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State Legislative Tracker: 2013 sessions convene in four more states

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February 4, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at upcoming issues for the four state legislatures that convene this week.

Weekly highlight

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As of today, 47 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here's a look at the potential major issues for the four states convening this week, along with the ongoing story of Nevada Rep. Steven Brooks:

  • Nevada: A major topic in the 77th session of the Nevada Legislature will be taxes. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) has stated his opposition to new taxes, while Democrats are seeking a discussion on the state's tax structure.[1] Spending, Medicare, and gun-control are also expected to lead the agenda.[2]

Monopolizing Nevada legislative news as of last has been the story of Rep. Steven Brooks (D). On January 19, North Las Vegas police arrested Brooks, booking him on one count of intimidating a public official with physical violence. Sources told the Las Vegas Sun that Brooks had allegedly threatened to shoot Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D) that afternoon because he was unhappy with his committee appointments for the upcoming legislative term.[3]

On January 22, 2013, after announcing that Brooks had been hospitalized in Las Vegas for digestive bleeding, possibly due to a pre-existing condition, Brooks' attorney Michael Posin informed the press that "there are a lot of things going on here that will put things in a different light than it appears right now." That same day, North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell confirmed that Brooks had a gun in his car at the time of his arrest at a traffic stop but declined to say its caliber and whether it was loaded.[4] According to a law enforcement report obtained by the Las Vegas Sun, the police had been warned that Brooks was "willing to have a shootout with police." Officers found a .357 Smith and Wesson and 41 rounds of live ammunition in Brooks' vehicle at the time of his arrest.[5]

The January 28 initial court date for Brooks was delayed as the assemblyman underwent a mental evaluation. Following his prior release from the hospital after his stay for internal bleeding, Brooks had "reportedly exhibited bizarre behavior, including leaving the Legislative building in Carson City in a hood and appearing shirtless on the front page of the Jan. 25 Las Vegas Review-Journal."[6] In his January 24 interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Brooks maintained his innocence, admitted to having a gun with him at the time of his arrest, and claimed that he was in danger from Kirkpatrick.[7] According to Kirkpatrick, Brooks will be sworn in today as planned, after which he will take a leave of absence.[8]

  • Alabama: Heading into the 2013 session, a major issue will be the general fund, which is estimated to be $200 million short of requests. Other main issues include maintaining Medicaid, raises for teachers, giving schools more flexibility over state policies, and gun laws.[9]
  • Oklahoma: For the 2013 session, leaders of the Republican majority said their goals include changes to the state pension system and workers compensation funds, tax cuts, and increased funding for education.[10]
  • Oregon: Major issues for 2013 include in-state tuition and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Both measures have been hotly debated in recent sessions but have not passed.[11] They are also expected to take up background checks for guns.[12]
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Currently 46 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, California, is meeting in special session concurrent with their regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of February 4, 2013

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[13]

One additional state is scheduled to convene this week:

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, February 4, 2013
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,501 (47.4%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,907 (52.9%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 39
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 3
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 10
Total Special Sessions 1

There is one special session ongoing this week in California. No additional special sessions have been scheduled.

California

During his State of the State address on January 24, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for the Legislature to hold a special session concurrent with the regular session in order to bring the state in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The special session began January 28 and is expected to last for several months.[14][15]

In recess

As of today, February 4, 1 state's session is currently in recess:

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 138 out of 142 (97.2%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: ME (2), MT (2)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 42/43 (Maps ordered redrawn: TX)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, TX)
**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)
See also: Status of redistricting maps after the 2010 census

While the great majority of states have completed their redistricting following the 2010 census, the issue still remains for a handful of states. Maine and Montana are not required to have their maps completed until 2014. Alaska, Kentucky and Texas, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

Redistricting in Maine

See also: Redistricting in Maine

The 15-member redistricting commission began the process of redrawing Maine state House and Senate maps on Friday. The commission is led by Chairman Michael Friedman, an attorney who also led the congressional redistricting committee. The panel has until June 1 to issue its report upon which the Legislature has until June 11 to act. Proposed maps do not have to publicly presented until March.[17]

Redistricting in New Hampshire

See also: Redistricting in New Hampshire

Redistricting of the New Hampshire House of Representatives was a contentious one that led to a gubernatorial veto, override vote, and appeal to the Supreme Court. Seeking to re-open the Pandora's box, two bills have been filed to redraw portions of the map once again. The first bill, sponsored by Reps. Charlene Takesian (R) and Mary Ann Knowles (D), is a minor one seeking to split a 11-seat district in Hudson and Pelham into a seven-seat district for Hudson and four-seat district for Pelham. The second bill, sponsored by Reps. Peter Schmidt (D) and Steve Vaillancourt (R), seeks to redraw districts in Belknap, Hillsborough and Merrimack counties.

Schmidt, however, acknowledges that the bills may not be legal, stating, “There is a certainly a strong opinion on the part of most lawyers that we can’t do it. I’ve listened to them, and I’m not sure that they’re right or that they’re wrong. But the bottom line for me is that the Constitution is the bottom line on all of this.”[18]

Redistricting in Virginia

See also: Redistricting in Virginia

Since the controversial passage of a new map in the Senate earlier this year, the House has repeatedly delayed acting on the measure and it's fate remains murky. On January 30, 2013, two black House Democrats - Onzlee Ware and Rosalyn R. Dance - said they might vote for the plan, angering other members of their party. The plan would create a new majority-black district, but hurt the Democratic Party as a whole. Ware explained his position, saying, “Should I always have to forgo the interests of black people for the good of the party?...I have a real dilemma on my hands right now.”[19] Two days later, Ware said he would vote against the map.[20]

Republicans in the Virginia State Senate passed a new redistricting map on January 18 on a 20-19 party-line vote. The measure, which Democrats tried to get referred to committee, did not go through the normal process and was passed in about 30 minutes. Onlookers, including the governor and lt. governor, were surprised to see an entirely revamped map passed by the senate. With the senate tied 20-20, the lt. governor serves as the tie-breaking vote but he did not have that chance as Republicans chose to act on the day that Democratic Sen. Henry L. Marsh was in Washington attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama.[21]

See also: State legislative elections, 2013

A total of 3 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 5, 2013.

The 3 chambers with elections in 2013 are in 2 states. They are:

Louisiana and Mississippi also typically hold elections in odd years. However, legislators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2015.

40 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2013, and 180 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 220 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 5, 2013.

Signature filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • April 1, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 4, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 100 voters in the legislative district. Candidates are required to disclose any criminal convictions.[22]

  • Virginia:
  • March 28, 2013 (Major party)
  • June 11, 2013 (Independent)

Nomination petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters in the legislative district. Major party candidates are required to submit a primary filing fee equal to 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. In 2013, the primary filing fee is $352.80.[23]

Primaries

The state primaries are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are four special elections taking place this week - three in Georgia (two of which are runoffs) and one in Mississippi.

Georgia House of Representatives District 71

Robert Stokely (R) won election to Georgia House of Representatives District 71 on November 6, 2012. However, on December 14, he stated he would not be accepting the position in order to serve as a Coweta County Magistrate Judge instead. A special election to fill the seat will be held February 5. Candidates had until January 9 to qualify. A runoff, if necessary, will take place on March 5.[24][25]

General election candidates:
Republican Party Thomas G. Crymes
Republican Party Michael Farbo, Jr.
Republican Party Darryl Marmon
Republican Party David J. Stover
Republican Party Richard Weisser
Democratic Party Cynthia Conradt Bennett

Georgia State Senate District 11

John Bulloch (R) resigned his District 11 seat in the Georgia State Senate on December 6, 2012. While he did not initially provide a reason, Bulloch had been hospitalized with meningitis the previous October. Bulloch was re-elected on November 6, 2012 unopposed. The election took place on January 8, 2013.[26][27] As no candidate won more than 51 percent in the election, the top two vote-getters, Burke and Keown, will head to a runoff on February 5.[28]

Republican Party Republican candidates:
Democratic Party Democratic candidates:
Libertarian Party Libertarian candidates:
February 5 Runoff candidates:
Republican Party Dean Burke
Republican Party Mike Keown

Georgia House of Representatives District 21

State Rep. Sean Jerguson (R) ran for the District 21 state senate seat left vacant when Chip Rogers (R) resigned in December 2012. Once his candidacy was certified, Jerguson had to resign his seat in the House in order to run for the senate. A special election for Jerguson's seat took place on January 8, 2013.[29][30][31] As no candidate took more than 51 percent of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters, Laurens and Turner, will take place on February 5.[32]

Republican Party Republican candidates:
Democratic Party Democratic candidates:
Independent Independent candidates:
February 5 Runoff candidates:
Republican Party Brian Laurens
Republican Party Scot Turner


Mississippi State Senate District 28

Alice Harden (D) died on December 6, 2012. A special election to fill her District 28 seat in the Mississippi State Senate will take place on February 5, 2013. Candidates had until January 7 to file. special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan.[33][34][35]

IndependentGeneral Election Candidates:


Recent results

January 29, 2013

RunoffArrow.jpg Alabama State Senate District 35

Ben Brooks (R) was elected as a circuit judge in Mobile County on November 6, 2012. Once he was sworn into the new position a special election had to be held to fill the vacancy. A special primary was scheduled for January 29, 2013. Candidates had until December 13, 2012 to file. Since no Democrats filed, the primary became the general election. A runoff between the top two vote-getters, Jim Barton and Bill Hightower, took place March 12.[36][37][38]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • February 5: Georgia House of Representatives Districts 51 and 21 (runoff)
  • February 5: Georgia State Senate District 11 (runoff)
  • February 5: Mississippi State Senate District 28
  • February 12: Kentucky House of Representatives District 52
  • February 12: Minnesota House of Representatives Districts 14A and 19A
  • February 19: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 31
  • February 26: Alabama House of Representatives District 97
  • March 2: Louisiana House of Representatives Districts 65 and 79
  • March 12: Alabama State Senate District 35 (runoff)
  • March 12: California State Senate Districts 32 and 40
  • March 12: Mississippi House of Representatives District 36
  • March 12: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17

See also

References

  1. The Republic, "Nevada Legislature convenes Monday; taxes, guns, Medicaid will be big issues facing lawmakers," February 2, 2013
  2. Las Vegas Sun, "Nev. Legislature convenes Monday with uncertainty," February 2, 2013
  3. Las Vegas Sun, "Assemblyman in jail, accused of threatening fellow lawmaker," January 20, 2013
  4. Las Vegas Sun, "Nevada lawmaker facing threat case hospitalized," January 22, 2013
  5. Las Vegas Sun, "Armed assemblyman was prepared for a shootout, report says," January 22, 2013
  6. Matt Guillermo, KVVU-TV, "Court delayed for Vegas lawmaker in threat case," January 28, 2013
  7. Benjamin Spillman, Las Vegas Review-Journal, "Assemblyman Steven Brooks: 'I've had a month of hell'," January 28, 2013
  8. RGJ, "Report: Nevada Assemblyman Brooks to take leave of absence after being sworn in today," February 4, 2013
  9. AL.com, "Alabama Legislature 2013: 10 hot issues to watch in the upcoming session," February 2, 2013
  10. Muskogee Phoenix, "State House Republicans unveil 2013 legislative agenda," February 1, 2013
  11. Statesman Journal, "Immigration issues back in spotlight at Oregon Legislature," January 27, 2013
  12. Daily Tidings, "Immigration issues on agenda for Ore. Legislature," February 1, 2013
  13. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed February 4, 2013
  14. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  15. Sacramento Business Journal, " Healthcare reform special session starts," January 28, 2013
  16. State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed February 4, 2013
  17. San Francisco Chronicle, "Maine redistricting commission getting to work," February 1, 2013
  18. Concord Monitor, "Capital Beat: House bills to reopen the redistricting process might face legal roadblock," January 27, 2013
  19. Washington Post, "Black delegates tempted by Virginia GOP’s Senate map," January 30, 2013
  20. Washington Post, "Black delegate decides against Va. GOP’s redistricting map," February 2, 2013
  21. Washington Post, "Va. Republicans push re-drawn district map through Senate," January 21, 2013
  22. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  23. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  24. The Citizen, "Stokely turns down House seat for local appointment," December 23, 2012
  25. Georgia Secretary of State, "CANDIDATE QUALIFICATION COMPLETE IN SPECIAL ELECTION FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 71," January 10, 2013
  26. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Senator from southwest Georgia to step down," December 6, 2012
  27. Albany Herald, "Two officially qualify for special election to fill Bulloch's seat," December 10, 2012
  28. Moultrie Observer, "Burke, Keown in Senate runoff," January 8, 2013
  29. Cherokee Ledger News, "Sean Jerguson to run for State Senate 21 seat," December 5, 2012
  30. Cherokee Ledger News, "Special Senate and House elections set," December 6, 2012
  31. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Qualifying ends for open legislative seats, including Rogers’," December 12, 2012
  32. Canton-Sixes Patch, "Unofficial Vote Count Complete, Runoff Looms for House Race ," January 8, 2013
  33. Clarion Ledger, "State Sen. Alice Harden dies at 64," December 6, 2012
  34. Clarion Ledger, "Bryant sets Senate 28 special election," December 18, 2012
  35. Mississippi Secretary of State, " 2013 candidate qualifying list," accessed January 11, 2013
  36. Local 15, "Ala. Senate District 35 to Hold Special Election," December 4, 2012
  37. Al.com, "Three Republicans qualify for state Senate District 35 special election," December 12, 2012
  38. Local 15, "District 35 State Senate Race Goes to a Runoff," January 29, 2013