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State Legislative Tracker: Texas Senate holds lottery; other states take on election laws, gay marriage

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January 28, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka
This week's tracker features a roundup of some of the recent legislative issues making headlines early on in 2013 sessions.

Weekly highlight

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As of today, 44 states have kicked off 2013 sessions. Here's a quick rundown on some of the recent action around the country:

  • Missouri: Last Wednesday the Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill to make a number of changes to elections in the state. The legislation, the first to be passed by the chamber, was approved 115-45 and now goes to the state Senate. The major effect of the bill would allow the governor to appoint a replacement for a vacancy in the offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer, auditor and U.S. Senator. The office would then appear on the next general election ballot, but the acting officeholder would be prohibited from running. Additionally, the bill moves Missouri's presidential primary from early February to early March, requires elections be closer in order to allow for a recount, and requires elections for state legislative vacancies be held within six months.[1]
  • Rhode Island: As the only New England state yet to legalize gay marriage, Rhode Island lawmakers took up the divisive issue early and passed it in the House on Thursday by a margin of 51 to 19. The legislation, which would allow the marriage of “any eligible person regardless of gender,” faces an uncertain fate in the Rhode Island State Senate. Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D) has come out against gay marriage, but said she would allow the bill to be taken up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to happen in the spring.[2][3]
  • South Carolina: During the 2012 elections some 250 candidates were removed from primary ballots in South Carolina for failing to file correctly. The problem was the result of confusion from a 2010 law that requires online filing but doesn't match up with other state laws. In response the state Senate passed legislation last week that would sync the filing process for incumbents and challengers and allows those who do file incorrectly to pay a fine instead of being kicked off of the ballot. The bill now goes to the House.[4]
  • Texas: Due to the once-a-decade redistricting process, all 31 Texas State Senate seats were up for election last year. Normally half of the seats are up every two years. Candidates in 2012 did not know if they were running for two or four year terms. The length of terms for the winners was determined last week by having senators randomly picked out envelopes containing the numbers 1 though 31. Those who selected an even number will serve for two-years, while those who chose an odd number will serve a four-year term. Nine Republicans and six Democrats got two-year terms and will once again face voters in 2014.[5][6]
  • Washington: Washington's vote-by-mail system only requires that ballots be postmarked by Election Day. Thus, many elections remain undetermined on election night. Seeking to remedy this issue, Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D) has introduced a measure to require ballots be processed and counted until midnight on election night. During the 2012 elections, all counties but one did a count shortly after polls officially closed at 8 p.m. and resumed counting in the days and weeks afterwards. The bill would not change the postmark deadline, only speed up results. Critics have said the move would not necessarily ensure definite results but was certain to increase costs.[7]
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Currently 41 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state, California, is meeting in special session concurrent with their regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of January 28, 2013

The following states have convened their 2013 legislative sessions:[8]

No states are scheduled to convene the rest of the week. The next date scheduled to convene is Nevada, Oklahoma and Oregon on February 4.

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 28, 2013
There are 7,383 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,508 (47.5%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,898 (52.8%)
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 9
Total Special Sessions 1

There is one special sessions scheduled to take place this week in California. Overall in 2012, there were 22 special sessions in 18 states.

California

During his State of the State address on January 24, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for the Legislature to hold a special session concurrent with the regular session in order to bring the state in compliance with the federal Affordable Care Act. The special session began today.[9]

In recess

As of today, January 28, 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 California

See also: Redistricting in California

When the new map of California State Senate districts was drawn, some new districts overlapped old districts. Half of the senate seats were up for election in 2012. Some areas that did not hold elections in 2012 were moved into districts that will not hold election until 2014. Thus, due to a quirk in the process, some 4 million residents will be without an elected senator for two years. In order to address the issue, current senators will serve as "caretaker" representatives for the unrepresented areas.[11][12]

Redistricting in Kentucky

See also: Redistricting in Kentucky

Following the state Supreme Court's rejection of the legislative maps in 2012, the Legislature has to pass new maps prior to the 2014 elections. When that will happen, however, is up in the air. President of the Senate Robert Stivers (R) has shown no desire to rush the issue, stating, "I think it would be prudent to really consider not injecting internal politics into the situation. There is no pressing need."

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo (D) is looking to get it done as quickly as possible to avoid it being used later on as a political bargaining chip. "I'm not going to be a part of holding redistricting over somebody's head to vote on something else. We're not going to do that," he said.[13]

Although Gov. Steve Beshear (D) advocated legislators postpone working on districts until later in the year, Stumbo asked members of the House to propose new boundaries by February 1, 2013. Stumbo stated, "we must realize this is strictly a legislative responsibility and I believe we should attempt to put together a plan that can pass the House and comply with the latest court decision." Senate leaders, meanwhile, have not changed their position and still intend to delay the task.[14]

Redistricting in Virginia

See also: Redistricting in Virginia

In a stunning move, Republicans in the Virginia State Senate passed a new redistricting map on January 18 on a 20-19 party-line vote. The measure, which Democrats tried to get referred to committee, did not go through the normal process and was passed in about 30 minutes. The new lines appear to draw more Republican-friendly districts, all but assuring them a future majority in the chamber.[15]

Redistricting following the 2010 census was anything but amiable. The state Senate initially approved a plan for new districts on April 7, 2011. At the time Democrats controlled the chamber by a 22-18 margin. That plan, which also passed on a party line vote, was vetoed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell for a number of reasons, including the use of "partisan gerrymandering".[16] After a number of compromises by both sides, the governor signed a revised plan on April 29, 2011.[17]

Thus, with compromise met, onlookers, including the governor, were surprised to see an entirely revamped map passed by the senate. Set to take effect in 2015, the plan was added onto a bill intended to make "technical adjustments" to House districts. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) also criticized the move. With the senate tied 20-20, Bolling serves as the tie-breaking vote. He did not have that chance, however, as Republicans chose to act on the day that Democratic Sen. Henry L. Marsh was in Washington attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama.[18]

The bill then went to the Virginia House of Delegates, where its fate is unclear. While Republicans control the chamber, Speaker of the House William J. Howell may kill it with a procedural move. If he does not and it passes, Gov. McDonnell might veto it. So far the House has voted without any objection to pass over the bill.

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.[19]

  • 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.[20]

Primaries

The state primaries are as follows:

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

See also: State legislative special elections, 2013

There is one special election taking place this week in Alabama.

Alabama State Senate District 35

Ben Brooks (R) was elected as as a circuit judge in Mobile County on November 6, 2012. Once he is sworn into the new position a special election had to be held to fill the vacancy. A special primary is scheduled for January 29, 2013. Candidates had until December 13, 2012 to file. Since no Democrats filed, the primary became the general election. A runoff, if necessary, will take place March 12[21][22]

Candidate Matranga criticized the influence of special interests in the race. As of January 14, the candidates had the following funds in their campaign accounts:[23]

  • Barton: $218,000
  • Hightower: $30,000
  • Matranga: $2,800

If Barton wins the seat, a special election will be called for his seat in the Alabama House of Representatives.

General Election Candidates:
Republican Party Jim Barton
Republican Party Bill Hightower
Republican Party Nick Matranga

Recent results

January 26, 2013

RunoffArrow.jpg 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 was held January 26, 2013. With eight candidates, it looked likely that a runoff for the top-two vote getters would be necessary, and indeed that is what happened. Democrats Sylvia Garcia and Carol Alvarado will meet in the runoff, which will have to be scheduled by Gov. Rick Perry.[24][25][26][27][28]

January 22, 2013

CheckedBoxOffset.jpg 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 was held on January 22, 2013. Todd Prichard (D) won the seat.[29][30][31][32]

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • 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. Washington Examiner, "Mo. House approves election legislation," January 23, 2013
  2. The New York Times, "The Last Holdout in New England, Rhode Island Weighs Gay Marriage," January 23, 2013
  3. The New York Times, "Gay Marriage Bill Approved in Rhode Island House Vote," January 24, 2013
  4. The State, "South Carolina Senate passes election law fix," January 23, 2013
  5. Texas Tribune, "Senators Draw Lots to Determine Terms," January 23, 2013
  6. Houston Chronicle, "Political futures at risk as Senators draw terms," January 23, 2013
  7. Oregon Live, "Washington state lawmakers press for speedier election results," January 23, 2013
  8. Stateside Associates, " Session Calendar 2013," accessed January 28, 2013
  9. Los Angeles Times, "Gov. Jerry Brown calls for special session of Legislature on healthcare," January 24, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 State Scape, "Session schedules," accessed January 28, 2013
  11. Los Angeles Times, "In quirk, some California residents have two state senators, others none," January 22, 2013
  12. IVN, "Redistricting in California Leaves Some Without Representation," January 24, 2013
  13. Kentucky.com, "Ky. lawmakers still wrestling with redistricting," December 30, 2012
  14. Kentucky.com, "Kentucky House moving forward with legislative redistricting," January 25, 2013
  15. Daily Press, "Senate Republicans catch Democrats off guard with redistricting measure," January 21, 2013
  16. Governors Office Press Release, "Governor McDonnell Acts on Redistricting Legislation," April 15, 2011
  17. Richmond Times-Dispatch, "McDonnell signs redistricting bill," April 30, 2011
  18. Washington Post, "Va. Republicans push re-drawn district map through Senate," January 21, 2013
  19. New Jersey Department of State, "Petition filing instruction sheet," Accessed January 14, 2013
  20. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidacy Requirements for House of Delegates," Accessed January 16, 2013
  21. Local 15, "Ala. Senate District 35 to Hold Special Election," December 4, 2012
  22. Al.com, "Three Republicans qualify for state Senate District 35 special election," December 12, 2012
  23. Alabama.com "Nick Matranga, State Senate candidate, to criticize special interest influence in campaign" January 14, 2013
  24. Dallas Morning News, "Houston special election for late state senator’s seat heading into runoff," January 26, 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. Globe Gazette, "House District 52 special election set," December 1, 2012
  30. WCF Courier, "Quirk leaves statehouse for new job; retired coach to seek seat," November 30, 2012
  31. Iowa Secretary of State, "Candidate list January 22, 2013 special election," accessed January 3, 2013
  32. The Iowa Republican, "Democrat Prichard Wins HD52 Special Election," January 22, 2013