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Ballots set for Lincoln primary in April

Lincoln, Nebraska, is holding a citywide primary on April 9, 2019, and its general election on May 7. Offices on the ballot include the mayor, four of seven city council seats, three of seven school board seats, and one of five elected airport authority seats. The filing deadline for school board candidates was March 1, while city candidates had until March 7 to file. Although candidates had the option to file with political party affiliations listed, the elections and positions are all officially nonpartisan.
 
Mayor Chris Beutler is term-limited and cannot seek re-election. Although his position was officially nonpartisan, Beutler was affiliated with the Democratic Party in the 2015 election. Five candidates filed for the seat in the 2019 election, including two current city council members—at-large council member Leirion Gaylor Baird and District 1 council member Cyndi Lamm. Two candidates filed as Democrats, one as a Republican, and two as nonpartisan. Their party affiliations will not appear on the ballot.
 
The District 3 city council member, Jane Raybould, was the only incumbent to file for re-election. District 1 incumbent Lamm is running for mayor, and the current District 2 and 4 members both announced in late 2018 that they would not seek another term. A total of 11 candidates filed for election, an average of 2.75 candidates per seat. The four seats up for election are by-district seats, meaning the council member represents a specific geographic district within the city. The city council also has three at-large seats, which will be up for election in 2021.
 
Two of the three school board incumbents up for election filed for another term. District 4 incumbent Annie Mumgaard and her challenger, Paul Claus, are competing in the only contested election. District 2 incumbent Connie Duncan is unopposed and Bob Rauner was the only candidate to file for the open District 6 seat.
 
One seat on the airport authority board of directors is up for election. Incumbent Nick Cusick faces challenger Aurang Zeb. The airport authority is charged with making policy and budget decisions for Lincoln Airport and Lincoln Enterprise Park.
 
Lincoln is the second-largest city in Nebraska and the 71st-largest city in the U.S. by population.


Special primary held for Tennessee Senate district

A special primary for District 22 of the Tennessee State Senate was held on March 7. Bill Powers earned 37.3 percent of the vote in the Republican primary, defeating Jeff Burkhart, Betty Burchett, and Jason Knight. Juanita Charles ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Independent candidates Doyle Clark and David Cutting will join Charles and Powers in the general election on April 23.
 
The seat became vacant 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. Green had represented District 22 since 2012. He last won re-election in 2016 with 67 percent of the vote in the general election.
 
Entering the special election, the Tennessee State Senate has 5 Democrats, 26 Republicans, one independent, and one vacancy. Tennessee 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.


Former City Council members Gallego and Valenzuela face off in Phoenix mayoral runoff

Former Phoenix City Council members Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela are facing off in the mayoral runoff election for Phoenix on Tuesday. They were the top two vote-getters in the special election on November 6, 2018, when neither candidate surpassed the 50 percent threshold to win outright. Gallego received 44 percent to Valenzuela’s 26 percent in a field of four candidates.
 
While the election is nonpartisan, both candidates are Democrats who made similar votes on the City Council. They have primarily diverged on spending issues, such as financing the Phoenix Suns arena. Valenzuela supported a tax on rental cars and hotel rooms to support the project, saying it would promote tourism. Gallego said the professional sports industry should pay for its own facilities and that the public funds would better be spent elsewhere
 
Gallego’s top three priorities would be public safety, infrastructure investments, and job growth. She said she has experience and a proven track record on infrastructure issues, pointing to her work on the campaign to pass Proposition 104, a measure seeking to bring $31.5 billion of infrastructure spending over the next 35 years through a transportation sales tax increase.
 
Valenzuela said his policy priorities included attracting, retaining, and developing talent, and motivating technology and high-growth companies to remain in Phoenix. He said that he brought an increased focus on public safety to the City Council, including helping to secure $50 million in grants for public safety issues and developing the Canyon Corridor Crime Safety Initiative.
 
If elected, Valenzuela would be the city’s first Latino mayor. Gallego would be the first woman elected to the office in more than three decades.
 
The election was called after former Mayor Greg Stanton resigned his seat to run for Congress.
 
Two special elections for District 5 and District 8 of the Phoenix City Council—the seats Gallego and Valenzuela resigned from—are also on the ballot on March 12.


Buckhorn makes an endorsement in Tampa mayoral runoff

On Wednesday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) endorsed former police chief Jane Castor over philanthropist David Straz in the city’s April 23 mayoral runoff election. The two candidates advanced from a field of seven on March 5, with Castor leading Straz 48-15.
 
Buckhorn is term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Both Castor and Straz are registered Democrats, meaning partisan control of the city won’t change based on the result of the runoff.


Manafort sentenced to almost 4 years in bank fraud case

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to 47 months in prison in what was the first of two rounds of sentencing. He was convicted last year of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. Manafort’s convictions did not relate to his involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign.
 
After his conviction in September 2018, Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering, and he agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort also agreed to forfeit several of his properties and money in several of his bank accounts. The crimes Manafort pleaded guilty to did not relate to his involvement in the 2016 presidential campaign.


Nebraska voters will decide ballot measure to prohibit slavery as criminal punishment in 2020

Voters in Nebraska will decide a ballot measure on November 3, 2020, to repeal constitutional language allowing for enslavement and servitude as punishments for crime.
 
Like the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Nebraska State Constitution prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crimes.
 
Nebraska’s proposal to repeal the exception for criminal punishments follows a similar change that voters made in neighboring Colorado in 2018. Colorado Amendment A passed with 66.2 percent of the vote. The Utah and Vermont legislatures are also considering bills for ballot measures to repeal the criminal punishments exception from their state constitutions during their 2019 legislative sessions.
 
The unicameral Nebraska State Senate voted 44-0 to refer the constitutional amendment to the ballot. Sen. Justin T. Wayne (D-13) introduced the constitutional amendment.
 
The measure is the first certified in Nebraska for the 2020 ballot. The 2019 Nebraska legislative session is projected to run through June 6, 2019, during which time additional ballot measures could be referred. Citizen groups have until July 2020 to file signatures for ballot initiatives.
 
In Nebraska, voters have rejected 34 of 54 of the constitutional changes proposed by the state legislature between 1996 and 2018.


Filing deadline passes for Mississippi House

The candidate filing deadline passed on March 1 to run in the Mississippi House of Representatives elections in 2019. This year, all 122 seats are on the ballot. The primary is on August 6, and the general election is on November 5. A primary runoff could be held on August 27 for seats where no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the primary vote.
 
Heading into the election, the Mississippi House majority is held by the Republican Party. Republicans occupy 72 seats (59 percent), Democrats occupy 46 seats (38 percent), and four seats are vacant. After the filing deadline, 224 major-party candidates filed to run in the primary. Of these, 99 are Democrats, 124 are Republicans, and one is a Libertarian. Forty-five percent of incumbents filed for re-election and 56 of the 122 races are uncontested after only one candidate filed.
 
Mississippi last held elections for its House of Representatives on November 3, 2015. Republicans gained seven seats in that election and maintained control of the chamber. The Mississippi House of Representatives is one of seven state legislative chambers holding elections in 2019, and the first to have its filing deadline pass. The other states holding regular legislative elections are Louisiana, New Jersey, and Virginia. The next state legislative filing deadline is March 28 in Virginia.


Recall effort begins in California school district

An effort to recall Marnie Glickman from her position on the Dixie School District Board of Trustees in California began on March 5 in the midst of a debate over changing the school district’s name. Glickman is a supporter of the name-change effort.
 
Supporters of the name change said the name Dixie is connected “to the violence, slavery and racism of the Civil War-era South,” while opponents of the effort “don’t want to erase history or lose the memories of their lives growing up in the community,” according to the Marin Independent Journal. The board is holding a public hearing on the name change on March 19.
 
In their notice of intent to recall, recall supporters said, “Trustee Glickman’s failure to act in the best interest of the Dixie School District as an elected fiduciary and trustee has caused her constituents, district staff and fellow board members to lose trust in Ms. Glickman’s ability to serve in a representative capacity to further Dixie School District’s goals.”
 
Glickman did not respond to the recall effort against her as of March 5. The Marin Independent Journal quoted a district parent, Teri Bleiweiss, who said Glickman advocated for underrepresented voices in the community. “Recalling Marnie Glickman will not silence people who oppose anti-Semitism and racism, nor will it halt their efforts,” Bleiweiss said.
 
Glickman is one of five members of the board of trustees. Her term expires in 2020. To get the recall on the ballot, recall supporters must collect 2,851 signatures from residents of the school district.
 
Ballotpedia has tracked four school board recall efforts in 2019 targeting nine board members. One recall effort has made it to the ballot so far this year. Both members were removed from office in that election.
 
In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.


Justice Gorsuch pens anti-Chevron dissent in workers’ compensation case

The Chevron doctrine may be dying according to Justice Neil Gorsuch’s dissent in BNSF Railway Co. v. Loos. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 7-2 majority upheld an IRS interpretation of law but ignored Chevron.
 
The Chevron doctrine requires judicial deference to reasonable agency interpretations of unclear laws. That means judges uphold agency decisions even when they may disagree about the meaning of a law. The U.S. Supreme Court decided Chevron v. NRDC in 1984 and bipartisan litigants cited the decision 81,000 times as of 2018. Even so, every justice had argued for limiting Chevron at least once according to a 2018 study.
 
Gorsuch said the railroad company would have made a stronger case for deference if the Chevron doctrine was still powerful. Instead, he said the company was reluctant to cite Chevron in its briefs and during oral argument. Gorsuch disagreed with the court’s interpretation of the relevant laws, but not its method. He said it was good that the court gave an independent judicial interpretation of the law “[i]nstead of throwing up [its] hands and letting an interested party—the federal government’s executive branch, no less—dictate an inferior interpretation of the law that may be more the product of politics than a scrupulous reading of the statute.”
 
Read more about the Chevron doctrine and judicial deference here:


States sue Trump administration over new abortion rules

State attorneys general from 21 states joined together to sue the Trump administration over a new rule that increased restrictions on Title X family planning program funds. The final rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), prohibits using Title X funds to perform, promote, or refer for abortion as a family planning method. The rule also requires clear financial and physical separation for clinics conducting Title X and non-Title X activities. California filed a separate lawsuit on March 4th asking for an injunction to block the rule from going into effect.
 
According to HHS, Title X is the only federal program solely dedicated to providing family planning and related preventative services giving priority to low-income families. Supporters say the new rule updates Title X regulations to bring them in line with congressional intent not to support abortion with those funds. Opponents of the new Title X rule call it a “gag rule” because it prohibits fund recipients from referring patients for abortion services. Both sides claim that the rule would cut millions of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood.
 
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar rule in 1991, but the rule never went into effect once Bill Clinton became president.
 
A final rule, in the context of administrative rulemaking, is a federal administrative regulation that went through the proposed rule and public comment stages of the rulemaking process and is published in the Federal Register with a scheduled effective date. The published final rule marks the last stage in the rulemaking process and includes information about the rationale for the regulation as well as any necessary responses to public comments.


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