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Veto referendum to reinstate religious and philosophical vaccination exemptions approved for signature drive in Maine

In Maine, a veto referendum was launched to overturn Legislative Document 798 (2019). LD 798 eliminates religious and philosophical, but not medical, exemptions from vaccination requirements for students to attend schools and colleges and employees of healthcare facilities. The organization Mainers for Health and Parental Rights is leading the campaign sponsoring the veto referendum effort. Mainers for Health and Parental Rights has until September 18, 2019, to collect the 63,067 valid signatures required to place a veto referendum on the ballot. The veto referendum could appear on the ballot for November 5, 2019, or June 9, 2020, depending on when signatures are submitted and verified.
Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed LD 798 into law on May 24, 2019. The Maine House of Representatives passed LD 798 in a vote of 79-62 on May 21. The Maine State Senate passed LD 798 in a vote of 19-16 on May 23,. Most legislative Democrats—74/88 in the House and 18/21 in the Senate—voted to pass the legislation. Most legislative Republicans— 51/56 in the House and 13/14 in the Senate—voted to reject the legislation. Independents were divided 2-4. In 2019, Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s office, making Maine a Democratic trifecta. Prior to 2019, Maine was a divided government.
With LD 798, Maine became the fourth state to prohibit non-medical exemptions from vaccination requirements for students to attend schools. The other states, at the time of passage, were California, Mississippi, and West Virginia, according to NCSL. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation three weeks after Gov. Mills did to end his state’s religious and philosophical vaccination exemptions and make New York the fifth state.
Since Maine adopted the referendum process in 1908, there have been 30 veto referendums on the ballot. The last veto referendum was in 2018, when voters overturned legislation designed to postpone and repeal ranked-choice voting. Of the 30 bills placed before voters as veto referendums, 18 of them (60 percent) were overturned at the ballot box. Voters upheld 12 (40 percent) of the bills.
There have been at least four citizen-initiated measures addressing vaccination in the U.S. Oregon voted on initiatives in 1916 and 1920, Arizona voted on an initiative in 1918, and California voted on an initiative in 1920. Voters rejected the initiatives in Oregon and California. In Arizona, the initiative was approved, prohibiting minors from receiving vaccinations without the consent of their guardians.

State legislative party breakdown nationwide at the end of June—52.3% Republicans, 47.0% Democrats

June’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.3% of all state legislators are Republicans and 47.0% are Democrats, consistent with previous months.
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.
Of the 7,383 state legislative seats in the country, Republicans held 1,086 state senate seats–up four seats from May 2019–and 2,776 state house seats–down two seats. Democrats held 3,467 of the 7,383 state legislative seats–879 state Senate seats (up one seat from May) and 2,588 state House seats (up one seat). Independent or third-party legislators held 33 seats–consistent with May. There were 21 vacant seats.
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.

Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings at lowest rate since 2015 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) concluded its October 2018 term in June. The court reversed lower court decisions at a rate of 64.9 percent, the lowest rate since the October 2015 term (63.2 percent). The rate was 5 percent lower than the court’s total reversal rate since 2007 (69.8 percent).
The court decided 74 cases. It affirmed a lower court’s decision in 26 cases and reversed a lower court’s decision in 48 cases.
Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 923 cases. In that time, it reversed a lower court decision 644 times (69.8 percent) and affirmed a lower court decision 261 times (28.3 percent).
More SCOTUS cases originated in the Ninth Circuit (14) than any other, and the court reversed more Ninth Circuit rulings (12) than any other circuit’s.
SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the Ninth Circuit (181) than from any other since 2017. The second-most cases (66) originated in the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit (55 of 66 cases, or 83.3 percent) had the highest rate of reversed cases since 2007.
The Supreme Court hears and reaches decisions in 70 to 90 cases each year. There are two major possible outcomes in a SCOTUS case—it can affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. The vast majority of SCOTUS cases originate in a lower court—either one of the 13 appeals circuits, state-level courts, or U.S. district courts. Original jurisdiction cases cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.
Additional reading:

Federal Register weekly update; 2019 year-to-date page total exceeds 2018 figure for first time

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 June 24 to June 28, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,800 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 31,170 pages. This week’s Federal Register featured a total of 618 documents, including 454 notices, four presidential documents, 61 proposed rules, and 73 final rules.
One proposed rule and one final rule 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 1,396 pages for a year-to-date total of 30,830 pages. As of June 28, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 340 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,199 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of June 28. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During 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.
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.
Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016:,_1936-2016

Top Nashville mayoral candidates meet in first televised debate

The four top candidates in Nashville’s mayoral election appeared in the race’s first televised debate on June 25. Incumbent Mayor David Briley, state Rep. John Clemmons (D), City Councilman John Cooper, retired professor Carol Swain, and six other candidates are running in the August 1 general election.
The candidates discussed property taxes, economic incentives for businesses, infrastructure, affordable housing, juvenile crime rates, and the state of the city’s public schools, among other issues.
Some highlights from the debate included the following:
  • Briley and Cooper spoke about their opposition to a revenue plan that included a property tax increase. The plan was voted down by the city council recently. Swain also opposed the increase, while Clemmons said the increase was needed to fund schools.
  • Briley highlighted his affordable housing plan, which will commit $500 million toward units over the next 10 years. Clemmons said Briley has not treated the affordable housing issue as a crisis and that, as mayor, he would put money into a housing fund and create a land bank, among other efforts. Swain said her plan focuses on those earning $50,000 or less a year and using city-owned land for affordable housing construction. Cooper said his background in real estate equipped him to address the issue and criticized Briley’s plan, saying it doesn’t offer a good return on investment.
Last week, Clemmons was endorsed by the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association PAC. The Nashville Education Association supported the proposed property tax increase that was rejected by the council and supported by Clemmons. This week, Briley received the Nashville Business Coalition’s endorsement, and Cooper was backed by the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police.
A runoff election will be held September 12 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote August 1. Briley assumed office in March 2018 upon his predecessor Megan Barry’s resignation and won a special election to complete her term in May 2018.

Councilwoman facing recall vote in Nebraska

Voters in Humboldt, Nebraska, are currently submitting ballots in a recall election of City Councilwoman Dolores Martinez. The election is being held with vote-by-mail ballots, and voters have until July 9 to submit their ballot to the Richardson County Clerk. Ballots were sent out to voters on June 17.
The recall effort began in April 2019. Recall organizer Jamie Lynne Dorney accused Martinez of failing to act in the best interest of the city and having acted unprofessionally and unethically. In her statement of defense, Martinez called the accusations ambiguous and unverified.
Petitioners were required to submit 56 valid signatures to put the recall on the ballot. Richardson County Clerk Mary Eickhoff verified 78 of the 81 signatures collected.
In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.

SCOTUS affirms legality of citizenship question; remands case to lower court for procedural review

The United States Supreme Court held 5-4 on June 27 to both affirm the legality of a citizenship question on the U.S. Census and remand Department of Commerce v. New York to the agency due to a lack of reasoned decision-making by Trump administration officials as required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross approved the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census in March 2018, arguing that the question would improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The question was initially blocked by lower courts on the grounds that it violated the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause and the Census Act. Lower courts also held that Trump administration officials had failed to follow proper administrative procedure under APA.
The justices ruled that the Trump administration’s decision to add the citizenship question to the census did not violate the Enumeration Clause or the Census Act. The court held that Congress has delegated broad authority over the census to the Secretary of Commerce and that historical precedent demonstrated the secretary’s authority to inquire about citizenship on the census. Moreover, the court ruled that the secretary acted within the bounds of his discretionary authority in compliance with the Census Act.
However, the court found that Ross’ rationale for adding the question to the census was inconsistent with the administrative record. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion that supplemental information provided to the court after the litigation began undermined Ross’ Voting Rights Act defense and demonstrated “that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office … and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.”
The court remanded the case to the agency for further proceedings. Roberts wrote, “We do not hold that the agency decision here was substantively invalid. But agencies must pursue their goals reasonably. Reasoned decision-making under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action. What was provided here was more of a distraction.”
Opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part were filed by Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito.

Buttigieg raises nearly $25 million in second quarter


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 2, 2019: Pete Buttigieg raised $24.8 million in the second quarter of 2019. Three top advisers departed from John Hickenlooper’s campaign.


What was the most recent presidential election in which a third party candidate carried a state?

Notable Quote of the Day

“Economic populism is the glue that binds the consensus. Without Donald Trump’s expropriation and Hillary Clinton’s abandonment of that issue in 2016, Clinton would be president. While every Democrat has trained hard to sound more like Bernie Sanders, few of the Miami 20 are in any real sense populists. Their approach to social issues was a ceaseless display of moral oneupmanship. Apart from some scolding about socialism, none talked about management or cost.”

– Bill Curry, former White House counselor to Bill Clinton


  • Vogue featured five of the six women running for president—Tulsi GabbardKirsten GillibrandKamala HarrisAmy KlobucharElizabeth Warren—in a magazine story about the election.

  • Michael Bennet discussed climate change, Citizens United, immigration, healthcare, and partisan judiciaries on Pod Save America

  • Joe Biden senior advisor Symone Sanders spoke with BET about Biden’s position on reparations, the Hyde Amendment, and healthcare.

  • Dante de Blasio, Bill de Blasio’s son, wrote an op-ed in USA Today about the conversation he had with his father about race and law enforcement. 

  • In an op-ed for The AdvocateCory Booker discussed violence against trans people.

  • During a Facebook town hall, Steve Bullock said Native American tribes should be consulted on the Keystone XL project and that he would be open to the pipeline “if it’s done right.” 

  • Pete Buttigieg said he raised $24.8 million during the second quarter of 2019, tripling what he received in the first quarter.

  • Julián Castro joined the Workers Defense Action Fund in Texas to discuss labor and immigration issues.

  • John Delaney released a plan to combat the opioid crisis through corporate accountability Tuesday. He would require patients to sign a consent form when prescribed opioids and increase spending on pain management research and mental health providers. He also said that liable companies “should go out of business.”

  • NBC News wrote about Kirsten Gillibrand’s push for Al Franken to resign in 2017 and how it is affecting her campaign.

  • Reps. Bobby Bush (D-Ill.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), two members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), endorsed Harris. She now leads Biden in CBC endorsements, six to five.

  • John Hickenlooper made several major staffing changes Monday, including hiring M.E. Smith as his new campaign manager. National finance director Dan Sorensen left to join Beto O’Rourke’s campaign. Former campaign manager Brad Komar and communications director Lauren Hitt also departed the campaign.

  • Wayne Messam pitched his presidential campaign in an interview with WCJB.

  • Seth Moulton will appear on The Vegas Take Tuesday to discuss his presidential campaign.

  • While campaigning in New Hampshire, Tim Ryan proposed spending $50 billion on education. His plan would include offering counseling services like music, art, and play therapies.

  • The Bernie Sanders campaign did not release its quarterly fundraising figures but campaign manager Faiz Shakir said he did not expect the Sanders campaign to top Buttigieg’s numbers. 

  • Elizabeth Warren will open a campaign office in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday. The Warren campaign has offices in seven other cities in the state.

  • The Democratic National Committee will consider and potentially vote on holding a climate change-specific debate or forum during a meeting in August.


  • White House director of strategic communications Mercedes Schlapp is moving to Donald Trump’s campaign to work on strategy and Latino outreach.

Flashback: July 2, 2015

Jim Webb announced that he was running in the Democratic primary for president of the United States. “We need a president who understands leadership, who has a proven record of actual accomplishments, who can bring about bipartisan solutions, who can bring people from both sides to the table to get things done,” he said.blank


The Daily Brew Summer Camp: Jackie, Broccoli, and constitutional amendments

Welcome to Camp!  
The Daily Brew: Summer Camp

As a state ballot measures staff writer, I don’t just cover citizen initiatives and referendums—I also cover constitutional amendments—because in every state except Delaware, changes a legislature makes to the state constitution must be referred to voters for their approval or rejection. I find it fascinating to see what amendments come out of the different state legislatures and I especially enjoy the cases where I get to chat with an amendment’s sponsor to hear about their motivations for proposing various constitutional changes. Since state legislatures convened their 2019 sessions in the early months of this year, 19 legislatively referred constitutional amendments have passed in state legislatures and landed on 2019 ballots. Legislatures have also referred 29 constitutional amendments to 2020 ballots.  Measures can still be added or removed from the ballot, however. 

I also really like calculating statistics, such as the following:

  • From 2006 through 2018, a total of 914 constitutional amendments were proposed and put before voters. 
  • Statistically, from 2006 through 2018, off-year election cycles featured a higher approval rate for proposed constitutional amendments than even years. In 2017, all 17 amendments on the ballot were approved, for the highest approval rate since 1947. 

I’m excited to see what happens with the constitutional amendments already certified for state ballots as they head to voters for approval or rejection. Remember— for almost anything you want to know about ballot measures… we have a page for that.

Check out the page below detailing what we cover and how to keep track of it all with us. 

Have fun at camp!

-Jackie Mitchell

Learn more

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Jackie Mitchell's Broccoli

If you want to share Summer Camp with your pet, upload a sunglasses photo to social media with the hashtag, #BPSummerCamp! 


Notes from Brew readers like you

I’m looking forward to finding out:
“I am interested to see which 2020 Presidential candidates call it quits as the summer winds down.”

-Michael R

Kind words:
“The most interesting part of the first half of 2019, was that I started getting your emails… I have a stunning interest in all the elections in every state, on every state level, wonderful!”


Thanks, Michael and N.G.! 
Want to see your own thoughts in the Daily Brew? Reply to this email or share them with us here!




SCOTUS wraps up 2018 term

Welcome to the July 1 edition of Bold Justice, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S. 


SCOTUS has ruled on 23 cases since our June 17 issue. The court has finished issuing rulings in the 69 cases it heard this term. Click here to read more about SCOTUS’ 2018-2019 term.

 Click the links below to read more about the specific cases SCOTUS ruled on since June 17:

June 17

June 20

June 21

June 24

June 26

June 27

Looking back at the 2018 term

  • Cases: The court issued decisions in 68 of the 69 cases it heard this term. The court scheduled Carpenter v. Murphy for reargument in its October 2019-2020 term. Three additional cases were decided without argument. 
  • Decisions: The court issued:
    • 5-4 decisions in 18 cases,
    • unanimous decisions in 24 cases, and
    • per curiam decisions (in which authorship is not specified) in five cases.
  • Noteworthy per curiam decision: On April 23, 2019, the court dismissed Emulex Corp. v. Varjabedian as improvidently granted. Dismissed as improvidently granted, or DIG, occurs when the court chooses not to decide a case, even after accepting the appeal or hearing the arguments.

Decisions by justice table

Looking ahead to the 2019 term

SCOTUS is in recess until October. It will begin hearing cases for the 2019 term on October 7. As of June 27, the court had accepted 42 cases. Of the 42 cases, 10 are consolidated. They are:

Click here to find out more about the upcoming 2019-2020 term.

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. This month’s edition includes nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from May 30 to June 26, 2019.

Vacancy count for June 26, 2019

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

Vacancies by court table

New vacancies

The following judges left active status, creating Article III vacancies. As Article III judicial positions, they must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.

As of June 26, 118 of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report were vacant—a vacancy percentage of 13.6 percent.

Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 127 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.

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

Federal vacancy count map

New nominations

President Trump announced three new nominations since the May 2019 report. 

  • Halil Ozerden, to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
  • John Kness, to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  • Justin Walker, to the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky.

The president has announced 191 Article III judicial nominations since taking office on January 20, 2017. The president named 69 judicial nominees in 2017 and 92 in 2018. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

Between May 30 and June 26, 2019, the Senate confirmed 11 of the president’s nominees to Article III courts. Since January 2017, the Senate has confirmed 123 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—80 district court judges, 41 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? We maintain a list of individuals President Trump has nominated.