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OIRA reviewed 43 significant rules in July

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The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewed a total of 43 significant regulatory actions issued by federal agencies in July 2021. The agency approved no rules without changes and approved the intent of 38 rules while recommending changes to their content. Five rules were withdrawn from the review process.

OIRA reviewed 73 significant regulatory actions in July 2020, 51 significant regulatory actions in July 2019, 36 significant regulatory actions in July 2018, and 19 significant regulatory actions in July 2017. During the Obama administration from 2009-2016, OIRA reviewed an average of 53 significant regulatory actions each July.

OIRA has reviewed a total of 308 significant rules in 2021. The agency reviewed a total of 676 significant rules in 2020, 475 significant rules in 2019, 355 significant rules in 2018, and 237 significant rules in 2017.

As of August 2, 2021, OIRA’s website listed 65 regulatory actions under review.

OIRA is responsible for reviewing and coordinating what it deems to be all significant regulatory actions made by federal agencies, with the exception of independent federal agencies. Significant regulatory actions include agency rules that have had or may have a large impact on the economy, environment, public health, or state and local governments and communities. These regulatory actions may also conflict with other regulations or with the priorities of the president.

Every month, Ballotpedia compiles information about regulatory reviews conducted by OIRA. To view this project, visit: 

https://ballotpedia.org/Completed_OIRA_review_of_federal_administrative_agency_rules

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July 2021 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 54.30% Republicans, 44.79% Democrats

54.30% of all state legislators are Republicans, and 44.79% are Democrats, according to Ballotpedia’s July partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators.

Ballotpedia tallies the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. This refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in each chamber. Republicans control 61 chambers, while Democrats hold 37. The Alaska House of Representatives is the only chamber to be organized under a multipartisan, power-sharing coalition.

Nationally, the state legislatures include 1,957 state senators and 5,363 state representatives. Democrats hold 867 state Senate seats—the same as the last two months—and 2,443 state House seats, a loss of three seats since the end of June. Republicans hold 4,010 of the 7,383 total state legislative seats—1,090 state Senate seats (down two since June) and 2,920 state House seats (an increase of one).

Independent or third-party legislators hold 39 seats, of which 32 are state House seats, and seven are state Senate seats. There are 24 vacant seats.

During the month of July, Democrats saw a net decrease of three seats, and Republicans saw a net decrease of one seat. Compared to July of last year, the state legislatures are 2.01% less Democratic (46.80% to 44.79%) and 2.29% more Republican (52.01% to 54.30%).  

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Ballotpedia releases federal judicial vacancy count for July 2021

In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies in Article III courts from July 2 to Aug. 1. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Vacancies: There have been two new judicial vacancies since the June 2021 report. There are 79 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 84 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
  • Nominations: There were no new nominations since the June 2021 report.
  • Confirmations: There has been one new confirmation since the June 2021 report.

Two judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies, since the previous vacancy count. As Article III judicial positions, vacancies must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies

The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) to the date indicated on the chart.

The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Joe Biden (D) and as of Aug. 1.

File:UUbHy-court-of-appeals-vacancies-biden-inauguration-.png

New nominations

President Joe Biden (D) has announced no new nominations since the June 2021 report.

New confirmations

As of Aug. 1, the Senate has confirmed eight of President Biden’s judicial nominees—five district court judges and three appeals court judges—since January 2021.

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Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly significant document total so far in 2021

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 July 26 through July 30, the Federal Register grew by 1,442 pages for a year-to-date total of 41,380 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 583 documents:

  1. 444 notices
  2. six presidential document
  3. 70 proposed rules
  4. 63 final rules

Two proposed rules, four final rules, and one notice 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 24 significant proposed rules, 19 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of July 30.

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 

Additional reading:

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



Federal Register weekly update: Highest weekly page total of 2021 to date

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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 July 19 through July 23, the Federal Register grew by 2,048 pages for a year-to-date total of 39,938 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 577 documents:

456 notices

four presidential document

45 proposed rules

72 final rules

No proposed or 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 22 significant proposed rules and 15 significant final rules as of July 23.

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 

Additional reading:

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



A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 27-31, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. In subsequent months, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 27-31, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 27, 2020

  • Travel restrictions:
    • As part of Phase Two of D.C.’s reopening plan, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) ordered non-essential travelers from high-risk states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the city. Bowser defined “high-risk states” as areas where the seven-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 case rate was 10 or more per 100,000 persons.
  • Election changes:
    • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) announced that all voters “concerned about their health and safety because of COVID-19” would be eligible to vote absentee in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 general election by six days. Originally scheduled to begin on Oct. 19, the proclamation moved early voting to Oct. 13.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) face-covering order went into effect. The order required anyone eight or older to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces, commercial businesses, transportation services, and in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not possible. He issued the order on July 24.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education signed an agreement with the state’s teachers unions to reduce the length of the 2020-2021 school year from 180 days to 170 days.
  • State court changes:
    • The Idaho Supreme Court delayed the resumption of criminal jury trials until Sept. 14 and civil jury trials until Dec. 1.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) closed bars and limited restaurant capacity to 25% for two weeks. Beshear also asked schools to avoid reopening for in-person instruction until the third week of August. 
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that Illinois, Kentucky Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico had been added to the joint travel advisory, bringing the number of states on the list to 37.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire Judge Joseph Laplante ordered that nomination petition signature requirements for the Libertarian Party’s candidates in New Hampshire’s general election be reduced by 35 percent. In his ruling, Laplante said he reduced the signature requirements because the risk of contracting COVID-19 and Gov. Chris Sununu’s (R) stay-at-home order imposed a burden on the Libertarian Party’s right to access the ballot.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced that schools would not reopen until Sept. 8, when school districts could decide whether to return students to physical classrooms or offer distance learning. 
    • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) ordered all K-12 students and staff to wear a mask in school at all times. The directive also imposed social distancing guidelines of three feet for preschools through middle schools, and six feet for high schools.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced metrics that would guide school reopening decisions. Brown said counties must have 10 or fewer coronavirus cases per 100,000 people and a 7-day positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before in-person and hybrid instruction could resume. Brown also said the state must have a positivity rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks before any in-person or hybrid instruction could resume.
    • Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) released guidelines for reopening schools. The recommendations covered testing and contact tracing, immunizations, and resources necessary for returning students to classrooms or teaching remotely.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) extended Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan through August 28. Raimondo also reduced gathering limits from 25 people to 15.
    • Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) announced that he was extending three public health orders passed on June 15 that deal with limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and school reopenings. The order continued to limit indoor gatherings to 50 people and outdoor gatherings to 250 people. The school reopening order included a modification requiring teachers and students to wear masks indoors and outdoors at school when social distancing wasn’t feasible.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) issued a travel advisory asking Maryland residents to refrain from traveling to Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Texas, where the percentage of positive test results was over 10%. Hogan urged people who had traveled to those states to get a coronavirus test.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) modified her Safer At Home Order to require students in second grade or higher to wear masks at school.

Friday, July 31, 2020 

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order placing restrictions on several counties in northern Michigan. The restrictions included capping indoor gatherings at 10 people and closing bars that derived more than 70% of their revenue from the sale of alcohol.
  • Election changes:
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island Judge Mary McElroy approved a consent agreement reached by the parties in Common Cause Rhode Island v. Gorbea. Rhode Island officials agreed not to enforce witness or notary requirements for mail-in ballots in both the September 8 primary and November general elections.
    • Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar (D) announced that the state would provide prepaid return postage for all mail-in and absentee ballots in the Nov. 3 general election.
    • Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) signed HB6002 into law, allowing voters to cite concern over COVID-19 as a reason for voting by absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • The Maine Department of Education released guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance required all staff and students age five and older to wear masks.
    • South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced masks would be required in all public school facilities for staff and students in grades 2-12.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



Federal Register weekly update: DHS reopens public comment on human trafficking victim classification 

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 July 12 through July 16, the Federal Register grew by 1,408 pages for a year-to-date total of 37,890 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 452 documents:

  • 355 notices
  • one presidential document
  • 21 proposed rules
  • 75 final rules

One final rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reopening the public comment period on the agency’s proposed T-nonimmigrant classification for human trafficking victims was 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 22 significant proposed rules and 15 significant final rules as of July 16.

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 

Additional reading:

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2019 



Ballotpedia releases reversal rate analysis for U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020-2021 term

During its October 2020 term, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued opinions in 69 cases. It reversed 55 lower court decisions (79.7%) and affirmed 14. This term’s reversal rate was 9 percentage points higher than the average rate of reversal since 2007 (70.7%). Sixteen cases originated from the 9th Circuit, the most from any circuit (including state courts). The 9th Circuit’s judgment was reversed in 15 of those cases.

When SCOTUS is asked to review a case, a petition for a writ of certiorari must be filed within 90 days of a lower court’s ruling. Each term, approximately 7,000 to 8,000 new petitions are filed with the court. During its weekly conference—a private meeting of the justices—the court reviews these petitions. Granting certiorari requires affirmative votes from four justices.

SCOTUS hears and reaches decisions in an average of 76 cases each year. There are two major decisions the court can make—affirm a lower court’s ruling or reverse it. Most cases originate from a lower court—any one of the 13 appeals circuits, state-level courts, or U.S. district courts. Original jurisdiction cases, which typically involve disputes between two states, cannot be considered affirmed or reversed since SCOTUS is the first and only court that rules in the case.

Since 2007, SCOTUS has released opinions in 1,062 cases. Of those, it reversed a lower court decision 751 times (70.7%) and affirmed a lower court decision 303 times (28.5%). During this time, SCOTUS has decided more cases originating from the 9th Circuit (207) than from any other circuit. The next-most is the 5th Circuit, which had 79 decisions. SCOTUS has overturned a greater number of cases originating from the 9th Circuit (164), but it overturned a higher percentage of cases originating in the 6th Circuit (81.1%, or 60 of 74 cases).

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A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, July 13-17, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout the year, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, issued mask mandates, and changed election dates.

Here are the policy changes that happened July 13-17, 2020. To read more of our past coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here

Monday, July 13, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) reimposed some coronavirus restrictions due to increasing coronavirus cases, including once again prohibiting indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Indoor dining had been permitted since June 1. The state also closed state parks to out-of-state visitors and visitors who cannot prove their residency. The state’s mask requirement expanded to include anyone exercising in a public space.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers through Sept. 1. Previously, Ige had said a new program would take effect Aug. 1 that would allow visitors to avoid the quarantine requirement by presenting a negative coronavirus test. The program would not start until Oct. 15.
  • Mask requirements:
    • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) issued an executive proclamation establishing a statewide face-covering requirement in any indoor or outdoor public space. The order exempted children under the age of eight, as well as individuals with medical conditions preventing them from wearing face coverings, and allowed parishes to opt out if they maintained a COVID-19 incidence rate of fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 people for the previous two weeks.
  • State court changes:
    • Iowa courtrooms reopened to in-person proceedings with restrictions. Social distancing of at least six feet was required. The state set a goal of resuming jury trials on Sept. 14.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

  • Stay-at-home orders and reopening plans:
    • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the state would remain in Phase Two of reopening until Aug. 7. Previously, the state had been scheduled to enter Phase Three on July 17. 
    • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) reduced the statewide limit on gatherings from 100 people to 25. He also announced that bars in Monongalia County will also be closed for 10 days in response to rising coronavirus cases.
  • Travel restrictions:
    • Govs. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.), Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), and Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) announced that New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota had been added to the joint travel advisory originally announced June 24, requiring travelers from those states to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the tristate area. 
  • Election changes:
    • Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) announced that the state would send mail-in ballot request forms to all eligible voters in the Aug. 11 primary election.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney reduced petition signature requirements for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates for federal office in Virginia as follows: 2,500 signatures for presidential candidates; 3,500 signatures for U.S. Senate candidates; and 350 signatures for U.S. House candidates. He extended the filing deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party congressional candidates to Aug. 1.
  • Mask requirements
    • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced a statewide mask order requiring individuals to wear masks inside certain businesses and at outdoor gatherings of greater than 50 people where social distancing was not possible.
    • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) expanded the statewide face-covering mandate to require masks in outdoor public spaces when six-foot distancing could not be maintained.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

  • Mask requirements: 
    • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) issued a mask order that required face coverings in public when social distancing with non-household members could not be kept.
  • Federal government responses:
    • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced on Twitter that the Department of Homeland Security would extend its prohibition on nonessential travel with Canada and Mexico through Aug. 20.
  • State court changes:
    • North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley announced she was maintaining the pause on jury trials through the end of September. She also announced that masks would be required in courthouses going forward.
  • Eviction and foreclosure policies:
    • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) allowed the statewide moratorium on evictions to expire. She first issued the moratorium on March 20.

Friday, July 17, 2020 

  • Election changes:
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the Republican Party of Texas could proceed as planned with its in-person state convention, overturning the cancellation issued by Houston officials on July 8.
    • New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed HB1266 into law, which formally established concern over COVID-19 as a valid reason for voting absentee in both the September 8 primary and November 3 general elections. The legislation also temporarily allowed voters to submit one absentee ballot application for both elections.
    • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) announced that absentee ballot application forms would be sent automatically to all active registered voters in the November 3 general election.
    • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) issued an emergency rule allowing any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot in the November 3 general election.
  • Mask requirements: 
    • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a mask mandate requiring individuals older than 10 to wear a mask inside buildings that are open to the public.
  • School closures and reopenings:
    • California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list would begin the public school year with online education only. At the time of the announcement, 33 of the state’s 58 counties were on the watch list. 
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) ordered that students in public and accredited nonpublic schools spend at least half of their schooling in-person. She said districts could seek waivers to the requirement from the state Department of Education. 

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and mask mandates, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery



Federal Register weekly update: Lowest number of final rules added since April

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 July 5 through July 9, the Federal Register grew by 1,100 pages for a year-to-date total of 36,482 pages.

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

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 421 documents:

• 342 notices

• four presidential documents

• 27 proposed rules

• 48 final rules

One proposed rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding the agency’s proposed Hazard Communication Standard was 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 22 significant proposed rules and 14 significant final rules as of July 9.

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 

Additional reading:

Click here to find yearly information about additions to the Federal Register from 1936 to 2018: Historical additions to the Federal Register, 1936-2019