Politics & Leadership

Trump Administration Revokes CA’s Authority Over Auto Emissions | 09-20-2019

For decades, California has been able to adopt auto emission regulations that are tougher than those approved by the federal government, thanks to a federal waiver allowing the state to set its own auto emission standards and other states to follow those...

Politics in Brief - September 23 2019 | 09-20-2019

PUSH FOR ‘JUNGLE PRIMARY’ IN FL FLORIDA billionaire Mike Fernandez, who left the Republican Party because of his opposition to President Trump, is spending millions of dollars to place a measure before voters in 2020 that would shift the...

Veto Override Sparks More Controversy in NC | 09-13-2019

Just over a week after legislative district maps drawn by North Carolina’s GOP-controlled General Assembly were declared unconstitutional by a judicial panel , there was more political controversy in the state last week over a budget veto override...

Justice’s Dissent Provides Blueprint for Ending Gerrymandering | 09-13-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling this year in Rucho v. Common Cause slammed the door on partisan gerrymandering claims under the U.S. Constitution. In his opinion for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts maintained that it wasn’t possible...

Politics in Brief - September 16 2019 | 09-13-2019

GOP WINS SPECIAL ELECTION IN NC Republican Dan Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready 50.7 percent to 48.7 percent in a special election last week in NORTH CAROLINA's 9th Congressional District. The election, which was called due to allegations...

Ranked-Choice Voting Ballot Measure Proposed in MA | 09-06-2019

A group called Voter Choice Massachusetts has proposed a ballot measure for the state’s 2020 election that would replace the state’s current winner-take-all election system with a ranked-choice system. Under a ranked-choice system, voters...

Judges Strike Down NC Legislative Districts | 09-06-2019

A three-judge panel consisting of two Democrats and one Republican unanimously ruled last week that legislative district maps drawn by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2017 - to replace maps drawn in 2011 that were struck...

Politics in Brief - September 9 2019 | 09-06-2019

UNION MEMBERSHIP WAY DOWN IN WI An annual labor report from the University of WISCONSIN -Madison’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) indicates that union membership in the state has declined by 53.9 percent since 2011, three times the 14.9...

Big Tech Quashes State Data Privacy Bills | 08-30-2019

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and executives of other big tech companies have been saying recently that they want a federal data privacy law. But this year the companies and their lobbyists helped kill data privacy bills introduced in at least 13 states...

Dems Spending Big on 2020 Statehouse Races | 08-30-2019

Democrats are pouring money into next year’s state legislative races. In Dallas, Shawn Terry, the Democratic challenger in a longtime Republican district, has already raised $235,000. In Virginia, where the GOP holds narrow majorities in both...

‘Staggering’ Disparity in Dismissal Rates Among MA Courts | 08-30-2019

Dismissal rates in certain types of criminal cases in Massachusetts - including some that involve public officials - vary widely from court to court, according to analysis of court data by the Boston Globe . In Massachusetts, when someone is accused...

Politics in Brief - September 3 2019 | 08-30-2019

FEDERAL COURT RULES CO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS DON’T HAVE TO VOTE IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATE ELECTORATE The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled last month that COLORADO’s presidential electors don’t have to vote for the...

Voting Machines Could Lack 2020 Paper Trail | 08-15-2019

More than 15 million Americans in eight states will likely vote in 2020 on voting machines without any paper backup, despite calls from elections efforts for auditable paper trails in light of known efforts by foreign governments to tinker with U.S. elections...

FL Gov Asks Court to Decide Felon Voting Rights | 08-15-2019

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) wants the state’s Supreme Court to rule on whether convicted felons should have to pay off fines and fees before they can get their voting rights restored under a new constitutional requirement approved by voters. ...

Politics in Brief - August 19 2019 | 08-15-2019

ABRAMS TO FOCUS ON FIGHTING VOTER SUPPRESSION Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost a bid for GEORGIA governor in 2018 in a defeat some of her supporters blamed on voter suppression, will expand her voting rights group and work on reducing obstacles...

Campaign to Repeal Presidential Vote Change in CO Breaks Record | 08-09-2019

This session Colorado’s Democrat-led General Assembly passed legislation ( SB 42 ) adding the state to the national popular vote interstate compact. That agreement commits the signatory states’ electoral votes to the candidate in a presidential...

Census Citizenship Battle Continues in AL | 08-09-2019

President Trump has given up on the idea of getting a citizenship question included in the 2020 Census. But the fight to keep undocumented immigrants from being counted in the congressional apportionment process isn’t over for the state of Alabama...

Politics in Brief - August 12 2019 | 08-09-2019

OR GOV SIGNS ELECTION BILLS OREGON Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed legislation this month that will allow Oregonians to mail in their election ballots for free starting with the November 2020 contests. Brown also signed a measure that will require so-called...

CA Requires Presidential Candidates to Disclose Income Taxes | 08-02-2019

Last week California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill (SB 27 ), passed on a straight party-line vote by the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature, that requires candidates for President of the United States and California Governor to disclose...

Politics in Brief - August 5 2019 | 08-02-2019

CO CONSERVATIVES PUSH TO RECALL DEMOCRATIC GOV, LAWMAKERS Conservatives in COLORADO are pushing to recall Gov. Jared Polis (D) and two Democratic state senators. The recall effort comes after a legislative session in which Democrats who now control...

Citizenship Status Could Still Figure Into 2021 Redistricting | 07-19-2019

After two weeks of resistance, President Trump abandoned his plan to get a citizenship question on the 2020 census. But that doesn’t mean he’s given up on the idea of collecting information about the citizenship status of everyone living in...

Politics in Brief - July 22 2019 | 07-19-2019

CA TAKES ANOTHER SHOT AT KEEPING TRUMP OFF BALLOT The CALIFORNIA Legislature has passed a bill ( SB 27 ) that would require candidates for president to release five years’ worth of tax returns before their name could appear on the state’s...

Special Session Schism in AK | 07-12-2019

Last week Alaska legislators gathered at the state Capitol in Juneau for their second special session of the year. They also gathered at a middle school in Wasilla for the same reason. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) called for the July 8 session in the...

Politics in Brief - July 15 2019 | 07-12-2019

NY ENACTS LAW ALLOWING ACCESS TO TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS NEW YORK Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (R) signed a bill last week that will allow the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation to access...

GA Court Agency Hit by Cyberattack | 07-08-2019

Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Courts was hit by a ransomware attack that forced officials to shut down all court websites on July 1. “Everything is shut down until they tell us to turn it on,” said Michelle Barclay, a...

Politics in Brief - July 8 2019 | 07-08-2019

FL ENACTS FINANCIAL LIMIT ON FELON VOTING FLORIDA Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill last month requiring former felons to pay all court fees, fines and victim restitution they owe before being allowed to vote. That requirement would potentially disenfranchise...

Major Rulings on Census and Redistricting by SCOTUS | 06-28-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of decisions last month with major implications for the country’s political landscape. In one 5-4 ruling - with Chief Justice John G. Roberts joining the four members of the court’s liberal wing ...

GOP Senate Walkout Continues in OR | 06-28-2019

Last month, Oregon’s 11 Republican senators walked out of their chamber to block a vote on a bill ( HB 2020 ) aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Last week, with just days left in the state’s legislative session, those GOP lawmakers still...

Politics in Brief - July 1 2019 | 06-28-2019

SCOTUS UPHOLDS REDRAWN LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS IN VA In a 5-4 decision, with liberal justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan joining conservative justices Thomas and Gorsuch, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by VIRGINIA House Republicans to...

VA Legislative Primaries Reveal Only Voter Discontent | 06-14-2019

Virginia held primary elections last week for all 140 of the state legislative seats that will be contested there in November. The state is one of just four holding legislative elections this year and the only one where Democrats have a chance of taking...

WI High Court Reinstates GOP-Backed Laws Limiting Dems’ Powers | 06-14-2019

With a pair of 4-3 rulings, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstated most of the laws GOP lawmakers approved in a lame-duck session in December reducing Democrats’ powers, while the justices weigh a challenge to those laws. The reestablished laws...

Politics in Brief - June 17 2019 | 06-14-2019

GOP STRATEGIST’S HARD DRIVES LINKED TO NC GERRYMANDERING CASE Court documents filed in NORTH CAROLINA by Common Cause allege that computer drives belonging to recently deceased GOP strategist Thomas Hofeller show North Carolina Republicans lied...

DOE Nuclear Waste Disposal Plan Has Pitfalls for States | 06-07-2019

The U.S. Department of Energy is looking into whether 10,000 gallons of wastewater at a Cold War nuclear weapon production site in South Carolina can be reclassified from high-level waste to low-level waste and moved to low-level waste disposal sites...

Politics in Brief - June 10 2019 | 06-07-2019

LA VOTERS TO WEIGH ABORTION RIGHTS IN 2020 LOUISIANA lawmakers gave final approval last week for a proposed constitutional amendment that would stipulate there is no right to an abortion in the state. The action, part of a wave of recent anti-abortion...

Insurers Kill Public Option Bill in CT | 05-31-2019

Last month it looked like Connecticut might become the second state, after Washington, to enact a public health insurance option, with Gov. Ned Lamont and Democratic legislative leaders announcing their support for a bill ( HB 7267 ) that would create...

SCOTUS Stays Redistricting Decisions in MI, OH | 05-31-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended two lower court rulings requiring new congressional district maps to be drawn in Michigan and Ohio, pending a decision by the justices on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering. Lower courts had ruled...

Politics in Brief - June 3 2019 | 05-31-2019

BILL BLOCKING BIRTH DATES FROM VOTER LISTS ADVANCES IN RI A bill ( HB 5925 ) approved by RHODE ISLAND’s House Judiciary Committee would enshrine into law Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea’s (D) current policy of excluding full birth dates...

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,...