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Federal Register 2018 in review

In 2018, the Trump administration added a total of 68,082 pages to the _Federal Register_, a daily journal of federal government activity which includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory execution. The page total will likely decrease after the National Archives processes the blank pages and finalizes the publication. Over the course of the year, the _Federal Register_ included a total of 27,749 documents: 22,020 notices, 260 presidential documents, 2,044 proposed rules, and 3,367 rules.
 
During 2017, the Trump administration added a total of 61,950 pages to the _Federal Register_. The 2018 page total led the 2017 page total by 6,132 pages.
 
The Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the _Federal Register_ each week in 2018. Over the course of the Obama administration, the _Federal Register_ increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
The 2018 and 2017 page totals under the Trump administration are the lowest page totals since 2001, when the _Federal Register_ reached 64,438 pages. According to government data, the _Federal Register_ hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
The 3,367 final rules in the 2018 _Federal Register_ and the 3,281 final rules in the 2017 _Federal Register_ are the lowest annual rule counts since the 1970s.
 
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.


Pelosi elected speaker of the House

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was elected speaker of the House with 220 votes. Fifteen Democrats did not vote for her. Eight of those who voted against Pelosi were among the 16 Democrats that signed a letter opposing her candidacy on November 19, 2018.
 
Pelosi previously served as speaker of the House from 2007-2011. She is the first and only woman to hold the position.
 
The speaker of the House presides over sessions of the lower chamber and is second in the line of presidential succession.


469 state legislators lost in 2018, the most since 2012

Four hundred sixty-nine incumbent state legislators lost in 2018 primaries or general elections out of the 4,952 legislators that filed for re-election.
 
The 469 losses were the most since 2012 when 488 legislators were defeated.
 
Overall, the losses include:
  • 119 Democrats
  • 330 Republicans
  • 20 third party or independent legislators
In the November 6 general election, 322 incumbents lost. This was the highest number of general election losses since 2010, when 502 incumbents were defeated. 2018’s general election losses included:
  • 49 Democrats
  • 253 Republicans
  • 20 third party or independent legislators.
In the primaries, 147 incumbents lost, including 70 Democrats and 77 Republicans. In the last four election cycles (2010-2016), only 2012 saw more incumbents lose their primaries—194.
 
Democrats’ 119 incumbent losses was their lowest number since before 2010, while Republicans’ 330 losses was their highest number since 2012. Democrats lost 538 incumbents in 2010, 137 incumbents in 2012, 272 in 2014, and 165 in 2016. Republicans lost 70 incumbents in 2010, 347 in 2012, 125 in 2014, and 187 in 2016.


Two state appellate judges file for Wisconsin Supreme Court, spring election will influence control of the court

Lisa Neubauer and Brian Hagedorn, both sitting judges on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, filed to run for the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat currently held by retiring Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Abrahamson, the first woman to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, was appointed to her seat by a Democratic governor more than four decades ago.

Although state Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin are nonpartisan, liberal and conservative groups typically coalesce around specific candidates. Conservatives, who back Hagedorn, currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court.

The next election after 2019 will be in 2020 for Dan Kelly’s seat. Kelly was appointed to the court in 2016 by Gov. Scott Walker (R). If liberals retain Abrahamson’s seat this year, the election in 2020 could will be a battle for control of the court.

With only two candidates running as of Wednesday’s filing deadline, Neubauer and Hagedorn will proceed directly to the general election on April 2.



Warren forms presidential exploratory committee and Iowa team

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Monday that she had formed a presidential exploratory committee, joining former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D) in taking the first steps towards a possible presidential run.
 
Warren has brought on several experienced staffers to her Iowa team from the Clinton, Obama, and Sanders campaigns: Emily Parcell, Janice Rottenberg, and Brendan Summers.
 
More than 440 candidates have already filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020, including 133 Democrats, 60 Republicans, 18 Libertarians, and 10 Greens.
 
Ballotpedia is also tracking more than 60 possible Democratic and Republican presidential contenders.


Forty-six percent of federal and state legislators were successful in bids for other offices in 2018

Twenty-one members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 472 state legislators ran for other elected positions in 2018. Nine (43 percent) House members won election to statewide office, while 217 (46 percent) state legislators successfully won election to a new position.
 
Democratic House members were more successful in their runs than Republicans. Of the 10 Democratic House members who sought statewide office, six (60 percent) won in the general election, while only three of 11 (27 percent) Republican House members won their election.
 
Among state legislators, Republicans were more successful. Forty-eight percent (131 out of 274) of Republican state legislators who ran for another office won election to a new position, while 44 percent (82 out of 185) of Democratic state legislators who ran for another office were successful.
 
For more information, including a listing of the U.S. House members who ran for statewide office and a state-by-state breakdown of the results of state legislators who ran for other offices in 2018, click here: https://ballotpedia.org/Results_of_elected_officials_seeking_other_offices,_2018


December 2018 OIRA review count on same level as previous year; Total 2018 review count more than 100 rules higher than 2017

In December 2018, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed 31 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. The agency approved the intent of 26 rules while recommending changes to their content. OIRA approved three other rules without changes. Agencies withdrew two rules from the review process.
 
The 31 significant regulatory actions reviewed by OIRA in December 2018 is higher than the 30 significant regulatory actions reviewed by OIRA in December 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 58 significant regulatory actions each December.
 
The office reviewed a total of 355 significant rules in 2018. In 2017, OIRA reviewed 237 significant rules.
 
As of January 2, 2018, OIRA’s website listed 92 regulatory actions under review.
 
OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also may conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.
 
Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA.


Compared to previous midterm cycles, Democrat gains in 2018 smaller than usual

The 2018 election cycle, President Donald Trump’s first midterm, saw gains by the Democratic Party in every federal and state government office except the U.S. Senate. However, compared to the first midterms of Presidents Barack Obama (D) (2010), George W. Bush (R) (2002), and Bill Clinton (D) (1994), Democrats’ 2018 gains were the smallest for every office type except governor.
 
• In the U.S. House, Democrats picked up 41 seats, the lowest number for the out-of-power party since 1994. Republicans gained 64 seats in 2010 and 54 seats in 1994. In 2002, Democrats lost eight seats and they were the out-of-power party. The last time the out-of-power party had lost House seats in a president’s first midterm was 1934.
 
• Democrats lost one Senate seat between 2016 and 2018, the same number they lost between 2000 and 2002. Republicans picked up five Senate seats in both the 1994 and 2010 midterms.
 
• Democrats gained 349 state legislative seats, the lowest for the out-of-power party since 1994. Their six pick-ups in state legislative chambers (five state senates and one state house) are also the lowest since 1994.
 
• In gubernatorial races, Democrats gained seven seats, the most for an out-of-power party since 1994 when Republicans picked up 10. In 2010, Republicans picked up six seats. In 2002 Democrats picked up three seats.
 
All comparisons are between the midterm’s result and the result of the preceding election (i.e. 2018 is compared to the results of 2016). Some results in the U.S. House and state legislatures are still pending.


Could the 2018 elections impact constitutional amendments and legislatively-referred ballot measures in 2019?

Legislatures can refer measures, including constitutional amendments, state statutes, and bond issues, to the ballot for voter consideration. Amendments do not require a governor’s signature, but referred statutes and bond issues do, with exceptions in some states. Changes in the membership of state legislatures and governor’s offices, as a result of elections on November 6, 2018, could have an effect on how many and what measures are referred to the ballot by state legislatures in 2019. There are three states, in particular, that often feature legislative referrals on their odd-numbered year ballots and had partisan shifts in 2018 that could have an effect on the referral process.
 
Colorado: Democrats won the governor’s office and both legislative chambers in Colorado, making the state one of six to flip from a divided government to trifecta control in 2018. The change in partisan control wasn’t large enough to give Democrats the power to refer constitutional amendments without the support of some Republicans since constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote of each legislative chamber. The change in partisan control could, however, affect proposals for revenue increases as set forth in Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). TABOR, passed as a ballot initiative in 1992, requires a simple majority vote in the state legislature and voter approval of tax increases that generate revenue in excess of a formula based on inflation and population growth. With Democrats in control of both chambers in 2019, measures to override the cap on revenue will be easier to refer to the ballot without the support of Republicans.
 
Maine: In 2019, Democrats control both chambers of the state legislature, as well as the governor’s office, making Maine a Democratic trifecta. Prior to 2019, Maine was a divided government. As Democrats have trifecta control in 2019, no legislative Republicans are needed to put statutes or bond issues before voters. Amendments to the Maine Constitution, however, still require support from some Republicans as Democrats do not control two-thirds of the seats in either legislative chamber.
 
Texas: Republicans kept trifecta control of Texas. However, Republicans lost seats in both chambers of the Texas State Legislature. Changes in the state Senate could have an effect on the prospects of constitutional amendments making the ballot since referral of a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the legislature. Republicans held 21 seats in the state Senate in 2018, which was enough to pass an amendment without support from Democrats. In 2019, Republicans hold 19 seats, meaning at least two Democrats are needed to pass a constitutional amendment in the state Senate.


Michigan legislature passes distribution requirement for initiatives

The Michigan State Legislature approved and Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed Michigan House Bill 6595 on December 28, 2018. HB 6595 created a distribution requirement for initiative signature petitions in Michigan limiting the number of signatures collected in any one congressional district to 15 percent of the total required. Michigan has 14 congressional districts. The requirement applies to both initiated constitutional amendments, initiated state statutes, and veto referendums. This effectively requires valid signatures from a minimum of seven different congressional districts for a successful initiative petition.
 
The bill also required the disclosure on petitions of whether a petitioner is paid or volunteer; mandated a petitioner affidavit; and made other changes regarding petitioners, valid signatures, and the timeline for certification.
 
The bill was passed in the state House on December 12, 2018. It was amended and approved by the state Senate on December 21, 2018, in a vote of 26-to-12. In the Senate, 26 Republicans voted in favor of the bill, and all 11 Democrats along with one Republican, Tory Rocca, voted against the bill. The House concurred with the state Senate’s amended version on December 21, 2018, in a vote of 57-to-47. Among Republicans in the House, the bill was approved 56-to-5. Among Democrats, the bill was rejected 42-to-1.
 
Background context
 
Of the 26 states with some form of ballot initiative or veto referendum petition process at the statewide level, 16 other states besides Michigan have a distribution requirement. Of those 16 states, seven states base the distribution requirement on the state’s counties (Arkansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming). In five states, it is calculated based on state legislative districts (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah). In the other four states with a distribution requirement, it is based on U.S. congressional districts (Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Nevada). Washington, D.C., also has a distribution requirement based on city wards.
 
Most recently, Colorado voters approved a distribution requirement specifically for initiated constitutional amendments in 2016. It was put on their ballot through a successful initiative petition.
 
Legislators in Maine, Oklahoma, and South Dakota considered distribution requirements for citizen initiatives in 2018, but none of the proposals were enacted.