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State minimum wage levels vary from $5 to $14 per hour

Voters approved two statewide ballot measures in 2018 pertaining to minimum wages. Arkansas Issue 5 was approved, incrementally raising the minimum wage in Arkansas from $8.50 to $11 per hour by 2021. Missouri Proposition B was also approved, increasing the state’s minimum wage each year from $7.85 up to $12 per hour in 2023.
 
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Georgia and Wyoming are the only two states with minimum wages below the federal level, making the federal minimum wage operative in those states. Another 19 states have state minimums at $7.25, matching the federal level. The other 29 states and Washington, D.C., all have minimum wages above the federal level. Thirteen of those states have wages above $10.00 per hour. Statewide minimum wage laws range from $5.15 per hour in Georgia and Wyoming up to $14.00 per hour in Washington, D.C.
 
Overall, minimum wages increased in 20 states and Washington, D.C., in 2018. Some of these changes took place due to ballot measures, while others took place due to state legislation. Minimum wages will also increase in 21 states and Washington, D.C., in 2019. The average increase for these 21 states is $0.55.
 
Proponents of increased minimum wages in Florida and Nevada are aiming to get measures on the ballot in 2020. Supporters of Florida’s minimum wage measure need to collect 766,200 valid signatures by February 1, 2020, to get their measure on the ballot. In Nevada, a majority vote is required in two successive sessions of the Nevada State Legislature to place an amendment on the ballot. Legislators passed Senate Joint Resolution 6 in 2017 and need to pass it again in their 2019 legislative session in order to place it on the ballot in 2020.
 


Federal Register weekly update; 2019 weekly page average continues to climb

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 April 15 to April 19, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,518 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 16,600 pages. The Federal Register featured a total of 590 documents, including 487 notices, four presidential documents, 33 proposed rules, and 66 final rules.
 
One final rule and two proposed 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 1,432 pages. As of April 19, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,014 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,038 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of April 19. 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: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2016


Idaho governor targets regulatory costs with two executive orders

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed two executive orders in January 2019 aimed at reducing state regulations on businesses and individuals in Idaho. He said that the orders would “help simplify Idaho state government and make it more accountable to citizens.”
 
The first executive order, the Licensing Freedom Act of 2019 (LFA), makes changes to the way Idaho implements and maintains occupational licenses. The LFA establishes a sunset rule that requires a regular gubernatorial review of every licensure requirement to determine whether those requirements still serve the public interest. The LFA also creates a list of sunrise factors that the governor and executive departments must consider with the legislature in order to impose new regulations on businesses, professions, or occupations.
 
The second executive order, called the Red Tape Reduction Act (RTRA), requires the state Division of Financial Management to submit annual reports detailing efforts to eliminate regulations and to streamline state government. In addition, the RTRA changes the procedures for proposing new rules through the 2021 fiscal year. First, state agencies must submit a statement identifying the impact that a new rule would have on individuals and small businesses. Second, agencies must name at least two existing rules to repeal or simplify or they must give reasons why existing rules cannot be simplified or removed. This requirement is similar to President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to eliminate two old regulations for every new regulation they issue.
 


Nine of 17 Republican primary candidates in NC-03 special election file financial reports

The Federal Election Commission released campaign financial data for the first quarter of 2019 in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District Republican primary. Of the 17 candidates, nine filed financial reports.
 
Four candidates in the race have received more than $100,000 in contributions, with state Rep. Gregory Murphy raising the most at $318,000. The other candidates above that threshold are Joan Perry, Francis De Luca, and Chimer Davis Clark Jr.
 
Murphy also spent the most at $204,000. No other candidate reported spending more than $76,000 so far.
 
The 17 candidate field includes six elected officials, of which Murphy was the only one to file a financial report. There are also six candidates with political backgrounds or noteworthy endorsements, of which five filed financial reports.
 
The special election will fill the vacancy left by Walter Jones (R), who died on February 10, 2019. Primaries are scheduled for April 30, 2019. If a primary runoff is necessary, it will be held on July 9, 2019, and the general election will be moved to September 10, 2019. If no runoff is necessary, the general election will take place on July 9.
 
As of April 19, 2019, there have been four special elections scheduled for the 116th Congress. Three of those are for seats in the U.S. House, and one is for a seat in the U.S. Senate. From the 113th Congress to the 115th Congress, a total of 40 special elections were held.


Washington legislature sends constitutional amendment relating to succession of powers during catastrophic incidents to 2019 ballot

The Washington State Legislature gave final approval for Senate Joint Resolution 8200 on April 17, 2019, sending it to the 2019 ballot. The constitutional amendment would authorize the legislature, during periods of catastrophic incidents that are considered emergencies, to pass bills that address the succession of powers and duties of public offices when the offices’ incumbents and legal successors are unavailable for carrying out the office. In other words, the amendment would allow the legislature to pass laws temporarily filling certain vacant public offices in the event of a catastrophic incident.
 
It would allow the legislature to pass laws it determines are necessary to provide for “continuity of state and local governmental operations” even if those laws are at odds with the state constitution. As of 2019, the state legislature can pass bills that addressed the succession of powers and duties of public offices (such as filling vacancies) during periods of warfare against the United States causing substantial damage and injury in Washington.
 
On March 7, 2019, the Washington State Senate approved SJR 8200, with 37 senators supporting the amendment, 11 senators opposing the amendment, and one senator not voting. On April 17, 2019, the House approved the amendment in a vote of 91 to seven. Vote totals by party were not available as of April 19, 2019.
 
This is the first measure to qualify for the 2019 ballot in Washington. Two initiatives— I-976 concerning $30 car tabs and I-1000 concerning affirmative action— were certified to the legislature and are pending legislative action. The legislature can either approve them, reject them and send them to the ballot, or send them to the ballot alongside an alternative.
 
As of April 18, 2019, two other measures were certified to appear on state ballots in 2019. One measure in Colorado would authorize the state to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs)—a specific type of bond debt—in the amount of $2.337 billion with no increase to any taxes. The other measure in Kansas would end the state’s practice of adjusting the U.S. Census population regarding military personnel and students when redistricting the Kansas State Legislature.
 
Around this time (mid-April) in 2017, six measures were certified for the 2017 ballot. In 2017, a seven-decade record for the lowest number of statewide ballot measure certifications was set—in total, 27 measures were certified to appear on state ballots in nine states. This continued a general trend toward fewer statewide measures. The last year in which there were fewer than 27 statewide measures was 1947. From 1987 through 2017, the average number of measures on the ballot in odd-numbered years was 50, with an average of 11 states in which measures appeared on the ballot. In odd-numbered years from 2007 to 2017, an average of between 32 and 33 measures appeared on the ballot in an average of eight states.


Nebraska voters will decide TIF constitutional amendment in 2020

On April 18, the Nebraska State Senate approved a constitutional amendment to increase the repayment period for tax-increment financing (TIF) from 15 years to 20 years for areas where more than one-half of properties are designed as extremely blighted. The vote in the Senate was 43-2. Voters will decide whether to adopt or reject the amendment at the general election in 2020.
 
TIF is designed to finance economic development in an area. In Nebraska, cities and villages have the power to declare an area as substandard, blighted, and in need of redevelopment and to create a TIF district. The local government can then issue bonds to finance improvements associated with a redevelopment project. The local government can use increased tax revenue, resulting from increased property values due to development, to pay off the bonds over a 15-year period.
 
The ballot measure would increase the period to pay off the bonds and indebtedness from 15 years to 20 years for TIF districts designed as extremely blighted. In Nebraska, an extremely blighted area is defined as a census tract with an average unemployment rate that is 200 percent or more of the average state unemployment rate and the poverty rate is more than 20 percent.
 
Sen. Justin T. Wayne (D-13) was the lead sponsor of the constitutional amendment in the state Senate. Sen. Wayne said, “If we add an extra five years, it makes the financing easier for a developer when he or she is weighing their risk.” He also said the amendment was written for “areas that would not otherwise be developed.” Sen. Mike Groene (R-42) was one of two Republicans to vote against the amendment. He referred to the law defining extremely blighted, saying, “This hasn’t even been enacted more than 6 months. We’re going from enacting a law that hasn’t happened, where any city has even defined a highly-blighted area, to putting it in the constitution! Government shouldn’t work that fast. It needs to slow down a little bit. Let’s see if it actually is used.”
 
The constitutional amendment is the second referred to the ballot in Nebraska for 2020. The other amendment would remove language from the Nebraska Constitution that allows the use of slavery and involuntary servitude as criminal punishments.
 


Former state GOP chairs split endorsements in Mississippi gubernatorial primary

Six former chairmen of the Mississippi Republican Party have endorsed a candidate ahead of the August 6 Republican gubernatorial primary. Two former chairmen support Lieutenant Gov. Tate Reeves, who media outlets call the front runner due to his fundraising advantage and 15 years in statewide office. Four past chairmen support former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., who has criticized Reeves for opposing a gas tax increase and the expansion of Medicaid coverage.
 
Mississippi Today reported on the following statements from Waller’s endorsers:
 
• Billy Powell, the chairman from 1993 to 1996, said, “Waller has a much more even temperament to beat [Democratic Attorney General] Jim Hood in November. What bothers me about Tate is his arrogance. He doesn’t have the tendency to really want to work with people. It’s more of a ‘my way or highway’-type position. His arrogance really turns me off.”
 
• Clark Reed, the chairman from 1966 to 1976, said, “Our infrastructure is crumbling. It’s a crime where we are. We need a gas tax increase. Everybody knows it. I think Tate’s a conservative, but he doesn’t want to seem to pull the trigger at these critical times. He’s a good man, but gosh, you’ve got to have the courage to do the things that might be risky.”
 
In response to the endorsements, Reeves’ campaign said, “More than 300 conservative Mississippi leaders have endorsed Tate Reeves, including the governor. That didn’t get covered by Mississippi Today because it showed the party is united not divided. Hundreds more conservatives turned out for rallies and events across the state last week. The Republican Party is going to nominate the proven conservative in this race, and that’s Tate Reeves.”
 
Current Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who has endorsed Reeves, said, “I am fully behind Tate Reeves as our next governor. It is time for a new, younger generation of Republicans to take up the torch of conservatism. A young leader who doesn’t believe raising taxes and expanding Obamacare are good ideas. We will win this race.”
 
Freshman state Rep. Robert Foster is also running in the gubernatorial primary. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote on August 6, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff of August 27.
 
Additional reading:


Rancher gives $100,000 to support state legislative recall in Colorado

Weld County rancher Steve Wells has donated $100,000 through his company to the effort to recall Colorado state Rep. Rochelle Galindo (D). Prior to Wells’ donation, the recall committee had raised $2,542. The recall effort was approved for circulation on April 4 and the petition was submitted by Mary Achziger and Karen Kornins. Recall supporters have until June 3, 2019, to collect 5,696 signatures to force a recall election.
 
A separate, second recall effort against Galindo is also targeting state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) and state Rep. Meg Froelich (D). These recalls were launched by Joe Neville. He is the head of the Values First Colorado political action committee and the brother of Senate Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R). The petitions have not been approved for circulation yet by the state.
 
Galindo is being targeted for recall because of her support for an oil and gas regulation bill and a gun bill. Both bills were signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in April 2019. The gun bill would temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The oil and gas bill gives local governments more control over regulating the industry and also instructs the state to emphasize public safety over promoting oil and gas production. Other reasons given for the recall efforts include Galindo’s support of legislation related to the national popular vote and sex education.
 
The recalls have the support of newly elected state GOP chair and U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO). Galindo was elected to District 50 in the state House in 2018. She defeated Michael Thuener (R) in the general election with 54.4 percent of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Colorado Treasurer Dave Young (D) held the seat from 2011 to 2019.
 
After the recall petition was approved, Rep. Galindo said, “People are free to disagree with the decisions I make at the state capitol, and they’re free to vote for someone else in 2020. I will fight every day for our community and our shared best interests, and even for the people who disagree with me.”
 
Since 2011, 76 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 54 did not go to a vote, and four are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Jared Polis (D) was sworn into the governor’s office in 2019.
 


Special elections on Tuesday for South Carolina and Tennessee state legislatures

Two state legislative special elections are being held on April 23 in Tennessee State Senate District 22 and South Carolina House of Representatives District 14. Republican legislators previously held both seats. The results of both elections will not change partisan control of either chamber, which both feature Republican supermajorities.
 
The Tennessee special election was called after Mark Green (R) won election to Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in November 2018. Rosalind Kurita (I) was appointed to fill the seat on January 14, 2019. Kurita is not running in the special election. Bill Powers defeated three other candidates in the Republican primary on March 7, and he faces Democrat Juanita Charles—who was unopposed in the Democratic primary—and independent candidates Doyle Clark and David Cutting.
 
The South Carolina House seat was vacated by Michael Pitts (R), who resigned on January 3 for health reasons. Garrett McDaniel defeated one other candidate in the Democratic primary on February 19, 2019. He faces Stewart Jones, who defeated three other candidates in the Republican primary.
 
As of April, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year. Both Tennessee and South Carolina have 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.
 


All in one place: 2020 presidential campaign logos

Twenty-one notable elected officials and public figures—19 Democrats and two Republicans—have entered the 2020 presidential race or formed an exploratory committee as of April 18.
 
From now through the November 3, 2020, presidential election, Americans will see each campaign’s logo in television ads, on yard signs, in mailers, and more. Campaign logos are the visual centerpiece of a presidential candidate’s branding strategy.
 
We’ve compiled each notable campaign’s logo in one place.
 
Of the 21:
  • Nine feature only the candidate’s first name.
  • Nine feature only the candidate’s last name.
  • Three feature both the candidate’s first and last name.


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