State Legislative Tracker: Louisiana prepares for possible special sessions
Edited by Greg Janetka
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Today's tracker features a sessions update and look at the week ahead.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
All states have convened their regular 2012 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
- May 16: North Carolina
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
- March 19: South Dakota
- March 29: Georgia, Idaho
- April 9: Maryland
- April 12: Kentucky
- April 16: Alaska
- April 18: Nebraska
- May 1: Tennessee
- May 3: Arizona, Mississippi, Hawaii
- May 5: Vermont
- May 9: Colorado, Iowa, Connecticut
- May 10: Minnesota
- May 16: Alabama
- May 20: Kansas
- May 25: Oklahoma
- May 30: Missouri
- May 31: Maine
- June 4: Louisiana
- June 7: South Carolina
- June 13: Rhode Island
- June 21: New York
- Click here to see a chart of each state's 2012 session information.
| Snapshot of State Legislatures: |
Monday, June 25, 2012
|There are 7,384 Total State Legislators|
|Total Democratic state legislators||3,306 (44.8%)|
|Total Republican state legislators||3,966 (53.7%)|
|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||14|
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 14 special sessions in 12 states. One is currently ongoing in South Carolina.
On June 15, some Republicans in the legislature said a special session might be necessary in order to change a law that could hurt the state's budget. The law in question was an emergency declaration made by former Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges in April that has been interpreted as significantly widening the scope of a tax credit on vehicles. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) rejected the ruling, arguing that Bridges did not follow the law properly. However, it could still go into effect and lawmakers want it clarified or rescinded and say the best way to do that is in a special session.
Meanwhile, officials are preparing for a possible special veto session, which takes place automatically if the Governor vetoes items after the session has adjourned. In order to prevent the veto session, a majority of legislators in either chamber must vote to cancel the session. If it is held, it would start on July 14.
Maryland initially looked poised to hold a special session the week of July 9, but that now appears highly unlikely. An 11-member work group appointed by the governor was trying to reach consensus on a plan to expand gambling in the state. If successful, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he would call the legislature into session to address the issue. Last week, however, the panel reached an impasse and advised the governor against a special session until the disputed issues could be resolved.
The South Carolina State Legislature began a special session on June 19 to address the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The session was expected to include other big issues such as retirement reform and government restructuring. If a compromise is not reached, a continuing resolution would most likely be implemented.
Gov. Gary Herbert (R) called the Utah State Legislature into special session on June 20 in order to approve 90 new liquor licenses for restaurants, as well as address other issues. The Legislature easily approved a bill authorizing the licenses.
As of today, June 25, 4 state's sessions are currently in recess:
|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||45/50 (Maps unfinished: AK, AL, ME, MS, MT)|
|**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)|
With a three-judge panel set to consider on June 28 if the Alaska legislative elections could proceed with final approval from the DOJ still pending, the state challenged the pre-clearance requirement. In a press release, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) stated, "Under Section 5, if the state wants to move a polling place across the street, it has to get federal permission. If it wants to change the wording on a form, it has to get federal permission. This federal intrusion into our state elections is unnecessary, burdensome, and unconstitutional. Congress has no basis to micromanage Alaska’s elections. It’s time to get out from under this yoke."
Attorney General Michael Geraghty stressed that the state is only challenging the requirement that federal permission is necessary prior to making any changes to the state's electoral process, not the entire Voting Rights Act.
Between April and May, five separate lawsuits were filed against the approved House districts by the cities of Manchester and Concord, the town of Gilford, a group of Democrats, and a group of Republicans. The groups each argued that a number of towns and city wards deserved their own representatives, but last Tuesday the New Hampshire Supreme Court rejected all of the cases, saying that while the plan might not have been the best possible, it did not violate the state Constitution. Gov. John Lynch (D) originally vetoed the plan, but that was overridden by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Last week, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) announced he was dropping his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and agreed to pay plaintiffs Voces de la Frontera over $185,000. Van Hollen’s appeal came after a three-judge federal panel ordered two Assembly districts to be redrawn. Democrats called the move unnecessary and expensive. Van Hollen initially shot back against the criticism, stating, "While some view the adverse portion of the district court decision as being inconsequential, I disagree. Any time a federal court rejects a state redistricting statute, and decides to redraw or adjust a legislative district, it is a serious matter and appropriate for appellate review."
The new agreement brings the total cost to taxpayers for the maps to over $1.5 million.
A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.
1,289 (65.4%) 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, 5,999 (81.24%) 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 5,999 seats up for election is 126 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.
So far, deadlines have passed in 41 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
- Michigan - May 15
- Washington - May 18
- Georgia - May 25
- Arizona - May 30
- Alaska - June 1
- Wisconsin - June 1
- Wyoming - June 1
- Hawaii - June 5
- Minnesota - June 5
- Massachusetts - June 5
- Florida - June 8
- Kansas - June 11
- Connecticut - June 12
- Vermont - June 14
- New Hampshire - June 15
States with upcoming deadlines:
- See also: 2012 election dates
So far, primaries have taken place in 21 states:
- Ohio - March 6
- Illinois – March 20
- Pennsylvania - April 24
- Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia - May 8
- Idaho - May 15
- Nebraska - May 15
- Oregon - May 15
- Arkansas - May 22
- Kentucky - May 22
- Texas – May 29
- California - June 5
- Iowa - June 5
- Montana - June 5
- New Mexico - June 5
- South Dakota - June 5
- Maine - June 12
- Nevada - June 12
- North Dakota - June 12
- South Carolina - June 12
A total of 65 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary - 44 Republicans and 21 Democrats.
States with upcoming primaries:
- 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, four of which resulted in the legislator being recalled. In 2012, there have been four state legislative recalls - three have failed while one has gone to a recount.
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 in April organizers of the Pavlov recall announced they did not have enough signatures and were abandoning their efforts. The Caswell campaign remains active.
Incumbents Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Terry Moulton (R) won easy victories. Republican Jerry Petrowski easily won Pam Galloway's (R) former seat. Unofficial results showed John Lehman (D) defeated Van Wanggaard (R) by 779 votes and he declared victory. Wanggaard considered a recount - the county's board of canvassars had until June 15 to submit final vote totals. With the official canvass showing Lehman winning by 834 votes, Wanggaard called for a recount on June 15.
The recount began on June 20 and the county has until July 2 to complete it. Once the results are released, candidates have five business days to appeal in Racine County Circuit Court.
In calling for the recount, Wanggaard released a statement saying “I hope a trusted and verified result of the election will finally allow us to move forward" and that the move "is not about maintaining power." Wanggaard had to pay a fee of $685 to request the recount, but the costs will ultimately fall to the taxpayers of Racine County.
As of mid-day on June 22, the recount had been completed for seven municipalities. It showed Wanggaard picked up a net 10 votes.
There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.
Upcoming special elections include:
- July 17: South Carolina Senate District 41
- July 24: South Carolina House District 68
- August 7: Pennsylvania Senate District 40
- 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
- The News Star, "Governor may need to call special session," June 15, 2012
- NBC 33, "Lawmakers possibly headed to special session," June 20, 2012
- The Times Picayune, "Special veto override session preparations begin," June 19, 2012
- Washington Post, "2nd Md. special session could be week of July 9," May 21, 2012
- Maryland Coast Dispatch, "Md. Gaming Panel Reaches Impasse, Advises Against Special Session," June 22, 2012
- WLTX, "Ironing Out the Issues at the Special Session," June 19, 2012
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Herbert calls special session to OK more liquor licenses, fix ed funding," June 18, 2012
- Salt Lake Tribune, "Liquor law reform is all about timing," June 23, 2012
- StateScape, Session schedules, accessed June 25, 2012
- Alaska Dispatch, "More Alaska redistricting litigation? Attorney General challenges Voting Rights Act 'preclearance'," June 21, 2012
- Concord Patch, "NH Supreme Court Throws Out Redistricting Lawsuits," June 19, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Van Hollen drops appeal in redistricting case," June 18, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Van Hollen appeals redistricting ruling to U.S. Supreme Court," April 19, 2012
- The Times Herald, "State Sen. Phil Pavlov recall fails," April 13, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recall votes set for May 8 and June 5," March 14, 2012
- Channel 3000, "Wisconsin Democrats counting on recall elections to win state Senate control," May 26, 2012
- WAOW, "Wanggaard still not conceding election," June 6, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wanggaard calls for recount in Senate recall race," June 15, 2012
- The Journal Times, "Wanggaard requests recount, to begin Wednesday," June 15, 2012
- WTAQ, "State Senate recount order expected Monday," June 18, 2012
- Caldonia Patch, "Recall Recount Day 3: Wanggaard Net Gain of Ten," June 22, 2012