Politics & leadership

DC Voters to Consider Statehood Referendum | 07-15-2016

Voters in Washington, D.C. will consider a referendum in November on whether to make the nation’s capital the 51st state. The hope of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) who proposed the referendum and the D.C. Council that unanimously approved it last...

KS Restricts Rights of 17,000 Voters | 07-15-2016

With little advance notice, a Kansas state board approved a temporary regulation last week that will block an estimated 17,000 Kansans from voting in state or local elections and only allow them to vote in federal ones. The action by the Kansas Rules...

Politics In Brief - July 18 2016 | 07-15-2016

Medical Pot Initiative Qualifies for AR Ballot An initiative to legalize medical marijuana has received enough valid signatures to qualify for ARKANSAS’ Nov. 8 general election ballot. But the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act will have to overcome...

Gun Rights Movement Suffers Setbacks in Courts | 07-08-2016

Last month a full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled 7-4 in Peruta v. San Diego that “the right to keep and bear arms” granted by the Second Amendment doesn’t extend to concealed weapons. The case originated...

IA Supreme Court Upholds Felon Voting Ban | 07-08-2016

Iowa’s state Supreme Court has upheld that state’s lifetime voting ban for convicted felons. In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled that all felonies are “infamous crimes” warranting permanent disenfranchisement under the state constitution...

Politics In Brief - July 11 2016 | 07-08-2016

CO Redistricting Initiative Stricken from November Ballot The COLORADO Supreme Court has voided an initiative bound for the state’s November ballot (Initiative 132) that would have turned over the job of drawing legislative and congressional...

DC Convenes 1st Constitutional Convention of 21st Century | 07-01-2016

In a bid to become the nation’s 51st state, the District of Columbia convened a constitutional convention last month. It was the first such meeting of the 21st century - with the last having come when Hawaii sought statehood 66 years ago - and a...

CA Voters to Weigh Death Penalty Repeal | 07-01-2016

California voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to do away with the death penalty and replace it with the sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Secretary of State Alex Padilla(D)certified last month that enough valid signatures...

Federal Judge OKs OH Voter Purge | 07-01-2016

A federal judge ruled last month that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted (R) had the authority to purge thousands of inactive voters from the state’s voter rolls. The American Civil Liberties Union had alleged that Husted’s policy of removing...

Politics In Brief - July 5 2016 | 07-01-2016

CA Voters to Consider Legalization of Recreational Pot California voters will have an opportunity in November to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the nation’s most populous state, with a random sample of the over 600,000 signatures...

U.S. Lawmakers Whiter Than Population | 06-17-2016

America’s elected representatives are whiter than those they represent. Despite their growing share of the U.S. population, minorities are decidedly underrepresented in nearly every state legislature and Congress, according to analysis of U.S. Census...

‘Dark Money’ Impacting State Judiciaries | 06-17-2016

Not too long ago state judicial races, even for state Supreme Court seats, didn’t draw a lot of attention from voters. But that has changed with recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings having opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign spending and special...

Politics In Brief - June 20 2016 | 06-17-2016

KS GOP Urges Public to Lobby Supreme Court on School Funding The KANSAS House Republican Campaign Committee has taken out billboard-style ads urging citizens to call the state Supreme Court and urge it not to close the state’s schools. The court...

OH Disenfranchising Casual Voters | 06-10-2016

Every state does periodic housekeeping on its voter rolls to keep them up to date. But only a few eliminate voters just for voting infrequently. And none of them is likely to have more of an impact on this year’s presidential election than Ohio...

OH Voting Restrictions Ruled Unconstitutional | 06-10-2016

In another Ohio election law case, a federal judge has thrown out provisions voiding absentee and provisional ballots with technical flaws. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and the Ohio Democratic...

Cuomo Pushing for Campaign Reform | 06-10-2016

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) announced last week that he will seek tighter restrictions on so-called independent expenditure committees. Specifically, the governor wants criteria to be set for determining whether a candidate is improperly coordinating...

Politics In Brief - June 13 2016 | 06-10-2016

CA Voters Approve Lawmaker Discipline Proposition By a margin of 75.2 percent to 24.8 percent, California voters approved the sole statewide initiative on the state’s June 7 ballot, Proposition 50, allowing the Legislature to suspend members...

CA Bound for Ballot Measure Stampede | 06-03-2016

California looks to be headed for another busy and expensive campaign season. More initiatives have already qualified for the state’s November ballot than in the last two decades. “We’re expecting at least 15, maybe as high as...

MT Term Limits Have Limits | 06-03-2016

Most Montana lawmakers disapprove of the term limits law approved by voters in 1992, arguing it has drained the Legislature of institutional knowledge and shifted power to the governor, lobbyists and bureaucrats. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, likewise...

VA GOP Leaders Sue to Block Gov’s Felon Voting Order | 06-03-2016

Virginia’s Republican legislative leaders have filed suit to block Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order in April restoring voting rights and the ability to seek public office to more than 200,000 felons who have completed their...

Judge Voids Political Restrictions on KY Judges | 05-20-2016

A federal judge struck down parts of Kentucky’s judicial code intended to keep judges out of politics. Specifically U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar voided judicial conduct rules prohibiting judges and judicial candidates from publicly declaring...

Campaign Limits Struck Down in MT - Again | 05-20-2016

U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell struck down Montana’s limits on political campaign contributions last Tuesday, just three weeks ahead of the state’s presidential primary. Lovell ruled those campaign limits, approved by voters in 1994, unconstitutional...

AZ Increases Size of Supreme Court | 05-20-2016

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill last week ( HB 2537 ) that will expand the state’s Supreme Court from five justices to seven. Earlier this month Chief Justice Scott Bales asked Ducey to veto that bill, saying in a letter that expansion...

Politics In Brief - May 23 2016 | 05-20-2016

Judge Orders Acceptance of 18,000 Pending Voter Registrations A federal judge has ordered KANSAS officials to register thousands of prospective voters whose applications at the state’s motor vehicle offices have been derailed by the state’s...

Local Govt Clampdown in AZ | 05-13-2016

In his State of the State address in January, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) warned local governments not to try to raise the minimum wage above the state rate, as cities across the nation have increasingly been doing , or they would risk losing state revenue...

AL Chief Justice Suspended for Ethics Violations | 05-13-2016

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended and could be removed from his position after being charged with ethics violations for ordering probate judges in the state to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses earlier this year, after the U.S....

Politics In Brief - May 16 2016 | 05-13-2016

CO Has Most Female Lawmakers COLORADO has the highest percentage of female legislators in the nation, at 42 percent, according to analysis of National Conference of State Legislatures data by InsideGov.com. Although that rate is significantly higher...

Supreme Court Refuses to Block TX Voter ID Law - For Now | 05-05-2016

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused for the second time to block Texas’ voter ID law - the strictest in the nation, allowing only certain forms of photo ID, including gun licenses but not student IDs - from remaining in effect. The justices...

New Voting Machines Debut in MD | 05-05-2016

For its primary election last Tuesday, Maryland rolled out new voting machines that scan paper ballots cast by voters. The switch from electronic machines that didn’t leave a paper trail to the new scanning technology was a decade in coming and...

Politics In Brief - May 9 2016 | 05-05-2016

Auto Voter Registration Comes to VT VERMONT Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed legislation that will automatically register eligible residents to vote when they apply for a driver’s license. The law, which will take effect in 2017, makes Vermont the...

VA Gov Grants Felons Right to Vote | 04-29-2016

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) issued an executive order last month that will allow more than 200,000 convicted felons to run for public office and to vote in the swing state in the November presidential election. The governor said restoring felons’...

NC Voter ID Law Upheld | 04-29-2016

A federal judge has upheld a North Carolina voter ID law passed after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder allowing states like North Carolina with a history of discrimination to make changes to their voting laws without...

Supreme Court Upholds AZ Remap | 04-29-2016

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously voted last month to uphold the legislative district map drawn by an independent commission in Arizona in 2012. Republicans had challenged that map, alleging it placed more voters in GOP districts than in Democratic ones...

Politics In Brief - May 2 2016 | 04-29-2016

ME Gov Vetoes Clean Election Fix MAINE Gov. Paul LePage (R) vetoed a bill approved by the Legislature last month that would have pumped $500,000 into the state’s Clean Election Fund, enough to support the clean election candidates already running...

WY, CO Move Opposite Directions With Female Representation | 04-15-2016

Wyoming, the Equality State, was the first U.S. territory to grant women the right to vote and the first state to elect a female governor. But only 13 percent of its current state lawmakers are women, the lowest rate of any state in the country, according...

ACLU Sues OH Sec of State Over Voter Rolls | 04-15-2016

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), alleging he is violating the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by removing from the voter rolls tens of thousands of voters who haven’t...

Politics In Brief - April 18 2016 | 04-15-2016

SC Weighs Policing Capitol Demonstration Permits A SOUTH CAROLINA Senate panel has approved a bill ( SB 944 ) that would create a permitting process for demonstrations on Capitol grounds that would allow law enforcement officials to deny a permit if...

Supreme Court Upholds One Person, One Vote | 04-08-2016

In one of the most consequential cases of its current term, Evenwel v. Abbott , the U.S. Supreme Court voted unanimously last week to uphold the standard of one person, one vote in drawing election districts. Two Texas voters had argued that only eligible...

States Also Fighting Over Supreme Court Seats | 04-08-2016

The partisan battle over the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court has drawn a lot of attention. But there are similar clashes taking place in states all across the country. Millions of dollars are being spent on state supreme court races this year...

Politics In Brief - April 11 2016 | 04-08-2016

Facebook Facilitates Voter Registration in WA A Facebook post reminding WASHINGTON state residents to register to vote and including a link by way of the U.S. government’s voter registration portal to the state’s online voter registration...

Partisan Gridlock Comes to States | 04-01-2016

Partisan gridlock has hardly been unique to Washington, D.C. lately. Political differences between Pennsylvania’s Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and Republicans who control the state’s General Assembly delayed passage of that state’s budget...

Public Employee Unions Benefit From Supreme Court Vacancy | 04-01-2016

Public employee unions were the beneficiaries of the first major case to result in a 4-4 tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Conservatives had challenged the fees such unions collect from non-members to pay for...

AZ, UT Consider Switching Presidential Primary Systems | 04-01-2016

After a presidential primary last month marred by long lines at polling places and voter frustration, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R), the state’s top election official, said she was backing legislation to shift the state from government...

Politics In Brief - April 4 2016 | 04-01-2016

High Court Denies Challenge of CO Pot Laws The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear NEBRASKA and OKLAHOMA’s challenge of COLORADO's marijuana legalization laws. The 6-2 vote means COLORADO’s first-of-their-kind cannabis laws will...

17-Year-Olds Allowed to Vote in OH Primary | 03-18-2016

Seventeen-year-olds who will turn 18 by the November general election were allowed to vote in Ohio’s primary last Tuesday, thanks to a ruling by a county court judge in that state a few days before the election. Ohio Secretary of State John...

KY Considering Restoring Felons’ Voting Rights | 03-18-2016

The Kentucky Senate’s State and Local Government Committee voted unanimously to advance a constitutional amendment(SB 299) that would grant the General Assembly the authority to restore voting rights to convicted felons, which only the governor...

Many Lawmakers Exempt Themselves From Open Records Laws | 03-18-2016

The Associated Press recently requested the daily schedules and official emails for the week of Feb. 1 to Feb. 7 from the top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in every state, in an effort to gauge compliance with open records laws. A majority of the...

Politics In Brief - March 21 2016 | 03-18-2016

Voter Video Recording Restriction Passed in ME The MAINE Legislature has passed a bill (SB 625) that if signed by Gov. Paul LePage (R) would prohibit the use of video cameras within 15 feet of voters at polling places. Voters raised concerns last November...

Old Voting Machines Could Hamper Presidential Election | 03-11-2016

About a quarter of the American voters who will go to the polls this year to choose the next president, all 435 members of the U.S. House, a third of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, and a host of state and local officials will cast ballots on electronic...

KY Dems Hold On to House | 03-11-2016

Democrats claimed three of the four House seats contested in a special election in Kentucky last Tuesday, likely assuring the chamber will remain the last under Democratic control in the South at least until the November elections. The Democrats...