Ten file for 4 Pittsburgh school board seats

Ten candidates filed paperwork to run in the May 21 primary for four of the nine seats on the Pittsburgh School District Board of Directors in Pennsylvania. The general election is on November 5, and the filing deadline was March 12.

Out of the four seats up for election, District 8 incumbent Kevin Carter was the only board member to file for re-election. He is running unopposed in both the primary and general election. District 2 incumbent Regina Holley, District 4 incumbent Lynda Wrenn, and District 6 incumbent Moira Kaleida did not file for re-election.

Nine candidates filed to run for the three open seats. In District 2, four candidates are running in the Democratic primary. One of those candidates will also appear on the Republican primary ballot. In District 4, three candidates are running in the Democratic primary. Two of those candidates will also appear on the Republican primary ballot. In District 6, two candidates have filed to run in the Democratic primary. In Pennsylvania, school board candidates can file to run as both Democratic and Republican candidates simultaneously.

Pittsburgh Public Schools served 22,359 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Federal Register weekly update; 2019 page total trails 2018 page total by 1,964 pages

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.
During the week of March 4 to March 8, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,328 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 8,588 pages. A total of 527 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 400 notices, nine presidential documents, 50 proposed rules, and 68 final rules.
One proposed rule and two final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules.
During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,418 pages. As of March 8, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,964 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 859 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of March 8. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016:

Justice Gorsuch pens anti-Chevron dissent in workers’ compensation case

The Chevron doctrine may be dying according to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s dissent in BNSF Railway Co. v. Loos. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 7-2 majority upheld an IRS interpretation of law but ignored Chevron.
The Chevron doctrine requires judicial deference to reasonable agency interpretations of unclear laws. That means judges uphold agency decisions even when they may disagree about the meaning of a law. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Chevron v. NRDC in 1984 and bipartisan litigants cited the decision 81,000 times as of 2018. Even so, every justice had argued for limiting Chevron at least once according to a 2018 study.
Gorsuch said the railroad company would have made a stronger case for deference if the Chevron doctrine was still powerful. Instead, he said the company was reluctant to cite Chevron in its briefs and during oral argument. Gorsuch disagreed with the court’s interpretation of the relevant laws, but not its method. He said it was good that the court gave an independent judicial interpretation of the law “[i]nstead of throwing up [its] hands and letting an interested party—the federal government’s executive branch, no less—dictate an inferior interpretation of the law that may be more the product of politics than a scrupulous reading of the statute.”
Read more about the Chevron doctrine and judicial deference here:

States sue Trump administration over new abortion rules

State attorneys general from 21 states joined together to sue the Trump administration over a new rule that increased restrictions on Title X family planning program funds. The final rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), prohibits using Title X funds to perform, promote, or refer for abortion as a family planning method. The rule also requires clear financial and physical separation for clinics conducting Title X and non-Title X activities. California filed a separate lawsuit on March 4th asking for an injunction to block the rule from going into effect.
According to HHS, Title X is the only federal program solely dedicated to providing family planning and related preventative services giving priority to low-income families. Supporters say the new rule updates Title X regulations to bring them in line with congressional intent not to support abortion with those funds. Opponents of the new Title X rule call it a “gag rule” because it prohibits fund recipients from referring patients for abortion services. Both sides claim that the rule would cut millions of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule in 1991, but the rule never went into effect once Bill Clinton became president.
A final rule, in the context of administrative rulemaking, is a federal administrative regulation that went through the proposed rule and public comment stages of the rulemaking process and is published in the Federal Register with a scheduled effective date. The published final rule marks the last stage in the rulemaking process and includes information about the rationale for the regulation as well as any necessary responses to public comments.

Looking back on Waves standards and the 2018 elections

Last year, Ballotpedia’s Wave Elections report used historical data to produce a methodology for determining the number of seats needed for an election to qualify as a wave. In the report, Ballotpedia defined a wave election as the 20 percent of elections in the last 100 years with the largest seat swings against the president’s party.
The report then looked at the number of seats Democrats needed to win in House, Senate, gubernatorial, and state legislative elections for 2018 to be considered a wave election—48 House seats, seven Senate seats, seven gubernatorial seats, and 494 state legislative seats.
By that definition, one election type met wave standards – the gubernatorial elections, where the Democratic Party gained seven seats. Elsewhere, Democrats gained 41 or 42 House seats (depending on the results of the NC-9 special election), lost one Senate seat, and gained 349 state legislative seats.
How does Democrats’ 2018 performance compare to the other 50 elections from 1918 to 2016? Ranking the performance of the out-of-power party by the number of seats gained, we found:
  • Democrats had the 13th strongest performance in House elections
  • Democrats had the 29th strongest performance in Senate elections (tied with seven others)
  • Democrats had the 10th strongest performance in gubernatorial elections (tied with two others)
  • Democrats had the 15th strongest performance in state legislative elections
Within a more modern subset of election years, from 1946 to 2016, the wave election threshold was lower: 30 House seats, six Senate seats, five gubernatorial seats, and 344 state legislative seats. By this measure, House, gubernatorial, and state legislative elections were all waves.
The difference in the thresholds occurs because several of the largest historical waves (1920, 1922, 1930, 1932, and 1938) were before 1946. At times, political scientists separate the study of American elections into pre-1945 and post-1945 periods to account for the social change and political realignment the nation went through during the Great Depression and World War II.

February 2019 OIRA review count; agency review roughly on a par with February 2018

In February 2019, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed 23 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. The agency approved the intent of 21 rules while recommending changes to their content. Agencies withdrew two rules from the review process.
OIRA reviewed 20 significant regulatory actions in February 2018—three fewer rules than the 23 significant regulatory actions reviewed by the agency in February 2019. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 40 significant regulatory actions each February.
The office reviewed a total of 355 significant rules in 2018. In 2017, OIRA reviewed 237 significant rules.
As of March 4, 2019, OIRA’s website listed 101 regulatory actions under review.
OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.
Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA.

State legislative seat breakdown: 52.2% GOP, 46.8% Dem

February’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators shows 52 percent of all state legislators are Republicans and 47 percent are Democrats.
Ballotpedia completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. The partisan composition of state legislatures refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state Senate and state House. Republicans hold a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska’s state house) shares power between the two parties. Altogether, there are 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives.
As of February 28, 2019, Republicans controlled 52.2 percent of all state legislative seats nationally, while Democrats held 46.8 percent. Of the 7,383 state legislative seats in the country, Republicans held 3,853–1,080 state Senate seats and 2,773 state House seats. Democrats held 3,454 of the 7,383 state legislative seats–874 state Senate seats and 2,580 state House seats. Independent or third-party legislators held 31 seats and 45 seats were vacant.
At the time of the 2018 elections, 7,280 state legislators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. There were 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 4,023 Republican state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.

CRA resolution would require businesses to send OSHA detailed reports of worker injuries

Employers will again have to disclose detailed worker injury data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) if Congress approves a new resolution. The resolution was introduced in early February according to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). It would undo a new OSHA rule that exempts large employers from having to submit detailed reports about workers who were injured or fell ill. Under the rule, employers still have to keep detailed records about worker injuries and sickness but only have to provide summaries to OSHA.
Rep. Andy Levin (D.-Mich.) sponsored the resolution as his first bill as a member of Congress. According to a press release from Levin, the OSHA rule weakened protections for injured workers because reporting those injuries helps the federal government address hazardous workplaces. Opponents of Levin’s resolution argued that the new OSHA rule protects worker privacy by keeping sensitive data safe from public disclosure.
The original rule was a deregulatory action following President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, which requires agencies to eliminate two old regulations for each new regulation. Under regulations set during the Obama administration, some employers had to submit detailed information to OSHA about employee illnesses and injuries every year.
Under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution would need to pass both houses of Congress and receive President Trump’s signature to repeal the rule.
The CRA is a federal law passed in 1996 creating a review period during which Congress, by passing a joint resolution of disapproval that is then signed by the president, can overturn a new federal agency rule.
Prior to 2017, the law was successfully used only once, to overturn a rule on ergonomics in the workplace in 2001. In the first four months of his administration, President Donald Trump (R) signed 14 CRA resolutions from Congress undoing a variety of rules issued near the end of Barack Obama’s (D) presidency. As of May 2018, the last time the CRA was successfully used, 16 rules have been repealed under President Trump.

Legislatures take early action on public-sector union policy

Two months into 2019, and state legislatures nationwide have taken early action on public-sector union policy in the states, responding either directly or indirectly to the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, the high court ruled that public-sector unions cannot require non-member employees to pay agency fees to cover the costs of non-political union activities.
As of March 1, legislatures in 29 states had introduced 82 bills relevant to public-sector union policy. Of these 82 bills, 45 were sponsored by Democrats and 29 by Republicans; the remainder were sponsored by bipartisan groups or committees. Of these 82 bills, two had passed lower chambers and three had died. The remainder were either in committee or awaiting a committee assignment.
More about Janus: Generally, members of an employee union pay fees to that union. These fees support the union’s activities, which can include collective bargaining and contract administration, as well as political activities, such as lobbying. Some public-sector employees do not wish to join a union, and some are opposed to unions’ political activities. In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that employees cannot be required to give financial support to a union’s political activities. However, the court found that it was not a violation of employees’ rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require them to pay fees to support union activities from which they benefit, such as collective bargaining. It is this ruling that was overturned by Janus, which held that such fees are not constitutional.

Federal appeals court rejects exclusive representation challenge in Washington

On February 26, 2019, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that a Washington state policy granting exclusive bargaining rights to a union did not violate workers’ First Amendment rights.
In 2006, the state authorized child care providers working under a state-subsidized program to select an exclusive representative for the purposes of collective bargaining. The workers chose Service Employees International Union Local 925. Workers were not required to join the union, but SEIU Local 925 was granted the exclusive right to represent this class of workers. The plaintiff in the case, child care provider Katherine Miller, alleged that this practice, in light of Janus, violated her First Amendment rights because it authorized SEIU Local 925 to speak and negotiate on her behalf without her express consent.
The appeals court panel unanimously rejected Miller’s argument, citing the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Minnesota State Board for Community Colleges v. Knight. In Knight, the high court dismissed a suit from several Minnesota community college instructors that made an argument similar to Miller’s. The high court held “the state has in no way restrained appellees’ freedom to speak on any education-related issue or their freedom to associate or not to associate with whom they please, including the exclusive representative.”
The appeals court panel was comprised of Judges Susan P. Graber, M. Margaret McKeown, and Morgan Christen. President Bill Clinton (D) appointed both Graber and McKeown to the court in 1998. President Barack Obama (D) appointed Christen to the court in 2011.