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Maine will not vote on ballot initiatives in 2019, as no campaigns filed signatures—the first time since 2013

Voters in Maine won’t decide any citizen-initiated statutes in 2019, making this year the first since 2013 to not feature initiated statutes. The deadline to file the 63,067 required signatures for citizen-initiated statutes was January 24, 2019. According to the secretary of state’s office, no signatures were filed for ballot initiatives.
There were three ballot initiatives that signatures could have been filed for—the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative, the Paid Sick Leave Initiative, and the Criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation Initiative. Each of these ballot initiatives is still eligible to appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020.
Maine Death with Dignity, which is leading the campaign in support of the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative, decided to aim to get its initiative placed on the ballot for the presidential election on November 3, 2020, instead of 2019. Backers of the Paid Sick Leave Initiative are also considering the 2020 ballot. Both of the campaigns have begun collecting signatures.
Between 1995 and 2017, an average of one citizen-initiated statute appeared on the ballot in odd-numbered years. Citizens could still propose a veto referendum, known as a people’s veto in Maine, against legislation passed in 2019, which could end up on the ballot in 2019 or 2020, depending on when signatures are submitted. Proponents of veto referendums are allowed to gather signatures for 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which the targeted law was passed.
The lack of citizen-initiated statutes on the ballot in 2019 doesn’t mean Maine voters won’t have ballot measures to consider. There hasn’t been a single year in Maine without at least one ballot measure since 1956. The Maine State Legislature can refer statewide ballot measures, in the form of constitutional amendments and state statutes, to the ballot. In Maine, the most common type of referred statute is the bond issue. Between 1995 and 2017, an average of three to four bond issues appeared on the ballot in Maine in odd-numbered years.

Los Angeles mayor, teachers’ union, and school district support a 2020 ballot initiative to amend California’s property tax structure

On January 22, 2019, an agreement was announced to end the six-day Los Angeles teachers’ strike. The agreement summary said the teachers’ union, school district, and Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) would endorse and advocate for a 2020 ballot initiative to amend California’s property tax structure.
The ballot initiative, which qualified for the election on November 3, 2020, in October 2018, would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their market value. As of 2019, California Proposition 13, passed in 1978, requires properties to be taxed based on their purchase price, with annual increases equal to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. The ballot initiative would continue to tax residential properties based on purchase price, leading to a tax system referred to as split roll.
The California Legislative Analyst estimated that the initiative’s changes would generate between $6.5 and $10.5 billion in additional revenue each year. Some of that revenue—about $500 million, according to the legislative analyst—would be used to supplement decreases in income tax revenue, as state law allows businesses to deduct property tax payments from their income taxes. The ballot initiative would require 40 percent of the remaining $6.0–$10.0 billion to be distributed to school districts and community colleges.
UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said, “We’ve all got a lot of work to do to make sure that that ballot initiative passes.” The UTLA is on the steering committee of the Schools and Communities First campaign, which is sponsoring the ballot initiative. The union’s political arm has contributed $350,000 to the campaign, as of the most recent campaign finance reports through September 30, 2018. Schools and Communities First had raised $3.71 million. Veronica Carrizales of California Calls, which supports the ballot initiative, said the campaign hopes to raise $45 million.
California Business Roundtable president Rob Lapsley, who opposes the ballot initiative, said the teachers’ strike “was all to start a campaign for split roll. It is not about the kids.” Lapsley said opponents of the ballot initiative are prepared to raise at least $100 million.
In California, ballot initiatives can be withdrawn after qualifying for the ballot. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), speaking about the ballot initiative, said, “My desire is to use this as an exercise in bringing the parties together to see if we can compromise on a more comprehensive tax package.” If negotiations do occur, the various parties involved would have until 131 days before the general election, which is June 25, 2020, to reach a deal.

Federal Register weekly update; four final rules published as government shutdown continues

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 January 21 to January 25, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 212 pages, bringing the year-to-date total to 406 pages. A total of 41 documents were included in the week’s Federal Register, including 26 notices, nine presidential documents, two proposed rules, and four final rules.
One proposed rule was deemed significant under E.O. 12866—meaning that it 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.
Due to the government shutdown, fewer pages have been added the Federal Register in 2019 as compared to recent years. During the same week in 2018, the number of pages in the Federal Register increased by 1,052 pages. As of January 25, the 2019 total trailed the 2018 total by 3,530 pages.
The Trump administration has added an average of 102 pages to the Federal Register each week in 2019 as of January 25. 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 more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2018 and 2017. Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 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.

Bluegrass and Bedlam: How Kentucky’s 1899 election led to America’s only gubernatorial assassination

The filing deadline for the race to become Kentucky’s next governor is on January 29, 2019. Gubernatorial elections can be dramatic in the state. Back in 1899, a series of events including the only assassination of a sitting state governor in U.S. history brought widespread civil disorder to Kentucky and ended in a protracted legal battle.
At the time, Kentucky law prohibited governors from serving consecutive terms, making Gov. William Bradley (R) ineligible to seek re-election. Republicans nominated Attorney General William Taylor (R) succeed him.
Democrats nominated state Sen. William Goebel (D) after 26 rounds of voting at their convention, but party members dissatisfied with the selection of Goebel nominated their own candidate, former Gov. John Brown (D).
The general election was close. Taylor defeated Goebel by under 2,500 votes—less than one-fifth the share of the vote captured by Brown.
Supporters of Goebel accused the Taylor camp of voter intimidation and election fraud. Still, the State Board of Election Commissioners certified Taylor as the winner.
Goebel and Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial candidate J.C.W. Beckham (D) contested the results. In response, the majority-Democratic state legislature authorized the creation of a special commission to determine the elections’ results. While membership on the 11-member commission was officially random, it ended up including nine Democrats.
As the special committee was in the process of determining a winner, armed Goebel and Taylor supporters poured into the capital and massed outside government offices. Goebel was shot in the chest by an unknown assassin firing from the Executive Building as he was entering the Capitol.
The next day, the special committee proclaimed Goebel, then on his deathbed, the rightful winner of the election. He died three days later.
After Goebel’s death, two parallel state governments—a Democratic government based out of Louisville and a Republican government based out of London—continued to operate.
An initial proposal under which Taylor and the Republican lieutenant gubernatorial winner would step down to be replaced by Democratic Lt. Gov. Beckham fell through. Eventually, both sides agreed to allow the courts to resolve the matter.
The state Court of Appeals (then the court of last resort in Kentucky) ruled in favor of Lt. Gov. Beckham. Although the Republican government appealed the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, it declined to hear the case on the basis that it did not concern the federal government, leaving Beckham (D) to serve the remainder of the term. Taylor fled to Indiana, where he later died.

State senator resigns in North Carolina, one of 10 states where governor fills vacancies

Louis Pate (R), who served as an elected official in North Carolina for more than 20 years, resigned from office last week for health reasons. Pate won re-election in November 2018 to state Senate District 7, defeating David Brantley (D) 54-45 percent in the general election.
North Carolina is one of 10 states where the governor appoints the replacement for any state legislative vacancy. When making an appointment, the governor must make a decision from a list of recommended candidates submitted by the political party committee that last held the vacant seat. North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper (D), will appoint a Republican, which will leave the partisan balance unchanged. The person selected to the seat serves for the remainder of the unfilled term.
25 states hold special elections to fill vacancies.
Find out more about how state legislative vacancies are filled.

Three years ago, Iowa caucuses were just around the corner

Three years ago more than a dozen presidential candidates were storming through Iowa, making their final pitches to voters ahead of the February 1, 2016 caucuses. The Des Moines Register announced its endorsements of Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. The New York Times reported that Michael Bloomberg was considering a run for president as an independent. These are just two of the items you can read about in Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing from January 25, 2016.
Ultimately, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz won the Iowa caucuses. Clinton received 49.84 percent, edging Bernie Sanders by less than 0.5 points. Cruz, with 27.7 percent, bested Donald Trump and nine other Republican candidates. Clinton received 23 delegates with the Iowa win, while Sanders earned 21. Cruz took 8 delegates from Iowa, while Trump and third-place finisher Rubio received 7 each.
Learn more about the 2016 presidential election below, and sign up for Ballotpedia’s presidential briefing, re-launching next week.

Montana Attorney General Fox becomes second Republican to announce for governor in 2020

On January 24, state attorney general Tim Fox (R) announced he was running for governor of Montana in 2020. Fox was first elected attorney general in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He is the second Republican to declare his candidacy after Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) announced that he was running for governor on January 4.
Montana’s current governor, Steve Bullock (D), has held that office since 2013 and is term-limited.
President Donald Trump (R) carried Montana by over 20 percentage points in the 2016 election. The state has voted for the Republican nominee for president in 12 of the last 13 presidential elections, as Bill Clinton (D) in 1992 was the only Democrat to win Montana’s electoral votes since 1964. In that span, Democrats have won gubernatorial elections in the state nine times, and Republicans four times.
Democrats have held the governor’s mansion in Montana since 2005, as Bullock’s predecessor, Brian Schweitzer (D), was elected to consecutive terms in 2004 and 2008. Prior to that, the state elected Republican governors from 1988 to 2000.
In addition to governor, Montana has four other elected state executive officials – attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, and the superintendent of public instruction. Republicans hold all four of those positions and the state will hold elections for all in 2020.
Montana currently has a divided government, since the governor is a Democrat and Republicans control both houses of the state legislature. The GOP holds a 30-20 majority in the State Senate and a 58-42 majority in the state House.

Filing deadline approaches for seven Kentucky state offices

On January 29, Kentucky’s filing deadline will pass to run for one of the following seven offices: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer. The primary is scheduled for May 21, and the general election is on November 5.
The governor and lieutenant governor will be elected on a joint ticket, but the other five offices are all elected individually. All seven offices carry four-year terms. Entering the 2019 election, the governor, lieutenant governor, agriculture commissioner, auditor, and treasurer positions are held by Republicans. The attorney general and secretary of state positions are held by Democrats Andy Beshear and Alison Lundergan Grimes, respectively.
Kentucky’s statewide filing deadline is the second to take place in the 2019 election cycle. The first was in Wisconsin on January 2, and the next statewide filing deadline is on March 1 in Mississippi. There are only three states (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) holding elections for a combined total of 23 state executive positions in 2019.
Kentucky is one of 22 Republican trifectas. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
The Kentucky state legislature is currently considering a constitutional amendment to change the election calendar for state executive offices. The amendment would first go before voters as a ballot measure in 2020, and if approved, it would move the election that would typically take place in 2027 to 2028 to align with the presidential election schedule. The 2023 election would be the last to take place in an odd-numbered year. As of 2019, Kentucky was one of five states that held their gubernatorial elections during odd-numbered years.

Early voting begins in Nashville special election

On January 23, early voting began in the special election for the Nashville Metro Council’s District 29 seat. The election is on February 12, 2019. Four candidates filed to run for the vacancy: Nicola Lamattina, Delishia Porterfield, Constance Smith-Burwell, and Vicky Tataryn.
The District 29 seat was previously held by Karen Johnson, who was elected as the new Davidson County Register of Deeds on August 2, 2018. Although the metro council is officially nonpartisan, Johnson is affiliated with the Democratic Party.
The winner of the special election will complete the remainder of Johnson’s term, which ends in August 2019. In August, Nashville is holding general nonpartisan elections for mayor and all 41 metro council seats. The filing deadline for the general election is May 16, 2019.
Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Colorado Springs filing deadline passes

The filing deadline to run for office in Colorado Springs passed on January 22, 2019. The city is holding elections for mayor and three of nine seats on the city council on April 2, with a possible runoff scheduled for May 21. The six other seats on the city council, elected to specific districts, will be on the ballot in 2021.
Mayor John Suthers is running for re-election against three challengers: Lawrence Martinez, Juliette Parker, and John Pitchford. Martinez ran against Suthers in 2015, when Suthers was first elected to the position. Although the election and office are officially nonpartisan, Suthers is affiliated with the Republican Party.
Two of the three at-large city council members are running for re-election: Bill Murray and Tom Strand. Council member Merv Bennett, serving his second term, cannot seek re-election due to term limits. Five other candidates filed for office, Tony Gioia, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Terry Martinez, Val Snider, and Wayne Williams. Three challengers have previously held office. Klingenschmitt was the District 15 state representative from 2015 to 2017. Snider was an at-large Colorado Springs City Council member from 2011 to 2015, when he chose not to seek re-election, and Williams served as Colorado Secretary of State from 2014 to 2019; he lost the November 2018 general election.
Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in Colorado and the 40th-largest city in the U.S. by population.