One state changes triplex status as a result of 2019 elections

Three states—Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi—held elections for governor, secretary of state, and attorney general in 2019. These three offices make up a state government triplex, which exists when one party controls all three offices.
Heading into 2019, all three states were under divided triplexes, meaning both parties controlled at least one position in each state. There were 18 Republican, 17 Democratic, and 15 divided triplexes in the country.
Both Kentucky and Louisiana remained divided triplexes. In both states, Republicans won the races for attorney general and secretary of state, while a Democrat won the gubernatorial election. Kentucky was most recently a triplex in 2015 when Democrats held all three positions. Louisiana was most recently a triplex in 2015 when Republicans held all three positions.
Mississippi, which went from a divided triplex to a Republican triplex. Republicans held the positions of governor and secretary of state and picked up the attorney general position. Before this, Mississippi was most recently a triplex in 2004 when Democrats held all three positions.
Once the newly-elected officials are sworn in, the national count will stand at 19 Republican, 17 Democratic, and 14 divided triplexes. In 2020, 13 states will hold elections for at least one triplex office.

North Carolina requires legislative review for new agency rules with criminal penalties

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) in August signed legislation that subjects any new agency rule carrying criminal penalties to automatic legislative review.
Legislative bodies often delegate authority to administrative agencies to implement the law by issuing regulations, some of which carry criminal penalties. Research from the American Bar Association found that federal agencies have created more than 300,000 regulatory crimes.
North Carolina legislators in 2018 aimed to quantify the extent of regulatory crimes in the state by passing a bill requiring state agencies to report their regulations that carry criminal penalties. The 2019 bill seeks to slow the growth of the state’s criminal code by subjecting all new agency rules carrying criminal penalties to review by the legislature’s General Statutes Commission. After review, the commission must recommend the removal of any criminal penalties to the legislature.
North Carolina’s legislative review provision is just one of the methods that state governments have applied to address the administrative state. Ballotpedia tracks state approaches to address the administrative state, including actions directed toward regulatory review, the separation of powers, and judicial deference, as part of The Administrative State Project. Click the link below to find out more.

Incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) defeats Eddie Rispone (R) in Louisiana gubernatorial election

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) won re-election Saturday. He received 51.3% of the vote to businessman Eddie Rispone’s (R) 48.7%.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. He was elected to his first term in 2015. He campaigned on what he considered accomplishments of his administration, including Medicaid expansion, the end of the state’s budget deficit, and teacher pay raises. Rispone described himself as a conservative outsider and job creator and highlighted that he was endorsed by President Donald Trump (R). Trump won Louisiana by 20 percentage points in 2016 and held two rallies in the state in support of Rispone ahead of Saturday’s election.
Edwards was the first incumbent governor to run in a general election since the state adopted its all-party primary system—in which a candidate can win an election outright by receiving a majority of the primary vote—in 1975. One other incumbent advanced to a general election but conceded to his opponent ahead of the election. Of the five other incumbents who ran for re-election, two lost in primaries and three won outright in primaries.
With Edwards’ win, the state will remain under divided government. A win from Rispone would have made Louisiana a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans would have controlled the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans maintained majorities in both chambers in 2019.
This was the final gubernatorial election of the three held in 2019. Heading into the 2019 elections, Republicans held 27 governorships to Democrats’ 23 across the country. As a result of 2019’s elections, Republicans will hold 26 governorships to Democrats’ 24. Andy Beshear (D) defeated incumbent Matt Bevin (R) in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race.

Republicans win 68-35 majority in Louisiana House, two seats short of a veto-proof supermajority

Republicans secured a 68-35 majority with two independent members in the November 16 general election, after maintaining their majority in the Louisiana House of Representatives during the October 12 primaries. Heading into the primaries, Republicans held a 60-39 majority with five independent members and one vacancy in a seat previously held by a Republican. The 2019 elections resulted in a net gain of seven seats for Republicans and a net loss of four seats for Democrats.
All 105 House seats were up for election in 2019. Twenty-four of those races required general elections. As a result of the October 12 primary elections, in which candidates could win a seat outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote, 63 House seats were guaranteed to Republicans, 33 to Democrats, and one to an independent.
Party control of eight House seats was decided in the general election. Of those races, five were won by Republicans, two were won by Democrats, and one was won by an independent. Republican candidates would have needed to win all seven races in which they were facing a Democratic or independent candidate in order to win a 70-seat supermajority in the House. The eighth race in which party control was decided was between a Democrat and an independent. The other 16 races were between two candidates from the same party.
Republicans secured a supermajority in the state Senate in the October 12 primary election. With supermajorities in the House and Senate, Republicans would have had the ability to both override a gubernatorial veto and vote to place a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on the ballot.
These were the last elections before the state government redraws congressional and state legislative districts following the 2020 Census. If Republicans had won veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers, they would have had control over Louisiana’s redistricting process.
Heading into the election, Louisiana had a divided government, which was maintained when incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) won the gubernatorial election on November 16.

Bevin concedes Kentucky gubernatorial election to Beshear

Following a recanvass of election results, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) conceded the Kentucky gubernatorial election to state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D). Beshear’s victory will break Republican trifecta in the state and keep the state under divided triplex control. Beshear is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who served until 2015.
Unofficial results on election night gave Beshear a 5,000 vote lead. Bevin called on the state to conduct a recanvass, a process by which counties confirm that correct results were transmitted to the secretary of state’s office. Unlike a recount, no ballot counting took place.
Kentucky’s change in trifecta status is the second to take place as a result of the 2019 elections. Democrats gained a trifecta in Virginia following victories in both chambers of the state legislature on November 4. Louisiana’s gubernatorial election on November 16 will decide trifecta control of that state—it will either become a Republican trifecta or remain under divided government.

Tobacco age increased to 21 in New York

The tobacco age restriction increased to 21 in New York Wednesday, making it the sixteenth state to increase its tobacco age to 21 in the 21st century. Hawaii was the first state to do so, enacting its increase in June 2015.
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. At the turn of the 21st century, three states (Alabama, Alaska, and Utah) had a tobacco age of 19 and the remaining 47 had a tobacco age of 18.
The increase means that there are now 16 states where the minimum age to purchase or use tobacco is 21, comprising 49% of the U.S. population. Three states have a tobacco age of 19 and the remaining 31 have a tobacco age of 18. The next state where a tobacco age increase will take effect is Washington, whose tobacco age will increase from 18 to 21 on January 1, 2020.
New York’s tobacco age increase was sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and passed the state Assembly by a 120-26 vote. It was merged with a Senate bill sponsored by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), and passed that chamber by a 52-9 vote. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the bill into law on July 16, 2019.
New York is among eight states with a Democratic trifecta to pass a tobacco age increase. Four states passed a tobacco age increase under a Republican trifecta, and six passed a tobacco age increase under divided government. Nine Democratic governors, including Cuomo, and eight Republican governors have signed tobacco age increases into law.

National Democratic Redistricting Committee contributes $300,000 to Louisiana races ahead of Saturday elections

The House Democratic Campaign Committee of Louisiana reported a $100,000 contribution from the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) in a report filed on November 2. The NDRC also contributed $100,000 each to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee of Louisiana and Louisiana Democrats.
The NDRC is a 527 group chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that aims to position Democrats favorably for the round of redistricting following the 2020 census. The NDRC is affiliated with the 501(c)(3) entity the National Redistricting Foundation and the 501(c)(4) entity the National Redistricting Action Fund.
Louisiana’s November 16 general elections are the last elections before the state government redraws congressional and state legislative districts following the 2020 census.
Heading into the general election on Saturday, Republicans are seven seats short of a 70-seat supermajority in the Louisiana House of Representatives after securing a supermajority in the state Senate in the October 12 primary election. With supermajorities in the House and Senate, Republicans would have the ability to override a gubernatorial veto. If Republicans win veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers, they will have control over Louisiana’s redistricting process, regardless of the gubernatorial election’s outcome.
Louisiana currently has a divided government split between Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Republican state House and state Senate. Gov. Edwards and businessman Eddie Rispone (R) advanced from the October 12 primary election to face off in the general election on Saturday.

New York senator introduces bill to allow felons to vote while incarcerated. What are your state’s rules?

Sen. Kevin Parker (D) introduced a bill in the New York State Senate on October 30 that would allow felons to vote while incarcerated. If passed, the bill would make New York the third state allowing inmates to vote, along with Maine and Vermont.
Voting rights for convicted felons vary substantially from state to state. Most states automatically restore voting rights either immediately after a felon is released from prison or once the full sentence has been served, including probation or parole. In Nebraska, there is a two-year waiting period after the completion of a felony sentence before voting rights are restored. Seven states permanently disenfranchise felons who have committed certain categories of crimes, while all felons in Kentucky and Iowa are permanently disenfranchised unless rights are restored on an individual basis.
Parker, who represents District 21, was elected in 2002. New York has a Democratic state government trifecta, as Democrats hold the governorship and have majorities in the state Senate and the state Assembly.

Washington Referendum 88 on affirmative action too close to call as of Wednesday morning

Washington Referendum 88 was too close to call as of Wednesday morning, with ballots counted so far split 48.2% in favor of Initiative 1000 and 51.8% opposed. The measure was behind by about 20,000 votes and an estimated 332,000 ballots were left to be counted. The results must be certified by December 5.
The measure would expressly allow the state to implement affirmative action policies without the use of preferential treatment or quotas (as defined in I-1000) in public employment, education, and contracting. Initiative 1000 was qualified through a signature petition drive and then passed by the state legislature before being forced to the ballot by opponents through Referendum 88.
Washington Initiative 200, which voters approved in 1998, prohibited public institutions in the state from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the areas of public education, public employment, and public contracting. Initiative 200 did not define preferential treatment.
The measure took a complex and unusual route to get before voters. Referendum 88 was one of two statewide citizen-initiated measures on the ballot in the country this year and was the only veto referendum—a petition effort targeting the repeal of a recently passed law. What’s more, it was a veto referendum seeking the repeal of an indirect initiative that was approved by the legislature instead of going to the ballot. This situation has happened two times out of 38 indirect initiatives in Washington’s history.
Proponents of I-1000 first collected signatures to qualify the measure to go before the legislature and potentially on to the ballot. Then the legislature approved the initiative, precluding an election on it. Finally, opponents of I-1000 collected signatures to force the issue before voters in the hopes they would reject it.
Since 1914, Washington voters have decided 37 statewide veto referendum measures. The most recent veto referendum was on the ballot in 2012. Voters repealed targeted bills in 81% of Washington veto referendums (30 of 37).

Democrats win majority in Virginia House of Delegates, four Republican incumbents defeated

On November 5, Democrats flipped six Republican-held seats to win a 54-45 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, while one race was too close to call. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 51-48 majority with one vacancy. The next legislative session will be the first where Democrats have a majority since 1997. Democrats also gained a majority in the state Senate which, alongside Democratic governor Ralph Northam, will give Democrats trifecta control of Virginia for the first time since 1993.
Democrats defeated four Republican incumbents: Tim Hugo (HD-40), Chris Jones (HD-76), Christopher Stolle (HD-83), and David Yancey (HD-94). The other two seats picked up by Democrats were in open races for seats held by Robert Thomas Jr. (HD-28) and Gordon Helsel (HD-91).
One of the defeated incumbents, David Yancey in District 94, was defeated by Shelly Simonds (D) 58% to 40%. In 2017, Yancey beat Simonds in the same district by a coin flip after recounts found the election was a tie.
All six of the seats that Democrats picked up were won by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in 2017. Hillary Clinton (D) won all but one of the seats in the 2016 presidential election.
In District 30, Del. Nick Freitas (R) won a write-in campaign against Ann Ridgeway (D). Freitas ran as a write-in candidate after he failed to qualify for the ballot.