CategoryState

Recall efforts against two Colorado state senators end with no signatures submitted

The organizers of recall efforts targeting Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee (D) and state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D) notified the secretary of state’s office on September 10 that they would not be turning in signatures for either recall effort. Recall organizers had until September 10 to turn 11,304 signatures for the Lee recall and until September 16 to turn in 18,376 signatures for the Pettersen recall. 
 
Both Sen. Lee and Sen. Pettersen were targeted for recall because of their support of the same four bills during the 2019 legislative session. The legislation was related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education. 
 
  • The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry. It also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The national popular vote bill was designed to award Colorado’s electoral college votes in the presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. Polis signed this bill in March 2019.
  • The sex education bill was designed to update the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. Polis signed this bill in May 2019.
 
The state Senate’s president, Leroy Garcia (D), is also facing an official recall due to similar legislation. The signatures for that recall are due on October 18. 
 
Gov. Polis (D), Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D), and Rep. Tom Sullivan (D) all faced recall campaigns in 2019 due to the same legislation as Lee and Pettersen, but none of the three recall efforts reached the ballot. The Polis recall ended on September 6 after supporters failed to submit the required number of signatures. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019. The recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.
 
Since 2011, 85 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 58 did not go to a vote, and nine are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
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Colorado governor recall effort does not make ballot

A recall effort targeting Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did not make the ballot after recall supporters announced September 6 that they had not collected the required number of signatures. The group leading the effort—Dismiss Polis—needed to submit 631,266 signatures for the recall election to occur. They collected about 300,000, according to spokesperson Karen Kataline.

According to the petition, Dismiss Polis targeted Polis for recall because he signed legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session.

 
  • The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry. It also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The national popular vote bill was designed to award Colorado’s electoral college votes in the presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. Polis signed this bill in March 2019.
  • The sex education bill was designed to update the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. Polis signed this bill in May 2019.

After the recall effort ended, Polis stated: “After all that fuss, I was pleasantly surprised that they didn’t turn in a single signature on the recall. I hope the remaining misguided efforts against others see the same results as Tom Sullivan’s did before. Recalls should not be used for partisan gamesmanship.”

From 2003 to 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. Four gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2019.

Three Colorado state senators—Leroy Garcia (D), Brittany Pettersen (D), and Pete Lee (D)—are also facing official recall campaigns in 2019. Two state representatives—Rochelle Galindo (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)—were previously targeted for recall earlier this year. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019; while the recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.

Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House 41-24 and the state Senate 19-16. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019 after winning the 2018 election with 53.4% of the vote.

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Mississippi candidate petitioning judge for special re-election after 1-vote margin race

On August 6, Mississippi held its statewide primary. In the Republican primary for the District 50 seat in the state Senate, candidate Scott DeLano’s vote totals initially led his opponent’s, Dixie Newman. However, after the affidavit ballots were counted, Newman took the lead with one vote. This one-vote lead persisted after the results were certified and a recount was conducted.
 
On September 3, the Republican Executive Committee of Harrison County, Mississippi, met to consider a petition filed by DeLano that contested the certified results and claimed that not all votes cast in the district were counted. The committee stated that it did not have the power to call a new special election, but it did vote to allow DeLano to petition a judge for a special election in five of the district’s 16 precincts. If the judge orders a new election, any registered voter in the five precincts would be eligible to vote.
 
In a Facebook post, DeLano wrote, “Both candidates have agreed to re-voting in the five split precincts. The actions of today will require a petition to the court and a special judge will have to be appointed. The date of a special election will be determined after the court hearing. We are committed, as we have always been, to see this through. We are pleased that the voice of the voters will be heard.”
 
Newman wrote in a Facebook post, “I won the primary election. I was still ahead after the recount/certification. Today, the Harrison County Republican Executive Committee took no action on Mr. DeLano’s petition for a new election. I understand that he will continue his quest to overturn this election through the courts. However, I am continuing to prepare myself to represent the voters of Senate District 50 when the Legislature convenes in January.”
 
In District 50, incumbent Tommy Gollott (R) did not file for re-election and retired before the end of his term on July 1, 2019. The filing deadline for candidates passed on March 1, and the general election for this race was canceled since no Democratic candidates filed to run for the seat. The winner of the Republican primary will automatically win the District 50 seat.
 
Entering the election, the Mississippi State Senate had 18 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and three vacancies. All 52 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 27 seats. Mississippi has had a Republican trifecta since the beginning of the 2012 legislative session. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
Mississippi is also holding elections for governor and all 122 state House seats in 2019. The general election date is November 5.
 


Ducey picks Bill Montgomery for Arizona Supreme Court

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed Bill Montgomery (R) to the Arizona Supreme Court on September 4, 2019. Montgomery replaces former Chief Justice Scott Bales, who retired on July 31, 2019. Montgomery was Ducey’s fifth appointment to the seven-member court.
 
Before being appointed to the state Supreme Court, Montgomery was Maricopa County Attorney. He was first elected to the position in a 2010 special election and was re-elected in 2012 and 2016. Montgomery also previously served as Deputy County Attorney and was a prosecutor before holding elected office. Montgomery earned his bachelor’s from West Point and his J.D. from the Arizona State University College of Law. He is a veteran of the Gulf War.
 
Including Montgomery, all seven members of the Arizona Supreme Court have been appointed by Republican governors Jan Brewer or Ducey.
 
In 2019, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies across 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 18 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Five vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor fills vacancies, while another occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints replacements.


Teresa Chafin joins the Virginia Supreme Court

Teresa Chafin joined the Virginia Supreme Court this week to fill the vacancy created by Justice Elizabeth McClanahan’s retirement on September 1. In February 2019, the Virginia General Assembly unanimously approved Chafin to succeed McClanahan.
 
Chafin received her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law in 1987. Her previous judgeships included serving on the state’s 29th Judicial Circuit from 2005 to 2012 and on the Virginia Court of Appeals from 2012 to 2019.
 
State supreme court justices in Virginia are appointed through legislative selection. As outlined in Article VI of the Virginia Constitution, judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly, which is the combined House of Delegates and state Senate. Supreme court justices serve for 12 years and are subject to reappointment to additional terms by the legislature. Virginia is one of two states, the other being South Carolina, where judges are selected using this method.
 
The Virginia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. It is made up of seven justices. As of September 2019, the justices were:
 
  • S. Bernard Goodwyn
  • Bill Mims
  • D. Arthur Kelsey
  • Stephen R. McCullough
  • Cleo Powell
  • Donald Lemons
  • Teresa Chafin
 
Three justices–Powell, Goodwyn, and Mims–were selected by a General Assembly with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House. However, Republicans held a majority in the General Assembly overall. Justices Powell and Mims were selected when Republicans had a 77-61 majority. Justice Goodwyn was appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in 2007 while the legislature was out of session, and he was later approved by the 74-63 Republican-majority General Assembly in 2008. Justices Chafin, Lemons, Kelsey, and McCullough were selected by a General Assembly with Republican control of both chambers.
 
In 2019, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies across 12 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Of those 18 vacancies, 12 are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. Five vacancies occurred in a state where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement, and one (Virginia) occurred in a state where a Republican-controlled legislature appoints the replacement.
 


North Carolina court strikes down state legislative maps as partisan gerrymanders

On September 3, a North Carolina court struck down the state’s legislative district plan as an impermissible partisan gerrymander under the state constitution.
 
The plaintiffs, which included Common Cause and the Democratic Party of North Carolina, alleged that the state legislative district maps adopted and enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2017 infringed upon the rights to equal protection, free speech, association, and free elections guaranteed by the state constitution.
 
The three-judge panel of state superior court judges – Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite, and Alma Hinton – ruled unanimously in favor of the plaintiffs. In their ruling, the judges wrote, “[The] 2017 Enacted Maps, as drawn, do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting. It is not the free will of the people that is fairly ascertained through extreme partisan gerrymandering. Rather, it is the carefully crafted will of the map drawer that predominates.”
 
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, praised the court’s decision: “The court has made clear that partisan gerrymandering violates our state’s constitution and is unacceptable. Thanks to the court’s landmark decision, politicians in Raleigh will no longer be able to rig our elections through partisan gerrymandering.”
 
Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger (R), although critical of the court’s ruling, announced that state Republicans would not appeal the decision: “We disagree with the court’s ruling as it contradicts the Constitution and binding legal precedent, but we intend to respect the court’s decision and finally put this divisive battle behind us.”
 
The court ordered state lawmakers to draft remedial maps by September 18, 2019, for use in the 2020 election cycle. Should lawmakers fail to adopt remedial maps, the court will appoint a referee to develop and recommend remedial maps to the court. In 2020, all 50 seats in the state Senate and all 120 seats in the state House are up for election. The primary is slated for March 3, 2020.
 
North Carolina has a divided government. Democrat Roy Cooper serves as governor, and he is running for re-election in 2020. Meanwhile, Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, holding a 29-21 majority in the Senate and a 65-55 majority in the House.
 


CA Supreme Court to decide whether a state law requiring presidential candidates to file income tax returns violates a 1972 ballot measure

Forty-seven years ago, voters in California approved Proposition 4, a constitutional amendment declaring that presidential primary candidates who appear on the ballot are “those found by the Secretary of State to be recognized candidates throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of the President of the United States, and those whose names placed on the ballot by petition.” Proponents of the 1972 ballot measure argued, “In the last presidential primary election, California voters were denied the opportunity of voting for or against either of the men who eventually become the presidential nominees” due to the parties using what proponents called a favorite son device.
 
Jumping forward to 2019, and the wording of Proposition 4 is receiving renewed attention after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed Senate Bill 27 (SB 27) into law. SB 27 was designed to require presidential and gubernatorial candidates to file copies of their last five federal income tax returns in order to appear on the primary election ballot.
 
Several entities and individuals, including President Donald Trump (R), filed litigation in federal courts to declare SB 27 in violation of the U.S. Constitution. On August 6, 2019, the California Republican Party and the party’s leader, Jessica Millan Patterson, asked the state’s highest court, the California Supreme Court, to decide whether SB 27 violated the California Constitution, including Proposition 4.
 
The legal complaint said Proposition 4 was intended to “guarantee California voters the right to consider all of the candidates seeking election to the highest office in the land,” and that SB 27 prohibited Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) “from exercising his constitutionally delegated duty to place the name of all nationally recognized presidential candidates.”
 
Attorneys for the defendant, Secretary of State Padilla, responded that Proposition 4 “imposes no mandatory duty on the secretary of state, but rather provides that the secretary will ‘find’ candidates that are ‘recognized … throughout the nation’ and include them on California primary ballots.”
 
On August 21, 2019, the California Supreme Court voted to take up the case, with written arguments due on September 11. The court has asked the plaintiffs (California GOP and Patterson) and the defendant (Padilla) to address the legislative history of Proposition 4 and related laws and the guidelines that the secretary of state has employed to assess who is a recognized candidate under Proposition 4.
 
 


Friday deadline to submit signatures in Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recall effort

Supporters of the effort to recall Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) have until September 6 to submit 631,266 signatures in order to force the recall election. The recall effort was originally approved for circulation on July 8, and it is led by a group called Dismiss Polis.
 
According to the recall petition, the group is trying to recall Polis because he signed legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session.
 
  • The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove firearms from people who were deemed a threat to themselves or others. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry. It also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. Polis signed this bill in April 2019.
  • The national popular vote bill was designed to award Colorado’s electoral college votes in the presidential election to the winner of the national popular vote. Polis signed this bill in March 2019.
  • The sex education bill was designed to update the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. Polis signed this bill in May 2019.
 
After the recall was announced, the governor’s office issued the following statement: “The Governor is focused on governing for all of Colorado and ensuring that every Coloradan – no matter their zip code or political affiliation – has the opportunity to succeed. During his first six months in office, the Governor has created bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care, ensure every kid can go to free full-day kindergarten this fall, and cut taxes for small businesses. The Governor will continue to reach across the aisle and hopes that, by tackling key issues for Coloradans, we will continue to bring people together and focus on what unites us.”
 
Dismiss Polis is the only group actively collecting signatures in order to meet the September 6 deadline. A different group that also supports recalling Polis, Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis, recently donated $29,657 of the $108,000 it had received for the recall to Colorado for Trump, which is a group that supports President Donald Trump’s (R) re-election campaign.
 
Three Colorado state senators—Leroy Garcia (D), Brittany Pettersen (D), and Pete Lee (D)—are also facing official recall campaigns in 2019. Two state representatives—Rochelle Galindo (D) and Tom Sullivan (D)—were previously targeted for recall earlier this year. The recall targeting Galindo ended after she resigned in May 2019. The recall targeting Sullivan ended in June 2019 after recall supporters abandoned the effort.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019. He won the 2018 election with 53.4% of the vote. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 
From 2003 to 2018, Ballotpedia tracked 17 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921. Five gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2019.
 


Texas becomes the 36th state to limit opioid prescriptions

A law limiting the ability of physicians to prescribe opioids in Texas took effect Sunday, making it the 36th state to limit opioid prescriptions.
 
House Bill 2174 prohibits physicians from prescribing more than a ten-day supply of opioids and from refilling opioid prescriptions. The law excludes prescriptions for chronic pain, cancer patients, hospice and palliative care, and to treat substance abuse.
 
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed H.B. 2174 into law on June 14 after it passed the state House 129-4 and the state Senate 28-3.
 
Since Massachusetts enacted the nation’s first statewide opioid prescription limit in March 2016, 35 other states have followed suit. Sixteen states have passed opioid prescription limits while under divided government, while 15 (including Texas) have done so under Republican trifectas and five have done so under Democratic trifectas.
 


Tobacco age increased to 21 in Arkansas, Texas, and Vermont

The minimum age to purchase tobacco in Arkansas, Texas, and Vermont increased from 18 to 21 on Sunday. Those three states are among 13 to increase their tobacco age restriction to 21 since June 2015, when Hawaii became the first state to do so in the 21st century.
 
There are now 13 states where the minimum age to purchase or use tobacco is 21, representing 39.1% of the U.S. population. Three states have a tobacco age limit of 19 and the remaining 34 have a tobacco age limit of 18.
 
In five states (one with a minimum age of 19 and four with a minimum age of 18), a tobacco age limit was been signed into law but has not yet taken effect. Connecticut and Maryland have the next scheduled tobacco age increases. In both states, the minimum tobacco age will increase from 18 to 21 on October 1.
 
The tobacco age increases in Arkansas, Texas, and Vermont were all signed into law by a Republican governor. Since June 2015, nine Democratic governors and eight Republican governors have signed increases in their states’ tobacco ages into law.
 
The tobacco age increases in Arkansas and Texas were passed by a majority-Republican state legislature, meaning that they were enacted under a Republican state government trifecta. Vermont’s increase was passed by a majority-Democratic state legislature, meaning that it took place under divided government. Eight states have increased their tobacco age under a Democratic trifecta, four under a Republican trifecta, and six under divided government.
 
The first tobacco age limit in U.S. history was imposed in 1883 in New Jersey and set a minimum age of 16. By 1920, 14 states had a minimum tobacco age of 21. However, over the course of the 1920s and 1930s, many states with age restrictions over 21 lowered their tobacco age limit, often to 18. In 2000, the minimum age to purchase tobacco was 19 in three states (Alabama, Alaska, and Utah) and 18 the remaining 47 states.