State Legislative Tracker: Michigan legislature considers citizen initiative

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December 9, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at one state's citizen initiative.

Weekly highlight

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

  • Indiana: Republican Senator Johnny Nugent of District 43 has announced that he will not be running for re-election in 2014. Nugent, who was first elected in 1978, announced his retirement December 2. He has served as State Senate Majority Caucus Leader and chair of the Roads and Transportation Committee. He was also chair of the Senate Agriculture and Small Business Committee for more than 20 years. Nugent said in a statement that it was a difficult decision to volunteer to retire, but he "concluded that it's time to pass the torch." He also said that his family, business, and his health "all weighed heavily on [his] decision to decline running for re-election." President Pro Tempore of the Senate David Long (R) said Nugent was "a great leader and voice for the people," and that "he will be greatly missed by his constituents." During Nugent's time in the Senate, he authored several pro-Second Amendment bills, the nation's first lifetime concealed carry permit law, and has supported the rights of hunters. Nugent, who served seven years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, also supported efforts to honor Purple Heart recipients in Indiana. In 2005, he co-authored legislation "to support Indiana National Guard troops while on active duty deployments, and ensure their education benefits upon their return." Nugent has served the following counties during his tenure: Bartholomew, Dearborn, Decatur, Jackson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley, Union, Franklin, Switzerland, and Fayette. Allen Paul (R), Tom Wyss (R), and Lindel Hume (D) have also said that they will not run for re-election in 2014.[1][2][3]
  • Iowa: Former State Senator Kent Sorenson (R), who resigned from the Iowa State Senate on October 2, 2013, under the cloud of ethics violations during the 2012 Iowa presidential caucuses, had his home raided by the FBI on November 20, 2013. The FBI officials were executing a search warrant; personal computers, including those of his children, and written material were confiscated. Sorenson's attorney claimed they did not know he was the object of an investigation, and it is not clear which federal laws Sorenson may have violated. However, it is assumed the "dragnet" is in connection with a grand jury investigation into the campaign activities of Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul. It is alleged that then Senator Sorenson received payment from third party groups for working on both campaigns, in violation of the State Senate ethics rules.[4][5][6]
  • Michigan: The Michigan legislature is considering a citizen initiative that would restrict private insurance coverage of abortion; if it passes, it will avoid the governor's veto pen. A petition, advanced by Michigan Right to Life and received by the legislature last Tuesday, would bar insurance providers from covering abortions without an additional 'rider' policy taken out before conception. Pregnant women would be covered under a primary plan in a life-threatening situation, but not in cases of rape or incest. Nearly 300,000 registered voters, or 4.2 percent of the state's total, signed the petition. The legislature returns from break on Tuesday and will likely move on the bill then. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) vetoed a bill with a similar provision last year, calling it intrusive and inappropriate. Should the current bill pass, he will not be able to veto it under the mechanism for citizen initiatives. Michigan Right To Life president Barbara Listing said in a statement that Michigan taxpayers do not want to pay for abortions, and that the bill is intended to keep subsidized insurance plans created by the Affordable Care Act from covering them. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) called the bill "illogical" and "one of the most misogynistic proposals" she had faced. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, 23 states limit abortion coverage under the ACA exchanges, but only eight limit such coverage under private plans as well. Under Michigan law, a petitioning entity must obtain a number of valid signatures equaling at least 8 percent of the vote for all candidates in the previous gubernatorial election. Once validated and submitted, the legislature has 40 working days to act on the proposal as-is or offer an alternative; if the original bill is not passed, it and any related measure passed will become a ballot question in the next election. (The group No Taxes For Abortion Insurance has already pushed a similar initiative to appear on the 2014 ballot.) The Michigan legislature has only ever passed five citizen initiatives, with the last coming in 2006.[7][8][9][10]
  • Missouri: State Rep. Steve Webb (D) has formally resigned from his House seat following charges of numerous campaign finance violations earlier last month. The St. Louis County Circuit Court has charged Webb with one felony and seven misdemeanor counts. The felony charge alleges that Webb solicited a $3,000 donation that was supposed to be used for a Legislative Black Caucus reception, but was instead deposited into Webb's personal bank account. The seven misdemeanor counts allege that Webb violated the Missouri Ethics Commission Rules governing campaign finance by failing to disclose campaign contributions and expenditures. In an emailed statement, Webb said, "I strongly believe that the allegations against me will work themselves out. It’s only right and fair that my family, the people and my colleagues not be negatively be impacted by the distractions these legal challenges present. With that being said, it’s with a heavy heart that I will be resigning my office effective immediately.” If convicted of the charges, Webb can face up to seven years in prison. Governor Jay Nixon (R) will now have to schedule a special election to fill Webb's seat.[11][12][13]
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Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of December 9, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently five out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state is meeting in special session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[14]

The following states have ended their regular session:[15]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Saturday, October 25, 2014
There are 7,387 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,445 (46.6%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,812 (51.6%)
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 78
Total Special Sessions 26
Wisconsin

Gov. Scott Walker has called the Wisconsin State Legislature into special session to consider a three-month delay for the Governor's plan to move residents from the state's insurance system to the federal insurance market. Walker believes the "problematic rollout" of the Affordable Care Act justifies this delay.[16]

In recess

As of today, December 2, there is 1 state legislatures currently in recess:[17]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
Maps submitted for vote: 142 out of 142 (100%)** All maps voted on
States that have completed Congressional Maps 43/43 (Maps ordered redrawn:
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 49/50 (Maps unfinished: ME)
**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 is not required to have its maps completed before 2014. Although the Texas State Legislature passed a plan, it is currently under dispute. Judges have approved its use for the 2014 elections, however.

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 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.[18]

  • 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 was $352.80.[19]

Primaries

The state primaries were as follows:

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

Results

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:[20]

Republican PartyDistrict 13: Incumbent Joe Kyrillos, Jr. defeated challenger Leigh-Ann Bellew.
Democratic PartyDistrict 20: Incumbent Raymond Lesniak defeated challenger Donna Obe.
Democratic PartyDistrict 34: Incumbent Nia H. Gill defeated challengers Mark C. Alexander and Vernon Pullins, Jr..

Virginia experienced two upsets in an otherwise quiet day of primaries for the House of Delegates. Voter turnout was expected to fall below 5 percent based on projections at polling locations.[21]

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.[22][23] 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.[24]

Republican Party Mark J. Berg defeated Beverly Sherwood in District 29.
Republican Party Dave A. LaRock defeated Joe T. May in District 33.

Five incumbents were able to fend off primary challenges in the June 11 primaries:

Republican Party C. Todd Gilbert defeated Mark W. Prince in District 15.
Republican Party Bill Howell defeated Craig E. Ennis in District 28.
Republican Party Bobby Orrock defeated Dustin R. Curtis in District 54.
Democratic Party Roz Dance defeated Evandra D. Thompson in District 63.
Democratic Party Algie Howell defeated Richard James in District 90.

General election

New Jersey

Democratic activists expressed concern that Governor Chris Christie's "coattails" would lead to a Republican state legislature and allow him to successfully promote a conservative agenda ahead of a presidential run in 2016. The Fund for Jobs, Growth and Security super PAC won a legal battle allowing it to spend unlimited amounts on state legislative campaigns in New Jersey. It was founded to prevent Christie's popularity from creating Republican majorities in New Jersey's 2013 elections. The super PAC's president is Susan McCue, who was dubbed by POLITICO as one of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "closest confidantes," is the organization's president.[25]

New Jersey State Senate
Party As of November 4, 2013 After the 2013 Election
     Democratic Party 24 24
     Republican Party 16 16
Total 40 40
New Jersey General Assembly
Party As of November 4, 2013 After the 2013 Election
     Democratic Party 48 48
     Republican Party 32 32
Total 80 80

Democrats were able to stop any strong gains by Republican candidates in the 2013 election. There were no changes to the partisan balance of the State Senate. Republicans in General Assembly were able to pick up two seats from the Democratic majority. In the Senate, every incumbent who ran in 2013 won re-election. Two Democratic incumbents from the General Assembly were defeated on November 5, 2013.

The following are a few races that turned up extremely close under unofficial election results.

Senate District 14
Democratic Party June 4 Democratic primary:
Republican Party June 4 Republican primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Linda R. Greenstein Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Peter A. Inverso
Libertarian Party Don Dezarn

Note: Unofficial results put Greenstein ahead of Inverso by a margin of 30,999 to 29,759 votes. Dezarn obtained 1,001 according to unofficial results.[26]

Senate District 38
Democratic Party June 4 Democratic primary:
  • Bob Gordon Approveda - Incumbent Gordon first assumed office in 2008.
Republican Party June 4 Republican primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Bob Gordon Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Fernando A. Alonso

Note: Unofficial results put Gordon ahead of Alonso by a margin of 26,168 to 24,579 votes.[26]

Assembly District 38
Democratic Party June 4 Democratic primary:

Note: Assemblywoman Connie Terranova Wagner (D) withdrew from election on June 11, citing family reasons.[27]

Republican Party June 4 Republican primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Timothy J. Eustace
Democratic Party Joseph Lagana Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Joan Fragala
Republican Party Joseph J. Scarpa Green check mark transparent.png

Note: Unofficial results put Scarpa ahead of Eustace by a margin of 24,716 to 24,545 votes. Lagana obtained 24,838 according to unofficial results.[26]

Virginia

In the 2013 elections for the Virginia House of Delegates, the Democrats were looking to make inroads into the Republican majorities built up during the 2009 and 2011 state legislative elections. Democratic candidates needed to win a net of 19 seats from Republican officeholders or the Republican candidates seeking to succeed them. In the 2013 elections for the Virginia House of Delegates, all 100 seats were up for election.


Virginia House of Delegates
Party As of November 4, 2013 After the 2013 Election
     Democratic Party 32 33
     Republican Party 65 67
     Independent 1 0
     Vacancy 2 0
Total 100 100


Republican majorities ultimately held strong, with Democrats gaining one seat and Republicans bolstering their majority by an additional two seats. Two seats were previously vacant and one seat, previously held by independent Lacey Putney, was won by a Republican candidate. The following are some interesting elections and races that turned up extremely close under unofficial election results.

District 2
Democratic Party June 11 Democratic primary:
Republican Party June 11 GOP primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Michael Futrell Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Mark Dudenhefer

Note: Unofficial results put Futrell ahead of Dudenhefer by a margin of 8,183 to 7,960 votes.[28]

District 31
Democratic Party June 11 Democratic primary:
Republican Party June 11 GOP primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Jeremy McPike
Republican Party Scott Lingamfelter Green check mark transparent.png

Note: Unofficial results put Lingamfelter ahead of McPike by a margin of 11,506 to 11,272 votes.[28]

District 86
Democratic Party June 11 Democratic primary:
Republican Party June 11 GOP primary:
  • Tom Rust Approveda - Incumbent Rust first assumed office in 2002.

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party Jennifer B. Boysko
Republican Party Tom Rust Green check mark transparent.png

Note: Unofficial results put Rust ahead of Boysko by a margin of 10,383 to 10,327 votes.[28]

District 93
Democratic Party June 11 Democratic primary:
Republican Party June 11 GOP primary:

November 5 General election candidates:

Democratic Party T. Monty Mason Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Michael Watson

Note: Unofficial results put Mason ahead of Watson by a margin of 12,138 to 11,102 votes.[28]

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are two special elections scheduled this week in Kentucky.

Kentucky State Senate District 13

Sen. Kathy Stein (D) resigned following her appointment as Fayette Family Court judge. A special election has been called for December 10. Candidates were nominated by their local parties.[29][30]

December 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Reggie Thomas
Republican Party Michael E. Johnson
Independent Richard Moloney

Kentucky House of Representatives District 7

Rep. John Arnold, Jr. (D) resigned amidst sexual harassment allegations. A special election has been called for December 10. Candidates were nominated by their local parties.[31][32]

December 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Kim Humphrey
Republican Party Suzanne Miles

Recent election results

December 3, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgCalifornia State Assembly District 54
Rep. Holly Mitchell (D) was elected to the California State Senate on September 17. A special election has been called for December 3, with a runoff on February 4, 2014, if necessary. Candidates had until October 11 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of State.[33][34][35]

December 3 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Christopher R. Armenta
Democratic Party John Jake
Democratic Party Sebastian Ridley-Thomas Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpgGeorgia State Senate District 14
Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R) resigned in order to focus on his Congressional campaign. A special election was called for November 5 elections, with a runoff if necessary on December 3. No party primaries were held for this election. Candidates had from September 16 to September 18 to file certified nomination papers.[36][37][38][39]

December 3 Runoff election candidates:
Republican Party Matt Laughridge
Republican Party Bruce Thompson Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpgGeorgia House of Representatives District 104
Rep. Donna Sheldon (R) resigned in order to focus on her Congressional campaign. A special election was called for November 5 elections, with a runoff if necessary on December 3. No party primaries were held for this election. Candidates had from September 16 to September 18 to file certified nomination papers.[40][41][42][43]

December 3 Runoff election candidates:
Republican Party Teresa Cantrell
Republican Party Chuck Efstration Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgRunoffArrow.jpgGeorgia House of Representatives District 127
Rep. Quincy Murphy (D) passed away on August 2 after a battle with lung cancer. A special election was called for November 5 elections, with a runoff if necessary on December 3. No party primaries were held for this election. Candidates had from September 16 to September 18 to file certified nomination papers.[44][45][46][47]

December 3 Runoff election candidates:
Democratic Party Diane B. Evans
Democratic Party Brian Prince Green check mark transparent.png

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • December 17: New Hampshire House of Representatives Sixth Strafford District
  • January 7: Georgia House of Representatives District 2
  • January 7: Georgia House of Representatives District 22
  • January 7: Iowa House of Representatives District 25
  • January 7: Massachusetts House of Representatives Ninth Norfolk District
  • January 7: Virginia State Senate District 6
  • January 7: Virginia House of Delegates District 11

See also

References

  1. Star-Telegram, "Ind. GOP state senator to step down after 36 years," December 2, 2013
  2. thestatehousefile.com, "Sen. Nugent won't seek re-election," December 2, 2013
  3. The Ohio County News & Rising Star Recorder, "Nugent will not seek re-election to Senate District 43," December 4, 2013
  4. press-citizen.com, "FBI takes computers from former state Sen. Kent Sorenson's home," accessed December 6, 2013
  5. startribune.com, "Report: Federal agents searched home of former Iowa state senator, confiscate computers," accessed December 6, 2013
  6. theiowarepublican.com, "The Payoff Details Revealed on Sorenson's Deal with Ron Paul," accessed December 6, 2013
  7. The Huffington Post, "Group Uses Quirk Of Michigan Law To Push Abortion Insurance Restriction," December 2, 2013
  8. Detroit Free Press, "Controversial abortion insurance proposal moves to Michigan Legislature," December 2, 2013
  9. Associated Press, "Michigan abortion insurance measure moves to Legislature, which can vote or leave to voters," December 2, 2013
  10. MLive, "Abortion insurance: Michigan legislature has 40 days to act on Right to Life bill vetoed last year," December 2, 2013
  11. www.stltoday.com, "Missouri Rep. Webb, accused of stealing campaign funds, resigns his office," accessed December 5, 2013
  12. news.stlpublicradio.org, "Mo. State Rep. Steve Webb Resigns After Accusations Of Stealing," accessed December 5, 2013
  13. stlouis.cbslocal.com, "Florissant Rep. Resigns After Campaign Cash Scandal," accessed December 5, 2013
  14. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed December 9, 2013
  15. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed December 9, 2013
  16. jsonline.com, "Scott Walker calls special session of Legislature for early December on Medicaid changes," November 22, 2013
  17. Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed December 9, 2013
  18. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  19. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  20. NJ.com, "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  21. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  22. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  23. Fredericksburg.com, "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  24. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  25. POLITICO, "Democrats eye super PACs for state races," September 22, 2013
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Associated Press, "New Jersey - Summary Vote Results," November 6, 2013
  27. nj.com, "N.J. Assemblywoman in crucial district drops bid for re-election," June 11, 2013
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Virginia Board of Elections, "Unofficial Results - General Election," accessed November 5, 2013
  29. courier-journal.com, "Kathy Stein appointed to Fayette judgeship; special elections set for her seat, John Arnold's," October 14, 2013
  30. kentucky.com, "Republicans pick Michael Johnson as nominee in special Senate election; Moloney to run as independent," October 21, 2013
  31. courier-journal.com, "Kathy Stein appointed to Fayette judgeship; special elections set for her seat, John Arnold's," October 14, 2013
  32. courier-journal.com, "Candidates in 2 Kentucky special elections appear set," October 22, 2013
  33. latimes.com, "Jerry Brown calls Dec. 3 election for vacant L.A.-area Assembly seat," September 30, 2013
  34. sos.ca.gov, California Secretary of State - Official Candidate List
  35. fresnobee.com, "Ridley-Thomas wins race for Calif. Assembly seat," December 3, 2013
  36. cbsatlanta.com, "November special legislative elections set in Ga.," September 6, 2013
  37. qual.sos.state.ga.us, "Official candidate list," accessed September 19, 2013
  38. results.enr.clarityelections.com, "Unofficial election results," accessed November 5, 2013
  39. gpb.org, " Thompson, Prince, Efstration Win General Assembly Seats," December 4, 2013
  40. cbsatlanta.com, "November special legislative elections set in Ga.," September 6, 2013
  41. qual.sos.state.ga.us, "Official candidate list," accessed September 19, 2013
  42. results.enr.clarityelections.com, "Unofficial election results," accessed November 5, 2013
  43. gpb.org, " Thompson, Prince, Efstration Win General Assembly Seats," December 4, 2013
  44. ajc.com, "Veteran Georgia legislator dies after lengthy illness," August 2, 2013
  45. qual.sos.state.ga.us, "Official candidate list," accessed September 19, 2013
  46. results.enr.clarityelections.com, "Unofficial election results," accessed November 5, 2013
  47. gpb.org, " Thompson, Prince, Efstration Win General Assembly Seats," December 4, 2013