Latest stories

Las Vegas special election filing deadline is March 28

Candidates interested in running in the Las Vegas City Council special election for Ward 2 have until March 28 to file for the seat. The special election on June 11 coincides with the city’s general election for mayor and three other city council seats. All of the elections are nonpartisan.
The special election became necessary after the former Ward 2 representative, Steve Seroka, resigned on March 4. He had served on the city council since 2017. Prior to his resignation, Seroka was the subject of a recall attempt. Recall organizers had accused Seroka of having anti-development positions.
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Federal Register weekly update; year-to-date page total exceeds 10,000 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 March 18 to March 22, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,278 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 10,970 pages. A total of 620 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 511 notices, five presidential documents, 45 proposed rules, and 59 final rules.
Three final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that they may have large impacts 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 1,004 pages. As of March 22, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 1,878 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 914 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of March 22. In 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. Over the course of 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.
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016:,_1936-2016

U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider judicial deference to agency interpretations of regulations

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether courts should still defer to agency interpretations of their own ambiguous regulations. Under Auer deference, courts uphold agency interpretations of ambiguous regulations unless they are plainly erroneous or inconsistent. Supporters of Auer deference see Kisor v. Wilkie as a threat to the foundation of American administrative law while opponents see the case as an opportunity to restore separation of powers principles.
The case is scheduled for oral argument on March 27, 2019.
Auer deference refers to federal courts yielding to agency interpretations of ambiguous regulations made by that agency. The practice comes from precedents established by two U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co (1945) and Auer v. Robbins (1997).
In Kisor, the court will decide whether to overrule those precedents. The case involves a dispute between James Kisor, a marine veteran, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over whether he should receive retroactive disability benefits for PTSD he developed during the Vietnam War. The VA denied Kisor’s initial disability claim in 1983 and granted him benefits in 2006. At issue is the VA’s interpretation of whether certain records were relevant to its decision to grant Kisor benefits with an effective date in 2006 instead of 1983.

Civil service reforms resurface in Trump’s 2020 budget proposal

President Trump’s (R) 2020 budget proposal includes provisions that would impact the structure and internal procedures of the federal civil service.
A selection of the provisions was previously featured in Trump’s three civil service executive orders (E.O. 13837, E.O. 13836, and E.O. 13839) issued in May 2018. These include proposals aimed at removing poor-performing federal employees and streamlining collective bargaining procedures. A federal district judge struck down the bulk of the executive orders in August 2018 and an appeal is currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Additional civil service provisions featured in Trump’s 2020 budget proposal include:
  • Establishing new pay systems for special occupations.
  • Increasing temporary hiring to employ more highly qualified experts.
  • Eliminating certain retirement pensions in favor of contributions to the government’s Thrift Savings Plan.
  • Creating an industry exchange to allow nonprofit employees and academics to temporarily serve on federal projects.
  • Increasing the number of federal interns, which dropped from 35,000 in 2010 to 4,000 in 2018.
  • Re-skilling federal employees who currently serve in transactional positions that can be automated.
Congress must reconcile and approve a set of appropriations bills in order for the president to sign the budget into law.
The federal civil service is made up of all unelected “positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services,” according to the United States Code. The civil service is subdivided into the competitive service, the excepted service, and the Senior Executive Service.

Judge rules in favor of Fall River election certification

On March 12, an effort in Fall River, Massachusetts, to recall Mayor Jasiel Correia II was approved. On the same night, Correia was elected to serve as mayor again on a separate ballot.
Following the election, a group of 10 voters involved in the recall process filed a lawsuit seeking to block the certification of the results. The lawsuit alleged that the city charter approved in 2017 should have prohibited Correia from running for re-election as a part of the recall vote. On March 22, New Bedford Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Perrino ruled against the lawsuit. He said, “while the 2017 charter no longer expressly permits the officeholder who is the subject of a recall from also being a candidate, the plaintiff has not shown that the 2017 charter expressly excludes a recalled candidate from succeeding himself.”
On the first portion of the ballot, Correia was recalled with 7,829 votes cast in favor of the recall and 4,911 votes cast in opposition to the recall. The second portion of the ballot allowed voters to choose who should serve as mayor if the recall vote succeeded. Correia received more votes than his four opponents, allowing him to retain his position. He won by a plurality with 4,808 (35.4%) of the total votes cast. Runner-up Paul Coogan received 4,567 votes (33.6%), Joe Camara received 1,971 votes (14.5%), Kyle Riley received 1,460 votes (10.8%), and Erica Scott-Pacheo received 740 votes (5.5%).
Petitioners began the recall process after Correia was arrested on October 11, 2018, on 13 charges of wire and tax fraud related to his company SnoOwl. In a press conference following the indictment, Correia said he was innocent of the charges and that he would not resign from office. He said the voters of Fall River should let him continue to serve or recall him.

Nevada voters to decide in 2020 whether to give legislature more control over state’s higher education boards

On March 21, the Nevada State Senate gave final approval to a measure to remove the constitutional status of the Board of Regents, which governs Nevada’s state universities. The amendment—Assembly Joint Resolution 5 (AJR 5)— was previously approved in both chambers during the 2017 legislative session and by the state Assembly on March 11, 2019. Therefore, the Senate’s vote certified the measure to appear on the November 2020 ballot.
By making the Board of Regents a statutory institution instead of a constitutional one, the measure would allow the state legislature to review and change the governing organization of state universities. The measure would also put the State of Nevada—rather than the Board of Regents—in charge of investing federal land grants and require the state legislature to make laws providing for the “reasonable protection of individual academic freedom” for students, employees, and contractors of state universities to encourage the promotion “of intellectual, literary, scientific, mining, mechanical, agricultural, ethical and other educational improvements.”
AJR 5 was approved unanimously in the state Senate, and it was approved by a vote of 36-5 in the state Assembly. All five dissenters were Republicans, while seven Republicans voted in favor of it. The amendment received unanimous support from Democrats.
In Nevada, constitutional amendments referred by the state legislature must be approved by a simple majority vote in each chamber of the legislature during two consecutive legislative sessions with an election for state legislators in between. The legislature approved six constitutional amendments during the 2017-2018 session that need approval during this legislative session to go on the ballot in 2020.
This amendment was the second statewide measure certified for the Nevada 2020 ballot. The first was a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to enact renewable energy requirements that was approved in 2018 but needs approval from voters in 2020 to be enacted.
From 1996 through 2018, Nevada voters decided 79 statewide ballot measures, with an average of seven per even-year election. On average, two citizen-initiated measures appeared on the ballot during even-year elections. Voters approved 59 percent (47 of 79) and rejected 41 percent (32 of 79) of the ballot measures since 1996. The approval rate for legislatively-referred measures was about 52 percent, while the approval rate for citizen-initiated measures was about 72 percent.

Previewing 2019’s state legislative elections

State legislative offices are up for regular election in seven chambers across four states this year. General elections in Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia are scheduled for November 5, while general elections in Louisiana are set for November 16.
The chambers with the closest margins of partisan control are in Virginia, where Republicans hold two-seat advantages in both the state House and Senate.
Louisiana State Senate and House of Representatives
Louisiana’s state legislators are elected to four-year terms. Both chambers have term limits that prevent a state legislator from serving for more than three terms, or 12 years, in a particular chamber. The chambers last held elections in 2015. As of March 2019, here is the partisan balance of the chambers:
  • Democrats: 14
  • Republicans: 25
  • Democrats: 37
  • Republicans: 62
Louisiana is currently under divided government with a Democratic governor.
Mississippi State Senate and House of Representatives
Mississippi’s state legislators are elected to four-year terms. The chambers last held elections in 2015. As of March 2019, here is the partisan balance of the chambers:
  • Democrats: 19
  • Republicans: 33
  • Democrats: 46
  • Republicans: 73
Mississippi is currently one of 22 Republican trifectas.
New Jersey General Assembly
New Jersey’s state representatives are elected to two-year terms. The New Jersey General Assembly last held elections in 2017. The New Jersey State Senate is not holding elections in 2019. Senators began four-year terms after being elected in 2017. As of March 2019, here is the partisan balance of the chamber:
  • Democrats: 54
  • Republicans: 26
New Jersey is currently one of 14 Democratic trifectas.
Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates
Virginia’s state senators are elected to four-year terms. The Virginia State Senate last held elections in 2015. Virginia’s state representatives are elected to two-year terms. The Virginia House of Delegates last held elections in 2017. As of March 2019, here is the partisan balance of the chambers:
  • Democrats: 19
  • Republicans: 21
  • Democrats: 49
  • Republicans: 51
Virginia is currently under divided government with a Democratic governor.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock maintains fundraising lead

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has raised more money than his five challengers combined, according to pre-election campaign finance reports filed March 17 with the Denver Elections Division.
Hancock reported raising just under $1.6 million between the beginning of the campaign cycle and the March 14 reporting deadline. His five challengers reported raising a combined total of just under $710,000.
Urban development consultant Jamie Giellis reported raising just under $410,000, the most of any challenger. Former state Sen. Penfield Tate followed with $230,000 raised, while criminal justice professor Lisa Calderón reported raising $70,000. Two other candidates each raised under $2,500.
The Giellis campaign reported more cash on hand than Hancock’s, with just over $190,000 to the incumbent’s $150,000.
The nonpartisan election takes place on May 7. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a June 4 runoff.
The city of Denver uses a strong mayor-council system. Under this system, a mayor with a broad range of powers serves as the city’s chief executive while a city council acts as the municipal legislature. All Denver municipal elections are for four-year terms, and no elected official may serve more than three consecutive terms.

Goldberg and Repenning advance to runoff in LAUSD school board special election

Jackie Goldberg and Heather Repenning will compete in a May 14, 2019, runoff election for the District 5 seat on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education, according to certified election results from a March 5 special election. The runoff will take place because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote.
On March 5, Goldberg finished first, receiving 48.2 percent of the vote. Repenning was second with 13.1 percent. Repenning defeated Grace Ortiz for the second-place spot by 31 votes.
The election was necessary to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Ref Rodriguez.
School board elections in the district in 2017 flipped the board from a 4-3 majority of members supported by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to a 4-3 majority of members supported by the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA). Rodriguez was a member of the latter group, and his resignation left a 3-3 split.
CCSA did not endorse in the March 5 race. The UTLA backed Goldberg.
Goldberg and Repenning have said they support holding charter schools to the same standards as public schools, among other positions.
LAUSD is the largest school district in California and the second-largest in the nation by enrollment. The district had 224 independently operated charter schools in 2017, more than any other school district in the U.S.

Three-vote margin decides runoff candidates in Atlanta special election

A special election for the District 3 seat on the Atlanta City Council in Georgia took place on March 19, 2019.
Nine candidates appeared on the ballot. Results were certified on March 22, showing Byron Amos and Antonio Brown as the top two vote recipients. Third-place finisher Greg Clay finished three votes behind Brown, 293 to 296, which allows him to request a recount. Following the recount, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election scheduled for April 16, 2019.
Amos previously served on the Atlanta school board from 2011 to 2019. Brown is the CEO of LVL XIII, a men’s clothing business.
The special election was triggered after the former incumbent, Ivory Lee Young Jr., passed away in November 2018. Young had been a member of the city council since 2002.
The Atlanta City Council is made up of 16 members, including a council president. Twelve members are elected by the city’s 12 districts, while three other members and the council president are elected at large.