TagState executive

Four new Kentucky bills would limit the governor’s emergency powers

On Jan. 7, the Kentucky State House and Senate passed four pieces of legislation aimed at limiting the emergency powers of the state governor.  

The first bill, House Bill 1, would allow any businesses, schools, or associations to remain open as long as their operating plans meet or exceed guidance issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bill aims to override restrictions placed on businesses and other groups by Governor Beshear (D) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It passed in the House with 70 votes in favor and 25 opposed.

The second bill, House Bill 5, would limit the authority of the governor to temporarily reorganize administrative agencies and transfer personnel without legislative approval. It passed in the House with 73 votes in favor and 22 opposed.

The third bill, Senate Bill 1, would limit the power of the governor during states of emergency. The bill would sunset after 30 days executive orders issued by the governor related to restrictions on in-person meetings and the functioning of schools, businesses, and churches unless the legislature approves an extension. The bill also allows the state legislature to terminate declarations of emergency at any time. It passed in the Senate with 27 votes in favor and nine opposed.

The final bill, Senate Bill 2, would make it more difficult for the governor to direct state administrative agencies to make emergency regulations without justifying the emergency nature of the situation. The bill defines an emergency situation and requires agencies to demonstrate such emergencies with documentary evidence to receive approval for new regulations from the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee. It passed in the Senate with 31 votes in favor and six opposed. 

The General Assembly may override a possible gubernatorial veto with a majority vote in both houses.

To learn more about state responses to the administrative state or the COVID-19 pandemic, see here:

Additional reading:

Text of House Bill 1:

Text of House Bill 5:

Text of Senate Bill 1:

Text of Senate Bill 2:

News report about the bills:

Kentucky legislative procedure:



Republican incumbent re-elected to Public Service Commission in Georgia’s statewide runoff election

District 4 Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald Jr. (R) won re-election to Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. He defeated challenger Daniel Blackman (D) with 50.6% of the vote, according to unofficial results posted on January 7. There were 4.40 million votes cast in the race.

The runoff was held after no candidates received a majority of the vote in the general election on November 3, 2020. McDonald received the highest number of votes in that race, winning 49.9% of the 4.84 million votes cast, roughly 0.1 percentage points below what he needed in order to win the election outright. Blackman received 47.0% of the vote, and Libertarian candidate Nathan Wilson received 3.1% of the vote.

While the PSC race had the lowest total votes of the night, McDonald received the third-highest number of votes (2.22 million votes), behind U.S. Senate challengers Raphael Warnock (D) (2.26 million) and Jon Ossoff (D) (2.24 million). Both Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) (2.19 million) and Sen. David Perdue (R) (2.20 million) received fewer votes than McDonald. Each U.S. Senate race saw approximately 4.45 million total votes.

The Georgia Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities—that is, electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms—and is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms.

Georgia has a Republican trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

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New Oregon Secretary of State sworn in; state becomes Democratic triplex

On January 4, Shemia Fagan (D) took her oath of office as Oregon Secretary of State. This gives Democrats triplex control of the state because Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum are both Democrats. A triplex occurs when one party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. There are 20 Republican triplexes and 18 Democratic triplexes.

Oregon already had a Democratic trifecta, where one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

In 32 states, the same political party has both a trifecta and a triplex. Republicans hold such positions in 19 states, while Democrats hold it in 13. Of the 18 states without both a trifecta and a triplex of the same party, six have only a trifecta, six have only a triplex, and six have neither.

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Newly elected Montana state executives take office; state becomes Republican trifecta and triplex

On January 4, Governor Greg Gianforte (R), Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras (R), Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen (R), and Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R) took oaths of office in Montana. Each won election in the general election on November 3, 2020.

Gianforte’s victory returned control of the governorship to Republicans (from previous Democratic governor Steve Bullock), who also held onto control of the secretary of state and attorney general offices. This gives Republicans both trifecta and triplex control in the state. A trifecta occurs when one party controls the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature. A triplex occurs when one party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

Across the country, there are currently 23 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. There are 20 Republican triplexes and 17 Democratic triplexes.

In 31 states, the same political party has both a trifecta and a triplex. Republicans hold such positions in 19 states, while Democrats hold it in 12. Of the 19 states without both a trifecta and a triplex of the same party, seven have only a trifecta, six have only a triplex, and six have neither.



Kansas governor appoints Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers to become state treasurer

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) announced Dec. 10 that she will appoint Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers (D) to the position of state treasurer to fill the vacancy created by Jacob LaTurner’s (R) election to the U.S. House. Rogers will be sworn in on Jan. 2, 2021, and will serve until the position is up for election in 2022.

Rogers was elected as lieutenant governor on Nov. 6, 2018. He also served in the Kansas State Senate from 2017 to 2019, representing District 25. 

Former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) appointed LaTurner to the position of state treasurer in April 2017. LaTurner will represent Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House when he is sworn in on Jan. 3, 2021. 

Rogers will be the 41st Kansas state treasurer and the sixth Democrat to assume the position. Of the previous 40 treasurers dating back to 1859, 33 were Republican, five were Democrat, and two were Populist.



Washington Governor Inslee appoints new chief of staff

Gov. Jay Inslee (D) appointed Jamila Thomas as his chief of staff on Nov. 5. Thomas succeeds former Chief of Staff David Postman, who served from December 2015 to November 2020.  

According to a press release, Inslee said of Thomas, “Jamila brings a deep understanding of state government. She is a strategic thinker with extensive policy experience, the ability to build coalitions and a comprehensive understanding of budget and personnel management.”

Prior to becoming Governor Inslee’s chief of staff, Thomas served as chief of staff to Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and former state Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (D). She was also a policy advisor for the House Democratic Caucus and former Gov. Gary Locke (D).

A chief of staff leads executive administrations and implements the governor’s agenda. The role is both a managerial and advisory position, although specific duties vary by each administration. Gubernatorial chiefs of staff are largely responsible for managing the governor’s schedule, assisting in forming and implementing a policy agenda, and overseeing the governor’s staff. 

To view a list of all gubernatorial chiefs of staff, click here.

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Republican Kim Wyman wins third term as Washington Secretary of State

Incumbent Kim Wyman (R) defeated Gael Tarleton (D) in the election for Washington Secretary of State, winning a third term as the state’s top elections administrator.

Wyman was first elected to the office in 2012 and won re-election over challenger Tina Podlodowski (D), 55% to 45%, in 2016. Preliminary results suggest Wyman won by a narrower 54% to 47% margin this year.

Wyman’s win continues Republicans’ winning streak in Washington Secretary of State elections. No Democrat has won election to the office since 1960.



Phil Scott elected to third term as governor of Vermont

Incumbent Phil Scott (R) defeated Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (D/Vermont Progressive Party) and six independent and third-party candidates to win a third two-year term as governor of Vermont. Vermont is one of three states (along with North Carolina and Louisiana) with a governor and lieutenant governor from different parties. It is also one of four states that voted for Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016 and has a Republican governor.

Scott is one of two Republicans who won an election for governor in 2016 as Hillary Clinton carried their state in the presidential election. The other such governor, Chris Sununu (R) of neighboring New Hampshire, also won a third term tonight.

Scott’s win retains the Republican Party’s hold on the governorship and prevents Democrats from gaining a trifecta in Vermont this year. Heading into the election, Vermont was one of 14 states with a divided government, as Democrats controlled both chambers of the state legislature and Republicans the governorship. As of Scott’s win, control of the state legislature remained too close to call; all 30 state Senate seats and all 150 state House seats are up for election.



Gov. Mike Parson wins re-election in Missouri

Incumbent Gov. Mike Parson (R) defeated Nicole Galloway (D), Jerome H. Bauer (G), and Rik Combs (L) in the general election for governor of Missouri. 

Parson, formerly lieutenant governor, became governor when Eric Greitens (R) resigned in 2018. Heading into the 2020 election, Galloway, the state auditor, was the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office.

Missouri has been a Republican trifecta since 2017, meaning Republicans hold the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature.

The outcomes of the 2020 election cycle in Missouri stand to influence the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 census. Congressional district lines are drawn by the state legislature and subject to veto by the governor.

Missouri was one of 11 states electing a governor this year. This includes seven states with Republican governors and four with Democratic governors. In 2016, Missouri was one of three governorships to change partisan control from Democratic to Republican along with New Hampshire and Vermont.



Gov. Holcomb (R) wins re-election in Indiana

Incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) defeated Woody Myers (D) and Donald Rainwater (L) in the election for governor of Indiana.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a major issue in this race. Gov. Holcomb said he led a data-driven response, protected Indianans’ health, and reopened responsibly, while Myers emphasized his background as a doctor and a former state health commissioner.

Rainwater criticized Holcomb over the state’s mask mandate and restrictions on businesses and churches, saying they should never have been shut down.

Heading into the election, Indiana was a Republican trifecta, meaning Republicans controlled the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature.

The outcomes of the 2020 election cycle in Indiana could influence the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 census since, in Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drafting both congressional and state legislative district plans.

District plans are subject to a governor’s veto.

Eleven states are electing a governor this year. This includes seven states with Republican governors and four states with Democratic governors. Ballotpedia identified six races as battlegrounds—four in states with Republican incumbents and two in states with Democratic incumbents.

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