CategoryState

Connecticut released over 700 inmates since early March due to coronavirus

On April 6, 2020, officials from the Connecticut Department of Corrections announced that 727 people had been released from state prisons since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early March, the most substantial one-month reduction of the prison population in the state’s history.

Ballotpedia is tracking prison inmate release responses by state and local governments due to coronavirus.

Other recent updates include:

  • Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine announced on April 3 that his administration is recommending the release of 38 inmates who have not been convicted of violent offenses due to coronavirus.
  • Rhode Island – The Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered an expedited hearing for 52 inmates in an effort to reduce the state prison population.
  • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered the release of most people being held in jail pretrial due to coronavirus. The order also prohibited the release of certain inmate populations, including those charged with violent, sex, or drug trafficking crimes
  • Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to order inmate releases on the state-level. It directed presiding judges in each judicial district to coordinate with county correctional institutions to ensure they are addressing concerns due to coronavirus.


Wisconsin Supreme Court enjoins governor’s order postponing the election, allowing voting to continue as scheduled April 7

On April 6, 2020, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court voted 4-2 to enjoin an executive order issued earlier in the day by Governor Tony Evers (D) postponing in-person voting in the spring election, scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 9, 2020. As a result, in-person voting is expected to take place as scheduled on April 7, 2020. Republican lawmakers filed the lawsuit seeking the injunction.

On April 3, Evers had issued an executive order calling on the legislature to convene in a special session to consider postponing the spring election. The legislature convened on April 4 and adjourned without taking action on the governor’s proposal.

Last week, a federal judge issued an order deadline to return an absentee ballot to 4:00 p.m. Central on April 13, and the deadline to request an absentee ballot to April 3. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed these extensions, a decision which Republicans appealed to the United States Supreme Court for an emergency stay. As of 5:30 p.m. Central, the Supreme Court had yet to rule on the matter.


Fifteen states have restricted out-of-state travelers due to pandemic

As of April 6, governors and state agencies in at least 15 states have placed restrictions on out-of-state travelers through executive orders or public health mandates to reduce the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Though each state uses slightly different language to describe restrictions on interstate travelers, all 15 states require some out-of-state travelers to quarantine for two weeks, unless the travel was undertaken for essential purposes or to support critical industries.

Some states have requested that all out-of-state travelers quarantine for two weeks, while others have placed restrictions on travelers from specific areas in the United States.

States have also differed in their approach to enforcement. For example, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) instructed West Virginia State Police to monitor the roadways for travelers from areas with widespread COVID-19 cases. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) directed the Montana National Guard to conduct temperature checks and exposure inquiries at airports and rail stations in the state. Not all of the states that have issued travel restrictions, however, have specific enforcement procedures.

Governors from at least three states have recommended limits on travelers but have not implemented them via executive order. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker (R) have asked out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine or delay their trips. These requests are not enforceable by law. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) has asked residents who traveled to a country or a state with a widespread COVID-19 outbreak to self-quarantine for two weeks.


Federal and state politicians diagnosed with COVID-19

Ballotpedia tracks political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19, in quarantine or isolation to avoid possible transmission of COVID-19, or confirmed to have been tested and found not to carry COVID-19.

Through April 3, 2020, Ballotpedia had identified 36 federal and state politicians with a positive diagnosis. Here is the full list:

Federal
  • Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)
  • Sen. Rand Paul (KY)
  • Rep. Mike Kelly (PA)
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC)
  • Rep. Ben McAdams (UT)
  • New York congressional candidate Suraj Patel
State
  • State Rep. Reginald Murdock (AR)
  • State Rep. Vivian Flowers (AR)
  • State Rep. Jane Garibay (CT)
  • State Rep. Matthew Gambill (GA)
  • State Sen. Lester Jackson (GA)
  • State Sen. Nikema Williams (GA)
  • State Sen. Bruce Thompson (GA)
  • State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (GA)
  • State Sen. Brandon Beach (GA)
  • State Sen. Clarence Nishihara (HI)
  • State Rep. Edward James (LA)
  • State Rep. Reggie Bagala (LA)
  • State Rep. Michael Day (MA)
  • State Rep. Tyrone Carter (MI)
  • State Rep. Joe Runions (MO)
  • North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell
  • State Rep. Clinton Calabrese (NJ)
  • State Sen. James L. Seward (NY)
  • State Rep. Brian Miller (NY)
  • State Rep. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (NY)
  • State Rep. Helene Weinstein (NY)
  • State Rep. Charles Barron (NY)
  • State Rep. Jason Lowe (OK)
  • State Sen. Paul Rosino (OK)
  • State Rep. Bob Glanzer (SD)
  • State Sen. Luz Escamilla (UT)
  • State Rep. David Bowen (WI)
  • California State Assembly candidate Rick Herrick
  • Colorado State Senate candidate Jim Smallwood
  • Colorado House of Representatives candidate Terrence Hughes


Coronavirus daily update: April 6, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for April 6, 2020.

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

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced he would appoint Bharat Ramamurti to a five-person panel tasked with overseeing the $500 billion in corporate loans distributed as part of the third coronavirus relief package. Ramamurti previously worked as an economic advisor to the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign and as senior counsel for banking and economic policy in Warren’s Senate office.
  • Each Congressional leader (Mitch McConnell, Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Kevin McCarthy ) will select one member of the panel, with McConnell and Pelosi jointly choosing the fifth member.
    On March 4, President Donald Trump (R) announced the deployment of 1,000 military medical personnel to New York City to assist with tending to patients affected by the coronavirus.

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

Overview to date:

  • Seventeen states and one territory have postponed state-level primary or special elections. Another six states have postponed or authorized the postponement of municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Eight states have adjusted their candidate filing requirements.
  • Eighteen states have implemented modifications to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in 10 states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.

Details:

    • Wisconsin – Governor Tony Evers (D) issued an executive order postponing in-person voting in the spring election, originally scheduled for April 7, 2020, to June 9, 2020. The order also extended the receipt deadline for absentee ballots to June 9, 2020. Evers called on the legislature to convene in a special session at 2:00 p.m. April 7 “to consider and act upon legislation to set a new in-person voting date for the 2020 spring election.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) issued a joint statement in which they said they would appeal Evers’ order to the state supreme court.

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

Overview to date:

    • Ballotpedia has tracked 18 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
      Five states changed ballot measure procedures.
    • At least four lawsuits or court orders suspending or changing requirements and deadlines for ballot measures.

Details:

    • Missouri – STOPP (Stop Taxing Our Personal Property), the campaign sponsoring an initiative to prohibit the state and local governments from taxing personal property, reported to Ballotpedia that it had suspended its signature drive.
    • North Dakota – LegalizeND, which is behind a marijuana legalization initiative, said, “If something major doesn’t change, we will not be able to make the 2020 ballot. … If Coronavirus continues through May, we will continue collecting signatures, but this will end up placing us on the July 2022 primary ballot.”

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

Overview to date:

    • To date, 336 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
    • Sixty-one significant bills have been enacted into law, 18 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.

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

Overview to date:

    • Twenty-four state legislatures have suspended their sessions. Two of those (New York and Vermont) have since reconvened.
    • Eighteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
    • Five state legislatures are in regular session.
    • Two state legislatures (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) are in special session.
    • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.

Details:

  • Iowa – The Iowa legislature extended its session suspension, originally set to expire April 15, to April 30.
  • Missouri – The Missouri legislature is scheduled to reconvene on April 8. The House and Senate had previously been set to reconvene on April 7 and April 3, respectively.
  • Ohio – The House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on April 28 and April 22, respectively. The legislature’s suspension status had been unclear previously.
  • Oklahoma – Governor Kevin Stitt (R) called the state legislature into a special session scheduled to convene on April 6. The legislature had previously suspended its session, effective March 23 through April 3.
  • South Carolina – The South Carolina legislature is set to reconvene briefly on April 8 to take up spending matters.

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

Overview to date:

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

Details:

  • Arkansas – The Supreme Court of Arkansas suspended summonses for jury duty through June 30.
  • Connecticut – Connecticut’s Judicial Branch announced that all of their courthouses would close on April 7. Beginning April 14, all courthouses will remain closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays until further notice.
  • Illinois – The Illinois Supreme Court ordered that Chief Judges in each circuit court may continue trials until further notice.
  • Kansas – The Kansas Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials until further notice, or by order of the Chief Justice.
  • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through May 4.
  • North Carolina – The North Carolina Supreme Court extended restrictions on in person proceedings and suspension of jury trials through June 1.
  • South Carolina – The South Carolina Supreme Court extended restrictions on in-person proceedings and suspension of jury trials until further notice or by order from the Supreme Court.

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

Overview to date:

  • Thirteen states ordered the release of inmates at the state level.
  • Eighteen states ordered the release of inmates on the local level.
  • Seventeen states have not released inmates due to coronavirus.
  • Two states prohibited the release of certain inmate populations.

Details:

  • Ohio– Gov. Mike DeWine announced on April 3 that his administration is recommending the release of 38 inmates, who have not been convicted of violent offenses, due to coronavirus.
  • Rhode Island: The Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered an expedited hearing for 52 inmates in an effort to reduce the state prison population.
  • Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered the release of most people being held in jail pretrial be released on their own recognizance due to coronavirus. The order also prohibited the release of certain inmate populations, including those charged with violent, sex or drug trafficking crimes
  • Pennsylvania – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to order inmate releases on the state-level, and directed presiding judges in each judicial district to coordinate with county correctional institutions to ensure they are addressing concerns due to coronavirus.

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

Overview to date:

So far, 43 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Seven of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.

Details:

  • Ohio – The state’s expanded stay-at-home order takes effect tonight. It will last until May 1. Previously, it was scheduled to end today.
  • South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster issued a stay-at-home order on April 6, telling residents they must limit their travel during the pandemic. The order also limits the number of shoppers allowed in stores. The stay-at-home order takes effect at 5:00 p.m. on April 7.

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

Overview to date:

  • All 50 states ordered a statewide school closure. Twelve states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia.

Details:

  • Missouri – As part of a stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Mike Parsons (R), the statewide school closure scheduled to end April 3 was extended through April 24.
  • Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 17, was extended through April 30.

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

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

Federal politicians who self-quarantined for coronavirus

  • New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D)
  • North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R)

State politicians who tested positive for coronavirus

  • State Representative Les Warren (R-AR)
  • State Representative Karen Whitsett (D-MI)

Deaths linked to coronavirus

  • Kings County Supreme Court in the 2nd Judicial District Johnny Lee Baynes


Wisconsin governor postpones in-person, absentee voting in April 7 election to June 9

On April 6, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) issued an executive order postponing in-person voting in the spring election, originally scheduled for April 7, to June 9. The order also extended the receipt deadline for absentee ballots to June 9. Evers called on the legislature to convene in a special session at 2:00 p.m. Central on April 7 “to consider and act upon legislation to set a new in-person voting date for the 2020 spring election.”

House Speaker Robin Vos (R) and (R) Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald announced they are challenging Evers’ executive order in the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

On April 3, Evers had issued an executive order calling on the legislature to convene in a special session to consider postponing the spring election. The legislature convened on April 4 and adjourned without taking action on the governor’s proposal.

Last week, a federal judge issued an order extending the absentee ballot request deadline to 5:00 p.m. Central April 3. The ballot return deadline was extended to 4:00 p.m. Central April 13. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed these extensions, a decision which Republicans appealed to the United States Supreme Court of the United States for an emergency stay. As of 1:20 p.m. Central, the high court had yet to rule on the matter.

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



Oklahoma legislature convenes special session to approve health emergency declaration

Governor Kevin Stitt (R) called the Oklahoma State Legislature into a special session, set to convene at 8:00 a.m. April 6, 2020, to approve his declaration of a statewide health emergency.

To date, 24 legislatures have suspended their sessions (two of these – New York and Vermont – have since reconvened). One state – Minnesota – has implemented a partial suspension of legislative activity. Five states are in regular session, and two (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) are in special sessions. The remainder have either adjourned for the year or are not scheduled to convene in regular session.

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



South Dakota legislator Bob Glanzer dies from coronavirus-related complications

South Dakota state Rep. Bob Glanzer (R) died on April 3, 2020 at the age of 74, according to his son on Friday night.

Glanzer tested positive for coronavirus on March 22. He was airlifted from Huron Regional Medical Center to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls on March 24. He is the first public official in the U.S. confirmed to have lost his life in the pandemic. Glanzer was in his second term as a state representative for District 22, which contains parts of Kingsbury and Beadle counties, where there have been 21 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Glanzer was first elected in 2016 and won re-election in 2018. Vacancies in the South Dakota State Legislature are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

Additional reading:


About 1.7 million signatures filed for second version of California split roll tax initiative

On April 2, 2020, the campaign Schools and Communities First reported filing 1.7 million signatures for a ballot initiative to require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price. At least 997,139 signatures need to be valid. The ballot initiative is the campaign’s second version of a proposal to enact what is known as split roll in California.

The first version of the ballot initiative (17-0055) qualified for the ballot on October 15, 2018. On August 13, 2019, the campaign Schools and Communities First, which is behind the proposal, announced that signatures would be collected for a revised version of the ballot initiative (19-0008). Tyler Law, a campaign spokesperson, said that the campaign would not withdraw the qualified initiative from the ballot until the revised initiative qualifies. Law said, “The committee’s got the money. We’re going to get it on the ballot.”

Both versions of the ballot initiative would amend the state constitution to require commercial and industrial properties, but not residential properties, to be taxed based on their market value. Proposition 13 (1978) requires that residential, commercial, and industrial properties are taxed based on their purchase price. The tax is limited to no more than 1 percent of the purchase price (at the time of purchase), with an annual adjustment equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower.

Both versions would also create a process in the state constitution for distributing revenue from the revised tax on commercial and industrial properties. First, the revenue would be distributed to (a) the state to supplement decreases in revenue from the state’s personal income tax and corporation tax due to increased tax deductions and (b) counties to cover the costs of implementing the measure. Second, 60 percent of the remaining funds would be distributed to local governments and special districts, and 40 percent would be distributed to school districts and community colleges.

Some of the major differences between the versions include the threshold at which commercial and industrial properties would be taxed at market value, which small business-owned properties would continue to be taxed based on purchase price, how revenue would be allocated for schools, and when the changes would go into effect. While the original version was expected to generate between $7.00 and $11.00 billion in revenue per year, the new version is expected to generate between $8.00 and $12.50 billion per year.

Schools and Communities First received the endorsements of several current and former Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and home-state Sen. Kamala Harris. Schools and Communities First, along with several allied political action committees, raised $19.57 million through March. The California Teachers Association Issues PAC was the largest contributor.

Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes is leading the campaign against the ballot initiative. Opponents include the California Business Roundtable and California Taxpayers Association. Californians to Stop Higher Property Taxes, along with the Protect Prop. 13 PAC, raised $3.13 million through March.

There could be upwards of 12 citizen-initiated ballot measures on the ballot for November 3, 2020, in California. Some of the campaigns, however, have suspended signature gathering in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which could make qualifying their initiatives more difficult before the recommended submission deadline of April 21, 2020. Sponsors that fail to file signatures before the recommended deadline could still have their initiatives placed on the ballot for 2022.

Additional reading:


Former State Rep. McCoy appointed as U.S. attorney for South Carolina

U.S. Attorney General William Barr appointed South Carolina Rep. Peter McCoy (R) as the interim United States attorney for the District of South Carolina on March 30. McCoy resigned from the state House of Representatives that day to be sworn in to the position.

Pres. Donald Trump (R) nominated McCoy to a permanent U.S. attorney position in February, but his appointment has not yet been acted upon by the Senate. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barr appointed McCoy as acting U.S. attorney pending his confirmation. The role had been vacant since former U.S. attorney Sherri Lydon accepted a federal judgeship with the United States District Court in South Carolina last year.

As the interim U.S. attorney, McCoy is the chief federal law enforcement officer in South Carolina and the administrative head of the Office of the United States Attorney. Prior to his appointment, he was a partner at law firm McCoy and Stokes and represented District 115 in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2010 up until his resignation this week.

McCoy’s departure from the legislature creates the only current vacancy in the South Carolina House, which will be filled by special election. South Carolina voters will vote in two primaries in the district on June 9. One is a special primary, the winners of which will advance to a special election to serve the remainder of McCoy’s term. The other is the regularly scheduled primary to select candidates for the general election in November.

Additional reading:
United States Attorney
Sherri Lydon