Politics & leadership

Politics In Brief - December 14 2015 | 12-11-2015

National Effort to Lower Voting Age A national campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 to spur civic engagement by younger Americans kicked off last week. Vote16USA is backed by a nonpartisan group based in NEW YORK called Generation Citizen...

FL Lawmakers Push to Loosen Term Limits | 12-04-2015

Legislative terms in Florida are currently limited to a maximum of eight years. But a pair of lawmakers in the state - Sen. Rene Garcia (R) and Rep. Mark Pafford (D) - are looking to change that. They’ve proposed legislation to expand the state’s...

Voting by Mail Boosts Turnout in UT | 12-04-2015

As is the case in most states, voter turnout in Utah has plummeted in recent years. Only 28.8 percent of the state’s eligible voters participated in the 2014 general election. But a report released by the Utah Foundation this month said that...

Politics In Brief - December 7 2015 | 12-04-2015

Lobbying disclosure limited in AZ Over 86 percent of the roughly $333,000 spent lobbying ARIZONA lawmakers in the first half of 2015 failed to identify who the money went to, continuing a trend dating back years. Loopholes in the state’s disclosure...

Airbnb Sends Mixed Political Signals | 11-20-2015

This month Airbnb defeated a ballot measure in its hometown of San Francisco (Proposition F) that would have limited its operations there and possibly encouraged similar efforts in other cities. The company spent more than $6 million on a sophisticated...

OK Dems Opening Primaries to Independents | 11-20-2015

The Oklahoma Democratic Party announced last week - on the 108th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood - that it will open its primary elections to independent voters, who have long been disenfranchised during primaries. Republican voters slightly outnumber...

Politics In Brief - November 23 2015 | 11-20-2015

High Court to Hear TX Abortion Case The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a legal challenge to the abortion restrictions passed in TEXAS in 2013 as part of HB 2. Those provisions require abortion facilities to meet hospital-like ambulatory surgery...

FL Senate Remap Effort Fails in Legislature | 11-13-2015

Any hope that Florida lawmakers would be able to determine new boundaries for the state’s Senate districts - in accordance with a settlement they reached with voting rights groups and voters over the map approved in 2012 - ended this month when...

NJ Gov Vetoes Election Reform | 11-13-2015

New Jersey governor and 2016 Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie has vetoed election reform legislation passed by his state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature that would have expanded early voting, allowed online voter registration, and...

Politics In Brief - November 16 2015 | 11-13-2015

MI Straight-Ticket Voting Ban Fast-tracked legislation moving through the MICHIGAN Legislature would eliminate voters’ ability to cast straight-ticket ballots for candidates of a single party. Supporters of SB 13, which was approved by committee...

Legislative Races Preserve Partisan Status Quo | 11-06-2015

On Nov. 3, legislative seats were contested in three states, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Mississippi, Republicans increased their majority in the House from 67 to 73, just...

State Ballot Measures Few But Diverse | 11-06-2015

Along with the legislative contests, voters in seven states also considered 22 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 3, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That’s fewer than normal, even for an odd-year election, NCSL said, noting...

Politics In Brief - November 9 2015 | 11-06-2015

Seattle adopts unique public campaign finance program Seattle voters approved Initiative 122, which will make the city the first in the nation to try a taxpayer-funded “democracy voucher” program. The program, which will be funded by a...

Tactical Shift for Voter ID Opponents | 10-30-2015

Voter ID laws have become a fixture in the states. Thirty-two have Voter ID laws in place, with 11 of those laws of the “strict” variety, requiring voters without proper identification to cast a provisional ballot. A twelfth strict law is...

WI Assembly Votes to Eliminate Treasurer | 10-30-2015

On a 63-33 vote last week, the Wisconsin Assembly approved a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the office of state treasurer in 2019. Virtually all of the treasurer’s duties have been slowly eliminated over the years, and even the state’s...

Politics In Brief - November 2 2015 | 10-30-2015

NC legislators call for session limits Three Democratic NORTH CAROLINA lawmakers, Rep. Charles Graham, Rep. Garland Pierce, and Sen. Jane Smith, are urging session limits, saying there’s no need for the state’s legislative sessions to run...

Intrastate Opposition Over Obama Policies | 10-16-2015

Multistate lawsuits challenging White House policy have been de rigueur since the Affordable Care Act. Over two dozen states are opposing the Obama administration’s plan to defer the deportation of millions of illegal immigrants. And at least 20...

‘Selfies’ Test Limits of Voting Laws | 10-16-2015

Every state has laws governing personal conduct in the voting booth, some of which ban the taking of photographs or the revealing of a marked ballot, according to Ethan Wilson, a policy associate at the National Conference of State Legislatures’...

Shifting Landscape of Lawmaker Day Jobs | 10-09-2015

Some information about state legislatures is pretty easy to find, such as which party controls each chamber or who contributed to legislators’ election campaigns. But what those lawmakers do for a living when their legislatures aren’t in session...

OH AG Sues Toledo Over Pot Law | 10-09-2015

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) has filed a lawsuit challenging parts of a new voter-approved marijuana ordinance in the city of Toledo because he says they contradict with state law and will encourage crime. The city’s “Sensible Marihuana...

Politics In Brief - October 12 2015 | 10-09-2015

Online Voter Registration Comes to WV WEST VIRGINIA residents are now able to register to vote online through the Secretary of State’s website. The only identification required is a valid West Virginia driver’s license or an ID card issued...

Separation of Powers Battle Reaches Crisis Point in KS | 10-02-2015

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced last month that he was recusing himself from a court case concerning the state’s judicial system, and he called on the state’s Supreme Court justices to do the same in another related case. ...

KY GOP Announces Female Candidate Recruitment Effort | 10-02-2015

Kentucky Republicans are forming a 527 organization called “Kentucky Strong” to recruit and train prospective female political candidates. “Women are leaders in their homes, businesses, communities and increasingly at all levels...

Death Penalty Measure Challenged in NE | 10-02-2015

Death penalty opponents in NEBRASKA have filed a lawsuit to block a proposed ballot measure aimed at reinstating capital punishment in the state. The suit alleges the measure should be invalidated because Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), who helped finance the...

Politics In Brief - October 5 2015 | 10-02-2015

Death Penalty Measure Challenged in NE Death penalty opponents in NEBRASKA have filed a lawsuit to block a proposed ballot measure aimed at reinstating capital punishment in the state. The suit alleges the measure should be invalidated because Gov...

Election Already Over for Many LA Lawmakers | 09-18-2015

All of Louisiana’s House and Senate seats are up for election this year. But the names of nearly half of the state’s sitting lawmakers won’t appear on the ballot on Oct. 24. That’s because 20 of the state’s 39 senators and...

VA Remap Faces Third Legal Challenge | 09-18-2015

A nonprofit group pushing for nonpartisan redistricting in Virginia has filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court alleging that in the last round of redistricting, in 2011, the state’s GOP-controlled General Assembly drew 11 districts to protect...

Politics In Brief - September 21 2015 | 09-18-2015

NM SOS pleads not guilty NEW MEXICO Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R) entered a plea of not guilty last week to charges of fraud, embezzlement and other crimes for allegedly using campaign funds to cover personal expenses, including gambling debt...

MD Case Could Set New Redistricting Precedent | 09-10-2015

Stephen M. Shapiro, a former federal worker from Bethesda, Maryland, filed a lawsuit in 2013 challenging the state’s congressional district map. No one paid much attention to the suit at the time, because the map, drawn after the 2010 census, had...

VA Remap Goes to Court | 09-10-2015

Virginia’s congressional district map is now in the hands of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District. Last year, the court declared the map drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly unconstitutional, saying it reduced...

Politics In Brief - September 14 2015 | 09-10-2015

Activists Pull Pot Measure Backers of a proposed ballot initiative to allow marijuana use in bars and other businesses in Denver said this month they were going to pull the measure and instead work with city and business leaders on a measure that could...

2010 Redistricting Still Not Done in Some States | 09-04-2015

States usually complete the process of legislative redistricting shortly after the U.S. Census Bureau updates its population numbers every 10 years. But the remapping based on the last census in 2010 is still dragging on in a few states. In Florida...

SOS Impeachment Talk in NM | 09-04-2015

House Democrats in New Mexico are saying they will initiate impeachment proceedings against Secretary of State Dianna Duran (R) unless she resigns from office over allegations that she used campaign funds for personal expenses, including gambling. ...

Politics In Brief - September 7 2015 | 09-04-2015

Donors get state contracts Lobbyists and political action committees associated with four companies awarded contracts to manage IOWA’s $4.2 billion Medicaid program donated nearly $68,000 to top IOWA elected officials, including Gov. Terry Branstad...

Plan To Unseat Judicial Appointee Disrupted | 08-21-2015

Virginia lawmakers’ plan to oust Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) interim appointee to the state Supreme Court (see VA LAWMAKERS REJECT GOV’S JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT in Aug. 8 issue of SNCJ ) hit a snag last week. The Republicans who control...

OR Needs Impeachment Process | 08-21-2015

In a guest viewpoint appearing in The Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon last week, retired teacher and counselor Gary Crum advocates for the adoption of a proper impeachment process in the state “to address serious transgressions by state officials...

MD Gov Wants Redistricting Reform | 08-14-2015

Although their constitutionality has been upheld by federal courts, Maryland’s congressional districts - drawn in 2011 by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and the Democrats who control the state’s General Assembly - are considered by some...

FL Takes Up Court Ordered Remap | 08-14-2015

Florida lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week for a 12-day special session to draw new congressional districts in accordance with a state Supreme Court ruling that found previous maps drawn by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature...

Politics In Brief - August 17 2015 | 08-14-2015

MN House Members Age Increase The median age of MINNESOTA House members has increased by seven years - from 47 to 55 - since 1995. For senators the increase is eight years, from 47 to 55 (TWIN CITIES PIONEER PRESS). KS Cracks Down on Voter Fraud...

VA Lawmakers Reject Gov's Judicial Appointment | 08-07-2015

Last month Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) appointed former Fairfax Circuit Court judge Jane Marum Roush to the state Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice LeRoy F. Millette Jr. Although judicial appointments in the state are usually made by the...

Federal Court Rejects TX Voter ID Law | 08-07-2015

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that Texas’ four-year-old voter ID law is not an unconstitutional “poll tax” as plaintiffs alleged but that it has a “discriminatory effect” that violates the federal...

IL Gov Pushes For Clampdown On Collective Bargaining | 08-07-2015

Illinois’ Democrat-controlled Senate passed legislation last month that would freeze property taxes statewide for two years and provide about $200 million in relief for Chicago’s troubled teacher pension system. But Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) said...

Politics In Brief - August 10 2015 | 08-07-2015

Women Lawmakers In The States COLORADO has the highest percentage of female state lawmakers in the nation, at 42 percent, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. LOUISIANA has the lowest percentage, at 11.8 percent (HONOLULU...

New Sagebrush Rebellion In CO | 07-31-2015

The fight for more control over federal lands within state borders has been waxing and waning in the American West since at least the 1890s. The latest flare-up of the Sagebrush Rebellion is centered in Colorado, where Republican gubernatorial nominee...

Solar Power Initiative Touches Off City Feud In FL | 07-31-2015

The Florida League of Cities, which represents more than 400 municipal governments in that state, has filed a legal brief with the Florida Supreme Court urging it to reject a citizens’ initiative bound for the state’s November 2016 ballot...

FL Supreme Court Rejects Congressional Remap | 07-17-2015

The Florida Supreme Court threw the state’s political landscape into chaos this month when it threw out the congressional district map drawn by the Republican-led Legislature in 2010, as well as a revised map drawn by the Legislature last year,...

Voting Rights Case Begins In IL | 07-17-2015

A federal trial opened last week in North Carolina that will decide whether sweeping election law changes made by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature in 2013 - after the U.S. Supreme Court ended the requirement that North Carolina and eight...

Politics In Brief - July 20 2015 | 07-17-2015

MO Signs Reform Bill MISSOURI Gov. Jay Nixon (D) signed a broad municipal court reform bill aimed at ending what the bill’s sponsor has called predatory practices targeted at the poor. Among other things, the bill limits fines and bans jail sentences...

CO Ballot Measures Aimed at Gay Marriage | 07-10-2015

Two Littleton, Colorado residents, Gene and D’Arcy Straub, have filed a pair of ballot initiatives that would redefine same-sex marriages in the state as civil unions and allow wedding-related businesses that oppose gay marriage to hire contractors...

PA Pay Raise Gone But Not Forgotten | 07-10-2015

In 2005, public outcry over a pay raise Pennsylvania lawmakers voted themselves helped erase it just four months after it took effect and fueled a major purge of both chambers in the next two election cycles. Government reform advocates have marked the...