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Democratic National Committee recommends rejecting Iowa and Nevada virtual caucuses

The Democratic National Committee recommended its Rules and Bylaws Committee reject Iowa’s and Nevada’s 2020 virtual caucus plans Friday.
 
Party leadership said in a statement, “There is no tele-caucus system available that meets our standard of security and reliability given the scale needed for the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the current cybersecurity climate.”
 
Both states, which hold caucuses rather than primaries, proposed the virtual option to comply with new party rules that require greater accessibility for voters.
 
If Iowa cannot establish an alternative method of voting, it may need to move to a primary system. This could jeopardize Iowa’s place as the first nominating event of the year since New Hampshire state law says that New Hampshire must hold the first primary of the presidential election cycle.
 
The 2020 Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled on February 3, 2020. The New Hampshire primaries follow on February 11.


A handful of South Dakota voters once decided school start dates for the entire state; now local boards or local voters choose

In 1985, by a margin of 282 votes (0.1%), South Dakota voters approved a citizen initiative—Initiative 2—requiring public schools to start the school year after Labor Day.
 
In 1993, the state legislature altered Initiative 2 and repealed the requirement that the school year start no earlier than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in September. The 1993 law allowed local school boards to determine school year start dates. The 1993 legislation also authorized a local citizen signature petition process to put the school year start date decision before voters instead of the local school board. The petition process authorized by the 1993 law was used in Sioux Falls in 2015, and 52% of city voters approved a school start date after Labor Day.
 
Voters in North Dakota revisited the topic in 2014 and rejected an initiative that would have required public school to start after Labor Day, 55.6% to 44.4%.
 
North Dakota was, along with South Dakota, the only state to feature a statewide ballot measure determining the state’s school start date. Forty states allow local school districts to decide school start dates or the start date is determined regionally. Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia mandate that school starts after Labor Day statewide. The other seven states mandate that school cannot start earlier than a specific day in August.
 
In April 2019, Maryland legislators passed and then overturned a gubernatorial veto on Senate Bill 128 to allow local school boards to control school start dates. Previously, the first day of school had to be after Labor Day.
 
 
Background on legislative alteration:
 
South Dakota is one of 11 states (out of 21 with a process for initiated state statutes) that have no restrictions on how soon or with what majority state legislators can repeal or amend citizen initiatives.
 
From 2010 through 2018, 97 initiated state statutes and two initiated ordinances in D.C. were approved by voters. Of these 99 total initiatives from 2010 through 2018, 28 were legislatively altered as of April 2019. From 2010 through 2018, South Dakota voters approved five initiated state statutes. Of those, two—both 2016 initiatives—were legislatively altered.


Union files suit challenging provisions of Wisconsin Act 10

On Aug. 26, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and two of its members, Karen Erickson and Heath Hanrahan, filed a suit in U.S. District Court challenging Wisconsin Act 10, legislation enacted in 2011 that made multiple changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.
 
Who are the parties to the suit? Plaintiffs Erickson and Hanrahan are municipal employees of Marinette County, Wisconsin. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, represents approximately 9,500 workers in Wisconsin. The defendant is James Daley, chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
 
What’s at issue? Act 10 prohibits municipal employers from negotiating with a union over “any factor or condition of employment except wages.” The law prohibits employers from deducting union dues from municipal employees’ paychecks. Act 10 also establishes annual recertification elections for municipal employee unions. In these elections, a union must receive at least 51 percent of the votes of all employees in the bargaining unit in order to be certified as the exclusive representative of those employees.
 
The plaintiffs allege these provisions of Act 10 violate the free-speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also argue that previous court decisions upholding these provisions of Act 10 should be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. This contrasts with the ways in which Janus has been invoked in other suits to challenge union-backed laws and practices (e.g., dues-deduction authorization windows, paid time off for union activities, etc.).
 
What comes next? The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. A judge has not yet been assigned to the case. The case name and number are International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 v. Daley, 2:19-cv-01233-DEJ.


Federal Register weekly update; 2019 average weekly page total climbs to 1,311 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 August 26 to August 30, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,336 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 45,872 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 563 documents, including 458 notices, three presidential documents, 38 proposed rules, and 64 final rules.
 
One proposed rule was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it may have a large impact 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 1,314 pages for a year-to-date total of 44,814 pages. As of August 30, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 1,058 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,311 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of August 30. 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:


Colorado voters to consider the national popular vote compact in 2020 through first successful Colorado veto referendum petition since 1932

On Thursday, the secretary of state certified the Colorado National Popular Vote veto referendum for the November 2020 ballot. Voters will decide whether they want to give Colorado’s nine electoral votes to the presidential candidate that receives the most votes nationwide or continue to give them to the candidate that wins the most votes in Colorado. It will be the first veto referendum to appear before Colorado voters since 1932.
 
State Sen. Mike Foote (D-17) and Reps. Emily Sirota (D-9) and Jennifer Arndt (D-53) sponsored Senate Bill 42—the legislation adding Colorado to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). SB 42 passed in the legislature along party lines, with all yes votes coming from Democrats and all Republicans voting against it. Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) signed the bill into law on March 15, 2019.
 
Veto referendum sponsors—opponents of SB 42—reported submitting over 227,000 signatures to the secretary of state on the August 1 deadline, more than the 124,632 valid signatures needed. SB 42 was suspended until voters decide the issue on November 3, 2020.
 
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is a compact to award member states’ presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. The NPVIC would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college votes adopt the legislation. As of August 1, 2019, 15 states and Washington, D.C., together representing 196 electoral votes, had joined the NPVIC.
 
Most states use a winner-take-all system for awarding electoral votes—a candidate who receives 51 percent of the popular vote in a state would receive 100 percent of that state’s electoral votes. In 2016, Donald Trump won the presidential election with 304 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s 227 electoral votes. Clinton won the national popular vote with 65.84 million votes compared to Trump’s 62.98 million votes. The 2016 election was not the only instance in which the winner of the electoral college did not receive the most popular votes; it happened in five of the 58 presidential elections in U.S. history.
 
Coloradans Vote sponsored the referendum position and is leading the campaign in support of a vote against joining the NPVIC. The group argued that “demanding Colorado’s electors cast their votes this way is theft of our votes for president and gives them to more populated areas like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. [The current Electoral College system] ensures that the minority always has a voice by allowing smaller, less populated states to have a more proportionate voice in electing our president.”
 
Colorado National Popular Vote (Colorado NPV) is campaigning in support of joining the NPVIC and hopes voters will approve Senate Bill 42. In a statement to Ballotpedia, Co-Chair of Colorado NPV Sylvia Bernstein said, “The Electoral College system has resulted in 5 out of 45 American presidents not winning the popular vote. This does not fairly reflect the will of the voters and is harmful to a modern democracy … We believe every vote by every American for the President should count equally, no matter where you live.”
 
In addition to Colorado, three other states joined the NPVIC in 2019: Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon. The first state to join was Maryland in 2007. Colorado is a Democratic trifecta. Thirteen of the 15 states to join the NPVIC and Washington, D.C., were controlled by Democratic trifectas at the time. Two were controlled by divided governments.
 
From 1912 to 1932, 13 veto referendums were on the ballot in Colorado, and none have been on the ballot since. Of the 13 referendum efforts, 10 were successful in overturning the targeted legislation. The targeted legislation was upheld by voters on three occasions.
 
Nation-wide since the first in 1906, 521 veto referendums appeared on the ballot in 23 states. Voters repealed 340 (65.3 percent) of the targeted laws. Voters upheld 181 (34.7 percent) of the targeted laws. The states with the most veto referendums on the ballot were North Dakota (75), Oregon (68), and California(48). The states that allowed for veto referendums but had the least number of them were Wyoming (1), Nevada (2), and New Mexico (3).
 


Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: National Popular Vote in Colorado—voters to decide in 2020

Today’s Brew highlights the first veto referendum in Colorado in over 70 years + reviews how states set the start of the school year  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, September 3, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Colorado voters to decide in 2020 whether to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact
  2. Forty states allow local school districts to set school starting dates
  3. FEC only has three members after vice chair resigns

Colorado voters to decide in 2020 whether to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

Colorado voters will decide in November 2020 whether they want the state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The secretary of state certified a veto referendum August 29. It will be the first veto referendum to appear before Colorado voters since 1932. 

The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an interstate agreement to award each member state’s presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote. It would go into effect if states representing at least 270 electoral college vote to adopt it. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C.,—representing a total of 196 electoral votes—have joined the NPVIC. 

The Colorado legislature approved a bill—which was signed by Governor Jared Polis (D)—joining the state to the NPVIC earlier this year. It passed the legislature along party lines, with all yes votes coming from Democrats and all Republicans voting against it. Colorado is one of 14 Democratic trifectas. Thirteen of the 15 states to join the NPVIC and Washington, D.C., were controlled by Democratic trifectas at the time. Two—Hawaii and New York—were controlled by divided governments. 

 Most states currently use a winner-take-all system for awarding their electoral votes in the Electoral College. Under this method, the presidential candidate that receives a plurality of the popular vote in a state receives all of that state’s electoral votes. In five of 58 presidential elections, the winner of the electoral college did not receive the most popular votes. This occurred most recently in the 2016 presidential election as Donald Trump received 304 electoral votes and Hillary Clinton had more total votes nationwide. 

Protect Colorado’s Vote—a group that opposes Colorado joining the NPVIC—reported submitting over 227,000 signatures on August 1 to trigger the veto referendum. The secretary of state determined that enough signatures were valid—124,632 were required—to qualify the measure for the November 3, 2020, ballot. 

From 1912 to 1932, Colorado voters decided 13 veto referendums. Of those, 10 were successful in overturning the targeted legislation and three resulted in the law being upheld. Since 1906, 521 veto referendums have appeared on the ballot across the country in 23 states. During that time, voters repealed 340—65.3%—of the targeted laws.

Status of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

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Forty states allow local school districts to set school starting dates 

It’s the Tuesday after Labor Day, and in some states, today marks the first day of school. I live in New Jersey and we’re one of those states. It caused me to think about how states determine when public schools can begin classes.

Forty states allow local school districts to decide school start dates. Seven states mandate that schools cannot start earlier than a specific day in August. The remaining three states—Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia—require that school starts after Labor Day statewide.

Voters in two states—North and South Dakota—have decided ballot measures governing when school districts can begin classes. Voters in North Dakota rejected a 2014 initiative 55.6% to 44.4% that would have required public school to start after Labor Day.

South Dakota voters approved a citizen initiative—Initiative 2—in 1984 requiring public schools to start the school year after Labor Day. It was approved by a margin of 282 votes, 50.1% to 49.9%. In 1993, the state legislature altered Initiative 2 and repealed the requirement that the school year could start no earlier than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in September. This law allowed local school boards to determine school year start dates. 

Voters in South Dakota rejected a citizen initiative in 2006 that would have prohibited school districts from beginning classes earlier than the last day of August. It failed 56.9% to 43.1%.

The Maryland legislature passed a bill—and then overrode a gubernatorial veto of that bill— in April allowing local school boards to set the start of the school year. Previously, the first day of school had to be after Labor Day.

Learn more→

FEC lacks quorum after vice-chair resigns

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) lacks enough members to legally perform audits, litigate cases, promulgate new rules, issue advisory opinions, or enforce campaign finance violations. This is because the agency only has three voting members after Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen (R)—who had served on the body for 11 years—resigned August 31.

The FEC is an independent federal agency responsible for disclosing campaign finance information, enforcing limits and prohibitions on contributions, and overseeing public funding of presidential elections. The minimum number of members that must be present to make the agency’s decisions valid—known as a quorum—is four.  

The FEC has six members who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They each serve six-year terms, with two seats up for appointment every two years. No more than three members can be of the same political party, and there is a four-vote minimum for any proposal to be passed. 

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub (D) issued a statement last week stating that FEC staff will continue to make campaign finance documents available to the public and issue recommendations regarding campaign finance complaints. However, it will be unable to vote on the recommendations until a quorum is established. Weintraub urged President Trump to nominate new commissioners and encouraged the U.S. Senate to confirm the nominees.

Trump nominated Republican attorney James E. Trainor III to serve on the commission in 2017 but the nomination was returned to the president at the conclusion of the 115th Congress in January.

Learn more→

 



Union files suit challenging provisions of Wisconsin Act 10

On Aug. 26, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and two of its members, Karen Erickson and Heath Hanrahan, filed a suit in U.S. District Court challenging Wisconsin Act 10, legislation enacted in 2011 that made multiple changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.

Who are the parties to the suit?
Plaintiffs Erickson and Hanrahan are municipal employees of Marinette County, Wisconsin. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, represents approximately 9,500 workers in Wisconsin. The defendant is James Daley, chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

What’s at issue?
Act 10 prohibits municipal employers from negotiating with a union over “any factor or condition of employment except wages.” The law prohibits employers from deducting union dues from municipal employees’ paychecks. Act 10 also establishes annual recertification elections for municipal employee unions. In these elections, a union must receive at least 51 percent of the votes of all employees in the bargaining unit in order to be certified as the exclusive representative of those employees.

The plaintiffs allege these provisions of Act 10 violate the free-speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also argue that previous court decisions upholding these provisions of Act 10 should be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. This contrasts with the ways in which Janus has been invoked in other suits to challenge union-backed laws and practices (e.g., dues-deduction authorization windows, paid time off for union activities, etc.).

What comes next?
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. A judge has not yet been assigned to the case. The case name and number are International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 v. Daley, 2:19-cv-01233-DEJ.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

Union Station map August 30, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart August 30, 2019.png

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

Union Station partisan chart August 30, 2019.png

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled Aug. 30.


We’re entering California’s most active ballot initiative filing period

September is the start of meteorological autumn and, in California, the most active period for ballot initiative filings. Based on Ballotpedia’s analysis of the last three election cycles, you’ll get your first look at initiatives likely to be on California’s 2020 ballot over the next four months.
 
As of August 29, 27 citizen-initiated measures have been filed in California targeting the election on November 3, 2020. What can we expect in the months ahead?
 
Before initiative proponents begin collecting signatures, they must file their measure with the attorney general and receive a ballot title and summary. This is the first time the public sees a potential initiative.
 
Based on citizen-initiated measures filed in 2014, 2016, and 2018, four months in the two-year election cycle featured at least 12 filings on average. Those months are September (13 filings), October (14 filings), November (14 filings), and December (12 filings) of odd-numbered years, such as 2019. In 2014, 2016, and 2018, an average of half of the citizen-initiated measures that qualified for the ballot were filed during this period between September and December.
 
So far, three statewide ballot propositions have qualified for the ballot.
  • Californians will decide two citizen-initiated measures designed to amend or repeal criminal sentencing and supervision laws passed during the second tenure of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (2011-2019): the Criminal Sentencing Initiative and Cash Bail Referendum.
  • A ballot initiative to amend Proposition 13 (1978) also qualified for the ballot. The proposal would tax commercial and industrial properties based on market value, rather than their purchase price plus the lesser of inflation or 2 percent. Proponents, however, announced on August 13, 2019, that the campaign would focus on gathering signatures for a revised version.
 
Going into September, several proponents who have been successful at qualifying initiatives in the past are circulating measures. Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation sponsored Proposition 10 (2018), Proposition 60 (2016), and Proposition 61 (2016). Weinstein filed a potential 2020 initiative to expand the power of local governments to adopt rent control. Thomas Hiltachk, an election lawyer who has worked on campaigns in California since the 1990s, filed an initiative to require that arrested persons be given the option to post cash bail for pre-trial release. Alexander Creel of the California Association of Realtors, which qualified an initiative in 2018, filed a measure to make changes to when tax assessments are transferred between properties. Joseph Caves was the proponent of Proposition 21 (2010) and Proposition 39 (2012). He filed a bond measure for projects related to climate resilience in 2020.
 
Should the trend from the past three election cycles continue into 2020, then around half of the citizen-initiated measures that will be certified for the ballot have not been filed yet. One of the biggest differences between the previous cycles and 2020, however, is the number of signatures required for an initiative. Turnout in 2018 increased 70 percent from 2014, driving the signature requirement for constitutional amendments to nearly 1 million signatures and for statutes to over 623,000. The deadline for signature verification is June 25, 2020, but, due to the time needed to of check signatures, the suggested deadline to submit signatures for a full check is March 3, 2020.
 


Recalls targeting 3 Idaho school board members fail

Recall elections seeking to remove Tim Winkle, Alicia McConkie, and Marianne Blackwell from their positions on the Middleton School District board of trustees in Idaho were held on Tuesday. The recall against McConkie was approved by a majority of voters, but there were not enough “yes” votes for the recall to be counted. In order for her to be recalled, a higher number of people would have needed to vote for the recall than voted for McConkie in her last election in 2017, which did not happen. The recalls against Winkle and Blackwell were defeated with simple majorities. All three board members retained their seats.
 
The recall effort against Winkle and McConkie began after they voted to accept the superintendent’s personnel recommendations at a board meeting on May 6, 2019. Recall supporters objected to the superintendent’s recommendation because it did not renew the contract of Middleton High School’s principal, Ben Merrill. Board member Kirk Adams was also targeted for recall at that time, but his petition was rejected by the county since he had not served in office long enough to be recalled.
 
A separate recall petition against Blackwell was certified for the ballot on June 14. The recall petition against her said she “set an unprofessional and unacceptable precedent for school board trustees” and violated the board’s code of ethics. Blackwell was the only board member to vote against not renewing Merrill’s contract.
 
Winkle said that because the decision to not renew Merrill’s contract was a personnel matter, the board was limited in what they could share with the public. McConkie said she had served the best she could for the last two years and felt she was being targeted for recall over a single decision. Blackwell did not respond to the recall effort against her.
 
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.
 


Bishop, McCready meet for only debate of NC-09 special election

On Wednesday, Dan Bishop (R) and Dan McCready (D) met in their first and only debate of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District special election, which takes place Sept. 10. The candidates began the debate by addressing criticisms from their opponent and opposition ads from satellite groups before moving on to discuss healthcare, immigration, and other policy areas.
 
Some highlights from the event:
 
Addressing criticisms: Ads from satellite groups have criticized McCready’s business practices as a solar energy investor; satellite groups and McCready’s campaign have released opposition ads focusing on Bishop’s vote in the state Senate against a bill allowing doctors to discuss lower-cost prescription drugs with patients. Both candidates defended their records at the debate. Bishop stated that he voted to approve a similar bill but did not have time to read the version of the bill in question. McCready said his business practices were ethical.
 
On healthcare: Bishop discussed his support of association health plans and repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calling for market-based innovations to lower healthcare costs. McCready emphasized his prescription drug plan and his support of Medicaid expansion in the state under the ACA.
 
On immigration: Bishop criticized some North Carolina sheriffs for not following detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and said he supports the border wall Trump has called for. McCready called for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform and said he supports securing borders while opposing a wall.
 
President Donald Trump (R), Vice President Mike Pence (R), and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) have weighed in on the special election. Trump endorsed Bishop in May. Bishop spoke at a Trump rally and Pence appeared at a fundraiser for Bishop in July. Trump is planning to campaign for Bishop in North Carolina again on September 9. Joe Biden endorsed McCready on Wednesday.
 
The special election has seen $8 million in ad spending from satellite groups, including $2.6 million from the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and $1.2 million from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
 
Bishop, McCready, Jeff Scott (L), and Allen Smith (G) are running in this special election after the state board of elections did not certify the results from the 2018 race following an investigation into allegations of absentee ballot fraud.