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Analysis: The 2020 elections and their impact on redistricting

In 2020, voters across the country will elect new state legislators and governors, and in many cases, these officials will play a direct part in drawing the district maps that govern elections for the next 10 years.
 
The process by which district maps are drawn is called redistricting. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau delivers detailed population datasets to the states. Redistricting authorities in the states use these datasets to redraw their congressional, state legislative, and even local district maps.
 
In 34 of the states conducting legislative elections in 2020, the legislatures themselves will play a significant part in the 2020 redistricting cycle. In eight of next year’s gubernatorial elections, the winner will have veto authority over state legislative or congressional district plans approved by legislatures.
 
The 2010 election and redistricting cycle can illustrate how elections impact the redistricting process.
 
In the 2010 elections, trifecta control (when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of a state’s legislature) changed in 12 states where legislatures were responsible for redistricting.
 
Before the elections, seven of these 12 states were Democratic trifectas; the rest were divided governments.
 
  • Six states changed from Democratic trifectas to divided governments: Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin.
  • Five states changed from divided governments to a Republican trifectas: Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania.
  • One state, Maine, changed from a Democratic to a Republican trifecta.
 
Of the six trifectas gained by Republicans in those elections, three remain as such: Alabama, Indiana, and Ohio. Democrats have regained three of the trifectas they lost: Colorado, Oregon, and Maine. The rest are divided governments.


Unofficial election results indicate Cary bond measures likely approved in special election

The town of Cary voted on two bond issues on Oct. 8. The first measure authorizes the town to issue $112 million in bonds to fund the expansion and creation of parks and recreation facilities. The second measure authorizes the town to issue $113 million in bonds to fund improvements in local transportation. The improvements include streets, sidewalks, bridges, overpasses, traffic controls, streetscape, and bicycle facilities.
 
The election night results show both measures ahead. Support for the parks and recreation bond measure led the race with 76.50 percent to 23.50 percent. The transportation bond measure had 79.74 percent of voters approve it and 20.26 percent vote against it.
 
Cary Town Council voted unanimously to put the bond measures on the ballot after a public hearing in July. The last bond issues in the town were approved in 2012 and were used to fund fire, transportation, and park projects. The town reported that these projects are in progress or complete.
 


How did the 2010 elections affect the last redistricting cycle?

Trifecta control changed in 12 states in 2010 where state legislatures were responsible for redistricting

Eleven states are holding gubernatorial elections in 2020, and 44 are holding state legislative elections. In a majority of these states, the officials elected in 2020 will play a part in redrawing legislative maps governing elections for the subsequent 10 years.

The process by which legislative district boundaries are drawn is called redistricting. Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau delivers detailed population datasets to the states. Redistricting authorities in the states use these datasets to redraw congressional, state legislative, and even local district maps.

In 34 states holding state legislative elections in 2020, the legislatures themselves will play a significant role in that state’s 2020 redistricting. In eight of next year’s gubernatorial elections, the winner will have veto authority over the state legislative or congressional district plans approved by legislatures.

Redistricting authorities in the United States

Redistricting authorities in the United States

The 2010 election and redistricting cycle illustrate how elections can affect the redistricting process.

Trifecta control—where one party controls the governorship and both chambers of a state’s legislature— changed as a result of the 2010 elections in 12 states where legislatures were responsible for redistricting. Prior to these elections, seven of the 12 were Democratic trifectas and the rest had divided governments.

  • Six states changed from a Democratic trifecta to divided government—Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin.
  • Five states changed from divided government to a Republican trifecta—Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania.
  • One state—Maine—changed from a Democratic to Republican trifecta.

Of the 12 states which saw trifecta control change in 2010, three—Alabama, Indiana, and Ohio—are currently Republican trifectas. Three states have become Democratic trifectas—Colorado, Oregon, and Maine. The rest are divided governments.

Our briefing yesterday discussed which states have changed their redistricting processes since the 2010 cycle, recent federal and state court decisions regarding partisan gerrymandering, and the upcoming 2020 Census. If you weren’t able to attend, click here to view the recording. 

Learn more

Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as county officials and local ballot measures.

Here’s our weekly summary of the local news we’re covering. Email me to suggest some interesting local election coverage in your area—I’d love to hear about it!

Raleigh, North Carolina

Former at-large councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin finished first with 38% of the vote and attorney Charles Francis finished second with 31% in Raleigh’s mayoral general election October 8. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote in the six-candidate field, a runoff will be held on November 5 if Francis requests it. Second-place finishers have until October 17 to ask for a runoff.

Raleigh also held elections for all seven city council seats—two at-large and five district seats. Six of seven incumbents ran for re-election. Three incumbents won outright in the primary, one was defeated, and two incumbents—at-large councilman Russ Stephenson and District D councilwoman Kay Crowder—qualified for a runoff. Neither Stephenson nor Crowder has said whether they will request a runoff.

Birmingham, Alabama 

Two incumbent Birmingham City Council members appeared to win special elections October 8 and a third incumbent advanced to a November 19 runoff. The three incumbents had all been appointed by the council in 2018 to fill vacancies after the previous members had resigned. The winners of these elections will serve until all nine council seats will next be up for regular election in 2021.

Vote counting on election night was delayed because voting machine memory cards that contained results were inadvertently placed in sealed boxes with paper ballots in certain precincts. The results on those cards were tabulated after the sealed boxes were opened the following day after a judge’s order.

 Voters also appeared to approve three ballot measures renewing property taxes for the city’s public schools. Election night results showed all three measures ahead with about 90 percent of voters approving them. The total tax rate renewed by the propositions was $0.98 per $100 of taxable property for 25 years. Birmingham City Schools reported that the taxes generate about $32 million per year—14% of its annual budget. The taxes were last approved in 1991 and were set to expire in September 2021.

Quiz: How many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?

Our Brew story Tuesday previewing Louisiana’s October 12 state legislative primary elections—happening alongside the gubernatorial and other state executive primaries—said that contested elections will be held in 94 seats this year, more than either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles. There were 70 contested state legislative elections in 2015 and 81 in 2011.

Louisiana voters will elect all 144 members of the state legislature—39 state Senators and 105 state Representatives—using what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates appear on the ballot, regardless of party. Any candidate that receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote wins the election outright. If not, a general election will be held for the top two finishers Nov. 16.

This caused me to wonder—and quiz our Brew readers—how many Louisiana state legislative seats switched partisan control in 2015?

A.  3 →
B.  5 →
C.  8 →
D.  11 →
 


Elizabeth Warren leads in pageviews for second consecutive week, becomes fifth candidate to reach 100,000 pageviews

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
 
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,071 views for the week of September 29-October 5. Warren’s pageview figure represents 10.5% of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week. Andrew Yang had 10.1% of the pageviews for the week, followed by Joe Biden with 9.8%.
 
The only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before was Tom Steyer, whose pageviews increased by 33.6%.
 
Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 124,790. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg with 120,289 and Kamala Harris with 109,481. Joe Biden was ranked fourth with 108,884 pageviews. Elizabeth Warren had 102,660 overall pageviews as of October 5, making her the fifth Democratic candidate to receive 100,000 pageviews this year.


Trump, Pence campaign for two Republican gubernatorial candidates in Louisiana

President Donald Trump (R) is scheduled to hold a rally in Louisiana for Republican gubernatorial candidates Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone on October 11, the day before the state’s top-two primary election. Trump endorsed both candidates on October 1.
 
On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. headed a rally in support of Abraham and Rispone in Lafayette, and on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence (R) headlined a rally for the candidates in the New Orleans area.
 
In addition to Abraham and Rispone, incumbent John Bel Edwards (D), Oscar Dantzler (D), Gary Landrieu (independent), and Patrick Landry (R) are running in the primary. A candidate can win the October 12 election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, a general election between the top two vote-getters will be held on November 16.
 
Five recent polls showed Edwards with 45-47 percent support. Three of the five polls showed Abraham and Rispone tied within margins of error for second place.
 
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, and he is the only Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana. The state has been under divided government since Edwards assumed office in 2016, as Republicans have held majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. In addition to the gubernatorial election, Louisiana is holding elections for all 39 state Senate seats and all 105 state House seats in 2019.
 
In order to win a trifecta—single-party control of the governorship and the state legislature—Republicans need to maintain their majorities in the state legislature while winning the gubernatorial election. Democrats need to win majorities in both chambers of the state legislature while holding the governorship.
 
Among the 50 states, there are currently 23 Democratic governors and 27 Republican governors. In addition to Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi are holding gubernatorial elections in 2019. In those states, the pre-election incumbents are Republicans.
 
Additional reading:


California had the fewest propositions this decade in the state’s history

This decade featured the fewest California ballot propositions in the state’s history

Since California has finalized its 2019 general election ballot, I wanted to share the results of our analysis of the number of ballot measures in the state this decade. 

  • Between 2010 and 2019, there were 69 statewide ballot measures in California, which means this decade featured the fewest number of measures since voters adopted the initiative process in 1911. 
  • The number of citizen-initiated measures—51—was the third-most over the previous 11 decades.
  • Over the last ten years, the state legislature passed fewer constitutional amendments, referred statutes, and general obligation bonds decided by voters. 

After peaking at 142 ballot measures in the 1970s, the number of ballot measures appearing on the ballot in California has decreased each decade. The average decade featured 116 ballot propositions, of which 39 were citizen-initiated.

In 1912, California voters decided the first citizen-initiated measures. Since then, there have been 1,271 ballot measures. Of those, 428—or 34%—were put on the ballot through citizen petitions which came either through the initiative or the veto referendum process.

The approval rate for all ballot measures in California—citizen-initiated measures and legislative referrals—from 1912 to 2019 is 57%. The approval rate for citizen initiatives during this time is 36%. 

California propositions by decade

Due to turnout in California’s 2018 gubernatorial election—which determines the number of signatures required for the two successive general elections—signature requirements increased by 70.3%. During the next two cycles—2020 and 2022—citizen-initiated measures will require the largest number of signatures to make the ballot in the state’s history. An initiated constitutional amendment will require 997,139 valid signatures and an initiated statute or veto referendum will require 623,212 valid signatures. 

Learn more

Louisiana’s 94 contested legislative elections this fall outpaces 2011 and 2015

Louisiana voters head to the polls October 12 (yes, this Saturday) to cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries. There are 94 contested legislative elections this year — more than there were in either the 2011 or 2015 election cycles.

There are 11 state Senate and 39 state House races that are uncontested in 2019, which is less than the number in the last two election cycles. In 2015, 21 Senate and 53 House races had a single candidate, while in 2011, 20 Senate and 43 House races had one candidate. In addition to elections for governor, six other statewide executive offices, and eight seats on the state board of education, Louisiana voters will elect all 39 members of the state Senate and 105 representatives in the state House. These are the first state legislative elections since 2015.  

Louisiana uses what’s known as a blanket primary, where all candidates in any race appear on the ballot Oct. 12—regardless of party. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50 percent of the primary vote. If not, then a general election for the top two finishers will be held Nov. 16.

Here’s how many races were decided in the primary versus the general election in the last two cycles:

  • There were 18 contested elections for state Senate seats in 2015. Fourteen races were decided in the primary and four in the general election. 
  • There were 19 contested state Senate elections in 2011—with 15 races decided in the primary and four in the general election.
  • Fifty-two state House seats featured contested elections in 2015 with 37 races decided in the primary election and 15 in the general election.
  • Of the 62 contested state House elections in 2011, 41 were decided in the primary election and 21 in the general election.

Republicans currently hold a 25-14 majority in the state Senate. There are 60 Republicans, 39 Democrats, and five independents—with one vacancy in the state House. Heading into the elections, Louisiana is under a divided government; Gov. John Bel Edwards is Democratic while Republicans control both legislative chambers.

Click the link below to learn more about Louisiana’s 2019 elections.

 

Warren leads Democratic presidential candidates in Ballotpedia pageviews for second consecutive week

As part of our coverage of the presidential race, we track and report the number of views the candidates’ 2020 presidential campaign pages receive to show who is getting our readers’ attention. 

For the week ending Oct. 5, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,071 pageviews, more than any other Democratic candidate. This was the second consecutive week Warren’s page received the most pageviews among the Democratic field. 

Andrew Yang’s page had the second-most pageviews during this week and Joe Biden’s page was third.  The only Democratic candidate to receive more pageviews last week than the week before was Tom Steyer, whose pageviews increased by 33.6%.

Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews among Democratic presidential candidates in 2019 with 124,790. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, and Warren. Those five candidates have each had more than 100,000 pageviews this year.

See the full data on all presidential candidates below.

 



Amy Klobuchar raised $4.8 million in Q3 2019

 

 

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

October 8, 2019: Amy Klobuchar’s campaign raised $4.8 million last quarter. Next Tuesday’s 12-candidate Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, will be the largest single primary debate ever.

 

In the past century, which presidential election had the highest estimated voter turnout?

Notable Quote of the Day

“One thing we can say for sure is that something has changed in the race in the wake of Sanders’ heart attack. The burden of proof has now shifted directly to Sanders and, to a slightly lesser extent, Biden and Warren. Rather than their opponents needing to find some non-tacky way to raise the age question, that trio now has to find ways to address voter concerns about it. Which is a subtle but important shift — particularly given that it is very hard to ask questions about whether candidates are too old without getting major blowback.”

—Chris Cillizza, CNN

Democrats

  • The next Democratic primary debate is in one week on Tuesday, October 15. Twelve candidates will be on stage, making it the largest single presidential primary debate ever. Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer are the only two candidates who will participate that did not qualify for the September debate. The event takes place at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, and Marc Lacey will moderate. 
  • Michael Bennet campaigned in New Hampshire, canvassing neighborhoods with a local school board candidate.
  • Joe Biden released a higher education proposal on Tuesday that would guarantee two years of free community college or technical training.
  • Cory Booker campaigned in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, part of a four-day swing through the state. He spoke at a climate change forum in Cedar Rapids and a town hall in Iowa City.
  • Pete Buttigieg called for an end to the war in Afghanistan Monday, on the 18th anniversary of the beginning of the war.
  • Julián Castro visited a refugee camp across the border from Brownsville, Texas, where he criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
  • Gabbard held a town hall in Fairfield, Iowa.
  • Kamala Harris campaigned in Des Moines, Ames, and Ankeny, attending a story time event at an elementary school and a town hall.
  • Amy Klobuchar announced $4.8 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. That figure is more than her $3.9 million from Q2 but less than her $5.2 million from Q1.
  • Beto O’Rourke appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered on Monday.
  • Joe Sestak appeared on WMUR’s The Trail podcast. He discussed his foreign policy experience among the Democratic primary field.
  • Steyer released an economic plan calling for a $15 minimum wage, repealing the Trump tax cuts, and implementing a 1 percent wealth tax on individuals worth more than $32 million. His plan also includes congressional term limits and repealing Citizens United, which Steyer said would limit corporate power in the U.S. economy.
  • Elizabeth Warren released a plan that she says would “strengthen the integrity and impartiality of the federal judiciary.” It calls for a new recusal process, banning judges from holding stock, and requiring written explanations of recusal decisions from Supreme Court Justices.
  • Marianne Williamson spoke to supporters in Claremont, New Hampshire. She spoke about having a referendum to require one year of national service for adults under 30 and her plans to create a U.S. Department of Peace.
  • Andrew Yang appeared at Rich Brian’s The Sailor Tour in New York City.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: October 8, 2015

CNN Business detailed then-candidate Donald Trump’s (R) efforts to prevent the use of his trademarked phrase “Make America Great Again” on merchandise sold by vendors other than his official campaign website.

 



Warren raised $24.6 million in third quarter

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

October 7, 2019: Elizabeth Warren raised $24.6 million in the third quarter of 2019. Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh disagreed on impeachment during an appearance on CNN.

There are six new candidates running since last week, including one Republican and one member of the Green Party. In total, 886 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“As the 2020 election season ramps up, two global events beyond President Trump’s control threaten to be decisive in determining the U.S. economic environment in which he will be fighting that election. The first is the manner in which the United Kingdom might leave the European Union. The second is whether the political crisis in Hong Kong can be resolved without mainland China sending in troops to quell the island’s political unrest.”

—Desmond Lachman, The Hill

Democrats

  • Seven Democratic candidates spoke at the Charleston Democratic Party’s Blue Jamboree on Saturday: Michael BennetSteve BullockJohn DelaneyTulsi GabbardKamala HarrisTom Steyer, and Andrew Yang.
  • Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing what he called Trump’s abuses of power.
  • Cory Booker campaigned in Decorah, Iowa, on Sunday. He met with Iowa State Auditor Rob Sand.
  • Bullock announced $2.3 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. According to the campaign, it doubled its number of individual contributions, and the average online contribution was $24.
  • Pete Buttigieg released his prescription drug plan in a Boston Globe opinion piece on Monday. 
  • Julián Castro appeared on NPR’s Off Script series, speaking about impeachment, Castro’s early-state polling performance, and whether Castro would consider running as a vice-presidential candidate.
  • Delaney appeared on Newsy Tonight on Friday. He discussed healthcare, student loan debt, and climate change.
  • Gabbard appeared at the “Pints & Politics” event hosted by the Palmetto Brewing Company in Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday.
  • Harris held a town hall at Iowa State University on Sunday.
  • Amy Klobuchar spoke on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday and discussed the U.S. House impeachment inquiry into Trump.
  • Beto O’Rourke attended a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday. He also appeared on NPR’s Off Script series.
  • Bernie Sanders released a campaign finance proposal. He said he would replace the Federal Election Commission with a law enforcement agency and prevent party conventions and inauguration ceremonies from corporate sponsorship.
  • Joe Sestak announced that he would walk across New Hampshire this month. In 2015, he walked 422 miles across Pennsylvania as part of the launch of his U.S. Senate bid.
  • South Carolina state Rep. Jerry Govan joined the Steyer campaign as a senior adviser. Govan is chairman of the South Carolina’s Legislative Black Caucus.
  • Elizabeth Warren announced $24.6 million in fundraising for the third quarter of 2019. This gave her the second-highest fundraising among Democratic candidates for the quarter, trailing Bernie Sanders by $0.7 million.
  • Marianne Williamson spoke in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday at the American Descendants of Slavery conference.
  • Rolling Stone published a summary of the 2020 Yang campaign, including his key staff hires, polling, fundraising, and online following.

Republicans

  • Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh appeared on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. Sanford said that any impeachment process should be more formalized than it is currently, while Walsh called Trump a traitor and called for impeachment to move forward. 
  • Donald Trump’s campaign announced that it would spend $1 million to air ads critical of Biden in early primary states.
  • Bill Weld told CNN that he supports impeaching Donald Trump.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: October 7, 2015

The Washington Post published an analysis of Gallup’s decision not to do horserace polling in 2016. This was a departure from the 2008 and 2012 election cycles when Gallup published daily national polls during the primary and general elections.

 



Where will RCV be in November 2019?

Ranked-choice voting round-up: the state of play heading into November

On Nov. 5, voters in New York City will decide on a city charter amendment that would, if adopted, establish ranked-choice voting (RCV) for municipal primary and special elections beginning in 2021. If approved, the amendment will make New York the largest city in the nation to use RCV for local elections.

What municipalities have enacted, or are set to enact, RCV in 2019? The following cities either have used or will use RCV for the first time as part of their 2019 election cycles: Eastpointe, Michigan; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Payton, Utah; St. Louis Park, Minnesota; and Vineyard, Utah.

How many jurisdictions have adopted RCV? On the map below, states shaded in blue and gold contain jurisdictions that have adopted RCV as part of their election processes. States shaded in yellow either have implemented or will implement RCV this year. States shaded in blue have adopted, but not yet implemented, RCV. To date, 21 jurisdictions (20 municipalities and one state, Maine) have adopted RCV and have either begun using it or are scheduled to begin using it in a coming election cycle. Another seven jurisdictions (six municipalities one state, Utah) have adopted legislation providing for the prospective use of RCV, although none mandate its use.

Ranked-choice voting map

What other noteworthy developments involving RCV have occurred this year? Maine is expected to use RCV in the 2020 presidential election, making it the first jurisdiction to do so. On Sept. 6, Maine Governor Janet Mills (D) announced she would take no immediate action on legislation providing for the use of RCV in presidential elections. Instead, Mills signaled she would allow LD1083 to become law without her signature in January. As a result, the law will not take effect in time for the March 3 primaries, but it will be in effect for the 2020 general election.

According to FairVote, a group that advocates for the expanded use of RCV, the following presidential preference primaries and nominating caucuses will incorporate RCV in 2020:

  • Nevada: Early voters in Democratic caucuses in February 2020
  • Hawaii: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Alaska: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020
  • Kansas: All voters in Democratic primary in May 2020
  • Wyoming: All voters in Democratic primary in April 2020 

Redistricting in North Carolina: litigation update

On Sept. 27, a group of 14 registered Democratic voters in North Carolina filed a suit in state superior court alleging that the state’s congressional district plan is an illegal partisan gerrymander under the state constitution.

This lawsuit comes after a three-judge panel of the state superior court struck down North Carolina’s state legislative district plan for impermissible partisan gerrymandering. In that ruling, handed down on Sept. 3, the court held that the maps “do not permit voters to freely choose their representative, but rather representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting. It is not the free will of the people that is fairly ascertained through extreme partisan gerrymandering. Rather, it is the carefully crafted will of the map drawer that predominates.” The court ordered lawmakers to draft remedial maps.

On Sept. 17, one day before the court-mandated deadline, the state legislature adopted remedial House and Senate maps and submitted them to the court. The remedial House map can be accessed here. The remedial Senate map can be accessed here. In a court filing dated Sept. 27, the plaintiffs in the original suit objected to 19 remedial state House districts. They did not object to any of the remedial state Senate maps. On Oct. 4, attorneys for Republican lawmakers submitted a brief in response to these claims. The court has yet to rule on the viability of the remedial maps.

Legislation update: Redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems bills

The maps below show which states are considering redistricting, electoral systems, and primary systems legislation. A darker shade of red indicates a greater number of relevant bills.

Redistricting legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Redistricting legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Electoral systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Electoral systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Primary systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019
Primary systems legislation as of Oct. 9, 2019



Plastic bag ban preemption conflict ongoing in Florida

Preemption occurs when law at a higher level of government is used to overrule authority at a lower level of government. A recent sequence of events in Florida provides an example of the conflict that can emerge between state and local governments over the idea of preemption.
 
In August 2019, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal ruled that sections of Florida law that prohibit local governments from regulating plastic bags and other packaging were constitutional. That decision reversed a ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court that upheld the city of Coral Gables’ ban on the retail use of polystyrene, or Styrofoam, which had been approved in February 2016. The case was originally brought by the Florida Retail Federation.
 
On August 27, 2019, the Coral Gables City Commission voted to appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.
 
Other local governments across Florida repealed or delayed their bans after Coral Gables lost its case, including Gainesville, Miami Beach, Palm Beach, Surfside, and Alachua County.
 
Advocates of plastic bag regulations say that reusable bags save retailers money and reduce the number of bags without recyclable materials that enter municipal recycling programs. Opponents say that comprehensive solid-waste disposal laws already cover the issues addressed by local bans in some states, plastic bags can be reused around the home rather than thrown away, and bans add an unnecessary financial burden for low-income families that would be required to buy reusable bags.
 
In 2019, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee passed legislation preempting local plastic bag bans.
 


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