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State Legislative Tracker: Maryland set to start special session on May 14
Edited by George Sousouris
This week's tracker features a sessions update and a brief look at a state considering reimbursing a legislator for his recall campaign.
This week 23 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. No states are scheduled to convene this week, while four states - Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Iowa - are expected to adjourn.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:
- January 17: Alaska, New Mexico
- January 18: Hawaii
- January 23: Utah
- January 24: Minnesota
- February 1: Oregon
- February 5: Oklahoma
- February 7: Alabama
- February 8: Connecticut
- February 13: Arkansas, Wyoming
- March 12: Louisiana State Legislature
The following states have ended their regular session:
- February 16: New Mexico
- March 6: Oregon
- March 8: Utah, Washington
- March 9: Arkansas, Florida, Wyoming
- March 10: Indiana, Virginia, West Virginia
- March 16: Wisconsin (will return for limited business on April 24)
- March 19: South Dakota
- March 29: Georgia, Idaho
- April 9: Maryland State Legislature
- April 12: Kentucky State Legislature
- April 16: Alaska State Legislature
- April 18: Nebraska State Legislature
- May 3: Arizona State Legislature, Mississippi State Legislature
- May 5: Vermont State Legislature
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, April 30, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,303 (44.7%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,969 (53.8%)|
|There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers|
|Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers||36|
|Total Republican Party-controlled chambers||58|
|Total tied or nonpartisan chambers||5|
|2012 Session Information|
|Total Special Elections||25|
|Total Special Sessions||9|
In 2011, special sessions were a widespread occurrence in state legislatures. This was largely due to states' having to complete the redistricting process for legislative and congressional districts. Overall in 2011, there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.
Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 9 special sessions in 6 states. Two are ongoing.
Gov. Sean Parnell (R) called for a special session earlier this month following the end of the Legislature's regular session in order to deal with unresolved issues, including oil taxes, an in-state natural gas pipeline project and strengthening penalties for people convicted of sex trafficking.
It got underway April 18. The sex trafficking bill quickly passed both chambers, but other issues proved tougher. The Senate adjourned last Thursday after the governor pulled the stalled oil tax plan from the agenda. The Senate said it "has no realistic alternative" other than to adjourn after Parnell's "sudden, unprecedented and unauthorized withdrawal" of the oil bill.
The House adjourned the special session on April 30 after failing to address oil taxes and the natural gas pipeline. However, sex trafficking prohibitions were approved. The Senate had previously adjourned April 26.
Maryland might hold a special session in order to deal with unfinished budget issues, but Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he will only call one if legislative leaders agree that there will not be another stalemate. The General Assembly passed a budget before the regular session adjourned, but measures related to the budget stalled. Among these was a tax plan to balance the budget. Without one in place, $512 million in cuts will take effect.
Addressing reporters last week, the governor confirmed there may be two special sessions - one to deal with revenue issues and one to deal with gaming. Talks are ongoing but the first has been discussed for the week of May 14, with the second in July or August.
The Virginia General Assembly remains in special session, but is in recess. Virginia immediately convened a special session as soon as their regular session ended as they were unable to agree on a budget.
The Senate passed an $85 billion budget plan on April 18, sending it to the governor for review. The previous day saw a stalemate in the chamber over funding to extend the metro train system to Dulles International Airport.
Gov. Bob McDonnell made minor amendments to the budget proposed by the General Assembly, and the legislature will convene on May 14 to vote on the changes. After the Assembly acts, McDonnell will be allowed an up-or-down vote on the entire spending plan.
As of today, April 30, 5 state sessions are in recess:
- Maine - In recess from April 14 until May 13.
- New Jersey - In recess for budget hearings from March 16, 2012 through May 15, 2012
- North Carolina - Mid-term recess June 18, 2011 through May 12, 2012
- Wisconsin - In recess from March 17 to May 21.
- Virginia General Assembly - In recess until May 14.
On May 3, the Alaska Redistricting Board petitioned the state Supreme Court to allow the original redistricting plan to remain in place for the 2012 elections. The original plan, along with a revised plan have been struck down by the courts. The Board is currently appealing the latest ruling to the Supreme Court. However, with the candidate filing deadline approaching on June 1, a ruling in that appeal may not come in time, and a provisional map may be required. Even once a final plan is approved, the Department of Justice must still clear the plan.
A lawsuit was filed late on April 30 seeking to invalidate Arizona's redistricting maps, recently approved by the Department of Justice. The suit, filed by two groups of Republicans, protests both the congressional and legislative maps as "unconstitutional and partisan." A District judge granted a request that a three-judge federal panel hear the lawsuit. No date has yet been set.
On April 30, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Florida's redistricting maps for use in the 2012 elections. Also on April 30, a state court said that a lawsuit against Florida's congressional maps can move forward, but decided not to delay this year's elections while the case continues.
On May 3, a Kansas resident and Republican precinct committee member filed a federal lawsuit over the state's ongoing redistricting gridlock. The lawsuit contends that operating under the old boundaries constitutes a violation of the plaintiff's right to equal representation. The plaintiff, Robyn Renee Essex, suggests that the court impose maps much like those drafted by legislative conservatives. Her attorney is conservative House Speaker Mike O'Neal's (R) former chief of staff, Brent Haden. O'Neal has denied any involvement in the filing.
Last week, the House rejected the Senate's chamber map, setting up another battle between moderates in the Senate and conservatives in the House. A Kansas House committee is resuming work on a compromise Senate plan this week.
Last week, two Maryland state senators filed a lawsuit against the state's legislative redistricting map. James Brochin (D) and Delores Kelley (D) argue that Balitmore County is not sufficiently represented under the map. In addition, they argue that the plan violates a state law mandating redistricting plans respect the boundaries of political subdivisions. The suit was filed in a Maryland Court of Appeals.
State Republicans continued to make progress with new legislative maps, as the Mississippi State Senate introduced and adopted a redistricting plan in the past week. The map was approved on a 46-5 vote. The new map increased the number of majority-minority districts from 13 to 15 while also reducing the number of split election precincts from 129 to 14. The Senate also affirmed the House redistricting plan.
Since the plan's adoption, five lawsuits have been filed against the New Hampshire House redistricting plan. After a May 3 hearing, the cases may be transferred to the state Supreme Court. The plaintiffs include three municipalities, Concord, Manchester, and Gilford, along with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and a group of 10 Republican legislators, current and former. The state's candidate filing period opens in less than a month on June 6. All of the parties must agree to the facts of the case before it can move to the Supreme Court.
On May 3, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the GOP-backed Senate redistricting plan. In the unanimous ruling, the state's high court ruled that the burden of proving the plan unconstitutional had not been satisfied. Democrats questioned the method by which Republicans had calculated the required number of legislative districts. The approach allowed for a new Senate seat in conservative upstate New York.
- The upheld plans can be found here.
A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.
1,272 (64.5%) of the country's 1,971 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country's 5,413 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 5,984 (81.04%) of the country's 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for election during the presidential election year.
- 43 of the 50 state senates are holding elections.
- 43 of the 49 state houses are holding elections.
The 5,984 seats up for election is 141 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
No states have signature filing deadlines this week.
So far, deadlines have passed in 26 states:
- Illinois – December 5, 2011
- Ohio - December 7, 2011
- West Virginia - January 28
- Kentucky – January 31
- Indiana – February 10
- Nebraska - February 15 (incumbents), March 1 (non-incumbents)
- Pennsylvania - February 16
- North Carolina - February 29
- Arkansas - March 1
- Oregon - March 6
- California - March 9
- Idaho – March 9
- Texas - March 9
- Montana - March 12
- Maine - March 15
- Iowa - March 16
- Nevada - March 16
- Utah - March 16
- New Mexico - March 20
- Missouri - March 27
- South Dakota - March 27
- South Carolina - March 30
- Colorado - April 2
- Tennessee - April 5
- North Dakota - April 13
- Oklahoma - April 13
States with upcoming deadlines:
- See also: 2012 election dates
State legislative primaries taking place this week:
So far, primaries have taken place in three states:
A total of 10 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary.
States with upcoming primaries:
- May 15: Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon
- May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky
- May 29: Texas
- June 5: California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota
- Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.
- Currently, 18 states permit the recall of state officials. Between 1913 and 2008, there were just 20 state legislative recall elections in five states. Of the 20 state legislative recall elections, 13 out of 20 resulted in the state legislator being recalled. In 2011, there were 11 state legislative recalls in three states, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there are currently 4 scheduled state legislative recalls.
Republican State Senator Russell Pearce was recalled by Arizona voters on November 8, 2011, the first ever recall of an elected state official in the state's history.
In the aftermath of the recall, Pearce supporters in the legislature attempted to invoke a clause of the Arizona State Constitution to gain repayment from the State Treasury for his recall campaign -- a sum of more than $250,000. On May 3, the move appeared to be halted due to a lack of support on both sides of the aisle, with many Republicans claiming that it would be an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds.
2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns continued on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful on November 8, 2011). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) set their sights on the August 2012 ballot, but earlier this month organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts. The Caswell campaign remains active.
Proposed recall petition language was submitted this month targeting Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R). The man behind the move is Jeff Andring, a fellow Republican and former chairman of the Monroe County Republican Party. The language says Richardville should be recalled for cosponsoring legislation that benefited the brother of the state GOP chair, supporting a right-to-work law only affecting public school teacher unions, and supporting a proposed bridge to Canada.
Andring explained the campaign, saying, "I've always been critical of his policies because Randy's a liberal Republican and I'm a conservative Republican. Randy's a nice guy, but I disagree with his policies and it's time to say enough is enough." The Monroe County elections commission will meet May 2 to vote on the proposed recall language.
Recalls are scheduled against four state senators. The primary will take place on May 8 with general elections on June 5.
Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard. Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.
In late March, state Republican Party officials announced plans to run Democratic candidates in all four recall primaries in order to ensure primaries in all races, which then guarantees all recalls will take place on the same day. Because Wisconsin has an open primary system, voters do not have to be registered to a specific party in order to cast a vote in the primary. Therefore, Republican-leaning voters can cross over to the Democratic primary and vice-versa. Republicans used the same maneuver last year during the recall elections of six GOP state senators. The "fake" or "protest" candidates were all defeated in the primary, receiving between 29 and 44 percent of the vote.
Candidates in the recalls had until April 10 to file to get on the ballot, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board held a special meeting April 17 to consider challenges to the candidates and certify ballot access. Democrats filed a complaint against all of the protest candidates, arguing they knowingly gave false information on documents submitted to election officials, but that was rejected by GAB, allowing them to stay on the ballot. Republicans have not minced words when it comes to their intentions behind the fake candidates, as State Rep. Robin Vos openly stated, "We are encouraging Republicans to vote in the Democratic primaries."
Matchups for the May 8 primaries are as follows:
- District 13 - Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R)
- District 21 - Sen. Van Wanggaard (R)
- District 23 - Sen. Terry Moulton (R)
- District 29 - Sen. Pam Galloway (R)
- Note: Galloway resigned, but the recall against her continues as scheduled. State Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R) is running in her place.
There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.
Upcoming special elections include:
- July 10: South Carolina Senate District 41
- July 24: South Carolina House District 68
- November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 16
- November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 26
- November 6: New Jersey Assembly District 68
- State legislative elections, 2012
- 2012 state legislative calendar
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections
- State legislative special elections, 2012
- State legislative recalls
- Coshocton Tribune, "Governor calling special session on 3 issues," April 16, 2012
- Anchorage Daily News, "No hurry-up in Juneau as special session gets under way," April 19, 2012
- News-Miner, "Session Schedules," May 7, 2012
- News-Miner, "Alaska Senate adjourns special session," April 26, 2012
- Gazette.Net, "O'Malley: No special session without consensus," April 13, 2012
- Washington Post, "Maryland looking at two special sessions," March 24, 2012
- Washington Post, "Md. special sessions complicate fundraising rules," April 26, 2012
- Maryland Reporter, "State Roundup, May 7," May 7, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules," accessed April 30, 2012
- Reuters, "Virginia legislature approves $85 bln budget," April 18, 2012
- Washington Post, "McDonnell amends Virginia budget, lightly and quickly," May 7, 2012
- Anchorage Daily New, "Redistricting board seeks to use original plan for elections," May 4, 2012
- Petersburg Pilot, "Redistricting board files appeal with State Supreme Court," May 3, 2012
- Arizona Journal, "IRC Maps Face Legal Challenge," May 2, 2012
- The Republic, "Court grants request for 3-judge panel to consider challenge to Arizona legislative districts," May 4, 2012
- Orlando Sentinel, "State congressional, legislative districts approved by Justice Department," April 30, 2012
- LJ World, "Olathe woman files federal suit over redistricting," May 3, 2012
- Kansas City, "Kansas House to resume redistricting work," May 7, 2012 (dead link)
- Baltimore Sun, "State senators Brochin, Kelley file court challenge to legislative redistricting map," May 2, 2012
- Real Clear Politics, "Mississippi Senate unveils its redistricting map," May 1, 2012
- NECN "Mississippi Senate adopts its redistricting plan," May 2, 2012 (dead link)
- Nashua Telegraph, "House redistricting lawsuits appear on fast track to Supreme Court," May 4, 2012 (dead link)
- Newsday, "Ruling upholds GOP redistricting plan," May 3, 2012
- The Arizona Republic, "Plan to reimburse Russell Pearce campaign costs dies," May 7, 2012
- The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
- MLive, "Sen. Randy Richardville is recall target of fellow Republican," April 18, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
- FOX 6 Now, "Recall paperwork filed Tuesday for four senators, including Van Wanggaard," November 15, 2011
- Channel 3000, "GOP Plans To Run Democratic Candidates In 4 Recall Races," March 30, 2012
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "GAB Special Board Meeting," accessed April 16, 2012
- The Northwestern, "Democrats challenge fake Dems on recall ballots," April 12, 2012
- Real Clear Politics, "GOP hoping cross over voting affect recalls," April 22, 2012
- Daily Union, "Ellerman running as a protest candidate," April 2, 2012
- Caledonia Patch, "GOP's Official Protest Candidate Files Papers for the 21st District," April 3, 2012
- The Republic, “Wisconsin Republicans name fake Democrats for recall primaries,” April 4, 2012
- WQOW, ""Fake Democrat" files to run in 29th Senate District," April 4, 2012