State Legislative Tracker: New York passes strict gun control legislation, will other states follow?

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January 21, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a look at the status of gun-control measures around the country and the major topics in the three states that have convened since last Tuesday.

Weekly highlight

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As of today, 43 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here's a quick rundown on what are some early topics in states that have convened since last week's Tracker:

  • Alaska: Oil taxes figure to be the dominant issue facing lawmakers. Other major issues include the use of public money for private schools, energy projects, voter ID and social concerns.[1]
  • Hawaii: Much of the 60 day session will be focused on finances and the state budget. Major issues will include revenue, hotel room tax, GET increase, education funding, and renewable energy tax credits.[2] Legislators are also expected to take up a number of election reform proposals due to mishaps during the 2012 elections.[3]
  • New Mexico: Education is expected to be at the forefront of the legislature's 51st session. Other major issues include solvency of the state's public retirement system, tax cuts for state businesses, and tougher anti-DWI laws.[4] Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and the Democratically-controlled legislature have been at odds since she took office in 2011. Legislative leaders are hopeful that this year she will be more willing to compromise on her agenda.[5]

Gun control

Following the December 14, 2012 school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, renewed calls for gun control were heard across the country. Among those advocating for stricter laws was New York's Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Taking up his call, one of the first things the Legislature did in its 2013 session last week was to pass a tougher assault weapons ban that includes restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, as well as provisions to keep guns from the mentally ill who make threats. New York thus became first state to pass new laws after the tragedy.[6] Meanwhile, some gun rights advocates have said existing laws simply need to be enforced, while others have called for loosening restrictions. According to an analysis by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, over 190 gun-related bills were filed in state houses between January 1 and January 15. Of those, 114 would increase gun regulations and 67 would loosen them, with the rest of the bills considered to be neutral.[7]

Here are some of the recent happenings:

  • Colorado: With the July 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado still fresh, lawmakers are looking to increase gun regulations. The last time major gun control was passed in Colorado was in the wake of the Columbine shootings. While Democrats control the legislature and governorship, it is still believed that passing any restrictions will be difficult. A number of bills have already been introduced, but so far Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has only shown support for background checks on all gun sales. The governor, however, pushed for an overhaul of the state's mental health-care system in his recent state of the state address.[8][9]
  • Connecticut: As expected, gun control is already major issue in Connecticut. Last Friday, a bipartisan gun violence task force held its first meeting. They're expected to put their proposals up for a vote in February.[10] According to his spokesman Andrew Doba, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) favors a ban on large-capacity magazines.[11]
  • Virginia: Last week the Virginia Senate's Judicial Committee rejected a number of gun control bills, but did support a bill to ban the sale of firearms to the mentally ill. They also initially voted 8-6 in favor of legislation to restrict gun sales at shows to licensed dealers. However, they reconvened about an hour later, deciding to reconsider the vote this week.[12]
  • Wyoming: Before President Barack Obama even took action on gun control, Wyoming state legislator Kendell Kroeker (R) introduced a bill that would make it a felony to enforce any federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. Soon after, Texas state Rep. Steve Toth (R) and Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr (R) introduced similar legislation in their states.[13][14]
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Currently 40 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of January 21, 2013

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[15]

No states are scheduled to convene this week. The next date scheduled to convene is Utah on January 28.

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
Click here to see a chart of each state's 2013 session information.

Special sessions

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, January 21, 2013
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,502 (47.4%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,854 (52.2%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 59
Total tied or non-partisan chambers 4
2013 Session Information
Total Special Elections 7
Total Special Sessions 0

There are no special sessions scheduled to take place this week. Overall in 2012, there were 22 special sessions in 18 states.

In recess

As of today, January 21, 3 state's sessions are currently in recess:

Redistricting Roundup.jpg

State news

Redistricting Facts
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 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.

Redistricting in New York

See also: Redistricting in New York

In exchange for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) approval on 2012 maps, the Legislature agreed to approve a constitutional amendment to initiate independent redistricting. If they fail to approve the amendment by the end of January 2013, a law will automatically create such a commission to draw the maps in 2022. Additionally, if lawmakers in either chamber fail to meet the deadline, the governor assumes commission appointments in that chamber. If legislators do approve the amendment, it will be on the ballot in 2014. The amendment passed the Assembly 132-14 and now goes to the Senate.[17]

Redistricting in Texas

See also: Redistricting in Texas

On August 28, 2012, a federal three-judge panel in Washington denied pre-clearance to the Texas Legislature's set of maps, effectively tossing out new state senate, state house and Congressional districts. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in October and the state is currently awaiting the court's decision. A different federal three-judge panel in San Antonio ruled on August 31 that the November 2012 elections in the state would proceed using interim maps drawn by a court.

The way things stand, it looks likely that the legislature will not address redistricting until the summer. While they are waiting on Abbott's appeal, they are also waiting on a case brought by Alabama that seeks to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Under that section, which was used to justify rejection of Texas's maps, states with a history of discrimination have to have any changes in election law electoral districts approved by the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court.[18][19]

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 are 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.[20]

  • 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 is $352.80.[21]

Primaries

The state primaries are as follows:

  • New Jersey:
  • June 4, 2013
  • Virginia:
  • June 11, 2013

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See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There are two special election taking place this week - one each in Iowa and Texas.

Iowa House of Representatives District 52

Brian Quirk (D) resigned his District 52 seat in the Iowa House of Representatives on November 28, 2012, to take a job as general manager of the New Hampton Municipal Light Plant. He had just won re-election on November 6. The special election will be held on January 22, 2013.[22][23][24]

General election candidates:

Texas State Senate District 6

Mario Gallegos (D) died of liver failure in October 2012. However, he ran for re-election and his name remained on the ballot. He was re-elected on November 6, 2012, triggering a special election to fill the seat. The special election will be held January 26, 2013. With eight candidates, it is likely that a runoff for the top-two vote getters will take place.[25][26][27][28]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party Sylvia Garcia
Democratic Party Carol Alvarado
Democratic Party Joaquin Martinez
Democratic Party Susan Delgado
Democratic Party Rodolfo M. Reyes
Republican Party R.W. Bray
Republican Party Dorothy Marie Olmos
Green Party Maria Selva

Recent results

January 15, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg Mississippi State Senate District 16

Bennie Turner (D) died on November 27, 2012. A special election to fill his District 16 seat in the Mississippi State Senate took place on January 15, 2013. Angela Turner Lairy, Bennie Turner's daughter, easily defeated Kenny Fowler (I) to win the seat.[29][30]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • January 22: Iowa House of Representatives District 52
  • January 26: Texas State Senate District 6
  • January 29: Alabama State Senate District 35
  • February 5: Georgia House of Representatives Districts 51 and 21 (runoff)
  • February 5: Georgia State Senate District 11 (runoff)
  • February 5: Mississippi State Senate District 28
  • February 12: Kentucky House of Representatives District 52
  • February 12: Minnesota House of Representatives Districts 14A and 19A
  • February 19: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 31
  • February 26: Alabama House of Representatives District 97
  • March 2: Louisiana House of Representatives Districts 65 and 79
  • March 12: California State Senate Districts 32 and 40
  • March 12: South Carolina House of Representatives District 17

See also

References

  1. Anchorage Daily News, "Oil taxes the top agenda for next legislature," January 13, 2013
  2. Hawaii News Now, " Lawmakers set stage for legislative session," January 15, 2013
  3. Honolulu Civil Beat, "Hawaii Elections Fiascos Prompt Calls For New Legislative Action," January 10, 2013
  4. ABQ Journal, "Legislature: New Members, Old Issues," January 13, 2013
  5. Las Cruces Sun-News, "Anger from election could carry over into legislative session," January 12, 2013
  6. Seattle PI, "NY seals 1st state gun laws since Newtown massacre," January 15, 2013
  7. Huffington Post, "Gun Control Bills Flood Statehouses In Wake Of Sandy Hook Shooting," January 19, 2013
  8. CBS Local, "Colorado Lawmakers Grabbing Gun Control Bull By The Horns," January 16, 2013
  9. The Wall Street Journal, "Hickenlooper's Gun Control," January 15, 2013
  10. Huffington Post, "Members Of Connecticut State Legislature Set To Discuss Gun Control Today ," January 18, 2013
  11. USA Today, "Where each state stands on gun-control legislation," January 14, 2013
  12. Washington Times, "Va. Senate panel’s approval of gun show bill short-lived," January 18, 2013
  13. Huffington Post, "Joe Carr, Tennessee Legislator, Proposes Gun Control Law Ban," January 17, 2013
  14. Huffington Post, "Wyoming Ban On Federal Gun Bans Proposed By State Lawmaker," January 10, 2013
  15. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed January 21, 2013
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed January 21, 2013
  17. Syracuse.com, "Redistricting up for another vote for New York lawmakers," January 14, 2013
  18. Dallas news, "Texas Legislature waiting on Supreme Court before delving into redistricting," January 14, 2013
  19. Lubbock Avalanche Journal, "Lawmakers await ruling as Texas redistricting battle nears end," January 21, 2013
  20. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," Accessed January 14, 2013
  21. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," Accessed January 16, 2013
  22. Globe Gazette, "House District 52 special election set," December 1, 2012
  23. WCF Courier, "Quirk leaves statehouse for new job; retired coach to seek seat," November 30, 2012
  24. Iowa Secretary of State, "Candidate list January 22, 2013 special election," accessed January 3, 2013
  25. Texas Tribune, "Packed Field Could Mean a Runoff in SD-6," January 2, 2013
  26. The Republic, "Alvarado, Garcia, Bray vying to replace deceased Gallegos in Texas Senate special election," November 12, 2012
  27. The Dallas Morning News, "Governor sets special election for senate seat in Houston area," December 13, 2012
  28. Your Houston News, " Third candidate joins race for late Senator seat," December 28, 2012
  29. The Republic, "Angela Lairy wins special election to Miss. Senate to replace late father Bennie Turner," January 15, 2013
  30. Clarion Ledger, "Special Election Set For Seat Held By The Late-Sen. Bennie Turner," December 6, 2012