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State Legislative Tracker: Former Alaska representative faces ethics allegations

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September 16, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at an ethics controversy in Alaska.

Weekly highlight

Last week, California ended its legislative session. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Alaska: A former Republican member of the Alaska House of Representatives has one year to repay nearly $18,000 after being found guilty of several state ethics violations. The House Subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics announced Wednesday that Alan Dick, a one-time legislator who represented District 6 from 2011 to 2013, has been found in violation of five of eight ethics allegations brought against him back in December 2012. The violations included using his Fairbanks office as a residence for his wife and son, performing campaign activities outside of his office in the weeks leading up to the 2012 Alaska House of Representatives general election and combining legislative travel with campaign activities. The committee stated that Dick “seemed to operated under the premise that rules and regulations regarding legislative travel did not apply to him.” The three remaining violations against Dick were dismissed. Although Dick was defeated in the 2012 general election by David Guttenberg (D), state law provides the ethics committee with jurisdiction for five years after a legislator leaves office.[1][2][3]
  • California: After earning the strong backing of Governor Jerry Brown (D) earlier in the week, a bill to increase the minimum wage in California passed both the lower house and the upper house of the state legislature. The State Senate passed the bill, which requires a gradual increase in the state minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2016, by a margin of 26-11. The State Assembly passed the same bill hours later with a vote of 51-25. Both votes were mostly along party lines, with the bulk of the dominant Democratic members supporting the bill. If signed as expected, the bill would give California's minimum wage earners a boost from the current $8 per hour, which is already higher than the current federal requirement of $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage would increase to $9 per hour on July 1, 2014, and then make the jump to $10 per hour on January 1, 2016. This wage increase is higher than any current or planned minimum wage in any state; Washington has the highest minimum wage of $9.19, followed by Oregon and Vermont with $8.95 and $8.60, respectively. Under laws passed in Connecticut and New York, those states will see $9 per hour minimum wages take effect in 2015. Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray vetoed a minimum wage increase targeted at one industry in that city earlier in the week, which would have raised the current $8.25 per hour minimum wage to $12.50 per hour for employees of large retailers. Other cities, including major municipalities in California and New Mexico, have passed their own broad-based minimum wage increases, including San Francisco's requirement of $10.55 per hour. Federal efforts to increase the minimum wage have stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives. Supporters of minimum wage increases argue that increased purchasing power for low-wage earners boosts the economy and prevents people from having to work two or three jobs, while opponents argue that it raises costs for businesses, who then raise prices and lay off workers.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10]
  • Hawaii: Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) has called on the Hawaii State Legislature to convene in a special session on October 28th to pass a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. In 1998, Hawaii was one of the first states to ban same-sex marriage in its constitution, but later legalized civil unions for same-sex couples in 2011. Under state law, same-couples in Hawaii already receive the same benefits and protections as those of couples of the opposite sex. The Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013, the bill that will be proposed during the special session, seeks to give same-sex couples the same benefits and protections under federal law that are already granted to opposite sex married couples. Gov. Abercrombie said on the proposed bill that "[t]he decision to call a special session is based on doing what is right to create equity for all in Hawaii." Democrats hold a majority in both the Senate and House but not all Democrats are in favor of the same-sex marriage bill. Earlier this month, a vote took place in the House to determine if the bill would have enough support to pass, and 27 "yes" and 15 "no" votes were tallied out of the 51-person body. The nine people that did not vote are undecided on the legislation. The bill would need 26 votes to pass. Democrats in the Senate believe that they will have enough votes to pass the measure. Rep. Gene Ward (R), one of the seven Republican House members, told HawaiiNewsNow that "I think the people out there really are not totally for this. There’s not a state or a federal guarantee to same-sex marriage, so why are we rushing?" If the bill is passed, Hawaii would join 13 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing same-sex marriage.[11][12][13][14][15]
  • Nebraska: Last Thursday, former Nebraska State Senator Brenda Council plead guilty in federal court to felony wire fraud charges regarding her use of just over $63,000 in campaign funds on gambling between January 2010 and July 2012. Council will be sentenced on December 5; although her deal entails a likely sentence of probation, Council faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 penalty. The court may also order restitution as part of a deal. She also faces possible disbarment, as the Nebraska Supreme Court may hear arguments from the Counsel for Discipline, which reviews licenses of attorneys who have committed felonies. On the state level, Council plead guilty last year to two misdemeanor charges of filing fraudulent campaign finance reports, which carried a $250 fine each including court costs. At the time, Council said she was seeking help for a gambling addiction. The charges stemmed from Council's use of a debit card linked to her campaign account at casinos in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, which was not accounted for in campaign reports submitted to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. Council, a one-term senator who left office this year, was defeated in the 2012 election by predecessor Ernie Chambers, who served 38 years in the Nebraska Legislature before term limits forced him out in 2009. Last October, Chambers filed a federal complaint alleging wire and mail fraud, as well as a grievance with the Counsel for Discipline.[16][17][18][19][20][21]
[edit]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of September 16, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Currently three out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[22]

The following states have ended their regular session:[23]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, October 20, 2014
There are 7,387 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,440 (46.6%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,822 (51.7%)
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 50
Total Special Sessions 16

In recess

As of today, September 16, there are 5 state legislatures currently in recess:[24]

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
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 46/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, 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)
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 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:

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.[25]

  • 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.[26]

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:[27]

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.[28]

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.[29][30] 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.[31]

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 Tuesday's 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.

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are three special elections scheduled for this week: two in California and one in New Hampshire.

California State Assembly District 45

Rep. Bob Blumenfield (D) resigned on July 1 after winning election to the Los Angeles City Council. A special election has been called for September 17, with a runoff if necessary on November 19.[32][33]

September 17 blanket primary candidates:
Democratic Party Elizabeth Badger
Democratic Party Damian Carroll
Democratic Party Matt Dababneh
Democratic Party Dennis De Young
Democratic Party Jeff Ebenstein
Democratic Party Andra Hoffman
Democratic Party Dan McCrory
Republican Party Armineh Chelebian
Republican Party Chris Kolski
Republican Party Susan Shelley
Independent Eric Lewis

California State Senate District 26

Sen. Curren Price (D) resigned on July 1 after winning election to the Los Angeles City Council. A special election has been called for September 17, with a runoff if necessary on November 19.[34][35]

September 17 blanket primary candidates:
Democratic Party Mervin Evans
Democratic Party Holly J. Mitchell

New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 14

In January 2013, Rep. Patrick Garrity (D) resigned because he moved out of the district. A special election has been called for September 17. The filing period for candidates ran from July 29 to August 5.[36][37]

September 17 special election candidates:
Democratic Party Mary Heath
Republican Party Ross W. Terrio

Recent results

September 10, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgMassachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
Rep. David Sullivan (D) resigned on April 29 to become the executive director of the Fall River Housing Authority. A special election was called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[38][39][40]

September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Carole A. Fiola Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party David L. Steinhof

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgMassachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry (D) won election to the Massachusetts State Senate on May 28, 2013. A special election was called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[41][42][40]

September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Dan Cullinane Green check mark transparent.png

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgMassachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District
Rep. John Fresolo (D) resigned following an ethics investigation on May 22 saying that he was "not currently effective." A special election was called for September 10, with a primary on August 13. Candidates had until July 9 to file certified nomination papers with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.[43][44][40]

September 10 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Daniel M. Donahue Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Carol E. Claros

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgNew York State Assembly District 53
Rep. Vito Lopez (D) resigned on May 20 amidst a sex scandal. An open primary was held on September 10.[45][46]

September 10 open primary:
Democratic PartyMaritza Davila Green check mark transparent.png
Democratic PartyJason Otano
Democratic PartyCharveys Gonzalez

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • September 17: California State Assembly District 45
  • September 17: California State Senate District 26
  • September 17: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 14
  • September 24: California State Assembly District 52
  • October 1: South Carolina State Senate District 42
  • October 15: Florida House of Representatives District 36

See also

References

  1. “SFGate.com”, “Panel: Ex-Alaska legislator violated ethics rules”, Accessed September 12, 2013
  2. “Anchorage Daily News”, “Former Rep. Dick told to pay $18,000 for ethics violations”, Accessed September 12, 2013
  3. “Alaska Dispatch”, “Former Alaska Rep. Alan Dick ordered to repay state $18,000 for ethics violations” Accessed September 12, 2013
  4. The Associated Press, "California Legislature raises minimum wage to $10 an hour, 1 of highest rates in nation," September 13, 2013
  5. San Jose Mercury News, "California Legislature approves raising minimum wage to $10 — the highest of any state," September 13, 2013
  6. The Los Angeles Times, "California Legislature approves raising minimum wage to $10," September 12, 2013
  7. The New York Times, "Top California Lawmakers Back Raising Minimum Wage," September 11, 2013
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Minimum Wages," August 29, 2013
  9. UPI, "House rejects minimum wage increase," March 15, 2013
  10. The Wall Street Journal, "D.C. Mayor Vetoes 'Living Wage' Bill," September 12, 2013
  11. MSNBC.com, "Hawaii eyes becoming 14th state to legalize gay marriage," accessed September 12, 2013
  12. HawaiiNewsNow.com, "Abercrombie calls for special session on same-sex marriage," accessed September 12, 2013
  13. Reuters.com, "Hawaiian governor calls for special session to legalize gay marriage," accessed September 12, 2013
  14. WashingtonPost.com, "Hawaii legislature will consider gay marriage," accessed September 12, 2013
  15. TheAtlanticWire, "Hawaii's Governor Calls a Special Session Just to Legalize Gay Marriage ," accessed September 12, 2013
  16. Omaha World-Herald, "Brenda Council pleads guilty to wire fraud," September 12, 2013
  17. The North Platte Bulletin, "Former Omaha senator convicted of wire fraud," September 12, 2013
  18. Omaha World-Herald, "Ex-State Sen. Brenda Council agrees to plead guilty to fraud charge," September 5, 2013
  19. Associated Press, "Former Omaha senator pleads guilty to wire fraud," September 12, 2013
  20. Nebraska Radio Network, "Former state senator pleads guilty to federal wire fraud charge," September 12, 2013
  21. Omaha World-Herald, "Brenda Council could lose law license," August 30, 2013
  22. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed September 16, 2013
  23. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed September 16, 2013
  24. Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 26, 2013
  25. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  26. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  27. NJ.com, "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  28. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  29. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  30. Fredericksburg.com, "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  31. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  32. scpr.org, "Special elections set for Asssembly, Senate seats are costly, draw few voters," July 4, 2013
  33. sos.ca.gov, "AD 45 Special Primary Election - Official Certified List of Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
  34. scpr.org, "Special elections set for Asssembly, Senate seats are costly, draw few voters," July 4, 2013
  35. sos.ca.gov, "SD 26 Special Primary Election - Official Certified List of Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
  36. unionleader.com, "Two step up to run for Ward 7 state representative," April 24, 2013
  37. sos.nh.gov, "Special Election - Hillsborough District 14," accessed August 6, 2013
  38. heraldnews.com, "Aug. 13, Sept. 10 set as special election dates to replace Sullivan," May 13, 2013
  39. sec.state.ma.us., "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 masslive.com, "Democrats Dan Cullinane, Daniel Donahue and Carol Fiola elected to Massachusetts House," September 11, 2013
  41. dotnews.com, "Another special election: Dates set in race to replace Dorcena Forry," June 5, 2013
  42. sec.state.ma.us, "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  43. myfoxboston.com, "Special election to fill State Rep. Fresolo's seat announced," May 23, 2013
  44. sec.state.ma.us, "Primary Candidates," accessed July 19, 2013
  45. Associated Press, "NY Assemblyman accused of sex harass resigns," May 18, 2013. Retrieved May 23, 2013
  46. theepochtimes.com, "Maritza Davila Wins Special Election for NY Assembly District 53," September 10, 2013