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State Legislative Tracker: Massachusetts Senator to resign over ethics controversy

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August 26, 2013

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at the announced resignation of Massachusetts Senator Daniel Wolf.

Weekly highlight

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

  • Massachusetts: Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Ethics Commission ruled that Senator Daniel Wolf (D) violated state ethics rules by holding 23 percent ownership in Cape Air, a company with state contracts. Wolf announced that he will resign from the Massachusetts State Senate and suspend his campaign for Governor of Massachusetts in the 2014 election effective August 29, 2013, unless the Massachusetts Ethics Commission changes its ruling. According to the commission, Wolf's ownership in the company creates a conflict of interest because the Hyannis-based regional airline has contracts with Logan Airport in Boston and that airport is ran by the Massachusetts Port Authority. The commission gave Wolf the following choices: sell his stake in the company, end the company's contracts with Logan Airport, or resign from the Senate and end his campaign for governor. Wolf chose not to sell his stake in the company or give up the company's contracts at Logan Airport because he said that he could not, .".. pursue either option in good conscience because of the damage it could do to the airline he co-founded in 1989." Wolf's impending resignation will create the need for a special election this fall to fill his empty seat. Rep. Sarah Peake, a Provincetown Democrat, has already expressed interest in running for Wolf's seat.[1][2][3][4]
  • Minnesota: As reported in August 12's Tracker, Minnesota's legislature planned to meet in special session to coordinate disaster relief funds following this summer's massive flooding in 18 counties. A firm date was set on Wednesday, but the repeal of an unpopular tax on farm equipment repair will not be considered as had been increasingly likely. The legislature will meet at 10 a.m. local time on September 9 for a one-day session solely to add $5.7 million in state funds to the federal government's disaster relief contribution, as welling as allocating an extra $1 million for an ice storm that hit southwest Minnesota in April. The legislature previously contributed $1.75 million to the latter recovery. The farm equipment tax, which was passed late in the 2013 regular session, brings in $2 million per month, but has recently seen bipartisan opposition. In addition to the farm tax, Republicans had been pushing for the repeal of other taxes, including a sales tax on goods stored in warehouses. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and GOP leaders could not come to an agreement on how to offset lost revenues from those other cuts, which led them to table the entire issue until the next regular session, which begins on February 25, 2014. By putting off taxes until next year, Dayton may not be able to pursue his idea of making the farm tax retroactive, meaning farmers would not see refunds in the event of a repeal. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R) said afterwards that it was more important to repay schools from the state's general fund than to use it to cover revenues lost from a repeal. Dayton and lawmakers had considered using unused disaster funds in order to avoid a special session, but were ultimately barred by state law.[5][6][7][8]
[edit]

Regular sessions

Current sessions capture for the week of August 26, 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.[19]

The following states have ended their regular session:[20]

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Thursday, July 24, 2014
There are 7,385 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,445 (46.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,824 (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 45
Total Special Sessions 12
Maine

Maine is scheduled to convene a special session on August 29 to consider a $149.5 million bond package and a measure to establish a mental health wing at the state prison in Augusta. The bond package, which requires a two-thirds approval, would require voter ratification in November. The state prison in Augusta faces a $20 million loss in federal funding unless it addresses issues such as overcrowding and under-staffing by September 2. The bill under consideration in this special session would essentially replace that federal funding.[21]

In recess

As of today, August 26, there are 6 state legislatures currently in recess:[22]

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.

Kentucky

See also: Redistricting in Kentucky

Kentucky held a week-long legislative session as a last-ditch attempt to address redistricting. Gov. Steve Beshear signed the redistricting bill into law on Friday after it garnered 35-2 approval by the Senate and 79-18 in the House. Final approval must come from three federal judges tasked with overseeing the process, who stated beforehand they would not hesitate to create their own maps should the legislature fail to reach an agreement. If accepted by the three-judge panel, the new boundaries will take effect following the 2014 election. Critics from Northern Kentucky believe the maps do not proportionally reflect the population growth of their region: though it rose thirteen percent in the 2010 census, the three counties gained no further legislative representation.[23][24]




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 is one special election scheduled for this week in Maine.

Maine State Senate District 19

Sen. Seth Goodall (D) resigned on July 8 to serve as New England District Representative of the Small Business Association. A special election has been called for August 27. Major parties had until July 31 to file a nomination for the ballot.[32][33][34][35][36]

August 27 Special election candidates:

Democratic Party Eloise Vitelli
Republican Party Paula Benoit
Green Party Daniel Stromgren

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.[37][38][39]

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.[40][41][42][43]

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.[44][45][46]

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.[47][48][49]

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
  • September 24: California State Assembly District 52

See also

References

  1. "Cape Cod Today," "Wolf to resign as State Senator, suspend campaign for Governor," August 22, 2013
  2. "Boston Herald," "Mass. governor candidate to suspend campaign," August 22, 2013
  3. "Mass Live," "State Sen. Dan Wolf lambastes ethics commission, says he'll quit seat and gubernatorial race," August 22, 2013
  4. "Boston Globe," "State senator Dan Wolf to resign seat, suspend gubernatorial campaign," August 22, 2013
  5. Star Tribune, "Special session of Minnesota Legislature set for Sept. 9," August 22, 2013
  6. Bemidji Pioneer, "Farm tax not part of special legislative session," August 22, 2013
  7. [http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/409716/group/News/ Forum News Service, "Minnesota political notebook: Special session needed after all," August 21, 2013.
  8. Pioneer Press, "Minnesota Special session to focus on disaster relief, no deal on repeal of taxes," August 21, 2013
  9. IIHS, "Maximum posted speed limits," July 2013
  10. U.S. Department of Energy, "Fact #410: February 6, 2006 - Maximum Speed Limits by State, 2005," accessed July 12, 2013
  11. The Associated Press, "Wisconsin Assembly speaker supports raising state speed limits to 70 mph," August 18, 2013
  12. The Associated Press, "Wisconsin: 70 mph speed limit not a sure thing at Capitol," August 20, 2013
  13. The Associated Press, "Drive to 70 mph speed limit may hit bump," August 20, 2013
  14. WPR, "Republican Lawmaker Proposes Increasing Speed Limit To 70 MPH," August 20, 2013
  15. The Los Angeles Times, "Nevada, perhaps to match Texas, eyes 85 mph speed limit," February 26, 2013
  16. The Associated Press, "85 mph speed limit bill dies in Nevada Assembly," May 28, 2013
  17. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Interstates, Highway 41 candidates for 70-mph speed limit," August 21, 2013
  18. The Associated Press, "70 mph speed limit most likely on interstates, Hwy. 41," August 22, 2013
  19. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 26, 2013
  20. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed August 26, 2013
  21. boston.com, "Maine lawmakers to return for special session," August 26, 2013
  22. Statenet.com, "Daily Session Summary," accessed August 26, 2013
  23. kentucky.com, "Governor quickly signs redistricting bill into law," August 23, 2013
  24. nky.cincinnati.com, "New KY district maps leave NKY feeling snubbed," August 23, 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. The Bangor Daily News "Goodall resigns Senate District 19 seat to take post with Small Business Administration," July 10, 2013
  33. boston.com, "Maine Senate special election set for Aug. 27," July 15, 2013
  34. mainegreens.org, "Stromgren gets nod for Senate District 19 race," July 18, 2013
  35. kjonline.com, "SENATE DISTRICT 19Dems pick Eloise Vitelli as candidate," July 23, 2013
  36. theforecaster.net, "Sagadahoc caucuses tap Benoit, Stromgren, Vitelli for special Senate election," July 24, 2013
  37. washingtonpost.com, "Special election set Aug. 6 for seat being vacated by Chesapeake state senator," April 18, 2013
  38. sbe.virginia.gov, "List of Candidates," accessed June 20, 2013
  39. thestate.com, "Cosgrove wins Va. Senate seat in special election," August 6, 2013
  40. freep.com, "Snyder calls special election for state House seat," May 15, 2013
  41. mlive.com, "Six Democrats, two Republicans face off in 49th District state House primary election," June 4, 2013
  42. mlive.com, "Phil Phelps wins Democratic primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  43. mlive.com, "Don Pfeiffer wins Republican primary for 49th District state House seat," August 6, 2013
  44. spokesman.com, "Colville-area farmer named to succeed Morton," January 4, 2013
  45. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  46. spokesman.com, "Incumbents survive their primary challenges," August 7, 2013
  47. kvewtv.com, "Kennewick Mayor Pro-Tem Sharon Brown to replace Sen. Delvin," January 28, 2013
  48. wei.sos.wa.gov, "State candidates in lot order," accessed August 5, 2013
  49. tri-cityherald.com, "Brown has huge lead in State Senate race," August 6, 2013