State Legislative Tracker: Lawmakers dive into 2013 business in a majority of states

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January 14, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at the major topics in the 28 states that have convened since last Tuesday.

Weekly highlight

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As of today, 39 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here's a quick rundown on what are some early topics in states that have convened since last week's Tracker:

  • Arizona: Losing super-majorities in the House and Senate, Republicans no longer wield the same level of power and compromises may be more likely. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said her legislative priorities include education standards and simplifying the state's transaction privilege tax.[1]
  • Arkansas: New Speaker of the House Davy Carter (R) said the biggest issue facing lawmakers in 2013 is the Medicaid funding shortfall. Other major issues include tax cuts, education, voter ID, lottery scholarships, and abortion.[2][3]
  • Colorado: With Democrats gaining control of both legislative chambers and the governorship, major issues might be addressed at a fast pace. Democrats are expected to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and lower the tuition rate for illegal immigrants who graduate from state high schools. Lawmakers will also address gun control, marijuana, education funding, and health care.[4]
  • Connecticut: Following the Newtown shootings, gun control is expected to take center stage. Other major issues include a $1.2 billion budget deficit, genetically modified foods and alcohol pricing.[5]
  • Delaware: Major issues for the 147th legislative session include gun control, gay marriage, and budgetary problems.[6]
  • Georgia: The one major issue the legislature has to address is passing a budget in the face of an estimated $700 million deficit. Other major issues include ethics reform, gun control, school vouchers, teacher evaluations, and a proposed new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.[7]
  • Illinois: Legislators failed to move on the state's $95 billion pension crisis during the previous legislature and must address it once again. Same-sex marriage is also expected to be a major issue.[8]
  • Iowa: Gov. Terry Branstad's legislative agenda includes investment in the state education system and cutting commercial property taxes. Unlike most states, Iowa legislators begin the session with a nearly $1 billion budget surplus.[9]
  • Kansas: Major issues to be addressed in 2013 include school funding, a settlement between tobacco companies and the state, mental health funding, KanCare, illegal immigration, pension system changes, shifting taxes to the local level, and liquor sales.[10]
  • Kentucky: Legislators are expected to address reforms to the states tax code, pension plans for governmental retirees, and legalization of casino style gambling. Additionally, they will also have to revisit redistricting, as plans passed last year were rejected by the state Supreme Court.[11]
  • Maryland: Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) legislative agenda includes an assault weapons ban, boosting the state's wind power industry, and repeal of the death penalty. Transportation funding will also be a major issue.[12]
  • Michigan: After a extremely divided lame-duck session in December 2012, lawmakers are expected to have a tamer session. Major issues include the regulatory structure of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, increased transportation funding, education reform, and pension changes.[13]
  • Minnesota: The most important issue facing lawmakers is passing a new two-year budget in the face of a $1.1 billion deficit. Leaders also seek to address education funding, making schools safer, legalizing gay marriage, and controlling health care costs.[14]
  • Mississippi: Alongside creating a budget, legislators will address education issues, namely charter schools, and medicaid expansion.[15]
  • Missouri: Legislative leaders are looking to focus on the state's business climate - issues include tax credits, capital improvements, an income tax cut, and a major revision to the state's criminal code.[16]
  • Nebraska: Nebraska legislators face a projected $194 million budget shortfall in 2013. A long debate is expected over the possible expansion of Medicaid coverage, while Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is pushing for increased state aid to the University of Nebraska system and state colleges.[17]
  • New York: Gun control tops the list to be addressed by legislators in 2013. Other major issues include raising the minimum wage, securing federal dollars for victims of Superstorm Sandy, education, job creation, legalizing casinos off of Native American lands, and restrictions to the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk procedures.[18]
  • North Carolina: With the GOP assuming a trifecta for the first time since 1898, leaders are looking to focus on tax reform, cutting government regulations and reshaping the state's public schools.[19]
  • North Dakota: Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) and GOP leaders expect issues related to the state's oil boom to dominate the agenda.[20]
  • South Carolina: Due to a hacker successfully stealing the personal information of 6.4 million people from the state's Department of Revenue computer system, computer security will be a top priority. Other issues include improving the state's roads and bridges and addressing healthcare.[21]
  • South Dakota: Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) has asked legislators to focus on reforming the state's criminal justice system. They will also have to approve a new, balanced budget.[22]
  • Tennessee: Republicans have a supermajority for the first time since the Civil War era. Major issues include guns, school vouchers, and tax cuts to wine in grocery stores.[23]
  • Texas: Along with the necessity of creating a new budget, some of the biggest issues are expected to be medicaid and school funding, a water shortage, and reforming the school finance system.[24]
  • Vermont: Lawmakers will have to address a projected budget shortfall of $50-$70 million.They are also expected to take up physician assisted death, and marijuana decriminalization.[25]
  • Virginia: Major issues for 2013 include abortion, education, transportation, gun control, and ending a ban on uranium mining.[26]
  • Washington: The budget remains the most pressing issue for the state. Other agenda items include marijuana, child sex abuse, gun control, wolves, small businesses, human trafficking, and healthcare.[27]
  • West Virginia: Major issues include the availability of soft drinks in schools, repeal of the law allowing the sterilization of "mental defectives," and treatment of sexually-transmitted diseases.[28]
  • Wyoming: In what is expected to be a busy session, major issues include "opting out" of the Affordable Healthcare Act and Medicaid, a 10-cent fuel tax increase, infrastructure improvements, and reforms to sex crime laws.[29]
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Currently 37 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of January 14, 2013

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[30]

Additionally, 3 more states are 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, January 14, 2013
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,444 (46.6%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,835 (51.9%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 59
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 4
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 6
Total Special Sessions 0

There are no special sessions scheduled to take place this week. Overall in 2012, there were 22 special sessions in 18 states.

In recess

As of today, January 14, 2 state's sessions are 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 43/43
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 46/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY)
**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 and Kentucky, however, saw their maps rejected for legal reasons and will have to take up the drawing of maps once again.

Redistricting in Alaska

See also: Redistricting in Alaska

After a lengthy legal battle, the Alaska Supreme Court rejected the legislative plan as passed by the state's redistricting board, ultimately choosing an interim plan for the 2012 elections. On December 28, 2012, the court ordered the state's redistricting plan be redrawn for the 2014 elections, ruling that the redistricting board did not follow the process as it was instructed to by the court.[32][33]

Last week the Alaska Redistricting Board filed a petition with the state Supreme Court, asking them to reconsider their decision. According to attorneys for the board, the court overlooked or misunderstood important facts in the case and also violated the separation of powers doctrine.[34]

Redistricting in Kentucky

See also: Redistricting in Kentucky

Following the Kentucky Supreme Court's rejection of the state's legislative maps in 2012, the Legislature will have to pass new maps prior to the 2014 elections. When that will happen, however, is up in the air. President of the Senate Robert Stivers (R) has said there are more important issues to focus on, while Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo (D) wants to get redistricting done as quickly as possible to avoid it being used later on as a political bargaining chip.[35]

Last week, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) weighed in on the matter, agreeing with Stivers that it should be delayed so that other issues can be taken care of first. “Reforming Kentucky’s pension programs will require much deliberation and ample time for quality debate. Further, as we work together to improve our Commonwealth, continuing to develop a tax reform package which not only allows for, but encourages, future growth for our economy is vital,” Beshear stated.[36]

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.

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is one special election taking place this week in Mississippi.

Mississippi State Senate District 16

Bennie Turner (D) died on November 27, 2012. A special election to fill his District 16 seat in the Mississippi State Senate has been scheduled for January 15, 2013. Candidates had until December 17, 2012 to file. Special elections in Mississippi are non-partisan.[37]

IndependentGeneral Election Candidates:

Recent results

California
See also: California state legislative special elections, 2013

California Senate District 4 Doug LaMalfa (R) announced on August 31, 2012 that he would resign his District 4 seat in the California State Senate after deciding to run for U.S. House of Representatives, which he won. Jim Nielsen (R) initially looked to have won the blanket primary outright, but final returns showed him just short of the 50 percent plus one necessary to avoid a general election.[38][39] Nielsen easily won the special election against Mickey Harrington.[40]

Georgia
See also: Georgia state legislative special elections, 2013

Georgia State Senate District 11
John Bulloch (R) resigned his District 11 seat in the Georgia State Senate on December 6, 2012. As no candidate won more than 51 percent in the election, the top two vote-getters, Dean Burke (R) and Mike Keown (R), will head to a runoff on February 5.[41]

Georgia State Senate District 21
Chip Rogers (R) resigned his District 21 seat in the Georgia State Senate effective December 5, 2012 in order to take a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting. The special election took place on January 8, 2013. Brandon Beach (R) defeated Sean Jerguson (R) to win the seat.[42][43][44][45]

Georgia State Senate District 30
Bill Hamrick (R) resigned his District 30 seat in the Georgia State Senate following his appointment as a Superior Court judge on the Coweta Judicial Circuit in September 2012. A special election was held to fill the vacancy on January 8, 2013. With no candidate winning a majority in the Republican primary, the top two vote-getters proceeded to a runoff on December 4, 2012, which Mike Dugan won.[46][47] Dugan easily defeated James Camp (L) to take the seat.[48]

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.[49][44][50] As no candidate took more than 51 percent of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters, Brian Laurens (R) and Scot Turner (R), will take place on February 5.[51]

Mississippi
See also: Mississippi state legislative special elections, 2013

Mississippi House of Representatives District 59
Kevin McGee (R) resigned his District 59 seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives on November 19, 2012, following his criminal prosecution in an ethics case over public contracts that went to his family's company. McGee agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to resolve the case. A special election to fill the vacancy was held on January 8, 2013. Candidates had until December 10, 2012 to file. Special elections in Mississippi are non-partisan. Brent Powell won more than 51 percent of the vote to take the seat, avoiding a runoff.[52][53][54]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • January 15: Mississippi State Senate District 16
  • January 22: Iowa House of Representatives District 52
  • January 26: Texas State Senate District 6
  • January 29: Alabama State Senate District 35
  • 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 15A and 19A
  • February 19: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 31
  • March 2: Louisiana House of Representatives Districts 65 and 79
  • March 12: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17
  • March 12: California State Senate Districts 32 and 40

See also

References

  1. Cronkite News, "Brewer, top legislators: Education, businesses priorities for session," January 11, 2013
  2. Today's THV, "Major issues facing Arkansas legislature," January 11, 2013
  3. KUAR, "New Ark. House Speaker Says Medicaid Budget Is Biggest Issue," January 11, 2013
  4. Daily Camera, "Controversial issues will keep Colorado legislature busy for 2013 session," January 6, 2013
  5. South Windsor Patch, "Aman Previews Upcoming Legislative Session for South Windsor Council," January 10, 2013
  6. Beaumont Enterprise, "Budget, guns among issues facing Del. lawmakers," January 8, 2013
  7. WJBF, "Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session Kicks Off Monday," January 12, 2013
  8. Chicago Sun-Times, "Lame-duck session ends with no pension reform," January 8, 2013
  9. KWWL, "Iowa Legislature begins 2013 session," January 14, 2013
  10. Lawrence Journal World, "Key issues expected during the 2013 legislative session," January 13, 2013
  11. Kentucky.com, "Lawmakers start Ky. session aiming for cooperation," January 8, 2013
  12. Washington Post, "Maryland legislative session begins with bold predictions," January 9, 2013
  13. South Bend Tribune, "Michigan Legislature starts tamer two-year session today," January 9, 2013
  14. Twin Cities, "Minnesota Legislature convenes for official start of session," January 9, 2013
  15. Sun Herald, "Mississippi legislative session sets off at saunter, not trot," January 8, 2013
  16. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Business issues at top of Republican legislative leaders' agenda in Missouri," January 5, 2013
  17. Sioux City Journal, " Big Decisions Ahead," January 9, 2013
  18. Spokesman Review, "NY legislative leaders buckle down on gun controls," January 9, 2013
  19. WRAL, "Ceremony marks opening of legislative session," January 9, 2013
  20. NewsOK, "Oil issues to dominate ND legislative session," January 6, 2013
  21. WJBF, "South Carolina Lawmakers Start Legislative Session Vowing To Protect Your Information And Improve Roads," January 8, 2013
  22. KTIV, "UPDATE: SD Governor asks lawmakers to revamp criminal justice system," January 8, 2013
  23. Commercial Appeal, "Guns, wine, vouchers again in Tennessee legislature," January 5, 2013
  24. Star-Telegram, "As lawmakers return to Austin this week, a heap of work awaits," January 6, 2013
  25. Boston.com, "2013 Vt. legislative session to get under way," January 6, 2013
  26. WRIC, "Virginia General Assembly To Convene For 2013 Session," January 9, 2013
  27. The Spokesman Review, "Budget remains pressing issue in new legislative session," January 13, 2013
  28. State Journal, "Soft drinks in schools to be considered by WV Legislature," January 8, 2013
  29. Cody Enterprise, "Wyoming Legislature set for ‘wild ride’," January 2, 2013
  30. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed January 14, 2013
  31. 31.0 31.1 State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed January 14, 2013
  32. Anchorage Daily News, "High court orders redistricting plan be redrawn," December 28, 2012
  33. Alaska Dispatch, "High court orders new redistricting for 2014 Alaska election," December 28, 2012
  34. Alaska Dispatch, "Alaska Redistricting Board asks state Supreme Court to reconsider ruling," January 10, 2013
  35. Kentucky.com, "Ky. lawmakers still wrestling with redistricting," December 30, 2012
  36. Courier-Journal, "Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear asks legislature to delay redistricting," January 10, 2013
  37. Clarion Ledger, "Special Election Set For Seat Held By The Late-Sen. Bennie Turner," December 6, 2012
  38. California Secretary of State, "State Senate District four results," accessed November 15, 2012
  39. Appeal Democrat, "Senate runoff looming," November 23, 2012
  40. News 10, "Republican wins in special Senate election," January 9, 2013
  41. Moultrie Observer, "Burke, Keown in Senate runoff," January 8, 2013
  42. Cherokee Tribune, "Beach bests Jerguson in state Senate special election," January 9, 2013
  43. Cherokee Ledger News, "Chip Rogers resigns from Senate to work for public broadcasting," December 5, 2012
  44. 44.0 44.1 Cherokee Ledger News, "Special Senate and House elections set," December 6, 2012
  45. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Brandon Beach qualifies for special, says $30K raised," December 10, 2012
  46. Times Georgian, "District 30 candidates back on the campaign trail," November 7, 2012
  47. Peach Pundit, "Mike Dugan Defeats Bill Hembree in Senate District 30," December 4, 2012
  48. Times Georgian, "Dugan takes state Senate seat," January 9, 2013
  49. Cherokee Ledger News, "Sean Jerguson to run for State Senate 21 seat," December 5, 2012
  50. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Qualifying ends for open legislative seats, including Rogers’," December 12, 2012
  51. Canton-Sixes Patch, "Unofficial Vote Count Complete, Runoff Looms for House Race ," January 8, 2013
  52. Sun Herald, "Powell wins special election for House District 59," January 8, 2013
  53. The Republic, "Bryant sets special election date for House seat vacated by former Rep. Kevin McGee," November 27, 2012
  54. Sun Herald, "4 running in Miss. House election in Rankin County," December 13, 2012