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Measure to amend Oregon’s recreational and medical cannabis laws filed targeting 2020 ballot

Oregon Initiative #18, filed on March 18, would make changes to state laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana.
Among other things, the initiative was designed to do the following:
  • Legalize cannabis cafes/ lounges where consumers could smoke marijuana indoors and allow existing dispensaries to add social consumption spaces;
  • Prohibit employers from requiring as a condition of employment that an employee or prospective employee refrain from using marijuana off-the-clock;
  • Issue lifetime medical marijuana cards to those diagnosed with incurable or chronic illnesses; and
  • Redistribute cannabis tax revenue to fund minority community development and subsidize medical cannabis purchases for low-income patients.
Leia Flynn, Madeline Martinez, and Angela Bacca, are the initiative’s sponsors. The Oregon Justice League is the group behind the initiative. Madeline Martinez is the executive director of Oregon NORML.
On the initiative petition, sponsors wrote, “The Oregon Justice League does not believe the State of Oregon has implemented Measure 91 in the spirit under which the law was passed. The OJL seeks to right these wrongs as well as provide a model for other states to implement a more just version of cannabis legalization. Legalization was sold to Oregon citizens as a way to grow, develop and sustain our small business economies, end the discrimination of citizens based on their interactions with the cannabis plant and uphold, protect and ensure the right of medical cannabis patients to safe botanical access.”
Oregon Measure 91, also known as the Control, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act of 2014, was on the November 4, 2014, statewide ballot in Oregon as an initiated state statute, where it was approved by a vote of 56 percent to 44 percent. Since its approval, the legislature has amended or repealed and replaced the text of Measure 91 multiple times.
Oregon is one of several states that require a certain number of signatures to accompany an initiative petition application. The signatures of at least 1,000 electors are required to trigger a review by state officials, a period of public commentary, and the drafting of a ballot title. The 1,000 preliminary signatures count toward the final total required.
To get an initiated state statute certified for the 2020 ballot, a total of 112,020 valid signatures are required. The deadline to submit signatures is July 2, 2020.
A total of 183 measures appeared on statewide ballots in Oregon from 1995 through 2018. The approval rate for measures appearing on Oregon’s ballot was 47.54 percent.

Republicans keep Minnesota House seat in special election

A special election for Minnesota House of Representatives District 11B was held on March 19, 2019, to replace former incumbent Jason Rarick (R) after he was elected to the Minnesota State Senate in February 2019. Prior to joining the state Senate, Rarick served in the state House from 2015 to 2019. He first won the state House seat by defeating former incumbent Tim Faust (D) in the 2014 election.
Unofficial results show Republican candidate Nathan Nelson defeated Democratic candidate Tim Burkhardt with 68.4 percent of the vote. Nelson had advanced from the Republican primary on March 5 after defeating another candidate, Ayrlahn Johnson. Burkhardt did not face any primary challengers.
While the Republican Party flipped a state Senate seat when Rarick won his election, the state House election resulted in no partisan changes. Entering 2019, the Minnesota House of Representatives had 75 Democrats and 59 Republicans. A majority in the chamber requires 68 seats. Minnesota has a divided government, meaning no political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Nashville Metro Council special runoff election won by 25 votes

Delishia Porterfield defeated Nicola La Mattina to win the Nashville Metro Council’s District 29 seat in a special runoff election on March 19, 2019, by 25 votes. Porterfield received 561 votes compared to La Mattina’s 536, according to unofficial election night totals.
The two candidates had advanced from a four-candidate field in the special general election on February 12. In that race, Porterfield had led the field with 402 votes to La Mattina’s 376. The other two candidates, Constance Smith-Burwell and Vicky Tataryn, received 74 and 58 votes, respectively. The special election was called after Karen Johnson, the former District 29 council member, won election in November 2018 to become the new Davidson County Register of Deeds.
The District 29 seat is also up for regular election in 2019, along with all 40 other seats on the Metro Council as well as the mayor’s office. The filing deadline is May 16, the general election is August 1, and a runoff election may be held on a currently unknown date in September if no candidate receives a simple majority of the general election vote. Mayor David Briley was first elected to the office in a May 2018 special election; he announced his plan to run for a full term in September 2018.
Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

In 2018, 105 state legislative races were decided by less than 100 votes

One-hundred and five of the 6,073 state legislative races in 2018 were decided by fewer than 100 votes. Ninety-eight of these races were in state house races, and seven were in state senate races.
Fifty-four of the races resulted in a change in partisan control—36 favoring Democrats and 18 favoring Republicans. In the seats that did not change control, Republicans held 36 and Democrats held 15.
Seventy-eight of the races (74.3 percent) occurred in state legislative districts with populations of less than 25,000. Districts of this size make up 26.3 percent of all state legislative districts.
The New Hampshire House, which has the smallest legislative districts in the country, had 34 of the races—more than any other chamber. The Vermont House, which has the second smallest districts in the country, had eight races—the second most of all legislative chambers. The other 63 races were spread across 32 chambers. Twenty-two of these chambers had just one race.
One race in this analysis—Alaska House District 1—was critical for partisan control of state governments. Bart LeBon (R) defeated Kathryn Dodge (D) by one vote. His win caused a 20-20 split between Republican-led and Democratic-led coalitions in the Alaska House. Control was eventually split between the parties after a month-long period where neither party had control.

Marcia Washington sworn into the Nevada State Senate

Marcia Washington (D) was sworn into the Nevada State Senate District 4 seat on March 18 to replace former Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson (D). Atkinson resigned his seat on March 5 after pleading guilty to using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal purposes.
Washington previously served on the Nevada State Board of Education and as a fire inspector in Clark County. She also previously worked for the Clark County School District.
The Clark County Commission unanimously chose Washington for the seat on March 15. She was one of 11 applicants for the position. Washington will serve the remainder of Atkinson’s term, which runs through 2020, and she has stated that she does not plan to run for a full term. Assemblywoman Dina Neal (D), who also applied for the seat, has said that she will run for the position in 2020.
Ten out of the Nevada State Senate’s 21 seats will be up for election in 2020. Of the 10 seats up for election, Democrats currently control seven and Republicans control three.
The Nevada State Senate has 13 Democrats and eight Republicans. Nevada currently has a Democratic trifecta, which is where one political party holds the governor’s office and controls both state legislative chambers. Nevada became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 when the party took control of the governor’s office.

Democrats hold Iowa State Senate seat where 2020 presidential candidates campaigned

Cedar Falls School Board member Eric Giddens (D) defeated former state Rep. Walt Rogers (R) in a special election for the District 30 seat in the Iowa State Senate. Giddens won with 57 percent of the vote to Rogers’ 42 percent.
The appearance of current and potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates in the district helped this race garner national attention. At least three candidates made appearances with Giddens, while others held separate campaign events in the district or sent staff to canvass for the Democratic candidate. The district voted Democratic in the past two presidential elections. In 2012, Obama won the district by 7.4 percent. In 2016, Clinton won the district by 3.5 percent.
The seat became vacant after Jeff Danielson (D) resigned on February 14, 2019. Heading into the election, Republicans held a 32-17 majority in the chamber. A party needs 34 votes in the Senate in order to override a gubernatorial veto, so the outcome of this election did not impact either partisan control or veto-proof supermajority status.

Jacksonville mayor avoids run-off and wins re-election

Mayor Lenny Curry (R) won re-election to his second term on March 19 defeating two Republicans and an independent. He received 58 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Councilwoman Anna Brosche (24 percent), unaffiliated candidate Omega Allen (11 percent), and former Atlantic Beach City Councilman Jimmy Hill (8 percent). No Democratic candidate filed to run in the race, but the Duval County Democratic Party approved a resolution opposing Curry’s re-election. Curry’s new term will last four years, and the next election will take place in 2023.
Twenty-six of the 100 largest cities by population will be holding mayoral elections in 2019. Of those, five (Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Dallas) are among the 10 largest cities. Democrats currently hold the mayor’s office in 18 of the cities with elections this year, while Republicans and independents hold four each.

Five Jacksonville City Council races headed to May 14 runoff

Five of the 19 city council seats in Jacksonville, Florida, are headed to a runoff election on May 14 after no candidate received a majority of the votes cast in the March 19 general election. Two of the runoff races feature incumbents. At-large Position 3 incumbent Tommy Hazouri (D) is competing against Greg Rachal (R), and District 8 incumbent Ju’Coby Pittman (D) is competing against Tameka Gaines Holly (D). The runoff elections for the At-large Position 1 seat and the District 14 seat each include one Democrat and one Republican, while the runoff election for the District 10 seat includes two Democrats.
The other nine incumbents on the ballot—six Republicans and three Democrats—won re-election outright on March 19. The five open seats that did not go to a runoff were all won by Republicans. The Jacksonville City Council is guaranteed to have at least 11 Republicans and five Democrats after the runoff elections. Currently, it has a Republican majority of 13-6.
The city also held elections for mayor, property appraiser, sheriff, supervisor of elections, and tax collector on March 19. All five Republican incumbents won re-election outright to those offices, including Mayor Lenny Curry. Curry faced no Democratic opponents in his re-election bid.
Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida and the 13th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Campaign contributions for and against Colorado Springs Issue 1 near $1 million ahead of April 2 election

Here’s a quick breakdown of the almost $1 million in campaign finance spending for Colorado Springs Issue 1
At the municipal election on April 2, 2019, Colorado Springs voters will decide whether or not to allow collective bargaining for city firefighters. The initiative in question, Issue 1, was placed on the ballot through a citizen petition campaign led by Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs. A total of $924,000 has been contributed to campaigns for and against the initiative as of the March 15 filing date.
Below is a quick overview of current campaign finance reporting for Issue 1:
Support total: $570,847.13
  • Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs reported $570,847.13 in total contributions and $414,442.28 in expenditures for the #YESon1 campaign.
  • The top donor to the #YESon1 campaign thus far has been Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters – IAFF Local 5 with $269,509.05 in total contributions.
Opposition total: $353,142.57
  • Citizens Against Public Employee Unions reported $344,058.31 in total contributions and $268,976.61 in expenditures for the No on #1 campaign.
  • Americans for Prosperity Colorado Springs IC also registered in opposition to Issue 1 and reported $9,084.26 in non-monetary contributions.
  • The top donor to the No on # 1 campaign thus far has been Colorado Springs Forward with $166,000.00 in total contributions.

What does it take to make the Democratic presidential primary debate stage?

Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, and Andrew Yang have all reportedly qualified for the first Democratic presidential primary debate this past week.
With 16 notable Democratic candidates running so far, what does it take to reach the debate stage?
The Democratic National Committee announced last month that a candidate can qualify for the first debate in June by either polling performance or grassroots fundraising.
Under the first option, the candidate must receive 1 percent support or more in three national or early state polls from a select list of organizations and institutions.
Under the second option, candidates must receive donations from at least 65,000 unique donors. Additionally, they must have a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.
Some candidates have been openly sharing their progress. Marianne Williamson, who is halfway to qualifying, called on her supporters to ask their friends to donate, writing, “You yourself giving me another dollar would not help in this process, but if you make a personal commitment to asking at least one other person to contribute at least one dollar, that will get us over the finish line.”
John Delaney has agreed to donate $2 to charity for every new donor that contributes at least $1 to his campaign.
To follow who else makes it to the debate stage and all the latest news in the 2020 presidential election, sign up for Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing.