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Highlights from Tuesday’s Republican primary debate in Mississippi gubernatorial election

State Rep. Robert Foster, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and former state supreme court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. are running in the August 6 Republican primary for a chance to succeed Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. The candidates participated in the first and only scheduled televised debate of the primary July 23. Some highlights from the debate are below.
  • Taxes to fund infrastructure improvements: Foster proposed eliminating the personal income tax and making small increases to the gas and sales tax. Waller said he supports increasing the gas tax while eliminating the 4% income tax bracket. Reeves said he opposes raising the gas tax.
  • Medicaid expansion: Waller said he supports expanding Medicaid in Mississippi similar to how Mike Pence did as governor of Indiana. Reeves said he opposes Medicaid expansion. Foster said all options are on the table for him.
  • Effect of state flag’s Confederate imagery on business: All three candidates said they did not believe the flag was keeping businesses out of Mississippi. Foster stated that taxes are having that effect. Waller said changes to the state flag should be left up to voters and not the state legislature. Reeves said he opposes action by the governor or legislature to change the flag and that the issue has not come up in economic development meetings he has been involved in.
Candidates also discussed teacher pay, marijuana, the minimum wage, and the inclusion of women in the next administration.
 
Bryant won the past two general elections with more than 60 percent of the vote. The state’s last Democratic governor was Ronnie Musgrove, who served from 1999 to 2003. Eight candidates are running in the August 6 Democratic primary. Two of three election forecasters tracked by Ballotpedia rate the November 5 general election as “Leans Republican” and the other rated it as “Likely Republican.”


Triplex status at play in three states this year

A triplex occurs when a state’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state all belong to the same political party, a situation which can reduce conflict between state executives. Currently, there are 18 Republican and 17 Democratic state triplexes.
 
Three states are holding elections in 2019 which could affect their triplex status: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Currently, neither Republicans nor Democrats hold triplexes in any of these three states. The offices of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state will be on the ballot in each state.
 
In Kentucky, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is currently serving with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Either party could gain triplex control during the November 5 general election.
 
In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards serves with Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. The November 16 general election will determine whether either party will gain control of all three offices.
 
In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant serves with Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Republicans and Democrats will vie for triplex control during Mississippi’s November 5 general election.
 


New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

New Jersey donor disclosure law faces legal challenges

On June 25, Americans for Prosperity filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging New Jersey S150, which amended the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act, violates the First Amendment. 

  • Who are the parties to the suit?
    • Americans for Prosperity, the plaintiff, is a 501(c)(4) political advocacy group that describes itself as “an organization of grassroots leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels.” The defendants are New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) and the commissioners of the Election Law Enforcement Commission: Eric Jaso, Stephen Holden, and Marguerite Simon.
  • What is at issue?
    • Attorneys for Americans for Prosperity wrote. “The First Amendment safeguards individuals’ rights to associate privately and advocate anonymously throughout the United States. … Protecting the integrity of elections may be a sufficiently important reason to justify, under exacting scrutiny, regulation of electioneering communications, but the same is not true of issue advocacy. Rammed through in a rush to exact political revenge, [S150] obliterates this fundamental distinction and oversteps constitutional bounds by subjecting issue advocacy to the formidable regulations and burdens properly reserved for electioneering.”
  • What does the legislation do? 
    • S150 defines an independent expenditure committee as any person or group organized under sections 501(c)(4) or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that spends $3,000 or more annually to influence or provide political information about any of the following:
      • “the outcome of any election or the nomination, election, or defeat of any person to any state or local elective public office”
      • “the passage or defeat of any public question, legislation, or regulation”
      • Independent expenditure committees will be required to disclose all expenditures exceeding $3,000. These committees will also be required to disclose the identities of their donors who contribute $10,000 or more.
      • Political context: New Jersey is a Democratic trifecta, meaning Democrats control the governorship and both chambers of the state Legislature.
  • How have the defendants responded?
    • Neither the attorney general nor the Election Law Enforcement Commission have commented publicly on the litigation. 
  • The case, Americans for Prosperity v. Grewal (case number 3:19-cv-14228), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We’re currently tracking 72 pieces of legislation dealing with donor disclosure. 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 state

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

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

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken on relevant bills in the past two weeks. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number. Know of any legislation we’re missing? Please email us so we can include it on our tracking list.

  • New Hampshire SB105: This bill would establish disclosure requirements for certain contributions made to inaugural committees.
    • Enacted July 15.
  • New Hampshire SB156: This bill would require that political contributions made by limited liability companies be allocated to individual members in order to determine whether individuals have exceeded contribution limits.
    • Vetoed July 15.


Delaney proposes mandatory national service program

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 29, 2019: John Delaney proposed a mandatory national service program. Cory Booker reached the donor threshold to qualify for the third Democratic presidential debate.


There are eight new candidates running since last week, including two Republicans. In total, 799 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“U.S. politics is not a national contest. Victories in Congress, state politics and the Electoral College all depend on winning majorities or hefty pluralities in heartland states and areas that are not big cities. Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 mainly because she was whomped in non-urban areas where Obama had lost by far smaller margins. Media commentators and lefty advocates often speak as if the United States is one big national polity, where appeals to one demographic slice or another are decisive. But it just isn’t so. Piling up votes on the liberal coasts matters not at all, if party candidates lose in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Carolina.”

– Theda Skocpol, Harvard University professor of government and sociology

Democrats

  • Michael Bennet spoke about healthcare and his rural policy while campaigning in Iowa. He also discussed the death penalty in an interview on The Insiders with Dave Price.
  • Joe Biden released lists of new endorsements in Florida and Tennessee.
  • Cory BookerPete Buttigieg, and Julián Castro spoke at forums hosted by the New Leaders Council Convention Friday and Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • Booker passed the 130,000-donor threshold for the third presidential debate, reaching both the grassroots fundraising and polling requirements to qualify.
  • In an interview on Up with David GuraSteve Bullock discussed Democratic party leadership and said he did not support impeachment at this time.
  • Buttigieg campaigned in Michigan, speaking in Detroit about racial justice, climate change, and education.
  • John Delaney announced a plan to establish a mandatory national service program for Americans turning 18 years old or graduating from high school. They would receive at least two years of free tuition at a public college or university or tuition for vocational or technical training. The plan would apply to those born after 2006 and would be phased in.
  • The Washington Post profiled Tulsi Gabbard, including her candidacy, lawsuit against Google, and campaign messaging.
  • Kamala Harris released a plan to spend $10 billion on laboratories and other infrastructure at historically black colleges and universities and $50 billion in scholarships, internships, and curriculum in STEM fields. Harris also called for spending $12 billion on entrepreneurship programs.
  • John Hickenlooper wrote an op-ed about gun violence and mass shootings for CNN.com.
  • Jay Inslee issued his community climate justice platform focused on climate inequality. His plan includes tracking pollution hotspots and climate change effects, establishing an Office of Environmental Justice, spending $1.2 trillion on frontline communities, and creating a universal clean energy service fund to address energy insecurity.
  • Amy Klobuchar met with AFSCME Council 61 members while campaigning in Iowa over the weekend.
  • Seth Moulton participated in a meet and greet in the Hamptons as part of the Common Good’s presidential candidate series Saturday.
  • CNN profiled Beto O’Rourke’s political journey from city council to 2020 presidential candidate.
  • Fletcher Smith and Brandon Brown, who helped lead Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign in South Carolina, announced they were endorsing Tim Ryan.
  • Ryan released his industrial and manufacturing plan on Saturday. He called for doubling union membership, expanding apprenticeship programs, raising the minimum wage to $15, and increasing infrastructure funding.
  • Bernie Sanders appeared on Pod Save America Friday to discuss democratic socialism, Medicare for All, and the Israeli government.
  • Sanders joined Type 1 diabetes patients traveling to Canada for cheaper insulin Sunday and criticized pricing in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Joe Sestak held a campaign event focused on Iran and national security in Iowa Saturday.
  • Tom Steyer advocated impeachment on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.
  • CNN published a video profile of Elizabeth Warren on her law professor years and transition from conservative to progressive.
  • USA Today interviewed Marianne Williamson about her performance in the Miami debate.
  • Andrew Yang wrote an op-ed on CNN.com about why he started Venture for America and his support for a universal basic income.

Republicans

  • The Washington Post reported on Jared Kushner’s role in Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, describing him as a “de facto campaign manager.”
  • Bill Weld criticized Trump’s rhetoric in an interview on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 28, 2015

Politico examined the fundraising and organizational challenges faced by Rand Paul’s presidential campaign.

 



Trump administration requests D.C. Circuit lift injunction blocking civil service executive orders

Trump administration officials asked the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to immediately lift the injunction blocking enforcement of President Trump’s (R) three civil service executive orders. Government attorneys argued that the injunction has created uncertainty and stalled collective bargaining negotiations between federal agencies and union groups.
 
A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit unanimously reversed and vacated a lower court decision that had blocked provisions of three civil service executive orders issued by President Trump (R). The judges held in their July 16 ruling that the lower court did not have jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs—a coalition of union groups—should have brought the case before the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) as required by the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (FSLMRS).
 
Plaintiffs have a 45-day grace period to request a rehearing in the case before the injunction is lifted. Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, stated on July 24 stated that the plaintiffs plan to seek a rehearing before the full D.C. Circuit.
 


Council on Environmental Quality extends comment period for new greenhouse gas emissions guidance

On July 24, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) gave the public more time to comment on new guidance related to how federal agencies should address greenhouse gas emissions. The guidance tells agencies to focus on the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences of major actions. It also tells agencies that they do not have to weigh the monetary costs and benefits of proposed actions under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
 
The CEQ published the draft guidance in the Federal Register on June 26 and originally scheduled a month for public feedback. After a request to extend the comment period, CEQ published a notice moving the deadline to August 26, 2019.
 
The CEQ guidance will replace 2016 guidance about greenhouse gas emissions. The 2016 guidance was withdrawn following President Trump’s Executive Order 13783, which directed federal agencies to review all rules related to domestic energy development and to remove any that imposed significant economic costs.
 
The NEPA established the CEQ inside the Executive Office of the President to coordinate agency actions that affect environmental quality and to make sure agencies comply with NEPA requirements. The NEPA requires agencies to consider the environmental consequences of proposed actions and to tell the public about how the agency makes decisions.
 
Guidance is a term in administrative law used to describe documents created by administrative agencies to explain rules, laws, and procedures. Guidance documents affect how agencies administer regulations and programs. However, they are not supposed to be legally binding in the same way as rules issued through the rulemaking processes of the Administrative Procedure Act.
 


Federal Register weekly update; highest weekly number of significant regulatory actions since May

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 July 22 to July 26, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,452 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 36,454 pages. The week’s Federal Register featured a total of 486 documents, including 367 notices, 10 presidential documents, 43 proposed rules, and 66 final rules.
 
Three proposed rules and one final rule 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 1,646 pages for a year-to-date total of 36,398 pages. As of July 26, the 2019 total led the 2018 total by 56 pages.
 
The Trump administration has added an average of 1,215 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of July 26. Over the course of 2018, the Trump administration added an average of 1,301 pages to the Federal Register each week. During the Obama administration, the Federal Register increased by an average of 1,658 pages per week.
 
According to government data, the Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.
 
Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.
 
Additional reading:
Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2016: https://ballotpedia.org/Historical_additions_to_the_Federal_Register,_1936-2016


Thirteen recall efforts targeting 31 school board members so far this year

Ballotpedia has tracked 13 recall efforts targeting 31 school board members so far in 2019. Three of those recalls have been certified for the ballot, and one recall election was on the ballot on February 19. Both board members were removed from office in that election. Another recall election against one board member was scheduled for July 16, but it was put on hold in June pending court action. A third recall election targeting three board members is scheduled for August 27.
 
As of July 26, recall efforts against 13 board members are still underway, while efforts against nine board members have ended and will not be going to a vote. Three board members resigned after recall efforts were started against them.
 
As of this time last year, four recall elections had been held against seven school board members. Six members were removed from office in the elections, and one was retained. Another seven recall elections were held later in 2018 against 19 school board members. Fifteen of those members were removed from office in the elections, and four were retained. Overall, 33 school board recall efforts targeting 74 board members nationwide were covered by Ballotpedia in 2018.
 
Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials in 2018. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.
 


Six candidates running in Republican primary for South Carolina House district

A primary is being held in District 84 of the South Carolina House of Representatives on July 30. Republicans Cody Anderson, Danny Feagin, Ralph Gunter, Melissa Oremus, Alvin Padgett, and Sean Pumphrey are running in the primary. No Democratic candidates filed to run. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a primary runoff will be held on August 13. The special general election was scheduled for October 1.
 
District 84 became vacant after Ronnie Young (R) passed away on May 19, 2019. Young had served in the state House since 2017. He won re-election in 2018 with 65% of the vote in the general election.
 
Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 78-44 majority in the state House with two vacancies. A special election in District 19 of the state House is scheduled for August 20. South Carolina 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 July, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 


Three of four Hialeah City Council incumbents ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits

Hialeah, Florida, is holding elections for four of its seven city council seats, and candidates have until July 29 to file to run. The primary is scheduled for November 5. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a general election will be held on November 19. Unopposed candidates do not appear on the ballot and are automatically declared winners.
 
The seats up for election are Groups 1, 2, 3, and 4. City council members are elected at large to specific seats. Group 2 incumbent Jose F. Caragol, Group 3 incumbent Vivian Casals-Munoz, and Group 4 incumbent Isis Garcia-Martinez have each served the maximum three consecutive terms on the council and cannot seek re-election. Group 1 incumbent Lourdes Lozano is the only incumbent who can seek another term. First elected in 2011, Lozano would be serving her third and final consecutive term if she wins in November.
 
All four seats were most recently on the ballot in 2015; in that race, all four incumbents and three challengers filed to compete in the election. Lozano and Garcia-Martinez held their seats automatically because they faced no challengers. Caragol and Casals-Munoz won re-election in the primary with 53.1% and 60.3% of the vote, respectively.
 
Hialeah is the sixth-largest city in Florida and the 88th-largest city in the U.S. by population.