CategoryState

Coronavirus daily update: March 20, 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 March 20, 2020, as of Friday afternoon.
Federal responses
  • Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). According to The Hill, the CARES Act includes the following provisions:
    • $1,200 in direct cash payments for individuals making up to $75,000 annually, with an additional $500 per child
    • Delay the federal tax filing deadline to July 15
    • $208 billion in loans for major industries
    • $300 billion in loans for small businesses
    • Delay payments on federal student loans for three months, with a possible extension of another three months
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the federal tax filing deadline would be delayed to July 15.
  • The United States and Mexico mutually agreed to close the border to non-essential traffic.
Election changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Twelve states have changed primary, municipal, or special election dates.
    • One state (New York) has adjusted candidate filing requirements.
    • Four states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to voting procedures.
    • Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
  • Details:
    • Indiana postponed its primary election to June 2.
    • North Carolina postponed the Republican primary runoff for the 11th Congressional District to June 23.
    • Texas postponed the special election for Texas Senate District 14 to July 14.
    • The Virginia Department of Elections announced that all voters will be eligible to vote absentee in May’s municipal elections.
State legislative changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
    • Two (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
    • Five have implemented partial suspensions.
  • Details:
    • The Delaware General Assembly suspended its session for an indefinite period. The suspension had initially been scheduled to last through March 24.
    • Oklahoma State Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R) announced a partial suspension of legislative activity in the State Senate beginning March 18 and ending March 20.
State court changes
  • Overview to date:
    • Thirty-two states have suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
    • Sixteen states have suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
    • Two states, West Virginia and Wyoming, have made no changes to their court schedules on the state or local level due to coronavirus.
  • Details:
    • The Alaska Supreme Court is suspending all superior and district court proceedings until April 3.
School closures
  • Overview to date:
    • Forty-five of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 45 states served 48.4 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 95.7 percent of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  • Details:
    • California – Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order Thursday night closed the schools that remained open in the state. Newsom did not announce an end date for the order.
    • Hawaii – The Hawaii Department of Education announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 7.
    • Missouri – Gov. Mike Parsons announced that all schools in the state had closed. The schools were closed by local action rather than statewide announcement.
    • Chicago – Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public Schools would remain closed from March 30 to April 20. At the time of the announcement, all schools in Illinois were closed until March 30.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials who have entered quarantine
  • U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi (R-NY)
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS)
  • U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
  • U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Jane Garibay (D-CT)
  • State Rep. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-NY)
  • State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-CO)
  • State Sen. Clarence Nishihara (D-HI)
Local officials who have entered quarantine
  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (WI)
  • Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (D-PA)

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Kansas governor announces supreme court appointment

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) appointed Judge Kenyen Wall to succeed Justice Lawton Nuss on the Kansas Supreme Court. Nuss retired on December 17, 2019. Wall is Kelly’s second nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Kenyen J. “K.J.” Wall was a partner at the Forbes Law Group when he was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court. He previously worked as deputy general counsel for Chief Justice Lawton Nuss (2013-2015), as senior legal counsel at Federated Insurance (2008-2013), as an attorney in private practice (2004-2008), and as a law clerk to Judge John Lungstrum of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (2002-2004). Wall received his undergraduate degree in communications from Kansas State University in 1993 and a master’s degree in rhetoric from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He earned his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2001.

In the event of a vacancy on the Kansas Supreme Court, the governor selects a replacement from a list of three individuals submitted by the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission. Newly appointed justices serve for at least one year, after which they must run for retention in the next general election. Subsequent terms last for six years.

The Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission is a nine-member independent body created by the Kansas Constitution. The commission has nine members: four non-attorneys appointed by the governor and four attorneys selected by members of the bar in each of the state’s four congressional districts. The chair of the commission, the ninth member, is a lawyer chosen in a statewide vote of attorneys who are members of the Kansas Bar Association.

Founded in 1861, the Kansas Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. As of March 2020, five judges on the court were appointed by a Democratic governor and three judges were appointed by a Republican governor. There are no vacancies on the court.

In 2020, there have been nine supreme court vacancies in eight of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements.

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Two incumbents defeated in Illinois state legislative primaries

Illinois held state legislative primaries on March 17, 2020. There were 38 contested party primaries: eight for state Senate seats and 30 for state House seats. Twenty-eight were Democratic primaries and 10 were Republican primaries.

Two Democratic incumbents lost primary bids: Rep. Yehiel Kalish, House District 16, and Rep. Yoni Pizer, House District 12.

This was the first election for both incumbents. Kalish was appointed to his position in 2019 following the resignation of Rep. Lou Lang (D). Pizer was appointed in 2020 following the appointment of Sara Feigenholtz (D) to the state Senate.

The primary in House District 3 remains too close to call. Incumbent Rep. Eva Delgado (D) leads Nidia Carranza (D) by a margin of 362 votes. Delgado was appointed to her position in 2019 following the arrest and resignation of Rep. Luis Arroyo (D).

The 38 contested primaries this year was fewer than the 61 contested primaries in 2018, but greater than the 33 in 2016.

In the House, a decade-high 92 percent of races (109) featured an incumbent. In the Senate, a decade-low 70 percent of races (14) featured an incumbent. Incumbents ran in 22 of the 38 primaries.

Of the 20 seats up in the Senate, 14 will have an incumbent running in the general election. Of the 118 seats up in the House, at least 106 will feature an incumbent.

Democrats hold a 40-19 supermajority in the Senate and a 74-44 supermajority in the House. Illinois became one of 15 Democratic state government trifectas when Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) was elected in 2018.

The Illinois General Assembly will be responsible for drawing both state and congressional district lines after the 2020 census.

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A preview of local charter amendments, school bonds, and taxes that were scheduled for the March 17 ballot in Ohio

Voters in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, and Hamilton County were scheduled to decide eight local ballot measures on March 17, 2020.

On March 16, 2020, Ohio Governor Mark DeWine announced that polls would be closed on March 17, 2020, by the order of the state department of health due to the coronavirus. In-person voting was postponed to June 2.

Three charter amendments—Issues 5, 6, and 7—are on Cleveland ballots. Issue 5 would amend the city charter to allow votes to be counted using Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems instead of manual ballot tabulation. DRE systems employ computers that record votes directly into the computers’ memory.

Issue 6 would amend the city charter to limit the annual salary increase of city council members to the salary increase percentage of a majority of city recognized unions. In 2018, the Cleveland City Council received a raise of 4% and earned on average $83,370.

Issue 7 would amend the city charter to allow the first city council meeting in January to be held on the first business day if the first Monday is on a legal holiday.

Cleveland Issues 3 and 4, which concerned reducing the size and salary of the city council, were withdrawn in February by supporters. They will still appear on ballots, but votes for the measures will not be counted.

In Columbus, voters will decide on Columbus State Community College Issue 21, which would authorize the college to issue $300 million in bonds and require an average tax rate of $65 per $100,000 in assessed value. In terms of market value, the average annual tax to repay the bonds was estimated at $22.75 per $100,000 of market value.

Certain voters in Columbus will also decide South Western City School District Issue 20, which would renew a property tax at the rate of $100 per $100,000 of assessed property value to help fund Southwest Public Libraries.

Hamilton County Issue 7 would impose a 0.8% sales tax for 25 years to raise revenue for infrastructure improvements and the Metro transportation system operations.

In Toledo, voters will decide Issue 1, which would authorize the city to increase the local income tax from 2.25% to 2.75% for 10 years beginning July 1, 2020, through December 31, 2030.

Ballotpedia covers local ballot measures on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. Ballotpedia also covers all local measures in California and all statewide ballot measures.

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Missouri school board election date changed in response to COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, Gov. Mike Parson (R) released an official statement postponing all Missouri municipal elections until June 2, 2020, amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. These elections were originally scheduled to take place on April 7, 2020.

The following Missouri school boards within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope were impacted by this change:

  • Center School District
  • Grandview C-4 School District
  • Hickman Mills C-1 School District
  • Liberty Public Schools
  • North Kansas City Schools
  • Park Hill School District
  • Platte County R-III School District
  • Raytown C-2 School District
  • St. Joseph School District

Prior to Gov. Parson’s statement, five of these school districts—Grandview C-4, Liberty, Park Hill, Platte County R-III, and Raytown C-2—had cancelled their school board elections because the number of qualified candidates who filed to appear on the ballot was equal to the number of seats up for election.

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Coronavirus daily update: March 19, 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 March 19, 2020.

Federal responses
  1. Last night, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 6201, the second coronavirus relief bill. It passed the Senate earlier in the afternoon by a 90-8 vote and passed the House on Monday by a 363-40 vote. Lawmakers are expecting to work out another bill in the coming days that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said should include direct payments to individuals.
  2. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Steven Daines (R-Mont.), and Angus King (I-Maine) filed legislation seeking to delay the federal tax filing deadline for 90 days to align with the move made on March 17 by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to delay the payment of taxes 90 days. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sent Mnuchin a letter requesting the same.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  1. Nine states changed primary or municipal election dates.
  2. One state (New York) adjusted its candidate filing requirements.
  3. Three states have either implemented or attempted to implement changes to its voting procedures.
  4. Political parties in six states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  1. Connecticut – Governor Ned Lamont (D) announced the postponement of the state’s presidential preference primary to June 2.
  2. Minnesota – The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party voted to conduct all local and district-level caucuses online. The Republican Party voted to conduct local conventions online.
  3. Missouri – The Missouri GOP voted to cancel its county caucuses.
State legislative changes
Overview to date:
  1. Sixteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
  2. Two states (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
  3. Four states have implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  1. Mississippi – The Mississippi State Legislature suspended its session, effective March 18, through April 1.
  2. New Hampshire – The New Hampshire General Court announced it would extend the suspension of its session through April 10. The suspension was originally set to end on March 20.
State court changes
  1. Arizona – The Arizona Supreme Court updated its order from March 16 to recommend that all proceedings be avoided to the greatest extent possible until further notice. The court also ordered new petit juries scheduled from March 18 to April 17 be rescheduled.
  2. Kansas – The Kansas Supreme Court issued an order that suspended all jury trials and restricted courts to emergency operations.
  3. Washington – The Washington Supreme Court suspended all criminal and civil jury trials until after April 24.
School closures
Overview to date
  1. Forty-three of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 43 states served 41.2 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 81.4% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States. California accounts for 6.3 million of the 9.4 million students in a state without statewide closures.
Details:
  1. Texas – Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide from March 20 until April 3. Texas was the 42nd state to order statewide closures. It served 5.4 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.
  2. Indiana – Governor Eric Holcombe (R) signed an executive order closing schools statewide until May 1. Previously, Holcombe granted schools a 20-day waiver that allowed school districts to close on days of their choosing. Indiana was the 43rd state to order statewide closures. It served 1 million public school students during the ’16-’17 school year.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians

Utah – U.S. Representative Ben McAdams (D) announced on March 18 that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Florida
  1. U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning another member of Congress tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a family friend who tested positive for coronavirus.
Georgia
  1. State Senator Brandon Beach (R) announced on March 18 that he tested positive for coronavirus.
  2. U.S. Representative Drew Ferguson (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine after learning he had been in contact with a member of Congress who tested positive for coronavirus.
  3. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) announced a self-quarantine on March 18 after learning Brandon Beach tested positive for coronavirus. He recommended Georgia lawmakers enter a quarantine until March 30.
  4. State Senators Renee Unterman (R) and Randy Robertson (R) also decided to self-quarantine.

Kansas – Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple (D) announced on March 18 that he, along with City Council members Brandon Johnson, Becky Tuttle, and James Clendenin, would enter self-quarantine due to possible exposure from a conference they attended in Washington D.C.

Louisiana – U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R) announced on March 18 that he was entering a self-quarantine for two weeks after learning U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart tested positive for coronavirus.

Missouri – U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after a colleague tested positive for coronavirus.

New York – U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D) announced on March 18 that she was entering a self-quarantine after learning she had been in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Oklahoma – U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D) announced on March 19 that she was entering a self-quarantine after contact with another member of the U.S. House who later tested positive for coronavirus.

Read more:
  1. Political responses to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  2. Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  3. Federal, state, and local government policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  4. Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  5. Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  6. School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  7. State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020
  8. Changes to ballot measure campaigns, procedures, and policies in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020


Filing deadline passes for state executive, legislative offices in Maine, Colorado, and Utah

The filing deadline to run for elected office passed this week in Maine, Colorado, and Utah. Maine’s filing deadline was March 16, Colorado’s was March 17, and Utah’s was March 19.

In Maine, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (35 seats)
  • State House (151 seats)
In Colorado, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Board of Education (3 seats)
  • State Board of Regents (3 seats)
  • State Senate (18 seats)
  • State House (65 seats)
In Utah, prospective candidates could file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (15 seats)
  • State House (75 seats)
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Auditor
  • Treasurer
  • State Board of Education (8 seats)

Maine, Colorado, and Utah’s statewide filing deadlines are the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 26, 2020, in Virginia.

Maine and Colorado have Democratic state government trifectas, while Utah has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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March 17 primary narrows Illinois candidate field for general election

Illinois held a primary on March 17, 2020, and the state-level elections on the ballot included the state Senate, state House, state supreme court, and state appellate court. The general election is November 3, 2020. The filing deadline passed on December 2, 2019.

Twenty of the 59 Illinois State Senate seats are up for regular election in 2020. Three Democratic primaries and nine Republican primaries for those seats were canceled after no candidates filed. Of the 17 Democratic primaries that were on the ballot, six were contested races and 11 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Of the 11 Republican primaries that were on the ballot, two were contested races and nine were uncontested races with only one candidate. All 14 Democratic state Senate incumbents who ran for re-election advanced to the general election. No Republican state Senate incumbents ran for re-election in 2020.

Illinois also held a special primary for the District 11 seat in the state Senate on March 17. Democrat Celina Villanueva, who was appointed to the seat in January 2020, was the only candidate to file and advanced to the November 3 special general election.

All 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Sixteen Democratic primaries and 56 Republican primaries for those seats were canceled after no candidates filed. Of the 102 Democratic primaries that were on the ballot, 22 had contested races. The other 80 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Of the 62 Republican primaries that were on the ballot, eight had contested races. The other 54 were uncontested races with only one candidate. Nine state House incumbents—three Democrats and six Republicans—did not run for re-election in 2020. Of the 109 incumbents who ran for re-election, 107 advanced to the general election. Democratic incumbents Yehiel Kalish and Yoni Pizer lost their primaries. Both had been appointed to their positions, meaning this was their first election.

Two Illinois Supreme Court seats were on the primary ballot on March 17. The Republican primary for the 1st District race was canceled after no candidates filed. Incumbent P. Scott Neville advanced from the Democratic primary, defeating six opponents. In the Republican primary for the 5th District race, David K. Overstreet defeated John B. Barberis Jr. for a place on the general election ballot. He will face Judy Cates, who advanced from the Democratic primary after running uncontested.

The Illinois Appellate Court also held primaries on March 17 for three seats. The Republican primaries for the 1st Division and 3rd Division seats on the 1st District Appellate Court were canceled as no candidates filed. The results of the Democratic primaries for those seats were pending as of March 19, 2020. In the Republican primary for the 5th District Appellate Court, Mark M. Boie defeated Katherine Ruocco. He will face Sarah Smith, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the November 3 general election.

Ballotpedia also covered primaries in Cook County on March 17. The offices up for election included clerk of the circuit court, county state’s attorney, county board of review commissioner, county water reclamation district board member, circuit court judgeships, and subcircuit court judgeships.

Illinois has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Democrats have a 40-19 majority in the state Senate and a 73-44 majority in the state House. Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker was first elected to office in 2018.

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Stitt appoints Hixon to Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) appointed Stacie Hixon on March 10 to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Hixon, a Tulsa-area attorney, replaces former judge Jerry Goodman, who retired in August 2019.

At the time of her appointment, Hixon was a partner at the Tulsa law firm Steadley & Neal. Goodman had served on the court since 1994 and would have been up for a retention election in 2020.

The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals is an intermediate state appellate court composed of 12 judges in four divisions. Of the current judges on the court, six were nominated by a Democratic governor and six were nominated by a Republican governor.

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Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Secretary of State over primary election postponement

On March 17, 2020, the Democratic Party of Ohio and Kiara Sanders, a registered voter in Franklin County, filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) in the state supreme court, alleging that LaRose was “patently and unambiguously without jurisdiction and legal authority to suspend, move, or set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election.” They argued instead that the legal authority to set the date of the primary election rested with the state legislature.

The plaintiffs asked the court to do the following:
• Bar the secretary of state from setting a date for the 2020 primary election
• Order election administrators to accept and process absentee voting applications until 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2020
• Order election administrators to direct local boards of elections to accept and count all valid absentee ballots postmarked on or before April 28, 2020, and received on or before May 8, 2020
• Order election administrators to accept and count all valid absentee ballots delivered personally by a voter or his or her family member on or before April 28, 2020
• Order the secretary of state to provide for prepaid postage for all absentee ballots and applications

Earlier this week, LaRose ordered the postponement of the primary from March 17, 2020, to June 2, 2020, after Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered the closure all polls on March 17 in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This lawsuit is the latest in a series of actions surrounding the postponement of Ohio’s primary. On March 16 (before LaRose moved the state’s primary date) a group of private citizens filed suit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas at the request of Governor Mike DeWine (R)seeking a postponement of the state’s primary election.

Judge Richard Frye declined to postpone the primary. Frye said, “There are too many factors to balance in this unchartered territory to say that we ought to take this away from the legislature and elected statewide officials, and throw it to a common pleas court judge in Columbus 12 hours before the election.”

In a joint press release issued shortly after 9:00 p.m., DeWine and LaRose said, “Logistically, under these extraordinary circumstances, it simply isn’t possible to hold an election tomorrow that will be considered legitimate by Ohioans. They mustn’t be forced to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional rights.” Shortly after 10:00 p.m., DeWine announced that polls would be closed on March 17 by Acton’s order.

In response to this announcement, a candidate for office in Wood County, Ohio, filed suit in the state supreme court, alleging that the postponement violated state election laws. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., the court rejected this argument, allowing the postponement to stand.

LaRose then issued a directive to election administrators postponing in-person voting to June 2, 2020. The absentee ballot application deadline was extended to May 26, and the postmark deadline was extended to June 1. The voter registration deadline, originally February 18, was left unchanged. All ballots already cast, either by mail or in person, would be counted as usual.