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Bloomberg signals 2020 presidential bid, prepares to file for Alabama primary

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly preparing to run for president. Bloomberg has not yet announced that he is running for president, although Axios reported that he is looking to meet upcoming filing deadlines in Arkansas, New Hampshire, Florida, California, and Texas.
 
Bloomberg previously said in March 2019 that he would not enter the presidential race. He wrote in an op-ed, “I know what it takes to run a winning campaign, and every day when I read the news, I grow more frustrated by the incompetence in the Oval Office. I know we can do better as a country. And I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election. But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”
 
With an estimated net worth of $52 billion, Bloomberg would self-fund his campaign if he entered the presidential race, joining 17 other candidates in the Democratic primary.
 
Iowa caucusgoers cast the first vote of the presidential election in 87 days on Feb. 3, 2020.


Federal Register weekly update; 2019 page total surpasses 60,000 pages

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 November 4 to November 8, the Federal Register increased by 1,594 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 60,882 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 483 documents, including 370 notices, 11 presidential documents, 44 proposed rules, and 58 final rules.
 
Two proposed rules and one final rule were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they could 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 1,008 pages for a year-to-date total of 56,254 pages. As of November 8, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 4,628 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,353 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of November 8. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.
 
Additional reading:
 
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016.


Peter Visclosky announces 2020 retirement

Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) announced that he would not seek re-election to Congress in 2020. Visclosky was first elected to represent Indiana’s 1st Congressional District in 1984 and he won re-election in 2018 by a 30-point margin. There are currently no declared candidates in the district.
 
Upon the announcement, Visclosky became the eighth Democratic member of the U.S. House to announce he would not be seeking re-election in 2020. There were also 19 Republican members of the U.S. House to announce 2020 retirements so far. In the 2018 election cycle, 52 members of the U.S. House—18 Democrats and 34 Republicans—did not seek re-election.
 
Currently, Democrats hold a 234-197 majority in the U.S. House with one independent member of the chamber. In November 2020, all 435 seats will be up for election.
 
Additional reading:
 


2019 state appeals court election roundup

On November 5, there were two state judgeships up for election in Kentucky, six up in Pennsylvania, and three up in Washington state. They are among five states in 2019—Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin—that scheduled elections for 17 appeals court judgeships. This included three state supreme court justice positions and 14 intermediate appellate court judgeships.
 
  • Kentucky: Christopher Nickell defeated Whitney Westerfield to win the Kentucky Supreme Court 1st District judgeship, and Jacqueline Caldwell defeated Michael Caperton to win the Kentucky Court of Appeals 3rd District, Division 1 judgeship. Both were nonpartisan special elections.
  • Pennsylvania: Two seats on the Pennsylvania Superior Court were up for partisan election, and the race remained too close to call as of November 7. The two leading vote recipients were Daniel McCaffery (D) and Megan McCarthy King (R) with 25.74% and 25.57% of the vote, respectively; Amanda Green-Hawkins (D) trailed in third place with 24.95% and Christylee Peck (R) was in fourth at 23.74%. Four sitting judges—Kevin Brobson and Patricia McCullough on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court and Anne Lazarus and Judith F. Olson on the Pennsylvania Superior Court—all won retention elections with more than 70% of the vote.
  • Washington: A trio of Washington Court of Appeals judges—John Chun, Lori Smith, and Anne Cruser—won re-election unopposed. All three were nonpartisan special elections; the incumbents had been appointed to vacancies on the court in either June 2018 or February 2019.
  • Wisconsin held its state judicial elections for four seats in February and April.
  • Louisiana had one seat on the ballot in March, but it has another up for general election on November 16. William J. Crain (R) and Hans J. Liljeberg (R) are running in that special election to fill the District 1 seat on the Louisiana Supreme Court that was vacated by Greg Guidry (R), who was appointed to a federal judgeship earlier this year.
 
In 2020, there are 280 state appeals court judgeships scheduled to be on the ballot in 36 states. This includes 81 state supreme court justice positions across 35 states and another 199 intermediate appellate court judgeships across 29 states. These totals are similar to the 2018 election cycle, which featured 296 state judgeships up for election.
 


Boston votes against advising the city to rename Dudley Square to Nubian Square

Boston voters defeated a nonbinding advisory question regarding the name change of Dudley Square to Nubian Square. With 100% of precincts reporting, the margin was 45.7% in favor and 54.3% against. Dudley Square was named for Thomas Dudley, the second governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who served from 1634 to 1651. It is located in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Efforts to change the name of Dudley Square began in 2016. Nubia is an ancient African kingdom that was located in present-day Sudan. Nubian Square was chosen to represent the African-American community, which makes up 53 percent of the population in Dudley Square. The result of the election is nonbinding. The future of Dudley Square will ultimately be determined by the city.
 
The Committee on Governance reported to the Boston City Council that the names Dudley and Nubian have received scrutiny for their respective affiliations to slavery. The committee’s report said, “Some comments reflected support of changing the name from Dudley Square but do not support the name change to Nubian Square because of Nubia’s ties to slavery.”
 


Texas voters approve Proposition 4, which bans a state income tax

Proposition 4 added language to the Texas Constitution banning a state income tax on individuals. The vote was 74% in favor to 26% against.
 
Before Proposition 4, the Texas State Constitution required the state legislature to put legislation enacting an income tax before voters as a statewide referendum, which voters could approve or reject. Placing a referendum before voters required a simple majority vote (50%+1) in each legislative chamber. Since Proposition 4’s ban on an income tax is a provision of the Texas Constitution, a two-thirds vote in each legislative chamber and a statewide referendum is needed to repeal or amend the ban. Therefore, one of the practical effects of Proposition 4 is to increase the legislative vote requirement to authorize an income tax.
 
The Texas State Legislature placed Proposition 4 on the ballot in one of the narrowest votes between 1995 and 2019. In Texas, a two-thirds vote is required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, which is equal to 100 votes in the state House and 21 votes in the state Senate, assuming no vacancies. The constitutional amendment received 100 in the state House and 22 votes in the state Senate. Most legislative Democrats (65 percent) opposed Proposition 4. Legislative Republicans, along with 29 percent of legislative Democrats, supported the constitutional amendment.
 
The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876. Voters had addressed 677 proposed amendments before 2019, approving 498 (73.6%) and rejecting 179 (26.4%). The rate of approval has been higher in recent years, with 91.2 percent being approved since 1995.


Texas Proposition 10, allowing a retiring law enforcement animal to be transferred to the animal’s handler, is approved by a vote of 94% to

Texas voters approved Proposition 10 in a vote of 94% in favor to 6% against.
 
Under the state’s Local Government Code, a retiring police dog or working animal is classified as salvage or surplus property and, according to code, surplus or salvage property can be auctioned, donated to a civic or charitable organization, or destroyed. According to the Texas Senate Research Center, the existing Local Government Code makes transferring a retiring animal to its handler difficult. Proposition 10 allows agencies to transfer a dog, horse, or another animal to the animal’s handler or another qualified person if the transfer is in the animal’s best interest.
 
Proposition 10’s 94% is the highest approval percentage for a Texas amendment since at least 1888, which is as far back as election results records go in Texas.


Texas Proposition 1 is the first constitutional amendment to be defeated in Texas since 2011

Voters rejected Texas Proposition 1, which would have allowed elected municipal judges to hold office in multiple municipalities at the same time. The vote was 65% against and 35% in favor. Proposition 1 is the first constitutional amendment to be rejected in Texas since 2011, when three measures were defeated. Proposition 1 was put on the ballot by the state legislature, where it received the unanimous support of Republicans and Democrats in both legislative chambers.
 
The current Texas Constitution was adopted in 1876. Voters had addressed 677 proposed amendments before 2019, approving 498 (73.6%) and rejecting 179 (26.4%). The rate of approval has been higher in recent years, with 91.2 percent being approved since 1995.


74% of PA voters voted in favor of Marsy’s Law, though election results cannot be certified pending a court ruling

A majority of Pennsylvania voters voted in favor of a measure to add specific rights of crime victims, together known as a Marsy’s Law, to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The vote was 74% to 26%.
 
On October 30, 2019, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court enjoined Acting Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar from counting or certifying election results. The preliminary injunction resulted from a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters that argues the measure violates the state’s separate vote requirement by combining multiple changes to the constitution into one measure. Wanda Murren, communications director of the state department, said the court’s order “does not prohibit the counties from following any of their normal election procedures,” which means results were available on election night.
 
A similar situation happened with a Marsy’s Law in Kentucky last year. Courts ruled that the ballot language for the Kentucky amendment did not sufficiently inform voters and that the amendment was invalid. The preliminary ruling happened too late to take the measure off the ballot, so voters saw it on the ballot, and 63% approved it. The measure was in limbo until seven months later when the Kentucky Supreme Court give the final ruling, officially invalidating the measure.
 
Montana’s 2016 Marsy’s Law amendment was also struck down by a post-election ruling. In that case, the ruling was based on the state’s separate vote requirement
 
As of 2019, voters in 12 states had approved a ballot measure for Marsy’s Law. The first was in California in 2008. Between 2008 and 2012, voters had approved Marsy’s Law in Illinois (2014), Montana (2016), North Dakota (2016), South Dakota (2016), Ohio (2017), Florida (2018), Georgia (2018), Kentucky (2018), Nevada (2018), North Carolina (2018), and Oklahoma (2018). Wisconsin is scheduled to vote on Marsy’s Law on April 7, 2020. Ballotpedia identified $102.26 million in total contributions to the support campaigns for the 12 Marsy’s Law ballot measures that were on ballots between 2008 and 2018. Henry Nicholas, the co-founder of Broadcom Corp., and the organization Marsy’s Law for All provided 97 percent—about 99.3 million—of the total contributions. Marsy’s Law is named after Henry Nicholas’ sister, who was murdered in 1983.
 


Voters in New Jersey approve statewide measure to extend veterans’ property tax deductions to continuing care retirement communities

New Jersey residents voted to extend the $250 property tax deduction that veterans receive to continuing care retirement centers on behalf of the veterans living there and require the retirement centers to pass the value of the deduction on to veterans in the form of credits or payments. The vote was 76% to 24%.
 
As of 2019, veterans who were honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances were eligible to receive a $250 deduction from their property tax bill in New Jersey. Surviving spouses of honorably discharged veterans who are deceased or soldiers who died on active duty during war could also claim the deduction.
 
Question 1 extends the $250 property tax deduction that veterans receive to continuing care retirement centers on behalf of the veterans living there. The ballot measure requires the continuing care retirement center to provide the $250 to an eligible veteran, or an eligible surviving spouse of a veteran or soldier, as a payment or credit. Continuing care retirement centers that are tax-exempt are ineligible to receive the deductions under the measure.


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