier—you remember her as my Brew predecessor and our current Director of Outreach—will be conducting the next edition of our Ballotpedia Insights series. She’ll interview Dr. Stevan Hobfoll, the author of Tribalism: The Evolutionary Origins of Fear Politics, to discuss how the political environment has changed and what instigated these shifts. I always learn something new at these Ballotpedia Insights sessions, so I hope you’ll make plans to join us. It will begin on June 20 at 1 p.m. ET.

We’ve scheduled the August edition of Ballotpedia Insights as well. Sarah will be joined by Adam Probolsky of Probolsky Research to discuss the state of market and opinion research on elections and public policy. That session will be held on August 7 and start at 1 p.m. ET.

You can sign up for free and find more information about these interesting and informative webinars at the link below. I hope you’ll make plans to attend!

Learn more

Iowa Supreme Court upholds changes to public-sector collective bargaining rights

In two separate rulings issued on May 17, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a 2017 law that amended collective bargaining rights for the state’s public-sector workforce. The court ruled 4-3 in the state’s favor in both cases.

  • What was at issue? In 2017, then-Gov. Terry Branstad (R) signed into law a series of amendments to Iowa’s public-sector labor relations law. As a result, collective bargaining units with less than 30 percent public-safety personnel (defined generally as firefighters and police officers) cannot negotiate insurance, hours, vacations, holidays, overtime, and health and safety issues unless their employers elect to do so. Collective bargaining units exceeding the 30-percent threshold are exempted from these restrictions.
  • Who were the parties to the suits? The plaintiffs, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 61 (AFSCME Council 61) and the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA), argued the amendments violated their equal protection and associational rights under the state constitution. The defendants were the state of Iowa and the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board. Both cases were filed in state district courts, which ruled against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs appealed these decisions to the state supreme court.
  • How did the court rule? In each case, the court ruled 4-3 in the state’s favor.
    • In the majority opinion covering both cases, Justice Thomas Waterman wrote: “The 2017 amendments do not infringe on a fundamental right of association. The plaintiffs ‘come to us with a problem suitable only for political solution.’ The plaintiffs are free to attempt to persuade public employers, such as the State and local governments and school boards, to voluntarily bargain over formerly mandatory terms. The plaintiffs otherwise must look to the ballot box and the elected branches to change this lawfully enacted statute.” Justices Susan Christensen, Edward Mansfield, and Christopher McDonald joined Waterman’s opinion.
      • All four of these justices were appointed by Republican governors (Branstad appointed Waterman and Mansfield; Kim Reynolds appointed Christensen and McDonald).
    • Chief Justice Mark Cady and Justices Brent Appel and David Wiggins dissented. In his dissent, Cady wrote: “[The] Iowa statute ends up treating many similarly situated public employees in Iowa differently based solely on the bargaining unit they belong to and not for the reason the constitution would justify different treatment of public employees. Our constitution requires laws to treat similarly situated people equally unless there is an adequate reason otherwise. In this case, the overinclusiveness and underinclusiveness written into the statute drowned this reason out.”
      • Brent and Wiggins were appointed by Tom Vilsack, a Democrat. Cady was appointed by Branstad, a Republican.
  • What are the responses?
    • Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) supported the ruling: “Since its implementation, I have heard story after story of school districts and local governments implementing creative solutions to improve the education of Iowa’s students and the provision of services Iowans need. This reform is about returning power to locally elected officials and giving them the ability to pay more to great teachers and employees, fire the occasional bad actor and protect Iowa taxpayers.”
    • Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen (D) opposed the ruling: ” By taking away the rights of teachers, firefighters, nurses, correctional officers, and other public servants, Republican politicians have done harm to all Iowa workers. Working Iowa men and women are the real victims of the assault by the Branstad/Reynolds administration and Republican-controlled Legislature.”
  • The case names and numbers are: AFSCME Council 61 v. Iowa (No. 17–1841) and Iowa State Education Association v. Iowa (No. 17-1834).




The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We are currently tracking 100 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 legislative actions taken in the last week. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Read a second time in the Assembly and ordered to a third reading May 20.
  • Maine LD1232: This bill would prohibit employers from requiring employees to join a union or pay fees to a union as a condition of employment.
    • Died May 23 (placed in legislative files).
  • Oregon HB2016: This bill would require public employers to grant paid time to employees participating in certain union activities. It would also require employers to furnish unions with access to employees.
    • Senate Workforce Committee work session May 21.
  • Oregon HB3009: This bill would require public employers to provide unions with access to new employees. It would also permit individuals who are not union members to make payments in lieu of dues to unions.
    • Senate Workforce Committee work session May 23.

The Daily Presidential News Briefing: Delaney releases $4T climate action plan

Daily Presidential Briefing

May 24, 2019: John Delaney released a $4 trillion climate action proposal. Bill Weld said he will focus his campaign on states with crossover voting.

We’ll be back on Tuesday, May 28!

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Staff Spotlight

Zach Graumann

Zach Graumann is a former financial planner and executive. He has no prior campaign management experience.

Other experience:

2014-present: Suit Up Incorporated, co-founder and chief executive officer

2014-2018: UBS Wealth Management, director of client philanthropy solutions

2012-2014: UBS Wealth Management, associate director

2011-2013: St. Mary’s Catholic Academy, treasurer

What he says about Yang:

“An outsider candidate raising nearly $2 million in two months in entirely small contributions is unheard of. Andrew Yang has proven he can build an online fundraising army from scratch — the Yang Gang effect is real.”

Notable Quote of the Day

“Still six years short of the Constitution’s minimum age requirement to be president herself, [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez’s massive social media following and ability to generate news headlines has made her a key player in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

With progressives looking to stand out in the crowded field of more than 20 candidates, some Democrats believe that no endorsement—other than the Obamas—would be more potent in [sic] than one from Ocasio-Cortez.”

– Eric Bradner, CNN national political reporter



  • Michael Bennet introduced the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act to fund programs to address the opioid crisis through a general fine on opioid manufacturers and distributors covered by federal health programs beginning in 1993.





  • Cory Booker announced more than a dozen new national campaign staff, including Amanda Perez as national policy director, Emily Norman as chief innovation officer, and Jen Kim as states chief of staff.



  • Steve Bullock has also hired 10 new staffers in Iowa with Nick Marroletti as state organizing director and Jack Segal and Alexandra Cleverly as Iowa political coordinators.



  • Pete Buttigieg said he supported athletes who kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality. “I felt that I was watching Americans exercise a right that I had put my life on the line to defend,” he said.





  • John Delaney released a $4 trillion climate action proposal that would introduce a carbon tax and set out to reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050.



  • During an interview on Fox News, Tulsi Gabbard said a U.S. conflict with Iran would likely lead to a destabilized region and millions of refugees fleeing into Europe.



  • In an interview on PBS NewsHour, Kirsten Gillibrand discussed abortion and trade policy with China. “We can use the WTO, we can use multilateralism to effect a different outcome on how they deal with competitors and how they deal with the world economy. And I would hold them accountable. I would prosecute these cases of dumping of steel,” she said.



  • Mike Gravel called for a federal investigation into the police shooting of a Lakota man named Clarence Leading Fighter.









  • Amy Klobuchar opened her presidential headquarters in northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday.



  • Tim Ryan introduced a bill to establish a chief manufacturing officer who would coordinate manufacturing policies and strategy across government.





  • Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin questioning him about his possible involvement in the decline of Sears.



  • By polling at 1 percent in a Monmouth University poll released Thursday, Marianne Williamson has met the polling criteria for the first primary debate, likely guaranteeing her a spot on the debate stage. Earlier this month, she met the fundraising criteria.




  • Vanity Fair reported on how the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign are conducting and planning to use opposition research against Biden.



  • Bill Weld discussed his primary strategy in an interview with Politico. “I’ll be focusing on the 20 states that permit crossover voting. It’s not just Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, it’s 17 other states,“ Weld said.


What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 24, 2015

The Washington Post reported on the rise of student loan debt as a key campaign issue. “A part of the reason student debt is so important for Democrats is that it’s a crucial motivator to get younger people to vote,” Democratic pollster Geoff Garin said. “Student debt is often the defining economic fact of their lives.”

The Daily Brew: Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron challenge in case involving UPS, Amazon

Daily Brew

Welcome to the Friday, May 24, Brew. I hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend. I will not be popping into your inbox on Monday, and will instead see you again, bright and early, Tuesday morning. Next week, Ballotpedia will also begin our annual Ballotpedia Society membership drive. In case you didn’t know, Ballotpedia is a nonprofit organization, and we rely on the donations of our readers to keep informative products like the Brew going! We don’t like to bug you often, but we are excited to tell you more about what we are working on, and how you can help.

But until then, it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start today:

  1. Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron challenge in case involving UPS, Amazon
  2. Alaska state representative targeted for recall
  3. Quiz: Which states do not have a state income tax?

Supreme Court declines to hear Chevron challenge in case involving UPS, Amazon

Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which the plaintiff challenged the Chevron doctrine—a 35-year old court precedent. The case also involves two of the largest corporations in the United States: Amazon and UPS.

The Chevron doctrine is an administrative law principle that compels federal courts to defer to a federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous or unclear statute that Congress delegated to the agency to administer. The principle derives its name from the 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. That decision guided courts to consider whether Congress’ intent in writing a statute was ambiguous and whether the agency’s interpretation of the statute is reasonable.

In the suit, the United Parcel Service (UPS) challenged how the D.C. Circuit applied Chevron deference in upholding the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) cost allocation and pricing formulas. USPS package delivery rates are set by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). UPS argued that the D.C. Circuit made a mistake in its May 2018 opinion which applied the Chevron doctrine to uphold the formula used by the PRC to set rates. Amazon was among several organizations which filed briefs supporting the PRC.

In its petition, UPS asked the Court to reconsider the Chevron doctrine in light of the following criticisms:

  • “It threatens the proper separation of powers by shifting legislative and judicial responsibilities to executive agencies”
  • “There is no legal basis for the assumption that Congress implicitly delegates interpretive authority to agencies”
  • Chevron (with its attendant limitations) is enormously difficult to apply in practice.”
  • “Several Justices have recognized that this powerful criticism warrants a reconsideration of Chevron by the Court.”

A 2017 study by Michael Kagan at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, found that the Chevron doctrine has been cited in legal arguments 81,000 times since it was introduced. That same study also found that all nine current Supreme Court justices “have at least once signed an opinion explicitly holding that Chevron should not apply in a situation where the administrative law textbooks would previously have said that it must apply.”

In deciding not to take the case, the Supreme Court upheld the D.C. Circuit’s decision letting the PRC’s interpretation stand and upholding the cost and pricing formulas used by the postal service. Click the link below to read more about the Chevron doctrine, or click here to take one of our Learning Journeys to explore the topic in depth.

Learn more

Alaska state representative targeted for recall

The Alaska House of Representatives elected a Speaker of the House for its 2019 session on February 14thirty days after its members were sworn into office. During that time, majority or minority leaders and committee chairpersons were not selected and little legislative business was conducted. Last week, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) called the legislature into a 30-day special session to address bills related to criminal reform, education funding, and the state’s operating, capital and mental health budgets.

Earlier this month, a committee was formed to gather signatures to recall Alaska state Rep. Gary Knopp (R) for what recall supporters state was his role in the delays and disruptions to the 2019 legislative session.

In the November 2018 elections for the Alaska House of Representatives, Republicans won 23 seats, Democrats won 16 seats, and a Democratic-aligned independent won another race. On December 8, Knopp announced that he was leaving the Republican caucus in order to form a majority coalition with Democrats. Rep. Bryce Edgmon—who switched his party affiliation from Democratic to unenrolledwas eventually elected House Speaker by 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents. Both parties also split control of committee leadership positions in a power-sharing agreement. Alaska currently has divided government, as Republicans control the governor’s office and state Senate.

Recall supporters need about 1,000 signatures to request a recall petition from Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R). If Meyer accepts the application, supporters will need about an additional 3,000 signatures to force a recall election. Alaska is one of 18 states to allow the recall of state legislators. Since 2011, 80 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 55 did not go to a vote, and seven are still ongoing. The most recent recall of a state legislator was in 2018 when California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled.

The only grounds for recalling an elected official in the state are misconduct in office, incompetence, or failure to perform prescribed duties. Recall supporters stated in their petition that they are seeking to recall Knopp because he “did not show up for several key votes this session,” “demonstrated his incompetence in representing a conservative district,” and “admitted that he had deceived his fellow lawmakers and constituents.”

Knopp responded to the recall by stating, “In the recall petition, they are welcome to do what they want to do. I don’t think they have cause, but if they want to move forward with it that’s their prerogative. I just wish it would be done by people in the district not the haters across the state who aren’t getting what they want.”

Knopp was elected to the state House in 2016 with 66.5% of the vote. He won re-election unopposed in 2018.

Want to learn more about recalls? Check out this short Ballotpedia video from our Beyond the Headlines series.

Learn more

Quiz: Which states do not have a state income tax?

I brought you a story yesterday about voters in Texas who will decide later this year whether to add an amendment to their state constitution prohibiting the adoption of a state income tax. Texas does not have currently have a state income tax and is one of just seven states without one. Four of the seven states without an income tax are Florida, Washington, Alaska, and Nevada.

Today’s quiz question is, what are the other two states without a state income tax?

  1. North Dakota and South Dakota
  2. Montana and Wyoming
  3. Idaho and Montana
  4. South Dakota and Wyoming

Correction: A story in Thursday’s Brew incorrectly stated that Amanda Green-Hawkins and Beth Tarasi advanced from Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The two candidates that advanced from the Democratic primary were Amanda Green-Hawkins and Daniel D. McCaffery. We apologize for the error.

The Daily Brew: Texas voters to decide constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax

Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, May 23, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Texas voters to decide constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax
  2. We’re collecting maps to improve your sample ballot
  3. More of Tuesday’s election results from Kentucky and Pennsylvania


Texas voters to decide constitutional amendment prohibiting a state income tax

Voters in Texas will decide a constitutional amendment in November 2019 to prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals. Texas is one of seven states without a personal income tax.

The measure would ban the adoption of a personal income tax and would require a subsequent constitutional amendment to enact one in the future. This requires the approval of two-thirds of the members of each legislative chamber in addition to being approved by voters. Under current law, voters in Texas must approve an income tax as a statewide referendum but only a majority vote in each chamber is necessary to place it on the ballot. These provisions were established when voters approved Proposition 4 in 1993. Proposition 4 also specifies that if an income tax is enacted, any revenues raised would be dedicated to education and would also be used to limit local school tax rates.

Twenty Democrats joined 80 Republicans in voting to approve the 2019 amendment in the state House. One hundred votes were needed in that chamber to pass. All 42 votes opposing the amendment were cast by Democrats, and three Republicans and five Democrats were absent or didn’t vote. In the state Senate, 21 votes were needed for passage. All 19 Republicans joined three Democrats in approving the amendment and all 9 votes opposing the measure were cast by Democrats.

Seven statewide ballot measures have been certified for the November 2019 ballot in Texas. The state legislature is expected to adjourn on May 27 and could refer additional constitutional amendments before they adjourn. An average of 13 measures appeared on odd-year statewide ballots in Texas between 1995 and 2017. Voters approved 91 percent145 out of 159of the constitutional amendments during this 22-year period.

Across the country, 12 statewide ballot measures in four states have been certified to appear before voters in 2019.

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We’re collecting maps to improve your sample ballot

One of our primary aims here at Ballotpedia is filling the ballot information gap. The further down the ballot you go, the more the ballot information gap widens. At the most local level, voters typically have little information about who or what they’re voting for. We will consider ourselves many steps closer to achieving our mission when we can offer a comprehensive sample ballot.

Ballotpedia currently offers two lookup tools for voters: a preview of your ballot, and a tool to find out your current representatives. These tools are partly powered by digital maps, and so are limited by the maps that are available. We’ve faced a variety of challenges in getting maps for city council seats and county commission seats. Without these maps, voters cannot view a sample ballot specific to these local districts.

Our goal: to be able to place each address in the country correctly inside their respective districts. This would be the first step toward being able to show every voter in the country a list of candidates through their most local elections, including school boards and special districts. That’s what we mean when we talk about offering a comprehensive sample ballot.

Earlier this year, we conducted a study evaluating how we can get all the maps we need to provide a comprehensive, accurate, and specific sample ballot. We hope that we will be able to build off this work and start bringing you more ballot information, state by state.

If we are successful in comprehensively gathering and building these maps, we will be meeting voters needs in a way they haven’t been met before. Any voter in the United States could search their address and find a list of candidates for their local school board, or the names of the individuals representing a special district in their area. That is what the future looks like when we succeed in our mission of providing a comprehensive, universal sample ballot.

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Who Represents Me?


More of Tuesday’s election results from Kentucky and Pennsylvania

Yesterday’s Brew highlighted the results of Kentucky’s Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the other races we were following on Tuesday:


State Rep. Fred Keller (R) defeated college professor Marc Friedenberg (D) in a special election to fill the vacant U.S. House seat representing Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Unofficial returns showed Keller receiving 68% of the vote to Friedenberg’s 32%.

The vacancy occurred when former Rep. Tom Marino (R) resigned in January. Marino beat Friedenberg by 32 points in November 2018 and Donald Trump (R) carried the district by 36 points in the 2016 presidential election.

This was the first special election to fill a vacancy in the 116th Congress. Two special elections—in North Carolina’s 3rd and 9th Congressional Districts—will occur on September 10.


Incumbent James Kenney defeated former City Controller Alan Butkovitz and state Sen. Anthony Williams in the Democratic primary for mayor of Philadelphia. Kenney received 67% of the vote to Williams’ 24% and Butkovitz’ 9%. Kenney, who served 23 years on the city council before his election as mayor in 2015, was endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), and all three of Philadelphia’s representatives in the U.S. House.

Kenney will face attorney Billy Ciancaglini (R) and any independent or third-party candidates in the November 5 general election. Since 1951, no incumbent Philadelphia mayor has lost a re-election bid, and no Republican has won a Philadelphia mayoral election since 1947.

Philadelphia voters also approved four charter amendments on Tuesday, according to election night results. Voters approved changing gender-specific references in the city charter to gender-neutral ones, making the city’s Office of Immigrant Affairs permanent, and creating a new class of law enforcement officers to assist with regulating traffic but that are not allowed to carry firearms. Voters also approved a charter amendment asking the Pennsylvania legislature to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. This measure does not actually affect Philadelphia’s minimum wage since Pennsylvania has preempted local governments, such as cities, from setting their own minimum wage standards. All charter amendments on Tuesday’s ballot were approved by at least 68% of voters.


Amanda Green-Hawkins and Beth Tarasi were the top two finishers in the Democratic primary for two open seats on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck were the top two finishers for the Republican nomination for those seats.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania’s two statewide intermediate appellate courts. It reviews most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the courts of common pleas in the state’s 67 counties. Judges of the superior court are chosen in partisan elections to 10-year terms. Existing judges are subject to retention elections to win successive 10-year terms.


Voters selected nominees for five down-ballot state executive offices in Kentucky—attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, state auditor, and state treasurer. Republican incumbents Ryan Quarles, Mike Harmon, and Allison Ball won their primaries for agriculture commissioner, state auditor, and state treasurer, respectively. All three were first elected in 2015.

Daniel Cameron defeated Wil Schroder in the Republican primary for the open-seat race for attorney general. Former state Attorney General Greg Stumbo won the Democratic nomination unopposed. Incumbent Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) won his party’s nomination for governor. Heather French Henry (D) and Michael Adams (R) won their party’s primaries for Kentucky Secretary of State to succeed incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who is term-limited.

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The Daily Presidential News Briefing: Hickenlooper unveils gun safety platform

The Daily Presidential News Briefing

May 23, 2019: John Hickenlooper unveiled his gun safety platform. Kirsten Gillibrand released her “Family Bill of Rights” on healthcare and adoption.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Poll Spotlight

Polling update

Polling update

Notable Quote of the Day

“[Barack Obama’s] untitled memoir, which will reportedly begin with his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech and cover his two terms in the White House, won’t be released in 2019, as his publisher, Penguin Random House, had predicted just a few months ago. Dropping the book this year would have helped Obama largely avoid the current political calendar, and a 2020 release threatens to affect the primaries and the party’s campaign against Donald Trump by re-litigating decisions made a decade ago. Another option is to hold it until 2021, when Obama could be either the voice of a party in despair after another defeat, or poised to grab the spotlight from a freshly elected Democratic president.”

– Edward-Isaac Dovere, The Atlantic staff writer





  • Bill de Blasio will attend a rally of McDonald’s workers in Iowa striking for a $15 minimum wage and to form a union. Julián Castro will also join a McDonald’s rally in North Carolina Thursday.



  • Cory Booker said that he would create a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom focused on “coordinating and affirmatively advancing abortion rights and access to reproductive health care” at the federal level.



  • Pete Buttigieg discussed the state of the Republican Party and democracy in The New York Times podcast The Argument.



  • Kirsten Gillibrand released her “Family Bill of Rights” proposal that would address several medical, educational, and tax policies, including requiring insurance companies to cover fertility treatments like IVF and providing refundable tax credits for adoption. She also said she would establish “Equal Adoption Rights” prohibiting taxpayer-funded adoption services from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.



  • Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders introduced the Inclusive Prosperity Act which would tax the trade of stocks by 0.5 percent, bonds by 0.1 percent, and derivatives by 0.005 percent.





  • During an interview on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Kamala Harris discussed investigations into Trump and her equal pay policy proposal.



  • John Hickenlooper released his gun safety platform Wednesday, calling for universal background checks, extending waiting periods from three to 10 days, establishing a national gun license, raising the age to own a gun from 18 to 21, and supporting extreme risk protection orders.



  • Jay Inslee signed a measure into law in Washington prohibiting local authorities from asking about someone’s immigration status.



  • Amy Klobuchar will hold a roundtable with health officials, first responders, and healthcare and treatment professionals on the opioid crisis in Minnesota Thursday.



  • Seth Moulton advocated a public option rather than single-payer healthcare during a hearing on various Medicare for All proposals.





  • Tim Ryan discussed Chinese tariffs, the economy, Nancy Pelosi, and why he changed his mind on abortion access in an interview on WBUR’s Here & Now.





  • Marianne Williamson made a three-day swing through New Hampshire from Tuesday through Thursday. She also appeared on Fox News, where she criticized the debate qualification criteria set by the Democratic National Committee. Williamson has met the minimum qualification for the debate via fundraising.




  • Mike Pence attended a kickoff event in North Carolina for the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Charlotte next year.


General Election Updates

  • The Nevada State Senate passed a bill supporting the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak, Nevada would be the 15th state to join the agreement, bringing the total electoral votes covered by the agreement up to 195. The compact will only take effect once 270 electors are pledged.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 23, 2015

Ben Carson won the Southern Republican Leadership Conference straw poll with 25 percent of the vote. Scott Walker and Ted Cruz followed with 21 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Bennet releases $1T climate change proposal

May 21, 2019: Michael Bennet released his land management-focused climate change proposal. Libertarians call on Justin Amash to leave the Republican Party and run for president.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

What was the first presidential election where candidates were nominated at party conventions?

  1. 1796→
  2. 1832→
  3. 1880→
  4. 1972→

Notable Quote of the Day

“You have to air these things [White House policy proposals] now. Democrats are taking up all this space because you have so many of them. We have to offer all our plans earlier because the Democrats are otherwise going to be given free rein.”

– Brad Blakeman, former George W. Bush administration senior staffer


  • Michael Bennet released his $1 trillion climate change platform focused on land management and agriculture Monday. He called for investing in biofuels, reaching 100% net zero emissions by 2050, and conserving roughly one-third of U.S. lands and ocean territory. 
  • CNN announced it will hold four more town halls in late May and early June with Bennet, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, and Eric Swalwell.
  • Joe Biden campaigned in Nashville, Tennessee, where he framed his campaign as an effort to restore the soul of America.
  • Bill de Blasio discussed his presidential campaign and Trump on CNN’s New Day.
  • Steve Bullock said he could win in red states and that Citizens United was preventing Washington, D.C., from working properly.
  • Pete Buttigieg held a fundraiser at Wynwood Walls in Miami, Florida, Monday.
  • KUT News profiled Julián Castro and his “People First” immigration platform.
  • The Independent Journal Review launched its new “The 2020 Twenty” series by asking John Delaney 20 questions about his policy priorities, North Korea, marijuana, artificial intelligence, and other issues.
  • Tulsi Gabbard continued to criticize the Trump administration on its Iran policy and said she had not seen sufficient intelligence information on a potential threat.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand discussed abortion access during an interview on The Daily Show Monday night.
  • Forward profiled David Oks, the high school senior managing Mike Gravel’s campaign.
  • Kamala Harris said she believed fatal police shootings and alleged police brutality incidents should have independent investigations, marking a shift from her previous opposition to taking investigatory discretion from district attorneys.
  • John Hickenlooper gave his first foreign policy speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Monday, where he discussed U.S. relations with China, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea. He said he would use an “activist, not a pacifist” approach to foreign policy.
  • Jay Inslee explained how a public healthcare option will work in Washington in an interview with Vox.
  • Amy Klobuchar discussed Alzheimer’s disease research and caregiving and shared her experience of having a parent in a memory care community.
  • Wayne Messam will campaign in New Hampshire Tuesday, holding a meet and greet with the New Hampshire Young Democrats.
  • Beto O’Rourke said he would participate in a town hall on Fox News. He is scheduled to appear in a CNN town hall Tuesday from Iowa.
  • The New York Times profiled Bernie Sanders and his time as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. 
  • Elizabeth Warren joined Inslee in calling for a debate focused entirely on climate change.
  • Marianne Williamson discussed abortion and moral leadership in the White House on ABC News’ The Briefing Room and Bloomberg’s Balance of Power.
  • Andrew Yang will join SEIU Local 199 President Cathy Gleeson at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday.


  • Donald Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania to support Fred Keller (R) against Marc Friedenberg (D) in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. While discussing the 2020 election, Trump focused on Pennsylvania-born Joe Biden, saying he deserted the state by representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate.
  • Bill Weld will speak at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Massachusetts about his presidential campaign.

On the Cusp: Tracking Potential Candidates

  • Libertarian National Committee Chairman Nicholas Sarwark said there was an organized recruitment effort to encourage Justin Amash to switch to the Libertarian Party and run for president after Amash became the first Republican to say he supported impeachment proceedings against Trump based on the Mueller report.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: May 21, 2015

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Donald Trump discussed Chinese currency manipulation and said he would not cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.

New Jersey governor conditionally vetoes expanded donor disclosure requirements for 501(c)(4) and 527 groups

On May 13, Governor Phil Murphy (D) conditionally vetoed S1500, legislation that would require 501(c)(4)s, super PACs, and other entities to disclose their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.

In his veto statement, Murphy said, “I commend my colleagues in the Legislature for seeking to ensure that so-called ‘dark money’ is brought out into the open. However, I am mindful that such efforts must be carefully balanced against constitutionally protected speech and association rights. Because certain provisions of Senate Bill No. 1500 (Fifth Reprint) may infringe on both, and because the bill does not go far enough in mandating disclosures of political activity that can be constitutionally required, I cannot support it in its current form.”

  • What comes next? With his conditional veto, Murphy delineated his objections to the bill and proposed amendments to address them. This differs from an absolute veto (i.e., an outright gubernatorial rejection of a proposed law). Should the legislature adopt an amended version of the bill, it will return to Murphy’s desk for his consideration.

    The legislature can also, by a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber, override Murphy’s veto and enact the bill. The Senate approved the bill 33-to-0, with seven members not voting. The Assembly approved the bill 60-to-1, with two members not voting and 17 abstaining. Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature, with a 26-to-14 majority in the Senate and a 54-to-26 majority in the Assembly.     

    • The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Troy Singleton (D) and Asm. Andrew Zwicker (D), said: “The governor says that this bill ‘falls short’ of the goal to bring greater transparency to our political process. That is a gross misrepresentation of months and, frankly, years of hard work. The only thing that fell short today was the governor’s will to truly address the behemoth of dark money that has eroded the public’s trust in our government.”
  • What does the legislation propose?
    • As adopted, S1500 would define an independent expenditure committee as any person or group of persons organized under sections 501(c)(4) or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code spending $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about any of the following:
      • “the outcome of any election or the nomination, election, or defeat of any person to any state or local elective public office”
      • “the passage or defeat of any public question, legislation, or regulation”
    • Under S1500, independent expenditure committees would be required to disclose all expenditures exceeding $3,000. These committees would also be required to disclose the identities of donors contributing $10,000 or more.


What we’re reading


The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state: We’re currently tracking 72 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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

  • Massachusetts H686: This bill would require groups producing electioneering communications to disclose to the public certain information about donations coming from foreign sources.
    • Joint Committee on Election Laws hearing May 15.
  • Missouri HB394: This bill would require any entity not a defined as a committee under the state’s campaign finance laws that spends $500 or more to support or oppose candidates or ballot measures to file quarterly donor reports. Included in those reports would be the names and addresses of donors who gave more than $50 to the entity in that quarter.
    • Referred to House General Laws Committee May 17.
  • Missouri HB513: This bill would require any committees that receive contributions or make expenditures for inaugural activities to file disclosure reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
    • Referred to House General Laws Committee May 17.
  • Missouri HB886: This bill would lower the disclosure threshold for contributors to ballot measure campaigns from $500 in aggregate to $25 or more in aggregate during an election cycle.  
    • Referred to House Elections and Elected Officials Committee May 17.
  • New Hampshire SB105: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
    • House Election Law Committee executive session May 16.
  • New Hampshire SB156: This bill would require that political contributions made by limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits.
    • House Election Law Committee executive session May 16.
  • New Jersey S1500: This bill would require disclosure of donors to 501(c)(4)s, super PACs, and other similar entities who give $10,000 or more.
    • Conditionally vetoed May 13.