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Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) announces retirement

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D) announced Tuesday that he will not run for re-election in 2022. Kind has represented Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District since 1997. He said in his announcement, “For 26 years, I’ve flown to and from Washington, DC and traveled the 18 counties of the most beautiful Congressional District in the Nation almost every week. But 26 years is enough–it’s time for me to step back.”

A former state prosecutor for the La Crosse County district attorney’s office, Kind won his House seat in the 1996 election against James E. Harsdorf with 52% of the vote. He has been a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means since 2011. In 2020, Kind defeated challenger Derrick Van Orden (R) by less than 3% after winning re-election in 2018 against Steve Toft (R) by nearly 20%.

Kind is the fourth Democrat to announce their retirement this year, including Ann Kirkpatrick (D), Cheri Bustos (D) and Filemon Vela (D). A total of 16 U.S. House members have announced they will not seek re-election so far this year, with six retiring and 10 seeking other offices.

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Texas House lacks quorum as second special session begins

On August 7, 2021, the Texas House of Representatives began a new 30-day special session without a quorum. The chamber has been without a quorum since July 12 when enough Democrats left the state during consideration of House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 to break quorum. At least 50 members of the Democratic caucus went to Washington, D.C., where they held meetings with members of Congress about federal voting legislation.

This is the second special session to convene following the closure of the regular session on May 30. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced this new special session on August 5, one day before the first special session ended. He called the first special session in June after Democratic legislators walked out in opposition to similar legislation on May 30. Abbott vetoed funding for legislative salaries on June 21.

According to CBS News, at least 26 Democrats of the initial 50 that left in June were expected to stay in Washington, D.C. through the end of the special session. State Rep. Eddie Lucio (D), who returned to Texas, said he expected enough of the caucus to return to Austin to have a quorum within a week.

The chamber is unable to conduct official business without a quorum, which requires two-thirds of the chamber’s 150 members to be present. Republicans hold 82 seats in the chamber, meaning they would need at least 18 Democrats to achieve a quorum.

Oregon Supreme Court justice to retire at year’s end

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto is retiring on Dec. 31, 2021. Nakamoto’s replacement will be Governor Kate Brown’s (D) sixth nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Oregon law, midterm vacancies on the state supreme court are filled via gubernatorial appointment. Appointed judges serve until the next general election more than 60 days after they were appointed, at which point they must run for election in order to remain in office.

Justice Nakamoto joined the Oregon Supreme Court in 2016. She was appointed to the court by Brown. Upon her appointment, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American on the state supreme court.

Before serving on the state supreme court, Nakamoto served as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals. She was appointed to that court by Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) in December 2010. Upon her appointment to the court, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American from Oregon to serve on any state or federal appellate court. 

Following Nakamoto’s retirement, the Oregon Supreme Court will include the following members:

Founded in 1859, the Oregon Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. The current chief of the court is Martha Walters.

In 2021, there have been 15 court vacancies in 13 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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CA GOP votes “No endorsement” for recall election; SoS releases campaign finance summaries

On August 7, the Republican Party of California voted not to endorse a candidate in the September 14 recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). About 90% of the delegates attending the virtual party meeting voted to skip the endorsement vote and not endorse a candidate. The vote came amid concerns from delegates and party leaders that an endorsement of one candidate would decrease turnout among voters who support other candidates.

Last week, the California Secretary of State’s office also released summary campaign finance data for reports filed through July 31. On the recall question, committees supporting a “Yes” vote have raised $8.7 million and spent $8.5 million. Committees supporting a “No” vote have raised $49.7 million and spent $21.5 million.

As of August 9, summary data was available for 16 candidate campaign committees. The five candidates that raised the most money so far were all Republicans: John Cox ($6.9 million), Larry Elder ($4.5 million), Kevin Faulconer ($1.9 million), Kevin Kiley ($834k), and Caitlyn Jenner ($747k). The Democrat to raise the most money was Kevin Paffrath ($388k). The top five spenders were Cox ($6.4 million), Elder ($2.2 million), Faulconer ($1.0 million), Jenner ($910k), and Paffrath ($398k).

Incumbent Pete Holmes concedes Seattle city attorney election

Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on August 6, 2021, in the top-two primary election held August 3. As of August 10, the latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 35.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 33% and Holmes with 31.2%. Davison and Thomas-Kennedy will advance to the general election on November 2, 2021.

Davison is an attorney and arbitrator and attended Willamette University College of Law and Baylor University. She ran for lieutenant governor as a Republican in 2020. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and that she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Former Gov. Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison.

Thomas-Kennedy is a former public defender and criminal and eviction attorney and attended Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, and Seattle University School of Law. She described her policy priorities as decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps. Her campaign website said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” The Seattle newspaper The Stranger endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.

Holmes won re-election in 2017 against challenger Scott Lindsay with 75% of the vote to Lindsay’s 25% and ran unopposed in the 2013 general election. Although he led in fundraising leading up to the primary election, The Cascadia Advocate‘s Andrew Villeneuve said that Davison and Thomas-Kennedy were “right behind Holmes as voting begins in the August 2021 Top Two election, with 53% of likely voters not sure who they’re voting for.” In a poll conducted by Change Research for the Northwest Progressive Institute from July 12 through July 15, 2021, 16% of respondents chose Holmes, 14% chose Davison, and 14% chose Thomas-Kennedy. David Kroman of Crosscut called Holmes’ concession “a tectonic political upset that sets the stage for a stark and divisive race to succeed him as the city’s top lawyer.”

In Seattle, the city attorney heads the city’s Law Department and supervises all litigation in which the city is involved. The city attorney supervises a team of assistant city attorneys who provide legal advice and assistance to the City’s management and prosecute violations of City ordinances.

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Nov. 2 candidates for Topeka mayor and city council determined in Aug. 3 primary

The primary for the Topeka mayor and District 3 council seat in Kansas was held on Aug. 3. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. The filing deadline to run passed on June 1.

Five candidates competed in the mayoral race. Mike Padilla and Leo Cangiani both advanced to the general election. Padilla received 3,990 votes, and Cangiani received 1,803. Daniel Brown, John Lauer, and Patrick Klick received less than 1,000 votes each and will not move on to the general election. The current mayor of Topeka, Michelle De La Isla, announced she would not be running for another term in March 2021. 

Sylvia Ortiz and Regina Platt advanced from the primary for the District 3 council seat, defeating William Hendrix, David Johnson, and Lana Kombacher. The primaries for Districts 1, 5, 7, and 9 on the city council were canceled, but they will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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Federal Register weekly update: Thirteen significant documents added

Photo of the White House in Washington, D.C.

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 overall regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From August 2 through August 6, the Federal Register grew by 2,000 pages for a year-to-date total of 43,380 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 499 documents:

  • 394 notices
  • No presidential documents
  • 38 proposed rules
  • 67 final rules

Four proposed rules and nine final rules were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to 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. The Biden administration has issued 28 significant proposed rules, 28 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of August 6.

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.

Click here to find more information about weekly additions to the Federal Register in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017: Changes to the Federal Register 

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Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2019: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2019 

Louisiana reinstates indoor face covering requirement

On Aug. 2, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed an executive order reinstating the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Louisiana was the only state to reintroduce a statewide indoor mask policy between July 30 and August 5.

Gov. Edwards said the order would be in place until Sept. 1, and could be extended beyond that date. The requirement came after the CDC updated its masking guidance, recommending fully vaccinated people wear masks while indoors in parts of the country with substantial or high transmission. 

Five states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and 3 states have statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All 8 of the states have Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. One state (Louisiana) that allowed a statewide order to expire later reinstated a mask order.

Reps. Billy Long, Conor Lamb announce they will run for Senate next year

U.S. Representatives Conor Lamb (D-Penn.) and Billy Long (R-Mo.) both announced last week that they would run for the U.S. Senate in 2022. Lamb will run for the seat currently held by Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Long will run for the seat currently held by Sen. Roy Blunt (R). Toomey and Blunt are both retiring.

Lamb was first elected in a special election in 2018 and was last re-elected with 51% of the vote to Republican challenger Sean Parnell’s 49%. Long was first elected to the House in 2010 and most recently won re-election with 69% of the vote to Democratic challenger Teresa Montseny’s 27%.

Long and Lamb are the fourteenth and fifteenth members of the House to announce that they will not run for re-election next year. The 15 members of the House who are not running include eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Five members of the U.S. Senate, all Republicans, have announced they will not run for re-election.

Thirty-six members of the U.S. House did not run for re-election in 2020—26 Republicans, nine Democrats, and one Libertarian. In 2018, 52 members of the U.S. House did not run for re-election, including 34 Republicans and 18 Democrats.

All 435 U.S. House seats will be up for election next year. Democrats currently have a 220-212 majority with three vacant seats.

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Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton resigns from New Mexico House of Representatives

Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D) resigned on July 30 following allegations of racketeering and money laundering. In July 2021, a federal grand jury subpoena was served on the Albuquerque Public Schools district where Stapleton was working as the district’s director of career and technical education.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the investigation was triggered by a mislabeled invoice and persistent inquiries from the Albuquerque Public Schools business office questioning Stapleton’s relationship with contractor Robotics Management Learning System LLC. Documents say the contractor was paid more than $5 million since 2006 and that more than $950,000 of that was funneled to the two businesses and two nonprofits with ties to Stapleton.

In her resignation letter, Stapleton denied the allegations. She said, “In short, because I must devote a significant amount of time and energy to fully defend against these allegations, I believe it is in the best interest of this state and the House of Representatives that my position as both a member of the House of Representatives and Majority Floor Leader be replaced with a representative who can fully and competently resume the tasks and duties that are necessary to continue serving this great state.”

Stapleton was first elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives to represent District 19 in 1994. 

As of August 2021, there have been 78 vacancies in 35 state legislatures. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled. Stapleton’s resignation is New Mexico’s second state legislative vacancy this year; the first was Melanie Ann Stansbury (D), who left the state House when she won the special election to represent New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.

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