State Legislative Tracker: New Mexico special session in second week, six special elections in New York

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September 12, 2011

By Jackie Arthur

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This week's tracker features a look at New Mexico's special redistricting session, where controversy continues over Governor Susana Martinez' special session agenda.

Sessions

So far this year, 42 out of 50 state legislatures have officially adjourned their regular session. Last week, California adjourned their legislative session on September 9.[1] This week, no states are scheduled to adjourn their 2011 regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of September 12, 2011

Regular sessions

The following 8 states remain in regular legislative sessions:

* Wisconsin is convened in an ongoing special session, but is still in regular session. Wisconsin will reconvene for the fall session tomorrow, September 13. The Assembly is only scheduled to be in session tomorrow before breaking until mid-October.[2]
** New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are in recess.
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2011 session information.
State Legislative Tracker: A glance at state legislatures
Number of special elections this year 84
Number of special sessions this year 29
Number of states that held special sessions this year 21
Number of seats up for general election this year 578

Special sessions

Special sessions have been and are expected to be a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. This week New Mexico, North Carolina and Wisconsin continue special sessions.

So far this year, there have been 29 special sessions in 19 states.

In recess

As of September 12, 20 states' sessions are currently in recess:

  • Alaska - Mid-term recess April 18 through January 16, 2012[3]
  • Delaware - July 1, 2011 through January 10, 2012[3]
  • California - Mid-term recess September 9 through January 4, 2012.[4]
  • Georgia - Mid-term recess April 15 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Hawaii - Mid-term recess May 6 through January 7, 2012[3]

  • Illinois - June 23 through October 24, 2011 (est.)[3]
  • Iowa - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Kansas - Mid-term recess June 1 through January 8, 2012[3]
  • Maine - Mid-term recess June 30 through January 3, 2012 (est.)[3]
  • Minnesota - Mid-term recess May 24 through January 23, 2012[3]

Sessions spotlight

New Mexico

New Mexico: On September 6, the New Mexico legislature convened for a decennial, special redistricting session. Usually this session is reserved for redistricting purposes, however, this year there is more than just redistricting on the docket.

Following a failed attempt earlier this year, Gov. Susana Martinez (R) hopes to revisit the hotly contested subject of repealing New Mexico's 2003 law that currently allows illegal aliens to obtain driver's licenses. In reference to the current law, Martinez stated,

"This is a public safety issue involving fraud and identity theft that affects not just New Mexico, but states throughout the country, as people from throughout the world have traveled or been trafficked to New Mexico (at a cost of $500 to $6,000 per license) for the sole purpose of obtaining a driver's license and leaving. People and organizations in other states have advertised New Mexico's policy that permits non-residents to easily obtain our driver's license. Seventy-two percent of New Mexicans - people from all backgrounds - want this dangerous practice brought to an end."[5]
Governor Susana Martinez

Churches and religious groups in New Mexico are coming together in opposition to Martinez' push to repeal the law. New Mexico's three Roman Catholic bishops have issued a statement, titled "Licenses for All Drivers: A matter of Mercy, Fairness and Safety," in opposition. The statement calls for the extension of driver's license privileges to all residents, regardless of immigration status.[6]

Other opponents include New Mexico Catholic Conference of Bishops and the Albuquerque Interfaith. Both groups argue that the law helps one of the state's most vulnerable populations, and that to repeal the law would be cruel to illegal immigrants.[7]

During the session, Martinez said she would also like legislators to address the following issues:[5]

  • A high-wage jobs tax credit
  • Preference for buying from in-state companies
  • A bill that provides funding for infrastructure and road maintenance
  • A bill requiring unemployment insurance contributions to remain constant through the end of 2013
  • A bill restricting third-graders from promotion to the fourth grade if deficient in reading
  • A bill allowing the governor or other state government agencies the authority to declare a state of emergency to ban or restrict the sale and use of fireworks
  • Consolidating Government agencies
    • A bill consolidating the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, creating the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division within the Division of Public Safety
    • A bill consolidating the Department of Information Technology, creating the Information Technology Division within the General Services Department
    • A bill merging the Tourism Department and the Cultural Affairs Department to create a Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department
  • A capital outlay bill
  • A bill shoring up Medicaid and SNAP, New Mexico's food stamps program for the elderly and disabled

As of today, the legislature has not come to any agreements on redistricting matters. The legislature must first address redistricting, then with the remaining time (not to exceed 30 days) address the other issues in the Governor's proclamation.[8] "Redistricting has to be our main job," said Sen. John Sapien (D), Corrales. Early indications appear to show rural New Mexico may lose seats based on population shifts in the state.[9]

The last decennial session, under former Gov. Gary Johnson's leadership, lasted 17 days and did not cover other issues.[8]

New Mexico House of Representatives partisan breakdown

Party As of October 2014
     Democratic Party 37
     Republican Party 33
Total 70


New Mexico State Senate partisan breakdown

Party As of October 2014
     Democratic Party 25
     Republican Party 17
Total 42

Elections

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A total of 578 seats will be up for general election in state legislatures in 2011.

In this year's 2011 election cycle, one legislative primary remains in Louisiana on October 22, 2011. New Jersey held statewide primaries on June 7, 2011, Mississippi held statewide primaries on August 2, and Virginia held primaries on August 23.

The signature filing deadline for candidates in Louisiana was last Tuesday, September 8. A total of 39 state senate and 105 state house seats will be up for election in 2011. Louisiana uses a blanket primary system. Because Louisiana uses a blanket primary system, a candidate can be declared the overall winner of the seat by garnering 50 percent +1 of the vote in the primary on October 22, 2011. However, if no candidate reaches this threshold, then a general election will take place on November 19, 2011.

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2011

Six special elections are set to take place tomorrow in New York.

New York Assembly District 23

Audrey Pheffer (D) resigned from the Assembly to become the Queens County clerk.[10][11]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Phillip Goldfeder Goldfeder is also running on the Independence and Working Family Party tickets.
Republican Party Jane Deacy Deacy is also running on the Conservative Party ticket.

New York Assembly District 27

Nettie Mayersohn (D) retired from the Assembly in order to spend more time with her family, following an almost 30-year tenure.[12]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Michael Simanowitz Simanowitz is also running on the Independence and Working Family Party tickets.
Republican Party Marco Desena Desena is also running on the Conservative Party ticket.
Burntorangeslashed.jpg Justin Jacobs Jacobs is running on the New Yorkers for Reform Party ticket.

New York Assembly District 54

Darryl Towns (D) resigned from the Assembly to become the New York State HCR Commissioner.[13]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Rafael Espinal Espinal is also running on the Republican, Conservative, and United We Can Party tickets.
Working Families Party Jesus Gonzalez Gonzalez is running on the Working Families Party ticket.
Horizontalyellow3.jpg Deidra Towns Towns is running on the Community First Party ticket.

New York Assembly District 73

Jonathan Bing (D) resigned from the Assembly to become the special deputy Superintendent of the NY Liquidation Bureau.[14]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Dan Quart Quart is also running on the Working Families Party tickets.
Republican Party Paul Niehaus Niehaus is running on the Independence Party ticket.

New York Assembly District 116

RoAnn Destito (D) resigned from the Assembly to become the New York State Office of General Services Commissioner.[15]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Anthony Brindisi Brindisi is also running on the Independence and Working Family Party tickets.
Republican Party Gregory Johnson Johnson is also running on the Conservative Party ticket.

New York Assembly District 144

Sam Hoyt (D) resigned from the Assembly and accepted a senior position at Empire State Development Corporation.[11]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Sean Ryan Ryan is also running on the Working Family Party ticket.
Republican Party Sean Kipp Kipp is also running on the Conservative Party ticket.
Green Party Gregory Horn Horn is running on the Green Party ticket.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

References