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Alaska adopts final state legislative map

On Nov. 10, 2021, the Alaska Redistricting Board adopted a new legislative map outlining the state’s 20 Senate districts and 40 House districts as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle. While the new map has been enacted, there will now be a 30-day period during which interested parties may file legal challenges against the new map.

The board’s three Republican-appointed members—John Binkley, Bethany Marcum, and Budd Simpson— voted in favor of the final map while the two nonpartisan members—Melanie Bahnke and Nicole Borromeo—voted against it.

The Midnight Sun’s Matt Buxton wrote that, during the Nov. 10 meeting, Bahnke and Borromeo, “pulled no punches when arguing that the Senate pairing for the Anchorage-area … were both a racial and partisan gerrymander that favored conservatives and drew the entirety of the plan into question.”

Regarding the process, Binkley, the board’s chairman, said, “I think the board earnestly … tried to put together a fair plan … But sometimes, those are in the eyes of the beholder. And some people … can look at one plan and say it’s fair. Other people can look at it and say it’s not fair.”

KTOO’s Andrew Kitchenman reported that, since the new map largely altered the state’s Senate districts, 19 of the 20 districts will hold elections in 2022. Alaska normally staggers elections to its Senate with half the chamber holding elections in one even-year cycle and the other half holding elections in the next and all members serving four-year terms. In 2022, certain districts will elect senators to two-year terms while others will elect them to four-year terms in order to restart the staggered process under the new lines. Alaska’s House districts hold elections every two years.

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Texas Gov. Abbott appoints state supreme court justice

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) appointed Evan Young to the Texas State Supreme court on Nov. 1, 2021. Young assumed office on Nov. 9. Young’s appointment fills the vacancy created by Eva Guzman, who resigned from the court in June 2021 to run for Texas attorney general. 

Under Texas law, the governor appoints a replacement to the Texas Supreme Court in the event of a midterm vacancy. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which they must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term. 

Before his appointment to the Texas Supreme Court, Young worked as a clerk to Judge Harvie Wilkinson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Young received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and from Oxford University. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School.

In 2021, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Seventeen of the vacancies have been caused by retirements, and one vacancy was caused by a justice’s death. To date, 14 of those vacancies have been filled.

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The state legislative seats that flipped on Nov. 2

Welcome to the Monday, November 15, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

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

  1. The state legislative seats that changed parties on Nov. 2
  2. Medicaid expansion initiative in South Dakota
  3. Clallam County, Wa., election results
  4. Redistricting update

Eleven state legislative seats changed party hands on Nov. 2

On Nov. 2, control of at least 11 state legislative seats in Virginia and New Jersey flipped from one political party to another. Ten of those seats flipped from Democratic to Republican control and the other flipped from Republican to Democratic control. There are four outstanding races still to be called, so these numbers could change. 

The 11 seats flipped out of the 220 seats up for election means that 5.0% of the state legislative seats up for election on Nov. 2 changed party control. The net change was +9 for Republicans and -9 for Democrats. In 2019, 33 of 538 seats (6%) changed party hands. The net change that year was +6 for Republicans, -2 for Democrats, and -4 for Independent or third parties.

Let’s take a look at the state that saw the most legislative seats change party hands on Nov. 2—Virginia

Republicans won at least five Virginia House of Delegates seats previously held by Democrats, with two races still uncalled. Republican candidates won the Democratic-held seats in Districts 12, 28, 63, 75, and 83 to break the Democratic majority in the chamber. Democrats had picked up two of those seats from Republicans in 2019, District 28 and District 83, when they won control of the chamber that year. Democrats won a majority in the chamber for the first time in 20 years when they picked up six seats in the 2019 elections, going from a 49-51 minority before the election to a 55-45 majority after the election.

Two of the seats that changed party control had previously been held by Democrats going back to at least 2015. Two seats were previously Republican seats that Democrats flipped in 2019 and Republicans recaptured in 2021. 

More state legislative seats flipped this year as a result of special elections, which are not included as part of this analysis. Five seats have changed party hands as a result of special elections in 2021: three from Democratic to Republican and two from Republican to Democratic. Two flips (one each way) happened as a result of a Nov. 2 special election.

Keep reading

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submit signatures for Medicaid expansion initiative 

The 2021 ballot measure season is behind us, and now we’re onto 2022. Here’s an update from a recently submitted measure.

On Nov. 8, South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submitted 47,000 signatures for their Medicaid expansion initiative. Nov. 8 was the deadline for initiated constitutional amendment petitions in South Dakota. To qualify for the ballot, 33,921 valid signatures were required. 

The measure would amend the constitution to require the state to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between 18 and 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level. Because the Affordable Care Act includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to those with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

As of 2021, a total of 38 states and Washington, D.C., had expanded or voted to expand Medicaid, while 13 states had not. Six states have expanded Medicaid through citizen initiatives. 

To date, 61 statewide ballot measures had been certified in 29 states for the 2022 ballot.

Keep reading 

Clallam County voters decide municipal elections

Over the last several months, we’ve periodically updated you on municipal elections in Clallam County, Wa. We’ve focused on this county because of its unique status as the county nationwide with the longest unbroken record of voting for the winning presidential candidate, going back to 1980. Since 1920, voters in Clallam backed the winning presidential candidate in every election except 1968 and 1976.

Clallam held general elections on Nov. 2 in its three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. The Clallam County Auditor’s office is periodically updating results until results are certified on Nov. 23. Results were last updated Nov. 5, and are scheduled to be updated again on Nov. 15. The Auditor’s office estimates 50 ballots remain uncounted.  

Here is an overview of election results from Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks.

Port Angeles 

Port Angeles, the county seat, had eight offices up for election in 2021, including four city council seats and two seats on the school board. Six of those races were contested and two were uncontested.

Incumbents were on the ballot in seven of the eight races, including in all four city council races. All incumbents won re-election. 

Sequim

Sequim had eleven offices up for election, including five of seven city council seats. Seven of those races were contested. Incumbents appeared on the ballot in eight races, including in all five city council races. Five incumbents won re-election. Incumbents lost in three of the five city council races.

In the Sequim School District Director at Large, Position No. 4 race, Kristi Schmeck defeated Virginia R. Sheppard. She won 55.93% of the vote to Sheppard’s 42.72%. This was an unusual race because Schmeck suspended her primary campaign in the spring but still finished first in the Aug. 2 primary election. Sheppard came in second in the primary. In Washington, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Following the Aug. 2 primary, Schmeck re-entered the race and garnered the most votes in the Nov. 2 general election. 

Forks

Seven offices were up for election in Forks, including two city council seats and the mayor’s seat. Three of those races were contested.

Incumbents appeared on the ballot in six races, two of which were contested. All incumbents won re-election in Forks.

To see detailed results from all races in Clallam County, click the link below. 

Keep reading 

Alaska adopts final state legislative map, sets stage for 2022 elections

On Nov. 10, the Alaska Redistricting Board adopted a new legislative map outlining the state’s 20 Senate districts and 40 House districts as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle. While the new map has been enacted, there will now be a 30-day period during which time interested parties may file legal challenges against the new map.

KTOO’s Andrew Kitchenman reported that since the new map largely altered the state’s Senate districts, 19 of the 20 districts will hold elections in 2022. Alaska normally staggers elections to its Senate with half the chamber holding elections in one even-year cycle and the other half holding elections in the next and all members serving four-year terms. In 2022, certain districts will elect senators to two-year terms while others will elect them to four-year terms in order to restart the staggered process under the new lines. Alaska’s House districts hold elections every two years.

Keep reading



Fifth Circuit stays Biden administration coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the Fifth Circuit’s decision to stay the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirement and SCOTUS’ accepting three more cases for argument. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. 

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

On Wednesday, Biden met with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Washington, D.C. He also attended former Governor Ruth Ann Minner’s funeral in Milford, Delaware, and delivered remarks on the infrastructure deal at the Dundalk-Marine Terminal at the Port of Baltimore, Maryland. 

On Thursday, Biden participated in the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Camp David, Maryland. 

Opinion polling comparison during the Trump and Biden administrations

President Biden’s approval rating for the 41st week of his term was 43.8%, down 0.3 percentage points from the week before. President Trump’s approval rating at the same point in his term was 38.3%, down 0.4 percentage points from the week before.

Federal Judiciary

  • 77 federal judicial vacancies
  • 26 pending nominations
  • 33 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 33 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Jan. 21, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Vanessa Gilmore announced that she would retire on Jan. 2, 2022. The most recent announcement was on Nov. 4, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit Judge Susan Carney announced that she would assume senior status upon the confirmation of her successor. As of Nov. 12, sixteen vacancy effective dates are unknown because the judge has not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy is scheduled to occur on Nov. 23, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson assumes senior status.

For historical comparison, the week of Nov. 8-14, 2020, there were 65 federal judicial vacancies and three upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS accepts three cases for argument during the 2021-2022 term

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Nov. 5 accepted three additional cases for argument during its 2021-2022 term:

Ruan concerns the good faith defense available to defendants charged under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. The question presented to the court in the case is: “[W]hether a physician alleged to have prescribed controlled substances outside the usual course of professional practice may be convicted under Section 841(a)(1) without regard to whether, in good faith, he ‘reasonably believed’ or ‘subjectively intended’ that his prescriptions fall within that course of professional practice.” Ruan originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, and Kahn came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Marietta Memorial Hospital originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and concerns the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. The Act prohibits group health plans from considering a plan participant’s eligibility when the individual has end-stage renal disease, and from providing different benefits to these individuals compared to other covered participants. 

Egbert came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and concerns the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents (1971). In Bivens claims, private individuals may sue FBI agents for violating their Fourth, Fifth, and/or Eighth Amendment rights. 

The court had agreed to hear 48 cases during its 2021-2022 term as of Nov. 5. Three cases were dismissed, and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Fifteen cases had not yet been scheduled for argument. To date, the court has issued decisions in two cases, both of which were decided without argument.

Fifth Circuit stays Biden administration coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employees

On Nov. 6, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the implementation of the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine or testing requirement for companies with more than 100 employees, which was set to take effect on Jan. 4, 2022. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the rule as an emergency regulation on Nov. 5, 2021.

On the same day the rule was released, five states, led by Texas, filed a lawsuit against OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor. In the plaintiffs’ motion to stay, they argued the rule exceeded OSHA’s scope of authority and its enactment violated administrative law standards. Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah are also plaintiffs in the suit.

This lawsuit is one of four multistate lawsuits filed against the OSHA emergency regulation. As of Nov. 11, there were at least five additional multistate lawsuits filed against the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement rules for federal contractors and healthcare workers.

Redistricting Roundup

Montana

On Nov. 12, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacted a new congressional map following the 2020 redistricting cycle. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the map and to transmit it to the Montana Secretary of State. Both Republican commissioners and Maylinn Smith, the nonpartisan tiebreaker, voted in favor of the map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against the map.

A version of the congressional map enacted by the commission had previously been approved on Nov. 4. The map that received final approval on Nov. 12 made a minor change in Pondera County, allocating a smaller portion of it to the western district.

Following the 2020 census, population increases in Montana gave the state two congressional districts. Previously, the state was an at-large congressional district. The next deadline ahead of the commission will be preparing a legislative redistricting plan by the 10th day of the upcoming regular legislative session.

Ohio

On Nov. 10, the Ohio Joint Committee on Congressional Redistricting held the first of two required public hearings on congressional redistricting proposals. The deadline for enacting new maps is Nov. 30. For any map to be put in place for a full 10 years, support from at least a third of the members of the minority party is required, and any approved plan that does not meet this threshold will only be effective for four years. The joint committee consists of three state Senators and three state Representatives and has four Republicans and two Democrats.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission did not meet an Oct. 31 deadline to draw and approve a congressional district plan, meaning the authority to create such districts passed to the state legislature. Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine (R), said the delayed release of U.S. Census Bureau data “essentially took five months out of the process,” and did not leave sufficient time for the commission to draft and debate new congressional districts. 

Virginia

On Nov. 12, the Virginia Supreme Court disqualified one of the Republican nominees for the position of Special Master as the court began its process for deciding the state’s congressional redistricting plan. According to the order, “the Court believes that [Thomas Bryan’s] work for the Senate Republican Caucus related to the very subject matter for which the Court is called upon to appoint Special Masters creates a conflict.” The court also expressed concerns about the other two Republican nominees and unanimously ordered party leaders to submit three or more additional nominees by Nov. 15. 
The state supreme court is now responsible for drawing new maps after the Virginia Redistricting Commission missed a Nov. 8 deadline to produce an approved congressional district plan. Under the constitutional amendment that established the state’s redistricting process, party leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate are each required to nominate three special masters to assist the court in the redistricting process. The court will then select one special master from each party’s list of nominees. The special masters will have 30 days to draft a proposal to submit to the court for review.



Texas Gov. Abbott appoints Evan Young as state supreme court justice

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights Gov. Abbott’s state supreme court justice appointment and Louisiana’s upcoming primaries. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Nov. 13 preview

Voters in Louisiana will decide four statewide measures on Nov. 13.

Nov. 2 review

Voters in six states decided 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Fourteen (14) measures were approved and 10 were defeated. Four of the measures were citizen initiatives, three were advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one was a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 were legislatively referred constitutional amendments. Click here to see election results.

2022 ballot measures

Sixty-one (61) statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.

States in session

Seven state legislatures—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:

  • Nov. 13 – Louisiana: Voters in Baton Rouge will decide on a property tax measure to fund public transportation.
  • Nov. 9 – Arkansas: Voters in Little Rock approved a property tax increase for libraries.
  • Nov. 2 – Ballotpedia covered 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states. At least 100 were approved, at least 42 were defeated, and the remaining 14 were too close to call as of Nov. 11.

Special Elections

Sixty-six (66) state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Fifty-eight (58) specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 29 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 29. Three seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and two seats 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:

Nov. 13

Nov. 23

Nov. 30

Dec. 7

Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court to recall school board member Brenda Sheridan

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 803 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Sheridan from office.

Five other members were also included in the recall effort. One member passed away in August, and another resigned in November before a trial could take place. Petitions against the other three members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group, which they said 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. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year.

Texas Gov. Abbott appoints Evan Young as state supreme court justice

Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R) appointed Evan Young (R) to the Texas State Supreme court on Nov. 1. Young assumed office on Nov. 9. Young was appointed to succeed Eva Guzman (R), who resigned from the court in June 2021 to run for Texas attorney general. 

Before he was appointed to the state supreme court, Young was a partner at the law firm Baker Botts LLP and a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

Under Texas law, the governor appoints a replacement to the Texas Supreme Court in the event of a midterm vacancy. The Texas State Senate must then confirm the nominee. Appointees serve until the next general election, in which they must participate in a partisan election to remain on the bench for the remainder of the unexpired term.

In 2021, there have been 18 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Seventeen (17) of the vacancies have been caused by retirements, and one vacancy was caused by a justice’s death. To date, 14 of those vacancies have been filled.

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submits signatures for Medicaid expansion initiative

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submitted 47,000 signatures for their Medicaid expansion initiative on Nov. 8. To qualify for the ballot, 33,921 valid signatures are required.

The measure would amend the constitution to require the state to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between ages 18 and 65 whose incomes are below 133% of the federal poverty level. Because the Affordable Care Act includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to cover those with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

As of November 2021, a total of 38 states and Washington, D.C. had expanded or voted to expand Medicaid, while 13 states had not. Six states have expanded Medicaid through citizen initiatives.

Dakotans 4 Health also circulated a Medicaid expansion initiated amendment but did not submit signatures by the deadline. Dakotans 4 Health filed a Medicaid expansion initiative to amend state law (rather than the state constitution). Since the deadlines for initiated measures that amend state law was extended to May 3, 2022, Dakotans 4 Health said they would collect signatures for that measure and would support South Dakotans Decide Healthcare’s constitutional amendment.

Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota enact new legislative maps

Three states enacted new legislative maps this week.

Alaska

The Alaska Redistricting Board adopted a new legislative map on Nov. 10 for the state’s 20 Senate and 40 House districts after the 2020 census. While the new map has been enacted, there will now be a 30-day period during which time interested parties may file legal challenges against the new map. The board’s three Republican-appointed members—John Binkley, Bethan Marcum, and Budd Simpson— voted in favor of the final map while the two nonpartisan members—Melanie Bahnke and Nicole Borromeo—voted against it.

KTOO’s Andrew Kitchenman reported that, since the new map largely altered the state’s Senate districts, 19 of the 20 districts will hold elections in 2022. Alaska normally staggers elections to its Senate, with half the chamber holding elections in one even-year cycle and the other half holding elections in the next, and all members would serve four-year terms. In 2022, certain districts will elect senators to two-year terms while others will elect them to four-year terms in order to restart the staggered process under the new district lines. Alaska’s House districts hold elections every two years.

North Dakota

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed new state legislative maps into law on Nov. 11. The House approved the maps in a 73-18 vote on Nov. 9, and the Senate approved the maps in a 40-7 vote on Nov. 10. Since North Dakota was apportioned a single at-large U.S. House seat, they do not need to draft a congressional map.

The state legislature completed legislative redistricting during a special session that began on Nov. 8. The map was drafted by the Legislative Redistricting Committee, which had fourteen Republican members and two Democratic members. The state maintained its 47 legislative districts, but three new districts were placed near more populous areas and three districts were removed from less populous rural areas.

South Dakota

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) signed legislation enacting the state’s new legislative districts on Nov. 10. Both chambers of the legislature approved the final proposal, known as the Sparrow map, on that day. The state House approved the new districts by a 37-31 vote and the Senate by a vote of 30-2. The South Dakota legislature began a special session to consider redistricting proposals on Nov. 8. 

The Sparrow map was a compromise proposal between two other district plans that each chamber had previously passed. The two proposals mainly differed in their approach to Native American reservations and the rural areas around Rapid City. The Sparrow map preserves Native American districts and redraws the districts covering Rapid City. 

Voters in Dover to decide city council special election on Nov. 16

The city of Dover, D.E., is holding a nonpartisan special election for District 1 on the city council on Nov. 16. The filing deadline for this election was Nov. 1.

Julia Pillsbury and Brandy Walker are running in the special election. The special election was called after Matthew Lindell resigned from his seat on the nine-seat city council after deciding to move from the district. Lindell served from 2017 to 2021.

Dover is the capital city of Delaware and the second-largest city in the state. It had an estimated population of 39,403 in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Ballotpedia covers elections for mayor, city council, and district attorney in all capital cities in the U.S.

Louisiana to hold primaries ahead of the fall general election

Louisiana voters will decide four statewide ballot measures on Nov. 13. In addition to the ballot measures, special election primaries are being held for three seats in the Louisiana State Legislature. Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We are also covering a special election primary for a seat on the Caddo Parish Public Schools school board.

Four statewide ballot measures are certified to appear on the ballot. The measures concern taxes and the state budget. The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

Special election primaries are being held for one seat in the Louisiana State Senate and two seats in the Louisiana House of Representatives. The winners of the special elections will serve until Jan. 8, 2024.

In New Orleans, primaries are being held for mayor, city council, sheriff, assessor, coroner, civil district court clerk, and criminal district court clerk. Two local judicial seats are on the ballot in Baton Rouge.

A special election primary is being held for one seat on the Caddo Parish Public Schools school board. The District 7 seat became vacant on Apr. 6 when Raymond Green resigned to spend more time with his family.

Louisiana elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates compete in the same primary, and a candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate does, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election, regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Gov. Edwards signed an executive order on Sept. 9 postponing the state’s fall elections due to damage from Hurricane Ida. The primary, originally scheduled for Oct. 9, was changed to Nov. 13. The general election, originally scheduled for Nov. 13, was changed to Dec. 11.



Senate committee advances Federal Labor Relations Authority nominees

Senate committee advances Federal Labor Relations Authority nominees

On Nov. 3, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced two nominees to serve on the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and one nominee for FLRA general counsel.

About the nominations 

On July 13, 2021, President Joe Biden (D) re-nominated FLRA Chairman Ernest DuBester (D) to a term ending in 2024. President Barack Obama (D) first appointed DuBester 2009. Obama re-appointed DuBester in 2013 and President Donald Trump (R) appointed him to a third term in 2017. In January 2021, Biden designated DuBester as FLRA chairman, a position he also held in 2013 and 2017. 

On Aug. 9, 2021, Biden nominated Susan Tsui Grundmann (D) to replace current FLRA member James T. Abbott (R), whose term expired in July 2020. (After a member’s term expires, he or she may serve until a successor is appointed or until the end of the next congressional session.) Trump nominated Abbot in 2017. Grundmann previously chaired the Merit Systems Protection Board and currently serves as executive director of the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights.

Also on Aug. 9, Biden nominated former FLRA assistant general counsel Kurt Rumsfeld to serve as FLRA general counsel. Rumsfeld is currently chief counsel for DuBester. There has not been a permanent general counsel since Obama’s presidency. While Trump nominated Catherine Bird as general counsel in 2019, the Senate did not confirm her nomination. Biden appointed Charlotte A. Dye as acting general counsel for the FLRA in March 2021.

About the confirmation process

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for the nominees on Oct. 20, 2021. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) gave opening statements. Sinema said the nominees “all have deep expertise in labor management issues and are well-qualified. Importantly, they all share a reputation for working in a bipartisan manner and applying the appropriate federal statutes in a fair manner.” Lankford said, “The Authority is designed to be bipartisan and it is vital we keep that balance in the years to come. All three nominees have experience in federal labor relations and have largely dedicated their careers to public service in the Federal government.” 

On Nov. 3, the 14-member committee voted 6-5 to advance the nominations to the full Senate. The vote was split along party lines with all Democratic members voting for the nominations and all Republicans against. One Democratic member and two Republican members voted by proxy. To view a list of committee members, click here.    

The nominations have been placed on the Senate’s Executive Calendar to be considered on the floor.   

About the FLRA

The three-member Federal Labor Relations Authority administers the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute, which permits certain federal government employees to unionize and bargain collectively. The FLRA website outlines its responsibilities as follows:

  1. Resolving complaints of unfair labor practices.
  2. Determining the appropriateness of units for labor organization representation.
  3. Adjudicating exceptions to arbitrators’ awards.  
  4. Adjudicating legal issues relating to the duty to bargain.
  5. Resolving impasses during negotiations.

The president appoints FLRA members to serve five-year terms, unless they are appointed to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. No more than two of the three members may belong to the same political party.   

Trump nominated current FLRA member Colleen Duffy Kiko (R) to the FLRA in 2017. Kiko’s term expires in July 2022.  

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 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.



Congressional redistricting authority passes to Virginia Supreme Court, legislators nominate special masters

The Virginia Supreme Court will now have the authority to draft new congressional maps in the state after the Virginia Redistricting Commission did not meet the Nov. 8, 2021, deadline to submit a plan for U.S. House districts. Under the constitutional amendment that established the commission, party leaders of the House of Delegates and Senate must nominate three special masters from each party to assist the court in the redistricting process, which they did on Nov. 1. The court will then select one special master from each party’s list of nominees. 

State Democrats nominated three professors, Bernard N. Grofman, Nathaniel Persily, and Bruce E. Cain, who participated in previous redistricting efforts. Grofman is a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine, and assisted in drawing Virginia’s congressional districts in 2015 and the Virginia House of Delegates districts in 2018. Persily is a Stanford Law School professor and has served as a special master for drawing legislative and congressional maps in other states, including Maryland, Georgia, New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina. Cain, a professor at Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences, helped draw state legislative districts in Arizona in 2002 as a special master and worked as a consultant for redistricting efforts in Maryland.

Republican nominees Thomas Bryan, Adam Kincaid, and Adam Foltz also have previous experience in redistricting. A former U.S. Census Bureau statistician, Bryan is the founder of a consulting firm specializing in demographic analysis and has provided expert witness services to parties involved in state and local redistricting cases. Kincaid previously served as National Republican Congressional Committee redistricting coordinator and is the current executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust and Fair Lines America. Foltz is a legislative analyst for the Texas Legislative Council, drew maps for the Wisconsin State Assembly Republican Caucus in 2011-2012, and defended Wisconsin in court cases challenging district maps.

The Virginia Supreme Court requires that nominees possess the “requisite qualifications and experience to serve as a special master and should have no conflicts of interest.” Members of both parties said the opposing party’s nominees did not meet the latter criteria. In a letter to the court, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) said, “there can be no doubt that the records and prior conduct of the minority’s special master nominees ‘create in reasonable minds a perception’ that their ability to carry out their responsibilities ‘with integrity and impartiality is impaired.’” Virginia Senate Republican Caucus Press Secretary Jeff Ryer said the Democrats’ nominees are “all extreme-left academics with well-demonstrated records of considering one and only one criteria when it comes to drawing district lines: What will benefit Democrats most.”

The Supreme Court scheduled meetings from Nov. 8-10, 2021, to discuss the selection of special masters, which they could select as early as this week. Once selected, the special masters will have 30 days to draft a proposal to submit to the court for review. The court invited the public and elected officials to comment on the process by emailing written comments.



South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submit signatures for Medicaid expansion initiative

South Dakotans Decide Healthcare submitted 47,000 signatures for their Medicaid expansion initiative on Nov. 8, 2021, the deadline for initiated constitutional amendment petitions in South Dakota. To qualify for the ballot, 33,921 valid signatures are required.

The measure would amend the constitution to require the state to provide Medicaid benefits to adults between 18 and 65 with incomes below 133% of the federal poverty level. Because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes a 5% income disregard, this measure would effectively expand Medicaid to those with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The ACA provided for the expansion of Medicaid to cover all individuals earning incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which amounted to $17,236 for individuals in 2019. The law was designed to provide 100% of funding to cover the new recipients for the first three years and to cut off federal Medicaid funding to states that chose not to expand coverage. However, the United States Supreme Court ruled in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012) that the federal government could not withhold Medicaid funds from states that chose not to expand eligibility. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this ruling had the practical effect of making Medicaid expansion optional for states.

As of 2021, a total of 38 states and Washington, D.C., had expanded or voted to expand Medicaid, while 13 states had not. Six states have expanded Medicaid through citizen initiatives.

To qualify initiated measures that amend state law for the 2022 ballot,16,961 valid signatures are required by May 3, 2022.

Dakotans 4 Health also circulated a Medicaid expansion initiated amendment but did not submit signatures by the deadline. Dakotans 4 Health also filed a Medicaid expansion initiative to amend state law (rather than the state constitution), for which signatures are due on May 3, 2022. Since the deadlines for initiated measures that amend state law was extended to May 3, 2022, Dakotans 4 Health said they would collect signatures for that measure and would support South Dakotans Decide Healthcare’s amendment. Rick Weiland of Dakotans 4 Health said, “In the interest of the 42,500 hard working low-income South Dakotans who struggle every day just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, we have decided to unite behind one constitutional amendment, and we will continue to collect signatures to place our Medicaid initiated law on the November 2022 ballot. The last thing we need is to have two proposed constitutional amendments on the November 2022 ballot. We will continue petitioning for our initiated law giving voters the opportunity to pass both an amendment to the state’s constitution and a law next year.”

One other initiative measure facing the May 3, 2022, deadline was sponsored by Melissa Mentele of New Approach South Dakota. The measure would legalize marijuana use, possession, and distribution for individuals 21 years old and older. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws and New Approach South Dakota supported Constitutional Amendment A on the 2020 ballot, which was approved in a vote of 54.18% to 45.82% but was overturned by a court ruling. Circuit Judge Christina Klinger ruled that the measure violated the state’s single-subject rule and constituted a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws said they would appeal to the state supreme court.



Tomorrow’s elections in Louisiana

Welcome to the Friday, November 12, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

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

  1. Louisiana’s primary elections being held tomorrow
  2. Detroit voters approve entheogenic plants and reparations measures and reject measure on initiative appropriations
  3. #FridayTrivia: In what month will the first candidate filing deadlines of the 2022 election cycle occur?

Louisiana’s primary elections being held tomorrow

We’re not done with the 2021 elections yet!

Louisiana voters will cast ballots tomorrow in the state’s fall elections following a one-month delay. On Sept. 9, 2021, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order postponing the state’s fall elections due to damage from Hurricane Ida. The primary, originally scheduled for Oct. 9, was changed to Nov. 13. The general election, if needed, was changed from Nov. 13 to Dec. 11.

Statewide, voters will decide four ballot measures concerning topics including taxes and the state budget. The Louisiana Constitution limits legislation and constitutional amendments in odd-numbered years exclusively to matters concerning the state’s budget, government finance, and taxation.

When it comes to races involving candidates, Louisiana’s elections use the majority-vote system. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in the same primary. A candidate can win the election outright by receiving more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate crosses that mark, the top two vote recipients from the primary advance to the general election.

There will also be special state legislative primaries in one district of the Louisiana State Senate and two districts of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Republicans currently hold a 26-12 majority in the Senate and a 68-23-3 majority in the House. The winners of these elections will hold office until Jan. 8, 2024.

  • In Senate District 27, Dustin Granger (D), Jake Shaheen (R), and Jeremy Stine (D) are running to fill a vacancy left by Ronnie Johns (R). Johns resigned in July after Gov. Bel Edwards appointed him as chairman of the Louisiana State Gaming Control Board.
  • In House District 16, Charles Bradford (D), Alicia Calvin (D), and Adrian Fisher (D) are running. This seat became vacant after Frederick D. Jones (D) resigned after being elected to the state’s Fourth Judicial District Court.
  • In House District 102, Delisha Boyd (D) and Jordan Bridges (D) are running to replace Gary Carter Jr. (D), who was elected to the state Senate in a June 12 special election. Since there are only two candidates, this election will determine the seat’s winner outright.

At the local level, New Orleans voters will decide primaries for mayor, city council, sheriff, assessor, coroner, and civil and criminal district court clerks. Additional elections in Ballotpedia’s coverage scope include two judicial seats are on the ballot in Baton Rouge and a special election primary is being held for one seat on the Caddo Parish Public Schools school board.

Keep reading 

Detroit voters approve entheogenic plants and reparations measures and reject measure on initiative appropriations

Voters in Detroit, Mich., decided three ballot measures on Nov. 2, including two citizen-initiated initiatives and an advisory question. Voters approved two measures regarding the decriminalization of entheogenic plants and the creation of a reparations committee. A third measure, which would have removed language from the city’s charter prohibiting initiatives from appropriating funds, was defeated. Here’s a breakdown:

Proposal E was designed to decriminalize the possession and therapeutic use of entheogenic plants, including psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, and iboga. The initiatives received 61% of the vote. As of 2021, at least 10 local governments, including Ann Arbor in Michigan, had passed laws either decriminalizing or changing law enforcement priorities regarding psilocybin. Two of these laws passed as ballot measures in Denver, Colo., and Washington, D.C., making Detroit’s Proposal E the third ballot measure to decriminalize psilocybin. Additionally, in 2020, voters approved Oregon Measure 109, which created a statewide program for administering psilocybin to individuals over the age of 21.

Proposal R advised the Detroit City Council to establish a reparations committee to recommend housing and economic development programs for Black residents. The advisory question passed with 80% of the vote. In June 2021, the city council passed a resolution that established a process “to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the black community.” The committee, supported through Proposal R, will now be part of that process. Voters in Greenbelt, Md., also approved a measure to create a reparations committee on Nov. 2.

Proposal S would have removed language from the Detroit City Charter that prohibited initiatives from appropriating funds. It was defeated with 54% of the electors voting no.

Keep reading 

#FridayTrivia: In what month will the first candidate filing deadlines of the 2022 election cycle occur?

In Tuesday’s Brew, we took a look at two states—North Carolina and Texas—whose upcoming candidate filing deadlines will be the earliest in the 2022 election cycle. These deadlines will set the stage for primary elections in these states later on. In what month will the first candidate filing deadlines of the 2022 election cycle occur?

  1. January
  2. November
  3. December
  4. February