TagDaily Brew

The Daily Brew: Longest-serving state house speaker to resign

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 19, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns
  2. 71 new members of Congress were elected last year
  3. Voters recall Colorado school board member

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan resigns

Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) announced yesterday that he would resign from the legislature. He has been a member of the state House since 1971. 

Madigan served as House speaker from 1983 until 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. Republicans controlled the chamber for two years after the 1994 elections. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in U.S. history.

After several individuals were indicted in what law enforcement described as a scheme to influence Madigan, 19 of 73 House Democrats said in December they would not support Madigan for another term as speaker. 

Chris Welch (D) was elected to succeed Madigan as speaker on Jan. 13. Welch has served in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2013 and is Illinois’ first Black speaker.

In Illinois, the party organization of the departing member in the district where the vacancy occurs has 30 days to appoint a replacement. The partisan composition of the Illinois House of Representatives is 73 Democrats and 45 Republicans.

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71 new members of Congress were elected last year

Voters nationwide elected 71 new members—nine senators and 62 representatives—to Congress on Nov. 3 or in subsequent runoff elections. This figure includes Luke Letlow (R-La.), who was elected Dec. 5 and died from complications related to COVID-19 on Dec. 29, before taking office.

The newly-elected officials have been in office for a bit more than six weeks. Here’s a quick refresher about them. Those 71 new members included the following:

  • Candidates from the opposing party defeated five incumbent senators—one Democrat and four Republicans. 
  • Republican challengers defeated 13 Democratic representatives.
  • 53 new members—four senators and 49 representatives—were elected to open seats. Five House seats were vacant heading into the Nov. 3 elections. Four senators and 36 House members did not run for re-election, and eight House members were defeated in a primary or nominating convention.

The 116th Congress, which convened after the 2018 elections, had 102 new members—nine senators and 93 representatives. The 115th Congress in 2016 had 62 new members—seven senators and 55 U.S. House members.

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Voters recall Colorado school board member 

Last Friday’s Brew discussed the latest on the recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). Supporters there have until March 17 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. Meanwhile, voters in a Colorado school district this week decided the first recall election this year against any officeholder we’re tracking.

Voters recalled Lance McDaniel, 67% to 33%, from the Montezuma-Cortez School Board on Feb. 16. Cortez had a population of 8,482 as of the 2010 census and is located in Montezuma County in the southwest corner of Colorado. McDaniel was one of seven members of the board and was appointed in 2018. Cody Wells was elected to replace him on the board. 

Recall supporters started the effort against McDaniel in July 2020. The statement of grounds for recall said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding his social media posts. 

McDaniel told KSJD-TV he was not concerned about the recall effort. McDaniel said, “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that.” McDaniel also said he stood by his social media posts.

According to the Colorado Department of Education, the Montezuma-Cortez School District had an enrollment of 2,607 students as of the 2020-2021 school year.

Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials last year, including 55 school board members. Five school board members faced recall elections last year, and all five were removed from office. Another five school board members targeted for recall resigned. 

Three other recall elections against school board members have been scheduled so far this year. All three are in Idaho and will occur on March 9.

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The Daily Brew: Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 18, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections
  2. Alaska House of Representatives elects speaker for 2021 session
  3. Wisconsin spring primary review

Partisan splits in states holding 2022 U.S. Senate elections

In a recent Brew edition, we gave you a rundown of the states holding U.S. Senate elections in 2022. Today, let’s look at the political affiliations of the statewide officeholders in those states. 

Of the 34 Senate seats up for election on Nov. 8, 2022, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. We took a look at party differences between:

  • the Senate incumbents and their state’s other senator, 
  • their state’s governor, and 
  • their state’s 2020 presidential winner.

Split Senate delegations

Five states have both a Democratic and Republican senator in the 117th Senate: Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. This is the fewest number of states with split Senate delegations in history, according to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota. 

Four of the seven states with split delegations in 2021 have Senate seats up for election in 2022. Vermont has one Democratic senator and one independent senator who caucuses with Democrats, so three states with seats up for election have senators in different caucuses: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In all three, the seats up for election in 2022 are currently held by Republicans.

Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have already announced they are not running for re-election next year.

Senator’s vs. governor’s party

Eleven seats up for election are currently held by a senator of a different party than the state’s governor. Six seats held by Republican senators in states with Democratic governors are up. Five seats held by Democratic senators in states with Republican governors are up.

States won by presidential candidate of a different party

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson(R)).

Keep reading at the link below for a full analysis of the 2022 Senate elections.

Read on

Alaska House of Representatives elects speaker for 2021 session

On Feb. 11—24 days after the 2021 legislative session began on Jan. 19th—the Alaska House of Representatives elected a permanent speaker of the House. Members elected Rep. Louise Stutes (R) in a 21-19 vote.

Here’s some background on the story.

Since the start of the current session, House members had been divided between supporters of a Republican-led majority and those favoring a multipartisan coalition. Republicans won a 21-19 majority in the 2020 general election, but in December, Stutes joined the coalition bloc composed of 16 Democrats and three independents, leaving each faction with 20 members. 

In January, Reps. Bart LeBon (R), Laddie Shaw (R), and Neal Foster (D) were nominated for the speakership, but each vote ended in an even 20-20 split. On Feb. 4th, the House unanimously elected Rep. Josiah Patkotak (I) as temporary speaker. Rep. Ben Carpenter (R) said the House Republican Caucus nominated Patkotak, who is a member of the coalition bloc, to “alleviate the Lt. Governor from his temporary responsibility as presiding officer and to move the discussion forward about finding a permanent presiding officer.”

Rep. Kelly Merrick’s (R) vote for Stutes ultimately broke the recurring tie votes. Merrick said, “Today, I voted to elect Republican Representative Louise Stutes as Speaker of the House, ending more than three weeks of deadlock and allowing the Legislature to move forward. It was by no means an easy decision to make, but it ensured that no matter how organization comes together, there will be a Republican Speaker.”

The three-week period without a House speaker is the second-longest in the state’s history. In 2018, similar divisions kept House members from electing a speaker until Feb. 14th, 2019, when a coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker and agreed to split other key leadership and committee positions between the two parties.

Ballotpedia identified ten instances since 1994 where a member of the minority party held a state legislative chamber’s top leadership position. We also identified seven instances where bipartisan coalitions worked together to install in a top leadership position a member of the majority party whom most members of the majority party did not support. Click here to learn more about these situations and how they developed. 

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Wisconsin spring primary review

Wisconsin held the first statewide primaries of the year on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Let’s look at the preliminary results.

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction was the only statewide nonpartisan primary on the ballot. 

  • Seven candidates filed for the office. 
  • Incumbent Carolyn Stanford Taylor did not file to run for election. Taylor was first appointed to the position in January 2019 by Gov. Tony Evers (D), who resigned the seat after being elected governor in 2018. 
  • According to unofficial results, the highest number of votes went to Jill Underly (27.3%) and Deborah Kerr (26.5%). Both candidates advanced to the general election. 
    • Underly was endorsed by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teacher union. After the primary, she was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Kerr describes herself as a Democrat but has received support from Republican officials and local parties. Kerr leads the primary field in fundraising. 

Two partisan state legislative special elections were on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. 

  • Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. One Democrat, three Republicans, and two independent candidates filed for the seat. John Jagler defeated Todd Menzel and Don Pridemore in the Republican primary, receiving 57.1% of the unofficial vote. He faces Melissa Winker (D), Ben Schmitz (American Solidarity Party), and Spencer Zimmerman (Trump Conservative Party) in the general election.
  • State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector. One Democrat and five Republicans filed for the seat. Elijah Behnke won the Republican primary with 44.5% of the unofficial vote. He faces Karl Jaeger (D) in the general election.

If two or fewer candidates filed for each seat on the ballot, the primary was canceled and the candidates automatically advanced to the general election on April 6. The general election ballot will feature more offices, including three state appellate court seats and local nonpartisan seats.

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The Daily Brew: Six national party committees raised twice as much last cycle as the previous one

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Six national party committees raised a combined $2.65 billion last cycle
  2. Iowa public schools required to offer full-time, in-person instruction as of Feb. 15
  3. New York voters to decide constitutional amendment about environmental rights

Six national party committees raised a combined $2.65 billion last cycle

Democrats and Republicans each have three major national committees: an overall national party committee, one dedicated to U.S. Senate elections, and one dedicated to U.S. House elections. These six committees raised a combined $2.65 billion during 2019 and 2020, up from $1.3 billion during the previous congressional election cycle in 2017 and 2018. 

The three Republican committees raised $1.51 billion28% more than the $1.14 billion the three Democratic committees raised.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $890 million and spent $833 million. It raised $325 million during the 2018 election cycle. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $490 million and spent $462 million during 2019 and 2020. It raised $176 million during the 2018 cycle.

The table below shows the amounts raised by the parties’ six national campaign committees over the last three general election cycles:

In the 2019-20 campaign cycle, the RNC raised 58.0% more than the DNC, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised 10.7% more than the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Democrats led in House fundraising, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raising 20.7% more than the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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Iowa public schools required to offer full-time, in-person instruction as of Feb. 15 

Iowa public schools began offering full-time, in-person instruction for all grades as of Feb. 15 after the state enacted legislation in January with the requirement. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the bill on Jan. 29.

The law allows parents to request a hybrid or all-remote option for their children. Additionally, schools can request a waiver from providing in-person instruction based on factors such as the number of teachers quarantining because of coronavirus. Previously, Iowa public schools had to provide in-person instruction for at least half the time pursuant to an order Reynolds issued in July.

Iowa is one of five states requiring schools to open at least partially for-in-person instruction

  • The Texas Education Agency required public schools to offer daily, in-person instruction options, or risk losing state funding, no later than Oct. 19. The order allowed schools to stay remote for the first eight weeks of the school calendar year, which began Aug. 24, 2020.
  • Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key ordered public schools to offer in-person instruction five days per week as of Aug. 26, 2020.
  • The Florida Department of Education ordered public schools to reopen at least five days per week for all students as of Aug. 31, 2020.
  • Starting on Jan. 19, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) required all public and private pre-K, elementary, and middle schools to resume full-time, in-person instruction, or a hybrid (at least two in-person days every week), regardless of their county’s transmission rates.

Four states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, and New Mexico—and Washington, D.C., currently have state-ordered regional school closures, required closures for certain grade levels, or allow hybrid instruction only. The 41 remaining states have left the decision about how to open to individual schools or districts.

In Chicago, the third-largest school district in the country, pre-K and special education students returned to in-person classroom instruction on Feb. 11 after the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools reached a reopening agreement on Feb. 9. Under the plan, students from kindergarten through fifth grade will return for hybrid instruction (two days per week in-person) on March 1. Students in grades 6-8 will adopt the hybrid schedule starting March 8.

Our free newsletter on government responses to the coronavirus pandemic—Documenting America’s Path to Recovery—highlights everything from mask requirements to curfews to vaccine-related policies each business day. Click here to subscribe and stay informed about major policy developments nationwide and in your state.

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New York voters to decide constitutional amendment about environmental rights

Voters in New York will decide a ballot measure in November that would add the following language to the state constitution’s bill of rights: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” The measure would make New York the third state, after Pennsylvania and Montana, to adopt an environmental rights amendment. Pennsylvania and Montana both adopted their amendments in the 1970s. 

State legislators can refer constitutional amendments to the ballot in New York by approving them in two successive legislation sessions. The state Senate approved the amendment 48-14 in January, with all 42 Democrats and six Republicans voting for it. The state Assembly approved the amendment on Feb. 8—124 to 25—with all 106 Democrats, 17 Republicans, and one independent voting ‘yes.’ Legislators previously approved the proposal in 2019. New York became a Democratic trifecta as a result of the 2018 elections.

Between 1995 and 2020, the New York state legislature referred 25 constitutional amendments to the ballot, with voters approving 19 (76%) of them. The last New York election with amendments on the ballot was in November 2017. 

November’s election in New York could have as many as six amendments to the state Constitution. On Jan. 20, the legislature approved an amendment that would make changes to the state’s redistricting process, including the current redistricting cycle. The measure would change vote thresholds for adopting a redistricting plan when one political party controls both legislative chambers and would add requirements for counting certain persons for redistricting purposes. The Environmental Rights Amendment is the second such measure approved for the ballot.

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The Daily Brew: Debuting a new Ballotpedia newsletter

Welcome to the Tuesday, Feb. 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. ESG: Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance
  2. Burlington, Vermont voters will decide on March 2 whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for city council elections
  3. West Virginia Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Justice’s appointment

ESG: Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance

Today, we’re launching a new way to stay up to date on the trends and events that characterize the growing intersection between business and politics. Economy and Society is a free, weekly email newsletter that delivers news and information about the developments in corporate activism and corporate political engagement. Our team will also provide updates on the latest scholarship and research in the field and notable quotes from thought leaders. Be among the first subscribers to signup. The first edition will be delivered to inboxes today!

> Subscribe

Burlington, Vermont voters will decide on March 2 whether to adopt ranked-choice voting for city council elections

On March 2, Burlington, Vermont voters will decide whether to implement ranked-choice voting (RCV) for city council elections. The city previously used RCV but repealed its use over a decade ago through a ballot initiative petition drive. Question 4 would cause RCV to be used starting in March 2022.

First, let’s do a quick rundown of the history of RCV in Burlington.

  • 2005: Burlington voters amended the city’s charter to implement RCV—referred to as instant runoff—for mayoral elections. The 2005 measure was approved by 64% to 36%. It was used in the 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections.
  • 2010: Voters repealed RCV by a vote of 52% to 48%. The measure was placed on the ballot through a ballot initiative petition drive after the 2009 mayoral election.
  • 2020: The Burlington City Council attempted to place an RCV measure on the November 2020 ballot, but Mayor Miro Weinberger (D) vetoed it after the city council voted 6-5 on it. The measure would have implemented RCV for city council, mayoral, and school commissioner elections. The council amended the measure to only include city council elections and reconsidered it for the March 2021 ballot. It was approved on Sept. 22, 2020, and Mayor Weinberger signed the measure on Oct. 3.

Ranked-choice voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

One state (Maine) has implemented RCV at the state level, one state (Alaska) has adopted but not implemented RCV, eight states contain jurisdictions that had implemented RCV at some level, and another five states contain jurisdictions—including New York City—that have adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections.

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West Virginia Supreme Court rules in favor of Gov. Justice’s appointment

Here’s an update on a contested appointment to the West Virginia Legislature that we’ve been watching. Let’s catch you up.

On Jan. 9, Rep. Derrick Evans (R) resigned from the West Virginia House of Delegates after being charged with entering a restricted public building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

According to West Virginia law, the executive committee of the political party that holds the seat can submit a list of three candidates to the governor in case of a vacancy. On Jan. 13, the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee sent three names to Gov. Justice: Mark Ross, Chad Shaffer, and Jay Marcum. 

Gov. Jim Justice’s (R) chief of staff, Brian Abraham, then told the committee Justice wanted a new list of names because Acting Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Executive Committee Roman Stauffer was not involved in the original nomination process. The second nomination list included Mark Ross, Chad Shaffer, and Joshua Booth. Gov. Justice approved the nomination and formally appointed Booth on Jan. 27.

According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, after Justice formally appointed Booth on Jan. 27, the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee petitioned the state’s court of last resort “to force the governor to choose from the first list of candidates submitted, saying state law doesn’t give the governor discretion to reject the list provided by local party executive committees.” 

On Feb. 9, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia heard the case and ruled in favor of Gov. Justice. Booth was sworn in the following day.

As of Feb. 11, there have been 23 state legislative vacancies in 18 states this year. Eight of those vacancies have been filled, with 15 vacancies remaining. Booth is one of three Republicans to fill vacancies from 2021. 

Read on 



The Daily Brew: A brief history of President’s Day

Welcome to the Monday, Feb. 15, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. The history of President’s Day
  2. Previewing the Wisconsin spring primaries
  3. South Dakota 2020 marijuana measure was unconstitutional, state judge rules

On Saturday, the U.S. Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump (R) on one article of impeachment. The vote was 57-43. All 50 Democrats and seven Republicans voted guilty; 43 Republicans voted to acquit. Two-thirds of Senators (67) were required to vote guilty in order to convict.  The House of Representatives had impeached Trump for incitement of insurrection, 232-197, on Jan. 13, following the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol. 

The history of President’s Day

Today, Feb. 15, is President’s Day. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at the history of the holiday. In brushing up on the subject, we turned to Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day edition last year. Here’s an excerpt from last year’s edition.

  • President’s Day began informally on Feb. 22, 1800, to celebrate the birthday of George Washington. The nation’s first president had passed away the year before. It took another 85 years before Washington’s birthday became an official national holiday. Over time, many states began to also celebrate both formally and informally the birthday of Abraham Lincoln (February 12).
  • In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. That plan was designed to give workers more three-day weekends by celebrating holidays on Mondays. Technically, the law listed only Washington’s birthday as a holiday. However, since the third Monday of February always falls between the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln, many saw it as a joint celebration.
  • Building on this cultural attitude, marketers began promoting Presidents’ Day (plural). By the 1980s, many states had changed the name to Presidents’ Day on their calendar. History.com reports that “Presidents’ Day is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives.”
  • In addition to Washington and Lincoln, presidents William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan have their birthdays in February. However, no presidents actually have their birthday on Presidents’ Day.
  • Despite the change in understanding the holiday, the federal government still officially considers it to be a holiday honoring George Washington’s birthday.

Read on

Previewing the Wisconsin spring primaries

The first statewide primary elections of 2021 are here, with Wisconsin holding its primaries tomorrow, Feb. 16.

The Badger State’s spring elections feature nonpartisan offices, while the fall elections feature partisan offices. However, this year, two partisan state legislative special elections are on the otherwise-nonpartisan ballot. 

  • Wisconsin State Senate District 13 became vacant on Jan. 1 after Scott Fitzgerald (R) was elected to the U.S. House. 
  • State Assembly District 89 became vacant on Dec. 2, 2020, after John Nygren (R) resigned his seat to work in the private sector.

Candidates are also running in nonpartisan elections for one superintendent of public instruction seat. Governor Tony Evers (D) served in this office from 2009 to 2019.

Ballotpedia is also covering local primaries for some school boards and county offices

Wisconsin is one of 14 states that cancel their primaries if two or fewer candidates file for each seat on the ballot. In these cases, candidates will automatically advance to the general election on April 6. Eleven of the 20 school board primaries (55%) and 40 of the 43 municipal primaries (93%) in our coverage scope were canceled due to a lack of opposition this year.

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South Dakota 2020 marijuana measure was unconstitutional, state judge rules

Here’s something you may have missed last week. On Feb. 8, Hughes County Circuit Judge Christina Klinger overturned South Dakota’s 2020 marijuana legalization initiative. Klinger ruled that the measure violated the state’s single-subject rule. Klinger also ruled that the measure constituted a revision of the constitution rather than an amendment. 

South Dakota voters approved Amendment A 54% to 46% on Nov. 3. The measure was designed to: 

  • legalize the recreational use of marijuana for individuals 21 years old and older, allowing individuals to possess or distribute up to one ounce of marijuana;
  • require the legislature to create a medical marijuana program pass laws allowing the sale of hemp;
  • tax marijuana sales at 15%; 
  • allocate tax revenue to public schools and the state’s general fund; and 
  • enact other regulations, including over home grow, marijuana business licenses, local control, and civil penalties for violations.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and South Dakota Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller filed a lawsuit in Hughes County Circuit Court seeking to block Amendment A from taking effect. Plaintiffs alleged that the measure comprises more than one subject and that the measure does not amend the constitution but revises the constitution and could only be put before voters by a constitutional convention.

Defendants argued that all the provisions were essentially related. South Dakotans for Better Marijuana Laws, which backed Amendment A, said they would file an appeal with the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Governor Kristi Noem (R) said, “Today’s decision protects and safeguards our constitution. I’m confident that South Dakota Supreme Court, if asked to weigh in as well, will come to the same conclusion.” Noem said in January, “I directed [petitioners] to commence the Amendment A litigation on my behalf.” This is the first time a state’s governor led an effort to overturn a voter-approved marijuana legalization measure.

All citizen initiatives in South Dakota—both initiated constitutional amendments and initiated state statutes—must concern only one subject. South Dakota did not have a single-subject rule for ballot measures until 2018, when voters approved Constitutional Amendment Z. Sixteen of the 26 states with a statewide initiative or veto referendum process have a single-subject rule.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. The map below details the legal status of recreational marijuana by state as of November 2020. States shaded in dark green had fully legalized recreational marijuana usage. In states shaded in light green, recreational marijuana usage was illegal, but decriminalized. The remaining states shaded in light gray had not legalized recreational marijuana.

Read on 



The Daily Brew: An update on recall efforts against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 12, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Organizers of recall effort against California governor announce they’ve collected 1.5 million signatures
  2. Iowa, Montana lift statewide mask requirements
  3. #Friday trivia: How many 2022 Senate seats were decided by five percentage points or fewer in their last election?

Organizers of recall effort against California governor announce they’ve collected 1.5 million signatures

Organizers of a recall effort against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) reported on Feb. 10 that they had collected more than 1.5 million signatures. Supporters have until March 17 to collect 1,495,709 valid signatures to trigger a recall election. The next official monthly reporting deadline is next Tuesday—Feb. 16.

The previous monthly reporting period ended Jan. 6, and organizers submitted 723,886 signatures. The secretary of state processed 485,650 of those and deemed 75,563—or 15.6%—invalid.

Recall supporters say Newsom mishandled the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, did not do enough to address the state’s homelessness rate, and supported sanctuary city policies and water rationing. This campaign to recall Newsom began on June 10, 2020. Five other recall efforts against him have failed to make the ballot since 2019. 

If this recall reaches the ballot, here is how the process works. Voters would be presented with two questions. The first would ask whether Newsom should be recalled as governor. If a majority votes in favor of the recall, then Newsom is removed from office. The second question would ask voters to elect a new governor if Newsom is recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election and become governor.

Nineteen states have provisions for recalling state-level officers, including the governor.

Since 1911, there have been 55 recall attempts against an incumbent California governor. The only successful gubernatorial recall election in the state’s history was in 2003 when Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected governor. Schwarzenegger received 48.6% of the vote in a field that included more than 100 candidates.

Since 1921, four gubernatorial recall efforts have qualified for the ballot: 

  • Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) won a recall election in 2012 and remained in office,
  • Gov. Davis (D) was recalled in 2002 in California,
  • Gov. Fife Symington’s (R-Ariz.) recall election in 1997 was canceled after he resigned following his impeachment, and
  • Gov. Lynn Frazier (R/Nonpartisan League) was recalled in 1921 in North Dakota. 

Read on

Iowa, Montana lift statewide mask requirements 

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) announced he is lifting the state’s face-covering requirement on Feb. 12. Former Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued the face-covering requirement on July 15, 2020. Montana is the fourth state to allow a mask requirement to expire over the past few months. 

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) lifted Iowa’s mask order on Feb. 7. Reynolds first issued the face-covering requirement on Nov. 17.
  • Gov. Doug Burgum (R) lifted North Dakota’s order on Jan. 28.
  • Gov. Tate Reeves (R) lifted Mississippi’s order on Sept. 30, 2020.

On Feb. 4, the Wisconsin state Assembly voted 52-42 on a resolution to end the statewide mask mandate and coronavirus public health emergency. On Jan. 26, the state Senate voted 18-13 to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) coronavirus emergency order. In response, Evers issued two new orders re-establishing the public health emergency and mask mandate. Republican legislative leaders are challenging Evers’ mandate in the state supreme court. 

On Feb. 5, the Pennsylvania State House voted 116-86 to approve a ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment that would end emergency disaster declarations after 21 days unless the General Assembly approved extensions. If voters approve the amendment on May 18, the legislature could end the state’s coronavirus emergency order, including the mask requirement.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide mask requirements in response to the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey was the first state to implement a statewide mask order on April 10, 2020. Four states—Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, and North Dakota—have allowed those statewide orders to expire.

The map below shows the 35 states with statewide mask orders. All 23 states with Democratic governors have such orders in effect, as do 12 of 27 states with Republican governors.

If you want to learn more about statewide mask orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here to view the text of each state’s mask order, the dates they were in effect, and links to arguments in favor and against face-covering requirements. And to stay informed, subscribe to our free newsletter—Documenting America’s Path to Recovery—and receive the latest info in your inbox each day.

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#Friday trivia: How many 2022 Senate seats were decided by five percentage points or fewer in their last election?

Thursday’s Brew took an early look at 2022’s U.S. Senate elections.  

Of the 34 seats up for election next year, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. Four Republicans—Alabama’s Richard Shelby, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Ohio’s Rob Portman, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey—have announced they will not run for re-election.

In the most recent election for these specific seats, how many were decided by a margin of five percentage points or fewer?

  1. 3
  2. 5
  3. 6
  4. 7


The Daily Brew: An early look at the 2022 Senate elections

Welcome to the Thursday, Feb. 11, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. An early look at the 2022 Senate elections
  2. Oklahoma school board primary results
  3. January state legislature count: 54% Republican, 45% Democrat

An early look at the 2022 Senate elections

Now that the 2020 election cycle is completed, we’re pivoting to take a look at the 2022 elections. Today, let’s dive into what we know about the 2022 U.S. Senate elections so far.

On Nov. 8, 2022, 34 U.S. Senate seats will be up for election. Heading into those elections, the Senate is tied 50-50 – Democrats control the majority owing to the tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Of the 34 Senate seats up for election in 2022, Republicans currently hold 20 and Democrats hold 14. Four Republicans – Alabama’s Richard Shelby, North Carolina’s Richard Burr, Ohio’s Rob Portman, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey – have announced they will not run for re-election.

Democrats are not defending any Senate seats in states Donald Trump won in the 2020 presidential election. Republicans are defending two Senate seats in states Joe Biden won: Pennsylvania (held by Sen. Pat Toomey) and Wisconsin (held by Sen. Ron Johnson).

Early race ratings

Outlets including The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have released early race ratings. The outlets agreed in their ratings of 15 races as Safe/Solid Republican and 10 as Safe/Solid Democratic. The nine elections with more competitive ratings from two or more outlets are:

Toss-up or Democratic advantage

Arizona

Georgia

New Hampshire

Nevada

Toss-up or Republican advantage

Florida

North Carolina

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Wisconsin

Seats that changed party hands

Four of the seats up for election in 2022 changed party hands the last time they were up for election. In 2020/2021, Democrats picked up Senate seats in special elections in Georgia and Arizona. In 2016, Democrats picked up Senate seats in Illinois and New Hampshire.

The last time these Senate seats were up for election, seven were won by a margin of fewer than 5 percentage points. They are listed below by margin. Of those seven seats, Democrats won four and Republicans won three.

  • Wisconsin: Ron Johnson (R) won by 3.4 percentage points in 2016.
  • Missouri: Roy Blunt (R) won by 2.8 percentage points in 2016.
  • Arizona: Mark Kelly (D) defeated incumbent Martha McSally (R) by 2.4 percentage points in the 2020 special election.
  • Nevada: Catherine Cortez Masto (D) won by 2.4 percentage points in 2016.
  • Georgia: Raphael Warnock (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) by 2.1 percentage points in the special runoff election last month.
  • Pennsylvania: Pat Toomey (R) won by 1.5 percentage points in 2016.
  • New Hampshire: Maggie Hassan (D) defeated incumbent Kelly Ayotte (R) by 0.1 percentage point in 2016.

Read on

Oklahoma school board primary results

February means Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and school board primaries in Oklahoma. On Feb. 9, Oklahoma held its primary elections for school boards across the state. Ballotpedia covered elections for 35 seats across 27 of those boards. 

Below are some quick stats from the results. Oklahoma is one of 14 states that cancel primary elections when they are unopposed.

  • Seventeen elections (49%) were won outright by unopposed candidates.
  • In thirteen other races (37%), two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. 
  • The remaining five seats (14%) held primaries between three or more candidates. 

The 49% of elections won outright by unopposed candidates in 2021 was lower than in the last two years. That number was 18 (64%) in 2020 and 16 (53%) in 2019. 

Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

Read on 

January state legislature count: 54% Republican, 45% Democrat

Last week, I mentioned our monthly count of the partisan breakdown in all 99 state legislative chambers. Let’s take a look at January’s report. 

Out of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States, 54.3% of all state legislators are Republicans and 44.9% are Democrats as of Jan. 31.

Before the 2020 general election, Republicans held a majority in 59 chambers and Democrats held a majority in 39 chambers, with Alaska’s House of Representatives organized under a power-sharing agreement. 

After the elections, Republicans control 61 chambers, and Democrats hold 37. Control of Alaska’s state House remains undetermined.

Nationally, there are 1,953 state senators and 5,366 state representatives. Democrats hold 864 state Senate seats and 2,448 state House seats. Republicans hold 4,007 total seats—1,089 in state Senates and 2,918 in state Houses. Independent or third-party legislators hold 36 seats: 31 state House seats and five state Senate seats. There are 28 vacant seats.

Read on 



The Daily Brew: Alaska House yet to elect permanent speaker after 2020 elections

Welcome to the Wednesday, Feb. 10, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Alaska House of Representatives elects temporary speaker
  2. Iowa voters to decide constitutional amendment regarding firearms next year
  3. Checking in on 2021 state supreme court vacancies

Alaska House of Representatives elects temporary speaker

Forty-six state legislatures are currently in session. The Alaska House of Representatives has been in session since Jan. 19. But no regular business has taken place because legislators have not elected a permanent speaker or organized committees.

Partisan control of the House was uncertain after the 2020 elections, split between those favoring a Republican-led majority and those supporting a multi-party coalition. Republicans won 21 of 40 seats, but Rep. Louise Stutes (R) joined a coalition of 16 Democrats and three independents, leaving legislators split into two 20-member factions.

The Alaska House elected Josiah Patkotak (I) unanimously as temporary speaker on Feb. 4. Patkotak was elected to his first term on Nov. 3. He is presiding over the chamber until a permanent speaker is elected, taking over for Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) who had filled the role of presiding officer since the legislative session began. Legislators have not submitted any nominations for a permanent speaker as of Feb. 9.

Alaska has a Republican governor, and Republicans control the state Senate, so final control of the chamber will also determine the state’s trifecta status.

The Alaska House faced a similar situation after the 2018 elections. That year, Republican-aligned candidates won 23 seats, and Democratic-aligned candidates won 17. A coalition of 15 Democrats, four Republicans, and two independents elected Bryce Edgmon (I) as House speaker on Feb. 14, 2019. Edgmon was originally elected as a Democrat but changed his party affiliation to independent before he was elected speaker. Both parties split control of key leadership positions and committees. 

>Read on

Iowa voters to decide constitutional amendment regarding firearms next year

Iowa voters will decide a state constitutional amendment in 2022 that says, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” and “Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

Both chambers of the legislature approved the measure on Jan. 28, certifying it for the next general election. The votes were along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposed. To put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment before voters, both chambers of the legislature must approve it by a simple majority in two legislative sessions. There also must be a state legislative election between the two sessions.

Amendment sponsors originally intended to pass the bill during the 2017-2018 and 2019-2020 sessions to place the question on the 2020 ballot. However, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) said in January 2019 that his office failed to publish the amendment in two newspapers in each of Iowa’s congressional districts and on the legislature’s website once per month for three months, as the state constitution requires. Because the amendments passed during the 2018 legislative session were not published, sponsors had to start the amendment process from the beginning. 

Forty-four states include a right to bear arms in their constitutions, some for self-defense and the defense of the state. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were the first to add such a right to their state constitutions in 1776. The most recent amendments were added in Alabama and Missouri in 2014 and Louisiana in 2012.

Iowa’s constitutional amendment is one of four statewide ballot measures in three states approved for the 2022 ballot.

>Read on 

Checking in on 2021 state supreme court vacancies

So far this year, there have been seven supreme court vacancies in the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies occurred in six states, and retirements caused all seven.

Here’s a look at the two most recently-announced vacancies, including one in Missouri that could change the partisan balance when considering the party of the governor that appointed each justice.

  • Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick is retiring on June 30. Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne appointed him in 2003, and voters retained him in 2004, 2010, and 2016. Burdick’s current term would have expired in January 2023. His replacement will be Republican Gov. Brad Little’s first appointment to the five-member supreme court. 
    • Following Burdick’s retirement, Republican governors will have appointed three justices to the supreme court, and one justice was elected in a nonpartisan election to an open seat.
  • Missouri Supreme Court Justice Laura Denvir Stith is retiring on Mar. 8. Democratic Gov. Bob Holden appointed her to this position in 2001, and voters retained her in 2002 and 2014. Stith’s current term would have expired on Dec. 31, 2026. Her replacement will be Gov. Mike Parson’s (R) first nominee to the seven-member supreme court.
    • Before Stith’s retirement, a Democratic governor appointed four justices on the court, and a Republican governor appointed three. After Gov. Parson appoints Stith’s replacement, the composition of the court will change—Republican governors will have appointed four justices, and Democratic governors will have appointed three.

In 2020, there were 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. In 2019, there were 22 vacancies in those states. 

>Read on



The Daily Brew: The first two congressional special elections of the 117th Congress

Welcome to the Monday, Feb. 8, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Previewing the upcoming congressional special elections
  2. Harris casts her first tie-breaking votes as vice president
  3. Upcoming redistricting 101 briefing

Previewing the upcoming congressional special elections

It seems like the Georgia congressional races just happened, but we’re already looking ahead to the special elections to Louisiana’s 2nd and 5th Congressional District—the first special elections of the 117th Congress. Both races will be held on March 20, with the candidate filing deadline having passed on Jan. 22.

  • Fifteen candidates are running for Louisiana’s 2nd District, which became vacant when President Joe Biden (D) announced that former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) would join his administration as a senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Media coverage has focused primarily on Troy Carter, Karen Peterson, and Gary Chambers. Carter and Peterson are both members of the Louisiana state Senate representing districts 7 and 5, respectively. Chambers is a social activist and publisher from Baton Rouge.
  • Twelve candidates are running for Louisiana’s 5th District, which became vacant when former Representative-elect Luke Letlow (R) died on Dec. 29 from complications related to COVID-19. Letlow had just won the seat in the Dec. 5 general election. Media coverage has focused on Candy Christophe (D), Chad Conerly (R), Allen Guillory Sr. (R), and Julia Letlow (R). Christophe, the only Democratic candidate running in the primary, is a business owner and social worker. Guillory is a business owner and has a degree in criminal justice. Conerly is a veteran who has worked in finance with the Air Force and White House Communications Agency. Letlow, the widow of Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, has worked in marketing and as an administrator at the University of Louisiana Monroe and Tulane University.

Elections in the Bayou State take place under the Louisiana 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.

We are also anticipating two other potential special congressional elections that could happen this year. Both are for congressional districts represented by a Biden administration appointee whose appointment requires Senate confirmation. Rep. Debra Haaland (D) from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District was nominated as secretary for the interior, and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D) from Ohio’s 11th Congressional District was nominated as secretary of housing and urban development. Should they be confirmed to their new posts, a special election will then be triggered.

Fifty special elections to the United States Congress were held during the 113th through 116th Congresses (2013-2020). During that time, special elections were called for 16 seats vacated by Democrats and 34 vacated by Republicans.

>READ ON

Harris casts her first tie-breaking votes as vice president

On Feb. 5, Vice President Kamala Harris (D) cast her first two tie-breaking votes in the U.S. Senate

  • The Senate voted 50-50 to adopt a budget resolution relating to COVID-19 economic relief. Harris broke the tie to adopt the resolution. 
  • The Senate voted 50-50 to adopt an amendment proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) on the budget resolution. Harris broke the tie to adopt the amendment.

Since John Adams cast the first tie-breaking vote on July 18, 1789, there have been 270 such votes from 37 vice presidents. Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) cast 13 tie-breaking votes in the Senate. Twelve vice presidents, including Joe Biden (D) and Dan Quayle (R), never cast a tie-breaking vote during their time in office. 

Stef Kight of Axios wrote about Harris’ role as vice president on Jan. 11: “Harris will now assume the role during only the second 50-50 split Senate during the past 60 years. Congress is facing the prospect of major legislation addressing the coronavirus, comprehensive immigration reform and voting rights.”

Under the U.S. Constitution, the vice president of the United States also serves as the president of the Senate. In this capacity, he or she may cast the deciding vote when there is a tie in the Senate.

>READ ON 

Upcoming redistricting 101 briefing

The 2020 U.S. Census is complete, and the Ballotpedia staff have been patiently awaiting the exciting time of receiving updated Census data. The process has been delayed on several occasions, with the next scheduled date of data delivery on April 1. In the meantime, let’s run through the basics of redistricting with a briefing. 

Join us on Feb. 10 at 11:00 a.m. Central as we walk through what to know about redistricting. Our team will discuss:

  • How redistricting works
  • What’s at stake during this redistricting cycle
  • What’s changed from the last cycle
  • The latest news and updates

Click here to reserve your spot today!



The Daily Brew: 25 states have legalized sports betting

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look at the current sports betting landscape
  2. Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022
  3. Today’s the last day to send a snail-mail Ballotpedia Valentine and pin
  4. What’s the Tea?

A look at the current sports betting landscape

The American Gaming Association released a study on Feb. 2 that projected that 23.2 million Americans will wager an estimated $4.3 billion on the Super Bowl this year. This includes people who will bet with friends, through an online or in-person sportsbook, or in a pool or similar contest.

Nevada enacted laws permitting gambling on sporting events in 1949, and it was the only state where legal sports wagering was allowed until 2018. 

New Jersey voters approved a 2011 constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize sports betting, and the state enacted such a law in 2012. However, four professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit to block the New Jersey law, arguing that it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling. 

A federal district court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld PASPA, preventing New Jersey from offering legal sports betting. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed those decisions in May 2018, ruling in Murphy v. NCAA (originally Christie v. NCAA) that PASPA was unconstitutional.

Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C., have legalized sports betting either through statute or ballot measure, as shown in the map below. Based on 2019 census estimates, 146.4 million people—or 44.5% of the country—live in states where sports betting is legal. These 25 states currently are 11 Democratic state government trifectas, nine Republican trifectas, and six states with divided government. In some states, sports betting is only permitted in certain jurisdictions or venues. 

Proponents of a California measure that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks reported submitting about 1.4 million signatures in December. If enough signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide that measure in November 2022.

Last year, South Dakota voters approved a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on Nov. 3 legalizing sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota. Maryland voters also approved a legislatively-referred statute authorizing sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities. 

Read on>

Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022 

Kansas voters will decide a measure in 2022 that would add language to the state constitution stating that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.” The amendment would also state that “the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion.” The measure will go before voters at the state’s primary election on Aug. 2, 2022.

The amendment is a response to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that held the state’s Bill of Rights does include a right to abortion. If voters approve the amendment, courts will be prevented from ruling the state constitution includes a right to abortion.

The Kansas state House passed the amendment 86 to 38 on Jan. 22. All House Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and all Democrats voted against it (one was absent). One independent member also voted against the amendment. The state Senate approved the measure 28-11 on Jan. 28. All Republican members voted for the amendment, and all Democratic members voted against it.

Constitutional amendments in Kansas are put on the ballot if two-thirds of each chamber of the legislature approves it. Amendments do not require the governor’s signature, nor can a governor veto a proposed amendment. Kansas is one of 40 states that allow the legislature to place amendments before voters after just one legislative session, depending on whether the amendment receives a simple majority or supermajority. From 1995 through 2020, the Kansas Legislature referred ten constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected two.

Four states have adopted constitutional amendments declaring that their constitutions do not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the state to fund abortion. Tennessee was the first state to pass such an amendment in 2014. Alabama and West Virginia passed similar amendments in 2018. Louisiana voters did likewise last year. Court rulings in at least 10 states, including Kansas, have affirmed a state constitutional right to an abortion.

The following map shows the states where courts have ruled that a right to abortion exists under the state constitution and states with constitutional amendments stating that no such right exists:

Read on> 

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What’s the Tea?

Super Bowl LV takes place this Sunday—Feb. 7—between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s event?

  1. The game
  2. The commercials
  3. The halftime show
  4. Wait, the Super Bowl is this weekend?