State Legislative Tracker:Georgia continues special redistricting session, Wisconsin ends recall season
By Jackie Arthur
This week's tracker features a spotlight on the legislative efforts currently taking place to reform recall law in the badger state, and an update on last week's Democratic recall elections.
The following 7 states remain in regular legislative sessions:
- * California and Wisconsin are both convened in ongoing special sessions, but are still in regular session. Wisconsin will be in recess until September 13.
- ** New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania are in recess.
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.
Special sessions have been and are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. This week California, Georgia, and Wisconsin continue ongoing special sessions.
Special sessions that ended last week:
- August 21 - West Virginia, redistricting
West Virginia's special session wrapped up Sunday after Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement on an apportionment plan for the House of Delegates. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) has approved the state Senate and congressional redistricting plans passed in the previous special session. Last week's special session was the legislature's second redistricting special session this year.
Special sessions scheduled to adjourn this week:
- August 26 - Georgia
Today, Georgia state legislators released the proposed U.S congressional district map, containing the newly created U.S. House Congressional District 14. D14 spans most of Northwest Georgia and trails south to include Polk, Haralson and Paulding counties. The new district also shifted District 9 east, pushing it to extend to the South Carolina state line. The new district was created as a result of a population boom in northern Georgia.
No special sessions are scheduled to begin this week.
As of August 22, 24 states' sessions are currently in recess:
In light of the recent recall elections in Wisconsin, our spotlight this week focuses on the beginnings of attempted changes to the recall process in the badger state, and an update on the final round of Wisconsin recalls that took place last week.
Wisconsin: In the wake of the recent recall elections, some Wisconsinites are trying to prevent what they categorize to be a costly and dramatic ordeal from happening again so easily. To date, the Government Accountability Board and state taxpayers spent $88,300 to facilitate the recalls, while estimates for private party spending continues to climb to near the $40 million mark.
On August 10, Wisconsin Assemblyman Robin Vos (R) announced his intent to draft legislation that would amend the Wisconsin Constitution to clarify the reasons for recall. In a quote given to the Wisconsin Reporter, Vos said, "Losing an election does not mean you count down days until you can recall somebody," and that "despising someone should not rise to the level of a recallable offense."
In his press release, Vos said, "No longer should taxpayer dollars be wasted on unnecessary recall elections that were triggered by a vote that some special interest group didn’t like. It undermines our democracy and wastes precious taxpayer dollars that are needed elsewhere."
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), a business association with about 4,000 members, has recently thrown its support behind Vos' efforts. A statement on the organization's website outlined the group's position. "As we all know, uncertainty and political instability are not good for job creation. That’s why WMC will be supporting recall reform in Wisconsin."
- "Floating this constitutional amendment the day after successful recall elections that held legislators accountable appears to indicate that Republicans are frightened that future actions to hold them accountable will also be successful. We must encourage and build on the amazing outpouring of public involvement in democracy that we have seen this year."
According to Article 13, section 12, the state constitution gives only these stipulations for recall:
- Legislators must have served at least one year to be eligible for recall
- To initiate a recall against a legislator, a recall petition needs to be signed by electors equaling at least twenty-five percent of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election, in the state, county or district which the incumbent represents
Presently, there is no requirement for state level recall petitions to declare a reason why the targeted legislator should be recalled. A reason is currently required at the local level. Vos' amendment would seek to unify the state and local requirements, thereby incorporating into state recall law a mandate requiring petitions to include a valid reason for recall.
Vos is scheduled to introduce the constitutional amendment during the fall legislative session. It is intended to be the first piece of bi-partisan legislation introduced this September. In order to become law, a Constitutional amendment must pass two sessions of the Legislature and be approved in a statewide referendum.
Recall results update
In the final installment of the Wisconsin state senate recall elections, both Democratic incumbents retained their seats, maintaining the razor-thin Republican majority.
|Wisconsin State Senate Partisan Breakdown Before and After the 2011 Recalls|
|Party||As of August 1, 2011||After the August Recalls|
Democrats Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch triumphed over their challengers by double-digit margins in the August 16 election. Holperin defeated challenger Kim Simac, a tea party organizer, and Wirch defeated Jonathan Steitz, a corporate attorney.
|August 16 Recall - District 12|
|Jim Holperin (D)||30,450||55.12%|
|Kim Simac (R)||24,682||44.67%|
|August 16 Recall - District 22|
|Robert Wirch (D)||25,524||57.35%|
|Jonathan Steitz (R)||19,662||42.51%|
|Brian Harwood (Write-in)||23||.05%|
A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.
In this year's 2011 election cycle, two state legislative primaries remain in Louisiana and Virginia. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, and Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2.
Tomorrow, Virginia will hold its state legislative primary. Mississippi will hold primary runoffs for several state house and senate seats. Virginia's signature filing deadline was June 15. Virginia's primary was rescheduled to August 23, 2011 instead of its usual date of June 14, 2011 after delays and uncertainty in the redistricting process..
Out of the 280 possible primaries (140 total seats, one primary per party, per seat) tomorrow in Virginia, there are only 16 contested races on the ballot. Only two incumbents -- Thomas Norment, a Republican from Senate District 3, and Algie Howell, a Democrat from House District 9, face a primary opponent tomorrow.
Despite some clear wins on August 2, an August 23 runoff election will be held for three state executive offices -- Governor, Treasurer and Public Service Commission -- as well as 10 state legislative districts in which no one candidate earned more than 50% of the vote.
|Gubernatorial Democratic Primary election|
|Democratic Party||Johnny DuPree||43.5%|
|Democratic Party||Bill Luckett, Jr.||39.2%|
|Democratic Party||William Bond Compton, Jr.||9.8%|
|Democratic Party||Guy Dale Shaw||7.3%|
The following candidates have already advanced to the general election.
Tate Reeves, the current Mississippi State Treasurer, is a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi in 2011. Republicans Lee Yancey and Lynn Smith will compete in an August 23 primary runoff for the right to face Democrat Connie Moran in the November 8 general contest.
|Treasurer -- Republican primary results|
|Republican Party||Lynn Fitch||38%|
|Republican Party||Lee Yancey||34%|
|Republican Party||Lucien Smith||29%|
The following races are runoffs tomorrow.
The following races are runoffs tomorrow.
No special elections are set to take place this week.
Georgia runoff results
Robert Brown (D) announced his resignation in May, 2011 in order to seek the office of Macon Mayor. The special election for State Senate District 26 took place in Twiggs County and portions of Bibb, Houston and Wilkinson Counties. The election was a nonpartisan special election with an open primary. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election was held on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.
- Republican Candidate:
- Nancy Thompson 1,164
Upcoming special elections include:
- August 30- South Carolina House District 10.
- Statescape, Session Updates, accessed Aug. 22, 2011
- Timesfreepress.com, New House district wraps up Northwest Georgia, Aug. 22, 2011
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed Aug. 8, 2011
- Robin Vos' press release, Aug. 10, 2011
- Appleton Post Crescent, Spending in Wisconsin Senate recalls climbs quickly, Aug. 20, 2011 (dead link)
- Wisconsin Reporter.com, WMC, others push recall reform, Aug. 17, 2011
- WMC, Wisconsin Needs Recall Reform, accessed Aug. 22, 2011 (dead link)
- Wisconsin State Assembly, Rep. Barca: Statement on Rep. Vos’ recall bill, Aug. 11, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 12 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "District 22 recall election results," accessed August 26, 2011
- Ballot Access News, "Virginia House Passes Bill Moving 2011 Primary from June to August," January 20, 2011 (dead link)
- Virginia General Assembly, "History of House Bill 1507 (2011)"
- Virginia Public Access Project, "Update:Primaries to be held August 23," January 30, 2011
- Macon Examiner, "James Beverly, Anissa Jones qualify for Macon's House District 139 seat," June 20, 2011
- Secretary of State News, "Secretary of State Kemp Sets Qualifying Dates for the Special Elections in State Senate District 26 and State House District 139," June 10, 2011
- Macon.com, "Paris defeats Lucas handily in Senate runoff," August 17, 2011
- Macon.com, "Lucas, Paris headed for runoff in state Senate race," July 19, 2011
- Wmtw.com, Dill Wins District 7 Election, May 11, 2011
- ME Bureau of Corporations, Elections & Commissions, "Upcoming Elections," accessed August 9, 2011
- The Portland Daily Sun, "Monaghan-Derrig wins special election for legislative seat," August 16, 2011 (dead link)