Tag Archive | "Pennsylvania"

2012 competitiveness in Pennsylvania state legislative elections

August 20, 2012

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August 16, 2012

By Tyler King

MADISON, Wisconsin: Pennsylvania’s legislative elections in 2012 are less competitive than most of the country, based on Ballotpedia’s Competitiveness index which captures the extent of electoral competitiveness exhibited in state legislative elections.

About the Competitiveness index:
The Ballotpedia state legislative competitive index looks at three factors: is the incumbent running for re-election in a district; if so, does he or she draw a primary challenge; and are there two major party candidates in the general election.

Ballotpedia’s index is created by summing the three percentages and then dividing by three. Each state is given 1 point for each percentage. Then, the points are added up and divided by three to establish the index rating. 1 is least competitive and 100 equals most competitive.

The comprehensive 2012 state legislative competitive index will be released following the completion of the primaries in all 44 states with 2012 state legislative elections. It will examine all 6,016 state legislative seats that are up for election on November 6, 2012.

Once a state releases official primary candidate lists, Ballotpedia staff analyzes the data to determine primary competitiveness. Just one state remains that has passed their filing deadline, but has not been analyzed by Ballotpedia staff – New York.

Pennsylvania in 2012:
Pennsylvania’s filing deadline was on February 16, 2012. It was the 5th state to be analyzed by Ballotpedia staff and the inclusion of its data brought the national index to 30.70 in 2012.

In Pennsylvania, there are 228 total state legislative seats with elections in 2012 and most current incumbents are seeking re-election.

Of those 228, 25 are State Senate seats and 203 are State House seats. A total of 210 incumbents (92.1%) are seeking re-election this year. Just 37 (17.6%) incumbents running for re-election face primary opposition. Additionally, there are 17 (7.5%) districts where an incumbent is not seeking re-election within that district. For November’s general elections, there will be 108 (47.4%) seats where more than one major party candidate will appear on the ballot.


9.2% of Districts were open seats, decreasing to 7.5% in 2012.Comparison to 2010:

In 2010, Pennsylvania ranked 38th in overall competitiveness.

  • 14.5% of incumbents faced primary opposition, increasing to 17.6% in 2012.
  • 58.8% of Districts had more than one major party candidate in the general election, compared to 47.4% in 2012.
  • Pennsylvania’s 2010 competitiveness index was 27.5, compared to 24.2 in 2012.

State Legislative Tracker: Pennsylvania Legislature suspends rule to pass last-minute legislation

July 09, 2012

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Edited by Greg Janetka

Today’s tracker features a partisan count update and spotlight on Pennsylvania, where the legislature saw a flurry of activity before recessing for the summer.

This is an abridged version of our weekly Tracker report. For the full report click here.

Weekly highlight

The Pennsylvania General Assembly currently sits in summer recess and is not scheduled to get back to work until August 23.[1] Its last days before going on break were busy ones, highlighted by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signing the new budget into law fifteen minutes before the new fiscal year was to begin and legislation passed after the Legislature’s own deadline.[2]

Back in 2005, lawmakers ignited a firestorm of controversy when they passed legislative pay raises in the early morning hours. The raise, which was eventually declared unconstitutional by the courts, led to a number of reforms, including a rule that sessions have to end by 11 p.m..[3] Legislators suspended that ruled this year in order to pass about a dozen bills, including HB 254 which extends Philadelphia’s red-light camera program and allows Pittsburgh and 14 suburban Philadelphia municipalities to begin such programs.[2]

The amendment expanding the use of red-light cameras was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) on June 28 and adopted without debate, discussion or a public hearing. The final vote on the bill did not occur until 1:10 a.m. on July 1, when it passed the House by a margin of 113-72. Rep. Greg Vitali (D) rallied against the bill, arguing that 1 a.m. was not an appropriate time to pass it and that it should be shelved. Others objected to it because of privacy concerns and conflicting evidence whether red-light cameras reduce crashes or not. Their effort, however, was in vain as it passed the House by a margin of 113-72.[4]

Tim Potts, co-director of Democracy Rising PA, a nonprofit seeking government reform, addressed the situation, stating:

“No one who pays attention can excuse the way this place operates. Every deadline crisis is a manufactured crisis designed to…keep citizens as completely in the dark as much as possible. And so we continue to push these issues because they will result in more accountability, lower costs to taxpayers, greater transparency and the restoration of people’s confidence in their government.”[3]

Partisan breakdown

As of today, July 9, 2012, the following figures represent the cumulative partisan breakdown of the 50 state senates and 49 state houses. In the 50 states, Republicans currently control 53.6% of all seats while Democrats hold 44.8%. All told, Republicans control 58 chambers while Democrats are the majority in 36 chambers. Four chambers are tied, while one is non-partisan.

The totals represent a loss of 7 Republican legislators from the June 4 Tracker.

The partisan composition of state houses refers to which party holds the majority of seats in the state house or the lower level of each state legislature. Altogether, in the 49 state houses, there are 5,413 state representatives.

See also: Partisan composition of state houses

As of July 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

  • Democratic Party (United States) 18 chambers
  • Republican Party 30 chambers
  • Purple.png 1 chamber (Oregon)

The partisan composition of state senates refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate. Altogether, in the 50 state senates, there are 1,971 state senators.

See also: Partisan composition of state senates

As of July 9, 2012, the breakdown of chamber control by party is as follows:

Sessions

This week 2 out of 50 state legislaturesOhio and Massachusetts – are meeting in regular session. As of May 16, all states had convened their 2012 sessions. No states are projected to adjourn this week.

Thirty-eight states have adjourned for the year, while four states – Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas – will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Special Sessions:

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 15 special sessions in 13 states. There are no special sessions currently ongoing.

2012 Legislative Elections

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,301 (65.97%) of the country’s 1,972 state senate seats are up for election in November 2012, and 4,714 (87.12%) of the country’s 5,411 state house seats are up for election. Altogether, 6,015 (81.47%) of the country’s 7,383 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 6,015 seats up for election is 110 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

No states have signature filing deadlines this week.

So far, deadlines have passed in 42 states. The final two remaining states have deadlines this week.

States with upcoming deadlines:

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

There are no state legislative primaries taking place this week.

So far, primaries have taken place in 24 states.

A total of 75 state legislative incumbents have been defeated in a primary – 53 Republicans and 22 Democrats.

States with upcoming primaries:

Recalls

Wisconsin

See also: Timeline of events of the recall of Wisconsin State Senators in 2012

Recalls against four Republican state senators took place on June 5.[11] Going into the recalls the Senate was tied, meaning if the Democrats could win one of the recalls they would take control of the chamber.[12]

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. [13] With the official canvass showing Lehman winning by 834 votes, Wanggaard called for a recount on June 15.[14]

The recount began on June 20 and concluded July 2.[15] Final tallies released show Lehman won by 819 votes – 36,358 to 35,539.[16] Wanggaard was looking at possible legal challenges. If none are filed the results will be certified on Wednesday.[17]

There have been a number of allegations of voter fraud in the recall, with Assemblyman Robin Vos (R) among the loudest voices. PolitiFact invested the claims, ultimately rating them “False” as based on the information currently available. According to the report, “The Racine County Sheriff’s Department is investigating issues regarding election procedures and paperwork, but a top official told us they do not suspect fraud. What’s more, Vos acknowledges he has no direct evidence of fraud.”[18]

Primary election night reveals which state executive candidates will advance

April 25, 2012

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By Lauren Rodgers and Maresa Strano

Alabama and Pennsylvania held primary elections today for state executive seats. In Alabama, two Republican candidates went head to head in a primary runoff election for the President of the Alabama Public Service Commission. Twinkle Cavanaugh, a current member of the commission, beat out Iraq veteran and real estate developer Chip Brown for the party’s nomination.[1] Cavanaugh will face incumbent Lucy Baxley, the only Democrat who currently holds a statewide office in Alabama in the November general election.[2]

[hide]Alabama Public Service Commission President – Republican Primary Runoff, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Twinkle Cavanaugh 60.8% 52,371
Chip Brown 39.2% 33,734
Total Votes 86,105

77% of precincts reporting.
The story isn’t so simple in Pennsylvania. Today’s primary election was more than the usual ballot casting exercise for the commonwealth’s partisan electorate. In addition to choosing their party’s nominees for the two statewide and myriad U.S. and State legislative seats, Pennsylvania voters also participated in a dry-run of the state’s recently passed voter photo-ID law. Poll volunteers were tasked with informing people about the new requirements. They were also instructed to track the numbers of voters who showed up without proper forms of ID in order to give the state an idea of how many more IDs will need to be issued before November, when the mandatory photo-ID rule will officially go into effect.

Only two of this year’s state executive races in Pennsylvania were contested: the Democratic primary for attorney general and the Republican primary for auditor. The polls are closed and the votes have been tallied. Here are the unofficial results of the two contests:

Pennsylvania

Attorney General

The mudslinging that led up to the Democratic primary showdown tonight between ex-Lackawanna prosecutor Kathleen Kane and former Bucks County U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy is over. Despite strong showings for Murphy in and around his native city of Philadelphia, Kane ultimately edged out her opponent to score the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Kane’s upset victory was among the last to be called-major news sources like the AP and the Philadelphia Inquirer waited to declare the race until around 11:00pm EST-due to the slim, albeit consistent, margin separating the candidates’ reported votes.[3]

Kane will now face Republican Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed in the November 6 general election.

[hide]Attorney General of Pennsylvania, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Kathleen Kane 52.9% 370,709
Patrick Murphy 47.1% 330,624
Total Votes 701,333

*98.9% of districts reporting.

Auditor

Current state Rep. John Maher easily defeated Frank Pinto in the Republican primary and will go on to face state Rep. Eugene DePasquale (who was unopposed in tonight’s Democratic primary) in November. Both Maher and DePasquale are also running unopposed for re-election to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which means that at least one of them will vacate their current seat after the general election. That also means that the commonwealth of Pennsylvania will have to hold a special election to fill their House seat, which is estimated to cost between $100,000 and $150,000.[4]

[hide]Pennsylvania Auditor, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
John Maher 66.1% 450,928
Frank Pinto 33.9% 231,576
Total Votes 682,504

*98.9% of districts reporting.

State Legislative Tracker: Recalls scheduled in Wisconsin as turbulent session comes to a close

March 19, 2012

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Edited by Greg Janetka

This week’s tracker features an update on special sessions in Florida and Washington as well as a look at continually divided Wisconsin, where recall dates have been set against four incumbent senators.

Sessions

This week 34 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. This week no states are scheduled to convene, while South Dakota adjourns today.

Twelve states have adjourned for the year, while four states – Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas – will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of March 19, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state’s 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Florida

Following the Florida Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision on March 9 to reject the state’s new Senate maps, the Senate reconvened in special session on March 14 in order to redraw its map.[1]

According to Senate leaders the court only cited problems with 8 of the 40 senate districts and they plan to focus solely on those areas. Critics, however, point out that any minor changes will affect neighboring districts. “There is no such thing as tweaking the map,” said state Democratic Party chair Rod Smith.

The court also noted potential problems with how the districts are numbered. With all 40 districts up for election this year, some legislators will be elected to two-year terms while others will be elected to four-year terms. Thus, depending how the districts are numbered, some senators could end up serving 10 years, two years longer than the eight-year term limit.[2]

Senate Reapportionment Chairman Don Gaetz (R) released a plan on Saturday which makes changes to two dozen districts. It will be considered by the full Committee tomorrow and go to the Senate floor later this week. The session is slated to run through March 28.[3]

Virginia

The Virginia General Assembly ended its regular session on March 10. The 60-day session was full of heated debate over bills regarding abortion restrictions and gun laws, but never included passing a new state budget. Thus, the same day that the Legislature adjourned, they also formally started a special session then adjourned until March 21.[4]

Washington

Washington is currently in special session. Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) called for the session on March 8 after it was clear the Legislature was going to end its 60-day regular session without passing a supplemental budget plan. House Democrats passed a budget agreement by a 53-45 vote, but it included a delayed payment for schools, something that has previously failed in the Senate. While Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, three members broke from the party ranks to vote for a Republican plan that got rid of the delayed payment and focused instead on more spending cuts.[5]

Senate Republicans unveiled a new plan on March 15 that Gregoire said she had no knowledge of despite meetings between the governor and senate leaders of both parties. Angered at being kept in the dark, she said she will not sign most of the bills awaiting her signature and threatened to veto some of them in order to force lawmakers to break their stalemate. The special session can last up to 30 days.[6]

In recess

As of today, March 19, 1 states’ session is currently in recess:

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, March 19, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,300 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,965 (53.7%)
There are 99 Total State Legislative Chambers
Total Democratic Party-controlled chambers 36
Total Republican Party-controlled chambers 58
Total tied or non-partisan chambers 5
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 11
Total Special Sessions 5

Issues spotlight

Counting South Dakota’s adjournment today, a total of 12 states have ended their regular session for the year. Here is an update on major topics that were addressed in those that adjourned in the past week:

South Dakota

Legislators returned to the state capitol today to consider two vetoes and wrap up their business. Sen. Tim Rave (R) summed up the session’s work, stating, “Obviously education, education, education and then we talked about education.”[8]

Race said HB 1234, which narrowly passed, is the most comprehensive reform bill he’s ever worked on. It will dedicate millions of dollars to teacher bonuses, set up a scholarship program for future teachers and end tenure. Of the over 470 bills considered by the Legislature this session, 54 percent were passed. The two bills vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) that they will consider today concern carrying concealed handguns without a permit and prohibiting cities from banning digital billboards.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin State Senate finished its work for the year on Thursday, the last day scheduled for passing bills, after meeting for less than an hour. The Assembly, however, did not adjourn until late Friday after Democrats held a 30-hour long filibuster over a bill that would have dissolved the Milwaukee Area Technical College board. Democrats returned to the floor at 3 a.m. on Friday, giving speeches and interrupting GOP attempts to adjourn until Republicans finally agreed late in the afternoon to reappoint the current members of the MATC board.[9]

The contentious end of the two-year long session was just the latest in a long line of partisan fighting that began in February 2011 when Gov. Scott Walker (R) introduced his budget repair bill which limited collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees. Also noteworthy was the passage of a bill allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons and one to require photo ID at the polls, which Democrats argued was unconstitutional.[10] Last week a circuit court judge agreed with Democrats, issuing a permanent injunction against the Voter ID measure.[11]

The end of the session saw a firestorm over a mining reform bill aimed at getting Florida-based Gogebic Taconite to open an iron mine in northwester Wisconsin, creating hundreds of jobs. Republicans were unable to amass the necessary number of votes when Sen. Dale Schultz (R) sided with Democrats against the bill. Schultz and Democrat Bob Jauch are being targeted for possible recall over their opposition to the bill, while Republican leaders are said to be considering a special session to try and get the measure passed.[12]

Elections

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,267 (64.3%) of the country’s 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country’s 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,979 (81.0%) of the country’s 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-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 5,979 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

New Mexico is the only state this week with a signature filing deadline.

So far, deadlines have passed in 18 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

Illinois holds its primary elections tomorrow – all 59 Senate seats and 118 House seats will be on the ballot. The first state legislative primary elections of 2012 took place earlier this month in Ohio.

States with upcoming primaries:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.

Recalls

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, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.

Arizona

Former state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) became the first legislator to be removed in state history when voters recalled him from office last November. Up till now he has not made his future plans clear, but that could change today – Pearce is speaking at an event where many expect him to announce a campaign for state Senate. Following redistricting, Pearce was moved from the 18th to the 25th District – if he does chose to run that could set up a primary between Pearce and current Republican incumbent Rich Crandall.[13]

Michigan

2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing 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) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.

Wisconsin

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senatorsPam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[14] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

Last week was a busy one – on Monday the board dismissed all of the challenges submitted by the senators against the petitions, voting unanimously to order recalls against all four.[15] On Tuesday, GAB received an extension on their deadline to certify the results, giving them until March 30. The following day Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess signed an agreement scheduling primaries for May 8 with general elections on June 5. If there is no primary the general election takes place on May 8.[16]

The Senate wrapped up their 2012 session on Thursday[17], and on Friday Sen. Galloway announced she was resigning her seat, effective the following day, but said it had to do with her family and not the recall. GAB said the recall will continue as scheduled and Republicans are now seeking a candidate to take Galloway’s place.[18]

Meanwhile, conservative group Citizens for Responsible Government said they are going forward with plans to recall senators Dale Schultz (R) and Bob Jauch (D) who both worked to reject a compromise on a bill aiming to increase the speed of the state’s approval for iron ore mines. CRG is expected to announce more details about their plans today.[19]

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

Five special elections are scheduled to take place this week in New York – four seats are in the Assembly and one is in the Senate.

New York Assembly District 93

Mike Spano (D) resigned in 2011 after being elected Mayor of Yonkers.[20][21]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party (United States) Shelley Mayer – Mayer is also running on the Independence and Working Family Party tickets.
Republican Party Donnamarie Nolan

New York Assembly District 100

Thomas Kirwan (R) passed away in 2011 at the age of 78.[22][23]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party (United States) Frank Skartados – Skartados is also running on the Working Family Party ticket.
Republican Party John Forman – Forma is also running on the Independence and Conservative Party tickets.

New York Assembly District 103

Marcus Molinaro (R) resigned after being elected Dutchess County executive.[24][25]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party (United States) Didi Barrett – Barrett is also running on the Working Family Party ticket.
Republican Party Richard Wager – Wager is also running on the Independence and Conservative Party tickets.

New York Assembly District 145

Mark Schroeder (D) resigned after being elected Buffalo City comptroller.[26][27]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party (United States) Christopher Fahey – Fahey is also running on the Working Family and Conservative Party tickets.
Republican Party Michael Kearns – Kearns is also running on the Independence Party ticket.

New York Senate District 27

Carl Kruger (D) resigned in 2011 after pleading guilty to corruption charges.[28][29]

General election candidates:
Democratic Party (United States) Lewis Fidler – Fidler is also running on the Independence Party ticket.
Republican Party David Storobin – Storobin is also running on the Conservative Party ticket.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • March 20: New York Assembly District 93
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 100
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 103
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 145
  • March 20: New York Senate District 27
  • April 3: Oklahoma House of Representatives District 71
  • April 3: Oklahoma Senate District 20
  • April 10: Minnesota Senate District 20
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 22
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 134
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 153
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 169
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 186
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 197

State Legislative Tracker: Three states adjourn with work unfinished, head to special sessions

March 13, 2012

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Edited by Greg Janetka

This week’s tracker features an update on what was accomplished (and not accomplished) in those state legislatures that adjourned for the year last week and a look at special sessions in FloridaVirginia and Washington.

Sessions

This week 35 out of 50 state legislatures are meeting in regular session. One state - Louisiana - convenes this week, while no states are scheduled to adjourn.

Ten states have adjourned for the year, while four states - MontanaNevadaNorth Dakota, and Texas - will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Current sessions capture for the week of March 12, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:

The following states have ended their regular session:

Click here to see a chart of each state’s 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Washington is currently in special session. Virginia formally began a special session last Saturday, but adjourned until March 21, while Florida is scheduled to begin one on Wednesday.

In recess

As of today, March 12, 1 states’ session is currently in recess:

Sessions spotlight

So far ten states have adjourned their regular session for the year – at least three of those will be holding special sessions to finish up their work.

Florida

Following the Florida Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to reject the state’s new Senate maps, the Senate will reconvene in special session starting Wednesday in order to redraw its map.[2]

In Florida, if the Court finds a plan unconstitutional, the Governor must call a new session within five days to correct the district lines — this session may last no longer than 15 days. The revised plan is again submitted to the court for evaluation. The court approved the new state House districts.

Virginia

The Virginia General Assembly ended their regular session on Saturday. The 60-day session was full of heated debate over bills regarding abortion restrictions and gun laws, but never included passing a new state budget. Thus, the same day that the Legislature adjourned, they also formally started a special session then adjourned until March 21.

Following the 2011 legislative elections, which left the Senate evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Republicans claimed power in the chamber using the tie-breaking vote of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R). The Lt. Governor, however, can not break ties on appropriations bills. In exchange for a compromise on the budget, Democrats are seeking a power-sharing agreement in the Senate.[3]

Washington

Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) called for a special session on Thursday after it was clear the Legislature was going to end its 60-day regular session without passing a supplemental budget plan. HouseDemocrats passed a budget agreement by a 53-45 vote, but it included a delayed payment for schools, something that has previously failed in the Senate. While Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, three members broke from the party ranks to vote for a Republican plan that got rid of the delayed payment and focused instead on more spending cuts.[4]

The special session got under way today at noon, but the first two days are only “pro forma,” meaning legislators are not required to be at the Capitol until Wednesday. Gregoire said it could last up to a month.[5]

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, March 5, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,300 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,969 (53.8%)
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
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 11
Total Special Sessions 5

Issues spotlight

Nine states concluded their regular session for the year last week. Three of those will be holding special sessions (see above). Here is an update on major topics that were addressed in the other six:

  • Arkansas – Arkansas’ second-ever fiscal session focused mainly on the passage of a $4.7 billion budget. Legislators attempted to get non-budget items passed, including a $4 million tax break for truckers, but those items will have to wait until next year. The House also voted to elect Darrin Williams as the first black Speaker of the House in state history.[6]
  • Indiana – Legislators ended their session by passing a spending package that includes $6 million for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and $80 million for full-day kindergarten. They also agreed to decrease the state inheritance tax beginning next year until it is completely phased out after 2021. In perhaps the most controversial move, legislators passed a bill which mandates that citizens are protected by the state’s self-defense law if they reasonably believe force is necessary in order to protect themselves from unlawful actions by a police officer.[7]
  • Oregon – The Legislature held its first-ever annual session this year, which was created by a voter-approved ballot measure passed in 2010. Lawmakers were able to pass a balanced budget to deal with a $200 million budget gap and largely deemed the session a success.[8]
  • Utah – The Legislature’s 45-day session was fairly uneventful, with the controversial issue of immigration avoided entirely. The most attention was given to what is being called the “Sagebrush Rebellion 2.0″ as legislators sought to claim 30 million acres of state land that is owned by the federal government.[9]
  • West Virginia – Legislators passed 213 bills this session, including 112 on the last day. One thing they did not accomplish, however, was passing a new budget. To that end, the session was extended, with work on the budget getting under way again yesterday. Some are predicting a special session will have to be called later in the month.[10]
  • Wyoming – The Legislature finished on March 8, a day early. During that time legislators passed a $3.2 billion budget for the next two years. It keeps spending more or less flat but gives the governorauthority to spend up to $150 million in reserve funds if necessary. They also passed a new state wolf management plan that aims to end protections for wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act.[11]

Elections

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,267 (64.3%) of the country’s 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country’s 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,979 (81.0%) of the country’s 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-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 5,979 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections and 2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

This week five states have signature filing deadlines for candidates running for election - MontanaMaineIowaNevada and Utah.

So far, deadlines have passed in 13 states:

States with upcoming deadlines:

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

The first state legislative primary elections of 2012 took place last week in Ohio. There are no state legislative primaries this week. The next will take place in Illinois on March 20, where all 59 Senate seats and 118 House seats will be on the ballot.

States with upcoming primaries:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date was moved to May 29.

Recalls

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, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.

Michigan

2011 saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least two campaigns are continuing 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) are aiming for the August 2012 ballot.

Wisconsin

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senators - Pam GallowayScott FitzgeraldTerry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[12] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

On February 9, all four senators for recall submitted signatures challenges, and the recall committees submitted rebuttals to the challenges.[13] A statement issued by GAB staff on Friday said they won’t be able to finish reviewing all of the signatures by the deadline and requested the board to ask for an extension to March 30. The statement also recommends the board dismiss all of the petition challenges, a move which would automatically trigger recall elections.[14] GAB director Kevin Kennedy has said primaries could take place on May 15 with the recalls on June 12.

The full board met today and voted unanimously to order recalls against all four Republican state senators.[15]

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

There are no special elections scheduled to take place this week.

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • March 20: New York Assembly District 93
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 100
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 103
  • March 20: New York Assembly District 145
  • March 20: New York Senate District 27
  • April 3: Oklahoma House of Representatives District 71
  • April 3: Oklahoma Senate District 20
  • April 10: Minnesota Senate District 20
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 22
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 134
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 153
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 169
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 186
  • April 24: Pennsylvania House District 197

Redistricting Roundup: Courts continue to play an active role in redistricting

March 02, 2012

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Edited by Greg Janetka

Other states featured in this week’s Roundup

While the majority of legislative and congressional maps have been passed into law, several are still being fought in the courts, and a number of those awaiting approval have already ended up before a judge.

In New York, U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann has been appointed by a federal three-judge panel to act as special redistricting master. Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans appeared at a hearing before Mann and the panel on Monday. The legislative leaders acknowledged they did not have an agreement on a new map of congressional districts, and Mann ordered them to submit plans by Wednesday. Outside groups were given until today to submit plans. Mann will consider all suggested maps and issue her own maps by March 12.

Currently, Mann only has authority over the drawing of congressional districts, but that could change. Legislative leaders have to report to the court by March 15, and if they are not making progress, the court will address legislative district lines as well.

On Wednesday, legislative leaders said they were unable to agree on a proposed congressional map. Instead, three legislative conferences – Senate Republicans, Assembly Republicans and Assembly Democrats – submitted their own plans. Senate Democrats chose not to submit a plan because, as spokesman Mike Murphy explained, “Politicians should not be drawing the lines.”[1]

While all the proposals differed, the three parties each urged the court to preserve the seats of incumbents and agreed that the district held by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D), who is retiring, should be one of the two eliminated. Since the proposals were all submitted separately, they are not legally binding and Mann is not required to adopt any of them. However, if the legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) are able to agree on a plan soon, the court may have to defer to it.

The court also announced it will hire Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School, as an adviser to Mann. Persily recently served as special master in Connecticut. He will be paid $400 an hour for his work.

Meanwhile, details have started to emerge on a possible deal between Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the Legislature to create a constitutional amendment to change the state’s redistricting process. The plan under discussion would create a 10 member panel made up of eight members appointed by legislators, who would then select the remaining two. A Constitutional change requires the approval of two consecutively elected legislatures and thus would take years to implement. If approved it would not be in effect until redistricting following the 2020 census.

State news

Florida

Under Florida law, the Florida Supreme Court is required to review the state’s legislative redistricting maps. On Wednesday, the Court heard oral arguments in that review. This is the first time legislative maps have had to conform to the “Fair Districts” amendment approved in 2010. As such, the court asked a range of questions intended to guide the court in interpreting the new law.

Attorneys for the state argued that the maps were drawn fairly, and that the lawmakers who drafted the maps did not known where incumbents lived. However, attorneys opposing the maps argue that the plan’s pro-Republican bent speaks for itself. If the Court does mandate revisions, the legislature may have to hold a special session. The regular session ends on March 9.

Quote of the Week

“No rational person could expect seven appellate-court justices to resolve these extraordinarily tough factual issues,”[2] — Michael Carvin, Attorney for the Florida State Senate speaking before the Florida Supreme Courtin regard to the Court’s review of new legislative maps.–

Hawaii

On February 27, the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission released updates to their revised redistricting maps. The Commission’s original maps were struck down by the Hawaii Supreme Court. The updates were made in response to comments made about the revised maps released after the ruling. The changes will affect several Oahu House districts, reunifying several communities on the island. These amendments will not change the number of incumbents paired by the plain. A list of the communities affected can be found here.

Kansas

Like many state legislatures, the Kansas State Legislature typically allows each chamber to draw its respective redistricting map. This tradition, however, is on the rocks as lawmakers consider plans to redraw the state’s legislative maps. House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) has suggested that the House may tweak the Senate plan to garner additional support. One Senate plan under consideration has already drawn criticism for combining two southern districts and pairing two incumbents. The Kansas House of Representatives has already approved a chamber map, passing the plan 109-14 on February 9. Since Republicans hold decisive majorities in both chambers, much of controversy has arisen from the conflict of moderate and conservative Republicans.

In addition, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has taken a more active role in redistricting, suggesting that lawmakers form a single Senate district for Leavenworth County and keep KSU in an eastern congressional district. The county is currently split between two Democratic districts. Manhattan (and KSU) have been moved into a western district under one congressional proposal. Opponents, however, contend that Brownback is essentially targeting former Democratic opponents with the suggestion. In addition, the KSU move could force lawmakers to divide Topeka or Kansas City.

Redistricting Facts
Total States with Lawsuits filed: 35 See full list here
Total States where courts have altered/changed the final map: 13
Maps submitted for vote: 130 out of 142 (91.5%)** No votes on initial maps in the following: AL (2), KS (1), ME (2), MT (2), NH (2), NY (3)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 40/43 (Maps unfinished: KS, NH, NY)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 40/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, FL, KS, ME, MS, MT, NH, NY, VT, WY)
**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)

Kentucky

Last Friday, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the state’s leglislative districts, upholding an earlier Circuit Court ruling. The Circuit Court held that the districts exhibited unacceptable population disparities and divided too many counties–both violations of the Kentucky Constitution. As a consequence of the High Court’s ruling, 2012 elections will take place in Kentucky’s existing legislative districts. In addition, since the filing deadline has already passed, candidates may not change their filing. This will force some candidates whose residences lie outside the old district lines to withdraw. A full opinion by the Supreme Court is still pending and legislators may wait until next year to revise the plans.

  • The Supreme Court order can be found here.
  • The Circuit Court ruling can be found here.

 

Pennsylvania

The state Supreme Court handed Republicans another defeat this week by ordering Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R) to call special elections for six vacant seats in the chamber. Residents of those districts called on the court to force Smith to schedule them but Smith said he couldn’t act until the Legislative Reapportionment Commission passes a new plan and the court approves it. Smith and Secretary of State Carol Aichele (R) asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, but the court sided against them. The special elections will be held in the districts drawn in 2001, which are much more favorable to Democrats than plans drawn up by the current Republican majority.

Rhode Island

Republicans are looking to file a lawsuit against the new districts approved by the legislature on February 8. Republicans are claiming that the new lines were drawn for political reasons only in order to help Democrats in the state. The main argument is with Districts 47 and 48, where only around 300 people needed to be moved from district 48 to 47 but 1,500 were moved instead. A consultant was paid to help draw the lines and he defended the current map saying the lines were drawn based on current fire districts in the area. Republicans countered that the lines do not actually follow those of the fire districts. They also noted that their proposed lawsuit is not intended to help one candidate or another but rather to ensure that residents are not inconvenienced in voting. However, others have stated that the proposed Republican map is no better than what has already been approved. Several contentious issues arose during state redistricting, notably that the new districts could adversely affect minority populations.

This Week’s Redistricting Highlight

On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the new state House maps. The House maps were already upheld by a lower court, but so were the State Senate maps prior to their rejection by the state Supreme Court. The House maps were drawn by a panel of judges.

New Senate districts have been drawn by a freshly-appointed bi-partisan commission, but these districts face a two week public comment period and possible litigation. Along with the uncertaintly facing the state House maps, Missouri candidate filing is in a state of confusion. Nevertheless, election officials report that candidate filings are up from 2008. The filing deadline for candidates is March 27.

Texas

The politically contentious redistricting cycle is finally winding down in Texas as the panel approved interim maps and set a primary date. On Tuesday, the three-judge panel in San Antonio issued interim maps for congressional and state House districts. Republicans on the whole saw the maps as a victory — an analysis by the state GOP showed that the party only lost one state House seat from their original map and showed that they could win 100 of the 150 state House seats up in November.

Democrats and minority rights groups, however, were not happy with the maps and turned their attention to a federal court in Washington as a last ditch effort. They asked for an expedited decision in a pending case that is examining whether the original maps drawn by the Legislature violate the Federal Voting Rights Act. The interim maps released by the court are based on the original maps and the groups argue that because of this the new maps have the same “intentional discrimination” as the Legislature’s maps. The Washington court said it would probably rule sometime this month.

Meanwhile, the San Antonio court on Thursday set the primary date for May 29 and re-opened candidate filing from today through March 9. While some are upset that Texas has been taken out of Super Tuesday, most citizens – politicians and voters alike – seem happy to finally have a date set.

Wisconsin

A federal three-judge panel is now deliberating on a case that seeks to have the state’s new district maps thrown out. The trial was supposed to get under way on February 21, but that was delayed by two days when the court directed attorneys in the case to meet with legislators and ask them to consider altering the maps. Republicans said they would be willing to do so but that the law would not allow them. The court rejected this argument and asked them to reconsider a second time, but again they declined.

Following the GOP rejection, the case was put on a fast track. Plaintiffs dropped several allegations from the suit, including charges that Assembly districts in black neighborhoods were inappropriately drawn and that the discriminatory effects of the maps were intentional. That leaves only two main issues for the court to decide – if the maps unconstitutionally dilute Latino voting power and if some 300,000 citizens were moved needlessly, delaying their vote in Senate elections from the usual four years to six. Presiding Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said a written decision would be issued in the next few weeks.

Late addition to the Pennsylvania attorney general race

February 29, 2012

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HARRISBURG, PA: On February 27th, twelve days past the filing deadline, one of the primary races for Attorney General of Pennsylvania got a little more crowded: former U.S. Rep. and state Auditor Don Bailey formalized his bid for the Democratic nomination. The late entry was the results of a paperwork mishap, but Bailey has officially been cleared to run by the Pennsylvania Secretary of State.

Bailey, a decorated Vietnam veteran, served in Congress from 1978-1982, and as Auditor from 1984-1988. He has worked primary as a civil rights lawyer in Harrisburg since 1998, when he lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary to Ivan Itkin. Prior to that election, he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1986, for reelection as Auditor in 1988, and again for Auditor in 1992, losing that time in the primary.[1]

Bailey faces former Bucks County Congressman and Iraq vet Patrick Murphy and ex-Assistant District Attorney for Lackawanna County Kathleen Kane in a three-way contest for the Democratic nomination. [2] The Keystone State’s current attorney general, Linda Kelly, was appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) upon his election to the Governor’s office in 2010. Kelly is not seeking election to a full term, leaving Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed unopposed in the party’s primary.

Redistricting Roundup: Another state sees court-drawn maps implemented

February 25, 2012

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Edited by Geoff Pallay

Other states featured in this week’s Roundup

During the 2011 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers failed to establish new congressional and legislative districts. The Republican-controlled legislature managed to pass maps, but these were vetoed by Democratic governor Mark Dayton. And so Minnesotans waited for court maps to be released, dictating the next 10 years of district lines.

On Tuesday, February 21, the judicial panel in charge of drawing Minnesota’s new legislative and congressional districts completed its work. In total, the legislative maps pair a staggering 46 incumbents. In the House, the plan pairs 30 incumbents or 1 in 5 state representatives — this leaves 15 open House seats. In the Senate, the plan pairs 16 incumbents or nearly 1 in 4 state senators — this leaves 8 open Senate seats.

The congressional districts show fewer significant changes. Most notably, the plan moved conservative and former presidential candidate Rep.Michele Bachmann (R) into District 4 with Rep. Betty McCollum (D). However, Bachmann has already announced that she will again run in the6th District. No other incumbents were displaced. However, partisan control in both Democratic District 4 and Republican District 2 has been somewhat weakened.

  • Interactive versions of the new maps can be found here.
  • The court order establishing the new maps can be found here.
  • A breakdown of the pairings and open seats can be found here.

State news

Florida

Oral arguments in the Florida Supreme Court’s review of the state’s new legislative districts have been scheduled for February 29th. Counsel for the state will have 90 minutes to make arguments in favor of the House and Senate maps. So far the court has denied opponents the opportunity to file alternative maps and requested the addresses of incumbent lawmakers. Florida law requires the court to review state redistricting maps but not congressional maps.

Kentucky

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments today in the appeal of a County Circuit judge’s ruling that overturned the state’s new legislative districts. Since county precinct maps are based on the state maps, counties may be forced to revise their plans if the decision is upheld.

Maryland

Gov. Martin O’Malley‘s (D) plan for new legislative districts became law today after the House and Senate declined to vote on it. Under state law, the governor submits a plan to the Assembly, who can then either adopt it or an alternative plan if they so chose. If they do not act on the plan at all it becomes law after 45 days. At least eight alternative plans were put forth in the House, but committee leaders decided against giving any of them a hearing. The plan creates two additional African-American majority districts and a new Hispanic majority district.

The fight is not yet over, however. The state Republican party and the Fannie Lou Hamer political action group said they intend to file a lawsuit against the plan, alleging it violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the state Constitution.

Maryland will not hold legislative elections in 2012. All of the seats in the legislature will be up for election in 2014.

Quote of the Week

“It’s just coarse, base politics and it’s true on all of their fronts. It’s just Albany Capitol theater and, frankly, it’s something I don’t want to engage in,”[1]– Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo (D), commenting on the redistricting process inNew York. –

Missouri

The bi-partisan panel tasked with redrawing Missouri’s Senate districts approved a new plan yesterday, redrawing the 34-district map. The plan now faces a 15-day public comment period before the plan can be officially approved by the panel. Backlash over the plan was swift. Senate Republicans denounced the plan and blocked an extension to the candidate filing period, complicating matters for potential candidates. Most notablely, the plan weakens Republican districts around St. Louis and pairs incumbent Senators Jane Cunningham (R) and Brian Nieves (R).

Montana

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission met last week to take a first look at the proposed legislative maps. The five-member commission is composed of two Democratic and two Republican appointees, as well as one member chosen by the State Supreme Court. The commission will now take the drafts to gather public input across the state. The maps won’t go into effect until the2014 elections. This fall’s races will be conducted using the maps drawn after the 2000 Census. This is the standard timeline used inMontana. In the last redistricting cycle, the commission was controlled by Democrats, 3-2. Republicans contend that that map was drawn with a partisan slant in favor of Democrats.

New Hampshire

Republican leaders in the House are standing together in an attempt to quash dissension in their party regarding the new map. The House delegation from Manchester said they oppose the plan as they believe it could cost the city two representatives. To that end, they agreed to sustain a veto by Gov. John Lynch (D) that they believe will occur. In response, a five-page letter blasting critics of the plan and signed by over 40 Republican House members was sent out to all members of the chamber. The House previously passed the bill by a vote of 205-68, but it must now pass the Senate, who is not expected to vote on it until next month.

On the congressional side, U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta (R) and Charlie Bass (R) must have their districts balanced–their two districts are about 200-300 individuals apart. That has reportedly led to a long internal party fight behind-the-scenes. Republican leaders and Guinta are said to want minimal changes, while Bass is seeking to add a number of Republican towns to his district, including Merrimack, Hampstead and Plaistow.

Redistricting Facts
Total States withLawsuits filed: 35 See full list here
Total States where courts have altered/changed the final map: 13
Maps submitted for vote:130 out of 142 (91.5%)** No votes on initial maps in the followingAL (2)KS (1)ME (2),MT (2)NH (2)NY (3)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 40/43 (Maps unfinished: KSNH,NY)
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 40/50 (Maps unfinished: ALFL,KSMEMSMTNHNYVT,WY)
**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)

New Mexico

After the state Supreme Court rejected initial state House plans drawn by retired judge James Hall, two new verisons have appeared this week. Hall has altered the map to comply with the high court’s directives. One proposal would pair current House speaker Ben Lujan Sr.with fellow Democrat Nick Salazar (Lujan is not running for re-election). The other proposal would pair Salazar with Thomas Garcia. The proposals can be seen here and here.

New York

This week the three-judge panel appointed in the case of Favors v. Cuomo rejected calls from legislative leaders seeking to dismiss the case and instead appointed U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann as special master. The panel ordered all parties to appear before them and Mann on Monday. Mann will then prepare a report and make recommendations to the panel. The case was brought last November by a group of civic leaders who asked for a special master to take over redistricting as the legislature showed itself incapable of the job.

Meanwhile, aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that, despite comments by Cuomo last Friday, he is still prepared to veto the new legislative districts. The governor had said he would consider withholding the veto if three steps are taken – redraw the lines in a fairer manner than those in the first draft, work to pass a constitutional amendment that would put an independent system in place for the next redistricting cycle, and rework the current redistricting law in case the amendment fails. On Wednesday, 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Cuomo, urging him to veto the plan and ensuring him that they would be able to block a potential veto override.

On the congressional map front, Assemblyman John McEneny (D), who serves as co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, said on Monday that Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans had both drawn up maps but had not yet met to compare them. The last two rounds of redistricting in 1992 and 2002 saw the Assembly and Senate pass separate plans, leading to court involvement.

This Week’s Redistricting Highlight

The Ohio Supreme Court has decided to hear the Democratic lawsuits over the newlegislative redistricting maps. However, due to the party’s delay in filing the challenge, the court has ruled that the new maps will stand for the 2012 election and revisions to the maps will apply in starting in 2014.

Pennsylvania

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission was expected to issue revised maps this week, and, while it met on Wednesday, it did not release any maps or hold a vote. The next meeting is scheduled for February 28. The commission was forced to get back to work following the state Supreme Court’s decision to throw out the maps in January. The court ordered this year’s elections to take place in the districts drawn following the 2000 census, but some had still hoped there would be time to put new maps in place prior to the April 24 primary.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) initially said the legislature might consider moving the primary back, but this week said he expects them to be held on schedule. Without new districts, Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R) has been reluctant to call special elections for six vacant seats in the chamber. Residents of those districts called on the court to force Smith to schedule them but Smith says he can’t act until the Commission passes a new plan and the court approves it. Smith and Secretary of State Carol Aichele (R) have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Wisconsin

A federal trial seeking to determine the constitutionality of new legislative and congressional districts was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but the three-judge panel hearing the case said redistricting was better left to Wisconsin lawmakers than the court. To that end they asked attorneys in the case to meet with legislators and ask them to consider altering the maps. Republicans said they would be willing to do so but that the law would not allow them. The court rejected this argument and asked them to reconsider a second time, but again they declined.

With their refusal, the court began the trial on Thursday. If they do find problems with the map, it is unclear if the court will chose to redraw them or if they will order lawmakers to do so. The plaintiffs argue that the maps violate the United States Constitution and Federal Voting Rights Act by diluting Latino voting power and making some 300,000 citizens wait six years between voting in state Senateelections–rather than the normal four.

Wyoming

Last Friday the Wyoming House of Representatives passed a legislative redistricting bill for the state. Following a modification last week to prevent pairing incumbents Sen. Curt Meier and Wayne Johnson, the bill is expected to pass the Senate. The state saw marked growth over the past decade, but this growth left behind many of state’s counties, especially those along its eastern border. The plan was approved 49-9. Although the chamber is split 50-10 in favor of the GOP. Seven of the nine votes came from Republicans.

State Legislative Tracker: Primary dates may still change in several states

February 13, 2012

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Edited by Greg Janetka

This week’s tracker features a preview of major issues for those states that convened their 2012 session last week and a look at the ever-changing changing primary dates in a number of states, including Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Sessions

So far this year, 44 out of 50 state legislatures have officially convened their regular session.

Current sessions capture for the week of February 13, 2012

Regular sessions

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

The following states convened their regular legislative sessions:

No states are scheduled to convene this week.

One state will end its regular session this week:

Four states – Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas – will not hold regular sessions in 2012.

Click here to see a chart of each state’s 2012 session information.

Special sessions

Special sessions were a widespread occurrence in the state legislatures in 2011, in particular due to the necessity of states to conduct the redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts. Overall, in 2011 there were 45 special sessions in 28 states.

Thus far, North Carolina is the only state to have held a special session in 2012, and will be holding another one this week.[1] According to Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R), the February 16-18 floor session will not have any recorded votes on bills, and therefore, only a few legislators are required to attend. Democrats are skeptical as, during the special session in January, more issues were addressed then they believed would be. The principal work session begins May 16.[2]

Virginia

State legislators said they may return later in the year for a special session to deal with tax credit bills and the health benefits exchange.[3]

Snapshot of State Legislatures:
Monday, February 13, 2012
There are 7,384 Total State Legislators
Total Democratic state legislators 3,304 (44.7%)
Total Republican state legislators 3,974 (53.8%)
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
2012 Session Information
Total Special Elections 4
Total Special Sessions 1

In recess

As of today, February 13, 1 states’ session is currently in mid-term recess:

Issues spotlight

Since last week’s Tracker, three states have kicked off their 2012 session. Here’s a quick rundown on what are some early topics:

  • Arkansas: The main issue taken up by legislators will be Governor Mike Beebe‘s (D) $4.7 billion budget, which includes increases in Medicaid and education funding. Other issues include repealing a tax break for truckers and toughening sentencing guidelines for sex offenders.[5]
  • Connecticut: Legislators will mainly focus on the $20 billion state budget. In addition, they will also consider overhauling early childhood public education, ending the ban on Sunday alcohol sales, increasing the minimum wage, allowing same-day voter registration and the use of red-light cameras.[6]
  • Wyoming: With projections estimating a $115 million decrease in revenue, a number of legislators are focused on either cutting spending or at least preventing the budget from increasing. Governor Matt Mead (R) has called for $17 million in spending cuts. Other issues include redistricting, creating a statewide school support and evaluation system, increasing motor vehicle fees and raising the state speed limit 80 mph.[7]

Elections

See also: State legislative elections, 2012 and State legislative elections results, 2012

A total of 86 of the 99 chambers will hold state legislative elections on November 6, 2012.

1,267 (64.3%) of the country’s 1,971 state senate seats are up for re-election in November 2012, and 4,712 (87.05%) of the country’s 5,413 state house seats are up for re-election. Altogether, 5,979 (81.0%) of the country’s 7,384 state legislative seats will be up for re-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 5,979 seats up for election is 146 fewer than the 6,125 that were contested in 2010.

Filing deadlines

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state government elections

This week Nebraska and Pennsylvania will have signature filing deadlines for candidates running for election. The deadline in Nebraska only applies to incumbents, while the Pennsylvania deadline applies to all candidates. So far, deadlines have passed in six states – Illinois, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

States with upcoming deadlines:

Texas

Texas had an initial filing deadline of December 19, 2011, but with the newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the districts remain uncertain. The filing process was expected to re-open on February 1, but that date has now been thrown out and a new date has yet to be settled on.[8]

Primaries

See also: 2012 election dates

The first state legislative primary elections of 2012 are scheduled to take place in March. Those dates are as follows:

Note: Texas was originally scheduled to hold their primary on March 6. However, with newly drawn state legislative maps being fought in the courts, the date has been delayed.

Idaho

Legislators are considering a bill that would move the state’s primary election from its current May 15th date back to August. Rep. Tom Loertscher (R), Chair of the House State Affairs Committee, is sponsoring the bill, saying it would shorten the general election campaign season.[9] The bill’s chances, however, are not looking good. Nine county clerks have testified against the bill and were joined last week by Secretary of State Ben Ysursa (R), who said he believed pushing the date back would hurt voter turnout.[10]

New York

A bill was introduced last Friday that would move New York’s primary elections for state offices from September 11 to June 26, bringing it in line with the congressional primary date that was ordered by a federal judge. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) said each primary costs an estimated $50 million, most of which falls to local governments. “There is no good reason why our local governments should be asked to spend an extra $50 million to hold three primary elections in one year. That’s why we should be holding both state and federal primaries on the same day,” he said.[11]

Republicans, who hold a majority in the Senate, are pushing for an August primary, saying the June date is too near the end of the legislative session.

Pennsylvania

With the state Supreme Court throwing out new redistricting maps, the April 24 primary date looked to be in jeopardy. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) said the legislature may consider moving the date back in order to give the commission more time to create new maps. Democrats, however, have said they will fight to block any attempt to push back the date. That, however, may be unnecessary as U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled last week that the election cycle is already too far along to delay it, especially with no viable alternative available. He said that forcing Secretary of State Carol Aichele to alter the election schedule would only complicate things and that she needs to know how to proceed. State legislative elections this year are on pace to take place using districts created based on the 2000 Census.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) said new maps could be in place in time to meet the primary date, as long as they shorten the time for public comment and appeal. Under the state Constitution, the public has 30 days to comment on the map, with another 30 days allowed for appeals. Democrats shot back at Turzai’s suggestion by saying those time periods are guaranteed and altering them would mean ignoring the Court and the Constitution.

Texas

The Texas primary, which has already been delayed from March 6 to April 3, might be pushed back further. The state is waiting on a three-judge federal court panel to draft temporary maps after arguments take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. If they are able to complete maps by February 20, the primary may take place on April 17, but if they are unable to, the primary would once again be pushed back.[12]

Recalls

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, 4 of which resulted in the legislator being recalled.

Michigan

2011 also saw a wave of recall attempts in Michigan. While most of those efforts dried up, at least three campaigns are continuing on (the recall of Paul Scott was successful). Organizers of the campaigns to recall Bruce Caswell (R) and Phil Pavlov (R) are aiming for the August ballot.

A recall targeting Patrick Colbeck (R) sought to put the issue on the ballot this month, but it was abandoned last week. Recall leader Mary Kelley cited several reasons why the effort was dropped, including difficulties getting the organizational support and money necessary, strict recall rules, necessitating all signatures be collected within 90 days, and a lack of name recognition for Colbeck.[13]

Wisconsin

Democrats in Wisconsin filed recall petitions on November 15, 2011 against four Republican state senatorsPam Galloway, Scott Fitzgerald, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard.[14] Campaign organizers turned in more than the necessary number of signatures in each of the four races on January 17, 2012.

This past Saturday marked the one year anniversary of Gov. Scott Walker‘s (R) announcement of a proposed budget bill that restricts collective bargaining for public workers. The legislation was the catalyst that led to last year’s recalls as well as the current round.[15]

Meanwhile, last Thursday was the deadline for the senators targeted for recall to file challenges to the petitions. All four submitted challenges, but Scott Fitzgerald (R) was the only one to challenge enough individual signatures that, if they were found to be invalid, would end the recall threat. The main argument for the senators, however, rests on a challenge to the size and shape of their districts. Through the once-a-decade redistricting process, the Republican majority drew up and quickly passed new districts last year. Under the legislation, the maps do not take effect until this fall, but Republicans are now arguing that the recalls should take place in the new districts.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board previously rejected the argument and a federal trial regarding the matter is scheduled to begin on February 21. If it is decided that the recalls should take place in the new districts, then, according to Republicans, enough of the signatures would be thrown out as to end all the recalls as they came from residents who live in the old districts but not the new ones.[16]

GAB has until March 19 to schedule recall elections.

Special elections

See also: State legislative special elections, 2012

This week 4 special elections – two general elections and two primaries – take place in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma House District 1

Rusty Farley (R) joined the House in 2010 and served until he passed away on July 4, 2011.[17] A special election has been scheduled for February 14, 2012 to select a replacement. A primary election was held on November 8, 2011.[18][19]

Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Candidate:
  • Curtis McDaniel 1,255 Approveda
  • Donald G. Ray 587
Republican Party Republican Candidates:
  • Kevin George 83
  • Keith Bain 16
  • Joe M. Silk 235 Approveda
  • Kenny Sivard 135

General election candidates:

Democratic Party (United States) Curtis McDaniel
Republican Party Joe M. Silk

Oklahoma Senate District 46

Andrew Rice (D) resigned effective January 15, 2011 in order to move out of state where his wife has taken a job. A special election has been scheduled for April 3, 2012 to select a replacement. If a primary election is not necessary, the primary election on February 14, 2012 will serve as the general election.

General election candidates:

Democratic Party (United States) Al McAffrey
Republican Party Jason Reese

Looking ahead

Upcoming special elections include:

  • February 14: Oklahoma House District 1
  • February 14: Oklahoma Senate District 46
  • February 14: Oklahoma House District 71 (primary)
  • February 14: Oklahoma Senate District 20 (primary)
  • February 14: Maine Senate District 20
  • February 21: New Hampshire House of Representatives Hillsborough District 10
  • February 28: Michigan House of Representatives District 29
  • February 28: Michigan House of Representatives District 51

Redistricting Roundup: Only two states have yet to even vote on congressional maps

February 10, 2012

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Edited by Geoff Pallay

Other states featured in this week’s Roundup

Only two states have yet to vote on a congressional apportionment bill — New Hampshire and New York. While there has been little news trickling out of New Hampshire, the process in New York has been mired in controversy.

Some information has started to trickle out about the new congressional map. Due to slow population growth, New York has to lose two of its 20 congressional seats. Reports this week indicate that Rep. Carolyn McCarthy‘s (D) Long Island district could be the first to go. It is expected that, if McCarthy’s district is in fact removed, that would be balanced by cutting a district from an upstate Republican. At least one congressman, Democrat Maurice Hinchey, has said he will not seek re-election. According to Assemblyman John McEneny (D) the congressional plan probably will not be seen by the public until early March. The primary is scheduled for June 26, which means that candidates will have very little time to see how the districts are drawn up before they have to file and run a campaign.

Meanwhile, at the meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) on Tuesday, Sen. Michael Gianaris (D) called the Senate Republican’s plan blatant gerrymandering to protect their power and said it brought “shame” to the state. Republicans responded, calling Gianaris and the other Democrats hypocrites for not pushing for independent redistricting while they were in power from 2008-2010. Attendees at the meeting mostly criticized the plan for dividing neighborhoods. The meeting was the fifth held since LATFOR released proposed Senate and Assembly maps on January 26. Three more are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has said the plan is “wholly unacceptable” and will veto it unless it is substantially altered.

State news

Alaska

Last Friday, Judge Michael McConahy of Alaska’s Fourth District Superior Court ruled that House Districts 1, 2, 37, and 38 violate the Alaska Constitution. McConahy found that districts 1, 2, and 37 violated the compactness criterion of the state constitution. In addition, he found that District 37 violated the contiguity condition and that District 38 violated the socio-economic integration condition. McConahy was less sympathetic toward the plaintiffs’ claims of partisan gerrymandering, but he noted that the Voting Rights Act justifications offered for the districts were wanting. The Alaska Redistricting Board appealed the decision on Districts 37 and 38. Plaintiffs plan to appeal McConahy’s decision on Districts 6 and 38, arguing that the problems with District 38 were not fully recognized in the ruling. Oral argumens before the Alaska Supreme Court have been set for March 13. The signature filing deadline for candidates running in the 2012 state house elections is June 1.

  • The full ruling can be found here.

Arizona

Last week, we detailed the measures being introduced in Arizona that are intended to change the redistricting process in the state, as well as allow for a vote on maps to replace the commission-drawn versions. This week, the State Senate Government Reform Committee voted 4-2 to send to the floor a resolution that would eliminate the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. A proposal floated by Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R) would have simply altered the composition of the commission, but that idea died in committee.

Quote of the Week

“We were told … that we would be sued no matter what the lines were, no matter how the districts were drawn. My father used to say, ‘Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope,’ and I think we had people who all along had a lawsuit strategy and hoped that somehow they could find some judge, somewhere, who would agree with their contentions.”[1]Don Gaetz (R), chair of the Florida State Senate Redistricting Committee, on the recent lawsuit filed over legislatively-approved districts.

 


“The Senate passed maps that fail to meet the plain meaning of Fair Districts.”

– Rod Smith, Florida Democratic Party Chairman

Connecticut

The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday regarding the proposed map of congressional districts drawn up by court appointed special master Nathaniel Persily. Attorney for the Democrats, Aaron S. Bayer, defended Persily’s plan as “principled” and “fair” while Republican attorney Ross H. Garber called it “an anachronistic, gerrymandering scheme.” Persily took over the task following the failure of the reapportionment commission to meet their deadline. His plan makes minor changes to a map that was proposed by Democrats and closely resembles the map that is currently in place. The dispute comes down to the 5th district, part of which is surrounded by the 1st district like a clamp. Democrats are pushing to move 523 residents out of the 5th in order to meet population requirements, while Republicans want to move the entire city of New Britain into the 1st.

The court has until February 15 to approve its final plan and submit it to the Secretary of State.

Florida

The Florida State Legislature has given final approval to the state’s redistricting maps. The congressional plan now moves to the Governor’s desk, and the legislative plan now moves to the state Supreme Court for approval. State Democrats immediately filed suit against the congressional map in state Circuit Court. Other community and advocacy groups plan to sue as soon as Governor Rick Scott (R) signs the maps. Both contend that the new districts violate the recently approved “fair districts” amendment. Republicans, however, maintain that plans fully comply with the new requirements. Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Don Gaetz (R) noted that even if the maps happen to favor Republicans, that doesn’t prove (for the purposes of the amendment) that the maps were drawn with partisan intent.

  • The Democratic Party’s complaint can be downloaded here.
  • A draft of the community groups’ complaint can be found here.

Georgia

Georgia legislators have approved revisions to the state’s legislative redistricting plan. The intent of the revisions is to reorganize districts in Hall County. Currently the county is divided among seven House districts — that number would be reduced to four under the revised plan. Democrats objected to re-opening the redistricting process (which will require DOJ approval of the revisions) and some Republican’s asked for other changes to be made. The modifications passed the House last Friday, February 3 by 101-53 margin.

Redistricting Facts
Total States with Lawsuits filed: 35 See full list here
Total States where courts have altered/changed the final map: 13
Maps submitted for vote: 126 out of 142 (88.7%)** AK (2), AL (1), AR (3), AZ (3), CA (3), CO (3), CT (3), DE (2), FL (3), GA (3), HI (3), IA (3), ID (3), IL (3), IN (3), KS (2), KY (3), LA (3), MA (3), ME (1), MD (1), MI (3), MN (3), MO (3), MS (3), NC (3), NE (2), NH (1), NJ (3), NM (3), NV (3), OH (3), OK (3), OR (3), PA (3), RI (3), SC (3), SD (2), TN (3), TX (3), UT (3), VA (3), VT (2), WA (3), WI (3), WV (3)
States that have completed Congressional Maps 37 (AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, ID, IL, IA, IA, LA, MA, ME, MD, MI, MS, MO, NE, NJ, NM,NV, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI, )
States that have completed State Legislative Maps 37 (AK, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IA, IA, KY, LA, MA, MI, MO, NE, NJ, NM, NC, ND, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI,SC, SD, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV, WI)
**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)

Kansas

On Thursday, February 9, the Kansas House of Representatives gave bi-partisan approval to its new chamber map. The plan was approved by a 109-14 margin and garnered the support of the speaker and minority leader. Republicans currently control the House by a 92-33 margin. The plan pairs eight lawmakers in four districts — seven of the eight lawmakers are Republicans. Overall, the maps shifts powers from rural areas into Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Kansas State Senate approved a controversial congressional plan by a 23-17 margin. The plan consolidates Lawrence in US House District 2, and moves Manhattan (and, thus, Kansas State University) from District 2 to District 1. The plan would slightly weaken the Republican base in District 1 and has drawn fire from more conservative lawmakers. Ultimately, only 15 Republicans supported the plan (with 17 opposed). However, with all eight Democrats supporting the plan, it was finally passed. The map now moves to the state House where Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) has expressed concerns about the bill.

Kentucky

Earlier today, the Kentucky State Senate approved a congressional redistricting compromise by a 29-7 margin. The House is expect to approve the map later today. The bill reportedly makes significant changes to the existing districts. These events come just one day after a lawsuit was filed asking the courts to take over the congressional redistricting process.

In other news, a Franklin Circuit Court ruled on January 7 that Kentucky’s new legislative districts are unconstitutional, saying that the districts exhibited unacceptable population disparities and divided too many counties–both violations of the Kentucky Constitution. The state plans to appeal the ruling to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Both the state legislative and congressional filing deadlines have been moved once already to accommodate the delays in finalizing maps. The primaries are scheduled for May 22.

Missouri

Last Friday, a Missouri Circuit Court judge upheld the state’s congressional redistricting plan. The judge had previously dismissed the lawsuit, but was ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court to consider the case on the merits. The plaintiffs are expected to appeal to the state State Supreme court. They argue that the maps violate the Missouri Constitution’s compactness requirement. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) has expressed support for the lawsuit, presumably hoping to restore his former district eliminated under the map.

New Mexico

This week the state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit regarding the court-drawn map for the New Mexico House of Representatives. The hearing lasted about two hours, and judges said they will issue an order soon — however, no actual deadline was announced. Democrats contend that the new map did not adequately protect minority voting interests. The signature filing deadline for state house candidates is March 20.

North Carolina

On Monday, January 6, a three-judge Superior Court panel ruled that the lawsuits against the North Carolina redistricting maps can proceed. The state had asked for the two lawsuits to be entirely dismissed, but the judges ultimately retained more than half of the 37 claims made by plaintiffs. The consolidated cases were originally filed by state Democrats, the NAACP, and community groups.

Meanwhile, allegations of gender bias in the NC redistricting effort have surfaced after analysis showed that female Democrats were more likely to be targeted under the map than either Democratic males or Republicans of either gender. More broadly, the maps appear to have triggered a number of Democratic retirements–so far, one senator and 10 representatives have decided not to seek re-election to their present office (2 are seeking higher office). Republican lawmakers have denied any intentional gender bias in the maps, calling them both legal and fair.

This Week’s Redistricting Highlight

Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) signed new congressional and legislative districts into law on Wednesday. Republicans, however, are threatening a lawsuit over what they call gerrymandering in House District 47. They argue the district was changed to remove Republican neighborhoods and the home of a Republican challenger, giving an unfair advantage to Democratic incumbent Cale Keable.

Pennsylvania

A week and a half after ruling the new Senate and House maps unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court rendered their full opinion on February 3. Chief Justice Ronald Castille said most appeals were rejected for only showing how a particular region was drawn unconstitutionally, but cited two as having a big picture focus and showing how the whole map could be drawn better. One was submitted by Senate Democrats and the other came from Amanda Holt, a 29-year-old piano teacher and Republican committeewoman. The court said Holt’s map proved the Legislative Redistricting Commission failed to meet the criteria that municipalities and wards should only be split if absolutely necessary. She initially showed her map to the commission at a hearing on September 7, 2011, but they went on to release a map on December 12 that had more than twice as many splits as hers.

With the maps thrown out, the April 24 primary looked to be in jeopardy. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) said the legislature may consider moving the date back in order to give the commission more time to create new maps. Democrats, however, have said they will fight to block any attempt to push back the date. The redistricting commission said it plans to issue revised maps next week and vote on them on February 22. That, however, may be unnecessary as U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick ruled on Wednesday that the election cycle is already too far along to delay it, especially with no viable alternative available. He said that forcing Secretary of State Carol Aichele to alter the election schedule would only complicate things and that she needs to know how to proceed. Therefore, he has ruled that the state legislative elections this year should take place using districts created based on the 2000 Census.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) said a new map could be in place in time to meet the primary date, as long as they shorten the time for public comment and appeal. Under the state Constitution, the public has 30 days to comment on the map, with another 30 days allowed for appeals. Democrats shot back at Turzai’s suggestion by saying those time periods are guaranteed and altering them would mean ignoring the Court and the Constitution.

Texas

Hopes of a redistricting solution that would allow the Texas primaries to remain on April 3rd date fell dead in the water this week after a federal judge rejected a proposed agreement between the Texas Attorney General and several minority groups. The San Antonio court gave the parties in Texas’ prolonged redistricting battle until Monday, February 6, to reach an agreement if they wanted to save the April 3rd primaries.

On Monday Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) announced that a temporary agreement had been reached between the state and some of the minority groups in the case – unveiling a plan that added two Hispanic-majority congressional districts. But the deal was opposed by some of the most notable groups on the plaintiff side, including the NAACP, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and the Legislative Black Caucus. These groups claimed that while the proposed plan added two new Hispanic districts, it weakened other minority districts in exchange.

After reviewing arguments from both sides, the San Antonio court issued an order rejecting the proposed agreement – squashing any hopes of a unified April 3rd primary. A final solution is still up in the air but it seems likely that the court will now attempt to redraw the interim maps and set a new primary date.

Virginia

The Virginia General Assembly is poised to delay the state’s primary until August 7. The House of Delegates voted 97-0 to approve the delay. The new date is meant to accommodate the DOJ review process and pending lawsuit.

Washington

John Milem, a retired attorney from Vancouver, Washington, filed a petition with the state Supreme Court on February 8, 2012, asking them to redraw the lines in order to meet legal requirements of compactness, equal representation and competitiveness. Per the state Constitution, the court has until March 1 to intervene in redistricting.

Milem argues that the state redistricting commission did not draw the lines as outlined by state law and the state constitution. The current plan, he says, limits competition and does not represent communities as best as it could. The new congressional map splits nine counties, two more than the previous map, while the legislative map splits 17. According to Milem, it is only necessary to split three to four for congress and 11 for the legislature.

Wisconsin

Seven months after the state’s new district lines were signed into law by Governor Scott Walker (R) a court case is continuing to bring to light controversies from the process. According to GOP documents released this week, all Republican legislators, with the exception of two senators and two representatives, signed legal agreements not to discuss the maps while they were in progress. Also among the documents was a memo of talking points instructing Republican legislators to ignore the public’s comments about the map wherever they differed from private discussions.

The secrecy agreements all have the signature of attorney Eric McLeod of Michael Best & Friedrich, who was one of the attorneys who advised legislators during the map-making process. In a deposition, Adam Foltz, a legislative aide to Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R), said he probably helped write the talking points, but did not remember doing so. When asked about the stated suggestion to ignore public comments, Foltz said he didn’t know what that was exactly referring to. While Fitzgerald has yet to comment on the matter, his brother, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R), said he had never seen the talking points and that they were not put together for him.

The documents came out of a lawsuit originally brought back in June of last year. Republicans sought to keep the documents private under the guise of attorney-client privilege, but a three-judge panel ruled that nearly all information requested had to be released. The ripples from their release continue to grow–yesterday, 13 Democratic legislators sent Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) a letter requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice.