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Iowa secretary of state’s error restarts multi-year process to amend the Iowa Constitution

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said that his office failed to report two constitutional amendments that the 86th Iowa General Assembly (2017-2018) approved in 2018.
 
The Iowa Constitution required Pate to publish notifications in two newspapers in each of Iowa’s four congressional districts at least three months before November 2018. Due to the error, the earliest the constitutional amendments could appear on the ballot is 2022.
 
In March and April 2018, the legislature approved:
  1. an amendment to provide a state right to own and bear firearms, and
  2. an amendment to allow the governor to appoint a lieutenant governor in the event of a vacant office and revise the gubernatorial line of succession.
In Iowa, constitutional amendments are referred to the ballot for voter consideration after a simple-majority vote during two successive legislative sessions with legislative elections in between. The 87th Iowa State Legislature (2019-2020) needed to approve the constitutional amendments one more time for them to appear on the ballot in 2020.
 
Pate said that his office’s failure to publish notices meant that the first-session vote on the amendments didn’t count toward referral, and the process needed to restart. Pate said, “Due to a bureaucratic oversight, my office failed to publish the required notifications in Iowa newspapers of two continuing resolutions passed by the Iowa Legislature last year. I accept full responsibility for this oversight and offer my sincerest apology to the legislators and supporters who worked so hard on these bills.”
 
Both of the constitutional amendments received the support of legislative Republicans in 2018. Zero House Democrats supported the amendments, while Senate Democrats were divided on both of them. Democrats won 46 of 100 state House seats in November 2018 and could have an opportunity to block the constitutional amendments during the 88th Iowa State Legislature (2021-2022) if they can pick up at least four more seats in November 2020.
 
In 2004, former Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) made a similar mistake as Pate, failing to publish a notification on an amendment to replace the words insane and idiot with mental incompetence in the state constitution. The Iowa State Legislature had to re-start the process and referred the amendment to the ballot in 2008.
 
In 12 states, proposed amendments must be approved in two successive sessions of the state’s legislature. In 10 of these, approval in two sessions refers the amendments to the ballot for voter ratification. In one of these states, South Carolina, the state legislature votes to put the amendment before the state’s voters in just one session and later, if the state’s voters approve the amendment, the state legislature takes it up again. Delaware requires votes in two successive sessions of its state legislature, but these proposed amendments do not need to go before the state’s voters.


Three high-profile Democrats announced their 2020 presidential intentions last week

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said Friday that she planned to run for president in 2020. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D), who formed an exploratory committee in December, also made a formal announcement of his candidacy on Saturday. 
 
Earlier in the week, Democratic activist and founder of NextGen Climate Tom Steyer (D) announced that he would not run for president.
 
As of January 14, 453 candidates had filed with the FEC for the 2020 presidential race, including 136 Democratic candidates and 62 Republican candidates.
 
Other notable candidates who have either filed with the FEC or announced exploratory committees include U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), West Virginia Sen. Richard Ojeda (D), former U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D), and President Donald Trump (R).


Trump’s pick for EPA administrator to appear before Senate committee

Andrew Wheeler, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, will appear before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on January 16, 2019. After the committee votes on Wheeler’s nomination, the full Senate will have to vote to confirm him. He needs a simple majority for confirmation.
 
Wheeler currently serves as the acting administrator of the EPA. Trump announced his intent to nominate Wheeler as EPA administrator on November 16, 2018. During a White House ceremony, Trump said, “He’s done a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him.” Trump formally nominated Wheeler on January 9, 2019.
 
If confirmed, Wheeler will replace former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned on July 6, 2018. The Senate confirmed Pruitt by a vote of 52-46 on February 17, 2017. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only Democrats to vote for Pruitt’s confirmation. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote against his confirmation.


Republican mayor faces five challengers but no Democrats in re-election bid in Jacksonville, Florida

Sixty-four candidates filed to run for the 24 Jacksonville city offices that are up for election on March 19. The offices of mayor, supervisor of elections, property appraiser, sheriff, tax collector, and all 19 city council seats will be on the ballot. The filing deadline passed on January 11. A runoff election is scheduled for May 14 for the top two vote recipients—regardless of party—in races where no candidate receives a majority of the vote in March.
 
Five candidates—two Republicans, one candidate with no party affiliation, and two write-ins—filed to run against Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, who first won election in 2015 after defeating the former mayor, Alvin Brown (D). In the races for property appraiser, sheriff, and tax collector, all three Republican incumbents face a Democratic opponent. Mike Hogan, the Republican supervisor of elections, is running unopposed.
 
Fifty-one candidates filed to run for the 19 city council seats. Eleven incumbents—six Republicans and five Democrats—filed to run for re-election. Republicans currently have a 13-6 majority on the council, the same majority they had before and after the city’s 2015 election. Nine of the city council seats are in play in 2019. The other 10 will be maintained by the same party since the seats are unopposed or only had candidates from one party file to run. Republicans are guaranteed to keep seven seats, and Democrats are guaranteed to keep three.


Florida and California top total state party revenue for both Democratic and Republican parties between 2011 and 2017

The Democratic and Republican parties maintain state-level affiliates in all 50 states. The parties primarily raise money through contributions, which they later use to support electoral candidates and general party administration.
 
Democratic affiliates in Florida and California—which is a Democratic state trifecta—had the highest total state party revenue between 2011 and 2017, followed by Ohio, Virginia, and New York. At the other end of the spectrum, Democratic affiliates in Wyoming and Hawaii had the lowest total state party revenue over the seven-year period, followed by Vermont, Mississippi, and South Dakota.
 
State Democratic parties spent the most per capita in New Hampshire, Montana, Iowa, Maine, and Nevada.
 
Republican affiliates in Florida–which is a Republican state trifecta—and California also had the highest total state party revenue between 2011 and 2017, followed by Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Republican affiliates in Rhode Island and Oregon had the lowest total state party revenue over the seven-year period, followed by Delaware, Wyoming, and Hawaii.
 
Per capita, Republicans spent the most in Vermont, North Dakota, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.


Initiative signature requirements increase in 13 states and decrease in five states based on 2018 elections

Voter turnout in the 2018 elections caused a change in the number of signatures required for initiatives and veto referendums in 18 of the 26 states that allow at least one form of statewide initiative or referendum.
 
There are 13 states with initiative signature requirements based on midterm gubernatorial or secretary of state elections. In each of these states, turnout was higher than in 2014 and signature requirements increased.
 
In these 13 states, the signature requirement increases ranged from 3.2 percent in Maine to 70.3 percent in California, where the signature requirements are higher than they’ve ever been in the state’s 106 years of direct democracy. These increased requirements will apply to the 2020 and 2022 election cycles. In three states—Colorado, Maine, and Ohio—initiatives can go on the ballot in odd-numbered years as well, so these requirements will also apply to initiatives for the 2019 and 2021 ballots.
 
There are four states with signature requirements based on turnout at general elections. In each of those states, turnout was lower than in 2016 and signature requirements decreased. In these four states, the signature requirement decreases ranged from 11.3 percent in Alaska to 20.7 percent in Wyoming. These decreased requirements will apply to the 2020 election cycle, after which the requirements will be reset based on turnout in that election.
 
Six states base initiative signature requirements on odd-year or presidential year gubernatorial elections. The 2018 elections had no effect on the signature requirements in those states; the requirements will be determined by the 2020 elections.
 
Three states base signature requirements on voter registration or population. Idaho is one of these and was the fifth state to have a decrease in initiative signature requirements based on 2018 elections. Signature requirements in Idaho are based on voter registration totals at the time of the last general election. The other two states that base requirements on voter registration or population, Nebraska and North Dakota, calculate the requirement at certain stages of the initiative process rather than at the time of a previous election.
 
Signature requirements are determined differently depending on the state. The majority of states with citizen-initiated measures—16—base signature requirements on ballots cast for gubernatorial candidates in the preceding gubernatorial election. Four states base signature requirements on total ballots cast in the preceding general election. Of the remaining states, two states base requirements on voters for presidential candidates within the state, two states base requirements on registered voters, one state bases requirements on votes cast for secretary of state candidates, and one state bases requirements on the state population.
 



Flashback to three years ago today – presidential primary debates

On this night three years ago, the Republican Party held its sixth debate of the presidential primary cycle. Taking place in North Charleston, South Carolina, seven candidates participated in the primetime debate, while three candidates were involved in the undercard.
 
The primetime debate was hosted by the Fox Business Network and moderated by Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo. The following candidates participated in the primetime debate:
*Donald Trump
*Ted Cruz
*Ben Carson
*Marco Rubio
*Chris Christie
*Jeb Bush
*John Kasich
 
The undercard featured Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. Rand Paul, who was still an active presidential candidate, chose not to participate in the undercard after he was not invited to the primetime debate.
 
The Republican Party held 12 debates during the presidential primary of 2016, while the Democratic Party held nine debates.
 
On December 20, 2018, the Democratic National Committee announced plans to host a minimum of 12 debates for the party’s presidential primary candidates. The schedule sets the first debate in June 2019 and the final debate in April 2020, with six debates occurring in each year. The Iowa caucuses kicking off the 2020 presidential primary are set for February 3, 2020.
 
Sign up for Ballotpedia’s free daily presidential briefing to stay current on all of the news and updates.


Record number of local marijuana tax measures on California ballots in 2018

The first ballot measure to introduce a tax on marijuana in the U.S. was passed in Oakland, California, on July 21, 2009. Since then, there have been 185 more measures related to marijuana taxes on ballots in California, most of which have proposed new taxes. Of the 185 total marijuana tax measures since 2009, 88 percent were approved.
 
California voters approved Proposition 215 to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. In 2016, voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the possession, cultivation, and personal use of recreational marijuana. Proposition 64 also allowed for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana in California, beginning on January 1, 2018.

In some cities and counties in California, measures proposing taxes on recreational marijuana were on ballots prior to the legal effective date of sales and taxation under Proposition 64. Many cities and counties, however, had measures proposing taxes on recreational marijuana on the ballot in 2018 following the effective date. There were 95 local marijuana tax measures on ballots across California in 2018, compared to 43 in 2016—a 220 percent increase. There were 16 marijuana tax measures on local California ballots in 2017; all but one were approved. From 2009 through 2015, there were 32 local marijuana tax measures in California.
 
Of the 95 marijuana tax measures in 2018, 86 were approved, amounting to a 91 percent approval rate. The highest tax rate on marijuana businesses that was approved in 2018 was 15 percent of annual gross receipts. This tax rate was approved in Atwater, Calexico, Ceres, Chula Vista, Oakdale, Palm Desert, Patterson, Sonora, Suisun City, Tuolumne County, and Yolo County. Two measures were approved in 2016 that had higher tax rates—a 20 percent gross receipts tax in Santa Barbara County and an 18 percent gross receipts tax in Carson. Tax rates ranged from 0 percent to 15 percent of gross receipts and from $0 to $25 per square foot for manufacturing and cultivation. Some taxes were based on net profits rather than gross receipts. Others were calculated per ounce.
 
An estimated $2.5 billion was spent on the purchase of legal marijuana throughout the state in 2018, a figure that was down from 2017’s $3 billion, according to GreenEdge sales tracking. Proposition 64 authorized the state to levy a marijuana cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves and a 15 percent excise tax on the retail price of marijuana. These statewide taxes are in addition to any local marijuana taxes. State marijuana tax revenues reached $60.9 million in the first quarter of 2018, $80.2 million in the second quarter, and $93.1 million in the third quarter. Total marijuana tax revenues were lower than the $630 million predicted for 2018 by former Gov. Jerry Brown (D).


Gov. Ducey renews moratorium on new state regulations in place since 2009

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued an executive order on January 9, 2019, that renewed a moratorium on regulatory rulemaking by state agencies for 2019. The moratorium is aimed at facilitating innovation and job growth in the state while curbing state government expansion, according to the governor’s office. Ducey has renewed the moratorium each year since he first issued the executive order after assuming office in 2015.
 
“As Arizonans navigate the free market, the last thing they need is for government to get in the way,” said Ducey in a press release. “Reducing regulatory burdens on businesses in Arizona is essential to growth, and I want all of our current and aspiring entrepreneurs to know that Arizona will continue to encourage your success, not stand in your way.”
 
Ducey is following in the steps of his predecessor, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who issued an executive order prohibiting new state regulations in 2009 and renewed the moratorium each year through 2014. In 2017, Ducey also launched a website that allows Arizona residents to provide input on improving or eliminating state regulations.
 
The Arizona state government eliminated or repealed 422 regulations in 2018 and 676 regulations in 2017. The 1,098 repealed regulations over the two-year period resulted in $79 million in cost savings for Arizona businesses, according to the governor’s office.


Federal Register weekly update; government shutdown results in low page count

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 January 7 to January 11, the Federal Register grew by 72 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 106 pages. A total of 31 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 26 notices, four presidential documents, and one rule.
 
No proposed or 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.
 
Due to the government shutdown, the Federal Register features fewer pages compared to recent years. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,324 pages. As of January 11, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,922 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 53 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of January 11. 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 more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017.
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 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.


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