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Arizona Appeals Court rules that a bill preempting local benefits ordinances violated the Voter Protection Act

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that a state law, passed as HB 2579 in 2016, violated the Voter Protection Act, Arizona’s restriction on legislative alteration. The Voter Protection Act requires voter approval of substantive changes made by the legislature to ballot initiatives. HB 2579 was designed to preempt local governments from requiring nonwage benefits above the state requirement. The three-judge panel concluded that HB 2579 contradicted Proposition 202, which voters approved in 2006. Proposition 202 increased the minimum wage and provided that local governments can enact ordinances to regulate the minimum wage and benefits.

HB 2579 defined benefits to include fringe benefits, sick and vacation days, retirement plans, child or adult care plans, and welfare benefits. Proposition 202 did not define benefits.

The appeals court’s ruling said, “H.B. 2579 explicitly prohibits what the Minimum Wage Act permits, and thus, the two statutes cannot be harmonized. Because H.B. 2579 impliedly amends and repeals a portion of the Minimum Wage Act, it violates the VPA’s express limitations on legislative changes to voter-approved laws.”

The state government, represented by Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), has the option of appealing the case to the Arizona Supreme Court, which would have final jurisdiction on the issue. If the state does not appeal the case, or the state Supreme Court sides with the appeals court, the Arizona State Legislature could pass the same bill to preempt local benefits ordinances; however, an additional provision referring the bill to the ballot for voter consideration would need to be added to meet the requirements of the Voter Protection Act.

Due to the Voter Protection Act, which was passed as a ballot initiative in 1998, Arizona is one of two states—the other is California—that requires voter approval to make substantive changes to voter-approved ballot initiatives.

Two Democrats and two Republicans competing in Georgia House special election

The special election for District 176 of the Georgia House of Representatives is on February 12. Barbara Griffin (D), Barbara Seidman (D), James Burchett (R), and Franklin Patten (R) are running in the election. A runoff between the top two candidates will take place on March 12 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

The seat became vacant after Jason Shaw (R) was appointed to serve the remainder of H. Doug Everett’s term on the Georgia Public Service Commission, beginning January 1, 2019.

Entering the special election, the Georgia House of Representatives has 75 Democrats, 103 Republicans, and two vacancies. A special election runoff was previously held on February 5 for the District 5 seat. A majority in the chamber requires 91 seats. Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Four Democrats and one Republican competing in Texas House special election

The special election for District 125 of the Texas House of Representatives is on February 12. Steve Huerta (D), Ray Lopez (D), Coda Rayo-Garza (D), Arthur Reyna (D), and Fred Rangel (R) are running in the election. A runoff between the top two candidates will take place if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

The seat became vacant after Justin Rodriguez (D) was appointed in January to serve as the Precinct 2 representative on the Bexar County Commissioners Court.

Entering the special election, the Texas House of Representatives has 64 Democrats, 83 Republicans, and three vacancies. Special elections were previously held on January 29 in District 79 and District 145, and the latter race is headed to a runoff. Texas has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Woodall (R) is third U.S. House incumbent who won’t run for re-election. How many seats without incumbents flipped in 2018?

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R) recently announced that he would not seek re-election to Georgia’s 7th Congressional District when his current term ends. Woodall had the closest election of his career in 2018; he defeated Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) by 433 votes.

He is the third member of the U.S. House to make such an announcement, behind Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.).

What happened in Congressional districts with retiring incumbents in the 2018 elections?

Fifty-two incumbents did not run for re-election to the House in 2018, leaving open seats to be filled in the November elections: 18 were Democrats and 34 were Republicans.

Thirteen of the 52 districts changed party hands: 10 seats flipped from Republican to Democrat, and three seats flipped from Democrat to Republican.

Forty-six total seats changed party hands in November, giving Democrats a net gain of 40 seats.

Click below to stay on top of the list of Congressional incumbents not seeking re-election in 2020.

Filing deadline passes in Fort Wayne and Indianapoli

The filing deadline for municipal elections in Indiana was February 8, 2019. The general election is on November 5, and partisan primaries are scheduled for May 7. Ballotpedia is covering elections in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. There are no statewide elections in Indiana in 2019.

Indianapolis is holding elections for mayor and all 25 seats on the city council. Mayor Joseph Hogsett (D) was first elected in 2015 and is seeking a second term. Entering the 2019 election, the Indianapolis City Council has 14 Democrats and 11 Republicans.

Fort Wayne is holding elections for mayor, city clerk, and all nine seats on the city council. Mayor Tom Henry (D) first took office in 2008 and is seeking a fourth term. City Clerk Lana Keesling (R) was first elected in 2015 and is seeking a second term. Entering the 2019 election, the Fort Wayne City Council has two Democrats and seven Republicans.

Indianapolis is the largest city in Indiana and the 12th-largest city in the U.S. by population. Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in Indiana and the 75th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Third time’s the charm? Judge orders another special election in Georgia House District 28

On February 1, 2019, a judge ordered a third election for Georgia House of Representatives District 28, ruling that the second primary election in December 2018 was invalid.

Chris Erwin (R) challenged Rep. Dan Gasaway (R) in the original Republican primary for the seat on May 22, 2018. No Democratic candidate filed. Erwin won that election by a margin of 67 votes, but the election was deemed inconclusive due to a mapping error in which dozens of voters—more than the margin of victory—received the wrong ballots.

Erwin and Gasaway faced off again in a repeat primary on December 4, 2018, which Erwin won by two votes. However, Gasaway challenged the election results.

In the February 1 decision, Senior Superior Court Judge David Sweat ruled that a third election was necessary because four votes—double the margin of victory—were improperly cast. Three voters had moved out of District 28 before casting their votes, and one voter cast two votes in the December do-over.

Erwin was sworn into office on January 14, 2019, but he was ordered to step down on February 8.

The third election is set for April 9, 2019. Because no Democratic candidate has filed in the district, the winner of the Republican primary will represent the district in the Georgia House of Representatives.

Two incumbents, eight challengers file in 2019 Anchorage Assembly races

On February 1, 2019, the filing deadline passed to run in the Anchorage Assembly elections in Alaska. Five of the assembly’s 11 total seats are on the ballot in the nonpartisan general election on April 2. Two incumbents filed and are unopposed in their re-election bids: Forrest Dunbar representing District 5 (Seat H) and John Weddleton representing District 6 (Seat J).

Eight candidates filed in open-seat races for District 2 (Seat A), District 3 (Seat D), and District 4 (Seat F). This guarantees the election of three new members to the council. In District 4, candidate Ron Alleva previously ran to represent District 4 (Seat G), but he was defeated in the general election on April 4, 2017.

The city of Anchorage holds its elections in odd-numbered years but held a special election on August 7, 2018, for District 3 (Seat E). The election was triggered after a former member, Tim Steele, resigned for health reasons. Prior to the 2018 special election, six of the 11 assembly seats were up for election on April 4, 2017. That year also saw only two incumbents file for re-election. Both retained their seats with four newcomers picking up the additional positions on the ballot.


Majority of Columbus school board members will have served a year or less following November election

The filing deadline for Ohio’s Columbus City Schools Board of Education was February 6, 2019. Five at-large seats are up for nonpartisan general election on November 5—four for a full term and one for an unexpired term. A total of six candidates filed, the lowest since 2011.

Incumbent James C. Ragland, who was appointed to a vacant seat, was the only candidate to file for the unexpired term. Five candidates filed for the four remaining seats up for election. Incumbent Eric Brown and recently-appointed incumbent Jennifer Adair will face challengers Carol Beckerle, Kimberley Mason, and Tina Pierce.

The Board of Education is guaranteed two new members, since incumbents Gary Baker and Shawna Gibbs are not running for re-election. This means that the incoming Board of Education will have either four or five of seven board members who have served roughly one year or less on the board; Ragland took office in November 2018 and Adair took office in January 2019. The current board has two members who joined the board less than a year ago, two who joined the board in 2007, and one each who joined the board in 2009, 2014, and 2015.

From 2011 to 2017, the Columbus City Schools Board of Education saw the number of candidates running per seat grow each year—from 0.75 candidates running per seat in 2011 to 2.66 candidates running per seat in 2017. In 2019, the number of candidates fell to 1.2 candidates running per seat.

Columbus City Schools was the largest school district in Ohio and served 50,028 students during the 2015-2016 school year.

Seven file, two withdraw in contested Anchorage School District races

On February 1, 2019, the filing deadline passed to run in nonpartisan elections for two seats on the Anchorage School District Board of Education in Alaska. The general election is on April 2.
Both seats have contested elections with two candidates running for Seat A and incumbent Starr Marsett facing two challengers to retain Seat B.
The original candidate list contained two additional names: James Smallwood for Seat A and Paul Hatcher for Seat B. Smallwood withdrew from the Seat A race on February 5, telling the Anchorage Daily News that he withdrew to avoid splitting the vote in a three-way race with politically similar opponents. He said he supports candidate Margo Bellamy in the election. Hatcher withdrew from the Seat B race on February 6 without stating his reason for dropping out.
In 2017, three seats on the Anchorage Board of Education were up for election. The races for Seats E, F, and G featured nine candidates. Lone incumbent Elisa Snelling won her Seat G re-election bid, and two newcomers also joined the board.
The Anchorage School District is the only Alaska school district within Ballotpedia’s coverage scope holding an election in 2019. The district served 48,238 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Five file to run in California school board special election

Five candidates filed to run in the May 7 special election for the Area 5 seat on the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education. The filing deadline was February 8.

The seat was originally vacated in August 2018 when Evan Morgan resigned his position following criminal charges that Morgan said he feared would distract from his work on the board. The Board of Education appointed Darrell Peeden to the seat in October 2018, but the community had 30 days following Peeden’s appointment to gather signatures from 1.5 percent of Trustee Area 5 voters—or 231 signatures—for an election to be called. Community members turned in 318 valid signatures. The appointment was overturned in December, and the special election was called.

Peeden was one of the five candidates who filed to run in the special election. He will be joined on the ballot by John Ashley, Patricia Vargas Sanchez, George Schoelles, and Keri Then.

This is the second such special election to be called in the school district this decade. In May 2013, the school district appointed Gary Baugh to a vacant at-large seat on the board. Following a similar petition drive, Baugh vacated the seat in June of that year and stood for election in November. He won the special election and served until 2018.