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Massachusetts income tax rate decrease takes effect on January 1

In the general election of 2000, Massachusetts voters approved Question 4 with 59 percent of the vote. The initiative enacted a law that would lower the state’s personal income tax from 5.9% in 2000 to 5% by 2003.

In 2002, the Massachusetts General Court passed House No. H.5250, which replaced the schedule adopted by Question 4 with a more gradual decrease tied to revenue milestones. The act decreased the state’s personal income tax rate by 0.05% every fiscal year that revenue benchmarks were met. On January 1, 2020, the rate will decrease to 5%—the target rate of Question 4.

The rate decrease is expected to lower tax revenue by $88 million in fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30, 2020. Massachusetts is one of nine states with a flat income tax rate. In 2019, the average income tax rate among those states was 4.49 percent.

From 2010 through 2018, Massachusetts voters approved 8 citizen initiatives. Of those, two were altered by the state legislature; one was amended and one

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Additional Reading:
Legislative alteration


27% drop in recall efforts in 2019

This year, fewer state and local recall efforts were started or reached the ballot compared to 2018. Ballotpedia covered 151 recall efforts against 230 officials in 2019. In comparison, 206 recall efforts targeted 299 officials in 2018. Since Ballotpedia released its first annual recall report in 2012, a minimum of 151 efforts (2019) and a maximum of 282 efforts (2016) have been covered each year.

In addition to having fewer recalls overall, 2019 also saw a lower success rate for recalls that made the ballot. Of the 66 officials whose recalls reached the ballot, 34 (52%) were recalled and 32 remained in office. Recall efforts in 2017 and 2018 both had a higher success rate, 56% and 63% respectively.

In other ways, however, 2019 was similar to previous years. As in 2016, 2017, and 2018, city council officials drew more recall petitions than any other group. A total of 90 city council members were targeted in 2019. Mayors and vice-mayors faced the second-most recall efforts with 45. In comparison, 93 city council officials and 39 mayors and vice-mayors were targeted in 2018.

California led the way with the highest number of officials targeted for recall with 37. The state previously had the most recall efforts in 2015 (80), 2016 (79), and 2017 (61). Colorado (28) and Idaho (23) were second and third in total recall efforts in 2019.

Of the recall efforts covered in 2019, 20% were still underway as of December 17 and another 6% had recall elections scheduled. A total of 40% of the efforts did not make it to the ballot.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
Recall overview
Political recall efforts, 2019

New CFPB lawsuit raises nondelegation challenge

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a pro bono law firm with a focus on the administrative state, filed a lawsuit on December 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on the grounds that Congress unlawfully delegated appropriations power to the agency in violation of the nondelegation doctrine. Prior constitutional challenges to the CFPB, including a case currently pending before the United States Supreme Court, have claimed that the CFPB’s single director is unconstitutionally insulated from removal by the president.

The nondelegation doctrine is a legal principle holding that legislative bodies cannot delegate their legislative powers to executive agencies or private entities. In other words, lawmakers can’t allow non-lawmakers to make laws. The case, Law Offices of Crystal Moroney v. Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, alleges that Congress violated the nondelegation doctrine by granting the CFPB the authority to draw funding directly from the Federal Reserve. This grant of authority, according to NCLA, allows the agency to unilaterally exercise appropriations power and evade oversight from congressional appropriations committees.

The lawsuit also reiterates the claim that the structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional because its single director (rather than multi-member commission) has protections that guard against direct removal by the president. This question is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The case further alleges that the CFPB violated Crystal Moroney’s due process rights by issuing, withdrawing, and—after a federal court dismissed the case—reissuing civil investigative demands against Moroney’s law firm.

Click here to learn more about the nondelegation doctrine.
Click here to learn more about the appointment and removal power.

Additional reading:

Ballotpedia’s annual minimum wage increase report: 24 states and D.C. will increase their minimum wages in 2020

Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. will increase their minimum wages in 2020. The increases range from between $0.10 per hour in Florida to $1.50 per hour in New Mexico, Washington, and New York City for certain employees. In New York and Oregon, state laws provide for regional minimum wages.
Eight minimum wages will increase due to wages being indexed to changes in cost-of-living or inflation. Minimum wages in 10 states and D.C. will increase due to legislative bills scheduling specific increases, and they will increase in six states due to citizen-initiated measures scheduling specific increases.
In 2020, the largest minimum wage increases based on state laws are $1.50 in New Mexico ($7.50 to $9.00), Washington ($12.00 to $13.50), and New York City ($13.50 to $15.00 for certain employees).
The highest minimum wage based on state law is $15.00 in New York City in 2020. The highest statewide minimum wages based on state laws are $13.50 per hour in Washington and $13.00 in California.
In 2019, there were no statewide ballot measures related to minimum wages. Legislation to increase state minimum wages were approved by state legislatures and signed into law in five states in 2019.
One measure, a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative in Florida, has been certified for the 2020 ballot so far. Potential measures designed to increase minimum wages in Arizona and Idaho and one measure to prohibit local minimum wage increases in Missouri were filed targeting 2020 ballots.
Click here to learn more.
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Andrew Yang leads in pageviews for the first time since October; Amy Klobuchar has highest week-over-week pageview jump

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.

Andrew Yang’s campaign page on Balloptedia received 2,421 views for the week of December 15-21. Yang’s pageview figure represents 11.7% of the pageviews for the week. Amy Klobuchar had 10.1% of the pageviews for the week, followed by Joe Biden with 10.0%. This is Yang’s first time leading in pageviews since the week of October 13-19.

Every Democratic candidate other than Julián Castro had more pageviews last week than the week before. The three candidates with the greatest week-over-week increases were Amy Klobuchar (81.1%), Andrew Yang (40.0%), and Tom Steyer (34.1%).

Andrew Yang remains the leader in overall pageviews this year with 154,956. He is followed by Pete Buttigieg with 147,578 and Joe Biden with 138,970.

For more information on pageviews and detailed lifetime stats, click here:
Presidential campaign pageviews on Ballotpedia, 2020

Two 2020 congressional retirements announced last week; 2,149 major party candidates filed for 2020 races

Two U.S. representatives announced last week they will not seek re-election to the U.S. House: Republican Reps. Mark Meadows (NC-11) and Mark Walker (NC-06). That brings the number of Republicans retiring from the House to 25. To date, four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) and 34 Representatives (25 Republicans and nine Democrats) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.


As of December 23, 2019, 318 candidates are filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 271—143 Democrats and 128 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.


For U.S. House, 2,010 candidates are filed with the FEC to run in 2020. Of those, 1,878—928 Democrats and 950 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.


On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, where all seats are up for election, Democrats currently hold a majority with 233 seats.


Additional Reading:


Massachusetts changes federal and state primary date in 2020 to September 1

On December 13, 2019, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (R) signed H4246, a supplemental appropriations bill, into law. The bill includes a section changing the state’s primary election date for federal and state-level offices from September 15, 2020, to September 1, 2020. No candidate filing deadlines have been altered as a result of this change. Massachusetts’ presidential preference primary will still take place on March 3, 2020.
The bill as originally adopted by the legislature would have moved the implementation of automatic voter registration, provided for by a 2018 law, from January 1, 2020, to April 1, 2020. Baker vetoed this provision of the bill, saying, “I cannot approve sections that would jeopardize the success of the program and require a substantial change to the voter registration process in the middle of an election cycle.” Baker signed the remainder of the bill into law. In his signing statement, he did not address the primary election date change.
As originally scheduled, Massachusetts’ September 15 primary would have tied with Delaware’s for latest in the nation. Now, three states will hold their primaries after Massachusetts: New Hampshire and Rhode Island on September 8 and Delaware on September 15.
Click here to read more.

DNC raises polling and fundraising thresholds for January debate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
December 23, 2019: The Democratic National Committee released the criteria to qualify for the January presidential primary debate, raising both the polling and fundraising thresholds. The Democratic presidential candidates head to Iowa and New Hampshire over the holidays.

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail. Happy holidays! We’ll return with the Daily Presidential News Briefing on Monday, December 30. If you also subscribe to the Weekly Briefing, this email will replace your Friday delivery for these next two holiday weeks.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Overall, Latinos are far more likely to be Democrats than Republicans, but Hispanic men are more likely than Hispanic women to vote Republican. …

The emerging divide highlights the complexity of what is now the nation’s largest minority group before a presidential election where immigration and identity will be core issues.

President Donald Trump is hoping that his inroads among Hispanics will help him win the pivotal swing state of Florida, and possibly provide enough support to threaten Democrats in states like New Mexico and Nevada. Still, the gender gap has traditionally helped Democrats because women are more likely to vote than men, so that party benefits more from its disproportionate support among women.”

– Nicholas Riccardi, Associated Press


  • The Democratic National Committee released the criteria to qualify for the January presidential primary debate, raising both the polling and fundraising thresholds. Each candidate has to receive 5% support or more in at least four national or early state polls or 7% support or more in at least two early state polls to meet the debate’s polling threshold. Candidates also have to meet a fundraising threshold of 225,000 unique donors and a minimum of 1,000 donors in at least 20 states. Candidates have until Jan. 10 to qualify. Five have already qualified: Joe BidenPete ButtigiegAmy KlobucharBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

  • Michael Bennet campaigned in Iowa on Sunday and Monday, holding meet-and-greet events in Indianola, Boone, and Johnston.

  • Biden will campaign in Iowa on Dec. 27-28 with events in Iowa County, Tipton, Washington, and Fairfield.

  • Michael Bloomberg campaigned in Detroit on Saturday, where he opened an office. He also opened offices in Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

  • Cory Booker will finish his five-day tour of Iowa on Monday with stops in Henry, Warren, and Polk counties.

  • Buttigieg will campaign in Iowa from Dec. 28-30 with stops in Marshalltown, West Des Moines, Knoxville, and other cities. He released his immigration platform on Sunday, which would reverse Trump administration policies, create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. without legal permission, and establish a National Office of New Americans.

  • Julián Castro made five campaign stops in Seattle on Friday, including speaking with immigration advocates at the headquarters of OneAmerica.

  • Tulsi Gabbard is campaigning in New Hampshire from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, holding town halls in Hollis, Hudson, Salem, Portsmouth, and Barrington.

  • Klobuchar is finishing her four-day tour of Iowa on Monday with stops in Sheldon, Ashton, and Lyon. She will also campaign in South Dakota. Her campaign said she raised more than $1 million in the 24 hours following the sixth Democratic debate.

  • Deval Patrick will continue to campaign in New Hampshire on Monday, speaking in Manchester and Exeter.

  • Sanders will campaign in New Hampshire from Dec. 27-29, holding town halls on healthcare, democracy, and environmental issues.

  • Tom Steyer will campaign in Colorado from Dec. 28-29, including a town hall with state Secretary of State Jena Griswold.

  • Warren will campaign in Iowa Dec. 28-29, holding town halls in Des Moines, Clarinda, and Council Bluffs.

  • On Friday, Marianne Williamson began airing a new ad in Iowa markets and on social media that will run until the end of the caucuses. Williamson will campaign in Los Angeles on Monday and return to Iowa from Dec. 27-29.

  • Andrew Yang made appearances on CNN and PBS NewsHour over the weekend.


  • Donald Trump spoke at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday. He will remain in the state for the holidays.

  • The North Carolina Board of Elections added Joe Walsh and Bill Weld to the Republican primary ballot after they submitted petitions. The state Republican Party had only submitted Trump’s name for the ballot in October.

Flashback: December 23, 2015

Mike Huckabee said that he would consider dropping out of the presidential race if he did not place first, second or third in Iowa. “If we can’t come within striking distance of the victory or win it, then I think we recognize that it’s going to be hard to take that onto the other states,” he said.blank

Click here to learn more.

Republican wins Tennessee House special election

A special general election was held for District 77 of the Tennessee House of Representatives on December 19, 2019. Rusty Grills (R) won the special election with 3,344 votes and defeated Michael Smith (D), Max Smith (I), Ronnie Henley (I), and Billy Jones (I).

The primary was held on November 5, 2019. The filing deadline passed on September 26, 2019.

The special election was called after Bill Sanderson (R) resigned his seat on July 24, 2019, citing family and business demands. Casey Hood (R) was appointed as an interim representative by the Obion County Commission, serving until the special election was held for a permanent representative. Hood was defeated by Grills in the Republican primary.

Republicans have a 73-26 majority in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Tennessee 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 November, 77 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states this year. Eighteen special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 11 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Click here to learn more.

Filing deadline passes for Ohio candidates

On December 18, the major-party filing deadline passed to run for elected office in Ohio. Candidates filed for:

  • 16 seats for the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • Six seats on the State Board of Education’
  • 16 seats in the Ohio State Senate;
  • 99 seats in the Ohio State House;
  • Two Ohio Supreme Court justices; and
  • 21 Ohio District Courts of Appeals justices.
  • Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
    • Franklin County
    • Cuyahoga County
    • Lucas County
    • Columbus
    • Cleveland
    • Cincinnati
    • Toledo
    • Multiple local school board elections

The primary is scheduled for March 17, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Ohio’s statewide filing deadline was the sixth filing deadline to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline was on December 20 in North Carolina.

Entering the 2020 election, the state Senate has 9 Democrats, 23 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 17 seats. The state House has 38 Democrats and 60 Republicans. A majority in the chamber requires 50 seats.

Ohio has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Click here to learn more.

Additional reading:
United States House of Representatives elections in Ohio, 2020
Voting in Ohio