Politics & Leadership

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...

Politics in Brief - December 3 2018 | 11-30-2018

DEMS CLAIM 3/4 MAJORITY IN CA ASSEMBLY Democrats won 60 seats in the CALIFORNIA Assembly in the 2018 election, giving them a historic three-quarters majority in the 80-seat chamber. The Assembly Democratic caucus will be the largest since the state...

‘Blue Wave’ Continues Rolling In | 11-16-2018

When Election Day ended two weeks ago the “blue wave” many had predicted for the first midterm of the Trump presidency seemed relatively modest in size. But since the election that wave has continued to roll in, bringing more Democratic gains...

Politics in Brief - November 19 2018 | 11-16-2018

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR VA REDISTRICTING CASE The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by Republican lawmakers in VIRGINIA of a lower court ruling ordering 11 House of Delegates districts to be redrawn to address racial gerrymandering. That...

‘Pink Wave’ Hits State Legislatures | 11-09-2018

‘Pink Wave’ Hits State Legislatures: As anticipated, given the record number of female candidates running for political office this year , women made significant gains in state legislatures on Election Day. Preliminary analysis by the...

Mixed Results for Closely Watched Ballot Measures | 11-09-2018

Marijuana legalization was one of the most prevalent issues on state ballots on Nov. 6. And with the approval of one of those measures, Proposal 1 , on a 54-46 vote, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana for recreational...

Women Voters Help Democrats Take Control of U.S. House | 11-09-2018

The Democrats who won seats in the U.S. House last week and helped their party take control of that chamber may have women voters to thank for those accomplishments. A solid majority of female voters, 59 percent, cast ballots for the Democratic...

Politics in Brief - November 12 2018 | 11-09-2018

‘RAINBOW WAVE’ IN TX Fourteen, or 40 percent, of the 35 gay, bisexual and transgender candidates on the ballot in TEXAS won their races on Tuesday. State and national activists said this election cycle, which saw a record 400 LGBTQ individuals...

Host of Closely Watched Propositions on Ballot | 11-02-2018

On November 6, voters in 37 states will consider 158 ballot measures, just one more than the 157 propositions in 2016, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. Among the issues on the ballot...

Some States Easier to Vote in Than Others | 11-02-2018

Oregon is the easiest state in which to vote, according to research by political scientists at Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville University in Florida and Wuhan University in China. Using data on 33 types of election laws, including voter-registration...

Politics in Brief - November 5 2018 | 11-02-2018

APPEALS COURT ORDERS OH TO LET PURGED VOTERS CAST BALLOTS: The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered OHIO to allow voters purged from the state’s registration rolls for not voting over a six-year period to participate in the Nov. 6 election...

Recreational Marijuana Movement Heads Into New Territory | 10-19-2018

Recreational use of marijuana has been approved by voters in eight states - Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - and by state lawmakers in Vermont. Recreational marijuana measures are on the ballot in two...

Election Cybersecurity Left to States | 10-19-2018

During the last U.S. election cycle two years ago, at least 21 states were targeted by foreign hackers, according to the Department of Homeland Security. And with Congress having done little to address the issue other than authorizing $380 million to...

Politics in Brief - October 19 2018 | 10-19-2018

GA GOV EXTENDS VOTER REGISTRATION IN FOUR COUNTIES HIT BY HURRICANE MICHAEL GEORGIA Gov. Nathan Deal (R) issued an executive order last week extending the state’s Oct. 9 voter registration deadline for four counties where Hurricane Michael forced...

Banner Year for Voting Rights Ballot Measures | 10-12-2018

In November voters in Arkansas and North Carolina, two states where voter ID laws have been struck down by the courts, will decide whether such requirements will be enshrined into their respective constitutions. And voters in Montana will decide whether...

Electronic Voting Experts Express Concern About Wireless Voting Machines | 10-12-2018

A group of 30 researchers, activists and scientists signed a letter this month urging the federal government to issue an official warning to states that use voting machines with integrated wireless technology that the machines are vulnerable to hacking...

Membership in Some NY Unions Down Little After Janus Ruling | 10-12-2018

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that public-sector unions could no longer collect fees from non-members even if they benefited from the unions’ efforts, some predicted there would be a mass exodus of dues-paying members. But more than...

Politics in Brief - October 15 2018 | 10-12-2018

ND VOTER ID LAW ALLOWED TO STAND The U.S. Supreme Court declined to vacate a ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowing NORTH DAKOTA to enforce a requirement that voters provide a street address before casting a ballot on Election Day...

Cases of Interest to States on High Court Docket | 10-05-2018

While the confirmation fight over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was raging on in the U.S. Senate last week, the eight current justices began their new term. And there are several cases on the docket of consequence to state and local governments...

VA Gov Vows Veto of GOP Redistricting Plan | 10-05-2018

Hours after Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) announced his intention to hold a special legislative session to consider a GOP plan with some Democratic support to address a federal court ruling that 11 House districts drawn by the Republican majority...

Politics in Brief - October 8 2018 | 10-05-2018

WV SUPREME COURT JUSTICE SPARED IMPEACHMENT After over an hour of deliberation, the WEST VIRGINIA Senate voted 32-1 not to impeach state Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker over her part in a court spending scandal. Three of the state’s other justices...

Will Scores of Newly Registered Young Voters in FL Show Up | 09-28-2018

So far this year, about 450,000 people have registered to vote in Florida. Thanks to the youth movement spurred by the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida in February and big spending by various groups on get-out-the-youth-vote drives, about a quarter...

Bipartisan Redistricting Plan Proposed in VA | 09-28-2018

Republican leaders in the Virginia House proposed a new plan - supported by at least four Democratic lawmakers - to address a federal court ruling that 11 House districts drawn by the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly in 2011 were racially...

Politics in Brief - October 1 2018 | 09-28-2018

TX VOTER ROLLS SWELL TO 15.6M Nearly 400,000 names have been added to TEXAS’ voter rolls since March. The total number of registered voters in the state is now 15.6 million, 1.6 million more than at the time of the last midterm election, in 2014...

State Justices Face Growing Impeachment Threat | 09-14-2018

Last month the West Virginia House voted to impeach all of the sitting justices on the state’s Supreme Court. And this week the Senate will begin its impeachment trial for those justices. At least a couple of the justices have been charged...

Some Statehouses Vulnerable to ‘Blue Wave’ in November: | 09-14-2018

There’s been a lot of talk about the “blue wave” that may sweep Democrats into control of the U.S. House in November. But the seas are also looking pretty favorable for Democrats in some state legislative chambers. If Colorado...

Politics in Brief - September 17 2018 | 09-14-2018

NM SUPREME COURT RULES OUT STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING The NEW MEXICO Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) did not have the authority to reinstate straight-ticket voting after that option was discontinued...

NC Balance-of-Power Struggle Shifts From Courts to Ballot Box | 09-07-2018

The latest court battle in the ongoing power struggle between North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and Republicans who control both chambers of the state’s General Assembly appears to be over. The legal skirmish began in late June when the legislature...

Politics in Brief - September 10 2018 | 09-07-2018

EDUCATION FUNDING MEASURE OFF AZ BALLOT The ARIZONA Supreme Court has blocked a measure from the state’s November ballot that was aimed at increasing the tax rate on residents making more than $250,000 a year from 4.54 percent to 8 percent to...

Voters Gravitate to Political Poles in Key Aug. 28 Primaries | 08-31-2018

Primary elections were held in three states on Aug. 28. And a few of the results suggest that the energy of the Democratic and Republican parties is moving to the left and the right, respectively. In Florida’s gubernatorial primaries, Democrats...

Power Struggle Ratchets Up in NC | 08-31-2018

North Carolina’s General Assembly convened a special session on Aug. 24 to consider changes to two constitutional amendments bound for the state’s November ballot that could shift power from the governor to state lawmakers, part of an ongoing...

Politics in Brief - September 3 2018 | 08-31-2018

PUSH IN VA TO RATIFY ERA Advocates for the Equal Rights Amendment launched a campaign in VIRGINIA this month to make that state the 38th and final one to ratify the amendment guaranteeing equal rights for all Americans regardless of sex more than 40...

Primary Elections Held in Four States | 08-17-2018

Four states – Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin – held primary elections on Aug. 14. In the Democratic primaries, one of the major Election Day themes was diversity. In Connecticut, Democrats nominated Jahana Hayes, a teacher...

Local Election Officials in Tough Spot on Cybersecurity | 08-17-2018

Cybersecurity has local election officials across the country caught between a rock and a hard place, according to those gathered at the annual DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas this month. They said they don’t have the knowledge or the resources...

State and Local Candidates Want to Use Campaign Funds for Child Care | 08-17-2018

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled in May that candidates for congressional office can use their campaign funds to pay for child care. Since then, state and local candidates across the country, including an unprecedented number of women, have...

Politics in Brief - August 20 2018 | 08-17-2018

UNION MEASURE HELPS DRIVE HIGH VOTER TURNOUT FOR MO PRIMARY MISSOURI’s Proposition A, a referendum on a law passed last year prohibiting mandatory union fees ( SB 19 ), helped drive turnout for the state’s Aug. 7 primary election to its...