Politics & Leadership

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 That action caused such a public outcry that the raises were repealed a few months later.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...

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...