Politics & Leadership

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,...

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...