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Breaking down partisanship on the New Jersey Supreme Court

A recent Ballotpedia study on state supreme courts revealed that of the seven justices on the New Jersey Supreme Court as of June 2020:

  1. Two justices had some level of affiliation with the Democratic party
  2. Four justices had a Republican affiliation
  3. One justice had an indeterminate partisan affiliation.

In “Ballotpedia Courts: State Partisanship”, we gathered a variety of data on 341 active state supreme court justices across the 50 states in order to understand their partisan affiliations. Based on this research, we placed each justice into one of five categories indicating our confidence in their affiliations with either the Democratic or Republican Parties. These categories are:

  1. Strong Democratic
  2. Mild Democratic
  3. Indeterminate
  4. Mild Republican
  5. Strong Republican

Our confidence measure shows that in 2020, there were two Mild Democrats on the New Jersey Supreme Court (Justices Stuart Rabner and Barry Albin), four Mild Republicans (Justices Lee Solomon, Anne Patterson, Jaynee LaVecchia, and Faustino Fernandez-Vina), and one Indeterminate justice (Justice Timpone). Justice Timpone retired on August 31, 2020, 10 weeks before his mandatory retirement date of November 10, to allow his replacement, Justice Fabiana Pierre-Louis, to join the bench for the September court session. As our study concluded in June 2020, we did not include Justice Pierre-Louis in our research.

New Jersey has informal, but no constitutional rules which mandate a partisan balance on the state supreme court. The National Center for State Courts describes New Jersey’s informal process of ensuring partisan balance on its state supreme court as follows:

“New Jersey’s courts also have a tradition of political balance. Governors, regardless of their party affiliation, have generally followed a policy of replacing outgoing judges with someone of the same party or philosophy. On the supreme court, the traditional balance is three Democrats and three Republicans, with the chief justice belonging to the party of the appointing governor.”

The state of New Jersey has two rules governing judicial appointments: one written, one unwritten. The written law requires that justices are subject to reappointment by the governor and reconfirmation by the legislature after an initial seven-year term. The unwritten rule is that the governor of the state of New Jersey is to appoint justices in a way that alternates the party of the justice each time he receives the opportunity to appoint a new justice to the court to ensure partisan balance on the court.

While John Corzine (D) was governor of New Jersey, he appointed two justices to the court, Helen Hoens and Stuart Rabner. One of his nominees, Stuart Rabner, was Gov. Corzine’s chief legal counsel and the attorney general for the state of New Jersey. Gov. Corzine also reappointed two Republican-leaning justices nominated to the bench by Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R) and one Democratic-leaning justice appointed to the bench by Governor James McGreevey (D).

Governor Chris Christie (R) broke the precedent in attempting to appoint another Republican-leaning justice to the state supreme court without first reappointing Justice Rabner. Gov. Christie also did not reappoint Helen Hoens, who was first appointed by Governor Christine Todd Whitman, and stated that he did so because he knew the Senate would reject her nomination. Justice Hoens is only the second justice in the history of New Jersey to sit on the court and not receive renomination after her second term. The only previous justice not to receive renomination was Justice John E. Wallace, a Gov. James McGreevey (D) appointment who Gov. Christie also did not renominate.

Gov. Christie’s Republican appointments recorded lower partisan Confidence Scores than the justices appointed by Whitman and Corzine. This means that, according to our data, Christie’s appointments were less partisan in their affiliations than the other New Jersey governors with appointments to the court. Christie’s appointments record an average Pure Partisan Score of 4.5. Whitman’s justices register an average Pure Partisan Score of 7. Corzine’s justices register an average Pure Partisan Score of 9. McGreevey’s justices record an average Pure Partisan Score of 7.

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Here’s a look at this year’s proposed changes to laws governing ballot measures

As of February 10, 2021, Ballotpedia had tracked 122 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recalls in 34 states in 2021 legislative sessions.

• Legislation to enact or increase existing supermajority requirements for certain ballot measures was introduced in 2021 sessions in six states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Proposed requirements range from 60% to two-thirds (66.67%). Some proposals apply only to citizen-initiated measures, some to constitutional amendments—both citizen-initiated and legislatively referred, and some to measures proposing tax increases or certain levels of funding allocation.

• Bills to increase initiative and referendum signature requirements or signature distribution requirements were introduced in Idaho and Missouri.

• Bills to enact single-subject rules for ballot initiatives were introduced in Arizona, Mississippi, and North Dakota.

• Bills to require certain disclosures and details regarding their single-subject rules were also introduced in 2021 in Nebraska and South Dakota.

• Proposals to establish statewide initiative, referendum, or recall processes were introduced in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee, which are currently among the 24 states without the power of citizen-initiated statewide ballot measures.

• A proposal was also introduced in Illinois to remove the state’s very specific subject restriction on ballot initiatives and to establish a process for veto referendums. In Florida, a proposal was introduced to enact a process for initiated state statutes.

• Legislation to change rules for drafting and displaying ballot language, petition language, or voter guide language was introduced in California, Idaho, Missouri, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Washington.

• Other topics include signature removal, signature verification, filing fees, ballot and voter guide argument fees and requirements, deadlines and process changes, procedures and requirements for legal challenges, and election date requirements.

Many changes—including most proposals to change signature requirements, add or change supermajority requirements, or establish a statewide process for initiative or referendum—are constitutional amendments, which means after legislative approval they would require voter approval to be enacted.

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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: February 25, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • New York (Democratic trifecta): 
    • Nursing homes will be able to expand visitation following state guidance starting Feb. 26. On the same day, restaurants statewide can expand from 25% to 35% capacity.
    • Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced 12 community vaccination sites are opening between Feb. 25-27. The sites are expected to vaccinate more than 3,700 people total during the first week.
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced he will ease some coronavirus restrictions beginning Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. At that time, the Modified Stay at Home Order that imposed a curfew on individuals and businesses between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. will expire. Additionally, the indoor gathering limit will increase from 10 people to 25, while businesses will be allowed to sell alcohol for onsite consumption until 11 p.m. Certain businesses, such as bars and movie theaters, will be limited to 30% capacity or 250 people. Businesses like restaurants, breweries, museums, and salons will be limited to 50% capacity. 
  • Vermont (divided government): Gatherings will be allowed at nursing homes whose residents have been fully vaccinated starting Feb. 26.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) extended an executive order that ties coronavirus restrictions to county-level COVID-19 spread. The order is set to expire Feb. 28 and will be extended 30 days. Holcomb also said he would extend the coronavirus public health emergency, which is set to expire Feb. 29,  an additional 30 days.
  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): People ages 16 and older with state-defined high-risk conditions are eligible for vaccinations starting Feb. 25. The state’s list of qualifying conditions includes cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
  • New Mexico (Democratic trifecta):
    • On Feb. 24, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced the state added the Turquoise Level (the new least-restrictive level) to its red-yellow-green risk level classification system. The state also made the Red, Yellow, and Green levels less restrictive. Bars and clubs can now operate in the Green and Turquoise levels, and recreational facilities (like amusement parks, bowling alleys, and arcades) can reopen in all risk levels. Large entertainment venues (like sports stadiums, concert venues, and movie theaters) can open in Yellow, Green, and Turquoise levels. Previously, all of the above industries were closed statewide, regardless of county risk level. State parks also opened to camping and out-of-state visitors.
    • The governor said four counties will have Red Level restrictions, 19 will be Yellow, six will be Green, and four will be Turquoise for the two-week period starting Feb. 24. In the previous period, 14 counties were Red Level, 15 were Yellow, and four were Green. 

School closures and reopenings

    Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2020-2021 academic year

Overview:

  • Four states (Calif., Del., Hawaii, N.M.) and Washington, D.C. had state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allowed hybrid instruction only.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 7,049,065 students (13.93% of students nationwide)
  • Four states (Ark., Fla., Iowa, Texas) had state-ordered in-person instruction.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 9,180,918 students (18.15% of students nationwide)
  • One state (W.Va.) had state-ordered in-person instruction for certain grades.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 273,855 students (0.54% of students nationwide)
  • Forty-one states left decisions to schools or districts.
    • 2016-17 enrollment: 34,084,021 students (67.38% of students nationwide)

Details:

  • Kentucky – On Feb. 23, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order recommending all school districts and private schools offer some form of in-person instruction by March 1. The Kentucky Department of Education released KDE COVID-19 Guidance 2.0 to assist school reopenings. 
  • Minnesota – All middle and high school students were allowed to return to the classroom for either full-time in-person or hybrid instruction starting Feb. 22. Gov. Tim Walz (D) said he expects all schools to offer some in-person instruction by March 8. Parents can still opt to keep their children home for remote instruction.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed an executive order requiring schools to provide at least two days of classroom instruction per week starting March 8.

Travel restrictions

    Read more: Travel restrictions issued by states in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • Since the start of the pandemic, governors or state agencies in 27 states issued executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors. At least 16 of those orders have been rescinded.
  • Since Feb. 18, no states have ended or modified their travel restrictions.  

Details:

  • Vermont – On Feb. 19, Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that fully vaccinated residents who travel to another state will no longer need to quarantine when returning to Vermont beginning Feb. 23. Fully vaccinated residents will receive cards they can display upon request when traveling in or out of the state. Scott also said that fully vaccinated out-of-state travelers will not need to quarantine if they can provide proof of vaccination. 

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Monday, Feb. 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new guidance for vaccine developers that does not require them to conduct lengthy, randomized trials for vaccines adapted to combat coronavirus variants. Instead, the guidance allows developers to conduct smaller trials in order to expedite the review process.

Additional activity

In this section, we feature examples of other federal, state, and local government activity, private industry responses, and lawsuits related to the pandemic. 

  • Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara announced on Wednesday, Feb. 25, that middle and high school students can return to in-person instruction in phases beginning March 22. The Clark County School District includes Las Vegas, Nevada, and is the nation’s fifth-largest school district. Students will receive two days of classroom instruction each week. Sixth, ninth, and 12th graders will begin that schedule on March 22, while seventh, eighth, 10th, and 11th graders will resume in-person instruction on April 6.


Biden revokes Trump exec orders on visas, regulatory authority

February 25, 2021: Joe Biden revoked several Trump-era executive orders on immigration, regulatory authority, and other issues.

President Joe Biden (D) and his team have been preparing for the transition between presidential administrations since the election, including selecting senior White House staff and appointees to top government positions.

In 2020, there were 1,472 government positions subject to presidential appointment: 1,118 positions required Senate confirmation and 354 did not. The new administration is also responsible for filling thousands of other positions across the federal government, including in operations and policy. Every weekday, Ballotpedia is tracking potential Cabinet nominees, appointments, and news related to the Biden administration.

  • One Cabinet-level committee hearing is scheduled Thursday: The Finance Senate Committee is holding a hearing for Katherine Tai for U.S. trade representative.
  • The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is also holding a hearing for Vivek Murthy for surgeon general on Thursday. This is not a Cabinet-level position.
  • The Senate will vote on the nomination of Jennifer Granholm for secretary of energy on Thursday. The Senate will also vote on whether to invoke cloture on the nomination of Miguel Cardona for secretary of education.
  • The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship advanced Isabel Guzman’s nomination for administrator of the Small Business Administration by a vote of 15-5.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said he would support Debra Haaland’s nomination for secretary of the interior, indicating she could have enough support to be confirmed along party lines, according to The New York Times.
  • When asked about the postponement of committee votes on Neera Tanden’s nomination for director of the Office of Management and Budget, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Wednesday, “It didn’t look like she had the votes.”

News

  • Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that lifted a ban on certain types of immigrant visas, revoking an executive order by President Donald Trump (R). Biden also revoked Trump executive orders on agency rulemaking, government review of certain welfare programs, and the architecture of federal buildings.
  • Biden announced his nominees to fill three vacancies on the nine-member U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors on Wednesday: Anton Hajjar, Amber McReynolds, and Ron Stroman. The other six members include four Republicans and two Democrats. If the Senate confirms Biden’s nominees, Democrats will have enough votes to remove Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee.   

Transition in Context

The following chart compares the pace of Senate confirmations for the main Cabinet members—the 15 agency heads in the presidential line of succession—following the inaugurations of Presidents Barack Obama (D) and Joe Biden (D). It does not include Cabinet-rank officials that vary by administration.

Five weeks after their respective inaugurations, Biden had 7 of these secretaries confirmed and Obama had 12. A thirteenth Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

What We’re Reading



Judge rules Idaho school board recall qualifies for ballot

A district court judge ruled on February 22, 2021, that a recall effort against Idaho Falls School District 91 board of trustees member Lara Hill had successfully qualified for the ballot. A recall election against board member Elizabeth Cogliati is already scheduled for March 9.

The recall effort against Cogliati and Hill began after the board of trustees voted 3-2 on September 30, 2020, to move high schools in the district from in-person instruction five days a week to a mixture of in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction the other three days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cogliati and Hill voted in favor of the change in instruction along with trustee Hillary Radcliffe, while trustees Paul Haacke and Larry Haws voted against it.

Superintendent George Boland said the goal for the change in instruction was to reduce the number of coronavirus cases and related quarantines and absences at the high schools. The school district had reported 90 coronavirus cases among students and staff between the beginning of the school year and October 9, 2020. Recall supporters said the district’s online classes were low quality and putting students at a disadvantage.

The recall effort initially sought to recall all three board members who voted in favor of changing to hybrid instruction. The effort against Radcliffe did not collect enough signatures and did not submit the petition by the deadline.

Signatures for the recall of Hill and Cogliati were both submitted on December 28, 2020. The Bonneville County Clerk’s Office verified enough signatures to put the recall against Cogliati on the ballot but found that the petition against Hill did not have enough valid signatures. Recall supporters filed a lawsuit against the county clerk, alleging that nine signatures that had been rejected should have been verified. The court ruled in favor of the recall supporters.

Hill’s recall election had not been scheduled as of February 24. After March 9, the next county election dates scheduled are May 18 and August 31.

Recall efforts against school board members started in three other school districts in Idaho in 2020. All of the efforts named their school board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for recall. The effort in the West Ada school district did not go to a vote but saw two members resign from their positions. The recall effort against Aaron Proctor in the Whitepine School District went to the ballot on November 3 and was approved with 57% of the vote, resulting in Proctor’s removal from office. The recall effort against three board members in the Pocatello-Chubbuck school district was approved for the ballot, and the elections were scheduled for March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

Additional reading:



The Daily Brew: The decade in state legislative special elections

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 25, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. The state legislative seats that have switched parties in special elections since 2010
  2. St. Louis to use new mayoral primary system for the first time on March 2
  3. Explore procedural due process through our latest Learning Journey

The state legislative seats that have switched parties in special elections since 2010

As we gear up to cover the 27+ state legislative special elections already scheduled in 2021, I thought it would be interesting to look at the number of seat flips that have happened as a result of special elections since 2010. Here’s an overview.

Between 2010 and 2020, an average of 71 state legislative special elections took place each year. In those 782 elections, 103 seats (13.2%) changed partisan control. Democrats flipped 56 seats, Republicans flipped 41, and independent and third-party candidates flipped six.

2017 had the highest number of flips during this time period, with Democrats flipping 14 seats and Republicans flipping three. This was also the year with the highest net change for Democrats, who gained a net of 11 seats out of 98 special elections. Republicans’ highest net gain was five seats in 2013.

Since 2010, Democrats have gained a net of 12 state legislative seats in special elections, and Republicans have lost a net of 17 seats.

The state with the highest number of flips since 2010 is New Hampshire, where 11 seats have changed partisan control. Massachusetts and Connecticut follow with nine flips each. 

Twenty-five states use special elections to fill state legislative vacancies and four other states (Kansas, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington) use special elections in some circumstances. Twenty-seven states held state legislative special elections in 2020. 

Read on

St. Louis to use new mayoral primary system for the first time on March 2

Thirty-one cities in the top 100 cities by population are holding mayoral elections this year. One of those cities, St. Louis, is doing so using a primary that’s the first of its kind in the city.

This election will feature the first use of approval voting in the city’s history. Candidates of all political affiliations will run in the election without partisan labels, and voters may choose any number of candidates to vote for. The two candidates to receive the most votes will advance to the general election on April 6. Voters approved this voting method in November 2020 as Proposition D.

Mayor Lyda Krewson (D) is not running for re-election. Four candidates are running in the primary: 2017 mayoral candidate Andrew Jones, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Aldermen President Lewis Reed, and Alderwoman Cara Spencer. Each has a partisan affiliation: A. Jones ran as a Republican in 2017, and the other three candidates have previously run for office as Democrats.

Based on reporting required eight days before the election, Spencer leads all candidates in contributions with $356,000, followed by T. Jones with $333,000, Reed with $271,000, and A. Jones with $20,000. Spencer also leads in money spent ($326,000), followed by T. Jones ($267,000), Reed ($233,000), and A. Jones ($10,000).

T. Jones has received the most noteworthy endorsements in the race, including Saint Louis County Executive Sam Page, Democracy for America, and the state council of the SEIU. Spencer received endorsements from former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl Jr. and former Aldermanic President James Shrewsbury. The St. Louis Post Dispatch endorsed both Spencer and Reed.

In 22 of the 31 cities that are holding mayoral elections this year, the incumbent is Democratic. Seven incumbents are Republican, one is independent, and one is nonpartisan.

Proposition D was one of 17 approved local election policy ballot measures in 2020 in the top 100 largest cities. Voters in six cities in four states approved ranked-choice voting measures that year.

Read on 

Explore procedural due process through our latest Learning Journey

Ballotpedia is excited to introduce our newest Learning Journey on notable court cases pertaining to procedural due process in the context of the administrative state. In this Journey, we will guide you through the court cases that have defined the concept of due process over time as well as those that have clarified the scope of liberty and property interests. 

We will also explore court cases that have shaped the concept of due process in the context of administrative rulemaking, adjudication, enforcement, standing, and judicial review.

Ballotpedia’s Learning Journeys allow you to dive deeper into the topics you want to learn about. Click here to choose from 25 different journeys to explore.
Read on



Voters in Alabama Senate district to decide special election on Mar. 2

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

A special election is being held on March 2 for District 26 of the Alabama State Senate. State Rep. Kirk Hatcher (D) and William Green (R) are facing off in the special election.

Hatcher advanced to the general election after defeating former state Rep. John Knight in the Democratic primary runoff with 74.2% of the vote on December 15, 2020. Hatcher and Knight advanced from the primary election on November 17, 2020, earning 47.9% and 20.8% of the vote, respectively. Green was unopposed in the Republican primary.

The seat became vacant after the resignation of David Burkette (D) on September 1, 2020. He was first elected to the state Senate on May 15, 2018, in a special election to fill an unexpired term. He ran in the regularly scheduled election in November 2018 and won a four-year term with 80.2% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 26-7 majority with two vacancies in the state Senate. Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of February, 27 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

Additional Reading:



Governor sets special election in Texas’ 6th Congressional District for May 1

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special election for Texas’ 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Ronald Wright (R), who died from complications related to COVID-19 on February 7, 2021. The general election will be held May 1, 2021. The filing deadline is March 3, 2021.

Two other special elections have been scheduled for vacant seats in the 117th United States Congress, both U.S. House seats in Louisiana. Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District became vacant after Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) joined the Biden administration as senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District became vacant when Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R) died on December 29, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19 before he was sworn into office.

Fifty special elections to the United States Congress were held during the 113th through 116th Congresses. During that time, special elections were called for 16 seats vacated by Democrats and 34 vacated by Republicans.

As of February 23, Texas’ U.S. House delegation has 13 Democrats, 22 Republicans, and one vacancy. The U.S. House has 221 Democrats, 211 Republicans, and three vacancies. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

Additional Reading:



Diego Hernandez resigns from Oregon House of Representatives 

On Feb. 21, Rep. Diego Hernandez (D) resigned from the Oregon House of Representatives. He represented District 47 from 2017 to 2021. 

On May 4, 2020, the interim House Conduct Committee in the Oregon House of Representatives opened an investigation after seven individuals accused Hernandez of verbal and physical sexual harassment and creating a hostile workplace environment.

Hernandez did not participate in the investigatory hearing and issued the following statement in response: “I have no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom. I do know that there has been an organized campaign against me recently to get me out of the office I was duly elected to and I was threatened this would happen if I didn’t resign. Due process matters, I ask that people withhold judgment until the investigation is complete.”

On May 11, Hernandez filed a tort claim against the Oregon state legislature, citing damages related to the following: “abuse of process, discrimination (gender and national origin/race) under state and federal law, aiding and abetting discrimination, bullying/mobbing, whistleblowing retaliation (ORS 659A.199, ORS 659A.203, ORS659A.206), intentional infliction of emotional distress, intentional interference with a prospective economic relationship, defamation, violation of due process under state and federal law, and other potential claims.” 

After nine months, the committee voted 4-0 to recommend expulsion to the House. Hernandez filed a lawsuit to halt further movement on the measure, but United States District Judge Ann Aiken denied judicial interference. Hernandez resigned from his seat the following day on Feb. 21.

If there is a vacancy in the Oregon Legislature, the board of county commissioners representing the vacant seat must select a replacement. This can only be done when the legislature is in session or when the vacancy happens more than 61 days before the next scheduled general election. The board must consider at least three candidates and select a person from the political party that last held the vacant seat. Persons selected to fill House seats serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

As of the morning of Feb. 24, there have been 28 state legislative vacancies in 20 states this year. Eleven of those vacancies have been filled, with 17 vacancies remaining. Hernandez’s vacancy is one of 13 Democratic vacancies to have occurred in 2021. So far, seven vacancies have been filled by Democrats, while three have been filled by Republicans.  

Additional Reading:



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: February 24, 2021

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

The next 24 hours

What is changing in the next 24 hours?

  • Illinois (Democratic trifecta): People age 16 and older with state-defined high-risk conditions will be eligible for vaccinations starting Feb. 25. The state’s list of qualifying conditions includes cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • California (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a $9.6 billion package of bills he says are meant for coronavirus aid (bills AB 81, AB 82, AB 85, SB 87, SB 88, and SB 94) into law. The package includes $600 direct payments to households with incomes less than $30,000. Some taxpayers who did not qualify for federal stimulus payments will also be eligible for $600 payments. For more details, click here.
  • Florida (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that CVS Health will offer vaccines at 81 pharmacy locations in 13 counties beginning later this week. The pharmacies include CVS Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy y más, and Navarro Discount Pharmacy. 
  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the Indiana state Senate voted 38-8 to pass a bill that would limit the governor’s state of emergency declarations to 60 days. Under the law, the General Assembly would have sole authority to extend emergency declaration beyond 60 days. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
  • Maryland (divided government): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued an executive order requiring all people over the age of five to wear masks on school property, including in hallways, gyms, and on buses. 
  • North Carolina (divided government): On Wednesday, Feb. 24, teachers and staff, including bus drivers and custodial staff, can register to receive a coronavirus vaccine. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced that effective Feb. 26 – March 11, five counties will be in the state’s Extreme Risk level, 11 will be at High Risk, 10 will be at Moderate Risk, and 10 will have Lower Risk restrictions. In the current period from Feb. 12-25, 14 counties are in the state’s Extreme Risk level, 11 are at High Risk, three are at Moderate Risk, and eight have Lower Risk restrictions.  To see restrictions in a specific county or risk level, click here.
  • Texas (Republican trifecta): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, the percentage of hospital beds devoted to COVID-19 patients in the Southeast Texas Trauma Service Area, which includes Houston, remained below 15% for seven consecutive days, allowing restaurants and other businesses to increase their operating capacity from 50% to 75% capacity, up from 50%. In an Oct. 7, 2020, executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) mandated tighter restrictions in regions that saw high levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations. The executive order permits county judges to decide if bars can reopen in regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations are below 15% of hospital capacity. 
  • Virginia (Democratic trifecta): On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced he will ease some coronavirus restrictions beginning March 1. On that day, the gathering limit on outdoor entertainment venues will increase from 30% or 250 people to 30% or 1,000 people. Additionally, up to 250 spectators or 30% will be permitted per field at outdoor sports games, up from the current limit of two spectators per participant. The outdoor gathering limit will increase from 10 to 25 people.