Politics & leadership

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...

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...

17-Year-Olds Sue OH Sec of State Over Right to Vote | 03-11-2016

The Fair Elections Legal Network, a national voting rights group, and nine 17-year-old Ohioans have filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas for refusing to allow 17-year-old residents to vote...

Politics In Brief - March 14 2016 | 03-11-2016

AZ Restricts Collection of Early Ballots ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed a bill (HB 2023) passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature that makes it a felony for anyone other than a family member, caregiver, roommate, election official...

NJ AG Hoffman Stepping Down for Academia | 03-04-2016

Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman resigned this week to take a job at Rutgers University. The school announced Hoffman’s hiring on Thursday. Hoffman, 50, said he would step down in six weeks and would become the New Jersey flagship state...

Politics In Brief - March 7 2016 | 03-04-2016

NH House Panel Considers Voting Laws The NEW HAMPSHIRE House Election Committee this week reviewed a measure that would ask voters to require residents to actually live in the state for 10 days before being eligible to vote. State law currently requires...

New Mexico Ethics Commission Plan Fails | 02-19-2016

Lawmakers in New Mexico are scrapping a plan to create an ethics commission to oversee elected officials’ conduct. The proposal died this week in a Senate committee after amendments were proposed to water down the commission’s authority...

States Taking Up Immigration Issues | 02-19-2016

States are increasingly wading into the issue of immigration, according to a new study by The National Conference of State Legislatures. The study, released this week, found state-based laws related to immigration increased by 26 percent in 2015...

Politics In Brief - February 22 2016 | 02-19-2016

Happy Obama Day? A bill filed by a Chicago representative would make President Barack Obama’s birthday Illinois’s 13th paid state holiday. Rep. Andre Thapedi (D) filed the measure Feb. 2, and is awaiting approval from the Illinois House...

LePage Names Himself Education Commissioner | 02-12-2016

Days after sending lawmakers a State of the State letter in which he repeatedly railed against “socialist politicians,” Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said he would forgo the state’s official nomination process for selecting a new education...

Third MA Justice Announces Retirement | 02-12-2016

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Fernande Duffly revealed last week she would soon step down, becoming the third justice in the last week to announce their retirement. Duffly, 66, said she would leave the bench in July, four years before reaching...

Politics In Brief - February 15 2016 | 02-12-2016

IN Lt. Gov. Steps Down INDIANA Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann (R) announced last week she will not join Gov. Mike Pence (R) in his bid for re-election, and will instead resign her office this month in preparation for becoming president of the Hoosier State’s...

IN Considering ‘Drastic’ Environmental Measure | 02-04-2016

For at least the fifth year in a row, Indiana Rep. David Wolkins (R) is backing a measure that an editorial in The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne referred to as “one of the worst legislative bills being considered once again this session.”...

Politics In Brief - February 8 2016 | 02-04-2016

NC Voter ID Trial Over Attorneys on both sides of the federal court case over NORTH CAROLINA’s 2013 voter ID law that began last month presented closing arguments last week. It isn’t clear when U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder will...

New NC Voter ID Trial Begins | 01-29-2016

North Carolina’s 2013 voter ID law returned to federal court last week in a case that could have ramifications across the country. The law - passed by the state’s GOP-led General Assembly six weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelby County...

PA Senate OKs House Reduction | 01-29-2016

The Pennsylvania Senate gave preliminary approval last week to change the state’s Constitution to reduce the size of the House from 203 seats to 151. The House passed a resolution last May allowing that change. But while the Senate embraced the...

Politics In Brief - February 1 2016 | 01-29-2016

ND Tribe Challenges voter ID Laws Seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa have filed a lawsuit against North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) alleging that recent changes to the state's voter ID laws infringe on their right...

Court Issues VA Congressional Remap | 01-15-2016

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia issued a new congressional map for the state that gives Democrats a chance to pick up another seat in this year’s election. The judges ruled last year that...

NY To Consider Giving Voters Recall Power | 01-15-2016

A bipartisan group of New York lawmakers, led by Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda (D), are pushing for legislation to allow voters to recall elected officials, something nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently do, according to the National Conference...

Politics In Brief - January 18 2016 | 01-15-2016

Revolving-door Bill on Move in MO A MISSOURI House panel unanimously approved a measure that would bar lawmakers, state officials and gubernatorial appointees from working as a lobbyist for one year after leaving office. The ban would not apply to...