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The State and Local Tap: Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa legislature rejects first map proposal

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights redistricting updates in Indiana and Iowa and a school board recall advancing to trial. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-nine statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

  • Statewide measures for 2021 are finalized. No new measures are expected to be added to the ballot.
    • 24 measures are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
    • 4 measures are on the Nov. 13 ballot.
    • 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
    • 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

Sixty statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight state legislatures—Arkansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Oct. 5 – Alaska: Voters in Juneau decided a 3% sales tax renewal measure. The Juneau Office of the City Clerk stated that unofficial election results would be available on Oct. 8 or Oct. 11.
  • Oct. 12 – Nebraska: Voters in the Ralston Public Schools District will decide an $83.75 million bond issue.

Special Elections

Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-two specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 19 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Oct. 12

Oct. 19

Oct. 26

Two challengers defeat incumbents in Birmingham general runoff election

Birmingham, Ala., held a general runoff election on Oct. 5. The runoff was necessary after no candidate earned a majority of the vote in several races during the general election on Aug. 24. 

Candidates competed for two seats on the nine-seat city council. Challengers defeated incumbents in both districts. J.T. Moore won the District 4 seat against incumbent William Parker, earning 58.4% of the vote to Parker’s 41.6%. In District 9, LaTonya Tate received 51.6% of the vote to defeat incumbent John Hilliard, who received 48.4%.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call as of Oct. 8, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama by population and the 99th-largest city in the U.S.

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) dies

Michigan state Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R) died from stomach cancer on Oct. 1. Schroeder was first elected to represent House District 43 in 2018.  She most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Nicole Breadon (D) 59.7% to 40.3%.

When a vacancy occurs in the Michigan State Legislature, the governor must call for a special election to fill the vacancy, which should be held when the next general election is scheduled. 

Michigan is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

This is the 20th vacancy in 2021 caused by the death of a serving legislator. So far this year, there have been 109 vacancies in 40 state legislatures. Sixty-seven (67) of those vacancies have been filled.

Special primary election held in Rhode Island Senate district

A special primary election was held on Oct. 5 for District 3 of the Rhode Island State Senate. According to unofficial results, former Providence City Council member Sam Zurier won the Democratic primary with 1,282 votes (37%). Geena Pham came in second with 982 votes (24%). Bret Jacob received 908 votes (22%), Hilary Levey Friedman received 613 votes (15%), and Ray Rickman received 269 votes (7%).

Zurier will now face Alex Cannon (R) in the Nov. 2 special election. The Republican primary was canceled after Cannon was the only candidate to file.

The winner of the general election will serve until January 2023. The seat became vacant after the resignation of Gayle Goldin (D) on Aug. 17. Goldin resigned to accept a position in President Joe Biden’s (D) administration as a senior adviser for the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. Prior to her resignation, Goldin had served in the state Senate since 2013.

Democrats have a 32-5 majority in the Rhode Island Senate with one vacancy. Rhode Island has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of October, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Rhode Island held seven state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Loudoun County Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, a Loudoun County Circuit Court judge ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj. Recall supporters said Biberaj was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

Recall supporters are also circulating petitions against another four members of the nine-member school board. They said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Ballotpedia has tracked 75 school board recall efforts against 195 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issues coronavirus executive orders, Gov. Brad Little (R) repeals them

On Oct. 6, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) issued an executive order banning state agencies from implementing coronavirus testing and proof of vaccination requirements. McGeachin issued the order while Gov. Brad Little (R) was out of the state. 

In a tweet, McGeachin said: “Today, as Acting Governor, I fixed Gov. Little’s Executive Order on ‘vaccine passports’ to make sure that K-12 schools and universities cannot require vaccinations OR require mandatory testing. I will continue to fight for your individual Liberty!”

On the same day, Little issued an executive order repealing McGeachin’s executive order. In a Facebook post, he said: “I am in Texas performing my duties as the duly elected Governor of Idaho, and I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf.”

On May 27, McGeachin similarly issued an executive order banning mask requirements in schools and state buildings while Little was out of the state. Little repealed the order on May 28.

Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa Legislature rejects first map proposal

Indiana became the fourth state to enact new congressional and state legislative district boundaries after the 2020 census. The General Assembly approved the maps on Oct. 1, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed them into law on Oct. 4. In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. Indiana has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined state Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the new congressional boundaries “will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.” The maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

In Iowa, the state Senate rejected the Legislative Services Agency’s (LSA) first proposed congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Oct. 5. The vote was 32-18 along party lines with all votes against the plan from Republicans and all votes in favor by Democrats. Since this was the Agency’s first proposal, the legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. 

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Senate Republicans believe LSA can improve the compactness and population deviation of several districts by developing a second redistricting plan. My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing that plan and its compliance with the criteria established in Iowa Code.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D) said, “This was a fair map drawn by the nonpartisan, independent commission. It met all the requirements laid out in state law. This is an outrageous use of political power to rig elections in their favor.”

Under state law, the LSA must send a second redistricting plan to the legislature within 35 days. On Oct. 6, the LSA announced that it would submit its next proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps to the legislature by Oct. 21. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the state’s deadline to complete legislative redistricting to Dec. 1.



The Federal Tap: FDA authorizes new rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the FDA’s authorization of new at-home COVID-19 testing and the beginning of SCOTUS’ October sitting. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

The House is in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear four hours of oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Washington, D.C. 

On Tuesday, Biden delivered remarks on the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better agenda at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 in Howell, Michigan. 

On Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Thursday, Biden delivered remarks on COVID-19 vaccine requirements at a Clayco construction site in Elk Grove Technology Park, Illinois.  

On Friday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 86 federal judicial vacancies
  • 33 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there are 29 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Sept. 30, 2021, when U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit Judge Henry Floyd announced that he would assume senior status on Dec. 31, 2021. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judges have not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Nov. 1, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. assumes senior status. As of Oct. 7, 2021, there were 31 total upcoming vacancies announced for the federal judiciary overall.

For historical comparison, during this week last year, Oct. 4-Oct. 10, 2020, there were 64 federal judicial vacancies and four upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS begins October sitting

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) began its first argument sitting of the 2021-2022 term on Oct. 4. The court heard arguments in person for the first time since March 2020. Justice Brett Kavanaugh participated remotely due to testing positive for coronavirus on Sept. 30.

The court heard arguments in five cases for a total of five hours of oral argument: 

Oct. 4

Oct. 5

  • Brown v. Davenport concerns a circuit split over the standard necessary to grant federal habeas relief to a person held in state custody. A writ of habeas corpus is used in federal courts to determine if an individual’s imprisonment is lawful. A circuit split occurs when two or more U.S. circuit courts issue rulings with opposite interpretations of federal law.
  • Hemphill v. New York concerns a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to be confronted by the witnesses against him.

Oct. 6

  • United States v. Zubaydah concerns the state-secrets privilege, an evidentiary rule that allows the government to withhold information if disclosure would harm national security. 

Next week, SCOTUS will hear four hours of oral argument in four cases.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 39 cases this term. Three cases were dismissed and one case was removed from the argument calendar. Eight cases have not yet been scheduled for argument.

FDA authorizes new rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test, several companies file for approval for coronavirus treatments

On Oct. 4, the FDA authorized ACON Laboratories’ rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen test. ACON Laboratories said it expects to produce as many as 100 million tests per month by the start of 2022.

Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health Jeff Shuren said, “As a result of this authorization, we will now have tens of millions of additional tests available in the U.S. marketplace very soon.”

Additionally, on Oct. 5, pharmaceutical and biotechnology company AstraZeneca announced it was seeking emergency use authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody therapy designed to protect against COVID-19. Johnson & Johnson also announced that it requested the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorize booster shots of its vaccine.

Indiana completes redistricting; Iowa Legislature rejects first map proposal

Indiana became the fourth state to enact new congressional and state legislative district boundaries after the 2020 census. The General Assembly approved the maps on Oct. 1, and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed them into law on Oct. 4. In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for drawing both congressional and state legislative district lines. Indiana has been a Republican state government trifecta since 2011.

The Indiana state Senate approved the final congressional and legislative district boundaries by a vote of 36-12, with all votes to approve coming from Republicans. Eleven Senate Democrats joined state Sen. Ron Grooms (R) in voting against the maps. The Indiana House of Representatives approved the final district maps by a vote of 64-25. All votes in favor were by Republicans with 22 Democrats and three Republicans voting against.

Kaitlin Lange of the Indianapolis Star wrote that the new congressional boundaries “will enable Republicans to keep seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains suburban Hamilton County, a more reliably Republican district.” The maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

In Iowa, the state Senate rejected the Legislative Services Agency’s (LSA) first proposed congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Oct. 5. The vote was 32-18 along party lines with all votes against the plan from Republicans and all votes in favor by Democrats. Since this was the Agency’s first proposal, the legislature could only vote to approve or reject the maps and could not make any amendments. 

After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) said, “Senate Republicans believe LSA can improve the compactness and population deviation of several districts by developing a second redistricting plan. My colleagues and I look forward to reviewing that plan and its compliance with the criteria established in Iowa Code.” Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls (D) said, “This was a fair map drawn by the nonpartisan, independent commission. It met all the requirements laid out in state law. This is an outrageous use of political power to rig elections in their favor.”

Under state law, the LSA must send a second redistricting plan to the legislature within 35 days. On Oct. 6, the LSA announced that it would submit its next proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps to the legislature by Oct. 21. On Sept. 14, the Iowa Supreme Court extended the state’s deadline to complete legislative redistricting to Dec. 1.



The State and Local Tap: Three states enact new congressional, legislative district maps

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the three states that enacted new congressional and state legislative district maps and Delaware’s enactment of school staff vaccine or testing requirements. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-nine statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

  • Statewide measures for 2021 are finalized. No new measures are expected to be added to the ballot.
    • 24 measures are on the Nov. 2 ballot.
    • 4 measures are on the Nov. 13 ballot.
    • 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
    • 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.

Sixty statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight state legislatures— Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin— are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Oct. 5 – Alaska: Voters in Juneau will decide a 3% sales tax renewal measure.
  • Oct. 12 – Nebraska: Voters in the Ralston Public Schools District will decide a $83.75 million bond issue.

Special Elections

Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-one specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 18 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Oct. 5

Oct. 12

Oct. 19

Raquel Terán assumes office as Arizona state senator, creates vacancy in state House

Raquel Terán (D) assumed office as the senator for District 30 in the Arizona state Senate on Sept. 28. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed Terán (D) to the district on Sept. 15. The seat became vacant in August when former state Sen. Tony Navarrete (D) resigned after being arrested on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. Terán will serve the remainder of Navarrete’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

At the time she was appointed, Terán was serving her second term in the Arizona House of Representatives. Terán ran for the District 30 seat in the state Senate in 2012 and was defeated 51% to 49% by incumbent Robert Meza in the Democratic primary.

Terán’s appointment to the state Senate creates a vacancy in the state House. When a vacancy occurs in the Arizona legislature, the board of county supervisors must select a replacement. Arizona is one of seven states that fill state legislative vacancies through board of county commissioners appointment.

Ann Jennings sworn in as Virginia’s secretary of natural resources

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) appointed Ann Jennings as Virginia’s secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. Jennings was sworn in on Sept. 27. 

Jennings replaces outgoing secretary Matthew Stricker, who resigned from his position in September 2021. The press release announcing Strickler’s departure stated he was leaving to pursue “new opportunities where he will continue his excellent work of protecting our nation’s resources.”

Virginia’s secretary of natural and historic resources is an appointed state executive position. The secretary heads the Department of Natural Resources and oversees five departments relating to the area’s natural and historical resources.

Three states enact new congressional, legislative district maps

Three states—Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—enacted new congressional and legislative district boundaries this week. In all three states, the maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed legislation enacting redrawn congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Sept. 29. The Maine legislature unanimously approved the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps. The Senate unanimously approved new state House district boundaries and the Maine House approved them, 119-10. A two-thirds majority was required to approve new district boundaries.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement saying, “I applaud Maine’s Apportionment Commission, especially its Chair, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government. To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: The Nebraska State Legislature approved congressional and state legislative redistricting maps on Sept. 30. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law. 

The congressional maps were approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats. The state legislative maps were approved by a 37-7 vote. Five of the seven dissenting votes came from Democrats, and two were cast by Republicans. Eight Democrats voted in favor of the maps, along with twenty-nine Republicans.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian said the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Gov. Kate Brown (D) released a statement saying: “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

Sonja McCullen assumes office as judge of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals

Sonja McCullen assumed office as judge of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals on Oct. 1. Hawaii Governor David Ige (D) appointed McCullen to the court on Aug. 6, to fill the vacancy created by former judge Derrick H.M. Chan’s retirement in October 2020. The state Senate confirmed McCullen’s appointment on Aug. 27. At the time she was appointed, McCullen served as the deputy prosecuting attorney for the City and County of Honolulu.

According to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, McCullen is the first Native Hawaiian to be appointed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals in 30 years.

Judges of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals serve 10-year terms and are selected through a version of the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses a nominee from a list prepared by the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission. The governor’s choice is then subject to the advice and consent of the Hawaii State Senate.

Delaware enacts school staff vaccine or testing requirement

On Sept. 28, Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced a vaccine or testing requirement for teachers, staff, contractors, and volunteers in K-12 public and private schools, effective Nov. 1.

Delaware was the eighth state to enact such a requirement. Vaccine or testing requirements have been announced in California, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. Vaccine requirements, without an option for testing, have been announced in Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington. All requirements have been enacted through executive order.

Illinois’ requirement was the first to take effect on Sept. 19. Delaware’s Nov. 1 deadline will be the latest to take effect,

To read more about school policy responses to the coronavirus during the 2021-2022 academic year, click here.

Young Boozer (R) sworn in as Alabama state treasurer

Young Boozer (R) became the 41st Alabama state treasurer on Oct. 1. Governor Kay Ivey (R) appointed Boozer on Sept. 17, following the resignation of John McMillan (R), effective Sept. 30. McMillan had served as treasurer since 2019.

Boozer previously served as state treasurer from 2011 to 2019. He is the fifth Alabama state treasurer since 1819 that has served two non-consecutive terms as treasurer.

In 2021, Ballotpedia has identified 31 state executive officeholders who have left office before their term end date. Of those, seven were Republican officeholders, seven were Democrats, and 17 were nonpartisan.



The Federal Tap: House Speaker Pelosi defers infrastructure vote twice

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights updates on the infrastructure bill and the Colorado Redistricting Commission’s approval of a final congressional map. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

Both the House and Senate are in session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is in session

The Supreme Court will hear five hours of oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2021-2022 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday through Friday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C.

Federal Judiciary

  • 86 federal judicial vacancies
  • 24 pending nominations
  • 31 future federal judicial vacancies

Upcoming Article III Judicial Vacancies

According to the latest vacancy data from the U.S. Courts, there were 30 total announced upcoming vacancies for Article III judgeships. No new Article III judges have announced upcoming vacancies since our last report. The earliest vacancy announcement was on Dec. 1, 2020, when U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas Judge Paul K. Holmes announced that he would assume senior status on Nov. 10, 2021. The most recent was on Sept. 20, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Lucy Koh announced her retirement due to her elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Thirteen vacancy effective dates have not been determined because the judges have not announced the date they will leave the bench. The next upcoming vacancy will occur on Oct. 1, 2021, when U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Judge Jeffrey Viken and U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington Judge Rosanna Peterson assume senior status. As of Sept. 30, 2021, there were 32 total upcoming vacancies announced for the federal judiciary overall.

For historical comparison, the week of September 27-October 3, 2020, there were 64 federal judicial vacancies and four upcoming vacancies in the federal judiciary reported by the U.S. Courts.

SCOTUS releases COVID-19 procedures for oral arguments

SCOTUS released on Sept. 27 new procedures for oral arguments during the term’s October, November, and December sittings, in accordance with the court’s COVID-19 protocols.

According to the clerk of court’s announcement:

  1. Legal counsel presenting their cases in person must take a COVID test the morning before argument.
  2. Attorneys who test positive for COVID will participate remotely via teleconference.
  3. Counsel will be informed of courtroom procedures and may ask questions in the lawyer’s lounge before presenting their case. Argument audio will be made available in the lawyer’s lounge. Counsel must leave the court building once arguments in their case conclude.
  4. Counsel are required to wear masks covering their noses and mouths at all times while within the court building, except when eating or drinking. Counsel are required to wear N95 or KN95 masks in the courtroom, except when presenting arguments. The court will provide masks.

The court released new questioning procedures for oral argument for the 2021 term. At the end of each attorney’s time, the court will ask additional questions justice by justice, in order of seniority.

SCOTUS announced on Sept. 8 that it would hear oral arguments in person for the first time since March 4, 2020. Argument audio will be streamed live to the public, following the precedent set during the 2020-2021 term. Audio files and argument transcripts will be posted on the court’s website following oral argument each day.

Colorado Redistricting Commission approves final congressional map

The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission approved a final map of the state’s congressional districts on Sept. 28. Eleven of the twelve commissioners agreed on the final vote, satisfying the group’s constitutional requirement of at least eight votes in favor, two of which must come from unaffiliated members. 

This is the state’s first redistricting process using an independent commission after voters approved Amendment Y in 2018. That amendment also requires that the Colorado Supreme Court approve new congressional district boundaries. 

The Denver Post’s Alex Burness said that the approved map “gives comfortable advantages to each of Colorado’s seven incumbent members of Congress — Democrats Joe Neguse, Jason Crow, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter and Republicans Ken Buck, Lauren Boebert and Doug Lamborn.” Regarding the state’s new eighth district, Burness wrote, “Recent election results suggest the new 8th Congressional District will be a close race in 2022.”

Under Amendment Y, redrawn congressional districts must be competitive, which is defined as having a reasonable potential to change parties at least once every ten years. After the commission approves a final map, it is required to create a report demonstrating the extent to which districts are competitive. The legislature does not approve redrawn congressional districts and the governor cannot veto the plan. It is also not subject to the state’s veto referendum process.

Three states enact new congressional, legislative district maps

Three states—Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—enacted new congressional and legislative district boundaries this week. In all three states, the maps will take effect for the 2022 congressional and state legislative elections.

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed legislation enacting redrawn congressional and state legislative district boundaries on Sept. 29. The Maine legislature unanimously approved the state’s new congressional and state Senate maps. The Senate unanimously approved new state House district boundaries and the Maine House approved them 119-10. A two-thirds majority was required to approve new district boundaries.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement saying, “I applaud Maine’s Apportionment Commission, especially its Chair, former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Donald Alexander, as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government. To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: The Nebraska State Legislature approved congressional and state legislative redistricting maps on Sept. 30. Shortly after the legislature’s approval, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the maps into law. 

The congressional maps were approved by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance voted in favor of the map, along with four Democrats. The state legislative maps were approved by a 37-7 vote. Five of the seven dissenting votes came from Democrats, and two were cast by Republicans. Eight Democrats voted in favor of the maps, along with twenty-nine Republicans.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Oregon: Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed new congressional and state legislative maps into law on Sept. 27, making Oregon the first state to enact congressional maps. If the maps are not changed by the state supreme court after any possible legal challenges, this would be the third time since 1910 that Oregon’s redistricting maps were approved by the legislature and governor without alteration.

The congressional maps were approved by the state Senate, 18-6, and the state House of Representatives, 33-16. The state legislative maps were approved by the state senate, 18-11, and the House of Representatives, 31-18. The Oregonian said the map created three safe Democratic seats, one safe Republican seat, one seat that leans Democratic, and one seat that is a toss-up.

​​After signing the maps, Gov. Kate Brown (D) released a statement saying: “My office reviewed the maps contained in the bills passed by the Legislature after they were proposed this weekend. Redistricting is a process that necessarily involves compromise, and I appreciate the Legislature working to balance the various interests of all Oregonians.” Both the enacted congressional and legislative maps were amended after their initial proposal during the redistricting session.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R) criticized the maps, saying: “This is by no means over. The illegal congressional map adopted today, clearly drawn for partisan benefit, will not survive legal challenge. Political gerrymandering in Oregon is illegal and drawing congressional lines to ensure five out of six seats for your party long-term is gerrymandering.”

House Speaker Pelosi defers infrastructure vote twice

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) deferred a vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 twice after half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) indicated they would not support the bill before the passage of a $3.5 trillion budget bill also being considered by Congress.

Pelosi deferred the infrastructure vote from the initial deadline of Sept. 27 to Sept. 30. She said in an interview, “I’m never bringing a bill to the floor that doesn’t have the votes.” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the chair of the CPC, said that she believed there were around 60 votes against the bill.

The vote was again deferred after Democrats remained divided. President Joe Biden (D) met with House Democrats on Oct. 1.

Republicans in the House were also split on the bill heading into the vote. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he opposed the bill because of its connection to the budget measure. “You don’t get millions of dollars for roads and broadband. What you get is $5 trillion of more inflation, you get a bigger socialist government, you get harm to our economy,” he said.

Several Republican members of the Problem Solvers Caucus said they would support the bill, including Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). Reed said, “I am a hard yes on the bipartisan $1.2 trillion deal that got 19 Republican votes in the Senate. It’s a good bill. It’s a compromise bill, and that to me is good legislation—sound policy that I’m proud to support.”



U.S. Supreme Court ends federal eviction moratorium

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the U.S. Supreme Court ending the federal eviction moratorium and the DCCC outraising the NRCC for the first time since April. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap.

Congress is in session

The Senate will be out of session next week, and the House will be in session on Aug. 31. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

SCOTUS is out of session

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden met with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan and delivered remarks on COVID-19.

On Tuesday, Biden met with G7 leaders to discuss Afghanistan and delivered remarks on evacuating Americans from Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Biden met with Cabinet members and others to discuss cybersecurity. 

On Thursday, Biden spoke about the attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport and the U.S. service members and Afghan victims killed and wounded.

On Friday, Biden met with Naftali Bennett, Prime Minister of the State of Israel and received the weekly economic briefing.

Federal Judiciary

  • 85 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 33 future federal judicial vacancies

SCOTUS adds two cases to its 2021-2022 term

The U.S. Supreme Court accepted two cases for review during its 2021-2022 term on Aug. 23. With the addition of these two cases, the court has granted review in a total of 33 cases for the term, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 4. 

  • Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez concerns the right of non-citizens to a bond hearing after a certain amount of time in immigration detention. The question presented to the court was, “Whether an alien who is detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge by clear and convincing evidence that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community.” Arteaga-Martinez originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
  • Garland v. Gonzalez concerns the right of non-citizens in immigration detention to a bond hearing and the jurisdiction of federal courts to grant class-wide injunctive relief in such cases. Two questions were presented to the court: “1. Whether an alien who is detained under 8 U.S.C. 1231 is entitled by statute, after six months of detention, to a bond hearing at which the government must prove to an immigration judge that the alien is a flight risk or a danger to the community. 2. Whether, under 8 U.S.C. § 1252 (f) (1), the courts below had jurisdiction to grant classwide injunctive relief.” Gonzalez originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The Supreme Court finished hearing oral arguments for its 2020-2021 term in May 2021. During the term, the court issued 67 opinions, with two cases decided in one consolidated opinion and 10 cases decided without oral argument. The court’s 2021-2022 term begins on Oct. 4 with oral arguments in Mississippi v. Tennessee and Wooden v. United States.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraises National Republican Congressional Committee for the first time since April

A recent Ballotpedia analysis found that six major political party committees have raised a combined $478 million over the first seven months of the 2022 election cycle. In July, the committees raised $83 million, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $7.0 million and spent $5.2 million in July, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $11.3 million and spent $6.2 million. July was the first month the DCCC outraised the NRCC since April. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the NRCC has raised 5.2% more than the DCCC ($86.3 million to $81.9 million). 

The senatorial committees raised less than their house counterparts last month. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $7.5 million and spent $8.4 million. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $6.5 million and spent $7.8 million. The NRSC has raised 10.1% more than the DSCC so far in the 2022 election cycle ($58.7 million to $53.1 million).

Between the national committees, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised more in July, and the Republican National Committee (RNC) spent more. The DNC raised $13.1 million and spent $8.3 million, while the RNC raised $12.9 million and spent $15.6 million. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the DNC has raised 2.3% more than the RNC ($100.2 million to $97.9 million).

So far in the 2022 election cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 3.2% more than the  DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($242.9 million to $235.2 million). The Republican committees’ fundraising advantage is down from 5.3% last month.

U.S. Supreme Court ends federal eviction moratorium

On Thursday, Aug. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Aug. 3 eviction moratorium in an unsigned opinion. The Court ruled only Congress could authorize a federal eviction moratorium. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan wrote dissenting opinions.   


The moratorium had halted evictions for nonpayment of rent in parts of the country experiencing what the CDC defined as “substantial or high” levels of COVID-19 spread. The plaintiffs, a group of real estate agents, asked the Supreme Court to overturn the moratorium on an emergency basis, arguing the CDC lacked the authority to issue such a policy.

The CDC first issued a moratorium on evictions on Sept. 4, 2020, and extended it several times throughout the spring and summer of 2021. The CDC extended the moratorium, which applied to tenants regardless of COVID-19 transmission levels, on June 24. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said it would be the final extension. On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to intervene to end the moratorium. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote at the time that he voted to allow the moratorium to stay in place because it was about to expire but that Congress would need to authorize any further extensions.



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns, Hochul sworn in as successor

Intro: Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the swearing in of successor Kathy Hochul (D) and new mask requirements in Illinois and Oregon. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-eight statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states so far.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing approved a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit rejected a revised city charter that would have changed policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters approved a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County decided property tax measures. Both measures were ahead according to election night results.

Special Elections

Fifty-two state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 19 states so far this year. Thirty-five specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 16 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. One seat flipped from Democratic control to Republican control.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Aug. 31

Sept. 7

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns, Hochul sworn in as successor

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned on Aug. 24, effective at 12:00 a.m. Eastern. He first announced his plans to step down on Aug. 10.

Immediately after Cuomo’s resignation took effect, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) was sworn in as the 57th governor of New York. Hochul is the first female to serve as governor in the state. She will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends on Jan. 1, 2023. New York’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022.

On Aug. 25, Hochul announced her selection of state Sen. Brian Benjamin (D) to succeed her as lieutenant governor. Hochul stated he would be sworn in after Labor Day. Benjamin was first elected to the state Senate in 2017.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report on Aug. 3 that said Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees. James began the investigation in February.

The New York State Assembly had initiated impeachment proceedings against Cuomo in March, examining the allegations of sexual misconduct, among other accusations of impeachable conduct.

Cuomo has repeatedly denied these allegations. On August 23, in his final public address as governor, he said, “The attorney general’s report was designed to be a political firecracker on an explosive topic and it worked. There was a political and media stampede, but the truth will out in time.”

Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Six resigned to take another office, and three resigned following allegations of misconduct. 

Special election to be held in Texas House district

A special election will be held on Aug. 31 for District 10 of the Texas House of Representatives. The candidate filing deadline was Aug. 12. Pierina Otiniano (D), Kevin Griffin (R), Brian Harrison (R), Susan Hayslip (R), Clark Wickliffe (R), John Wray (R), Matt Savino (L), and Scott Goodwin (I) are running in the general election. A general election runoff will be scheduled if no candidate earns at least 50% of the vote. The winner will serve until January 2023.

The District 10 seat became vacant after Jake Ellzey (R) won a special election to Texas’ 6th Congressional District on July 27. Ellzey had represented District 10 since January 2021.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have an 82-67 majority in the Texas House with one vacancy. Texas has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of August, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 19 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Texas held 28 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Kentucky legislator Robert Goforth resigns

Kentucky Rep. Robert Goforth resigned (R) on Aug.24, creating the second current vacancy in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Vacancies in the Kentucky House are filled by special elections.

Goforth was the target of a January 2021 impeachment effort. The petition listed domestic violence charges, allegations of abuse of office for personal and financial gain, and allegations of financial misconduct as reasons for his impeachment. According to the Courier Journal, Goforth said voters “overwhelmingly re-elected me last November despite a nearly constant assault upon my character. I am focused on the work of this session that the people who sent me here expect me to fulfill.” The House impeachment committee dismissed the petition on Feb. 11, 2021.

Goforth was arrested on several domestic violence-related charges at a private home in London, Kentucky, on April 21, 2020. He posted a $25,000 bond to be released from jail later that day. On June 1 of the same year, Goforth pleaded not guilty to three charges of strangulation, assault, and terroristic threatening. On Sept. 18, 2020, a Laurel County grand jury charged Goforth with one count of first-degree strangulation and one count of fourth-degree assault.

Legislators sworn in to Maryland House of Delegates, Oregon House of Representatives

Roxane Prettyman (D) was sworn in to the Maryland House of Delegates to represent District 44A on Aug. 23. Governor Larry Hogan (R) appointed Prettyman on Aug. 17 to replace Keith Haynes (D).

Christine Goodwin (R) was sworn in to the Oregon House of Representatives to represent the 2nd District on Aug. 25. Republican county commissioners in the three counties that make up the 2nd District (Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine Counties) appointed Goodwin to the seat on Aug. 12 to replace Gary Leif (R).

Both Prettyman and Goodwin will serve the remainder of their predecessors’ terms.

So far in 2021, there have been 88 state legislative vacancies in 37 states. Three of those vacancies occurred in Maryland, and five occurred in Oregon.

Illinois, Oregon announce new statewide mask requirements

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced on Aug. 26 a new statewide public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and vaccinated individuals, which will go into effect on Aug. 30. Illinois’ first mask mandate began on May 1, 2020, and was lifted on June 11, 2021, lasting 407 days. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an expansion of the state’s mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 24. Effective Aug. 27, vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will be required to wear masks in public outdoor spaces. Brown had previously reinstated Oregon’s public indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 13.

As of Aug. 26, three states had statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and six states had statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All nine of the states had 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. Two states (Louisiana and Oregon) that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order.

Idaho Supreme Court overturns 2021 law that would have increased the state’s distribution requirement for ballot initiatives

On Aug. 23, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that Senate Bill 1110 (SB 1110) was unconstitutional. The law was designed to change the state’s distribution requirement to require signatures from 6% of voters from all 35 legislative districts for ballot initiatives and veto referendums instead of the existing requirement of 6% of voters from 18 of the state’s legislative districts.

The court ruled that the state had no compelling interest to increase the distribution requirement. The court said the law “would result in a scheme that squarely conflicts with the democratic ideals that form the bedrock of the constitutional republic created by the Idaho Constitution, and seriously undermines the people’s initiative and referendum powers enshrined therein.” By overturning the law, the court reinstated the 18-district distribution requirement.

The lawsuit was filed by Reclaim Idaho, the campaign behind two 2022 initiatives related to initiative signature requirements and taxes for public school funding. 

House Speaker Scott Bedke (R), who supported the law, said, “These changes to the voter referendum/initiative process would’ve served to increase voter involvement and inclusivity, especially in the corners of the state too often forgotten by some.”

Seventeen states have a distribution requirement law for initiative or veto referendum signatures. 

In 2019, the Idaho Legislature passed a pair of bills that were designed to increase the state’s initiative signature requirement and its distribution requirement, among other changes. Governor Brad Little (R) vetoed the bills. In 2021, both chambers of the legislature passed SB 1110 by more than the two-thirds majority required to override a veto: 26-9 in the Senate and 51-18 in the House. Governor Little signed SB 1110.

Between 1996 and 2020, an average of three measures have appeared on even-numbered election year ballots in Idaho.



The State and Local Tap: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Aug. 24

Our weekly summary of state and local news highlights New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announced resignation and the California GOP’s vote to not endorse a recall candidate. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State and Local Tap. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Aug. 24

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced he would resign effective Aug. 24. Cuomo was first elected governor in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He was New York’s attorney general from 2007 to 2010. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (D) will serve the remainder of Cuomo’s term, which ends on Jan. 1, 2023. New York’s next gubernatorial election will take place in November 2022. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) released a report on Aug. 3 that said Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.” James began the investigation in February.

Cuomo denied these allegations, saying, in part, “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.” At a press conference announcing his resignation, Cuomo said, “Given the circumstances, the best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing. And therefore that’s what I’ll do.”

Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. Before that, she served in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013 after winning a special election. Hochul will be the first woman governor in the state’s history. 

Since 1776, 218 state governors have resigned before the expiration of their terms. Cuomo is the ninth governor of New York to resign. Six resigned to take another office and three resigned following allegations of misconduct. New York’s last elected governor, Eliot Spitzer (D), resigned in 2008 amid allegations of misconduct. Twelve governors of New Jersey have resigned, more than any other state. 

California GOP votes “No endorsement” for recall election

On Aug. 7, the Republican Party of California voted not to endorse a candidate in the Sept. 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.

Republican National Committee members Harmeet Dhillon and Shawn Steel, who KPBS called two of the most powerful figures in the party, sent an email asking delegates to vote against an endorsement. “The polls are showing that the recall is in a statistical tie, and we cannot afford to discourage voters who are passionate about a particular candidate, yet may not vote because their favored candidate didn’t receive the endorsement,” they wrote.

State party chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in response to the vote, “Today’s overwhelming decision by our delegates to offer no endorsement speaks to the strength of our field of candidates and the outstanding position our party is in going into the recall election.”

Tony Navarrete resigns from the Arizona state Senate

Senator Tony Navarrete (D) resigned from the Arizona state Senate on Aug. 10. He represented District 30 from 2019 to 2021. He also represented Arizona House District 30 from 2017 to 2019.

Phoenix police arrested Navarrete on Aug. 5, 2021, on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor. According to authorities, the alleged sexual conduct took place in 2019. Navarrete resigned on Aug. 10, stating, “I adamantly deny all allegations that have been made and will pursue all avenues in an effort to prove my innocence. In doing so, I will be focusing the vast majority of my time and energy on my defense.”

As of Aug. 12, there have been 82 state legislative vacancies in 36 states this year. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled, with 32 vacancies remaining. Navarrete’s vacancy is one of 38 Democratic vacancies to have occurred in 2021. So far, Democrats have filled 23 vacancies, while Republicans have filled 27.  

California mandates vaccines for school teachers and staff

On Wednesday, Aug. 11, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools would be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

According to the California Department of Public Health, the requirement will take effect on Aug. 12. 

Although governors in other states have mandated that state employees get vaccinated, California is the first to extend the mandate to include school teachers and staff. 

Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy advance from Seattle city attorney primary

Pete Holmes, the incumbent Seattle city attorney, conceded to challengers Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on Aug. 6, meaning the two will advance to the general election on Nov. 2, 2021. The latest election results showed Thomas-Kennedy with 36.5% of the vote followed by Davison with 32.8% and Holmes with 30.7%.

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. 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.

Redistricting round-up: U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process (and other news)

The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data for allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Here are some overall findings from the data, as described in the Bureau’s press release:

  • “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”
  • “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
  • “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”

Also, a majority of the New Jersey Supreme Court voted on Aug. 6 to select retired state supreme court justice John Wallace as the 13th member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission. His selection came after the six Democrats and six Republicans on the commission did not agree on a 13th member by the July 15 deadline.

Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto announces retirement

On Aug. 9, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto announced she would retire on Dec. 31, 2021. Nakamoto’s replacement will be Gov. 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 Gov. Brown. Upon her appointment, Nakamoto became the first Asian Pacific American on the state supreme court.

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

Ballot measures update

Thirty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in eight states so far.

  • The Washington attorney general certified ballot language for three automatic advisory questions on tax increases passed in the 2021 legislative session. The nonbinding measures will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.
  • Signatures were submitted and are pending verification for three additional initiatives in Colorado.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

  • No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

State legislative special elections

Fifty-one state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

Aug. 17

Aug. 31

Local ballot measures: The week in review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing approved a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit rejected a revised city charter that would have made changes to policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters approved a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County decided property tax measures. Both measures were ahead according to election night results.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.



The Federal Tap: U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process

Our weekly summary of federal news highlights the 2020 U.S. Census and a vaccine mandate for the military. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the Federal Tap. 

U.S. Census Bureau releases 2020 data necessary to begin redistricting process

The U.S. Census Bureau released block-level data from the 2020 census on Aug. 12. The data includes county-level demographic information on the ethnic, racial, and age makeup of neighborhoods across the country and will allow states to begin the process of drawing congressional and state legislative district maps.

The Bureau will also release a complete tabulated version of the census dataset on Sept. 30. In addition to drawing district maps, federal agencies and local governments use census data for allocating funds and other planning and decision-making processes.

Here are some overall findings from the data, as described in the Bureau’s press release:

  • “The 2020 Census showed that the adult (age 18 and older) population group grew 10.1% to 258.3 million people over the decade.”
  • “The population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.”
  • “The 2020 Census used the required two separate questions (one for Hispanic or Latino origin and one for race) to collect the races and ethnicities of the U.S. population. … Building upon our research over the past decade, we improved the two separate questions design and updated our data processing and coding procedures for the 2020 Census. These changes reveal that the U.S. population is much more multiracial and more diverse than what we measured in the past.”

Defense secretary sets mid-September deadline for military vaccination requirement

On Monday, Aug. 9, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo he would require military personnel to get a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-September. Austin said he could move up the timeline for military members to get vaccinated if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a vaccine before the middle of September. 

Currently, the FDA has only granted Emergency Use Authorization to three vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—in use in the United States. Without full FDA authorization, Austin would need to seek a waiver from President Joe Biden (D) to enact a vaccine mandate. 

In a statement, Biden said he supported the vaccine mandate. 

In recent weeks, several governors have announced they would require state employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, including governors in California, Maryland, and Virginia. 

Representative Ron Kind announces retirement

On Aug. 10, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D) announced he would not run for re-election in 2022. Kind, who has represented Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District since 1997, said he had “run out of gas” after 13 terms in office, but said “I’m not done. We have 16 months to go. I’m going to break the tape, as they say.”

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 is a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means and was first assigned to that committee in 2011. In the 2020 general election, 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.

Ballotpedia’s polling index shows presidential approval at 50%, congressional approval at 22%

Ballotpedia’s polling index showed President Joe Biden (D) at 50% approval and 44% disapproval as of Aug. 12. At this time last month, his approval rating was at 53%.

The highest approval rating Biden has received during his tenure is 55%, last seen on May 26. His current approval rating of 50% is the lowest he has received.

Congressional approval is at 22% and disapproval is at 60%, according to our index. At this time last month, congressional approval was at 32%.

The highest approval rating the 117th Congress has received is 36%, last seen on July 16. The lowest approval rating it has received is 16%, last seen on July 29.

At this time during the tenure of former President Donald Trump (R), presidential approval was at 38% and congressional approval was at 14%. To see more comparisons between Biden and Trump administration polling, click here.

Are Congress and the Supreme Court in session?

Both the House and Senate are out of session next week. Click here to see the full calendar for the first session of the 117th Congress.

The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments next week. To learn about the 2020-2021 term, click here.

Where was the president last week?

On Monday, Biden remained in Wilmington, Delaware.

On Tuesday, Biden returned to Washington, D.C., from Wilmington, Delaware.  

On Wednesday, Biden remained in Washington, D.C. 

On Thursday, Biden departed Washington, D.C., for Wilmington, Delaware. 

On Friday, Biden departed Wilmington, Delaware, for Camp David, Maryland. 

Federal Judiciary

  • 84 federal judicial vacancies
  • 22 pending nominations
  • 32 future federal judicial vacancies


Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

In hyperlocal news this week, we launched a Ballotpedia Store, allowing you to be a Ballotpedia evangelist from your front porch! Check out our selection of t-shirts, totes, and mugs here.

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights the final candidate list released in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and a federal court upholds the CDC’s COVID-19 cruise line restrictions. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-three statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

  • No new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week.

Fifty-six statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. 

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for one additional 2022 initiative in Michigan. One indirect initiative in Michigan was approved by the legislature last week. The initiative repealed Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act.

States in session

Eight states—California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review

In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections and police-related policies. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:

  • Aug. 3 – Michigan: Voters in Lansing will decide a property tax renewal. Voters in Detroit will, pending a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, decide whether to adopt a revised city charter that makes changes to policy on broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics.
  • Aug. 3 – Missouri: St. Louis Community College District voters will decide a property tax measure.
  • Aug. 3 – Washington: Voters in King County and Thurston County will decide property tax measures.

Special Elections

Forty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the districts, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No districts have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

July 27

Aug. 3

Aug. 17

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney dies

Kentucky state Rep. John “Bam” Carney (R) died while in office on July 17, due to long-term health issues. 

Carney was first elected to represent House District 51 in 2008. He most recently won re-election in 2020, defeating Richard Steele (D) 78.6% to 21.4%. He was elected state House majority leader in 2018 and served in that role until January 2020, when House Republicans named Rep. Steven Rudy (R) to serve as acting majority leader while Carney was ill. 

Carney was admitted to the ICU with pancreatitis in December 2019. He had spent the past year and a half in hospitals and was diagnosed with pneumonia in June 2021. He died on July 17 at age 51.

Carney is the second member of the Kentucky legislature to die this month; former state Senator Tom Buford (R) died on July 6. Kentucky is one of 25 states to fill state legislative vacancies through special elections.

Final candidate list released for Newsom recall

On July 21, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) released the final list of 46 candidates that qualified for the gubernatorial recall election. The recall election seeking to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will take place on Sept. 14, 2021. Among the candidates that qualified were nine Democrats and 24 Republicans, including former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), 2018 gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R), former U.S. Rep. Doug Ose (R), Caitlyn Jenner (R), and Larry Elder (R).

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. A majority vote is required on the first question for the governor to be recalled. The candidate with the most votes on the second question would win the election, no majority required.

Since 1911, there have been 55 attempts to recall an incumbent California governor. The only successful recall campaign was in 2003 when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was chosen as Davis’ replacement. In that election, 135 candidates ran and the winner received 48.6% of the vote.

New Jersey state Sen. Chris Brown resigns to take new role in Murphy administration

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) appointed state Sen. Chris Brown (R) to a position in the Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services on July 19. The position required Brown to leave the state Senate. Brown started his new job on July 20.

Brown first won election to the Senate to represent District 2 on Nov. 7, 2017, defeating incumbent Colin Bell (D) 53.52% to 46.48%. Brown had announced in February that he would not seek re-election.

Vacancies in the New Jersey legislature are filled by interim appointment by the county leadership of the party that last controlled the district. 

The New Jersey Senate is the upper chamber of the state legislature. Currently, there are 25 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one vacancy in the Senate.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp appoints new state supreme court justice, public service commissioner

Governor Brian Kemp (R) appointed Verda Colvin to the Georgia Supreme Court and Fitz Johnson to the Georgia Public Service Commission on July 20 and 21, respectively. Colvin will fill the vacancy left by Justice Harold Melton, who retired on July 1 of this year, while Johnson will take former Commissioner Chuck Eaton’s position. Governor Kemp appointed Eaton to the Fulton County Superior Court on July 20. 

Founded in 1845, the Georgia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has nine judgeships. As of July 2021, Republican governors appointed seven judges (eight once Colvin is sworn in) on the court and one was initially selected in a nonpartisan election. Judges are selected using the nonpartisan election of judges system. They serve six-year terms. When an interim vacancy occurs, the seat is filled using the assisted appointment method of judicial selection with the governor picking the interim justice from a slate provided by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. 

The Georgia Public Service Commission is a quasi-executive, quasi-legislative state body responsible for regulating Georgia’s public utilities: electric, gas, telecommunications, and transportation firms. The commission is composed of five popularly elected members who serve staggered, six-year terms. If a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next general election. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnson must win election in November 2022 to serve the remainder of Eaton’s term, which expires in 2024.

Federal court upholds CDC COVID-19 cruise line restrictions

On July 17, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned a lower court order that blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) restrictions on the cruise industry, allowing the restrictions to stay in place. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) sued the CDC in April, arguing the agency overstepped its authority when it issued its four-phase plan for reopening the cruise industry. U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday sided with DeSantis on June 18, granting Florida a preliminary injunction against the restrictions.

The CDC’s plan requires 95% of passengers and 98% of crews to be fully vaccinated. Florida’s Senate Bill 2006, which DeSantis signed into law on May 3, prohibits businesses in the state from requiring proof of vaccination. 

DeSantis said he would appeal the ruling. 

New Jersey chief justice asks political parties to submit consensus candidate for congressional redistricting commission

On July 20, New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and select a consensus candidate as the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission

According to state law, 12 of the 13 commissioners are appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the legislature and the chairs of the state’s two major political parties. These 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the state supreme court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner. 

According to The New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a thirteenth member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.” Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30 to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the state supreme court will pick a tie-breaker candidate by Aug. 10.



The State and Local Tap: California judge rules Gov. Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on recall ballot

The State and Local Tap

Our weekly summary of state & local news highlights a state judge’s ruling that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on California’s Sept. 14 recall ballot and members of Texas’ legislature travel to Washington, D.C. ahead of an expected vote on election-related legislation. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap:

California judge rules Gov. Newsom’s party affiliation will not appear on recall ballot

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles ruled on July 12 that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) party affiliation will not appear on the September 14 recall ballot. Newsom sued Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) on June 28 seeking to have his party affiliation added to the ballot. Weber cited Newsom’s February 2020 response to the recall petition, in which Newsom did not file a party preference form, as the reason for leaving his party affiliation off the recall ballot.

In the ruling, Judge Arguelles wrote, “First, Governor Newsom’s failure to designate a party preference will not result in a ballot identifying him as ‘Party Preference: None.’ Rather, there will be no reference to party preference next to his name one way or the other. Instead, the recall ballot will simply ask whether he should be recalled.”

The recall election will present voters with two questions. The first will ask whether Newsom should be recalled from the office of governor. The second will ask who should succeed Newsom if he is recalled. Newsom was elected as California’s governor in 2018 with 61.9% of the vote. The only successful recall of a California governor occurred in 2003, when voters recalled then-Gov. Gray Davis (D). Voters chose Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) as Davis’ replacement.

Texas Democrats leave state ahead of expected vote on election-related legislation

At least 51 Democratic state representatives in Texas left the state on July 12, traveling to Washington D.C., ahead of expected votes on election-related legislation. Supporters say the legislation includes updates to improving election integrity. Opponents say the bills amount to voter suppression.

The Texas House of Representatives requires 100 members—two-thirds of the 150 legislators—present to have a quorum. A quorum is the minimum number of members required to conduct official business. Democrats control 67 of the 150 state House seats in Texas.

It’s the second time Texas House Democrats have staged a walkout this year. The first took place on May 30, when all 67 members of the Democratic caucus left the chamber during consideration of another package of election-related legislation. This prevented the House from passing the legislation ahead of the regular session’s midnight deadline. Following the end of the legislature’s regular session, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called a special session to resume consideration of the legislation.

Ballot Measures Update

Thirty-one (31) statewide measures have been certified for the 2021 ballot in seven states so far.

No new measures were certified for the 2021 ballot last week.

Fifty-seven statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 26 states so far. No new measures were certified for the 2022 ballot last week.

Signatures have been submitted and are pending verification for two additional 2022 initiatives in California and Michigan. One indirect initiative in Michigan was certified to the legislature last week. The initiative would repeal Michigan’s Emergency Powers of Governor Act.

Arizona ends federal pandemic unemployment insurance program; courts rule program must continue in Indiana, Maryland

Arizona ended its participation in pandemic-related federal unemployment benefit programs on July 10, and courts in two states—Indiana and Maryland—ruled those states must continue to participate in the program. Gov. Doug Ducey (R) had announced that Arizona would end its involvement in the program on May 13.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on July 12 that the state must comply with Superior Court Judge John Hanley’s June 25 emergency order to resume participation in federal pandemic unemployment programs. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) ended the state’s participation in those programs on June 19. 

In Maryland, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill ruled on July 13 that the state must continue participating in the federal pandemic unemployment program. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) had ended the state’s participation in those programs on July 3. Hogan said he would not challenge the ruling. 

President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11. This legislation extended federal unemployment benefit programs related to the coronavirus pandemic, including a $300 per week addition to state unemployment benefits. The programs are scheduled to end on Sept. 6. 

Anna Scharf sworn in to Oregon House of Representatives District 23

Anna Scharf (R) was sworn in to the District 23 seat in the Oregon House of Representatives on July 12. Republican county commissioners in the four counties that make up the district had appointed her on July 6. 

Scharf replaced former Rep. Mike Nearman (R), who was expelled from the House on June 10 after video footage surfaced in which he helped protesters enter the state Capitol building on December 21, 2020, resulting in injuries and property damage. Scharf had served as a legislative policy analyst in Rep. Nearman’s office since February 2020 and will serve the remainder of Nearman’s term, which was set to expire in January 2023.

States in session

Eight states— California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.

Delaware ends COVID-19 state of emergency

Gov. John Carney (D) ended Delaware’s statewide COVID-19 state of emergency on July 12. Carney had signed an order on June 15 ending the state of emergency, which began on March 13, 2020. 

As of July 16, COVID-19 emergency orders have expired in 25 states. They remain active in 25 states.

Governors and state agencies in all 50 states issued orders declaring active emergencies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These orders allowed officials to access resources unavailable to them during non-emergencies, like stockpiles of medical goods and equipment, and to waive or suspend certain rules and regulations. Governors and state agencies relied on emergency power authority to enact lockdown and stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other restrictions on businesses and individuals. 

Michigan Supreme Court rejects independent commission’s request to extend redistricting deadlines

The Michigan Supreme Court rejected a request on July 9 by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the state’s constitutional deadlines for adopting new redistricting plans. This means that the constitutional deadlines–presentation to the public by Sept. 17 and adoption by Nov. 1–remain in effect. 

The commission had argued that it would “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline” due to delays in receiving detailed redistricting data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The commission had asked the state supreme court to order the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days after that.

In its unsigned order, the court said that it was “not persuaded that it should grant the requested relief.” In her concurring opinion, Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote, “The Court’s decision is not a reflection on the merits of the questions briefed or how this Court might resolve a future case raising similar issues. It is indicative only that a majority of this Court believes that the anticipatory relief sought is unwarranted.”

Maryland State Delegate Keith Haynes retires

Keith Haynes (D)—who was first elected to the state legislature in 2002—retired from the Maryland House of Delegates on July 15. Haynes most recently won re-election in 2018 after running unopposed in the primary and general elections. 

“After 18 1/2 years of service, I am retiring from the Maryland House of Delegates as of July 15, 2021,” Haynes wrote in a statement to the Baltimore Sun. “I would like to thank my constituents for the opportunity to serve them.”

When a vacancy occurs in the Maryland General Assembly, the governor must appoint a replacement within 30 days after the vacancy happens. The governor selects from a list of three prospective candidates submitted by the political party that last held the vacant seat. The person appointed to the seat serves for the remainder of the unexpired term. Haynes’ term was set to expire on January 10, 2023.

Special Elections

Forty-six state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 18 states so far this year. Thirty-four (34) specials have already taken place. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 15 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 19. No seats have changed party hands as a result of the special elections.

  • In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
  • An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
  • An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).

Upcoming special elections include:

July 27

August 3

August 17