State Legislative Tracker: Colorado recalls upheld in court
Last week, no states ended their legislative sessions. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:
- Colorado: The recalls of two state senators over gun-control legislation will move forward following the ruling of District Judge Robert Hyatt. Hyatt threw out lawsuits filed by Angela Giron (D) and John Morse (D), thus upholding Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert's decision that the recall petitions against the lawmakers were valid. Hyatt declared the recall process a "fundamental [right] of a republican form of government." The pair could have appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court but declined to do so. Both elections will be held on September 10, and Republicans from Senate President Morse's District 11 have already chosen Bernie Herpin to run against him. Herpin is an ex-Navy SEAL and served on the Colorado Springs City Council. Giron's opposition has yet to nominate a candidate. Both senators have ten days to resign and allow a Democratic vacancy committee to fill their seat, but neither has expressed an interest in leaving office, meaning Colorado will likely see its first ever recall elections.
- Massachusetts: In considering the state's transportation finance bill, the Massachusetts General Court rejected a proposed amendment by Governor Deval Patrick (D) that would have automatically increased the gasoline tax by three cents should tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike west of Interstate 95 be eliminated in 2017. In a different amendment meant to correct technicalities, both the Senate and House declined to include Patrick's proposal, which he said would offset the expected $137 million loss in revenue caused by the cessation of tolls. In response, Patrick has pledged to veto the transportation legislation, though the Democratic-controlled legislature is considered veto-proof; the Senate vote for the amendment was 29-9, with the House voting 123-31. The bill is meant to raise $800 million yearly by 2018 for purposes including the expansion of commuter rail to the South Coast, reducing the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's budget deficit, and preventing fare increases and service cuts on the Boston transit system. Patrick has argued that by not including his amendment, the legislature would not meet that figure. Democrats also fended off Republican amendments that would have removed tax hikes in the bill, including a $1 increase on cigarettes, a three-cent increase on gasoline, and a 6.25 percent sales tax on some software services.
- Texas: Last week Governor Rick Perry (R) signed House Bill 2, which will give Texas the tighest abortion restrictions in the country. The law will change the current ban on abortions from 26 weeks to 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill requires that the state's 42 abortion clinics have to meet the same standard as hospital surgical units, and that a doctor from the clinic must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles from the clinic where they work. Democrats, abortion-rights activists, and clinic operators say that the new law will require all but five of the state's abortion clinics to close, citing a lack of funding for the upgrades required by the new measure. In advance of the bill's signing, Planned Parenthood announced on Wednesday that it would be closing three of its clinics in Texas. They are closing in response to both the new abortion law and because of budget cuts to Texas' Women's Health Program. According to the Guttmacher Institute, since January of this year, nineteen states have enacted laws containing 52 line items restricting abortions. Republicans behind the bill argue that the new abortion restrictions will protect women's health and safety. Governor Perry, who announced recently that he would not be seeking re-election, said on the new law that it is cementing, "the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built upon." Sen. Wendy Davis, who staged a 13-hour filibuster last month to stall the bill on abortion restriction, said on the bill's signing that "[w]hen Governor Perry signed the bill, he signaled a clear break with Texas families." The bill may be signed, but supporters on both sides are not done debating the issue.
- Utah: The state legislature met in a special session, called by Governor Gary R. Herbert (R), primarily to consider issues related to a House investigation into Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R). Swallow's recent election and tenure have been marked by controversies. Previously, the House called itself into session to vote 69-3 for a panel to investigate Swallow. The special session called by Governor Herbert was designed to set the powers of this panel and adjust open meetings laws in order to avoid making meetings public when it could hinder the investigation. The governor added three additional items to the agenda, including settling a land lawsuit from 1999, repealing a controversial law that sought to restrain the powers of the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in Utah, and giving out-of-state attorneys the power to help with the investigation into Swallow. Most of these issues were considered technical in nature, and leaders did not anticipate considerable controversy. Lawmakers repealed the law that conflicted with federal authority and set up a nine member committee, with five Republicans and four Democrats, to investigate Swallow. The Utah Democratic Party released a statement critical of the special session's decisions regarding the panel, noting that past ethics panels have been nonpartisan and arguing that the chair should not have the power to grant immunity or close the meetings to the public at will.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.
As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.
The following states have ended their regular session:
- April 5: Idaho
- April 5: Mississippi
- April 8: Maryland
- April 14: West Virginia
- April 14: Alaska
- April 19: Tennessee
- April 25: Montana
- April 29: Indiana
- April 29: Washington
- May 3: Florida
- May 3: Hawaii
- May 6: North Dakota
- May 9: Colorado
- May 14: Vermont
- May 17: Arkansas
- May 20: Alabama
- May 20: Minnesota
- May 23: Iowa
- May 27: Texas
- May 30: Missouri
- May 31: Oklahoma
- June 3: Nevada
- June 5: Connecticut
- June 5: Nebraska
- June 6: Louisiana
- June 14: Arizona
- June 20: Kansas
- June 20: South Carolina
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Sunday, March 1, 2015
|There are 7,383 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,168 (42.9%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||4,097 (55.5%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||40|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||57|
|Total tied or nonpartisan chambers||2|
|2013 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||43|
|Total Special Sessions||10|
There is one special sessions ongoing this week in Texas, as California is in recess. The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session. The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state. The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion. Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization. Utah held a one-day special session to consider technical legislation related to the investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R).
Governor Rick Perry (R) called the legislature back into special session to work on an abortion bill after Sen. Wendy Davis (D) led an 11-hour filibuster to prevent its passing in time for the close of the first special session. Also affected by the filibuster and expected to be discussed are bills relating to transportation and juvenile justice.
As of today, July 22, there are 6 state legislatures currently in recess:
|Maps submitted for vote: 140 out of 142 (98.6%)**||No votes on initial maps in the following: 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)|
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.
- 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:
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
The state legislative filing deadlines were 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.
- 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 was $352.80.
The state primaries were as follows:
- New Jersey:
- June 4, 2013
- June 11, 2013
New Jersey had a quiet election, with all competing incumbents winning their primaries.
There were only three hotly contested races, all in the Senate, but none resulted in the ousting of an incumbent:
- District 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
- District 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
- District 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..
Virginia's legislative primaries yielded a pair of defeats for incumbent legislators. The defeated incumbents were supporters of a recently passed transportation bill that increases sales and gas taxes to improve roadways. The successful challengers lodged primary challenges in part to protest the bill's passage, which they called the biggest tax increase in the state's history.
- Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
- Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.
Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in Tuesday's primaries:
There is two special elections taking place this week in California.
Michael J. Rubio (D) resigned his seat on February 22, 2013, to take a job with Chevron. A special election was called for May 21, 2013. While Andy Vidak appeared to be the outright winner in the initial vote tally, after absentee ballots were counted he fell below the 50 percent threshold. A runoff election between the top two vote-getters - Leticia Perez and Andy Vidak - will take place on July 23. Although the district boundaries changed due to redistricting, because Rubio resigned midway through his term, the old boundaries were used. Candidates had until March 29 to file nomination papers.
Rep. Norma Torres (D) won election to the California State Senate on May 14, 2013. A special election has been called for July 23, with a runoff if necessary on September 24. Candidates had until May 31 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of State.
- July 23 blanket primary candidates:
- Paul Vincent Avila
- Tom Haughey
- Freddie Rodriguez
- Jason Rothman
- Manuel Saucedo
- Danielle Soto
- Doris Louise Wallace
- Dorothy Pineda
- Paul Leon
June 25, 2013
Massachusetts House of Representatives 8th Suffolk
Shortly after being sworn in for a 5th term, Martha Walz (D) announced she was resigning to head the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. A special election was called for June 25. A primary took place on May 28, which Jay D. Livingstone won. Livingstone was unopposed in the special election on June 25. Candidates had until April 23 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
June 25 Special election candidates:
Kentucky House of Representatives District 56
Rep. Carl Rollins, II (D) resigned on April 24 to take a job with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. A special election was called for June 25. Candidates were chosen by party leaders instead of in primaries.
June 25 General election candidates:
Upcoming special elections include:
- July 23: California State Senate District 16
- July 23: California State Assembly District 52
- August 6: Virginia State Senate District 14
- August 6: New York House of Representatives District 86
- September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
- September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
- September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District
- State legislative elections, 2013
- 2013 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2013 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2013
- State legislative recalls
- denverpost.com, "Angela Giron recall effort moves forward with signatures certified," June 24, 2013
- denverpost.com, "Sen. John Morse recall: GOP selects Bernie Herpin as nominee," July 9, 2013
- coloradostatesman.com, "Recall elections are on!," July 18, 2013
- Associated Press, "Mass. House rejects change to transportation bill," July 17, 2013
- Boston Globe, "Senate refuses Patrick’s changes on transportation finance bill, sends legislation back to his desk," July 18, 2013
- Associated Press, "Mass. lawmakers rebuff Patrick on transportation," July 18, 2013 (dead link)
- State House News Service, "Tax bill delivered back to Gov. Patrick with veto-proof support," July 18, 2013
- The Republican, "Massachusetts Senate rejects Gov. Deval Patrick's plan to raise gas tax if tolls are removed from Turnpike in 4 years," July 18, 2013
- Boston Globe, "Mass. House brushes aside amendment proposed by Gov. Patrick to transportation funding bill," July 17, 2013
- "LA Times," "Texas Gov. Rick Perry signs bill to curb abortions; challenges likely ," July 18, 2013
- "Huffington Post," "Planned Parenthood To Close Three Texas Clinics," July 18, 2013
- "Reuters," "Texas governor signs strict abortion law that sparked protests," July 18, 2013
- "NY Times," "Perry Signs Texas Abortion Restrictions Into Law," July 18, 2013
- ABC 4 Utah, "Special Session called for Swallow investigation," July 12, 2013
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Legislature to meet in special session to define powers of panel on Swallow<' july 12, 2013
- Deseret News, "More added to Legislature's special session agenda," July 15, 2013
- Deseret News, "Legislative leaders expect little debate at special session," July 16, 2013
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Nine lawmakers chosen in special session may decide Swallow’s fate," July 17, 2013
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Legislature repeals bill to limit feds’ law powers," July 17, 2013
- KCSG, "Utah Democrats React to Swallow Special Session Votes," July 18, 2013
- Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 22, 2013
- Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed July 22, 2013
- West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," accessed June 1, 2013
- sunherald.com, "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
- Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
- The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
- clarionledger.com, "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
- heraldextra.com, "Herbert calls special session for Legislature," July 13, 2013
- star-telegram.com, "Perry calls lawmakers back to work on abortion bill," June 27, 2013 (dead link)
- Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed July 22, 2013 (dead link)
- New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013 (dead link)
- Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
- NJ.com, "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
- Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
- CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
- Fredericksburg.com, "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
- WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
- KBPS.org, "Special Election Set To Fill State Senate Vacancy," March 8, 2013
- sos.ca.gov, "Senate District 16 Special Primary Election - May 21, 2013," accessed April 8, 2013
- turnto23.com, "Andy Vidak wins 16th State Senate district special election," May 22, 2013
- bakersfieldnow.com, "Dramatic turn in special election as Vidak falls below 50 percent of vote," May 24, 2013
- dailybulletin.com, "Gov. Brown announces special election to fill 52nd District," May 21, 2013
- dailybulletin.com, "Nine candidates seek to replace Torres in Assembly," June 2, 2013
- Boston Globe, "State Rep. Martha Walz to lead Planned Parenthood," January 30, 2013
- Boston.com, "Dates set for special election to replace state Rep. Marty Walz," February 7, 2013
- sec.state.ma.us, "Special State Primary Candidates - Eighth Suffolk State Representative District," accessed May 14, 2013
- beaconhill.patch.com, " Where Do I Vote on Beacon Hill Today?," June 25, 2013 (dead link)
- lex18.com, "Special Election First Test Of Military Voting Law," April 28, 2013
- kentucky.com, "Democrats choose Woodford party leader to run for vacant Central Kentucky House seat," April 29, 2013
- kentucky.com, "Kentucky Republicans choose Lyen Crews to run in special election for House 56th District seat," May 1, 2013
- kentucky.com, "Democrat wins special House election in Kentucky," June 25, 2013