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Robe & Gavel: SCOTUS begins second week of January sitting

Welcome to the Jan 17 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s the second week of SCOTUS’s January sitting, dear reader, and we have a lot to cover. So take a seat and let’s gavel in!

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We #SCOTUS and you can, too!

Grants

SCOTUS has not accepted any new cases to its merits docket since our Jan. 9 edition.

Arguments

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

Click the links below to learn more about these cases:

Jan. 17, 2023

  • Santos-Zacaria v. Garland concerns immigration law and whether a court of appeals can review an immigrant’s petition that the Board of Immigration Appeals participated in impermissible fact finding because the immigrant did not claim this in a motion of reconsideration.
    • The questions presented:  “(1) Whether Section 1252(d)(1)’s exhaustion requirement is jurisdictional, or merely a mandatory claims processing rule that may be waived or forfeited. (2) Whether, to satisfy Section 1252(d)(1)’s exhaustion requirement, a noncitizen who challenges a new error introduced by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) must first ask the agency to exercise its discretion to reopen or reconsider.”
  • Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States concerns whether United States district courts have the right to criminally prosecute foreign states and their instrumentalities.
    • The questions presented: “Whether U.S. district courts may exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over criminal prosecutions against foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities under 18 U.S.C. § 3231 and in light of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1330, 1441(d), 1602-1611.”

Jan. 18, 2023

  • Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools concerns the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and whether petitioners are required to exhaust the IDEA’s administrative proceedings even when the proceedings would be futile.
    • The questions presented: “(1) Whether, and in what circumstances, courts should excuse further exhaustion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s (IDEA) administrative proceedings under Section 1415(l) when such proceedings would be futile. (2) Whether Section 1415(l) requires exhaustion of a non-IDEA claim seeking money damages that are not available under the IDEA.”

Opinions

SCOTUS has not issued any opinions in cases argued on the merits since our previous edition. 

Upcoming SCOTUS dates

Here are the court’s upcoming dates of interest:

  • Jan. 17, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in two cases.
  • Jan. 18, 2023: SCOTUS will hear arguments in one case.
  • Jan. 20, 2023: SCOTUS will conference. A conference is a private meeting of the justices to consider cases.

Federal court action

Nominations

There have been no new nominations since our Jan. 9 edition.

Since taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden has nominated 148 individuals to Article III positions. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

Confirmations

The U.S. Senate has confirmed no new nominees since our previous edition.

As of Jan. 1, 2023, the Senate had confirmed 97 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—68 district court judges, 28 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.

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

  • Presidents have appointed an average of 90 judges through Jan. 1 of their third year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Jan. 1 of his third year with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Ronald Reagan (R) made the most appointments through one year in office with 41. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 13.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments in two years with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments in four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.

Vacancies

The federal judiciary currently has 87 vacancies, 85 of which are for lifetime Article III judgeships. As of publication, there were 23 pending nominations.

According to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, there were 26 upcoming vacancies, where judges have announced their intention to leave active status.

For more information on judicial vacancies during President Biden’s term, click here.

Do you love judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We figured you might. Our monthly Federal Vacancy Count monitors all the faces and places moving in, moving out, and moving on in the federal judiciary. Click here for our most current count.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on our list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Feb. 6, 2023, with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 

Contributions

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



2023 rundown: Public-sector union legislation in the states

Welcome to the 2023 legislative session! Forty state legislatures are currently in regular session. Today, we’ll look at bills related to public-sector union policy that have been introduced so far this year.

Overview

We’re currently tracking 33 bills related to public-sector union policy in the states. Thirty-one of those bills have been introduced for the 2023 session and two were carried over from 2022. Since 2018, we’ve tracked an average of 136 bills per year.   

Of the bills introduced so far for the 2023 session, Democrats have sponsored 21 and Republicans have sponsored eight. Two bills have bipartisan sponsorship.

Three of the Republican-sponsored bills were introduced in Republican trifecta states, and 20 of the Democratic-sponsored bills were introduced in Democratic trifecta states. The two bipartisan bills were introduced in New Hampshire, a Republican trifecta. 

Bill details

The following bills have been introduced so far for the 2023 legislative session:

  • California AB1: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would establish the “Legislature Employer-Employee Relations Act,” which would allow state legislative employees to organize and bargain collectively. The act would go into effect on July 1, 2024. 
  • Connecticut HB05067: Republican sponsorship. This bill would remove statutory language related to an administrators’ unit, categorizing school administrators as management employees for collective bargaining purposes.
  • Connecticut HB05183: Republican sponsorship. This bill would require collective bargaining agreements and related notices for state and municipal employees to include “a clear and conspicuous statement of an employee’s right to choose not to be a member of an employee organization.” 
  • Illinois HB1083: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would stipulate that any collective bargaining provision limiting a public employer’s ability to investigate employee conduct is unenforceable. 
  • Illinois HB1089: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements between public employers and police unions from allowing unconstitutional police conduct. A collective bargaining agreement allowing unconstitutional police conduct would be void.   
  • Illinois HB1120:  Democratic sponsorship. This bill would require certified charter school contract renewals to include a union neutrality clause stating that the school agrees to be “neutral regarding the unionization of any of its employees …,” to provide “labor organization access at reasonable times…,” and to recognize unions “through a majority card check verified by a neutral third-party arbitrator[.]”
  • Maryland HB65: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain county public library employees. It would prohibit employees from striking.  
  • Maryland HB85: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would repeal a provision that says maximum class size is not subject to collective bargaining negotiation.  
  • Maryland HB116: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain employees of the Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery.
  • Minnesota HF77 and Minnesota SF83: Democratic sponsorship. These companion bills would allow employees of legislative entities to organize and choose exclusive representatives to bargain over terms and conditions of employment.
  • Minnesota HF332: Republican sponsorship. This bill would repeal statutory language allowing public employee labor organizations to collect fair share fees or otherwise referring to fair share fees.  
  • Missouri SB54: Republican sponsorship. This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to join or refrain from joining a union as a condition of employment in counties that adopt the provisions of the section.
  • Montana HB216: Republican sponsorship. This bill would state that public employees may not be required to join or financially support a union as a condition of employment. It would allow public employees to cancel their union membership and cease financial support at any time. It would prohibit public employers from withdrawing union dues from employees’ pay without informing employees annually that union membership and financial support are voluntary and without receiving annual affirmative written consent for dues deductions.
  • New Hampshire HB134: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would establish the Legislature as a public employer and establish collective bargaining procedures for nonpartisan legislative employees. 
  • New Hampshire HB150: Bipartisan sponsorship. This bill would decrease the number of employees required to certify a public employee collective bargaining unit from 10 to five.
  • New Hampshire HB241: Bipartisan sponsorship. This bill would define a reasonable opportunity for school district employees to meet with the school district for collective bargaining negotiations as being before 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on scheduled work days.
  • Oklahoma SB75: Republican sponsorship. This bill would require annual authorizations for payroll dues deductions for school employees. It would require school employees to sign an annual authorization form before school districts may deduct union dues or political contributions from employee paychecks. The bill would prescribe the wording of the authorization form. It would also require school districts to confirm authorizations by email before deducting dues. 
  • Oregon HB2481: Republican sponsorship. This bill would prohibit public employees from striking and require disputed issues to be submitted to final and binding arbitration.
  • Oregon HB2573: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for the electronic preparation of authorizations designating bargaining representatives and for the electronic signing of those authorizations. 
  • Oregon HB2703: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would remove language limiting the inclusion of class size and caseload limits as mandatory subjects of collective bargaining to schools qualifying for Title 1 assistance.  
  • Oregon HB2864: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would allow unions to charge “reasonable fees and costs for representation that are unrelated to the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement” to non-union Department of Corrections employees, Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees, and parole or probation officers supervising adult offenders. 
  • Oregon HB2934: Republican sponsorship. This bill would prohibit a public employer from deducting union dues or fees from public employee pay.
  • Oregon SB187: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would repeal ORS 243.738, which prohibits mass transit district employees, transportation district employees, and municipal bus system employees from striking.
  • Oregon SB194: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would exclude certain Oregon State Police employees from being defined as supervisory employees for collective bargaining purposes.
  • Oregon SB197: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would remove language limiting the inclusion of class size and caseload limits as mandatory subjects of collective bargaining to schools qualifying for Title 1 assistance. It would expand class size and caseload as mandatory bargaining subjects to all schools “as necessary to ensure class size and caseload limits align with the class size and caseload limits identified in the quality goals as recommended by the Quality Education Commission.”
  • Washington HB1122 and Washington SB5141: Democratic sponsorship. These companion bills would remove statutory language excluding Washington management service members from collective bargaining units.  
  • Washington HB1200 and Washington SB5273: Democratic sponsorship. These companion bills would require public employers to provide exclusive bargaining representatives with information including employee name, date of hire, contact information, and employment and salary information within 10 days of hiring a new employee in the bargaining unit. All information for every employee in the unit must be sent to the exclusive bargaining representative every 90 days.  
  • Washington SB5085: Democratic sponsorship. This bill would grant principals and assistant principals the right to bargain for working conditions rather than being limited to bargaining for compensation and hours and days of work.

As always, an overview of the current legislation we’re tracking and a list of legislative actions from the past week are included at the end of this newsletter.

To view spreadsheets with information about all of the public-sector labor bills we’ve tracked since 2018, click here

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 33 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue. This list of bills overlaps with—but is not identical to—the list of 2023 bills above.   

  • Connecticut HB05067: This bill would remove statutory language related to an administrators’ unit, categorizing school administrators as management employees for collective bargaining purposes.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Referred to Joint Education Committee Jan. 9. 
  • Connecticut HB05183: This bill would require collective bargaining agreements and related notices for state and municipal employees to include “a clear and conspicuous statement of an employee’s right to choose not to be a member of an employee organization.” 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Referred to Joint Labor and Public Employees Committee Jan. 11.
  • Illinois HB5107 (2022 session): This bill would define educational supervisors (e.g., principals and assistant principals) as educational employees for the purpose of collective bargaining. The bill would not allow educational supervisors in positions requiring an administrative license to strike. The bill would only apply to districts organized under Article 34 of the Illinois School Code, which applies to cities with a population of more than 500,000.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Passed both chambers Jan. 6. 
  • Illinois HB1083: This bill would stipulate that any collective bargaining provision limiting a public employer’s ability to investigate employee conduct is unenforceable. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled with clerk Jan. 4. 
  • Illinois HB1089: This bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements between public employers and police unions from allowing unconstitutional police conduct. A collective bargaining agreement allowing unconstitutional police conduct would be void.      
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled with clerk Jan. 4. 
  • Illinois HB1120: This bill would require certified charter school contract renewals to include a union neutrality clause stating that the school agrees to be “neutral regarding the unionization of any of its employees …,” to provide “labor organization access at reasonable times…,” and to recognize unions “through a majority card check verified by a neutral third-party arbitrator[.]”
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled with clerk Jan. 10. 
  • Maryland HB65: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain county public library employees. It would prohibit employees from striking.  
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • First reading House Appropriations Committee Jan. 11. 
  • Maryland HB85: This bill would repeal a provision that says maximum class size is not subject to collective bargaining negotiation.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • First reading House Ways and Means Committee Jan. 11.
  • Maryland HB116: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain employees of the Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • First reading House Appropriations Committee Jan. 11. Hearing scheduled for Jan. 24.
  • Minnesota HF77 and Minnesota SF83: These companion bills would allow employees of legislative entities to organize and choose exclusive representatives to bargain over terms and conditions of employment.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • HF77 referred to House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee Jan. 5.
    • SF83 referred to Senate State and Local Government and Veterans Committee Jan. 9. 
  • Minnesota HF332: This bill would repeal statutory language allowing public employee labor organizations to collect fair share fees or otherwise referring to fair share fees.  
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduction and first reading, referred to House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee Jan. 11.
  • Missouri SB54: This bill would bar employers from requiring employees to join or refrain from joining a union as a condition of employment in counties that adopt the provisions of the section.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate first read Jan. 4.
  • Montana HB216: This bill would state that public employees may not be required to join or financially support a union as a condition of employment. It would allow public employees to cancel their union membership and cease financial support at any time. It would prohibit public employers from withdrawing union dues from employees’ pay without informing employees annually that union membership and financial support are voluntary and without receiving annual affirmative written consent for dues deductions.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Jan. 10.
  • New Hampshire HB134: This bill would establish the Legislature as a public employer and establish collective bargaining procedures for nonpartisan legislative employees. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Jan. 4, referred to House Legislative Administration Committee.
  • New Hampshire HB150: This bill would decrease the number of employees required to certify a public employee collective bargaining unit from 10 to five. 
    • Bipartisan sponsorship. 
    • Introduced Jan. 4, referred to House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Public hearing scheduled for Jan. 26.
  • New Hampshire HB241: This bill would define a reasonable opportunity for school district employees to meet with the school district for collective bargaining negotiations as being before 9:00 a.m. or after 6:00 p.m. on scheduled work days.
    • Bipartisan sponsorship. 
    • Referred to House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee Jan. 9. 
  • Oregon HB2481: This bill would prohibit public employees from striking and require disputed issues to be submitted to final and binding arbitration.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • First reading, referred to speaker’s desk Jan. 9. Referred to House Business and Labor Committee Jan. 11.
  • Oregon HB2573: This bill would require the Employment Relations Board to develop procedures for the electronic preparation of authorizations designating bargaining representatives and for the electronic signing of those authorizations. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • First reading, referred to speaker’s desk Jan. 9. 
  • Oregon HB2703: This bill would remove language limiting the inclusion of class size and caseload limits as mandatory subjects of collective bargaining to schools qualifying for Title 1 assistance.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • First reading, referred to speaker’s desk Jan. 9. 
  • Oregon HB2864: This bill would allow unions to charge “reasonable fees and costs for representation that are unrelated to the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement” to non-union Department of Corrections employees, Oregon Corrections Enterprises employees, and parole or probation officers supervising adult offenders.
    • Democratic sponsorship.  
    • First reading, referred to speaker’s desk Jan. 9. 
  • Oregon HB2934: This bill would prohibit a public employer from deducting union dues or fees from public employee pay.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • First reading, referred to Speaker’s desk Jan. 9. 
  • Oregon SB187: This bill would repeal ORS 243.738, which prohibits mass transit district employees, transportation district employees, and municipal bus system employees from striking.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduction and first reading, referred to president’s desk Jan. 9.
  • Oregon SB194: This bill would exclude certain Oregon State Police employees from being defined as supervisory employees for collective bargaining purposes.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduction and first reading, referred to president’s desk Jan. 9.
  • Oregon SB197: This bill would remove language limiting the inclusion of class size and caseload limits as mandatory subjects of collective bargaining to schools qualifying for Title 1 assistance. It would expand class size and caseload as mandatory bargaining subjects to all schools “as necessary to ensure class size and caseload limits align with the class size and caseload limits identified in the quality goals as recommended by the Quality Education Commission.”
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Introduction and first reading, referred to president’s desk Jan. 9. Referred to Senate Education Committee Jan. 11.
  • Washington HB1122 and Washington SB5141: These companion bills would remove statutory language excluding Washington management service members from collective bargaining units.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • HB1122 scheduled for House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee public hearing on Jan. 13 and executive session on Jan. 20. 
    • SB5141 referred to Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Jan. 9.
  • Washington HB1200 and Washington SB5273: These companion bills would require public employers to provide exclusive bargaining representatives with information including employee name, date of hire, contact information, and employment and salary information within 10 days of hiring a new employee in the bargaining unit. All information for every employee in the unit must be sent to the exclusive bargaining representative every 90 days.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • HB1200 referred to House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee Jan. 10, scheduled for public hearing Jan. 20. 
    • SB5273 referred to Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Jan. 11. 
  • Washington SB5085: This bill would grant principals and assistant principals the right to bargain for working conditions rather than being limited to bargaining for compensation and hours and days of work.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee public hearing held Jan. 12.

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Email us at editor@ballotpedia.org with any feedback or recommendations.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics

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

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues:  The debate over four-day school weeks
  • In your district: Budgets
  • In Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc., SCOTUS could decide if charter schools are state actors
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues

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

On Dec. 13, 2022, the Independence School District in Missouri became the largest district in the state (with about 14,000 students) to adopt a four-day school week for all grade levels. Independence School District is the 557th largest district by enrollment in the country. Officials in the nearby St. Joseph School District (with more than 10,000 students) are reportedly considering the change as well. 

Paul Hill writes that four-day school weeks do not save money because teachers, administrators, and most professional staff receive the same annual pay. Hill says teachers and students are more likely to lose focus in longer school days and that four-day school weeks worsen learning losses from sick days and other absences. He also says four-day weeks disproportionately harm lower-income and minority students with fewer resources at home and hurt the rural school districts that have tried the policy.

Lucy Rycroft-Smith writes about Colorado school districts that had statistically significant improvements in math scores after switching to a four-day school week. Rycroft-Smith says four-day weeks reduce stress for students and give them more time for play, extracurricular learning, and daytime appointments (like doctor’s visits) that would normally cause absences from school. She also says the policy gives teachers more time to plan lessons, collaborate, and seek professional development.

Beware the Four-Day School-Week Trap | Paul Hill, EducationWeek

“All teachers and most professional staff get the same annual pay for the four longer days, with the savings coming only from that fifth day of busing costs, utility bills, and wages of some support staff, such as those in custodial or food services. … Supporters of the four-day week assert that the longer days make up for the missed fifth day. But teachers and students, especially the younger children, may not work as effectively at the end of such long days, thus reducing overall learning. Low-income and minority students, who generally have fewer learning resources at home, stand to lose disproportionately from the loss of a day in school. High school students assigned homework every school day will have one less evening of preparation per week. And days lost to illness or weather will have a greater impact on learning time. Nobody seriously argues that less time in school will increase student learning. And here’s the rub: The hundreds of four-day-week districts in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, and Oregon are overwhelmingly rural districts, which, on average, fall below state means on student achievement, graduation rates, and college attendance. A policy that just holds student results to previous levels will not expand students’ college options or help communities attract new businesses and jobs.”

What a difference a day makes: the argument for a four-day school week | Lucy Rycroft-Smith, The Guardian

“The four-day school week for students in Colorado was introduced as a cost-saving measure, and the improvements in academic results were the opposite of what had been anticipated, Walker explains. … But the results show that, even for these young students, a four-day school week had a statistically significant positive impact on maths scores (around 7% extra on average), and a possible positive impact on reading scores (although this was not deemed statistically significant by the study’s testing standards). … [A]s someone who taught for 10 years, I can certainly see the potential benefits. It would give young people some much-needed breathing space and, in schools where the fifth day was used for extracurricular activities, students wouldn’t have to choose between academic study and other pursuits. … The benefits for teachers should not be overlooked either. Those who took part in the study reported greater efficiency and better collaboration when they used the fifth day to plan together, with some schools even finding that staff turnover was reduced. … Perhaps most exciting is the potential to use the fifth day to provide good-quality continued professional development and support for teachers where it is (sometimes desperately) needed.”

In your district: Budgets 

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

Today’s question:

What are your thoughts on the current and proposed budget for your school district? 

Click here to respond!

In Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc., SCOTUS could decide if charter schools are state actors

A case before the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) could help answer whether charter schools are public schools or private organizations for the 45 states with laws authorizing charter schools. As of this writing, SCOTUS is considering whether to hear the case.

Peltier v. Charter Day School, Inc. concerns whether charter schools are state actors subject to constitutional review under Title 42 of the United States Code Section 1983. Section 1983 allows individuals to sue the government for civil rights violations.

The case arose from a school uniform policy. Charter Day School, a charter school in North Carolina that receives 95% of its funding from federal, state, and local governments, requires female students to wear skirts, jumpers, or skorts (shorts designed to look like a skirt) and male students to wear pants or shorts. In 2016, Bonnie Peltier, her daughter (a student at the school), two other student families, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued Charter Day School in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. They alleged the skirt requirement violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in public schools. Charter Day School responded that “as a private nonprofit corporation that contracts with the State to operate a charter school, it is not a state actor and therefore not subject to suit under Section 1983.”

In 2019, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Judge Malcolm Howard ruled the uniform policy was unconstitutional. Former President Ronald Reagan (R) appointed Howard in 1987. 

Charter Day School appealed the decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth District. The Religious Freedom Institute, along with other organizations, submitted an amicus brief in support of Charter Day School. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, along with other organizations, submitted an amicus brief in support of Bonnie Peltier and other plaintiffs. 

On June 14, 2022, the court ruled 10-6 that North Carolina charter schools are state actors. The court held that Charter Day School’s dress code policy violated female students’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause.

Writing for the majority, Senior Judge Barbara Keenan said: “Ultimately, the state action inquiry in this case is not complicated: (1) North Carolina is required under its constitution to provide free, universal elementary and secondary schooling to the state’s residents; (2) North Carolina has fulfilled this duty in part by creating and funding the public charter school system; and (3) North Carolina has  exercised its sovereign prerogative to treat these state-created and state-funded schools as public institutions that perform the traditionally exclusive government function of operating the state’s public schools.” 

Former President Barack Obama (D) nominated Keenan to the Fourth District.

In a partial dissent, Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum wrote: “My worry is that the majority’s reasoning transforms all charter schools in North Carolina, and likely all charter schools in the other states that form our circuit, into state actors. As a result, the innovative alternatives to traditional public education envisioned by North Carolina when it passed the Charter Schools Act, and thus the choices available to parents, will be limited.”

Former President Donald Trump (R) nominated Quattlebaum to the Fourth District.

Charter Day School presented the following question to the Supreme Court in its appeal: “Whether a private entity that contracts with the State to operate a charter school engages in state action when it formulates a policy without coercion or encouragement by the government.”

Texas, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia joined together to file an amicus brief asking SCOTUS on behalf of Charter Day School to take up the case. The states argued classifying charter schools as state actors undermines their own charter schools’ independence.  

On Jan. 6, SCOTUS reviewed the case. On Jan. 9, SCOTUS asked U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file a brief expressing the Biden administration’s thoughts on the case. SCOTUS’ request does not mean it will ultimately hear the case. 

During its 2021-2022 term, SCOTUS issued rulings on at least two cases with broad implications for K-12 public education—Carson v. Makin and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District. Click here to read our coverage of those cases.

We’ll bring you more on Peltier v. Charter Day School as it develops. 

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

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

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Robert Barr (R), who won the general election for one of four seats on Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools school board District 2 in North Carolina, and Tracy Miller, who won the general election Jordan Board of Education Precinct 3 in Utah.

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

“Making sure all of our kids have the support and resources to learn. I grew up in public housing, raised by a single parent, and economically disadvantaged. However, because of the support of a guidance counselor and a program called Upward Bound that helped my mother and I navigate the educational system I was able to achieve some success. I have a Masters Degree from Wake Forest and a Bachelors Degree from Winston-Salem State University. Through education and the proper support, all children can learn. I am a big advocate of parental involvement and engagement. Parents are a crucial and critical part of children learning.”

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

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

“I am passionate about public education! I have spent the past decade helping our schools in various capacities. Prior to serving on the school board I spent a lot of time advocating at the state capitol for parent voice on School Community Councils. I was instrumental in getting a constitutional amendment passed that has resulted in increased funding for our schools through the School Land Trust program.”
Click here to read the rest of Miller’s answers.



Kentucky threatens to divest from 11 banks over ESG policies

ESG Developments This Week

In the states

Kentucky threatens to divest from 11 banks over ESG policies

On January 2, Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball (R) issued a statement notifying 11 banks that their ESG policies amounted to energy boycotts that harmed the state’s economy according to definitions passed into law last spring. The statement says the banks have 90 days to stop what Kentucky argues are energy company boycotts or face divestment from the state:

“Kentucky issued an official notice Monday morning listing 11 banks it accused of boycotting energy companies and which would be subject to divestment within months.

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball announced that, after a review of their energy and climate policies, the listed banks — which included BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and HSBC among others — were found to be in an active boycott of fossil fuel companies. The Kentucky state government could begin divesting from the firms if they didn’t reverse their boycotts, according to the notice obtained first by FOX Business.

“Kentucky is a coal, oil, and gas producing state,” Ball told FOX Business. “Our energy sector helps power America. Kentucky refuses to fund the ideological boycotts of our own fossil fuel industry with the hard-earned taxes and pensions of Kentucky citizens.”

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature passed a bill requiring the state government to identify and divest from banks that are determined to be engaging in a boycott of energy and fossil fuel companies. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed the bill, which was endorsed by both the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association and Kentucky Coal Association, into law on April 8, 2022.

The law directs the state treasurer’s office to publish an annual list of financial firms engaged in energy boycotts. State agencies then must notify the office if they own direct or indirect holdings of the listed companies and send a notice to the relevant companies within 30 days. If the companies don’t halt their boycotts within 90 days of receiving such notice, the state government could divest from their holdings.

“When companies boycott fossil fuels, they intentionally choke off the lifeblood of capital to Kentucky’s signature industries,” Ball said in a statement Monday. “Traditional energy sources fuel our Kentucky economy, provide much needed jobs, and warm our homes. Kentucky must not allow our signature industries to be irreparably damaged based upon the ideological whims of a select few.”…

Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia have already announced they will divest hundreds of millions of dollars from banks engaging in energy boycotts. Texas and Oklahoma have taken legislative steps akin to Kentucky’s that will likely soon lead to divestment.”

West Virginia Attorney General threatens to sue SEC if regulator enacts ESG reporting requirements

In 2022, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) won the West Virginia v EPA court case, limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. Now, Morrisey says he will sue the Securities and Exchange Commission if the regulator enacts rules requiring businesses to report on greenhouse gas emissions or other ESG metrics:

“West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is itching for a fight on ESG.

Morrisey has made a name for himself helping net his state hundreds of millions of dollars from cases over the opioid crisis and taking the Environmental Protection Agency all the way to the Supreme Court—and winning.

The Republican also has threatened to sue the Securities and Exchange Commission, if it requires companies to report on greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental, social and governance matters. Morrisey has tried to deflect what he sees as attacks on the state’s coal industry, joining former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republicans who’ve made ESG investing a frequent target and stoked Democratic ire….

Morrisey and other Republican attorneys general sued Obama’s EPA over its efforts to curb power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. The Supreme Court eventually reviewed the power of the agency to regulate emissions, moving to limit agencies’ rulemaking authority in West Virginia v. EPA last year….

Morrisey and other Republicans have cited the Supreme Court ruling in their push to keep the SEC from adopting rules that would require companies to report their greenhouse gas emissions and make other disclosures about how climate change affects their businesses.

He led several Republican attorneys general in writing a July 2022 letter that told the SEC that West Virginia v. EPA shows why the agency’s proposed rules are problematic. The SEC could “save everyone years of strife” if the agency scrapped its climate disclosure proposal, the attorneys general said.”

Texas state senators hold hearings for two of the three biggest ESG asset managers

The Texas Senate recently held hearings on ESG, fossil fuel boycotts, and other related investment and banking matters. The hearings featured, among others, representatives from BlackRock and State Street, two of the three largest passive asset management firms. Kevin Stocklin, a writer at the Epoch Times, penned a news analysis arguing that the memberships of both asset managers in organizations like the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative require them to use their shares to compel companies towards environmental goals, even though representatives from both companies said in the hearings that they did not participate in such activities:

“Texas state senators struggled for more than six hours last month to get straight answers from BlackRock and State Street, two of the world’s largest asset managers, regarding what the Wall Street firms are doing to compel companies whose shares they own to get in line with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement.

Despite having joined global ESG clubs such as Climate Action 100+ and the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative and signed pledges to leverage their voting power as the largest shareholders in 90 percent of S&P 500 companies to “reach net-zero emissions by 2050 or sooner across all assets under management,” the asset managers testified that, in reality, they’re doing no such thing.

When asked by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, chairman of the state Senate Committee on State Affairs, to clarify BlackRock’s pledge to Climate Action 100+ “to secure commitments from companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement,” Dalia Blass, BlackRock’s head of external affairs, responded that the firm merely talks to companies whose shares they own to learn about their “material risks and opportunities.”

“We participate in Climate Action 100 to engage in dialogue with other participants, market participants, governments so that we understand issues that are relevant to our clients,” said Blass, who recently joined BlackRock from the Biden administration, where she worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The motto of Climate Action 100+ is “Global investors driving business transition.”…

According to clubs such as Climate Action 100+ and GFANZ, the role of asset managers who join these clubs is to compel companies whose shares they own into compliance….

The senators asked how BlackRock would respond to a letter from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander asserting that BlackRock failed to honor its commitments to NZAM. Lander’s letter was written in response to a letter that BlackRock wrote to 19 state attorneys general in red states, who accused BlackRock of putting ideology above its fiduciary duty to investors. In the letter, BlackRock rejected that it was using its power as the world’s largest asset manager to compel corporations into compliance with net-zero goals.

Lander took the opposite tack from red state AGs.

“BlackRock now abdicates responsibility for driving net-zero alignment in its own portfolio by saying that it does not ask companies to set specific emissions targets, and that its participation in NZAM does not mean BlackRock is setting or meeting any net-zero targets,” he wrote.

Lander said he would be “reassessing our business relationships with all of our asset managers, including BlackRock, through the lens of our climate responsibilities.”

Blass declined to answer questions about what her firm would do in light of New York’s action.”

On Wall Street and in the private sector

ESG and pro-China investment strategies are at odds, according to Financial Times article

Last week, The Financial Times published a piece echoing what some opponents of ESG have argued: ESG, in their view, is not compatible with investment in Chinese companies, and investors who say they are pro-ESG and pro-China-investment are serving two ends at odds with each other:

“Foreign investors in Chinese equities have a problem. China’s growth offers the hope of big returns over the coming decade, but on environmental, social and governance ratings, its companies rank lower not only than western nations, but also below most emerging markets.

The combination of the world’s biggest consumer market with fast-growing technology and services sectors has attracted global investors willing to look the other way on censorship, surveillance, environmental, labour and other human rights abuses.

However, there are signs an ESG reckoning is looming for Chinese companies and those investing in them. ESG ratings are increasingly important for international investors, but the sustainability rules and standards common in western jurisdictions are at odds with realities on the ground in China.

In a move signalling the challenge ahead, Sustainalytics, a sustainable rating agency owned by research house Morningstar, in October downgraded three Chinese tech darlings on its watchlist — Tencent, Weibo and Baidu — to the category of “non-compliant with UN principles”….

Liqian Ren, who manages China investments at WisdomTree Asset Management, a US-based fund, said she was among those obliged to drop the companies, a move that resulted in a turnover of more than a quarter of its main China index.

“[If the companies] become non-compliant, by our process we have to sell — unless we just don’t claim this fund as ESG,” she said. “It’s a big part of the portfolio. But on the other hand, this is indeed an area that people do care about . . . and the whole point of ESG is people taking a stance on some issues.”

Such experiences may become more common for investors in an increasingly authoritarian China as Xi Jinping, the country’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, embarks on an unprecedented third term in power. Some have already been debating whether China is too risky given the unpredictability of Xi’s administration in recent years….

Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based group that researches investment and human rights issues in China, said in a report in November that many of the biggest asset management, state pension and sovereign wealth funds were passively invested in companies allegedly involved in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in north-west China’s Xinjiang region.

The report found three major stock indices provided by index publisher MSCI include at least 13 companies that have allegedly used forced labour or have profited from China’s construction of internment camps and surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang.

MSCI said the only filters for inclusion in its global indices were “accessibility and investability” and that it had other ESG-focused indices.

Foxconn, which makes iPhones and other devices for Apple, was among the companies Hong Kong Watch said allegedly used Uyghur workers obtained through state-sponsored transfers….

Chinese companies are also less likely to engage on ESG issues than western counterparts, researchers and investors said. About 60 per cent of the companies Sustainalytics rates respond to its queries, but in China, the number is “quite a bit lower”, MacMahon said.”

In the spotlight

ESG at Wharton

On January 5, RealClear Investigations published two separate but related pieces by Ben Weingarten on the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and its decision to offer new majors in ESG and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). According to Weingarten, the decision has stirred up opposition, especially among Wharton alumni:

“Skeptics, including former faculty and alumni of the school, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of recriminations, fear the MBA program could serve as progressivism in business sheepskin clothing. One recent graduate warned against a one-sided presentation of left-wing politics used “to justify increasing the power of the state in markets and firms while demonizing capitalism.”

Observers suggested the school’s embrace of ESG could not only presage similar curriculum changes at business schools nationwide, but also change the character of the corporate C-suites that the school’s graduates tend to populate. The thinking is that ESG-focused students will matriculate to ESG-focused executive positions in an already socially conscious corporate America, creating a feedback loop that could have an indelible impact not just on U.S.-style capitalism, but on America itself. 

“By creating a major [in ESG] at Wharton you are helping to legitimize it,” said another graduate….

At least 9% of the 877 students in Wharton’s 2024 class will major in ESGB based on the number of currently declared majors in Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability, which will become a specialization under the ESGB major when formally introduced next fall, according to figures provided by Henisz.

Some required classes will include – on the “environmental” side of ESG – “Climate and Financial Markets” and “The Business & Governance of Water.” In the “social” and “governance” realms, courses include “Social Impact and Responsibility” and “Reforming Mass Incarceration and the Role of Business.””



Robe & Gavel: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for Jan. 1

Welcome to the Jan. 9 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

New year, new court business! Dear readers, we have federal judicial activity from President Joe Biden’s (D) second year in office, with some SCOTUS on the side. Let’s gavel in, shall we?

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

We #SCOTUS and you can, too!

Grants

Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted five new cases to its merits docket.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 51 cases during its 2022-2023 term

Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in five cases this week. 

Jan. 9

Jan. 10

Jan. 11

The court’s January argument sitting will conclude on Jan. 18. The February argument sitting is scheduled to begin on Feb. 21. 

Twelve cases have yet to be scheduled for arguments.

Opinions

SCOTUS has not issued any opinions in cases argued on the merits since our previous edition. 

The Federal Vacancy Count

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

The Jan. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Dec. 2, 2022, through Jan. 1, 2023. The U.S. Courts data used for this report is published on the first of each month and covers the previous month.

Highlights

  • Vacancies: There was one new judicial vacancy. There were 83 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 85 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were six new nominations. 
  • Confirmations: There were 10 new confirmations.

Vacancy count for Jan. 1, 2022

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies in the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

Four judges left active status, and one judicial position was established, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The following chart compares the number of vacancies on the United States Courts of Appeals on the date of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration to vacancies on Jan. 1, 2023.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the vacancy percentage in each of the United States District Courts as of Jan. 1, 2023.

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) announced six new nominations since our previous report. 

Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has nominated 148 individuals to Article III positions. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate has confirmed 10 new nominees since our previous edition:

As of Jan. 1, 2023, the Senate had confirmed 97 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—68 district court judges, 28 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.

Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)
  • Presidents have appointed an average of 90 judges through Jan. 1 of their third year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through Jan. 1 of his third year with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Ronald Reagan (R) made the most appointments through one year in office with 41. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 13.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through two years with 128. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 62.
  • President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Jan. 17, 2023, with a new edition of Robe & Gavel. Until then, gaveling out! 

Contributions

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

Editor’s note

Dearest readers, I pause to thank you for your time and attention. It has been an honor to compile this newsletter for you. While this may be my final edition writing Robe & Gavel, I put my quill down grateful in the knowledge that it shall continue to hum along, bringing you all the latest on the federal courts. I appreciate you.

Warmest wishes to you and yours, 

Kate



2022 recap: Public-sector union legislation in the states

Happy New Year! In today’s Union Station, we’ll review public-sector union legislation from 2022. Next week, we’ll look at bills filed so far for 2023.

Highlights

  • State legislators either introduced or carried over from earlier sessions 150 bills related to public-sector union policy in 2022.
  • Thirteen relevant bills were enacted. Republicans sponsored three of those bills, and Democrats or Democratic-led committees sponsored 10. 
  • Of the 150 bills Ballotpedia tracked in 2022, Democrats sponsored 92 bills to Republicans’ 46. The rest were bipartisan or committee bills.

Overview

The following map shows which states considered public-sector union legislation in 2022, with darker colors representing a higher number of bills.

Legislators in California and Maryland introduced the most public-sector union bills in 2022—13 each—followed by Minnesota with 12.

This chart shows the legislative status of each bill at the end of 2022:

Enacted legislation

States enacted the following 13 bills in 2022:

  • Arizona SB1166: Republican sponsorship. Prohibits public employers from spending public money on a union’s political or lobbying activities. Prohibits public employers from contracting with a public employee to perform a union’s political or lobbying activities. Also prohibits public employers from providing paid leave or other compensation to employees performing a union’s political or lobbying activities. Law enforcement and firefighters are exempt. Read more here.
  • California AB158: Introduced by Democratic-led committee. Budget-related. Includes a proposed tax credit for union dues. Read more here.
  • California AB2556: Democratic sponsorship. Changes the time for a public agency to implement its final offer after mediation from 10 to 15 days after the fact-finding panel has submitted its recommendation. Authorizes a union to charge certain employees under the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act for the cost of requested representation if they decline union membership. Read more here.
  • California SB189: Introduced by Democratic-led committee. Budget-related. Includes an ongoing proposal for the creation of a tax credit for union dues. Read more here.
  • California SB931: Democratic sponsorship. Allows a union to bring a claim before the Public Employment Relations Board against a public employer the union alleges to be in violation of California Government Code Section 3550 and sets civil penalties for violations. Section 3550 prohibits public employers from discouraging union membership. Read more here.
  • Colorado SB230: Democratic sponsorship. Gives certain county employees the right to organize and bargain collectively beginning in 2023. Read more here, here, and here.
  • Indiana SB0297: Republican sponsorship. Amends the language of the authorization form school employees must sign before union dues may be deducted from their pay. Read more here.
  • Maine LD449: Democratic sponsorship. Existing law required public employers and collective bargaining agents to meet within 10 days of receiving written notice of a request for a bargaining meeting. This only applied if the parties had not otherwise agreed in an earlier contract. This bill eliminates that exception.
  • Maryland HB90: Democratic sponsorship. Extends collective bargaining rights to the deputy public defender, district public defenders, and assistant public defenders.
  • Maryland HB580: Democratic sponsorship. Extends collective bargaining rights to Maryland Transit Administration Police sergeants and supervisors. 
  • New Jersey S3810: Democratic sponsorship. Expands the terms and conditions negotiable between government employers and public-sector unions to those that “intimately and directly affect employee work and welfare,” with certain exceptions. It also allows a public-sector union to charge a non-dues-paying employee for the cost of representation in arbitration proceedings, and not to represent those who do not pay dues. 
  • Oklahoma SB1579: Republican sponsorship. Allows school boards to grant unpaid leaves of absence for employees to hold office in an employee association if certain criteria are met. An employee organization would be required to comply with this law in order to be recognized as the representative of a bargaining unit.
  • Washington HB2124: Democratic sponsorship. Gives state legislative branch employees the right to bargain collectively, creates an office of state legislative labor relations to “[e]xamine issues related to collective bargaining for employees of the house of representatives, the senate, and legislative agencies” and to “develop best practices and options for the legislature to consider in implementing and administering collective bargaining.” A final report is due to the legislature by Oct. 1, 2023. No collective bargaining agreement may take effect until July 1, 2025. Employees are not allowed to strike. Read more here.

Compared to years past

This chart shows the number of public-sector union bills Ballotpedia tracked each year from 2018 to 2022 and the number of those bills that were enacted each year: 

This chart shows a breakdown of the partisan affiliation of bill sponsors by year. 

To view spreadsheets with information about all of the public-sector union bills we’ve tracked since 2018, click here

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking nine pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken in the last week.

  • Washington HB1122 and Washington SB5141: These companion bills would remove statutory language excluding Washington management service members from collective bargaining units.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled for introduction on Jan. 4. 

Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.



Union Station: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he favors legislation prohibiting paycheck deductions for teachers union dues

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Note: The next edition of Union Station will be on Jan. 6, 2023. Until then, happy holidays!

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he favors legislation prohibiting paycheck deductions for teachers union dues

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) spoke in favor of legislation that would prohibit paycheck deductions for teachers union dues in a speech in Orlando on Dec. 19. 

DeSantis’ statements 

The Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee sponsored an event titled “The Freedom Blueprint: DeSantis Education Agenda School Board Retreat” in Orlando on Dec. 19. While addressing retreat participants—including school board members and potential candidates—DeSantis discussed a proposal to prohibit paycheck deductions for teachers union dues. 

DeSantis said, “[S]o what we want to do … is do a paycheck protection legislation which says …  you do not have to join [a] teachers union, but if you do … the government [doesn’t] want to play a role in deducting anybody’s money. So you write a check … every month for the dues and you do it that way. And that maximizes freedom to choose, and I think it’ll be a more accurate reflection of who actually wants to be a part of this.” He also said this legislation would create “more of a guarantee that that money is going to actually go to those teachers” and not be “frittered away by interest groups who get involved into the school system.” He said, “I think those will be really really positive reforms[.] … I think we’re going to get big, big support in the legislature.”

According to the News Service of Florida, “The Legislature has considered similar proposals since at least 2011, but they have not passed. … The proposals have drawn fierce opposition from unions and Democrats, as such changes could make it harder for unions to get funded.”

Florida’s next legislative session begins in March 2023. A union dues bill has not yet been filed.

Prior legislation

One previous version of the proposal, Republican-sponsored HB 1197, passed the Florida House of Representatives in March 2022 but died in the Senate Rules Committee later that month. 

The bill included the following language: “Except as authorized in subsection (2), an employee organization that has been certified as a bargaining agent may not have its dues and uniform assessments deducted and collected by the employer from the salaries of those employees in the unit. Public employees may pay their dues and uniform assessments directly to the employee organization that has been certified as their bargaining agent.” 

The bill, which was not specific to teachers unions, made exceptions for unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and firefighters. It also would have required public employees intending to join a union to sign an authorization form with language specified in the legislation. 

To read more about the bill in an earlier edition of Union Station, click here

Perspectives

Support

  • Building Education for Students Together executive director Laura Zorc said, “If teachers had to write the check directly to the union they will be more likely to question every month if it’s really worth the money. … Once forced with this decision many will realize it’s a waste of money and pocket their own hard earned cash.”
  • Americans for Fair Treatment interim CEO Elisabeth Messenger said, “Automatic dues deduction uses government resources to make it easier for unions to recruit and retain members and creates confusion for workers who may think their workplace union is endorsed by their employer or that membership is required by their employer. … In signing this legislation, Governor DeSantis would be taking a huge step in protecting teachers’ private information and ensuring the Florida state government is not a middleman in funding partisan politics.”

Opposition

  • The Florida Education Association said, “The past few weeks, FEA has been asking educators to fill out a wishlist with what they’re hopeful for in 2023. Common themes have been less testing, more resources and support, more stability — all things that would help us better serve our students and alleviate the teacher and staff shortage. Gov. DeSantis, however, appears to prioritize politics. Only a Grinch would attack teachers’ freedom to join in [sic] union to advocate for our students and schools.”
  • First-grade teacher Shari Gewanter said, “This is a ridiculous diversion away from what really needs to happen, which is to properly fund our public schools to attract and retain teachers into this profession.”
  • Middle school teacher and local union treasurer Sandra Meador said, “I’m more concerned with keeping the teachers that I mentor that are so good and deserve a future and education. … Teaching is a wonderful profession. And it doesn’t need to turn into a political battle.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 150 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

We’ll be back in January with 2023 legislation.

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.


Thank you for reading! Let us know what you think! Reply to this email with any feedback or recommendations.



Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #42

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

A note to readers: It’s the holidays, and so we’ll be off next week to celebrate accordingly. We’ll return to your inbox again on Jan. 4, 2023. Thanks, as always, for reading, and we’ll see you in the New Year!

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over school vouchers and whether they hurt or help rural communities 
  • The top five Hall Pass education stories of 2022
  • In school board elections, conflict issues break along existing party lines, incumbents lose at higher rate
  • Oklahoma attorney general says law prohibiting religious charter schools likely unconstitutional
  • Extracurricular: education news from around the web
  • Candidate Connection survey

Reply to this email to share reactions or story ideas!

On the issues: The debate over school vouchers and whether they hurt or help rural communities

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

School vouchers and education savings accounts give parents money to spend on education at public schools, tuition at private schools, tutors, homeschooling curricula, and other educational materials. Today, we’ll look at discussions about whether the policy would help or hurt students in rural school districts.

Corey DeAngelis writes that school voucher and education savings account programs work well in rural areas. DeAngelis says competition between schools benefits students and families and does not reduce the quantity or quality of educational resources. He also says teachers unions are more powerful in rural areas relative to other political organizations and says they are responsible for arguments against vouchers in those areas.

Jill Long Thompson writes that school voucher and education savings account programs are bad for students and hurt rural schools more than urban schools. Thompson says such programs divert resources away from public schools that already lack the resources needed to provide quality education. Instead, these programs lead to the creation of a variety of low-quality private schools. She says rural public schools need more funding, not more competition.

The Little Red Schoolhouse Could Do With a Little Competition | Corey DeAngelis, Wall Street Journal

“Teachers unions and their allies are arguing that giving families choices in education would devastate their state’s rural public schools. This claim is neither new nor persuasive. … These same politicians also claim that rural constituents wouldn’t benefit from school choice because the local public school is their only option. These arguments can’t both be true. If rural families didn’t have any other options, public schools wouldn’t suffer. And if rural public schools are as great as the teachers unions say they are, they would have no need to worry about a little competition. The truth is that rural families benefit from school choice as much as any others do. More options are better than none, and supply isn’t fixed. If you put taxpayer-funded education dollars in the hands of parents, new private education providers will sprout up to meet demand. … Despite a growth in private options, the mass exodus from rural public schools that many have warned about hasn’t happened. In fact, 25 of the 28 studies on the topic find that private-school choice leads to better outcomes in public schools, from increased test scores to reduced absenteeism and suspensions. Competition is a rising tide that lifts all boats. … [G]iving families more options doesn’t result in a net loss of jobs; school choice simply allows families to determine where those jobs are concentrated.”

Vouchers can’t make rural schools great again | Jill Long Thompson, The Journal Gazette

“For rural communities, in particular, voucher programs create a business model that simply will not work. Running a rural school is very challenging because the resources are always limited, and oftentimes scarce. Vouchers encourage the creation of small private schools. But, we don’t need more schools in rural communities; we need more resources to strengthen the schools we have. Increasing the number of schools means increasing the overhead, which is why vouchers dilute resources even further. A school voucher program is the education policy equivalent of a county highway program that would give residents money to build little private roads anywhere they want. That would not only be costly and inefficient; it would not serve the community’s transportation needs. One must look no further than our own state, with its aggressive voucher program, to see the problems it causes for small rural school systems. Since 2011, Indiana has shifted $520 million into the state voucher program. Unfortunately, many of the schools receiving the vouchers have not performed as well as the public schools that lost funding because of the vouchers. A voucher program is not the solution to the challenges facing public education.”

The top five Hall Pass education stories of 2022

Hall Pass launched on Feb. 9, 2022. Thank you for joining us in this newsletter—we are grateful to have you as a subscriber. 

Every Wednesday, we’ve helped you understand the debates shaping education and curricula policy and make sense of the ever-changing world of school board politics. As we close out the year, let’s take a look back at our top education stories. 

Understanding the country’s more than 82,000 school board members

On Aug. 24, we released a comprehensive report on the country’s 82,423 school board members and 13,194 school districts. Our research detailed the nationwide gender composition of school boards, the number of board members by state, and the breakdown of at-large and by-district school board seats.  

The seven education-related ballot measures voters decided on Nov. 8

Education was on the ballot in seven states on Nov. 8, with voters deciding measures related to college tuition, school meals, legislative oversight of state board rules, and more. Find out which measures passed in our story recapping the Nov. 8 ballot measure results. 

A brief history of school boards in early America

In this article, we traced the development of public education and school boards in America from the colonies through the beginning of the 19th century. 

How states fund public schools: an introduction 

Public school funding, which comes from federal, state, and local sources, isn’t the easiest topic to grasp. In this article, we explained the three primary funding formulas states use to allocate education funds. Learn how your state allocates funds at the link above. 

Charter schools in America: some basics

Did you know Minnesota was the first state to pass a law authorizing charter schools in 1991? In this article, we took a look at the history of charter schools and provided an overview of charter school funding. We also walked you through charter school statistics, including the number of charter schools by state and recent enrollment figures.

We’re looking forward to bringing you more education stories in 2023. If you have ideas for a topic we should cover, reply to this email to let us know.  

In school board elections, conflict issues break along existing party lines, incumbents lose at higher rate

Since Nov. 8, we’ve brought you periodic updates on our progress tracking the results of school board conflict updates. We’ve finished our analysis of 1,779 races in 545 school districts where candidates took a stance on at least one of three topics—race in education, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and sex and gender in schools.

Here’s what we found. 

  • Candidates who supported measures like equity plans, mask requirements, and gender inclusion won 45% of these seats
  • Candidates who opposed those policies won 31%
  • Candidates whose stances could not be identified won 23%

Continuing a trend we observed in school board conflict elections in 2021 and earlier in 2022, just under one-third of incumbents lost to challengers in those races on Nov. 8. In our regular school board coverage from 2018 to 2020, 18% of incumbents lost re-election, on average.

We label each winner as either supporting or opposing the three conflict topics. If we cannot determine a stance, we mark the winner unclear. Broadly, we label a candidate supporting if they support things like including the role of race in curricula or learning materials, mask and/or vaccine requirements, or the inclusion of topics in sexual education regarding orientations and gender identities. We label a candidate opposing if they oppose things like critical race theory, mask and/or vaccine requirements, or comprehensive sexual education. In cases where we labeled a winner as supporting on at least one topic and opposing on another, we used the category mixed.  

Candidates supporting things like equity plans and mask requirements won 58.6% of seats in counties Joe Biden (D) won in 2020, while candidates opposing those policies won 43.5% of seats in counties Donald Trump (R) won.

Of all 791 winners we labeled supporting, 75% won in counties Biden carried. Of the 558 winners labeled opposing, 60% won in counties Trump carried. 

Click here to learn more about conflicts in school board elections. 

Oklahoma attorney general says law prohibiting religious charter schools likely unconstitutional

On Dec. 1, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor (R) released an advisory opinion saying that, in light of recent U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions, a state law prohibiting religiously affiliated charter schools likely violates the First Amendment. 

Oklahoma is one of 45 states that permit charter schools. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are publicly funded. In all 45 states, charter schools must be secular schools. 

Oklahoma first established charter schools in 1999, when then-Gov. Frank Keating (R) signed the Education Reform Act.

The law states: “A charter school shall be nonsectarian in its programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations. A sponsor may not authorize a charter school or program that is affiliated with a nonpublic sectarian school or religious institution.”

O’Connor writes: “We do not believe the U.S. Supreme Court would accept the argument that, because charter schools are considered public for various purposes, that a state should be allowed to discriminate against religiously affiliated private participants who wish to establish and operate charter schools in accordance with their faith alongside other private participants.”

O’Connor references three recent SCOTUS decisions he believes undermine state law prohibiting religious charter schools—Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Carson v. Makin

  • In Trinity Lutheran Church, decided in 2016, the court ruled 7-2 that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources violated Trinity Lutheran Church’s First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources had denied the church’s request for a grant that would have helped its associated preschool and daycare center resurface its playground.
  • In Espinoza, decided in 2020, the court ruled 5-4 that a provision of the Montana Constitution prohibiting religiously affiliated churches or schools from receiving taxpayer money was unconstitutional. The majority said that disqualifying recipients from a public benefit because of their religious character inhibits the recipients’ free exercise of religion. 
  • Finally, earlier this year, the court ruled 6-3 in Makin that a nonsectarian requirement in a Maine tuition assistance program violated the Free Exercise Clause. We covered Makin in-depth in these pages earlier this year here

O’Connor released the advisory opinion after Archbishop Paul Coakley, the head of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, expressed an interest in establishing a Catholic charter school. Shortly after O’Connor released his opinion, the Archdiocese announced it intended to submit an application. According to The New York Sun’s Raina Raskin, the state charter board’s decision, which could come within a few months, will likely trigger litigation. 

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said, “Attorney General John O’Connor’s opinion rightfully defends parents, education freedom and religious liberty in Oklahoma. Ultimately, government takes a backseat to parents who get to determine the best learning environment for their child.” Secretary of Public Education (and incoming superintendent of education) Ryan Walters (R) said, “there’s never a more important decision than to protect one’s religious liberties.”

The Oklahoma Education Association, which opposes O’Connor’s advisory opinion, said, “The recent decisions of the US Supreme Court are not contextually similar to the suggestion that a publicly funded school district requiring affirmation of particular religious tenets and doctrine as a condition of admission would receive a similar endorsement from a court.  The predictions suggested by the Oklahoma Attorney General are exactly that – predictions by a political figure of how a court may rule if faced with that legal question.”

In 2016, Oklahoma voters rejected State Question 790, with 57.12% voting against the measure and 42.88% voting in support. The measure would have repealed Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes. The measure was proposed largely in response to a state supreme court ruling that found a Ten Commandments monument displayed on the grounds of the Oklahoma state capitol violated Section 5 of Article 2 of the state Constitution. 

Extracurricular: education news from around the web

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

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

We’re featuring survey responses from school board candidates who won their races on Nov. 8. 

Today, we’re looking at responses from Jane Lea Smith, who won the general election for San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Education Area 3 in California, and Edward Buster, who was one of two candidates who won in the general election for Vail Unified School District Governing Board At-large in Arizona. 

Here’s how Smith answered the question, “What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

  • “Restore functional governance and effective leadership through an emphasis on professionalism, clear role delineation, and a transparent, rigorous search for an experienced superintendent who understands and embraces our unique community.
  • Address financial stability and accountability concerns, prioritizing expenditures that directly affect student safety and the quality of our educational programs.
  • Embrace diversity and equity by ensuring all students feel welcome, supporting vulnerable students, addressing achievement gaps, and continuing to expand opportunities for all students.”

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

Here’s how Buster answered the question, “What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?”

  • “The main reasons for my desire to serve on the Vail School District Governing Board, is our school district’s positive influence on the successes of my five now adult sons. With this opportunity, I can now pay it forward to an extraordinary community that so warmly embraced me and my family when we moved to Corona de Tucson almost 16 years ago.
  • I have long been and continue to be a strong proponent for education. I am running because the school board should set the direction for our schools through a collaborative vision, advancing policy, demonstrating accountability, developing a consensus and by maintaining leadership roles in the community.
  • My overarching vision is to ensure as our well-prepared students go away to college, trade school, accept apprenticeships, or establish themselves, they will one day endeavor to return to the Greater Vail Area to raise their families as it is in the community’s best interest to have and maintain a smart, well-educated, community-minded, and healthy workforce.”

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



Reviewing this year’s 2,500+ pieces of election-related legislation

Welcome to the Monday, December 19, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

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

  1. More than 2,500 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures this year
  2. The Federal Register has added 77,000 pages since the beginning of year
  3. Candidates advance to the 2022 Holiday Cookie general election
  4. For the Eighth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia, we’re going local!

More than 2,500 election-related bills were introduced in state legislatures this year

Ballotpedia tracked 2,534 election-related bills in 45 states this year. This comes as part of our Election Administration Legislation Tracker, which keeps tabs on the latest election-related legislation nationwide. 

We’re already following more than 100 bills pre-filed for 2023. But first, let’s take a quick look back at 2022. 

Most of these bills—1,714, or 68%—have had no activity, meaning they were introduced, but have not yet been placed before any legislative committees.

We tracked 266 bills that were enacted—11% of the total. Another 10% either failed or were vetoed. The remaining bills are all pending, having advanced out of at least one committee, but without final action so far.

States with Democratic trifectas—meaning full legislative and gubernatorial control—accounted for 93 of the 266 enacted bills (35%), and 121 (45%) came in states with Republican trifectas. States with divided governments enacted 52 bills (20%).

Among the states that considered any election-related legislation this year, New York had the most bills at 416, while Connecticut had the fewest at two.

Five states considered no election-related bills this year, though three of those—Montana, North Dakota, and Texas—did not have regular legislative sessions this year.

Democrats and Republicans sponsored nearly equal numbers of election-related bills at 1,107 and 1,106, respectively. A combination of Democrats and Republicans sponsored another 219, and partisan sponsorship was unknown or unavailable for 102.

We assign at least one subject-category tag to each election-related bill in our database. These tags help summarize the contents of each bill. Complex or omnibus bills may require multiple tags. You can view a full list of all categories and subcategories, including explanations, here.

When organized by subject, the largest number of bills concerned voter registration and maintaining voter registration lists, followed by absentee/mail-in voting, contest-specific procedures, ballot access, and audits and oversight.

Both major parties had specific subject areas where they were more active than the opposing party.

Want to stay in the know with future election-related legislative updates? Subscribe to our weekly digest, and get our latest stats and analyses delivered straight to your inbox each Friday!

Keep reading 

The Federal Register has added 77,000 pages since the beginning of year

Between Dec. 12 and 16, the Federal Register added 1,567 pages for a year-to-date total of 77,457 pages, making 2022 the third-most active year since 2016.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The Biden Administration has added an average of 1,549 pages to the Federal Register each week this year. At that rate, the total number of pages is projected to reach 80,555.

The most recent addition to the Federal Register includes 392 notices, three presidential documents, 44 proposed rules, and 74 final rules.

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments.

The Biden administration has issued 228 significant proposed rules, 240 significant final rules, and five significant notices as of Dec. 16.

Some of those significant additions include:

  • Modifications to regulations regarding medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder from the Health and Human Services Department;
  • A notification of public hearing regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program for 2023-2025 from the Environmental Protection Agency; and,
  • A correction to a rule regarding General Schedule Locality Pay Areas from the Personnel Management Office.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our Administrative State Project. This neutral encyclopedic resource analyzes the administrative state, its philosophical origins, legal precedents, and scholarly examinations. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Keep reading 

Candidates advance to the 2022 Holiday Cookie general election

The polls closed last week for this year’s Holiday Cookie primary. And in a sugar-shocking turn of events, it appears that incumbent Chocolate chip cookie has lost!

Eight cookies participated in the primary plus several write-in candidacies, including a particularly sweet showing for biscochitos, the state cookie of New Mexico.

But only the top-three vote-getters advance to the general election. Those primary results baked out as follows:

And, with that, Gingerbread cookie, Sugar cookie, and Snickerdoodle are your general election nom-nominees!

If you missed out on the primary, don’t worry: general election polls are open today at 8:00 a.m. E.T. until Thursday, Dec. 22, at 5:00 p.m. E.T.

Please check out the candidate profiles in preparation for this scrumptious general election.

Cast your vote today! 

For the Eighth Day of the 15 Days of Ballotpedia, we’re going local!

Each day, we have showcased the different ways Ballotpedia helps voters get the information they need about politics and policy. From congressional races to ballot measures to school board elections, the more people understand the issues and candidates on their ballots, the more informed their choices will be.

However, as a nonprofit, our work is not free to produce and we invite you to join us in providing all voters the information they need in 2023 and beyond. We have an ambitious goal—to raise $100,000 this month! Please join thousands of other Ballotpedia readers in helping us achieve this goal!

Today, we’re highlighting our local coverage.

Ballotpedia works hard to offer every voter ballot information from presidential candidates down through state legislative races. But there are 14,000 school districts, 19,000 cities and towns, and 3,200 counties nationwide. 

Altogether, these local offices add up to about 585,000 elected positions, and our goal is to cover them all within the next five years!

That’s why Ballotpedia focuses so much on local elections. State, county, and municipal elections, school districts, ballot initiatives, and primaries – these are the laboratories of democracy, the places where civic engagement is most potent.

Too often, these local races are overlooked, but with your support, we are determined to give voters information at every level of government possible.

Click here to make your tax-deductible contribution



Union Station: Federal lawsuits related to public-sector unions: 2022 roundup

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Federal lawsuits related to public-sector unions: 2022 roundup

Since late 2019, Ballotpedia has tracked close to 200 federal lawsuits related to public-sector unions. Today, we’ll take a look at the state of litigation at the end of 2022 and highlight a selection of cases with recent activity in the district and circuit courts.

Background 

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that public-sector unions may not require non-member employees to pay agency fees covering the costs of non-political union activities, overturning precedent established in 1977. Most of the lawsuits we’ve tracked since Janus have asked one or more of the following questions: 

  • Whether public-sector unions can be held liable for refunding agency fees paid before Janus
  • Whether public-sector unions may continue to collect union dues from an employee who leaves the union if there is a pre-existing agreement that membership or dues authorization may only be revoked during a certain window; 
  • Whether exclusive bargaining representation laws violate non-union members’ First Amendment rights; 
  • Whether mandatory bar association dues should be reconsidered in light of Janus.

We’re also tracking lawsuits in which public-sector unions challenge state or federal laws and policies. 

What we’ve seen

The map below shows the cases we’re tracking by the U.S. district court in which they originated. The three districts with the highest number of cases are the Middle District of Pennsylvania (18 cases), the Central District of California (16 cases), and the District of Oregon (15 cases). 

Here’s the breakdown by circuit and case status (pending cases are divided by court level, and cases that have been dismissed, settled, or otherwise resolved are counted together):

Finally, this chart shows the cases we’ve tracked since 2019 by the year each case was originally filed:

Case highlights

Wilson v. Lucas County Department of Job and Family Services

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
    • Filed: Dec. 8, 2022 (Case number: 3:22-cv-02221)

Three employees of the Lucas County, Ohio, Department of Job and Family Services sued their employer and the union representing department employees, AFSCME Council 8. The plaintiffs asked the court to “[i]ssue a declaratory judgment that Defendants violate Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to free speech and association, as secured against state infringement by the Fourteenth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by seizing union payments from them without their consent and by maintaining [an indemnity clause in the collective bargaining agreement].” Attorneys from The Buckeye Institute and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation represent the plaintiffs. 

Kumpf v. New York State United Teachers 

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
    • Filed: April 29, 2022 (Case number: 1:22-cv-00402)
    • Judgment: Nov. 22, 2022

Plaintiff Jennifer Kumpf, a second-grade teacher, sued the Buffalo City School District, Buffalo Teachers Federation, and New York State United Teachers, asking the court to declare that “Defendants’ actions in forcing Plaintiff, as a nonmember, to provide past and ongoing financial support to Defendant Unions  … violated and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution,” and that “any taking and/or retention of union dues or fees from Plaintiff after her resignation of membership in Defendant Unions and without proper constitutional notice and waiver violates her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.” Attorneys from The Fairness Center represented Kumpf. 

On Nov. 22, 2022, U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes ruled in favor of the defendants, dismissing Kumpf’s lawsuit. Sannes wrote that “[Kumpf’s] argument that Defendants’ failure to obtain a constitutional waiver once she resigned her union membership before they could continue to deduct dues fails to state a plausible claim for relief under the First Amendment” and that “[Kumpf failed] to plausibly allege that Defendant District, in adhering to the signed authorization’s terms deprived [Kumpf] of a protected liberty or property interest in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Ramon Baro v. Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504

  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
    • Filed: April 3, 2020 (Case number: 1:20-cv-02126)
    • Judgment: March 28, 2022
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • Appealed: April 28, 2022 (Case number: 22-1722)
    • Oral argument: Dec. 6, 2022

Plaintiff Ariadna Ramon Baro, an employee of the Waukegan Community Unit School District #60, sued the school district and Lake County Federation of Teachers Local 504, the exclusive representative for district employees. Ramon Baro asked the court to “[d]eclare that her signing of a union card cannot provide a basis for her affirmative consent to waive her First Amendment rights upheld in Janus because such authorization was given without knowing and intelligent waiver of her First Amendment rights” and to “[d]eclare that the Union and the District may not withhold union dues or fees from public workers unless those workers have been informed, and thus have knowledge of their right not to pay dues or fees to a union.” Attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center represent Ramon Baro. 

On March 28, 2022, Judge John F. Kness ruled in favor of the defendants. Kness wrote, “Plaintiff may now regret her earlier decision to join the Union, but that does not render her knowing and voluntary choice nonconsensual. Unlike the proscribed conduct by Janus’ employer, the District’s deductions of dues from Plaintiff’s earnings were made in compliance with Plaintiff’s explicit written instructions. … In the light of Plaintiff’s voluntary agreement to pay union dues, and in the absence of any legitimate claim of compulsion, Plaintiff has failed to state a First Amendment claim against Defendants.” 

Ramon Baro appealed to the Seventh Circuit on April 28, 2022. The oral argument for this case was held on Dec. 6, 2022. Click here for audio. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 150 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.


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