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Wait! The primaries aren’t over yet

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 18, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. America’s final partisan primary
  2. Previewing Minnesota’s gubernatorial election
  3. Maryland one of five states to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana

America’s final partisan primary

And you thought the primaries were all over!

Today, Oct. 18, Democratic voters in Connecticut’s House District 127 are casting their ballots in the country’s final partisan primary of the year.

This is a court-ordered redo election. The initial primary took place on Aug. 9. After two recounts, initial results showed challenger Marcus Brown defeating incumbent John Hennessy by two votes, 573 to 571. The Superior Court of Bridgeport invalidated the original results on Oct. 4 and scheduled a new election.

Following the second recount, Hennessy, first elected in 2004, appealed the results. An evidentiary hearing found that four voters cast absentee ballots they received after submitting ineligible applications. Those four voters said their applications were signed and sent without their knowledge in violation of state law, making their submitted ballots ineligible.

Judge Barry Stevens said he had to infer the final recount included the four ineligible absentee ballots. Since the margin of victory was fewer votes than the number of ineligible ballots, Stevens did not approve the results of the final recount.

Officials must certify the results of the new primary by 5 p.m. on Oct. 19.

The winner of the new primary will face Anthony Puccio (R) on Nov. 8. 

Connecticut is one of eight states that allows fusion voting, in which candidates can receive nominations from more than one party. Regardless of the outcome of the new primary, Hennessy will appear on the general election ballot as a candidate for the Working Families Party.

Keep reading 

Previewing Minnesota’s gubernatorial election

Next, in our previews of battleground elections this year, is Minnesota’s gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Gov. Tim Walz (D), former state Sen. Scott Jensen (R), and four other candidates are running.

Walz was first elected in 2018, defeating Jeff Johnson (R) 54% to 42%. He represented Minnesota’s 1st U.S. House District from 2007 to 2019. Walz said he “balanced every budget while cutting taxes … and making critical investments to expand access to training opportunities and community college programs.”

Jensen, a physician, was a member of the Waconia School Board from 1993 to 2002, and, later, served in the state Senate from 2017 to 2021. Jensen said, “Our great State has suffered under unilateral control, partisan bickering, and political brinksmanship … We need a new vision, a new prescription.”

Minnesota has had a Democratic governor since the 2010 election of Mark Dayton. The last incumbent governor to lose re-election in Minnesota was Rudy Perpich (D), who lost to Al Quie (R) in 1978.

An average of three recent polls found Walz leading Jensen 49% to 40%, though the most recent poll, released on Sept. 18, found Walz at 48% and Jensen at 45%.

Two election forecasters rate the election as Likely Democratic and one rates it as Lean Democratic.

Other candidates on the ballot include Steve Patterson (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis), Hugh McTavish (Independence), James McCaskel (Legal Marijuana Now), and Gabrielle Prosser (Socialist Workers). 

Minor party candidates received 5.5% of the vote in the 2014 gubernatorial contest and 3.7% in 2018.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) beat Donald Trump (R) in Minnesota 46% to 45%. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) defeated Trump 52% to 45%.

This race could affect Minnesota’s trifecta status. Minnesota is one of 13 states with a divided government, with Democrats controlling the governorship and state House and Republicans controlling the state Senate. Since 1992, Minnesota has had a divided government for 28 out of those 30 years.

Keep reading 

Maryland one of five states to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana

Today is the 36th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Maryland, the Old Line State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah
Week Eight: Mississippi

On the ballot in Maryland

At the federal level, Marylanders will elect one U.S. Senator and eight U.S. Representatives. One House district—the 4th—is open.

Four state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller.

All 188 state legislative seats—141 in the House and 47 in the Senate—are up for election. State legislators in Maryland serve four-year terms, meaning the winners of these races will hold office until 2026.

One seat on the state’s supreme court—called the Court of Appeals—and four seats on the intermediate appellate court—the Court of Special Appeals—are on the ballot, with the current officeholders standing for retention.

We are also covering local elections in Baltimore and eight school districts.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Maryland remained the same at eight following the 2020 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to compare each district. Here’s an example of what Maryland’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our map comparison tools by visiting our Maryland redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Maryland’s U.S. Senators—Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent seven of the state’s U.S. House districts and Republicans represent one.
  • Maryland has had a Republican governor since Larry Hogan’s election in 2014. Hogan is term-limited this year.
  • Democrats hold a 32-15 majority in the Senate and a 99-42 majority in the House.
  • With a Republican governor and Democratic legislature, Maryland is one of 13 states with a divided government. It has held this status since Hogan’s election.
  • In addition to the governor, Maryland has a Republican secretary of state, while the attorney general is a Democrat, making the state one of nine without a state government triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

This year, 93 state legislative seats in Maryland, or 49% of those up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either major party runs for a state legislative seat, the seat is all but guaranteed to be won by that party.

Democrats are running for 160 seats (85%). Twenty-eight seats (15%) do not feature a Democratic candidate, meaning Republicans will likely win.

Republicans are running for 123 seats (65%). Sixty-five seats (35%) do not feature a Republican candidate, meaning Democrats will likely win.

Key races

  • Governor: Wes Moore (D), Dan Cox (R), and four others are running. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited. This is one of six governorships Republicans are defending in a state Biden  won in 2020. Our trifecta vulnerability analysis found Maryland to be one of four states where Democrats have a moderate chance of forming a new trifecta.
  • House of Delegates District 29B: incumbent Brian Crosby (D) faces Deb Rey (R) in a rematch from 2018. That year, Crosby defeated then-incumbent Rey 53% to 47%.

Ballot measures

There are five measures on the ballot this year, including:

  • Question 4: would amend the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years or older. Maryland is one of five states with a measure related to recreational marijuana on the ballot this year. Lawmakers legalized medicinal marijuana in 2013 and decriminalized possession in 2014.
  • Question 1: would rename the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s court of final resort, to the Supreme Court of Maryland and rename the Maryland Court of Special Appeals to the Appellate Court of Maryland. Maryland is, along with New York, one of two states that do not refer to their court of final resort as a supreme court.

Between 1985 and 2020, 54 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots. Forty-nine were approved and five were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • In most cases, Maryland does not require voters to present identification while voting. To read about cases where an ID is required, click here.
  • Early voting is available from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.
  • Today, Oct. 18, is the voter registration deadline. Voters may register online, by mail, or in person. Mailed registrations must be postmarked by Oct. 18. Maryland also allows same-day registration during the early voting period and on Election Day.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee. Election officials must receive absentee/mail-in ballot applications by Nov. 1. Completed ballots must be either returned in person by 8 p.m. on Election Day or postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 10 days after the election.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading



Checks and Balances, October 2022: Biden administration codifies DACA

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

This edition: 

In this month’s edition of Checks and Balances, we review the United States Supreme Court’s recent activity, including oral argument in a case challenging the scope of the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Water Act; a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that responds to the codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program; a new challenge to the structure and authority of the Federal Trade Commission; and a record number of public comments received in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX rule. 

At the state level, we take a look at inaction by Utah state lawmakers allowing for an administrative rulemaking to permit the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in the state; and a preemption conflict between the state of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia mayor regarding firearm restrictions.

We also highlight an examination of potential congressional responses to the major questions doctrine from administrative law scholar Christopher J. Walker. As always, we wrap up with our Regulatory Tally, which features information about the 149 proposed rules and 290 final rules added to the Federal Register in September and OIRA’s regulatory review activity.


In Washington

SCOTUS hears oral argument in Clean Water Act challenge, declines to take up bump stock case

What’s the story?

The U.S. Supreme Court on October 3, 2022, kicked off the October 2022-2023 term with oral argument in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a case concerning the scope of the EPA’s authority to determine what wetlands are considered to be “Waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). While much of the justice’s questioning centered on the agency’s interpretation of the rule’s scope, Justice Brett Kavanaugh “suggested that Congress, rather than the Supreme Court, should determine how to draw the line between what is and is not covered by the CWA,” according to SCOTUSblog’s Amy Howe.

The court without comment on October 3 declined to hear Aposhian v. Garland and Gun Owners of America v. Garland—two cases challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) ban on bump stock devices. The agency in 2019 changed its prior interpretation of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act to find that bump stocks qualify as machine guns and can therefore be prohibited. The court’s decision leaves in place a district court ruling that applied Chevron deference to yield to the agency’s changed interpretation of the law and uphold the bump stock ban.

The court also granted certiorari in the following cases concerning administrative exhaustion requirements and the scope of agency authority:

  • Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools questions the need to satisfy certain administrative exhaustion requirements related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA) administrative proceedings. 
  • Santos-Zacaria v. Garland questions whether federal courts can hear a challenge to a determination from the Board of Immigration Appeals before the plaintiff exhausts the board’s administrative proceedings through a motion to reconsider. 
  • The Ohio Adjutant General’s Department v. Federal Labor Relations Authority questions whether the Federal Labor Relations Authority has regulatory authority over state militias.

Want to go deeper?

Federal courts grapple with DACA, separation of powers challenges

What’s the story? 

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on October 5, 2022, upheld a district court decision that found the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows certain individuals brought to the United States without legal permission as minors to continue living and working in the country, to be unlawful. The judges remanded the case to the district court for further review in light of the Biden administration’s recent effort to codify DACA through the rulemaking process.

A coalition of states in 2018 filed suit in Texas v. United States, arguing in part that the Obama administration unlawfully created DACA through a memo, rather than a rule. Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in July 2021 ruled in favor of the states and instituted a pause on new DACA applicants.

Fifth Circuit Judges Priscilla Richman, James C. Ho, and Kurt Engelhardtl upheld the district court ruling but directed the court to reevaluate its holding in light of the Biden administration’s recent effort to codify DACA through the administrative rulemaking process, arguing that the “district court is in the best position to review the administrative record in the rulemaking proceeding.” The final rule, effective October 31, aims to “preserve and fortify” the program, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

In another case to watch, Walmart on August 29, 2022, filed a motion to dismiss a suit brought against the company by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), arguing that the FTC “lacks constitutionally valid authority to initiate litigation seeking monetary or injunctive relief,” according to the filing. Since the FTC is structured as an independent agency headed by a multi-member commission with protections against removal by the president, Walmart contends that the commission lacks the executive authority to sue private parties in federal court.

Want to go deeper?

Title IX proposal garners record number of public comments

What’s the story? 

The comment period for the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) proposed rule seeking to modify Title IX discrimination protections closed on September 12, 2022, after receiving a record number of public comments for the department, according to multiple media reports.

The proposed rule aims to roll back the Trump administration’s Title IX rule, which narrowed the Obama administration’s definition of sexual misconduct at institutions of higher education and sought to support due process for accused individuals by requiring live hearings. The Biden administration’s proposal also broadens the definition of the word sex in the context of discrimination to include not only biological sex but also sexual orientation and gender identity, among other provisions.

Politico reported that the rule had received 146,000 comments as of September 6. That number rose to nearly 350,000 comments by September 7, but the Office of the Federal Register adjusted the total down to roughly 184,000 comments due to what the office described as a clerical error. By the end of the comment period on September 12, the rule had received more than 240,000 public comments.

Nineteen Democratic U.S. senators on September 12 sent a letter to ED Secretary Miguel Cardona in support of the rule, arguing that “the Department’s proposed rule clarifies the scope and application of Title IX’s prohibitions on all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sex, sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, and sexual orientation—explicitly extending these protections to trans students.”

Former ED Secretary Betsy Devos argued on Twitter that the proposed rule constitutes a return to challenges that the Trump-era rule sought to address. She also told Fox News that changing the Title IX definition of sex through the rulemaking process “is a bridge too far.” A coalition of 27 parent-led education groups in April sent a letter to Secretary Cardona arguing in part that the proposal “would discard the concept of male and female enshrined in Title IX itself” and “would rob girls and women of equal athletic opportunities.”

Want to go deeper?

In the states

Utah state agency to allow sale of mini-bottles of alcohol after non-action by state lawmakers

What’s the story? 

After the Utah State Legislature earlier this year declined to weigh in on the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in the state, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services (DABS) voted on July 26, 2022, to advance a proposed rule allowing for the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol in state-run liquor stores. A public comment period on the proposal runs through October 17, 2022.  

The sale of mini-bottles of alcohol has been prohibited in Utah since the 1980s. The proposed rule would allow for the sale of 50 ml bottles of liquor and 187 ml bottles of wine in state-run liquor stores. DABS Executive Director Tiffany Clason told Fox 13 Salt Lake City that the decision to resume the sale of mini-bottles is aimed at accommodating the growing tourism industry in the state, arguing that DABS “has heard a lot of support from private business owners, also in high tourist areas of visitorship, rural areas of Utah where, when people are visiting, they would prefer to have smaller format sizes.” 

Abuse prevention advocates, including DABS Advisory Board member Robert Timerman, have expressed concern about the proposal. Timmerman argued during the July 26 DABS meeting that mini-bottles could allow for the concealment of alcohol and are “a concern on underage drinking as well.”

The Utah State Legislature passed an omnibus liquor bill in 2022 that did not address the sale of mini-bottles of alcohol. Fox 13 reported that the legislature “signaled it would stay out of the matter and allow the DABS to decide whether or not to allow the sale.” If finalized by DABS, the mini-bottles rule could take effect by the end of the year.

Want to go deeper?

Philadelphia mayor seeks to limit firearms through executive action

What’s the story? 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an executive order on September 27, 2022, that aims to ban firearms from indoor and outdoor recreation areas in the city. Judge Joshua H. Roberts of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court blocked the executive order on October 3, 2022, arguing that it violates state law.  

Pennsylvania law states that local governments cannot enact firearm regulations that are stricter than the state’s regulations. More than 40 states have similar preemption laws. The Philadelphia City Council has previously attempted to prohibit firearms through legislation, but its efforts have been struck down in court based on the state’s preemption statute. 

Mayor Kenney’s executive order seeks to limit firearms in the city through executive, rather than legislative, action. City officials have argued that the order aims to allow the city to manage its facilities as a property owner and, therefore, should not be barred by the law. Andrew Richman, a city attorney, told The Associated Press, “As the property owner of the city’s recreational centers, we believe that the city has the authority to limit guns on our own property.”

The ​​501(c)(4) advocacy group Gun Owners of America (GOA) on September 27 filed suit to challenge the executive order. Judge Roberts later blocked the order on the grounds that it violated state law. GOA attorney Andrew B. Austin told The Philadelphia Inquirer that “the law is so explicit: The City is not allowed to regulate possession of firearms in any manner.”

City officials were reviewing Judge Roberts’ ruling as of October 13, 2022.

Want to go deeper?

____________________________________________________________________________

How Congress could respond to the major questions doctrine

In a forthcoming essay in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy titled “A Congressional Review Act for the Major Questions Doctrine,” administrative law scholar Christopher J. Walker examines potential congressional responses to the major questions doctrine with an emphasis on its deregulatory implications. Walker proposes a mechanism in the spirit of the Congressional Review Act that would expedite congressional review of agency rules invalidated by federal courts under the major questions doctrine:

“Last Term, the Supreme Court recognized a new major questions doctrine, which requires Congress to provide clear statutory authorization for an agency to regulate a question of great economic, policy, or political significance. This new substantive canon of statutory interpretation will be invoked in court challenges to federal agency actions across the country, and it will no doubt spark considerable scholarly attention. This Essay does not wade into those doctrinal or theoretical debates. Instead, it suggests one way Congress could respond, by enacting a Congressional Review Act for the major questions doctrine. In other words, Congress could enact a fast-track legislative process that bypasses the Senate filibuster and similar slow-down mechanisms whenever a federal court invalidates an agency rule on major questions doctrine grounds. The successful passage of such joint resolution would amend the agency’s governing statute to expressly authorize the regulatory power the agency had claimed in the invalidated rule. In so doing, Congress would more easily have the opportunity to decide the major policy question itself—tempering the new doctrine’s asymmetric deregulatory effect and helping to restore Congress’s primary legislative role in the modern administrative state.”

Want to go deeper

  • Click here to read the full text of “A Congressional Review Act for the Major Questions Doctrine” by Christopher J. Walker. 

____________________________________________________________________________

Regulatory tally

Federal Register

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)

OIRA’s September regulatory review activity included the following actions:

  • Review of 45 significant regulatory actions. 
  • Nine rules approved without changes; recommended changes to 32 proposed rules; three rules withdrawn from the review process; one rule subject to a statutory or judicial deadline. 
  • As of October 3, 2022, OIRA’s website listed 119 regulatory actions under review.
  • Want to go deeper? 


Over 50% of Americans won’t have finalized election results until three weeks after the election

Welcome to the Monday, October 17, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Here’s when your state will finalize its election results
  2. This week’s major voter participation dates and deadlines
  3. Explore Mississippi’s general election ballot

Here’s when your state will finalize its election results

After voters cast their ballots, election officials begin the process of tabulating and eventually finalizing, or certifying, the election results. 

Each state has its own deadline that is generally fixed by state law. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to look far to find out when your state will finalize its results. Here are our findings:

  • Five states have certification deadlines within one week of the election. Delaware’s is the earliest: Nov. 10.
  • In 14 states, the certification deadlines fall between two and three weeks after the election (Nov. 23-29).
  • Looking at just the 50 states, more than 50% of the U.S. population lives in states with certification deadlines more than three weeks after the election.
  • Five states—Hawaii, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Tennessee—do not have fixed certification deadlines.

View more state-specific information here.

The two terms you might hear the most during the finalization process are canvassing and certification

  • Canvassing generally refers to how state and local officials confirm the validity of ballots cast in an election.
  • Certification is the process officials use to formalize the election results based on that canvas.

Some states, localities, and commentators might use the two terms interchangeably to describe the general process of counting ballots and formalizing results.

Immediately after the election, you’ll begin to hear commentators discuss unofficial vote totals. These totals remain unofficial until after the results are certified. When an election has a large enough margin of victory, those unofficial totals are often enough to determine who won and lost. But close races might go uncalled until official, certified results are released.

To stay up-to-date with changes to laws affecting election certification, and any other aspect of the electoral process, be sure to visit our election legislation tracker and subscribe to our weekly digest.

Use the link below to learn more about how election results are finalized and see more details on the specific dates by state.

Keep reading 

This week’s major voter participation dates and deadlines

Election Day is 22 days away, but there are plenty of important dates and deadlines coming up between now and Nov. 8. Here’s a look at the major voter participation deadlines taking place between Oct. 17 and 22.

Early voting begins in nine states this week:

Click here to learn more about early voting in your state.

Voter registration deadlines are coming up in 11 states and Washington, D.C.:

Click here to learn more about voter registration deadlines in your state.

Remember: you can check out our 2022 Election Help Desk for answers to the most frequently asked questions about voting, election results reporting, and post-election issues.

Keep reading 

Explore Mississippi’s general election ballot

Today is the 35th day of our 50 States in 50 Days series, and we’re featuring Mississippi, the Magnolia State!

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama, Utah

On the ballot in Mississippi

At the federal level, Mississippians will elect four U.S. Representatives. Three incumbents are on the ballot. U.S. Rep. Steve Palazzo lost to Mike Ezell in a Republican primary runoff earlier this year.

Mississippi is one of four states—along with Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia—that hold state-level elections in odd-numbered years, so no state executive or legislative offices are on the ballot this year.

Four intermediate appellate court positions are up for election, one of which is contested. We are also covering school board elections in the DeSoto County School District.

Redistricting highlights

The number of U.S. House districts in Mississippi remained the same at four following the 2020 census.

Congressional elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map tool allows you to compare each district. Here’s an example of what Mississippi’s congressional map looked like before and after the 2020 census:

You can interact with our map comparison tools by visiting our Mississippi redistricting page here.

Partisan balance

  • Both of Mississippi’s U.S. Senators—Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker—are Republicans.
  • Of the state’s four U.S. House districts, Democrats hold one and Republicans hold three.
  • Mississippi has had a Republican governor since 2004.
  • Republicans hold a 36-16 majority in the state Senate and a 76-42-3 majority in the state House.
  • With a Republican governor and majorities in both legislative chambers, Mississippi is one of 23 Republican trifectas, a status it has held since 2012.
  • In addition to the governor, Mississippi has a Republican attorney general and secretary of state, making it one of 23 states with a Republican triplex.

Key races

  • State House District 37: Andy Boyd faces David Chism in a special election to serve the remainder of Rep. Lynn Wright’s (R) unexpired term. Special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan, meaning candidates will appear on the ballot without party labels. Chism ran for the seat in a 2020 special election, losing to Wright 63% to 37%.
  • DeSoto County Schools: two of the board’s six seats are up for election. This is one of the more than 400 school board races we are tracking this November where candidates or local media have brought up issues relating to race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and/or sex and gender in schools. Learn more about our school board conflicts coverage here.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Mississippi this year.

In Mississippi, 41 measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Thirty-two were approved, and eight were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Mississippi requires voters to present identification when voting. For more information, click here.
  • Mississippi does not allow early voting.
  • Absentee/mail-in voting is available to certain voters who cannot vote in person on Election Day for an eligible reason. Click here for a list of those reasons. These ballots must be either returned in person or postmarked by Election Day.
  • The voter registration deadline was Oct. 10.

Keep reading



Election Legislation Weekly Digest: October 14, 2022

Here is our weekly round-up on election-related legislation. In it, you’ll find the following information: 

  • Noteworthy bills: Here, we identify and report on the contents and legislative status of noteworthy bills. 
  • Recent activity: Here, we report on the number of bills acted on within the past week. 
  • The big picture: Here, we look at the bills in the aggregate. 
    • Legislative status: How many bills have been introduced, voted upon, or enacted into law?
    • Concentration of activity: What states have seen the highest concentration of legislative activity?
    • Partisan affiliation of sponsorship: How many bills have been sponsored by Democrats vs. Republicans? 
    • Subject: What subjects are most commonly addressed in the bills? 

Noteworthy bills

This part of our report highlights recent activity on specific noteworthy bills. A bill is noteworthy if it meets one or more of the following criteria: 

  • It has been enacted into law. 
  • It is poised to be enacted into law. 
  • It is the subject of significant debate in the legislature. 
  • It is the subject of significant commentary by activists, journalists, etc. 

California AB2841: This bill requires the clerk of each superior court to notify the Secretary of State each month of findings made by the court regarding a person’s competency to vote and the number of court proceedings related to the determination of a person’s competency to vote. The Secretary of State must send this information to the appropriate county elections official, who must cancel the person’s registration or notify the person that the person’s right to vote has been restored.

Legislative history: On Aug. 29, the state Senate approved the final version of the bill 29-9. On Aug. 30, the state Assembly approved the bill 59-18. The bill was presented to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 9. Newsom signed the bill on Sept. 29.

Political context: California is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. 

Recent activity

Since October 7, five bills have been acted on in some way. These five bills represent 0.2 percent of the 2,522 bills we are tracking. All five of these bills (100.0%) are from states with divided governments. 

The bar chart below compares recent activity on a week-to-week basis over the last eight weeks. 

  • 2 bills were introduced (or saw pre-committee action).
    • Divided governments: 2.
  • 1 bill advanced from committee (or saw post-committee action).
    • Divided governments: 1.
  • 2 bills passed one chamber (or saw pre-adoption action in the second chamber).
    • Divided governments: 2.

The map below visualizes the concentration of this recent activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been acted upon in the last week. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of bills that have been acted upon in the last week. 

The big picture

To date, we have tracked 2,522 election-related bills. This represents a marginal increase as compared to last week’s total. These bills were either introduced this year or crossed over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Legislative status 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of the bills we are tracking. The following status indicators are used: 

  • Introduced: The bill has been pre-filed, introduced, or referred to committee but has not otherwise been acted upon.
  • Advanced from committee: The bill has received a favorable vote in committee. It has either advanced to another committee or to the floor for a vote. 
  • Passed one chamber: The bill has been approved by one legislative chamber.
  • Conference committee: Differing versions of the bill have been approved by their respective chambers and a conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the differences. 
  • Passed both chambers: The bill has cleared both chambers of the legislature. 
  • Enacted: The bill has been enacted into law, by gubernatorial action or inaction or veto override. 
  • Vetoed: The bill has been vetoed. 
  • Dead: The bill has been defeated in committee or by floor vote. 

The pie charts below visualize the legislative status of bills in Democratic and Republican trifectas, respectively. 

Concentration of activity

The map below visualizes the concentration of legislative activity across the nation. A darker shade of yellow indicates a higher number of relevant bills that have been introduced. A lighter shade of yellow indicates a lower number of relevant bills. 

Partisan affiliation of sponsor(s)

The pie chart below visualizes the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors.

The bar chart below visualizes the correlation between the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors and trifecta status (e.g., how many Democratic-sponsored bills were introduced in Democratic trifectas vs. Republican trifectas).

Bills by topic

The chart below presents information on the total number of bills dealing with particular topics. The number listed on the blue portion of each bar indicates the number of Democratic-sponsored bills dealing with the subject in question. The number listed on the red portion of the bar indicates the number of Republican-sponsored bills. The purple and gray portions of the bar indicate the number of bipartisan-sponsored bills and bills with unspecified sponsorship, respectively. Note that the numbers listed here will not, when summed, equal the total number of bills because some bills deal with multiple topics.



What candidates are saying in Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Welcome to the Friday, October 14, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Hear from California controller and Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79 candidates in their own words
  2. Battleground preview—U.S. Senate election North Carolina 
  3. 45% of all Utah state legislative seats lack a Democratic candidate this year

Hear from California controller and Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79 candidates in their own words

This year, we’ve periodically featured responses to our Candidate Connection survey from races with a 100% completion rate. We created the survey to help solve the ballot information problem because we believe everyone deserves meaningful, reliable, trustworthy information about their candidates. 

Here are a few recent examples of elections where all candidates completed the survey. We’ll be back next week with some details on some of the lighter survey questions (such as favorite song and fictional character—stay tuned!).

California controller election

In yesterday’s edition of the Daily Brew, we looked at elections for state financial officers like treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers. 

One of the state financial officer elections we’re watching is for California controller (most states refer to this position as comptroller). Candidates Malia Cohen (D) and Lanhee Chen (R) both completed the survey. Incumbent Betty Yee (D) is term-limited.

Here’re excerpts from Cohen’s and Chen’s answers to the following question: Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

Cohen:

  • “I want to bring equity and justice to the State Controller’s office to reduce historic inequalities. The Controller has the ability to spotlight issues and can produce data to inform policymakers on important decisions. I have done this throughout my career. While on the Board of Supervisors, I passed legislation requiring the San Francisco Police Department to produce quarterly reports on the use of force. I’ve also worked to make the San Francisco budgeting process more transparent to end political payouts that hinder the process. I am committed to transparency and making decisions that help build a California where everyone thrives.”

Chen:

  • “As Controller, I will hold policy makers accountable for keeping the promises they make. For too long, the one-party monopoly in Sacramento has resulted in politicians protecting one another rather than being accountable to taxpayers. This is particularly important as we consider the challenges that we faced during the recent pandemic. California taxpayers deserve answers to questions like how tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance during the pandemic were spent. And whether school districts are actually using the funding they’ve received to help get our kids back into the classroom safely. These are the sorts of questions that, as Controller, I will answer on behalf of taxpayers.”

In the 2018 election for California controller, Yee defeated Konstantinos Roditis (R) 65.5% to 34.5%.

Democrats hold six of the nine comptroller offices up for election this year, while Republicans hold three. 

Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79

Incumbent Melissa Provenzano (D) and Paul Hassink (R) are running for Oklahoma House of Representatives District 79. Provenzano was first elected in 2018. In 2020, she defeated Margie Alfonso (R) 51.8% to 48.2%. District 79 covers parts of the cities of Tulsa and Broken Arrow. 

Here’s how Provenzano and Hassink answered the following question: What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?

Provenzano

  • “Oklahoma has a supermajority of one party, which has proven to be problematic and prone to extremism and corruption. No one party should have total power, regardless of political persuasion.”

Hassink

  • “Oklahoma has many great resources; the greatest of which is its citizens. With our oil and gas economy under attack by the federal government and inflation climbing rapidly, it is difficult to retain the next generation of Oklahomans as they seek opportunity in other states. If I am elected, I will focus on developing our economy with lower taxes, focusing education on students, and creating well-paid jobs, so that we can retain talent in Oklahoma.”

As of Oct. 13, we’ve posted Candidate Connection survey responses for 143 races nationwide where all candidates running completed our survey — including for six U.S. House and seven state executive elections. Is an election on your ballot one of them?  

Click below to view all races with a 100% survey response rate, and if you’d like to learn more about the candidates on your ballot, ask them to fill out the survey.

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Battleground preview—U.S. Senate election North Carolina 

Election Day is 26 days away (!), and we’re bringing you stories from the battleground races we’re following between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at North Carolina’s U.S. Senate election.

Former state supreme court justice Cheri Beasley (D), U.S. Rep Ted Budd (R), and seven others are running in the general election.

Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R)—who first took office in 2005—is not seeking re-election. In 2020, incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) defeated Cal Cunningham (D), 49% to 47%. In 2016, Burr defeated Deborah Ross (D), 51% to 45%.

Beasley served as a North Carolina district court justice from 1999 to 2008 and as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2008 to 2012. Gov. Bev Perdue (D) appointed Beasley to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2012, where she was chief justice from 2019 to 2020. Beasley has also worked as an assistant public defender and a partner at McGuireWoods LLP. Beasley said she was running to “fight to lower costs, create good-paying jobs and expand access to affordable, quality health care in every part of North Carolina.”

Budd was first elected to North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Before serving in the U.S. House, Budd was an investment analyst and owner of a gun range and store. Budd says he is “gravely concerned about our country’s future, because North Carolina families, our values, and our jobs are under attack every day in Washington.”[5]

The two most recent presidential elections in North Carolina were both decided by less than 4 percentage points. In 2020, incumbent President Donald Trump (R) defeated President Joe Biden (D), 49.9% to 48.6%. In 2016, Trump carried North Carolina with 49.8% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 46.2%.

Election forecasters consider this race to Lean Republican or Tilt Republican

Minor party, independent, and write-in candidates include Matthew Hoh (G), Shannon Bray (L), and independent candidates Hayden Boyette, Michelle Lewis, Kimrey Rhinehardt, Brenda Rodriguez, and Marc White.

Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Control of the 50-50 Senate is expected to be decided by one of nine races.

Click below to learn more about this race, including candidate ads, noteworthy endorsements, and polling. 

Keep reading 

45% of all Utah state legislative seats lack a Democratic candidate this year

Today is the 34th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Utah, the Beehive State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, Alabama

On the ballot in Utah

At the federal level, Utah voters will elect one U.S. Senator and four U.S. Representatives. 

At the state executive level, the treasurer and eight of 15 seats on the state Board of Education are up for election. 

One seat on the Utah Supreme Court is also up for a retention election

Finally, 15 of 29 seats in the state Senate and all 75 seats in the state House are up for election. There are eight open seats in the legislature.  

Redistricting highlights

Utah was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, no change from its seats after the 2010 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Utah: 

To use our tool to view Utah’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Utah redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Utah’s U.S. Senators—Mike Lee and Mitt Romney—are Republicans.
  • All four of Utah’s U.S. Representatives are Republicans. 
  • Republicans hold a 23-6 majority in the state Senate and a 58-17 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Republican, Utah is one of 23 Republican trifectas. Utah is the only state to have remained a trifecta from 1992 to 2022.
  • Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, is a Republican. Utah’s last Democratic governor was Scott Matheson, who left office in 1985.
  • Utah’s attorney general is also a Republican, making the state one of 23 with a Republican triplex (Utah is one of three states that does not have a secretary of state).  

Seats contested by only one major party

This year, 44 state legislative seats in Utah, or 48% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, that party is all but guaranteed to win.

Democrats are running in 54% of all state legislative races. Forty-one state legislative seats (45% of all state legislative seats) do not have a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 97% of all state legislative races. Three seats (3% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

Ballot measures

One statewide ballot measure is certified to appear on the Utah ballot: Utah Constitutional Amendment A, Emergency Session Appropriation Limits Measure.

Among other things, the amendment would increase the limit on appropriations that the legislature can make in an emergency session from 1 percent to 5 percent of the total amount appropriated by the legislature for the immediately preceding completed fiscal year.

Seventy-four ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1985 and 2020. Fifty-eight ballot measures were approved, and 16 were defeated.

Voting

  • On Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mountain Time.
  • Utah requires voters to present identification while voting. Identification can include a valid Utah driver’s license, a valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon, and other forms of identification. A voter who doesn’t have an approved form of identification can provide two forms of identification that state the voter’s name and address, including a current utility bill or a legible copy dated within the 90 days before the election. Click here for the statute regulating accepted ID to ensure you have the most current information.
  • Early voting in Utah is available to all voters. Early voting begins on Oct. 25 and ends on Nov. 4.
  • The voter registration deadline in Utah is Oct. 28. Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail. In 2018, Utah enacted same-day voter registration. Voters may register by provisional ballot.
  • All voters are eligible to vote absentee in Utah. There are no special eligibility requirements for voting absentee. To vote absentee, an application must be received by county election officials no later than the Thursday before Election Day. A completed absentee ballot must be postmarked by the day before the election.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool!  

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ESG and state executive official elections

Welcome to the Thursday, October 13, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. ESG and state executive official elections
  2. Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third
  3. Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution

ESG and state executive official elections

The environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing movement has been an issue in many of this year’s state financial officer elections. ESG refers to the consideration of non-financial factors in the management of public funds. Non-financial investment factors can include company alignment with fund managers’ views of climate change, social justice, and diversity and how such factors could affect company values and risks. 

One set of officials that impact ESG policy are state financial officers. These positions include executive officials such as treasurers, auditors, and comptrollers, who are generally responsible for investing state money and coordinating financial planning. These officials can influence if and how states apply ESG criteria to investments and financial policy.

Of the 50 state financial offices up for election this year, Democrats hold 26, while Republicans hold 24

  • Twenty-six treasurer positions are up for election. 
    • Democrats and Republicans each hold 13 of those offices.
  • Fifteen auditor positions are up for election.
    • Democrats hold seven of those offices, while Republicans hold eight.
  • Nine comptroller positions are up for election.
    • Democrats hold six of those offices, while Republicans hold three.

Here is a snapshot of a few races where the debate over ESG investing is playing out in state financial officer elections this year:

  • Minnesota state auditor: Four candidates are running for Minnesota state auditor—incumbent Julie Blaha (D), Ryan Wilson (R), Will Finn (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party of Minnesota), and Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now Party). During a debate, Wilson said, “I will not play politics with our pensions. We must put return on investment first.” Blaha said, “Even if you don’t care about the environment at all, you need to think about climate change in investments. There are significant risks and there are significant opportunities in how climate is changing and how we’re transitioning energy.”
  • Kansas state treasurer: Three candidates are running for the office—incumbent Lynn Rogers (D), state Rep. Steven C. Johnson (R), and Steve Roberts (L). Johnson’s campaign issued a press release that says: “Johnson made eliminating woke ESG investment strategies a centerpiece of his campaign. ESG funds only invest in companies based on their environmental and corporate policies, making returns on investment a secondary concern.”
  • Missouri state auditor: Three candidates are running for the office—Alan Green (D), Scott Fitzpatrick (R), and John Hartwig (L). Fitzpatrick, the state Treasurer, said: “As Treasurer, I’ve fought back against misguided Biden Administration policies like the IRS bank account monitoring scheme, woke environmentalism disguised as ESG initiatives for the investment of public funds, and the John Kerry/Joe Biden pushed boycott of American energy producers by big banks.”

If you’d like to keep up to date on the latest developments in the world of ESG, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter, Economy and Society, which hits inboxes every Tuesday. Here are some recent examples of stories you can expect to see in Economy and Society:

  • On Oct. 5, Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder (R) announced in a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink that his state would sell all of its BlackRock investments, worth about $794 million, because the investments conflict with state interests. BlackRock’s website states: “Each of our investment teams is responsible for implementing ESG approaches in line with its investment mandate and is required to have a formal ESG integration statement to underpin its respective approach. Along similar lines, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s (R) announced on Aug. 28 that 10 financial institutions, including BlackRock, were ineligible to do business with the state because, in Hegar’s view, their investment strategies weakened the state’s fossil fuel industry.
  • Unlike Louisiana and Texas, some states have made investment policy decisions in line with the ESG movement. In 2021, for example, Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law a bill directing the state treasurer to divest state pension funds from all fossil fuel companies by 2026. 

If you’d like to learn about the main types of arguments related to ESG, click here. Or click here to learn about state responses to ESG.

Click the link below to learn more about ESG.

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Maine’s gubernatorial election is a contest between an incumbent seeking a second term and a former governor seeking a third

The general election is only weeks away, and we’re bringing you stories from some of the battleground races we are following closely between now and Nov. 8. Today, we’re looking at Maine’s gubernatorial election.

Incumbent Gov. Janet Mills (D), Paul LePage (R), and Sam Hunkler (I) are running in the general election.

Mills was first elected governor in 2018 and is seeking a second term. LePage served as governor from 2011 to 2019 and is seeking a third term. 

Mills served as Maine’s attorney general for eight years during LePage’s administration. Mills also served four terms as the district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. She was the first woman elected to each of these positions. Mills says she has worked across the aisle to deliver progress as governor and would continue to address the following issues in a second term: expanding health care, fully funding Maine’s public schools, preserving Maine’s lands and waters, and fighting climate change.

LePage was elected governor after serving as the mayor of Waterville, Maine, for seven years. He also served two terms on the Waterville City Council. LePage says his vision for Maine is “to create prosperity through a lower overall tax burden for residents and businesses; a smaller, more efficient state government that we can all afford; protecting our most vulnerable populations (our children, our seniors and persons with disabilities), empowering parents’ rights to decide their children’s future, and managing a welfare system that serves as a safety net for the truly needy – not a free for all.”

Both candidates have responded to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision on abortion. 

  • Mills said: “Maine, our only chance at defending the right to safe and legal abortion will be this November at the ballot box. If given a chance, my opponent will dismantle reproductive rights across Maine. We must vote like our freedom to choose is on the line — because it is.”
  • LePage said: “As the child of a severely dysfunctional family, with domestic abuse that left me homeless, I know my mother faced difficult decisions and I am glad she chose life. The federal government has regularly prohibited taxpayer abortion funding, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger; and I have supported that policy and would continue to do so.”

This is one of 36 gubernatorial elections taking place this year. There are currently 28 Republican governors and 22 Democratic governors. 

Maine has had both a Democratic trifecta and a Democratic triplex since 2019.

Click below to read more about Maine’s gubernatorial election. 

Keep reading 

Alabama voters will decide whether to ratify an updated and recompiled state constitution

Today is the 28th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Alabama the Beautiful.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey, Washington

On the ballot in Alabama

One U.S. Senate seat and seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for election in Alabama. Six House incumbents are running for re-election. Incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby (R) did not run for re-election, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R) unsuccessfully ran to succeed Shelby.   

Thirteen state executive offices are up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, agriculture commissioner, four seats on the state board of education, and two seats on the public service commission. 

All 35 seats in the Alabama Senate are up for election, as well as all 105 seats in the Alabama House of Representatives. Incumbents did not run for re-election in 26 state legislative districts this year.

Two seats on the Alabama Supreme Court are up for election. 

Redistricting highlights

Alabama did not gain or lose U.S. House districts after the 2020 census. 

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Alabama: 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case asking whether Alabama’s 2021 congressional redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act, on Oct. 4, 2022.  

To use our tool to view Alabama’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Alabama redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Alabama’s U.S. senators are Republicans. Six members of the U.S. House from Alabama are Republicans, and one is a Democrat.
  • Republicans have a 27-8 majority in the state Senate and a 73-28 majority in the state House. Alabama has been a Republican trifecta—with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in both chambers of the state legislature—since 2011. 
  • Alabama is one of 23 Republican triplexes, meaning that the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all belong to the Republican Party.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 108 state legislative seats in Alabama, or 77% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs for a state legislative seat, that party is all but guaranteed to win.

Democrats are running in 44% of all state legislative races. Seventy-nine state legislative seats (56% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Democratic candidate and a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 79% of all state legislative races. Twenty-nine seats (21% of all state legislative seats) do not feature a Republican candidate and a Democrat is likely to win. 

Key races

Below are a few of the state legislative races identified by Alabama Political Reporter as competitive elections. In 2018, the Alabama House of Representatives had the largest average margin of victory out of every lower chamber that held state legislative elections that year, and the Alabama Senate had the third largest average margin of victory out of every upper chamber that held elections.

  • Senate District 2: Incumbent Tom Butler (R) and Kim Lewis (D) are running. 
  • Senate District 7: Incumbent Sam Givhan (R) and Korey Wilson (D) are running. 
  • Senate District 21: Incumbent Gerald Allen (R) and Lisa Ward (D) are running.
  • Senate District 27: Sherri Reese (D) and Jay Hovey (R) are running. Incumbent Tom Whatley (R) was defeated in the Republican primary. 

Ballot measures

Alabama voters will decide 10 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 8. 

One of those measures, the Alabama Recompiled Constitution Ratification Question, is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that would ratify the proposed Alabama Constitution of 2022. Updates include removing a provision allowing slavery as a punishment for crime and removing repealed or nullified provisions of the state’s 1901 constitution, such as a ban on interracial marriage.

According to AL.com, “The goal was to make the massive Alabama Constitution of 1901, which has been amended 977 times, easier to read, use, and understand, as well as eliminating sections intended to preserve racial segregation and white supremacy that predated the civil rights movement.” 

In Alabama, 102 ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots between 1987 and 2020. Eighty ballot measures were approved, and 22 ballot measures were defeated.

Voting

  • Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. local time.
  • Alabama requires voters to present photo identification. For more information on voter ID requirements in Alabama, click here
  • Alabama does not permit early voting.
  • The voter registration deadline is Oct. 24. Registration may be completed online, by mail, or in person at certain locations. Oct. 24 is the receipt deadline, not postmark deadline, for mail-in registration. Same-day voter registration is not allowed. 
  • Certain Alabama voters are eligible to vote absentee. A mailed ballot request must be received by Nov. 1. An absentee ballot may be requested in person through Nov. 3. Absentee ballots returned by mail must be received by noon on Nov. 8. Absentee ballots returned in person must be returned by Nov. 7. To check the status of your ballot, click here.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

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Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #34

Welcome to Hall Pass, a newsletter written to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over school board partisanship 
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • West Virginia Supreme Court allows state-financed education savings account to stand
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over school board partisanship  

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

Last week, with the Nov. 8 general election approaching, we dug into our research on where state law provides for partisan school board elections. This week, we’re featuring some new perspectives on the debate between those who support partisan school board elections and those who believe school board elections should remain nonpartisan.

Education journalist Tony Kinnett writes that education is an inherently political issue and has been for all of America’s history. Kinnett says progressives have traditionally dominated school politics and have only recently met resistance from parents. He says school board candidates should be allowed to affiliate with political parties because such affiliations could help voters choose candidates who best align with their values.

The Citrus County Chronicle Editorial Board writes that partisan elections in which candidates could align with Republicans, Democrats, or other parties would divide school boards and further divide the country and communities politically. The Editorial Board says school boards are inherently administrative in their function and non-political, so the increased polarization would reduce their basic effectiveness. 

School Board Elections Are Political, So Stop Calling Parents ‘Domestic Terrorists’ And Make Candidates Self-Identify | Tony Kinnett, The Daily Wire

“There is nothing inherently wrong with politicizing school board elections. In fact, there are very few decent arguments against school board candidates placing a political party indicator next to their name in elections. … None of the state bills planned for future legislative sessions or those already on the books would force a candidate to choose between “Republican” or “Democrat” for their campaigns. Candidates are welcome to select (or make up their own) parties—or choose “nonaligned.” There is no reason a candidate should be forbidden to align their campaign with Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green Party ideals if they so choose. … The progressive argument also assumes that, until now, education has never been politicized in the United States. This is, of course, laughable and deserves every ounce of scorn one could throw at such an elementary sentiment.”

School board elections do not need partisan labels | The Editorial Board, The Citrus County Chronicle

“Florida school board and judicial elections are non-partisan. Presumably for the same reason. Justice and education are not and should not be partisan political issues. … We should be clear. Partisan political elections for local office may be justified on the grounds that local officials are exercising political power in carrying out their duties.The same cannot be said for local school boards. Their mission is adoption of policies and hiring staff to educate the young people in our society. Like judges, their mission should be non-partisan.Making school board elections partisan would only serve to widen cultural divides and exacerbate political tensions by introducing partisan politics into the mix. We have plenty of political divisions in our country today. We do not need another. Let school boards focus on educating, not on partisan politics.”

In your district: Addressing declining enrollment

School districts around the country face diverse issues and challenges. We want to hear what’s happening in your school district. Complete the very brief survey below—anonymously, if you prefer—and we may share your response with fellow subscribers in an upcoming newsletter.

Today’s question:

Recent research suggests public school enrollment has declined since 2020 as parents, concerned about things like pandemic-driven learning loss, have shown an increased willingness to consider alternative educational arrangements. 

What should districts do to address the challenge of declining enrollment? 

Click here to respond!

West Virginia Supreme Court allows state-financed education savings account to stand

On Oct. 6, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, in a 3-2 decision, allowed the state to resume implementation of its newly-established education savings account (ESA) program, reversing a lower court ruling in July. The program, known as the Hope Scholarship, allows eligible families to use state funding to defray the costs of private schooling, homeschooling, or other non-public school educational arrangements. 

The program accepted more than 3,000 students for its first year, which was set to begin at the start of the 2022-23 school year. The scholarship for 2022-23 was set at $4,298.60 per student

In its three-page opinion, the court said a more in-depth opinion would be forthcoming: “Acting without undue delay given the nature of the constitutional matters at issue and the need to resolve the appeal in an expedited manner, the Court issues its decision by this order with a detailed opinion to follow.”

The legislature passed House Bill 2013, which created the Hope Scholarship Program, in 2021. Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed the bill into law on March 21, 2021. West Virginia has a Republican trifecta. Republicans have a 23-11 majority in the state Senate and a 78-22 majority in the state House of Delegates. 

In January 2022, three West Virginia public school parents and a teacher sued state Treasurer Riley Moore (R), who oversees the program, alleging the Hope Scholarship Program violated the West Virginia Constitution’s requirement that the state provide “a thorough and efficient system of free schools.” In July, 2021, Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Joanna I. Tabit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, writing, “The Hope Scholarship Program in my view undermines the free education system by requiring the Department of Education to take funds appropriated by the Legislature and transferring them to the Hope Scholarship Fund, which is then tasked for dispersing funds for private education.”

Following the supreme court ruling, Jack Tinney, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “In private schools or in homeschooling situations, you do not have to account for children with special needs, you do not have to account for children with disabilities, you do not have to account for anti-discrimination laws, you do not have to account for folks for gender or racial inequalities that all public schools must account for.”

Treasurer Moore said, “This is a victory for West Virginia families over the out-of-state trial lawyers and liberal activists who are trying to block educational freedom and school choice for the children of our state. The Hope Scholarship will provide families – particularly those with low incomes – the ability to pursue educational opportunities that best suit their children.”

The legislature restricted the Hope Scholarship Program through 2025 to current full-time public school students or children eligible to enter kindergarten. Students who enroll full-time in a public school for 45 days become eligible at the end of that period. Students who participate in the Hope Scholarship Program cannot be enrolled full-time in a public school. In 2024, if enrollment in the Hope Scholarship Program is less than five percent of the total enrollment in the K-12 education system, then all students, even those who’ve never been enrolled in a public school, will become eligible for the program beginning 2026. 

The judges of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals are selected in nonpartisan elections to serve 12-year terms. Gov. Justice appointed three current members of the court—Haley Bunn, John A. Hutchison, Tim Armstead—to fill vacancies. 

In 2020, Ballotpedia published Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship, which evaluated the extent to which each state supreme court justice was affiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties. As part of this study, we assigned each justice a Confidence Score describing our confidence in the degree of partisanship exhibited by the justices’ past partisan behavior, before they joined the court. We classified Hutchison, Beth Walker, and Evan Jenkins as Mild Republicans, Tim Armstead as a Strong Republican, and Margaret Workman as a Strong Democrat. Since the report was released, Workman and Jenkins are no longer serving on the court. 

According to EdChoice, an organization that advocates for and researches school choice, eight states have ESA programs of one kind or another—Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In an earlier edition of this newsletter, we looked at the Arizona Legislature’s expansion of the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program in June 2022. The program allows all K-12 students to use taxpayer-funded education accounts to attend schools or pay for curriculum or tutoring outside the public school system. 

Save our Schools Arizona, an organization opposed to the Empowerment Scholarship Program, attempted to put the program to a statewide vote in 2024. On Oct. 4, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) announced Save Our Schools Arizona failed to gather the required number of signatures to put the expanded Empowerment Scholarship Program on the 2024 ballot

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us! 

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Today, we’re highlighting survey responses from the Nov. 8 general election for Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board Ward 2 in Arizona. The Phoenix Union High School District has more than 28,000 students.

Two candidates are running in the nonpartisan race—Alan Aversa and Signa Oliver.  

Here’s how Aversa answered the question “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?

  • “Parents are children’s primary educators.
  • Schools help parents.
  • Preparing the future generation”

Click here to read the rest of Aversa’s answers. 

Here’s how Oliver answered the question “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?


  • “Public Schools need to be overfunded to repair the damage of years of underfunding to provide the students, educators and administrators with the resource necessary for a quality public education.
  • Restorative justice and equity for all students is imperative to provide an enriching public school education experience that will guide them to be the best version of themselves as adults.
  • Public school safety is a must to ensure all students, faculty and staff can experience a safe environment to learn, thrive and grow.”

Click here to read the rest of Oliver’s answers.



Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch

Welcome to the Wednesday, October 12, Brew. 

By: David Luchs

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch
  2. Roundup of recent vacancies on state supreme courts
  3. Washington holding special election for secretary of state

Ballotpedia presents the top 15 ballot measures to watch

Voters in 36 states will decide on 129 statewide ballot measures at the general election. This year’s ballot measures address issues like abortion, marijuana, voting policies, firearms, sports betting, and state constitutional rights.

We’ve compiled a list of 15 statewide ballot measures to watch on Nov. 8, 2022. Members of Ballotpedia’s editorial department selected these measures based on their relation to wider policy debates, topic trends, campaign finance records, and unique situations. You can view summaries of each measure here. The list order is based on topics or similar issues.

  1. Michigan Proposal 3: Right to Abortion, Contraceptives, and Pregnancy-Related Decisions Initiative
  2. Kentucky Amendment 2: No State Constitutional Right to Abortion Amendment
  3. California Proposition 26: Legalize Sports Betting on American Indian Lands Initiative
  4. California Proposition 27: Legalize Sports Betting and Revenue for Homelessness Fund Initiative
  5. Nevada Question 3: Top-Five Ranked Choice Voting Initiative
  6. Michigan Proposal 2: Voting Policies in Constitution Amendment
  7. Massachusetts Question 4: Remove Proof of Citizenship or Immigration Status for Driver’s License Applications Referendum
  8. Missouri Amendment 3: Marijuana Legalization Initiative
  9. Colorado Proposition 122: Decriminalization and Access Program for Certain Psychedelic Plants and Fungi Initiative
  10. California Proposition 31: Flavored Tobacco Products Ban Referendum
  11. Massachusetts Question 1: Tax on Income Above $1 Million for Education and Transportation Amendment
  12. Nebraska Initiative 433: $15.00 Minimum Wage Initiative
  13. Oregon Measure 114: Changes to Firearm Ownership and Purchase Requirements Initiative
  14. Iowa Amendment 1: Right to Keep and Bear Arms Measure
  15. Alabama Question: Recompiled Constitution Ratification Measure

Some of the trends we’re seeing with these 15 measures, as well as state ballot measures in general, are policies related to abortion, marijuana, and voting.

  1. Abortion has been a topic for statewide ballot measures since the 1970s. Since 2000, there have been just two general election cycles, 2002 and 2016, without abortion-related state ballot measures. In 2022, there will be six ballot measures addressing abortion — the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four abortion-related measures in 1986. We provide a look at Michigan Proposal 3 and Kentucky Amendment 2 on our top 15 page. Measures were also certified for the ballot in California, Montana, and Vermont. On Aug. 2, voters in Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment similar to Kentucky’s Amendment 2.
  2. Marijuana is currently legal in 19 states and D.C., of which 13 and D.C. legalized marijuana through ballot measures. Our top 15 list previews Missouri Amendment 3. Missouri is the largest state to vote on marijuana legalization this year. There are also marijuana legalization measures on the ballot in Arkansas, Maryland, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
  3. Voting—how to vote, when to vote, and who can vote—will be on the ballot in seven states. Summaries of Nevada Question 3, a top-five ranked-choice voting initiative, and Michigan Proposal 2, an initiative to establish voting policies in the state constitution, are summarized on the top 15 page

Keep reading

Roundup of recent vacancies on state supreme courts

Eighty-four seats on state supreme courts are up for election this year. But, elections are not the only way supreme court judges are selected in the states. This year, we’ve seen 21 supreme court vacancies in 16 states where replacement justices are appointed. One vacancy opened when a justice died, and the others opened when a justice retired.

  • Ten of the vacancies—in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming—are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. 
  • Seven vacancies—in Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. 
  • Two vacancies—both in Virginia—are in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints the replacement. Although control of the state House and Senate is split, judicial appointments in Virginia are decided by a combined vote of both chambers, where Republicans have a majority.
  • Two vacancies—both in Illinois—are in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint a replacement.

The governor alone appoints judges in four states, while a nominating commission provides the governor with a list of potential nominees in 23 states. In South Carolina and Virginia, the state legislature elects supreme court judges. The following map shows how judges are chosen in state supreme courts across the country. 

In 2021, there were 19 supreme court vacancies in 17 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy opened when a justice died, and the other 18 opened when a justice retired.

Eleven vacancies—in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont—were in states where a Republican governor appointed the replacement. The other eight vacancies—in California, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon—were in states where a Democratic governor appointed the replacement.

There has been one state supreme court vacancy announced so far for 2023 in one of the 29 states where replacements are appointed. The vacancy occurred on the California Supreme Court when a justice was elevated to chief justice. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will appoint a replacement.

Keep reading 

Washington holding special election for secretary of state

Today is the 27th day of our 50 States in 50 days series, and we’re featuring Washington, the Evergreen State.

Week One: Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota
Week Two: California, Georgia, Texas, Montana
Week Three: North Carolina, Virginia, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho
Week Four: Kentucky, Michigan, Arkansas, Minnesota, West Virginia
Week Five: Vermont, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Ohio
Week Six: South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon, Tennessee
Week Seven: Colorado, New Jersey

On the ballot in Washington

Washington voters will elect one member to the U.S. Senate and 10 members to the U.S. House. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D) is running for re-election. Nine of the 10 current members of the U.S. House from Washington are running for re-election. The tenth, Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), lost in the 3rd District primary.

Although state executive offices are typically on the ballot in presidential election years in Washington, there is a special election for secretary of state. Incumbent Steve Hobbs (D) is running in the special election. Hobbs was appointed to the position in 2021 to fill a vacancy.

All 98 seats in the Washington House of Representatives and 24 of the 49 seats in the Washington Senate are up for election. Twenty-six incumbents (six in the senate and 20 in the house) are not running for re-election.

Three of the nine justices on the Washington Supreme Court are up for re-election this year. None of the justices faces opposition in the general election. Seven judges across the state’s three appellate court districts are also up for re-election.

For local offices, two counties—King and Spokane—that fall within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope are holding elections this year.

Click here for more information about the races on the ballot this year.

Redistricting highlights

Washington’s U.S. House delegation remained at 10 members following the 2020 census.

Congressional and state legislative elections will take place under new district lines following the census. Our side-by-side map comparison tool allows you to immediately see what redistricting looks like in your state. Here are the congressional maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle in Washington:  

To use our tool to view Washington’s state legislative maps in effect before and after the 2020 redistricting cycle, visit our Washington redistricting page

Partisan balance

  • Both of Washington’s U.S. Senators—Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray—are Democrats.
  • Washington’s U.S. House delegation consists of seven Democrats and three Republicans.
  • Democrats hold a 29-20 majority in the state Senate and a 57-41 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Washington is one of 14 Democratic trifectas. It has held this status since 2018.
  • Washington has had a Democratic governor since 1985. Its last Republican governor was John Dennis Spellman.
  • Along with the governor, the secretary of state and attorney general are also Democrats, making the state one of 18 with a Democratic triplex.

Seats contested by only one major party

In 2022, 51 state legislative seats in Washington, or 42% of all seats up for election, do not have major party competition. When a candidate from only one of either the Democratic or Republican parties runs in a state legislative district, that party is all but guaranteed to win.

Democrats are running in 77% of all state legislative races. Twenty-eight state legislative districts (23% of those up for election) do not have a Democrat running, meaning a Republican is likely to win.

Republicans are running in 81% of all state legislative races. Twenty-three districts (19% of the total) do not have a Republican running, meaning a Democrat is likely to win.

Key races

  • U.S. House, Washington District 8: Rep. Kim Schrier (D) and Matt Larkin (R) are running. Two independent race forecasters rate the election as Toss-up, while a third rates it as Lean Democratic. Schrier was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018. Before Schrier was elected, Republicans had represented the 8th District since 1983.
  • Secretary of state: Secretary of State Steve Hobbs (D) and Julie Anderson (I) are running in the general election. In the top-two primary, Hobbs received 39.9% of the vote, and Anderson received 12.8% of the vote. Anderson beat out three Republican candidates (who finished with 12.1%, 12.0%, and 10.0%, respectively) in the primary. Before Hobbs was appointed in November 2021, Republicans had held the office since 1965.

Ballot measures

There are two measures on the ballot this year. Both were automatically referred to the ballot after the legislature passed two laws that created or increased taxes or fees. Initiative 960, which requires statewide advisory votes for any tax increases not approved by voters, is the measure that introduced the requirement putting the two on the ballot.

  • Advisory Vote 39: Advises the legislature to either maintain or repeal a tax increase on aircraft fuel from 11 cents to 18 cents per gallon passed in Senate Bill 5974.
  • Advisory Vote 40: Advises the legislature to either maintain or repeal a tax on transportation network companies passed in House Bill 2076.

Two hundred one ballot measures appeared on statewide ballots in Washington between 1985 and 2021. One hundred seven ballot measures were approved, and ninety-four ballot measures were defeated.

Voting

  • Washington provides for universal, automatic mail-in voting in all elections. Voters may choose to cast their ballots in person. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 8. To check the status of your ballot, click here.
  • Poll opening times vary by locality. All polls close at 8 p.m. local time.
  • Washington requires voters to present photo identification when voting in person. To read about the types of accepted identification, click here.
  • Early voting sites open on Oct. 21 and close on Nov. 7.
  • The voter registration deadline varies based on registration method. The deadline for in-person registration is Nov. 8. The deadline for by-mail or online registration is Oct. 31. Mailed forms must be received by the deadline.

Want to learn more about the elections you’ll be voting in this year? Click here to use our Sample Ballot Lookup tool! 

Keep reading



Economy and Society, October 11, 2022: Louisiana treasurer announces plan to divest state funds from BlackRock

Economy and Society is Ballotpedia’s weekly review of the developments in corporate activism; corporate political engagement; and the Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics.


ESG Developments This Week

In Washington, D.C., and around the world

British regulators aim to avoid EU ESG blunders

As the United Kingdom prepares the development of its own ESG regulatory framework, the European Union, Bloomberg reports, might have some important lessons to teach the British, mostly from what some analysts deem to be the mistakes it made in creating its own framework. Among other things, ESG consultants urge British regulators not to succumb to the pleas made by traditional energy interests and not to categorize gas and nuclear energy as green:

“UK regulators have been advised to avoid a number of key planks in the EU’s green taxonomy including the bloc’s handling of real estate, as Britain tries to build an ESG investing framework of its own.

The EU’s treatment of sectors including real estate, shipping, bio-energy and hydrogen in its taxonomy is potentially “very problematic,” according to the UK’s Green Technical Advisory Group. Applying the same standards as those laid out in the EU rulebook would be inconsistent with the UK’s net-zero ambitions, GTAG said on Friday.

The EU has blazed a trail in sustainable investing, building an ambitious regulatory framework that’s widely seen as a global benchmark. But the speed with which the EU project has been pushed through has left it riddled with holes and inconsistencies, and even regulators inside the bloc have demanded urgent improvements.

With the EU model as a starting point, Britain should pick and choose the elements that look appropriate for the UK market, and those that aren’t, according to Ingrid Holmes, chair of GTAG.

“We’re going further and faster in a number of areas in the UK,” she said in an interview. Britain can make “the detail shorter, easier to follow and easier to demonstrate compliance” than is currently the case in EU rules, she said. 

More broadly, however, the UK acknowledges that the EU’s taxonomy, which sets the rules for what can be treated as a sustainable activity, should serve as a template for its own ESG framework….

Divergence from the EU’s taxonomy would potentially leave the investment industry facing more post-Brexit paperwork, with investors, banks and companies subject to both jurisdictions’ regulations….

The taxonomy must “remain science-based and avoid lobbying by vested interests which may be intended to soften the technical screening criteria,” it said. 

The EU’s controversial decision to include gas and nuclear power in its “green” taxonomy has drawn particular criticism. And members of GTAG have spoken out against such an interpretation of “sustainable.””

In the States

Louisiana joins the anti-ESG crowd

On October 5, Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder (R) announced that he had joined a growing number of state public officials who have either pulled their state’s investments from BlackRock and other ESG-fund providers or have threatened to do so. In his letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, also dated October 5, Schroder stated that, in his words, the firm’s “blatantly anti-fossil fuel policies would destroy Louisiana’s economy.”

“Louisiana Treasurer John Schroder penned a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, explaining the state would liquidate all BlackRock investments within three months and, over a period of time, divest nearly $800 million from the bank’s money market funds, mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. The state treasurer blasted Fink’s pursuit of so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards that promote green energy over traditional fossil fuels….

Schroder added that he refused to spend a penny of state funds with a firm that will “take food off tables, money out of pockets and jobs away from hardworking Louisianans.”

Including offshore production, Louisiana drills the second-most oil and third-most natural gas in the nation, according to the Energy Information Administration. The energy industry is the state’s largest sector, accounting for 8.1% of Louisiana’s total gross domestic product…

The treasurer noted in the letter that the state has already removed $560 million from BlackRock investments, a figure that will swell to $794 million by year’s end under his agency’s plan….

BlackRock declined to comment on Schroder’s letter, but pointed FOX Business back to a letter it sent to 19 Republican attorneys general in September.

“We are disturbed by the emerging trend of political initiatives that sacrifice pension plans’ access to high-quality investments – and thereby jeopardize pensioners’ financial returns,” the firm wrote to the state officials on Sept. 7.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation pushes back against the pushback

On October 8, Derek Kreifels, the Chief Executive Officer of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) appeared in RealClearPolitics to defend state treasurers who oppose ESG and to defend his organization against charges that it is spreading misinformation on those treasurers’ behalf. Many of SFOF’s members–who are state treasurers and auditors–have rejected the use of ESG in the management of state funds, arguing that ESG is a politicized and politicizing investment strategy. In response, ESG defenders, managers, and clients have tried to flip the narrative on its head, insisting that ESG’s opponents are the ones who are politicizing investments. Additionally, some elected officials have accused the treasurers and SFOF of leading investors astray for political purposes.

In his essay, Kreifels aimed to push back against this narrative flip and defend his organization:

“Over the past few years, a growing threat called ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) has been negatively impacting state pension systems, ultimately putting retirees at risk. Sadly, our nation’s state financial officers and the retirees they have a fiduciary responsibility to protect are increasingly under siege by ESG ideologues who are motivated by politics rather than economics. 

For instance, U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat from a competitive district in Illinois who has come under fire for allegedly lining his own pockets with taxpayer-funded energy dollars, devoted more than half of his time in a recent congressional hearing to defaming our organization. Casten accused the State Financial Officers’ Foundation (SFOF) of “spreading disinformation” – a claim he made without evidence – while ignoring his own conflicts of interest and the catastrophic failures of his own energy strategy.

Casten is trying to strongarm bank CEOs into blacklisting us. He asserts that we are trying to “[block] the capital sector from freely allocating capital.” But our goal is precisely the opposite. We trust free people and free markets to allocate scarce resources more effectively than politicians in Washington.

History and economics are on our side. What Casten and other far-left politicians refuse to acknowledge is that economic freedom is by far the best policy for the planet and its people. As Nick Loris, vice president of Public Policy at C3 Solutions argues, free economies are twice as clean as less free economies. What Casten and others are attempting to do is to centralize the economy by using ESG principles as their manifesto. By embracing ESG cancel culture, Casten is blocking the development of affordable energy.

The one thing Casten gets mostly right is when he says SFOF is advancing “policies that are encouraging [financial institutions] to invest in areas that are struggling to attract capital.” Those areas have names – West Virginia, Texas, Utah, etc. – and the reason they are struggling to attract capital isn’t because the businesses aren’t financially sound. Indeed, 2022 has been a banner year for conventional energy sources that abound in these states. The reason they are challenged is because investment firms and financial institutions in recent years have implemented de facto boycotts of American energy producers. Firms like BlackRock have used their market power to “force behaviors,” sometimes by penetrating corporate boards, sometimes by starving unfavored businesses of capital, all in obeisance to an agenda based on subjective and ephemeral criteria, divorced from historical markers of a company’s financial strength. 

It’s not surprising that many state financial officers are fighting back…

Casten apparently believes that castigating state financial officers will be politically beneficial. We support his First Amendment right to be wrong….

By embracing economic freedom, returning to sound financial principles, and embracing the innovation of the free market, we can create prosperity for our communities, protect the planet, and build a future of which we can all be proud.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector

GFANZ insists all is well

After reports that it is falling apart under pressure being placed on large Wall Street banks, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) told Bloomberg News on October 8, that all is well and on track for a successful COP27 next month. According to Bloomberg:

“In a statement to Bloomberg News on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero said the group has “received no indication from any of our members that they intend to leave.”

GFANZ, which brings together over 500 finance firms managing more than $135 trillion of assets, has faced possible defections from firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp., according to people familiar with the process. The heavyweights were unhappy with the potential addition of binding restrictions on fossil finance, the people said.

Tensions soared after a United Nations-backed group, Race to Zero, earlier this year proposed such terms as a necessary condition for net-zero claims to be credible. That language was subsequently softened, and in its statement on Saturday, GFANZ said each sub-alliance of the group is “subject only to their own governance structures,” essentially giving them the freedom to ignore such proposals.

Mark Carney, GFANZ co-chair, has already publicly admonished Race to Zero for going “too far.” Jakob Thomae, an advisory board member of GFANZ, says he expects parts of GFANZ will eventually sever ties with Race to Zero and seek a more tailored decarbonization methodology to appease members. 

But there are already concerns being raised in some corners that the ostensible sidelining of science represents a worrying development. Al Gore, the former US vice president turned climate activist, last month warned that investors are growing increasingly impatient with evidence of potential “greenwashing” amid signs that net-zero pledges made by some members of the financial industry aren’t credible….

Saturday’s statement merely reflects what had been the existing governance structure, GFANZ said, adding that many of its sub-alliances are UN-convened. But the need to reassure members of their independence was made clear in recent weeks by brewing tensions, with banks behind the scenes seeking urgent clarification, according to people familiar with the process.

Allowing the sub-alliances, whose boards are heavily represented by the finance industry, to set their own terms is a dangerous move, according to climate nonprofits.

One banker close to the situation said putting out a such a statement should be viewed as a necessary concession to Wall Street to keep the banks onside.

Lucie Pinson, executive director at environmental nonprofit Reclaim Finance in Paris, said efforts to soften the terms of GFANZ membership have the potential to “kill” the net-zero alliance.

“Even before the revelations that some banks may leave GFANZ in opposition to real climate action, there were plenty of doubts that the alliance could really deliver on net zero,” she said before Saturday’s statement was released. “The outcome of this issue will tell us decisively whether we should expect banks to lead the climate fight or act simply as agents of greenwashing.””

BlackRock steps up its defense

On October 7, BlackRock–variously characterized by analysts, supporters, and opponents, as the world’s largest asset manager, one of the world’s most outspoken major ESG supporters, and the firm most often criticized by ESG opponents–continued its defense of its positions, launching a website specifically dedicated to explaining and justifying its ESG work:

“BlackRock launched another effort to push back against those that contend the firm is “boycotting” the energy industry after some red states have penalized the firm for its ESG push.

The firm, which is the world’s largest money manager, launched a webpage on Friday committed to “setting the record straight” about how it handles investment decisions and disclosure and its pursuit of environmental, social, and governance standards, also known as ESG. The launch comes just days after Louisiana announced it is divesting all its Treasury funds from BlackRock.

“The energy industry plays a crucial role in the economy, and, on behalf of our clients, BlackRock has invested $170 billion in U.S. public energy companies,” the webpage reads. “We are also partnering with energy companies and start-ups to fund new technology and innovations that will power the global economy, now and in the future.”

While BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink have been accused of trying to harm the energy industry, BlackRock contends that it merely asks companies to provide disclosures on material issues that affect their businesses so that investors can appraise risks, such as climate change, and make informed financial decisions.

“We believe that companies that better manage their exposure to climate risk and capitalize on opportunities will generate better long-term financial outcomes,” the company said.

BlackRock claims its views on climate risk aren’t unique, and its new webpage notes that an overwhelming majority of companies in the S&P 500 publish sustainability reports.”



Robe & Gavel, October 11, 2022: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for Oct. 1

Welcome to the Oct. 11 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

Hello again, gentle readers! It is October and we are in the midst of apple-picking, pie-making, scaring each other and ourselves, and the first argument sitting of the new SCOTUS term. Let’s gavel in, shall we?

Follow Ballotpedia on Twitter or subscribe to the Daily Brew for the latest news and analysis.

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!

Grants

Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted no new cases to its merits docket.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 36 cases during its 2022-2023 term

Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in four cases this week. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ current term.

Oct. 11

  • National Pork Producers Council v. Ross concerns whether California Proposition 12’s requirements for pork producers to sell pork in the state are constitutional. For more information on the case’s background, click here
  • Reed v. Goertz concerns a split between the U.S. circuit courts on when the statute of limitations begins to run for a criminal defendant to file a federal claim for DNA testing of crime-scene evidence. Click here to learn more about the case’s background. 

Oct. 12

The court’s November argument sitting begins on Oct. 31. The court will hear arguments in 10 cases.

Eighteen cases have not yet been added to the argument calendar.

Opinions

SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition. 

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. 

The Oct. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Sept. 2 through Oct. 1. The U.S. Courts data used for this report is published on the first of each month and covers the previous month.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There were six new judicial vacancies. There were 83 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 85 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were nine new nominations. 
  • Confirmations: There were eight new confirmations.

Vacancy count for Oct. 1, 2022

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies in 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. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The following chart compares the number of vacancies on the United States Courts of Appeals on the date of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration to vacancies on Oct. 1.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of Oct. 1, 2022.

New nominations

President Biden announced nine new nominations:


The president has announced 141 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed eight nominees:

As of Oct. 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 84 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—58 district court judges, 25 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.

Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)

  • Presidents have appointed an average of 75 judges through Oct. 1 of their second year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Oct. 1 of his second year with 100. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 43.
  • President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.

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 this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Oct. 31 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel to herald in the new SCOTUS term. Until then, gaveling out! 

Contributions

Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter with contributions from Caitlin Styrsky, Myj Saintyl, and Sam Post.