Politics & Leadership

Election Officials Agree and Disagree on Election Security | 05-17-2019

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) were among those who appeared at a hearing on Election Security held by the U.S. Committee on House Administration this month. Over two years after Russian...

Politics in Brief - May 20 2019 | 05-17-2019

ME SENATE VOTES TO JOIN NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT MAINE’S Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a bill ( LD 816 ) that would award the state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote if enough...

CO Cities, Towns Flex New Power Over Oil, Gas Drilling | 05-10-2019

Last month Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed SB 181, giving cities and towns more control over the regulation of oil and gas drilling. Local governments have wasted little time exercising their new power. Hours after the governor signed the bill...

Tale of Two States | 05-10-2019

Florida state government has long been under GOP rule. But this year, the state’s Republican legislative majority, energized by three new conservative state Supreme Court justices, new legislative leaders and a new governor, accomplished a few items...

Politics in Brief - May 13 2019 | 05-10-2019

NY LAWMAKERS OPENING AVENUE TO TRUMP’S STATE TAX RETURNS The NEW YORK Senate passed a bill that would create a pathway for three congressional committees - the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee...

WA Repeals Affirmative Action Ban | 05-03-2019

In 1998 Washington voters approved a ballot measure, Initiative 200 , barring the state’s government from giving preferential treatment to anyone based on race, gender or national origin. Just before ending its regular session last month, the state’s...

WI High Court Restores Walker Appointees | 05-03-2019

The Wisconsin Supreme court ordered the reinstatement of 15 appointees of former Gov. Scott Walker who were removed from their posts in connection with an ongoing power struggle between the state’s Republican controlled Legislature and new Democratic...

Politics in Brief - May 6 2019 | 05-03-2019

FEDERAL APPEALS PANEL ORDERS NEW DISTRICTS, SENATE ELECTIONS IN MI A three-judge federal panel has ordered MICHIGAN’s Republican-controlled Legislature to redraw at least 34 political districts before the 2020 election - and ordered the state...

State Lawmakers Turning to Local Office for Next Job | 04-19-2019

The usual next step up the ladder for state legislators is statewide office or Congress. But some are now heading in the opposite direction and running for mayor. One attraction is that the job generally pays better than most part-time legislatures...

Politics in Brief - April 22 2019 | 04-19-2019

FEDERAL GRAND JURY CONSIDERING CHARGES IN NC CONGRESSIONAL RACE A federal grand jury in NORTH CAROLINA is considering whether to recommend criminal charges in connection with the state’s 9th Congressional District race in November. Republican...

NV Considering Doing Away with Judicial Elections | 04-12-2019

All district, appellate and Supreme Court judges in Nevada are currently elected by voters. But that would change under a proposed constitutional amendment in the state’s Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. Under the proposed...

OR on Verge of Joining National Popular Vote Movement | 04-12-2019

Oregon appears poised to become the next state to join the National Popular Vote Compact, after the state’s Senate approved legislation to do so last week. Bills to ratify that agreement, which pledges the electoral votes of its signatory...

Politics in Brief - April 15 2019 | 04-12-2019

MD HOUSE SPEAKER DIES MARYLAND House Speaker Michael Busch died last week after being hospitalized with pneumonia. The 72-year-old was the longest-serving speaker in the state’s history, having initially assumed that post in 2003. (NBC NEWS,...

SCOTUS Again Considers Issue of Partisan Gerrymandering: | 04-05-2019

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court took up a pair of redistricting cases giving the court the opportunity - for the second time in two years - to decide whether there’s a constitutional limit to partisan gerrymandering. The cases involve congressional...

Politics in Brief - April 8 2019 | 04-05-2019

NV BILL WOULD RESTORE FORMER FELONS’ VOTING RIGHTS NEVADA lawmakers are considering legislation ( AB 431 ) that would restore full voting rights to felons upon being released from prison. If the bill is enacted, the state would become the 15th...

Will NC DMV Become National Model for Government Decentralization? | 03-22-2019

Last year the North Carolina General Assembly declared that the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and its 400 employees would have to vacate their aging headquarters building in downtown Raleigh by October 2020, due to leaks, asbestos and inadequate...

CA Gov Getting Tough on Housing Problem | 03-22-2019

In February, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced he was filing a lawsuit against Huntington Beach, the largest of several cities in the state that aren’t in compliance with a 2017 state law requiring local governments to include a “housing...

Politics in Brief - March 25 2019 | 03-22-2019

WI ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SPURNS REDISTRICTING CIVIL CASE WISCONSIN Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) is refusing to turn over documents or testify in a civil case related to political boundaries drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature eight years ago. Vos...

Pendulum Swing on Voting Rights? | 03-15-2019

Over the past decade, many states, citing concerns about voter fraud, have enacted voting restrictions, such as photo ID requirements and early voting reductions. It looked as though voter purges would be the next phase of that movement, after the U.S...

Politics in Brief - March 18 2019 | 03-15-2019

GA LEGISLATURE APPROVES SWITCH TO NEW VOTING MACHINES GEORGIA’s GOP-controlled General Assembly has passed a bill ( HB 316 ) providing for the adoption of new voting machines that utilize touchscreens and paper ballots for review by voters, sending...

National Popular Vote Movement Gaining Momentum | 03-08-2019

With Democrats having suffered presidential election losses despite winning the popular vote in 2000 and 2016, an effort to bypass the Electoral College has been picking up momentum in blue states. Eleven that have consistently voted for the Democratic...

Politics in Brief - March 11 2019 | 03-08-2019

REPUBLICAN WON’T RUN IN NC CONGRESSIONAL RACE DO-OVER Republican Mark Harris said last week he will not run in NORTH CAROLINA’s new election for the 9th Congressional District due to health concerns. The GOP candidate in that race will...

New Congressional Election Coming in NC | 02-22-2019

After several days of hearings into the handling of absentee ballots by an operative for the Republican candidate in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District race in November -- the only 2018 contest yet to be decided -- the state’s Board...

Pay Raises Tricky for State Lawmakers | 02-22-2019

In July 2005 Pennsylvania lawmakers voted to give themselves pay raises of between 16 and 34 percent, depending on their position. That action caused such a public outcry that the raises were repealed a few months later. And even after the repeal, 20...

Politics in Brief - February 25 2019 | 02-22-2019

TN LEGISLATURE CONSIDERING CLOSING PRIMARY ELECTIONS TENNESSEE’s House Elections and Campaign Finance Subcommittee approved a bill ( HB 1273 / SB 1500 ) last week that would require voters to declare a party affiliation in order to vote in the...

UT Considers Joining Call for Convention of States | 02-15-2019

tah Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers (R) has introduced a resolution (SJR 9) calling for a convention of the states, under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to propose amendments to that document “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal...

Leadership Stalemate Locking Up AK House | 02-15-2019

With their state facing a $1.6 billion budget deficit for the coming fiscal year, Alaska lawmakers need to make some tough decisions about what spending to cut. But the state’s House has been at a standstill for almost a month because members haven’t...

One in 10 Bills in SD Shells | 02-15-2019

Midway through South Dakota’s legislative session, 10 percent of the bills under consideration are so-called “vehicle bills,” measures with no meaningful text that can still be acted upon and have text added at any point in the legislative...

Politics in Brief - February 18 2019 | 02-15-2019

ND GOV APPOINTS STATE’S FIRST BLACK FEMALE CHIEF JUSTICE NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has appointed state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley to replace retiring Chief Justice Mark Martin. Beasley will be the first black woman to serve as...

Early CA Primary Could Help or Hurt IA Caucus | 02-08-2019

Since 1972, Iowans have been the first to cast votes in the presidential nominating process. But California will hold its presidential primary on March 3rd next year. And while that’s still a full month after Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses...

Record Number of Women Serving as State Legislative Leaders | 02-08-2019

After picking up over 200 state legislative seats in the 2018 midterm elections, women now hold 2,112 legislative seats nationwide, nearly 29 percent of the 7,383 total, a record high, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics...

Politics in Brief - February 11 2019 | 02-08-2019

TX FLAGS 95,000 VOTERS FOR CITIZENSHIP VERIFICATION The TEXAS secretary of state’s office announced last month that it had flagged 95,000 registered voters for citizenship checks. The individuals were flagged because they had provided a form of...

OK Lawmakers Aim to Deter Future Protests | 01-25-2019

Oklahoma state Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R) has filed a bill ( HB 2094) for the coming session, which begins on Feb. 4, that would make it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, to disrupt the Legislature. State...

Judges Approve VA House District Remap | 01-25-2019

A panel of federal judges has approved a redistricting map for the Virginia House of Delegates that could help Democrats in this year’s legislative elections. The judges for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled...

Politics in Brief - January 28 2019 | 01-25-2019

RECORD NUMBER OF ETHICS COMPLAINTS IN AK ELECTIONS LAST YEAR The ARKANSAS Ethics Commission received 146 citizen complaints against candidates and others during last year’s election cycle. That number was a new record and a 45 percent increase...

Battle Over 2020 Census Under Way | 01-18-2019

A federal judge issued a ruling last week blocking the U.S. Commerce Department from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr. had ordered the addition of the citizenship question nearly a year...

Slew of State Abortion Bills | 01-18-2019

Despite having two state laws restricting abortion struck down in federal court in the past 15 months, Kentucky lawmakers are making another run at enacting an abortion ban. Senate Bill 9 , introduced earlier this month, would ban abortion as soon...

Politics in Brief - January 21 2019 | 01-18-2019

GROUPS, VOTERS CHALLENGE POLITICAL POWER SHIFT IN WI The League of Women Voters, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and three WISCONSIN voters have filed a lawsuit seeking the invalidation of new laws passed by the...

One-Party States Lay Out Agendas for 2019 | 01-11-2019

As a result of the November elections, Democrats now control both the governor’s office and legislature in 14 states, up from eight in 2018. Democratic leaders in those states, located mainly in the West and Northeast, say they’ll focus on...

SCOTUS Refuses to Delay Remap Redraw in VA | 01-11-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request from Virginia Republicans for a stay on the redrawing of 11 House districts that a panel of federal judges ruled last June had been racially gerrymandered. The decision wasn’t a total loss for the...

Progressive Issues Finding Support Among Conservative Voters | 01-11-2019

In November, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley, then the state’s attorney general, carried all but four of the state’s 114 counties in claiming the U.S. Senate seat held by Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri). The GOP also maintained its supermajorities...

Politics in Brief - January 14 2019 | 01-11-2019

HIGH TURNOVER AMONG TX GOVT WORKERS IN 2018 Well over 28,000 TEXAS state employees, 19.3 percent of the total state government workforce, left their jobs last year, the highest turnover in five years, according to a report from the state auditor’s...

CA Voters Raise Bar for Qualifying Ballot Measures | 12-14-2018

It’s going to be considerably harder to qualify initiatives and referendums for California’s ballot next year, thanks to the high voter turnout in the state for the Nov. 6 election. Signature requirements for ballot measures in California...

Janus Ruling Not Hurting Union Membership | 12-14-2018

In June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that unions could no longer require public workers who choose not to join a union to pay union fees even if they benefit from union efforts. That ruling has adversely impacted union finances...

Politics in Brief - December 17 2018 | 12-14-2018

FORMER FL SENATE PRESIDENT TAKES JOB WITH MAJOR DONOR Outgoing FLORIDA Senate president Joe Negron (R) has taken a job with private prison operator Geo Group. When Negron became Senate president in 2016, the company contributed $270,000 to a political...

NC Lawmakers Add ID Requirement to Voter Bill Amid Fraud Probe | 12-07-2018

North Carolina lawmakers have voted to require identification for people who vote absentee, a reaction to allegations of voter fraud that have led to calls for a new congressional election in part of the state. The House added a provision on absentee...

Effort Planned in PA to Block New Voting Machines | 12-07-2018

A powerful Republican state senator said he will propose legislation to keep Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) from forcing Keystone State counties to buy new voting machines. Wolf and Democratic lawmakers say getting new machines online before the...

Politics in Brief - December 10 2018 | 12-07-2018

CRITICS ASSAIL NJ DEMS REDISTRICTING PROPOSAL Government watchdog groups, civil rights organizations and redistricting experts are criticizing a Democratic proposal in NEW JERSEY that seeks to change the state constitution to entrench the party’s...

Citizen-Initiated Legislation Altered by MI Senate | 11-30-2018

Last week the Michigan Senate voted largely along party lines to make significant changes to citizen-initiated measures raising the state’s minimum wage from $9.25 to $12 per hour ( SB 1171 ) and requiring paid sick leave ( SB 1175 ). The...

Republican Hyde-Smith Wins U.S. Senate Runoff in MS | 11-30-2018

Despite drawing intense scrutiny over the last few weeks, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) will hold onto the seat she was appointed to earlier this year, following the resignation of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) over health concerns...