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Special election primary to be held in New Hampshire House district

A special election primary is being held on Oct. 19 for the Rockingham 6 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Thomas Cardon, Jodi Nelson, and Neil Wetherbee are running for the Republican nomination. Mary Eisner is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The general election is taking place on Dec. 7, and the winner of the special election will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant on Aug. 5 after Anne Copp (R) moved out of the district. Copp had represented the district since Jan. 2021.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 207-187 majority in the New Hampshire House with six vacancies. New Hampshire 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.

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional reading:



Top five donors to Democratic and Republican candidates for Virginia House

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Top five individual donors by party

Virginia House candidate political action committees (PACs) raised a total of $44.74 million from Jan. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021. Democratic House candidate PACs raised $33.12 million, while Republican House candidate PACs raised $11.62 million. 

The five individual donors who gave the most money to candidates of a single political party are shown below. 

Top five individual donors to Democratic candidates:

Top five individual donors to Republican candidates:

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate PACs submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include donations made to non-candidate PACs. Click on any donor to see their total donations during this fundraising period.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



The State and Local Tap: Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa legislature rejects first map proposal

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights redistricting updates in Indiana and Iowa and a school board recall advancing to trial. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-nine statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

  • Statewide measures for 2021 are finalized. No new measures are expected to be added to the ballot.
    • 24 measures are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
    • 4 measures are on the Nov. 13 ballot.
    • 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
    • 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

Sixty statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight state legislatures—Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Oct. 5 – Alaska: Voters in Juneau decided a 3% sales tax renewal measure. The Juneau Office of the City Clerk stated that unofficial election results would be available on Oct. 8 or Oct. 11.
  • Oct. 12 – Nebraska: Voters in the Ralston Public Schools District will decide an $83.75 million bond issue.

Special Elections

Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-two specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 19 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Oct. 12

Oct. 19

Oct. 26

Two challengers defeat incumbents in Birmingham general runoff election

Birmingham, Ala., held a general runoff election on Oct. 5. The runoff was necessary after no candidate earned a majority of the vote in several races during the general election on Aug. 24. 

Candidates competed for two seats on the nine-seat city council. Challengers defeated incumbents in both districts. J.T. Moore won the District 4 seat against incumbent William Parker, earning 58.4% of the vote to Parker’s 41.6%. In District 9, LaTonya Tate received 51.6% of the vote to defeat incumbent John Hilliard, who received 48.4%.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call as of Oct. 8, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama by population and the 99th-largest city in the U.S.

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) dies

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) died from stomach cancer on Oct. 1. Schroeder was first elected to represent House District 43 in 2018.  She most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Nicole Breadon (D) 59.7% to 40.3%.

When a vacancy occurs in the Michigan State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election to fill the vacancy, which should be held when the next general election is scheduled. 

Michigan is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

This is the 20th vacancy in 2021 caused by the death of a serving legislator. So far this year, there have been 109 vacancies in 40 state legislatures. Sixty-seven (67) of those vacancies have been filled.

Special primary election held in Rhode Island Senate district

A special primary election was held on Oct. 5 for District 3 of the Rhode Island State Senate. According to unofficial results, former Providence City Council member Sam Zurier won the Democratic primary with 1,282 votes (37%). Geena Pham came in second with 982 votes (24%). Bret Jacob received 908 votes (22%), Hilary Levey Friedman received 613 votes (15%), and Ray Rickman received 269 votes (7%).

Zurier will now face Alex Cannon (R) in the Nov. 2 special election. The Republican primary was canceled after Cannon was the only candidate to file.

The winner of the general election will serve until January 2023. The seat became vacant after the resignation of Gayle Goldin (D) on Aug. 17. Goldin resigned to accept a position in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Prior to her resignation, Goldin had served in the state Senate since 2013.

Democrats have a 32-5 majority in the Rhode Island Senate with one vacancy. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Rhode Island held seven state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Loudoun County Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another four members of the nine-member school board. They said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Ballotpedia has tracked 75 school board recall efforts against 195 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issues coronavirus executive orders, Gov. Brad Little (R) repeals them

On Oct. 6, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued an executive order banning state agencies from implementing coronavirus testing and proof of vaccination requirements. McGeachin issued the order while Gov. Brad Little (R) was out of the state. 

In a tweet, McGeachin said: “Today, as Acting Governor, I fixed Gov. Little’s Executive Order on ‘vaccine passports’ to make sure that K-12 schools and universities cannot require vaccinations OR require mandatory testing. I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!”

On the same day, Little issued an executive order repealing McGeachin’s executive order. In a Facebook post, he said: “I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.”

On May 27, McGeachin similarly issued an executive order banning mask requirements in schools and state buildings while Little was out of the state. Little repealed the order on May 28.

Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa Legislature rejects first map proposal

Indiana became the fourth state to enact new congressional and state legislative district boundaries after the 2020 census. The General Assembly approved the maps on Oct. 1, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed them into law on Oct. 4. In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. Indiana has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined state Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the new congressional boundaries “will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.” The maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

In Iowa, the state Senate rejected the Legislative Services Agency’s (LSA) first proposed congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Oct. 5. The vote was 32-18 along party lines with all votes against the plan from Republicans and all votes in favor by Democrats. Since this was the Agency’s first proposal, the legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. 

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Senate Republicans believe LSA can improve the compactness and population deviation of several districts by developing a second redistricting plan. My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing that plan and its compliance with the criteria established in Iowa Code.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D) said, “This was a fair map drawn by the nonpartisan, independent commission. It met all the requirements laid out in state law. This is an outrageous use of political power to rig elections in their favor.”

Under state law, the LSA must send a second redistricting plan to the legislature within 35 days. On Oct. 6, the LSA announced that it would submit its next proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps to the legislature by Oct. 21. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the state’s deadline to complete legislative redistricting to Dec. 1.



The Federal Tap: FDA authorizes new rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the FDA’s authorization of new at-home COVID-19 testing and the beginning of SCOTUS’ October sitting. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

The House is in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear four hours of oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Washington, D.C. 

On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks on the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 in Howell, Michigan. 

On Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Thursday, Biden delivered remarks on COVID-19 vaccine requirements at a Clayco construction site in Elk Grove Technology Park, Illinois.  

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 86 federal judicial vacancies
  • 33 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there are 29 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Sept. 30, 2021, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Judge Henry Floyd announced that he would assume senior status on Dec. 31, 2021. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judges have not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Nov. 1, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. assumes senior status. As of Oct. 7, 2021, there were 31 total upcoming vacancies announced for the federal judiciary overall.

For historical comparison, during this week last year, Oct. 4-Oct. 10, 2020, there were 64 federal judicial vacancies and four upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS begins October sitting

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its first argument sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4. The court heard arguments in person for the first time since March 2020. Justice Brett Kavanaugh participated remotely due to testing positive for coronavirus on Sept. 30.

The court heard arguments in five cases for a total of five hours of oral argument: 

Oct. 4

Oct. 5

  • Brown v. Davenport concerns a circuit split over the standard necessary to grant federal habeas relief to a person held in state custody. A writ of habeas corpus is used in federal courts to determine if an individual’s imprisonment is lawful. A circuit split occurs when two or more U.S. circuit courts issue rulings with opposite interpretations of federal law.
  • Hemphill v. New York concerns a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to be confronted by the witnesses against him.

Oct. 6

  • United States v. Zubaydah concerns the state-secrets privilege, an evidentiary rule that allows the government to withhold information if disclosure would harm national security. 

Next week, SCOTUS will hear four hours of oral argument in four cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases this term. Three cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

FDA authorizes new rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test, several companies file for approval for coronavirus treatments

On Oct. 4, the FDA authorized ACON Laboratories’ rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test. ACON Laboratories said it expects to produce as many as 100 million tests per month by the start of 2022.

Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health Jeff Shuren said, “As a result of this authorization, we will now have tens of millions of additional tests available in the U.S. marketplace very soon.”

Additionally, on Oct. 5, pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca announced it was seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody therapy designed to protect against COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson also announced that it requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorize booster shots of its vaccine.

Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa Legislature rejects first map proposal

Indiana became the fourth state to enact new congressional and state legislative district boundaries after the 2020 census. The General Assembly approved the maps on Oct. 1, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed them into law on Oct. 4. In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. Indiana has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined state Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the new congressional boundaries “will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.” The maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

In Iowa, the state Senate rejected the Legislative Services Agency’s (LSA) first proposed congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Oct. 5. The vote was 32-18 along party lines with all votes against the plan from Republicans and all votes in favor by Democrats. Since this was the Agency’s first proposal, the legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. 

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Senate Republicans believe LSA can improve the compactness and population deviation of several districts by developing a second redistricting plan. My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing that plan and its compliance with the criteria established in Iowa Code.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D) said, “This was a fair map drawn by the nonpartisan, independent commission. It met all the requirements laid out in state law. This is an outrageous use of political power to rig elections in their favor.”

Under state law, the LSA must send a second redistricting plan to the legislature within 35 days. On Oct. 6, the LSA announced that it would submit its next proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps to the legislature by Oct. 21. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the state’s deadline to complete legislative redistricting to Dec. 1.



Union Station: Comments on proposed rule affecting union dues deductions

Organizations submit comments to CMS on proposed rule affecting union dues deductions 

The comment period for a proposed regulation on whether states can deduct union dues from Medicaid payments to individual workers ended on Sept. 28. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) received feedback from 32 organizations and individuals during the eight-week comment period. We highlight eight of those responses below.

The proposed rule follows a legally contested 2019 rule preventing states from withholding voluntary payroll deductions from home care workers’ Medicaid payments.

About the proposed rule

Timeline:

  • July 21, 2021: CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure approved the proposed rule. 
  • Aug. 3, 2021: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register.
  • Sept. 28, 2021: Public comments due.

CMS says the rule would “explicitly authorize states to make payments to third parties to benefit individual practitioners by ensuring health and welfare benefits, training, and other benefits customary for employees, if the practitioner consents to such payments to third parties on the practitioner’s behalf.” 

In 2019, CMS published a final rule that “[removed] the regulatory text that [allowed] a state to make Medicaid payments to third parties on behalf of an individual provider for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees.” Six states challenged the rule, filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In November 2020, the court struck the rule and sent it back to CMS for further assessment. The defendant, then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar, appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The case was temporarily suspended following a change in administrations and is currently on hold through February 2022.

About rulemaking 

Rulemaking is the process federal agencies use to amend, repeal, or create administrative regulations. The most common rulemaking process is informal rulemaking, in which an agency asks for public feedback on proposed rules during a comment period. A proposed rule, also known as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), is a preliminary version of a proposed regulation. Proposed rules are published in the Federal Register. After a comment period, the agency may revise, abandon, or continue the proposed rule to the final stage of the process. 

Comments in support of the proposed rule

Below are excerpts of comments supporting the proposed CMS rule:

“The proposal is wholly consistent with the clear congressional intent underlying the statutory provision. That intent is made plain by the legislative history and that intent was limited to prohibiting the practice of ‘factoring,’ i.e., the sale of claims to third parties who were then involved in making claims for payment from the states and thereby driving up states’ costs. The authorized payment to third parties at issue here – ‘for health and welfare benefits, contributions, training costs, and other costs customary for employees’ – do not involve factoring in any way as no one other than the providers makes any claims for compensation. … In addition to conflicting with clear congressional intent, a contrary construction of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1396a(a)(32) interferes with individual practitioners’ access to affordable and efficient forms of health, retirement, training and other benefits. This will inflict harm on home care workers and others who are individual providers for Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as on beneficiaries themselves who are counting on these providers for skilled care.”

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)

“[W]hen home care providers form unions, advocate for themselves and their clients and engage in the process of collective bargaining with state and local authorities, positive outcomes flow, including lower turnover rates, increased workforce development and training and higher quality care. These benefits are enabled by and dependent on voluntary funding by home care workers through their payment of union dues and benefit contributions facilitated by payroll deductions. We estimate that collecting these dues without member-authorized, state-administered deductions of provider payments would cost union members in AFSCME’s California home care local approximately $600,000 per year. In other words, because unions are supported entirely by their members, this would mean home care workers would have to commit that much more in contributions simply to replicate a function more easily and efficiently performed by the state.”

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

“We believe that improvements in job quality and conditions for home care workers have been supported by the ability of states and workers to direct a portion of service payments to pay for the costs of benefits such as health care and training, and that this has been a step toward expanding and strengthening HCBS programs. The ability of workers to join together to form unions, and have input into the HCBS system through involvement in unions and organizations like NDWA, is particularly important in self-directed models of HCBS where workers are isolated and their voices are disaggregated. In this sector where the vast majority of workers are women, women of color, and disproportionately immigrants, improving conditions for workers is also a matter of racial and gender equity and a key step in addressing the historical marginalization of care work.”

National Domestic Workers Alliance

“Deductions made from a home care worker’s Medicaid payment—which in all relevant respects is the same paycheck that other privately and publicly employed workers receive—are not reassignments. They do not confer any right to the entity to which the deduction is directed, whether for health insurance, union dues, or tax payments, to make a claim for payment against the Medicaid program. In making authorized payroll deductions, states are not transferring the right to receive payment ‘for any care or service’ to any third party. Ordinary payroll deductions and contributions for items like voluntary health insurance or union dues are not ‘payment … for any care or service provided to an individual’ Medicaid beneficiary, §1902(a)(32), they are merely an expression of the home care worker’s ability to direct dollars that she owns as she chooses.”

Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Comments opposing the proposed rule
Below are excerpts of comments opposing the proposed CMS rule:

“Unions have and will continue to use dues and fees deducted from Medicaid payments on administrative costs and salaries, issue advocacy, fundraising and politicking in favor of preferred candidates, funding of politically-motivated nonprofit groups, and many other activities that have nothing to do with the provision and reimbursement of medical care. To avoid the complicity of the federal and state governments in denying free speech rights of caregivers by diverting health care funding to union political spending, they should be taken out of the equation altogether, as the 2019 Final Rule did. Individual caregivers should, without the involvement of the government, privately resolve how and whether they wish to associate with unions or any other third party.”

Americans for Prosperity Foundation

“[W]e must respectfully urge CMS to abandon the proposed regulation, which would conflict with the statutory direct payment requirement in Subsection (a)(32), undermine the legal framework governing Medicaid, depart from CMS past interpretation of the law, and subject HCAs to continued fraud and coercion at the hands of third parties like labor unions with a financial interest in accessing providers’ payments via payroll deduction. Further, CMS has failed to prove that the regulation is necessary to advance the goals of a more stable, better trained HCA workforce, or that it would even materially contribute to those goals. Finally, the NPRM is premature given CMS’ failure to consult with stakeholders before publishing the proposed rule and its decision to forgo an RIA despite the best available evidence indicating the rule would have an economic impact of greater than $100 million.” 

Freedom Foundation

“Such a change would harm caregivers, provide no meaningful benefit to their patients, and directly lead to the federal funding of the inherently political activity of public-sector unions. Funds paid to caregivers should be used to support their efforts to care for the sick and disabled, not for favored political causes. This is doubly true while the litigation against the Department’s 2019 rule is ongoing. The Department should not adopt the proposed rule and should continue to defend its prior rule, which recognized it lacked authority to modify the Social Security Act through rulemaking. But, to the extent the Department intends to adopt the rule, it should also include specialized procedural protections to adequately protect providers’ First Amendment Rights under Janus and Harris.” 

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

“HCBS Medicaid payments are supposed to pay for care for the severely disabled. Diverting these payments to third-party special interests to subsidize their political agendas, lobbying, and recruitment campaigns is as unconscionable as it is unlawful under Subsection (a)(32). CMS should end this indefensible practice by enforcing Subsection (a)(32)’s unambiguous direct payment requirement. CMS’s opposite intent in its 2021 NPRM to condone this corrupt practice by inventing a new regulatory exception to the statute is inconsistent with Subsection (a)(32) and is arbitrary and capricious.” 

National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation

To view all comments submitted in response to the proposed rule, click here.   

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 99 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. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.




Maine Question 1, transmission lines initiative, sees $71.82 million in contributions

The support and opposition campaigns of Maine Question 1, which voters will decide on Nov. 2, 2021, have raised a combined total of $71.82 million in contributions through Sept. 30. The next deadline to report contributions and expenditures is Oct. 22.

Maine Question 1 would prohibit the construction of electric transmission lines defined as high-impact in the Upper Kennebec Region, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC). The citizen-initiated ballot measure would also require a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber to approve high-impact electric transmission line projects.

Question 1 was designed to stop the NECEC, a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project that would transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts and Maine. Construction of the NECEC began after the project received a presidential permit on Jan. 15, 2021. The ballot initiative would prohibit the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region, retroactive to Sept. 16, 2020, thus prohibiting Segment 1 of the NECEC.

No CMP Corridor is leading the campaign in support of Question 1. The PAC Mainers for Local Power is also registered to support the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $16.64 million, including

  • $13.67 million from NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Cumberland, Maine, and six solar fields or projects in southern and central Maine;
  • $1.41 million from Vistra Energy Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Veazie, Maine; and
  • $1.25 million from Calpine Corp., which owns a natural gas-fired plant in Westbrook, Maine.

The PACs Clean Energy Matters, Hydro-Québec Maine Partnership, Vote No to Protect Maine, and Mainers for Fair Laws are registered to oppose the ballot initiative. Together, the PACs had raised $55.18 million, including

  • $39.28 million from Central Maine Power (CMP), NECEC Transmission LLC, and the companies’ parent firm Avangrid; and
  • $13.53 million from H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., which is a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec.

Based on the 2020 Census, the state’s population is 1.36 million. With $71.82 million in contributions, an equivalent of $52.71 had been raised per state resident. According to the Bangor Daily News, Question 1 is the second most expensive political election in Maine history, only following the 2020 U.S. Senate race. 

Maine Question 1 is the most expensive ballot measure of 2021 thus far. The second most expensive is Colorado Proposition 119, for which supporters and opponents have raised $1.36 million in contributions.

Additional reading:



Campaign finance data now available for all Virginia House of Delegates races

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

In partnership with Transparency USA, Ballotpedia has published campaign finance information for each of the districts in the Virginia House. To view the data by district, click here. On each district widget, you can click on a candidate’s name to view their profile and explore their campaign finance information in more detail.

The data available is current through Aug. 31, 2021. Additional data will be available in late October once the state’s final pre-election campaign finance deadline passes.



Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6

At least nine states made progress in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new congressional and state legislative district maps as part of the 2020 redistricting process between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.

Proposed

New maps were proposed in Colorado, Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released its third staff-drawn plan for the state’s House and Senate districts on Oct. 5. The release of this proposal comes one week before the 12-person commission’s Oct. 12 deadline to select a final map out of the existing proposals.

This is the first redistricting cycle in Colorado since the adoption of Constitutional Amendment Z in 2018, which created a non-politician commission to develop new state legislative maps. The commission is made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and four unaffiliated members. At least eight of the 12 commissioners, including two of the unaffiliated members, must vote in favor of a map for it to be approved and sent to the Colorado Supreme Court for next steps.

If the commission cannot select a map by the Oct. 12 deadline, one of the three staff-drawn maps will be sent to the court instead.

View the proposals here.

Ohio: Democratic State Sens. Kenny Yuko (D) and Vernon Sykes (D) released a proposed congressional district map on Sept. 30, the final day for the legislature to take the first pass at congressional maps. No action was taken on the map and the legislature missed the deadline.

What happens next was decided by voters in 2018 when they approved Issue 1, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

Under the amendment, since the legislature did not select a map by its first deadline, the process moves over to a redistricting commission made up of the governor, auditor, and secretary of state—all Republicans—and four legislators, at least two of whom must belong to the minority party, which, in this case, is the Democratic Party. The commission may approve a map with a majority vote but only if at least two minority party members are voting in favor. If the commission cannot select a map it moves back to the legislature for a second round. Learn more here.

Republicans currently hold majorities in both the House (64-35) and Senate (25-8). 

View the proposed map here.

Washington: The state’s four voting redistricting commissioners each released proposed congressional district maps on Sept. 28. These maps will be the subject of a virtual meeting on Oct. 9. Members of the public are invited to participate. The deadline for the commission to finalize its maps is Nov. 15.

The release of the congressional maps comes one week after the commissioners each released their proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 21. A public meeting over those proposals was held on Oct. 5.

In Washington, congressional and state legislative lines are redrawn by a five-person non-politician commission. The majority and minority leaders of the Washington state House and Senate each appoint one registered voter. These four appointed commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member, to serve as chair.

View the proposals here.

West Virginia: On Sept. 30, the House and Senate Redistricting committees released a collective total of 18 congressional district map proposals, the first proposed maps released during the state’s 2020 redistricting cycle.

In addition to its congressional map proposals, the House Redistricting Committee also released its first proposed state legislative district map for the House of Delegates. No senate maps were included in the initial release.

In West Virginia, both the House and Senate propose congressional maps. For state legislative map proposals, each chamber is responsible for originating its own maps.

View the proposals here.

Advanced

Arkansas and Texas got one step closer to enacting new maps as proposals advanced to the next stage.

Arkansas: On Sept. 29, legislators in Arkansas reconvened in a special session to, among other things, consider new congressional district maps. On Oct. 6, two identical proposals, one from the House and one from the Senate, passed out of their respective committees.

The proposals—House Bill 1982 and Senate Bill 743—were introduced by Rep. Nelda Speaks (R) and Sen. Jane English (R), respectively. Over 30 proposals were filed, with these two also coming within the past week.

At the time of writing, these bills had not yet passed through the legislature in full, but local commentary appeared to believe the proposed map would ultimately make it to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who then has the ability to either sign or veto the map.

View the proposed map here.

Texas: The Texas State Senate voted 20-11 in favor of a proposed map of the state’s Senate districts on Oct. 4. 

The vote fell largely along party lines. Seventeen Republicans voted in favor of the proposal and were joined by three Democrats: Sens. Juan Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, and Judith Zaffirini. The remaining 10 Democrats in the chamber voted against the proposal in addition to Republican Sen. Kel Seliger.

View the proposed map here.

Enacted

Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—enacted new congressional and state legislative maps. In each state, the legislature was responsible for redrawing the district lines which were then sent to the governor for final approval. Indiana and Nebraska account for 12 congressional districts. Both states currently have Republican trifectas. Maine, which has two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.



New congressional and state legislative maps in three states

Welcome to the Friday, October 8, Brew. Just a heads up: there will be no Brew on Monday but we will be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps
  2. Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial
  3. Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Note: Louisiana’s primary elections were originally scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 9, but were moved to Nov. 13 due to damage caused by Hurricane Ida. Learn more.

Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps

Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—adopted new congressional district maps between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Oregon is the only other state to adopt a congressional map in the 2020 redistricting cycle so far.

At this point in the 2010 cycle, 21 states had adopted congressional district maps. The relative delay in 2021 is caused by a delay in the delivery of census data. During the 2010 cycle, states began receiving block-level census data near the start of 2011. In 2021, by comparison, this data was not released until Aug. 12.

In each of these three states, the state legislature is responsible for drawing new district lines, which must then be signed by the governor before going into effect. Indiana and Nebraska, which, collectively, have 12 congressional districts, are both Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans control the legislature and the governorship. Maine, with two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.

In addition to their congressional maps, these states also approved new state legislative district maps.

Here’s a breakdown. Click on the state names to learn more.

Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Oct. 4. The Indiana General Assembly approved these maps largely along party lines. 

In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.” 

In a statement following approval of the maps in the Assembly, State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices.”

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 29. The Maine State Legislature approved the new congressional map with unanimous support. In Maine, a two-thirds majority is required to pass congressional maps. 

The legislature also voted unanimously in favor of the new Senate boundaries. The state Senate unanimously supported the new House lines, and the House voted 119-10 in favor of them.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement congratulating legislators “for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government,” adding, “To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 30. The Nebraska State Senate approved the congressional map by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance along with four Democrats voted in favor of the map. The legislature approved the state legislative map by a 37-7 vote. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against the map. Eight Democrats and 29 Republicans voted in favor of the map.

While the Nebraska State Senate is officially nonpartisan, Ballotpedia collects information from numerous sources such as voter registration websites, party endorsement lists, and news coverage to determine partisan affiliations.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, whom recall supporters alleged was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

Barts was first elected on Nov. 5, 2019, receiving 54.8% of the vote. Though school board elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Supporters of Barts’ recall are also circulating petitions against four other members of the nine-member school board in Northern Virginia. In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than through a public vote. Virginia allows an official to be recalled on the following grounds: neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes.

Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest number was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Keep reading 

Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Incumbent City Councilmen William Parker and John Hilliard lost to challengers J.T. Moore and LaTonya Tate, respectively, in the Oct. 5 general runoff election in Birmingham, Ala. The races for these two seats on the nine-seat city council advanced to a runoff after no candidate received a majority vote in the city’s Aug. 24 general election.

Parker, first elected to District 4 in 2013, placed first in the general election with 42% of the vote followed by Moore with 23%. In the runoff, Moore’s vote share increased to 58% while Parker’s remained the same. Hilliard, first elected to District 9 in 2017, similarly placed first in the general election with 49% followed by Tate with 29%. In the runoff, Tate received 52% of the vote to Hilliard’s 48%.

Turnout in the Oct. 5 runoff was lower than the Aug. 24 general. In District 4, the total number of votes cast decreased by 66% from 3,587 on Aug. 24 to 1,215 on Oct. 5. In District 5, the number decreased by 58% from 4,499 to 1,914.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

Keep reading



Documenting America’s Path to Recovery #305: October 7, 2021

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • Idaho’s lieutenant governor issuing coronavirus-related executive orders
  • A committee chairman stepping down in New Hampshire
  • Vaccine distribution
  • School mask requirements
  • State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies
  • Federal responses

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered Tuesday? Click here.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

Idaho (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 6, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued an executive order banning state agencies from implementing coronavirus testing and proof of vaccination requirements. McGeachin issued the order while Gov. Brad Little (R) was out of the state. On the same day, Little issued an executive order repealing McGeachin’s executive order.

Massachusetts (divided government): On Oct. 6, the Massachusetts Senate voted 36-3 to make some coronavirus-related changes to voting procedures permanent. The bill would allow same-day voter registration, no-excuse mail voting, and up to two weeks of early voting.

New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 6, state Rep. Ken Weyler (R) stepped down as chairman of the House Finance and Joint Legislative Fiscal committees following complaints from Democratic colleagues that he shared a report containing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

Tennessee (Republican trifecta): On Oct. 6, Gov. Bill Lee (R) and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group released recommendations for the state’s use of federal COVID-19 relief funds. The report detailed $1.3 billion in spending in addition to the $1.85 billion the same group recommended in August 2021.

Vaccine distribution

We last looked at vaccine distribution in the Oct. 5 edition of the newsletter. As of Oct. 6, the states with the highest vaccination rates as a percentage of total population (including children) were:

The states with the lowest rates were:

School mask requirements

Read more: School responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the 2021-2022 academic year

We last looked at school mask requirements on Sept. 30. Since then, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) extended an executive order banning school mask requirements, and the Arkansas Supreme Court suspended the state’s school mask requirement ban.

State proof-of-vaccination requirements and policies

Read more: State government policies about proof-of-vaccination (vaccine passport) requirements

State governments have enacted various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements. In some cases, states have banned state or local governments from requiring that people show proof of vaccination. Other states have assisted in the creation of digital applications—sometimes known as vaccine passports—that allow people to prove their vaccination status and, in some cases, bypass COVID-19 restrictions.  

Overview

  • Twenty states have passed legislation or issued orders prohibiting proof-of-vaccination requirements at some or all levels of government. 
  • Four states have assisted in the creation of digital vaccination status applications. 
  • Since Sept. 30, no state has banned proof-of-vaccination requirements or rolled out a digital vaccine status application.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • On Oct. 5, Johnson and Johnson announced that it requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorize booster shots of its vaccine.
  • On Oct. 5, pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca announced it was seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody therapy designed to protect against COVID-19.
  • On Oct. 4, the FDA authorized ACON Laboratories’ rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test. ACON Laboratories said it expects to produce as many as 100 million tests per month by the start of 2022.
  • On Oct. 1, pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. announced that its experimental COVID-19 pill, molnupiravir, reduced hospitalizations and deaths by about 50% in early studies. Merck said it planned to submit the data to and seek emergency authorization from the FDA. Merck has a contract with the federal government to supply almost 2,000,000 courses of the drug at $700 per course.