Two states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 29 and June 4.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) ended the statewide mask mandate on May 29, along with other COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and individuals. The state will still require masks in state offices open to the public, schools and childcare centers, on public transportation, and in health care settings. Baker recommended unvaccinated individuals continue wearing masks in public settings.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) ended most statewide COVID-19 restrictions including the statewide mask mandate on June 2. The state left mask requirements in place in nursing homes and residential care settings. DeWine recommended unvaccinated individuals continue wearing masks in public indoor settings.
Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Fifteen states had statewide mask orders as of June 3, including 13 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and two out of the 27 states with Republican governors. Of those 15 states, at least 13 exempted fully vaccinated people.
Of the 24 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 14 have Republican governors and ten have Democratic governors. Twenty-one states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.
Ohio: On May 25, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) announced that the state had reached a settlement agreement with the Census Bureau in its lawsuit over the Census Bureau’s plan to deliver redistricting data to the states by September 30, 2021, instead of April 1, 2021, the deadline set forth in federal law. Under the terms of the settlement, the Census Bureau agreed to deliver redistricting data, in a legacy format, by August 16, 2021. The legacy format would present the data in raw form, without the data tables and other access tools the Census Bureau will ultimately prepare for the states. The Census Bureau also agreed to deliver biweekly updates (and, in August, weekly updates) on its progress. Yost said, “This administration tried to drag its feet and bog this down in court, but Ohio always had the law on its side and now the federal government has finally agreed. It’s time to cough up the data.” As of May 26, the Census Bureau had not commented publicly on the settlement.
The Census Bureau had previously indicated that redistricting data would be made available to states in a legacy format in mid-to-late August 2021, saying the following in a statement released on March 15, 2021: “In declarations recently filed in the case of Ohio v. Raimondo, the U.S. Census Bureau made clear that we can provide a legacy format summary redistricting data file to all states by mid-to-late August 2021. Because we recognize that most states lack the capacity or resources to tabulate the data from these summary files on their own, we reaffirm our commitment to providing all states tabulated data in our user-friendly system by Sept. 30, 2021.”
Illinois: State lawmakers in Illinois released their proposed maps on May 21 for the Illinois State Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives, becoming the second state (after Oklahoma) in the 2020 redistricting cycle to produce draft maps.
Upon announcing the release of the proposed maps, Sen. Omar Aquino (D) said, “Redistricting is about making sure all voices are heard, and that’s exactly what this map accomplishes. This is a fair map that reflects the great diversity of our state and ensures every person receives equal representation in the General Assembly.”
Rep. Tim Butler (R) criticized the proposed maps: “Tonight’s drop of partisan maps is yet another attempt to mislead voters in an effort to block fair elections. We continue our call upon Governor Pritzker to live up to his pledge to the people of Illinois and veto a map that was drawn by politicians like what we see here today.”
In Illinois, the General Assembly is responsible for both congressional and state legislative redistricting. Redistricting plans are subject to gubernatorial veto. Illinois is a Democratic trifecta, meaning that Democrats control the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.
Wisconsin: On May 14, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin denied a petition for a proposed rule by which the state supreme court would have assumed original jurisdiction over redistricting lawsuits. When a court assumes original jurisdiction, it has the “power to hear and decide a matter before any other court can review the manner.”
On June 3, 2020, Attorney Richard M. Esenberg, Brian McGrath, and Anthony F. LoCoco, on behalf of Scott Jensen and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, filed the petition for the proposed rule, saying that the state supreme court had, in Jensen v. Wisconsin Elections Board (2002), “noted that redistricting was primarily a state and not a federal responsibility … but nevertheless deferred to the federal courts because of the perceived procedural problem of a lack of rules for such a case in [the state supreme court.” The petitioners asked the court to adopt the proposed rule “to cure the perceived procedural problems it noted in Jensen.”
In an unsigned order denying the petition, the court said, “The court determined that, as drafted, the procedures proposed in this administrative rule petition are unlikely to materially aid this court’s consideration of an as yet undefined future redistricting challenge, and voted to deny the petition.” The court added, “Our decision in this rule matter should not be deemed predictive of this court’s response to a petition for review asking this court to review a lower court’s ruling on a redistricting challenge or a request that we assume original jurisdiction over a future redistricting case or controversy.”
The Franklin County Board of Elections certified the candidates for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District special primary in a meeting on May 24. Candidates interested in running had until May 17 to file. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 3, and the general election is set for Nov. 2.
Fourteen candidates were certified to the ballot: two Democrats and 12 Republicans. The candidates are:
Greg Betts (D)
Allison Russo (D)
John Adams (R)
Mike Carey (R)
Eric M. Clark (R)
Thad Cooperridder (R)
Ruth Edmonds (R)
Ron Hood (R)
Tom Hwang (R)
Stephanie Kunze (R)
Jeff LaRe (R)
Bob Peterson (R)
Brian Stewart (R)
Omar Tarazi (R)
Write-in candidates have until May 28 to file declarations of intent with the county board.
The special election was called after Steve Stivers (R) left office to become the President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, effective May 16. Stivers served from 2011 to 2021.
After Stivers’ resignation, the partisan breakdown of the U.S. representatives from Ohio will be three Democrats, 11 Republicans, and two vacancies. The U.S. House will have 219 Democrats, 211 Republicans, and five vacancies. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.
As of May 14, seven special elections have been called during the 117th Congress. From the 113th Congress to the 116th Congress, 50 special elections were held.
On May 18, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that Ohio has standing to sue Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo over the U.S. Census Bureau’s plan to release redistricting data to the states by September 30 instead of the April 1 deadline set forth in federal statutes.
The Sixth Circuit found that Ohio meets all three requirements for standing to bring a lawsuit: “First, Ohio suffered (and continues to suffer) an informational injury because the Secretary failed to deliver Ohio’s data as the Census Act requires. Second, the injury is traceable to the Secretary because Ohio’s informational injury is the direct result of the Secretary’s failure to produce the required data. And third, Ohio’s injury is redressable.”
The panel unanimously sent the case back to the district court for further consideration. The three judges on the panel were Martha Daughtrey (a Bill Clinton (D) appointee), David McKeague (a George W. Bush (R) appointee), and Amul Thapar (a Donald Trump (R) appointee).
The state filed its lawsuit (Ohio v. Coggins) against the Census Bureau in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Feb. 25. Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers said, “The unavailability of decennial census data irreparably harms the State: the Ohio Constitution requires the State to use decennial census data during redistricting if the data is available, and allows the use of alternative data sources only as a second-best option. By blocking the State from conducting redistricting using decennial census data, the Census Bureau’s decision prevents the State from conducting redistricting in the constitutionally preferred manner.”
The state asked that the court “issue an injunction either prohibiting the defendants from delaying the release of Ohio’s redistricting data beyond March 31, or else requiring the defendants to provide the State with Ohio’s population data at the earliest date this Court deems equitable.”
Judge Thomas Rose, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, dismissed the lawsuit on March 24, 2021, writing, “The Court will therefore reject Ohio’s request for an order that pretends that the Census Bureau could provide census-based redistricting data by March 31. The Court cannot ‘order a party to jump higher, run faster, or lift more than she is physically capable.'” The next day, the state appealed Rose’s decision to the Sixth Circuit, which heard oral argument on May 12.
During this year and next, state legislators, governors, and special redistricting commissions will draft and implement new congressional and state legislative district maps that will be used for the next 10 years. We’ll bring you regular updates here in the Brew about all of the many redistricting goings-on. The pace is expected to be fast-and-furious in the coming months.
Ohio: On May 12, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit was scheduled to hear oral argument in Ohio v. Coggins, in which Ohio officials are seeking to force the U.S. Census Bureau to release redistricting data to the states ahead of its September 30 target date.
On Feb. 25, 2021, the state filed its lawsuit against the Census Bureau in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers said, “The unavailability of decennial census data irreparably harms the State: the Ohio Constitution requires the State to use decennial census data during redistricting if the data is available, and allows the use of alternative data sources only as a second-best option. By blocking the State from conducting redistricting using decennial census data, the Census Bureau’s decision prevents the State from conducting redistricting in the constitutionally preferred manner.” The state asked that the court “issue an injunction either prohibiting the defendants from delaying the release of Ohio’s redistricting data beyond March 31, 2021, or else requiring the defendants to provide the State with Ohio’s population data at the earliest date this Court deems equitable.”
Judge Thomas Rose, a George W. Bush (R) appointee, dismissed the lawsuit on March 24, 2021, writing, “The Court will therefore reject Ohio’s request for an order that pretends that the Census Bureau could provide census-based redistricting data by March 31, 2021. The Court cannot ‘order a party to jump higher, run faster, or lift more than she is physically capable.'” The next day, the state appealed Rose’s decision to the Sixth Circuit.
A similar lawsuit is pending in Alabama.
Virginia: On April 26, 2021, state Delegate Lee Carter (D) sent a letter to Attorney General Mark Herring (D) and asked for a formal opinion as to the “constitutionality of the 2021 elections for the House of Delegates being conducted under electoral districts established in 2011.” Carter asked Herring to address the following issues:
1. “The Constitutional authority, if any such authority exists, under which the Virginia Department of Elections is currently conducting the 2021 House of Delegates elections for the electoral districts established in 2011.”
2. “Whether, in the absence of timely data from the United States Census Bureau, the Virginia Redistricting Commission is Constitutionally bound to establish new electoral districts with the best available population data for the House of Delegates elections in the year 2021 and in each tenth subsequent year thereafter.”
As of May 6, 2021, Herring had not responded to Carter’s request for an opinion.
Cincinnati voters defeated Issue 3 on Tuesday with 73% of voters opposing the measure and 27% of voters approving the measure. Issue 3 was a citizen initiative that would have established the Cincinnati Affordable Housing Trust Fund and created a board of private citizens to manage the fund. It would have also provided guidelines for what projects could be financed by the fund. The measure would have required a $50 million annual city contribution to the fund, and it suggested revenue sources for the fund. The measure defined housing as affordable when “costs associated with residing in the home require no more than thirty percent of the household’s income” and contained income level thresholds of 60% and 30% of Hamilton County’s median household income.
Issue 3 was put on the ballot through a successful citizen initiative petition drive which submitted 9,541 signatures. Cincinnati Action for Housing NOW led the effort to put Issue 3 on the ballot. On Tuesday night, the campaign said, “We are a movement of people who know every person in this city needs access to a home they can afford. … Issue 3 put our need for affordable housing at the top of community conversation.”
Cincinnati voters approved two other charter amendments, Issues 1 and 2. Issue 1 was approved by a margin of 77% to 23%. It amended the city charter to prohibit council members from revising their successor designation certificates after being indicted for a felony or after the filing of certain criminal charges against them. It also requires the City Solicitor to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute an action to remove a member of Council where a member of the council has been indicted for a felony or a criminal complaint has been filed against a member for charges relating to official conduct.
Issue 2 was approved by a margin of 77% to 23%. Issue 2 made the following changes to the charter:
• provides for a pre-conviction suspension of council members indicted for state or federal felonies related to the council member’s duties, where the council member shall be suspended from official duties but shall receive a salary during the suspension that may be recovered by the city upon the member’s conviction;
• provides for the removal of council members upon conviction of or guilty plea to said crime;
• requires ethics training for council members within 60 days of taking the oath of office;
• prohibits council members from revising their successor designation certificates after being indicted for a state or federal felony related to the council member’s conduct in council duties;
• clarifies details regarding successor designation certificates.
Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval and councilman and former mayor David Mann advanced from the May 4 primary for mayor of Cincinnati. The two will meet in the general election on Nov. 2. The other four candidates in the primary election were Gavi Begtrup, Herman Najoli, Raffel Prophett, and Cecil Thomas.
Pureval received 39.1% of the vote and Mann received 29.1%. Thomas received 16.4%, Begtrup received 9.6%, Prophett received 3.5%, and Najoli received 2.3%.
Although the elections for and position of the mayor are officially nonpartisan, the candidates running were affiliated with political parties. Both Pureval and Mann are Democrats. The last Republican to serve as mayor was Willis Gradison, who left office in 1971.
The mayor serves as the city’s chief executive and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, and appointing departmental directors. He or she presides over council meetings, proposes legislation for discussion, and holds the power to appoint or remove committee heads, but does not have the authority to vote. The mayor also represents the city on the state, national and international levels.
On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released it post-2020 census apportionment counts. Six states—Texas (two seats), Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.
Of the six states that gained congressional seats, three are Republican trifectas (Texas, Florida, and Montana), meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers in each. Two (Colorado and Oregon) are Democratic trifectas, and one (North Carolina) is a divided government.
Of the seven states that lost congressional seats, three (California, Illinois, and New York) are Democratic trifectas, two (Ohio and West Virginia) are Republican trifectas, and two (Michigan and Pennsylvania) are divided governments.
What is apportionment, and how does it work? Every ten years, the nation conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. The data gleaned from the census determines congressional apportionment. Apportionment is the process by which the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are allotted to the states on the basis of population, as required under Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. A state can gain seats in the House if its population grows – or lose seats if its population decreases – relative to populations in other states.
After the first census (1790), the 105 members of U.S. House represented about 34,000 residents each. Now, the 435 members of the House will represent an average of 761,169 residents each.
The 2020 census: According to the 2020 census, the resident population of the United States, as of April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281, representing a 7.4 percent increase over the 2010 population. California remained the most populous state with 39,538,223 residents. The population of Texas, the only state to gain multiple congressional seats from apportionment, grew by nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, reaching 29,145,505. Utah was the fastest-growing state: its population increased by 18.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, reaching 3,271,616.
The census is a complex undertaking. First, the Census Bureau collects data. This involves making a list of every residence (including houses, apartments, dorms, etc.) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories; asking members of each household in the country to complete the census survey; and following up with those households that did not submit surveys. The Census Bureau then must process the data. This involves making a final list of residential addresses, cross-checking for duplicate responses, and processing write-in responses. The Census Bureau also uses imputation, a statistical method applied “in rare instances” that enables the Census Bureau “to fill in missing information using what we already know about an address and its nearest, similar neighbor.” Typically, upon final processing of the data, the Census Bureau delivers state population and apportionment counts by December 31 in the year of the census. Detailed redistricting data follows by April 1 of the next year.
On November 19, 2020, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced that, “during post-collection processing, certain processing anomalies [had] been discovered.” Dillingham said that he had directed the bureau “to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible.” On January 27, 2021, Kathleen Styles, a Census Bureau official, announced that the final apportionment report would be delivered by April 30, 2021.
What comes next: The Census Bureau has not yet delivered redistricting data to the states. Upon announcing the 2020 apportionment counts, Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said, “Our work doesn’t stop here. Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.” The Census Bureau expects to deliver the raw data to the states by August 16. The “full redistricting data with toolkits for ease of us” will be delivered by September 30.
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) announced on April 19 that he would resign from the House of Representatives to become President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Stivers represents Ohio’s 15th Congressional District and said his resignation would be effective as of May 16.
In a tweet announcing his resignation, Stivers said, “For the past decade, it has been my honor and privilege to serve the people of Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. Throughout my career, I’ve worked to promote policies that drive our economy forward, get folks to work, and put our fiscal house in order. I’m excited to announce that I will be taking on a new opportunity that allows me to continue to do that.”
Stivers has served in the U.S House since 2011. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Democrat Joel Newby, 63% to 37%, and is a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Before he was elected to the U.S. House, Stivers served in the Ohio State Senate from 2003 to 2009.
U.S. House vacancies are filled by special election. Five special elections have been called during the 117th Congress as of April 19, including a special to fill the seat representing Ohio’s 11th District, most recently held by Marcia Fudge (D). That seat became vacant after Fudge was confirmed as the secretary of housing and urban development in President Biden’s (D) administration on Mar. 10. The primary elections to fill Fudge’s congressional seat are scheduled for August 3, 2021, and the general election will be held on November 2, 2021.
Gov. DeWine (R) will set the date of the special election to fill Stivers’ seat. The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of Stivers’ term, which expires on Jan. 3, 2023.
After Stivers’ resignation takes effect, the partisan breakdown of the U.S. House will be 218 Democrats and 211 Republicans, with six vacancies. Ohio’s 15th District was rated Safe Republican during the 2020 general election.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) appointed former county judge Jenifer French as chairwoman of the state’s public utilities commission on March 19. French will fill a position that has been vacant since November, when former Chairman Sam Randazzo resigned. If confirmed by the state Senate, French’s term will run through April 10, 2024.
French was a judge on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas from 2015 to 2021. She lost a re-election bid in the nonpartisan race on November 3, 2020, after running in the Republican primary unopposed. Although the general election for the court was nonpartisan, candidates ran in partisan primaries.
The Ohio Public Utilities Commission is a five-person state executive board that regulates electric and gas utilities, water and wastewater companies, telecommunication companies, and railroads.
Ohio is one of 37 states in which utility commission members are appointed by the governor. The position is elected in 11 other states and in two (South Carolina and Virginia) they are appointed by the legislature.