Politics & leadership

Group Pushes To Bolster Liberal Muscle In States | 04-17-2015

The Democracy Alliance, an organization that advises top Democratic donors, is launching an effort to boost the amount of money being contributed to liberal organizations in the states. The aim of the five-year initiative, called 2020 Vision, is to increase...

WI DNR Considering Eliminating Science Bureau | 04-17-2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) proposed budget calls for reductions of science staff at the state’s Department of Natural Resources. But administrators at the agency are considering doing away with the agency’s Bureau of Science Services...

Gun Rights Push In TX About More than 2nd Amendment | 04-17-2015

Thanks in part to the relative looseness of its gun laws, Texas is already known as a gun-friendly state. But Republican lawmakers who control both chambers of the Legislature are pushing for additional freedoms, including “campus carry” and...

Politics In Brief - April 20 2015 | 04-17-2015

MD Passes Major Changes to Open Records Law Both chambers of MARYLAND’s General Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation making major changes to the state’s open records law, including the creation of a new ombudsman in the Office of...

WI Voters Split on Judicial Contests | 04-10-2015

Last Tuesday, Wisconsin voters overwhelming re-elected state Supreme Court Justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, a member of the court’s liberal minority, over her conservative challenger, Judge James Daley. But at the same time they passed a constitutional...

ME Lawmakers Consider Barring Wildlife Initiatives | 04-10-2015

Still simmering from a failed ballot measure in November backed by the Humane Society and aimed at banning the use of bait, dogs and traps for hunting bears in the state, Maine lawmakers are seeking to block another such attempt by amending the Constitution...

Politics In Brief - April 13 2015 | 04-10-2015

Election-Related Bills Introduced in NH More than a dozen election-related bills have been introduced this session in premiere presidential primary state NEW HAMPSHIRE . The proposals include unsuccessful measures that would have expanded voting eligibility...

Anti-Gay Proposition Sparks Outrage in CA | 04-03-2015

A proposed California initiative is testing the limits of the state’s liberal-mindedness. The “Sodomite Suppression Act,” submitted by Huntington Beach attorney Matthew McLaughlin, would, among other things, legalize the killing of gays...

Supreme Court Lets WI Voter ID Law Stand | 04-03-2015

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a major challenge to Wisconsin’s voter ID law. The law, which is one of the strictest in the country, was passed in 2011. But it was struck down by a federal judge on the grounds that it would “deter...

Politics In Brief - April 6 2015 | 04-03-2015

At least two bills before the MAINE Legislature -- HB 496 and SB 274 -- would allow independents to vote in the state’s primary elections. Independents have long outnumbered Democrats and Republicans in the state, but it is one of only 11 states...

OR Adopts Automatic Voter Registration | 03-20-2015

Last week Oregon became the first state in the nation to adopt automatic voter registration when Gov. Kate Brown (D) added her signature to a bill providing for the provisional registration of unregistered Oregonians to vote when they obtain or renew...

Debate Over Double Dipping In ME | 03-20-2015

Some have little patience for public retirees who return to paid work in the public sector when they’re already drawing a pension. “I think people who are collecting a big pension and a big salary, I just find that offensive,”...

Voting Technology Still Not Secure | 03-20-2015

When electronic voting, or e-voting, started being widely adopted about a decade ago, there was a lot of discussion about the security of the technology. Heading into the 2016 presidential election, security is still an issue. The Huffington Post...

Debate Over Local Control In TX | 03-13-2015

A bill spiritedly debated before the Texas Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee last week would prohibit cities from passing laws forcing landlords to accept federal housing vouchers. Opponents of the bill, SB 267, which was spurred by a local...

Ferguson Court Cases Reassigned, Judge Resigns | 03-13-2015

Last Monday the Missouri Supreme Court announced it would be taking the “extraordinary action” of reassigning all municipal court cases in Ferguson to the circuit court. The high court said in a press release it was undertaking that action...

Politics In Brief - March 16 2015 | 03-13-2015

MASSACHUSETTS Secretary of State William F. Galvin (D) warned last week that if the cuts to his office in Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) proposed budget are approved the state will not be able to hold its 2016 presidential primary on March 1 as planned...

HI Considering Super-PAC Disclosure | 03-06-2015

Hawaii’s Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill last month that would require super PAC’s -- which are allowed to raise and spend unrestricted amounts of money on elections -- to disclose whether their contributors and recipients have...

VA GOP Infighting Threatening Presidential Bid | 03-06-2015

Feuding between centrist Republicans and Tea Party and Libertarian activists in Virginia could cost the GOP the crucial swing state and possibly the White House in 2016, some prominent members of the party fear. A principal source of the conflict is the...

Politics In Brief - March 9 2015 | 03-06-2015

Wisconsin Approves Right-to-Work Bill (SB44) The GOP-led WISCONSIN Senate voted largely along party lines last month to approve a fast-tracked right-to-work bill (SB 44) that spurred about eight hours of debate. The bill comes four years after Gov...

Former NY Assembly Speaker Silver Indicted | 02-27-2015

On February 19, almost a month after being accused of receiving $4 million in payments and kickbacks disguised as legal fees, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was indicted by a federal grand jury on three counts: mail fraud, wire fraud...

Voter ID Introduced in NV | 02-27-2015

Nevada Sen. James Settlemeyer (R) introduced a bill last month that would require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of government-issued ID before casting a ballot. The bill, SB 169, would also require the state’s Department...

Virginia Senate Rejects 'Must Defend' Proposal | 02-27-2015

By a narrow margin, the Virginia Senate last week rejected HB 1573, a proposal that would have required the state Attorney General to defend any state laws that are challenged on constitutional grounds. The measure was aimed at current AG Mark Herring...

Harris Defends CA Prop 47 Wording | 02-27-2015

Three months after California voters approved Proposition 47, a ballot measure that reduced many drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, some law enforcement officials said the law is responsible for a dramatic decline in the number of...

Politics In Brief - Volume XXIII No. 6 - March 2 2015 | 02-27-2015

MICHIGAN government computer systems are hit by about 730,000 cyberattacks -- ranging from spam to malicious bots -- each day, up from 540,000 a year ago, according to David Behen, director of the state’s Department of Technology, Management and...

IL Gov Imposes Right-to-Work For Public Employees | 02-13-2015

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) issued an executive order last week absolving public employees who decline to join a union from having to pay fees that support union activities like collective bargaining. State law currently allows state workers to opt...

States Probing Cyberattack at Health Insurer Anthem | 02-13-2015

Several states are investigating a major cyberattack on the nation’s No. 2 health insurer, Anthem Inc., which the company disclosed this month. The company said hackers accessed a database and stole personal information about tens of millions of...

Politics In Brief - Volume XXIII No. 5 - February 16 2015 | 02-13-2015

Six MARYLAND House members have announced the formation of the Maryland Latino Legislative Caucus to represent the interests of the state’s fastest-growing demographic group (WASHINGTON POST). * ARKANSAS lawmakers are considering abolishing the...

Utah Cyber-Attacks Up 10,000-Fold | 02-06-2015

A few years ago, government computer systems in Utah were sustaining 25,000 to 30,000 attempted cyber-attacks a day, which Utah Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires thought was a lot at the time. But last week Squires told a legislative budget committee...

Cuomo Calls For Ethics Reform | 02-06-2015

In the aftermath of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s (D) arrest last month on federal corruption charges, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has vowed not to sign a state budget this year unless it includes a slate of ethics reforms. His list...

Politics In Brief - Volume XXIII No. 4 - February 9 2015 | 02-06-2015

A bill with bipartisan support in the ARIZONA Senate would modify the state’s open records law to allow school boards, city councils and other government officials to talk out of the public eye. Sen. Sylvia Allen (R), who introduced the bill, said...

NY Assembly Speaker Arrested | 01-30-2015

New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) -- one of the most powerful Democrats in Albany for over two decades -- was arrested last month on federal corruption charges. According to the criminal complaint outlining the charges against him...

CO Republicans Seeking Repeal of Health Exchange Law | 01-30-2015

More than 20 Republicans in Colorado’s House and Senate are sponsoring a bill to repeal the law that created the state’s health insurance marketplace. House Bill 1066 would repeal the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Act effective Jan. 1 and...

Politics In Brief - Volume XXIII No. 3 - February 2 2015 | 01-30-2015

The option of casting a straight party-line vote with a single click or mark of an election ballot would be eliminated in INDIANA under a bill backed by GOP leaders of the state’s House. Straight-ticket voting has been on the decline over the past...

Democratic Defections in NC | 01-16-2015

A couple of weeks ago, North Carolina state Rep. Paul Tine changed his political party designation from Democrat to unaffiliated. "Independent fits for me, and I think when you look at voter registration, it's fitting for a lot of people,"...

Grand Jury Recommends Criminal Charges for PA AG Kane | 01-16-2015

A special prosecutor and grand jury has recommended that Pennsylvania AG Kathleen Kane (D) face criminal charges for allegedly leaking secret information to a newspaper. The grand jury's recommendation stems from a 2010 investigation of the theft...

WV Party Chairmen Also Lobbyists | 01-16-2015

A week after leaving then-West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's (D) staff in early 2010, Larry Puccio became a lobbyist. Five months after that, he was elected chairman of West Virginia's Democratic Party. Conrad Lucas, chairman of that state's...

Politics In Brief (January 19, 2015) | 01-16-2015

A pair of Democratic MISSISSIPPI lawmakers — Reps. Tom Miles and Michael Evans — have proposed a bill to make the Bible the official state book. "Me and my constituents, we were talking about it and one of them made a comment that people...

High-Speed Rail Finally Gets Under Way In CA | 01-09-2015

California's High-Speed Rail Authority officially began construction last week on the first stretch of the state's planned $68-billion bullet train project. The groundbreaking at the future site of a station in downtown Fresno comes seven years...

Ferguson Sets Tone for MO Session | 01-09-2015

Ceremonies last week in the Missouri Senate kicking off the 2015 session were disrupted by protestors in the upper gallery chanting "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter," rallying cries from the protests in Ferguson following...

MN Lawmakers Considering Skipping 2016 Session | 01-09-2015

Minnesota lawmakers may opt to complete all the work planned for the 2015-16 legislative session this year and take next year off, when renovations will shut down much of the Capitol. Senate Minority Leader David Hann (R) said the Legislature used to...

Politics In Brief (01/12/2015) | 01-09-2015

Clear leaders emerged in TEXAS' three special legislative elections last Tuesday, but none of the candidates appeared to have received the 50-percent voter support needed to win outright. So all three of the races — in House District 17, House...

Politics In Brief (Volume XXII No. 39 December 22 2014) | 12-22-2014

Last week GOP leaders in VIRGINIA's House of Delegates proposed a cap of $100 on gifts of any kind to state officials. That limit is tighter than the one the Legislature imposed on itself earlier this year as well as what an ethics panel appointed...

Ottowa Attack To Renew Focus On Statehouse Security | 12-22-2014

Statehouse security varies considerably across the country. Some state capitols have armed security guards, X-ray machines and metal detectors. Others offer open public access. But the shooting attack on the Canadian Parliament in October will likely...

Uber's Pioneering Govt Relations Strategy | 12-22-2014

Uber Technologies has not only pioneered a new kind of taxi service but also a new way to deal with the government regulations that stand in the way of its growth. The approach is bold: Enter local markets regardless of the regulatory environment, build...

David vs Goliath Story of First Fracking Ban in TX | 12-22-2014

On Nov. 4, a rag-tag group of local activists persuaded nearly 59 percent of the voters in Denton, Texas to approve a ban on fracking by "knocking on doors, staging puppet shows and performing song-and-dance numbers," as The Texas Tribune put...

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS RECRUITING ENTREPENEUERS | 05-16-2014

Virginia Del. Steve Landes (R), a banker, sponsored a bill enacted in March aimed at recruiting successful entrepreneurs, willing to donate their time for up to a year out of a sense of civic duty, to help state agencies stimulate business and job growth...

POLITICAL BATTLES IN WI NOT HURTING VOTER TURNOUT | 05-16-2014

After all the protests and then all the recall elections and attendant attack ads sparked by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) union-busting policies three years ago, you'd think Wisconsinites would be burnt out on politics. But in the last presidential...

POLITICS IN BRIEF | 05-16-2014

Two RHODE ISLAND lawmakers received threatening letters in connection with their investigation of the state's failed $75 million investment into retired ballplayer Curt Schilling's video-game company, 38 Studios, which filed for bankruptcy in...

Politics & Leadership | 01-13-2014

BRIDGE CLOSURE CONTROVERSY COMES TO HEAD IN NJ: The controversy over lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that has been brewing in New Jersey for months reached a crisis point last Wednesday with the release of a cache of email messages linking...