State Legislative Tracker: New Hampshire Senate President Steps Down from Leadership

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August 19, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at New Hampshire's Senate President stepping down from his leadership position.

Weekly highlight

Last week, no states ended their legislative sessions. Here is a brief look at issues making headlines across the country:

  • Missouri: In comments made at a conference held by the American Legislative Exchange Council in Chicago, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) said that legislators will likely pass a right-to-work measure as a referendum to be placed on the 2014 ballot, bypassing Gov. Jay Nixon (D), who is certain to veto such legislation sent to his desk. By constitutional provision, Kinder is the President of the Missouri State Senate, though his legislative power is limited to debating on issues and voting only to break a tie. The conference centered around legislative efforts to pass right-to-work, particularly in Michigan. Rep. Holly Rehder (R), chair of the Standing Committee on Workers' Freedom, told The Missouri Times that the ballot measure idea was not preferable, owing to recent examples that failed at the voting booth, including a 2008 measure in Colorado. Rehder herself has been developing an option involving implementation of right-to-work on the county level. In the 2013 legislative session, right-to-work did not come to a vote; complementary conservative-oriented bills involving prevailing wage and "paycheck protection" passed both chambers but could not attain veto-proof majorities in the House. In 1978, the last time the issue went to the Missouri ballot, a right-to-work initiative was rejected by voters.[1][2][3]
  • New Hampshire: State Senator Peter Bragdon (R) is stepping down as the President of the Senate amid controversy caused by his decision to become the executive director of the Local Government Center (LGC). The LGC is a quasi-governmental organization that manages city and town pension systems in New Hampshire. The organization employs lobbyists and has significant interest in state policy. Bragdon noted that the LGC is going through a significant restructuring to separate the lobbying and advocacy arm from the insurance operations, and initially said he planned to continue his role as the leader and agenda-setter in the Senate and run for re-election in 2014 while working for the LGC. Bragdon said that he would recuse himself from any votes related to the work of the LGC. He also noted that most New Hampshire legislators have potential conflicts of interest, as virtually all require supplementary sources of income. New Hampshire offers the lowest compensation of any state to its legislators; Bragdon earns $125 per year as the President of the Senate, and will earn $180,000 annually from the LGC. However, the LGC has also faced considerable scrutiny from state regulators in recent years, and was ordered by an administrative hearing officer to return $52 million in overpayments to cities and towns in August 2012. Critics of Bragdon's decision argued that the wide-ranging nature of the LGC's interests make it nearly impossible for Bragdon to completely extricate himself from all perceptions of bias, especially in his role as President of the Senate. Bragdon faced substantial criticism for his decision, including from the New Hampshire Democratic Party and in editorials from the The Concord Monitor, The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, The Portsmouth Herald and The Nashua Telegraph. The office of Governor Maggie Hassan (D) issued a statement calling the hire likely to be "uncharted territory" and saying that all parties need to "carefully and thoroughly" address the concerns presented. In response to this mounting criticism, Bragdon announced that he would step down from his role as President of the Senate. He said he would call a special session to elect a new President in September.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]
  • Pennsylvania: Senator Judy Schwank (D) of the Pennsylvania State Senate has introduced Senate Bill 336, a bill that would reduce the size of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Her bill would cut the size of the Senate from 50 members to 40 members, and the House from 203 members to 121 members. SB 336 is similar to other bills that have been proposed by Pennsylvania lawmakers during this year to cut the size of the General Assembly. Samuel Smith (R), the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House, recently proposed a bill that would reduce members in the Senate from 50 to 38 and in the House from 203 to 153. In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Smith introduced a bill to shrink the number of representatives, but the bill failed to gain the necessary support because Smith's colleagues wanted to add reductions to the Senate as well. Schwank said on SB 336 that, "What’s clear is Pennsylvania taxpayers want a leaner, faster and more effective governing body that’s much less expensive." Currently the state House is the second largest in the country, behind only the New Hampshire House of Representatives. A reduction in the size of the General Assembly will require approval by both chambers during the same legislative session and by voters on a ballot referendum.[20][21][22][23]
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Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of August 19, 2013
See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

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

As of April 8, all states states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions.[24]

The following states have ended their regular session:[25]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Thursday, July 10, 2014
There are 7,385 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,429 (46.4%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,823 (51.8%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 41
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 57
Total tied or nonpartisan chambers 1
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 44
Total Special Sessions 12

The Texas State Legislature adjourned its third special session on August 5, the last of which was called to pass a compromised transportation bill.[26] The West Virginia State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 17 to finish remaining business from the regular session.[27] The Mississippi State Legislature held a one-day special session on April 26 to approve incentives for a foreign tire maker to open a plant in the state.[28] The Arizona State Legislature held a brief special session this week concurrently with the end of their regular session, primarily to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.[29][30] Mississippi held a two-day special session to approve Medicaid funding and reauthorization.[31] Utah held a one-day special session to consider technical legislation related to the investigation of Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R).[32]

Kentucky

Kentucky is beginning a special session seen as a last-ditch attempt at redistricting. A three-judge panel has threatened it will draw its own maps in the next three months should legislators fail to reach an agreement deemed constitutional. Majority leaders in both chambers expect the special session to only last for five days.[33]

In recess

As of today, August 12, there are 6 state legislatures currently in recess:[34]

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 45/50 (Maps unfinished: ME, MT; Maps ordered redrawn: AK, KY, 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, Kentucky 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.[35]

  • 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.[36]

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:[37]

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.[38]

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.[39][40] 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.[41]

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 no special elections scheduled for this week. The next one will take place on August 27.

Recent results

August 6, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpgVirginia State Senate District 14
In early April 2013, Sen. Harry Blevins (R) announced his retirement effective August 5. A special election has been called for August 6. John Cosgrove (R) ran unopposed after his opponent, Kerry B. Holmes (D), withdrew from the race.[42][43][44]

August 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party John Cosgrove Green check mark transparent.png

UncheckedBox.jpgMichigan House of Representatives District 49
Rep. Jim Ananich (D) was elected to the Michigan State Senate on May 7, 2013. A special election has been called concurrent with the regularly-scheduled November 5 elections, with a primary on August 6. Candidates had until June 4 to file certified nomination papers.[45][46][47][48]

Democratic PartyAugust 6 Democratic primary:
Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Democratic Party Phil Phelps
Republican Party Don Pfeiffer

UncheckedBox.jpgWashington State Senate District 7
Sen. Bob Morton (R) retired on January 1, 2013. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose John Smith (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August 6.[49][50][51]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party Brian Dansel
Republican Party John Smith

UncheckedBox.jpgWashington State Senate District 8
Sen. Jerome Delvin (R) resigned on January 1, 2013 to serve as Benton County Commissioner. His term in the state senate runs until 2014. Republican precinct committee officers chose Sharon Brown (R) to fill his seat during the 2013 session and a special election for the rest of his term will be held on November 5, with a primary on August.[52][53][54]

Republican PartyAugust 6 GOP primary:
November 5 Special election candidates:
Republican Party Phillip R. Lemley
Republican Party Sharon Brown

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • August 27: Maine State Senate District 19
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 6th Bristol District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 12th Suffolk District
  • September 10: Massachusetts House of Representatives 16th Worcester District
  • September 17: California State Assembly District 45
  • September 17: California State Senate District 26
  • September 17: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 14

See also

References

  1. Associated Press, "Kinder: Right to work likely to go to Missouri ballot," August 9, 2013
  2. The Missouri Times, "Kinder suggests “Right to Work” will go on the ballot, unions are ready for the fight," August 11, 2013
  3. The Missouri Times, "After going nowhere in 2013, supporters hope to bring “right to work” back next year," May 29, 2013
  4. WMUR, "Analysis: Bragdon, LGC question whether there are ’rules’ in NH politics," August 13, 2013
  5. The Nashua Telegraph, "LGC deal with Bragdon lowers New Hampshire’s ethical bar," August 16, 2013
  6. The Concord Monitor, "Editorial: Bragdon must choose one job or the other," August 14, 2013
  7. Concord, NH Patch, "NH Democrats Seek LGC Records in Bragdon Hire," August 14, 2013
  8. The Concord Monitor, "LGC taps N.H. Senate president as executive director; Democrats: ‘blatant conflict of interest’," August 14, 2013
  9. The Concord Monitor, "Hassan’s office: Concerns about Bragdon’s LGC job should be ‘carefully and thoroughly addressed'," August 14, 2013
  10. NHDP, "NHDP Seeks LGC Records on Timeline of Questionable Bragdon Hiring," August 15, 2013
  11. The Union Leader, "Debate over Bragdon LGC appointment rages on," August 14, 2013
  12. The Portsmouth Herald, "Sen. Bradgon named new interim LGC director," August 14, 2013
  13. The Portsmouth Herald, "Bragdon LGC post puts senate lawyer in spotlight," August 14, 2013
  14. NHPR, "Gov. Hassan: Concerns Over Sen. Bragdon's LGC Job Should Be 'Thoroughly Addressed'," August 14, 2013
  15. The Nashua Telegraph, "Senate President Bragdon to take $180k job at quasi-public agency, draws immediate accusations of conflict," August 14, 2013
  16. The Nashua Telegraph, "Hassan urges LGC to ‘carefully and thoroughly’ address concerns over Bragdon appointment," August 15, 2013
  17. The Concord Monitor, "BREAKING: Bragdon to step down as N.H. Senate president amid controversy over LGC job," August 16, 20134
  18. NHPR, "Sen. President Peter Bragdon Will Step Down," August 16, 2013
  19. The Office of Senator Peter Bragdon, "Bragdon to step down as Senate President," August 16, 2013
  20. "Central Penn Business Journal," "Senator renews push to shrink size of Pa. General Assembly," August 13, 2013
  21. "Trib Live," "Another bill to cut Pennsylvania's General Assembly being offered," August 11, 2013
  22. "Berks Community TV," "Another bill to cut Pennsylvania's General Assembly being offered," August 13, 2013
  23. "WESA," "In Harrisburg, At Least 3 Proposals to Trim PA Legislature," August 14, 2013
  24. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 19, 2013
  25. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 19, 2013
  26. cbslocal.com, "Texas Legislature Passes Roads Bill, Adjourns 3rd Special Session," August 5, 2013
  27. West Virginia Legislature, "2013 1st Special Session," accessed June 1, 2013
  28. sunherald.com, "Mississippi lawmakers pass incentives for tire maker," April 26, 2013
  29. Arizona Capitol Times, "Lawmakers prepare to adjourn as Medicaid expansion moves toward approval," June 11, 2013
  30. The Associated Press, "Arizona Senate ends special session after passing GOP Gov. Brewer’s budget, Medicaid expansion," June 12, 2013
  31. clarionledger.com, "Bryant calls Medicaid special session for Thursday (updated)," June 24, 2013
  32. heraldextra.com, "Herbert calls special session for Legislature," July 13, 2013
  33. courier-journal.com, "Kentucky legislators hope to tackle redistricting in short special session," August 18, 2013
  34. Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 12, 2013
  35. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," accessed January 14, 2013
  36. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," accessed January 16, 2013
  37. NJ.com, "Polls close in 2013 N.J. primary elections as votes are tallied," June 4, 2013
  38. Washington Post, "Voter turnout sparse for down-ticket races in Virginia," June 11, 2013
  39. CBS DC, "Virginia Primary Results Roll In," June 11, 2013
  40. Fredericksburg.com, "Howell’s transportation PAC helping candidates," June 7, 2013
  41. WRIC, "Virginia Primary Round Up," June 11, 2013
  42. washingtonpost.com, "Special election set Aug. 6 for seat being vacated by Chesapeake state senator," April 18, 2013
  43. sbe.virginia.gov, "List of Candidates," accessed June 20, 2013
  44. thestate.com, "Cosgrove wins Va. Senate seat in special election," August 6, 2013
  45. freep.com, "Snyder calls special election for state House seat," May 15, 2013
  46. mlive.com, "Six Democrats, two Republicans face off in 49th District state House primary election," June 4, 2013
  47. mlive.com, "Phil Phelps wins Democratic primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  48. mlive.com, "Don Pfeiffer wins Republican primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  49. spokesman.com, "Colville-area farmer named to succeed Morton," January 4, 2013
  50. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  51. spokesman.com, "Incumbents survive their primary challenges," August 7, 2013
  52. kvewtv.com, "Kennewick Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Brown to replace Sen. Delvin," January 28, 2013
  53. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  54. tri-cityherald.com, "Brown has huge lead in State Senate race," August 6, 2013