State Legislative Tracker: California legislature faces busy month

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August 11, 2014

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at the issues California is hoping to address in their final session of the legislature.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no state adjourned its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • California: The legislature returned from summer recess on August 2, and have only until August 31st, the last day of the two-year session, to act on key issues.[1] The issues expected to be addressed in the summer session are gun control measures, a bill that requires a kill switch on all smartphones sold in California, legalizing internet poker and regulating medical marijuana. There are over 1,000 bills pending in the state legislature.[1] Senate Bill 962 passed the Assembly by a vote of 51 to 18 on August 7 and will now return to the Senate for approval. This bill would require a pre-equipped kill switch on all smartphones sold in the state, which law enforcement officers and consumer groups hope will deter theft.[2] If signed by the governor, the bill would apply to all smartphones manufactured and sold after July 2015.[2] Another bill that is currently pending in the legislature is Assembly Bill 1014. Sponsored by Assembly members Nancy Skinner (D) and Das Williams (D), the bill would allow family members, licensed therapists and health care providers to petition a judge to take firearms away from someone that could be a danger to others or to themselves.[3] This bill was prompted by a May 2014 attack in Isla Vista, California that left six people, including the attacker, dead. The bill will be heard first in a Senate committee before it reaches the floor.[4]
  • Florida: The Florida legislature came back into session on Thursday to begin work on revising the state's congressional district map, which was ruled unconstitutional earlier this summer. A proposed map was released that day, showing slight changes to the districts of Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and Daniel Webster (R).[5] Under the state's Fair Districts law, drawing boundaries for partisan gain is illegal; the districts were found to have benefited Republicans in several adjacent districts. In his July decision, circuit court judge Terry Lewis chastised the legislature for discarding its records of the 2012 redistricting process, which he criticized for overwhelming influence from outside consultants.[6] Republican leaders acted on those criticisms, ordering staffers to maintain all documents and to avoid contact with lobbyists, consultants or congressional members and staffers.[7] The plaintiffs in the case, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, remained skeptical, calling for greater changes than proposed.[8] A vote on the map is expected tomorrow; the deadline to submit the map to Lewis is Friday at noon.[9] The congressional elections are currently due to be contested on schedule, but Lewis has hinted that affected districts could have their own elections after November.[6] A final decision on the new map's constitutionality is expected by next Thursday.[10]
  • South Dakota: By January 1, 2015, South Dakota is hoping to implement policy changes in the state's examination of child sex abuse.[11] A bill to create a committee to study child sex abuse was passed in the 2014 legislative session; the House passed the bill 69-0 and the Senate passed it 35-0.[12] Sen. Deb Soholt (R) and Rep. David Lust (R) were primary sponsors for the law creating a task force in the last legislative session. The committee is named Jolene's Task Force after Jolene Loetscher of Nebraska, who was sexually abused as a teenager and talked publicly about her story.[13] The initial committee meeting on August 5 focused on how child sex abuse is handled in different state departments. The focus of the committee will not be on the perpetrators, but rather on "public awareness, prevention and creating opportunities for children" to talk with law enforcement agencies and courts.[12] It is estimated that 80 percent of sexually abused children never tell anyone about it. In 2013, over two thousand cases of child sex abuse were handled by law enforcement. According to Soholt, that number suggests 8,000 more accounts were unaddressed.[12] Dr. Nancy Free, member of the committee and child abuse pediatrician, said that any sexual activity involving a child is considered sexual abuse and that it is uncommon for children to talk about abuse "within close proximity of the events."[12][11] Continuing to meet and work until January, the "committee will address what policy changes they might recommend to the Legislature and compare South Dakota's laws on child sexual abuse to those in other states."[11]
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Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of August 11, 2014
See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2014 session information.

Currently 4 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, Ohio, is in Skeleton Session. A Skeleton Session typically includes very short nonvoting sessions instead of regular sessions with a full chamber.[14] California is holding a special session concurrent with its regular session. Florida is meeting in a special session.

The following states have adjourned their 2014 regular session:[15]

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Saturday, November 22, 2014
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,403 (46.1%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,836 (52%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 30
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 68
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2014 Session Information
Total Special Elections 33
Total Special Sessions 7

Special sessions

California

The California State Legislature is meeting in a special session concurrent with its regular session to discuss a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to change the state's rainy day fund. Brown's proposal would require the state to save some of the revenue from capital gains taxes. He hopes to have his proposal approved by the legislature and on the 2014 ballot. California's rainy day fund has existed since 2004 but has been empty for a majority of that time.[16]

Florida

The Florida State Legislature is meeting in a special session to make changes to the state's congressional district map. This follows the July ruling of circuit court judge Terry Lewis that the redrawn districts were found to benefit Republicans in several areas. The deadline to submit the new map to Lewis is at noon on August 15.[17]

In recess

As of today, August 11, there are five state legislatures currently in recess:[18]

See also: State legislative elections, 2014

A total of 87 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 4, 2014.

The 87 chambers with elections in 2014 are in 46 states. They are:

The Kansas, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Carolina senates also typically hold elections in even years. However, senators are elected to 4-year terms in those states and those will not be up for election again until 2016.

1,097 of the country's 1,972 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2014, and 4,958 of the country's 5,411 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 6,055 of the country's 7,383 state legislative seats are up for re-election on November 4, 2014.

Primary Information

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2014 state legislative elections

The state legislative filing deadlines and primary dates are as follows:

Note: Ballot access is a complicated issue. The dates in the table below are primarily for candidates filing for access to the primary. For more detailed information about each state's qualification requirements -- including all relevant ballot access dates for the primary and general election -- click to our detailed pages in the state column.

2014 State Legislative Primary Information
State Filing Deadline Primary Date Days from Deadline to Primary
Alabama Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 116
Alaska Red padlock.png 6/2/2014[19] Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 78
Arizona Red padlock.png 5/28/2014[20] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 90
Arkansas Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[21][22] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
California Red padlock.png 3/7/2014[23][24][25] Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 88
Colorado Red padlock.png 3/31/2014[26][27] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 85
Connecticut Red padlock.png 6/10/2014[28] Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 90
Delaware Red padlock.png 7/8/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 63
Florida Red padlock.png 6/20/2014[29][30] Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 67
Georgia Red padlock.png 3/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 74
Hawaii Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[31] Red padlock.png 8/9/2014 67
Idaho Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 78
Illinois Red padlock.png 12/2/2013 Red padlock.png 3/18/2014 106
Indiana Red padlock.png 2/7/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 88
Iowa Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 81
Kansas Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 65
Kentucky Red padlock.png 1/28/2014[32][33] Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 112
Maine Red padlock.png 3/17/2014[34] Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 85
Maryland Red padlock.png 2/25/2014[35] Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 119
Massachusetts Red padlock.png 6/3/2014[36] Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 98
Michigan Red padlock.png 4/22/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 105
Minnesota Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 70
Missouri Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 133
Montana Red padlock.png 3/10/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 85
Nebraska Red padlock.png 3/3/2014[37] Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 85
Nevada Red padlock.png 3/14/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 88
New Hampshire Red padlock.png 6/13/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 88
New Mexico Red padlock.png 2/4/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 119
New York Red padlock.png 7/10/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 61
North Carolina Red padlock.png 2/28/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 67
North Dakota Red padlock.png 4/7/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 64
Ohio Red padlock.png 2/5/2014 Red padlock.png 5/6/2014 90
Oklahoma Red padlock.png 4/11/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 74
Oregon Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Pennsylvania Red padlock.png 3/11/2014 Red padlock.png 5/20/2014 70
Rhode Island Red padlock.png 6/25/2014 Red padlock.png 9/9/2014 76
South Carolina Red padlock.png 3/30/2014 Red padlock.png 6/10/2014 72
South Dakota Red padlock.png 3/25/2014 Red padlock.png 6/3/2014 70
Tennessee Red padlock.png 4/3/2014 Red padlock.png 8/7/2014 126
Texas Red padlock.png 12/9/2013 Red padlock.png 3/4/2014 85
Utah Red padlock.png 3/20/2014 Red padlock.png 6/24/2014 96
Vermont Red padlock.png 6/12/2014 Red padlock.png 8/26/2014 75
Washington Red padlock.png 5/17/2014 Red padlock.png 8/5/2014 80
West Virginia Red padlock.png 1/25/2014 Red padlock.png 5/13/2014 108
Wisconsin Red padlock.png 6/2/2014 Red padlock.png 8/12/2014 71
Wyoming Red padlock.png 5/30/2014 Red padlock.png 8/19/2014 81


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See also: State legislative special elections, 2014

There are no special elections scheduled this week. The next elections will take place on August 19 in Virginia.

Virginia State Senate District 38

See also: Virginia state legislative special elections, 2014

A. Benton Chafin (R) defeated Mike Hymes (D) and Rick A. Mullins (I) in the special election, which took place on August 19.[38][39]

This special election was particularly important because it determined which party controlled the chamber. The seat was vacant following Phillip Puckett's (D) resignation on June 9, 2014.[40]

A special election for the position of Virginia State Senate District 38 was called for August 19, 2014. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 20. Candidates were chosen by the parties rather than through a primary.[41][42]

Virginia State Senate, District 38, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngA. Benton Chafin 59.6% 17,496
     Democratic Mike Hymes 31.8% 9,354
     Independent Rick A. Mullins 8.6% 2,517
     N/A Write-in 0% 13
Total Votes 29,380
August 19 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Mike Hymes
Republican Party A. Benton Chafin
Independent Rick A. Mullins

Virginia House of Delegates District 48

See also: Virginia state legislative special elections, 2014

R.C. Sullivan, Jr. (D) defeated David M. Foster (R) in the special election, which took place on August 19.[38][39]

The seat was vacant following Bob Brink's (D) resignation on June 30 to accept the position of Deputy Commissioner for Aging Services.[43]

A special election for the position of Virginia House of Delegates District 48 was called for August 19, 2014. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was July 7.[44] Candidates were chosen by the parties rather than through a primary.

Virginia House of Delegates, District 48, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngR.C. Sullivan, Jr. 62.2% 5,978
     Republican David M. Foster 37.7% 3,621
     N/A Write-in 0.1% 8
Total Votes 9,607
August 19 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party R.C. Sullivan, Jr.
Republican Party David M. Foster

Virginia House of Delegates District 90

See also: Virginia state legislative special elections, 2014

Joseph C. Lindsey (D) defeated Marcus A. Calabrese (R) in the special election, which took place on August 19.[38][39]

The seat was vacant following Algie Howell's (D) retirement on June 30.[45]

A special election for the position of Virginia House of Delegates District 90 was called for August 19, 2014. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was July 7.[46] Candidates were chosen by the parties rather than through a primary.

Virginia House of Delegates, District 90, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJoseph C. Lindsey 80.4% 1,736
     Republican Marcus A. Calabrese 19.3% 416
     N/A Write-in 0.3% 6
Total Votes 2,158
August 19 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Joseph C. Lindsey
Republican Party Marcus A. Calabrese

Recent election results

July 22, 2014

RunoffArrow.jpgCheckedBoxOffset.jpg Texas State Senate District 4

See also: Texas state legislative special elections, 2014

Gordy Bunch (R), Brandon Creighton (R), Michael Galloway (R) and Steve Toth (R) faced off in the special election, which took place on May 10.[38][47] Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters - Creighton and Toth - advanced to a runoff election on August 5, which Creighton won.[48][49]

The seat was vacant following Tommy Williams's (R) retirement on October 26, 2013.

A special election for the position of Texas State Senate District 4 was called for May 10. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 10, 2014.[50]

Texas State Senate, District 4, Special Election, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBrandon Creighton 67.4% 15,232
     Republican Steve Toth 32.6% 7,373
Total Votes 22,605
August 5 Runoff candidates:
Republican Party Brandon Creighton Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Steve Toth

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 LA Times, "California lawmakers have a busy month ahead," August 3, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 KCRA.com, "Smartphones must include 'kill switch' under CA bill," August 7, 2014
  3. Associated Press, "California legislature eyeing first-in-nation firearms restraint bill," August 3, 2014
  4. Fox 5: San Diego, "California debates gun restrictions for mentally ill," accessed August 7, 2014
  5. The Washington Post, "Florida’s proposed new congressional map looks pretty familiar," August 7, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 CBS Miami, "Florida Legislature To Keep Map Changes Simple," August 6, 2014
  7. Orlando Sentinel, "Florida Legislature: Don't talk to congressional members, political consultants," August 5, 2014
  8. News4Jax, "Lawmakers begin drawing new congressional maps," August 7, 2014
  9. Tallahassee Democrat, "The Florida Legislature convened its special session this afternoon," August 7, 2014
  10. Miami Herald, "Florida Legislature convenes for special session on redistricting," August 7, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Sioux City Journal, "S.D. committee hopes to raise child sex abuse awareness," August 5, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Vermillion Plain Talk, "Task force opens its study of child sex abuse in state, "August 8, 2014
  13. Argus Leader, "South Dakota task force to study child sex abuse," July 30, 2014
  14. Cleveland.com, "Ohio's 2014 legislative calendar will be crammed with election-year politicking and backroom pleading: Thomas Suddes," December 15, 2013
  15. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2014," accessed August 11, 2014
  16. Los Angeles Times, "Jerry Brown calls legislative special session to debate reserve plan," April 16, 2014
  17. The Washington Post, "Florida’s proposed new congressional map looks pretty familiar," August 7, 2014
  18. StateNet, " Daily Session Summary," accessed August 11, 2014
  19. Alaska Statutes, "Section 15.25, Nomination of Candidates," accessed October 31, 2013
  20. Secretary of State Website, "2014 Election Important Dates," accessed November 4, 2013
  21. Running for Public Office, "A 'Plain English' Handbook for Candidates," 2012 Edition, accessed October 21, 2013 (dead link)
  22. Arkansas Code of 1987, "Title 7, Elections," accessed October 30, 2013
  23. Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for the Office of State Senator, Member of the Assembly, "June 3, 2014, Primary Election," accessed October 21, 2013
  24. California Elections Code, "Section 8100-8107," accessed October 28, 2013
  25. California Secretary of State Website, "Key Dates and Deadlines," accessed October 21, 2013
  26. Colorado Secretary of State Website, "Major Political Parties FAQs," accessed October 31, 2013
  27. Colorado Revised Statutes, "Title 1, Elections," accessed October 31, 2013
  28. Connecticut Secretary of State Website, "Frequently Asked Questions, Nominating Papers," accessed October 31, 2013
  29. Florida Department of State Division of Elections, "2013-2014 Dates to Remember," accessed November 6, 2013
  30. 2013 Florida Statutes, "Section 99.061," accessed December 2, 2014
  31. Hawaii State Legislature, "HRS §12-6 Nomination papers: time for filing; fees", accessed May 22, 2013
  32. 2014 Kentucky Election Calendar, accessed November 12, 2013
  33. Kentucky State Board of Elections "Candidate Qualifications and Filing Fees" accessed November 26, 2011
  34. Maine Secretary of State "State of Maine 2014 Candidate's Guide to Ballot Access," accessed February 11, 2014
  35. The State Board of Elections, "Candidacy," accessed November 5, 2013
  36. 2014 Massachusetts State Primary and State Election Schedule, accessed December 2, 2013
  37. Official Election Calendar for the State of Nebraska, accessed November 18, 2014
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 Virginia State Board of Elections, "Official candidate list," accessed July 11, 2014
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Virginia Department of Elections, "Official special election results," accessed September 30, 2014
  40. WJLA, "Phil Puckett, Virginia senator, announces his resignation," June 9, 2014
  41. The Roanoke Times, "4 now seeking party nod for state Senate seat with NRV corner," June 17, 2014
  42. Washington Post, "Republicans select Del. Ben Chafin to run for Phillip Puckett’s Virginia Senate seat," June 20, 2014
  43. ARLnow, "Del. Bob Brink Retiring to Join McAuliffe Administration," June 27, 2014
  44. Washington Post, "August special elections set for 2 Va. House seats," July 1, 2014
  45. wavy.com, "Norfolk Delegate Algie Howell to resign," June 27, 2014
  46. Washington Post, "August special elections set for 2 Va. House seats," July 1, 2014
  47. yourhoustonnews.com, "ELECTION 2014: Senate District 4 race headed for runoff," May 10, 2014
  48. Texas Secretary of State, "Runoff Election Declaration," accessed June 2, 2014
  49. Texas Tribune, "Creighton Easily Wins Special State Senate Race," August 5, 2014
  50. kxan.com, "Special state Senate election date set," November 7, 2013 (dead link)