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Univ. of Washington employee sues SEIU over membership opt-out provisions

On Jan. 20, an employee of the University of Washington filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court, alleging that her union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, had unconstitutionally barred her and other employees from opting out of union membership.

Who are the parties to the suit? The lead plaintiff is Charlene Wagner, a fiscal specialist for the state university system. She is represented by the Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit think tank and litigation firm whose self-described mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.” The Freedom Foundation is currently involved in approximately 60 lawsuits concerning public-sector union practices in the aftermath of Janus v. AFSCME. The main defendant is Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, which represents about 17,000 education workers in Washington, making it one of the largest public-sector unions in the state. The University of Washington is also named as a defendant.

What is at issue? In October 2018, Wagner sought to opt out of union membership and cancel her dues deduction authorization. SEIU 925 informed her that the membership agreement she had signed limited opt-outs to an annual two-week period (in this case, from April 29, 2019, to May 14, 2019).

Wagner and her attorneys argue that “dues are being seized under an unconstitutional [state] law that gives the union sole discretion over who the university – a state actor – is and isn’t authorized to deduct dues from.” They also allege that “a union cannot impose an irrevocability provision, containing a narrow opt-out window, on union nonmembers without a knowing First Amendment waiver.”

What are the reactions? In a press release, Freedom Foundation Senior Litigation Counsel James Abernathy said, “The whole point of Janus is to protect the First Amendment rights of public employees to not support a labor union. State laws that try to limit those rights are unconstitutional regardless of whether they were passed before or after Janus. … We shouldn’t have to keep relitigating the same issues, but SEIU 925 apparently believes it can disregard laws it doesn’t like.”

As of Jan. 24, neither SEIU 925 nor the University of Washington have commented publicly on the suit.

What comes next? The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It has been assigned to Judge Barbara Rothstein. Rothstein was first appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter (D). The case name and number are Wagner v. University of Washington (2:20-cv-00091).

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 66 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 January 24, 2020.png

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Union Station status chart January 24, 2020.png

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

Union Station partisan chart January 24, 2020.png

Recent legislative actions

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

  • Hawaii SB2770: This bill would require public employers to reimburse unions for costs associated with collective bargaining, contract administration, etc.
    • Introduced Jan. 17 and passed first reading in Senate Jan. 21.
  • Iowa HF2074: This bill requires that negotiations between public employers and employees include terms authorizing dues deduction checkoffs for employees who are union members. This bill also repeals a prohibition on public employers from authorizing or administering dues deductions.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor Committee Jan. 22.
  • Iowa HF2075: This bill would eliminate statutory language providing for public-sector union retention and recertification elections. It would also make other changes to the laws governing such elections.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor Committee Jan. 22.
  • Maryland HB214: This bill would grant collective bargaining rights to graduate assistants in the University of Maryland system, Morgan State University, and St. Mary’s College.
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled Jan. 23.
  • New Hampshire HB1290: This bill would require the state public employee labor relations board to permit employees to vote by mail in certification elections.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing scheduled Jan. 23.
  • New Hampshire HB1399: This bill would allow a bargaining unit to request certification of its union/representative.
    • House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee hearing scheduled Jan. 23.
  • New Mexico SB110: This bill would make various amendments to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.
    • Introduced Jan. 21.
  • Washington HB1333: This bill would alter the definition of a public employee under the state’s public employee collective bargaining law.
    • House Appropriations Committee executive session scheduled Jan. 23.
  • Washington HB2017: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges. This bill deals with the same subject as SB6224.
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled Jan. 22.
  • Washington SB6224: This bill would establish collective bargaining rights for administrative law judges. This bill deals with the same subject as HB2017.
    • Senate Labor and Commerce Committee hearing scheduled Jan. 20.


Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: January 18-24, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election.

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.        

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

State Spotlight

Notable Quotes of the Week

“The four senators running for the Democratic presidential nomination are leaning heavily on surrogates while they are stuck in Washington serving jury duty on President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

As the Senate trial gets under way in earnest this week, Elizabeth Warren is sending in Representative Ayanna Pressley, Bernie Sanders is putting forward Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Klobuchar is leaning on local officials and Michael Bennet has former Clinton adviser James Carville.

And everyone is sending their spouses.”

– Ryan Teague BeckwithBloomberg

“Whether it’s 10 percent, 12 percent or 15 percent, I suspect the probability our model spits out for a contested convention will strike some of you as high and others of you as low.

On the one hand, a contested convention has historically been a sucker’s bet. Pundits and reporters love to speculate about the possibility. But out of 18 competitive nomination processes since 1972, none has resulted in what’s uniformly regarded as a contested convention, although some arguably were. (I think the 1976 Republican race probably meets the definition of a nomination whose outcome was uncertain when the convention began. Even that was 44 years ago, however.)

On the other hand, a number of other nominations — including the 2008 Democratic race — have come fairly close to resulting in contested conventions. The 2016 Republican convention could also plausibly have been contested if Republicans had used Democrats’ rules. (Trump got a big boost from winner-take-all and winner-take-most states, which Democratic rules do not allow for).”

– Nate SilverFiveThirtyEight

Week in Review

The New York Times endorses Klobuchar and Warren

The New York Times issued a dual endorsement—the first in the newspaper’s history—of Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren on Sunday.

“Both the radical and the realist models warrant serious consideration. If there were ever a time to be open to new ideas, it is now. If there were ever a time to seek stability, now is it,” the editorial board wrote.

Candidates can qualify for Feb. 7 debate by winning delegates in Iowa

The Democratic National Committee released the criteria to qualify for the eighth primary debate on Feb. 7 in New Hampshire.

Candidates need to meet certain polling and fundraising thresholds similar to the January debate’s requirements or receive at least one pledged delegate in the Iowa caucuses. Candidates have until Feb. 6 to qualify.

Joe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie SandersTom Steyer, and Elizabeth Warren—all of whom participated in the Jan. 14 debate—have already qualified.

Four senators off the campaign trail for impeachment trial

Michael BennetAmy KlobucharBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren were in Washington, D.C., to vote on procedural matters and hear opening testimony in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump this week.

Over the weekend, Bennet is returning to the campaign trail in New Hampshire, while Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren are campaigning in Iowa.

Trump speaks in Austin and Switzerland, attends March for Life

Donald Trump spoke at the American Farm Bureau Federation conference in Austin on Sunday and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

He is attending the annual, anti-abortion March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Friday. The organization’s president, Jeanne Mancini, said it will be the first time a president attends the event.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Nina Smith is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communications. Wilson received a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University and a master’s degree from the George Washington University’s School of Political Management.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2010 Martin O’Malley gubernatorial campaign, political and communications coordinator

Other experience:

  • 2016-present: Megaphone Strategies, managing partner, co-owner, and director of media relations
  • 2016: Young Invincibles, communications director
  • 2014-2016: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, press secretary
  • 2013-2014: Office of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), press secretary
  • 2013: TheRoot.com, publicist
  • 2012-2013: U.S. Small Business Administration, deputy press secretary
  • 2011-2012: Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive, community liaison for strategic partnerships
  • 2007-2011: Office of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.)
    • 2009-2011: Public relations liaison
    • 2007-2009: Senior media events coordinator
  • 2005-2007: Maryland Democratic Party, special assistant to the chairman and youth outreach coordinator

What she says about Buttigieg:

“I feel like Pete really gets it, and really understands the challenges women face, whether it’s pay, taking special consideration for our healthcare, and then finally just our safety. These are issues that need to be taken seriously, and it’s very clear in the policy we’re introducing and putting out there that we are taking them seriously.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: January 21-24, 2016

  • January 21, 2016: Fergus Cullen, the chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, endorsed John Kasich.
  • January 22, 2016: National Review released a special edition featuring essays from 22 conservatives opposing Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.
  • January 23, 2016: The Des Moines Register issued primary endorsements for Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio.
  • January 24, 2016: Donald Trump led the Republican field in Iowa and New Hampshire with 34 percent support and 31 percent support, respectively, according to a Fox News poll. Ted Cruz followed in second place in both states with 23 percent in Iowa and 14 percent in New Hampshire.

Click here to learn more.



Two Missouri state senators resign to take positions in Gov. Parson’s administration

Two former Missouri State Senators – Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D) and Jason Holsman (D) – have resigned their seats to take state executive positions. Both were appointed by Gov. Mike Parson (R) and confirmed by their colleagues in the Senate.

Curls, who previously represented District 9, assumed office as one of three commissioners on the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission following her confirmation on January 16, 2020.

That same day, Holsman joined the five-member Missouri Public Service Commission, which is charged with regulating electric, steam, natural gas, water and sewer and telephone companies in Missouri. Holsman previously represented District 7.

The departure of Holsman and Curls from the Senate leaves two vacancies in the chamber and reduces the number of Democratic senators’ from ten to eight. The Republicans hold a state government trifecta in Missouri with the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

The typical process for filling vacancies in the Missouri State Senate requires the governor to call for a special election. Both Curls and Holsman were term-limited at the time of their appointments, however, and were therefore not eligible to run for re-election. With both seats up for election later this year, Gov. Parson may elect not to call for special elections for the seats.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:


Idaho governor issues two executive orders on regulation

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) on January 16 signed two executive orders aimed at streamlining regulatory review and minimizing the volume of regulations in the state. Little issued the executive orders on the heels of his 2019 regulatory reduction efforts, which resulted in state agencies cutting or simplifying 75% of the state’s regulatory code.

The first executive order, titled “Zero-Based Regulation,” creates a five-year regulatory review process in which 20% of the state’s administrative rules are reviewed by the issuing agencies and members of the public each year. Should an agency wish to renew a rule under review, the agency must promulgate a new rule through the rulemaking process. The completed review of agency rules must either reduce or maintain the same number of regulations.

Little’s second executive order, titled “Transparency in Agency Guidance Documents,” requires in part that agency guidance documents—which seek to provide the public with clarification about how agencies interpret and administer regulations—clearly state that the documents are not legally binding. The order is similar to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump (R) in October 2019 that aims to prohibit the creation of binding rules through federal agency guidance documents.

Click here to read more.

Additional reading:


Massachusetts representative becomes Taunton’s first female mayor

On January 6, 2020, Shaunna O’Connell (R) resigned from the Third Bristol District seat in the Massachusetts State House after becoming the mayor of Taunton, Massachusetts. O’Connell defeated Taunton City Council member Estele Borges (D) to become Taunton’s mayor on November 5, 2019. Taunton’s incumbent mayor, Thomas Hoye Jr., did not run for re-election.

Before winning Taunton’s mayoral election, O’Connell served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for nine years.

In Massachusetts, state legislative vacancies are filled through special elections. The Third Bristol District special election has been scheduled by Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin. The primary election will take place on March 3, 2020, and the general election will take place on March 31, 2020.

There are two other vacancies in the Massachusetts State House which will be filled via special elections. The 32nd Middlesex District became vacant when Paul Brodeur resigned after winning the mayoral election in Melrose, Massachusetts, in November 2019. The 37th Middlesex District became vacant when Jennifer Benson resigned after accepting a leadership position at the Alliance for Business Leadership.

Click here to read more.

Additional reading:


Idaho state representative convicted of fraud, removed from office

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 65-0 to remove former Rep. John Green (R) from his District 2B seat on January 16, 2020, following his conviction on federal tax fraud charges the day before. Five members of the chamber were absent.

Green’s expulsion is a historic first for the Idaho legislature. The state constitution forbids anyone with a felony conviction from holding public office. Republicans in Green’s former district will recommend replacements to Gov. Brad Little (R), who will then appoint Green’s successor for the remainder of his term.

The District 2B position is currently the only vacancy in the 70-person Idaho House of Representatives, with Republicans holding a majority over Democrats 55-14. Republicans have controlled the house in Idaho since 1960.

Click here to read more.

Additional reading:


Congressional filing deadline to pass in Maryland

The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Maryland is on January 24, 2020. In Maryland, prospective candidates may file for the following congressional offices:

  • All eight U.S. House seats
  • Neither U.S. Senate seat is up for election in 2020

The primary is scheduled for April 28, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

An additional special election is scheduled for one of the seats, Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, due to the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) on October 17, 2019. The filing deadline for the special election passed on November 20, 2019, the primary is on February 4, and the general election is on April 28. The winner of the special election will complete the remainder of Cummings’ term, which concludes in January 2021.

Maryland’s statewide filing deadline is the 10th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on January 25 in West Virginia.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:


One of six Wisconsin school districts covered by Ballotpedia to hold primary

The Madison Metropolitan School District is holding a primary for Seat 6 on the school board on February 18, 2020. Three candidates filed to run for the open seat, and the two who receive the most votes will move on to the April 7 general election. That ballot will also include races for Seat 2 and Seat 7, since only one and two candidates, respectively, filed to run for those seats.

Ballotpedia is covering five other school districts—DeForest, McFarland, Middleton-Cross Plains, Sun Prairie, and Verona—in Wisconsin in 2020. None of those school districts will hold February primaries since fewer than three candidates filed to run for each seat up for election this year. Among the five districts, 11 seats will be on the April general election ballot. Eight of those seats are unopposed.

All six school districts also held elections in 2019. That year, the Madison Metropolitan School District held primaries for all three seats. No other school districts held primaries. Among the six districts, a total of 29 candidates filed for the 19 seats on the ballot that year.

These six school districts served a combined total of 55,821 students during the 2014-2015 school year.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:


Biden, Bloomberg release Trump-focused ads

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
January 24, 2020: Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg are airing new ads focused on Donald Trump and the general election. Bernie Sanders will hold campaign events with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Iowa.        

         Each Friday, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Daily Presidential News Briefing, Staffer Spotlight - Nina Smith

Nina Smith is a Democratic staffer with experience in political communications. Wilson received a bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University and a master’s degree from the George Washington University’s School of Political Management.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2010 Martin O’Malley gubernatorial campaign, political and communications coordinator

Other experience:

  • 2016-present: Megaphone Strategies, managing partner, co-owner, and director of media relations
  • 2016: Young Invincibles, communications director
  • 2014-2016: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, press secretary
  • 2013-2014: Office of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.), press secretary
  • 2013: TheRoot.com, publicist
  • 2012-2013: U.S. Small Business Administration, deputy press secretary
  • 2011-2012: Prince George’s County Office of the County Executive, community liaison for strategic partnerships
  • 2007-2011: Office of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.)
    • 2009-2011: Public relations liaison
    • 2007-2009: Senior media events coordinator
  • 2005-2007: Maryland Democratic Party, special assistant to the chairman and youth outreach coordinator

What she says about Buttigieg:

“I feel like Pete really gets it, and really understands the challenges women face, whether it’s pay, taking special consideration for our healthcare, and then finally just our safety. These are issues that need to be taken seriously, and it’s very clear in the policy we’re introducing and putting out there that we are taking them seriously.”

​​

Notable Quote of the Day

“Whether it’s 10 percent, 12 percent or 15 percent, I suspect the probability our model spits out for a contested convention will strike some of you as high and others of you as low.

On the one hand, a contested convention has historically been a sucker’s bet. Pundits and reporters love to speculate about the possibility. But out of 18 competitive nomination processes since 1972, none has resulted in what’s uniformly regarded as a contested convention, although some arguably were. (I think the 1976 Republican race probably meets the definition of a nomination whose outcome was uncertain when the convention began. Even that was 44 years ago, however.)

On the other hand, a number of other nominations — including the 2008 Democratic race — have come fairly close to resulting in contested conventions. The 2016 Republican convention could also plausibly have been contested if Republicans had used Democrats’ rules. (Trump got a big boost from winner-take-all and winner-take-most states, which Democratic rules do not allow for).”

– Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight

Democrats

  • Michael Bennet will campaign in New Hampshire on Sunday with stops in Concord, Nashua, Chester, and Manchester.
  • Joe Biden released an ad focused on electability against Trump on Friday. He will campaign in Iowa over the weekend, including attending a block party co-hosted by the Des Moines NAACP.
  • Michael Bloomberg started airing “Pentagon,” an ad focused on Trump’s critical comments about U.S. military leaders. He opened his Minnesota state headquarters in Minneapolis on Thursday.
  • Pete Buttigieg will hold town halls across Iowa on Saturday with stops planned in Fort Dodge, Storm Lake, and Carroll. A town hall in Des Moines will be broadcast by Fox News on Sunday. VoteVets PAC began airing television ads to support Buttigieg in New Hampshire.
  • John Delaney will speak at an economic forum in New Hampshire on Friday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard is holding town halls in New Hampshire over the weekend with stops in Andover, Moultonborough, and Plymouth.
  • Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Iowa over the weekend with stops in Bettendorf, Waterloo, Ames, and Des Moines.
  • Bernie Sanders will hold campaign events with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Ames over the weekend. He is airing a new television ad called “Transform This Country.”
  • Tom Steyer hired attorney Omar El-Halwagi as his Texas state director. He will campaign in California on Friday and Nevada over the weekend.
  • Elizabeth Warren will hold town halls across Iowa over the weekend. Her itinerary includes Burlington, Muscatine, and Davenport.
  • Andrew Yang continues his bus tour of Iowa with stops planned in southern and western Iowa this weekend. Former candidate Marianne Williamson will support Yang at an event in Fairfield but said she had not yet endorsed a candidate.

Republicans

  • NBC News profield Donald Trump’s campaign operations in Iowa, which has more state staffers in 2020 than 2016.
  • Bill Weld spoke with black faith leaders in San Diego on Thursday. He is attending a town hall in New Hampshire on Saturday.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: January 24, 2016

Donald Trump led the Republican field in Iowa and New Hampshire with 34 percent support and 31 percent support, respectively, according to a Fox News poll. Ted Cruz followed in second place in both states with 23 percent in Iowa and 14 percent in New Hampshire.



Jordan and Super advance to special general election for Minnesota House District 60A

On January 21, 2020, Sydney Jordan won the special Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary to serve as the party’s nominee for District 60A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Jordan won 28.55% of the vote in an 11-candidate primary field, according to the unofficial results.

In the Legal Marijuana Now party’s primary, Marty Super ran unopposed for their nomination. The Republican primary was canceled since no candidates filed to run. Jordan and Super are competing in the special general election on February 4, 2020.

The seat became vacant when Rep. Diane Loeffler (D) passed away on November 16, 2019. Loeffler was first elected to the seat in 2004 and served in it continuously until her death.

As of January, 27 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 13 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Click here to learn more.