Thursday, August 7, 2014

That Voodoo That You Do edition

Apologies for the hiatus. Last week around this time I was on my way to visit a voodoo priest (and do various other awesome New Orleans-ish things). 
He told me I have an "old soul," but I bet he says that to all the girls.

There's no shortage of magic in statehouses, though, even though some folks are slower to warm to the enchantment than others. (Actual Tuesday headline: D.C.'s Polarization Trickles Down to State CapitalsReally? Someone must have been looking the other way. Like, for years.... or maybe just needs to get on my list.)

Anyway.... Alakazam!
  • Behold the mysterious moving district lines! In possibly the most textbook example of OMGWHYDON'TDEMOCRATSSPENDALLTHEIRMONEYONSTATELEGISLATIVEELECTIONS??!@1!, Florida lawmakers are convening in Tallahassee on Thursday to redraw the state's congressional district lines to comply with a recent ruling that found two districts were drawn illegally. 
    • The process, just like the last round of redistricting in 2011, will be controlled by Republicans, because they have serious majorities in both legislative chambers. 
      • Republicans claim they plan to make as few tweaks as possible, so as to conform with the judge's absurd deadline of August 15. 
    • Fun fact! Some law prof in Chicago claims to have found some legit measurement for the relative degree of congressional gerrymandering among states with eight or more House districts. He says that Florida's 27 districts are the third-most gerrymandered. coming in behind Pennsylvania and Ohio
      • Guess who controlled those legislatures for the last redistricting. Go on. Do it.
  • Presto change-o: Much of the post-primary narrative on Wednesday morning centered around the tea party's failures this year, but the story in the Michigan state House went a little differently. Tea partiers in this potential Democratic pickup chamber did quite well, flipping a couple of incumbents in some cases and holding off more moderate challengers in others. 
    • Unfortunately, most of these tea party pickups were not in competitive seats, so Democrats' lift of flipping the five seats needed to take a majority in the chamber remains just about as heavy as it was before.
      • Additionally, the tea partiers' success was relative; most Republican incumbents kept their more conservative challengers at bay
  • Smoke and mirrors: The RSLC (the group tasked with electing Republicans to state legislatures and other downballot state offices) is going through a rough time, albeit while rolling around in a big pile of money.
    • The Republican State Leadership Committee has been implicated in some potential money laundering in Alabama. Earlier this week, a 2011 document surfaced detailing an investigation into whether RSLC officials had conspired with the head of the Alabama GOP to use the group as a pass-through for potentially toxic Indian tribe donations. 
      • Now, this would all be idle speculation, except for that pesky memo prepared for the RSLC by the BakerHostetler law firm. Now it's just embarrassing in a circumstantial sort of way. Charges? Trials? Doubtful.
      • But the prestige of this whole affair is that the memo was prepared a couple of years ago because of infighting among RSLC leadership, and it likely came to light now because of more of that infighting. Which I'm sure stresses all those folks out while they're rolling around in that $20 million money pile the RSLC plans to raise this cycle.
  • Now you see him, now you don't... oh, wait, there he is againNorth Carolina mega-donor Art Pope, who's been serving as the state's budget director since using his fortune to propel Republicans to statehouse dominance by spending nearly $1.5 million on state campaigns in 2010 and 2012, is quitting his job
    • His role in state government has restrained his involvement in Americans for Prosperity and other conservative advocacy groups, but his departure from the government payroll allows him to escape those shackles. He's like the Houdini of spending ridiculous amounts of money on elections. Or something.
  • Maybe if he'd pulled more coins from behind ears... A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted Missouri mega-donor Rex Sinquefield's work to unseat Republicans who sustained a veto of tax cuts that would probably result in a Kansas-like fiscal disaster for the state. 
    • Well, Sinquefield's Club for Growth dropped nearly $500,000 to take out four state lawmakers... and came away with nothing to show for it in Tuesday's primaries. Three of the four races weren't even close. 
    • Missouri Republicans generally, on the other hand, had a pretty solid night. They won two of the three special elections on Tuesday to fill vacant state House seats, regaining their supermajority in the chamber. 
  • The amazing disappearing ballot box accessWisconsin's (partisan and Republican) Supreme Court upheld the state's photo ID law (passed by the then-newly minted GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 but in legal limbo ever since) late last week. 
    • Fun factWisconsin voters still won't have to show photo ID at the polls this year. In a separate lawsuit, a federal judge struck down the law, and that ruling remains in effect as the case makes its way through the federal appeals process.
  • On Wednesday, the Virginia State Board of Elections voted along party lines to reverse its policy that would have allowed expired -- but otherwise valid -- forms of ID permitted under the state's new photo ID law to be accepted at the polls. Now an otherwise valid form of ID will not be accepted at polling places if it's been expired for more than 12 months.
    • Fun fact! The SBE's partisan decision came at the request of photo ID bill sponsor -- and AG loser -- Sen. Mark Obenshain.

For the Week of August 6, 2014 

The following 4 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: CALIFORNIA, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY and NORTH CAROLINA.
Also meeting: PUERTO RICO


The Council of State Governments Eastern Regional Conference will hold its Annual Meeting August 3-6 in Baltimore, Maryland. 
The Association of Clean Water Administrators will hold its Annual Meeting August 3-6 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 
The Directors of Health Promotion and Education will hold their annual Member Institute August 4-5 in Denver, Colorado. 
The Council of State Governments will hold its CSG Policy Academy: Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Infrastructure and Smart Grid Implications August 7-8 in Seattle, Washington.
The Council of State Governments will hold its Joint CSG-WEST Annual Conference and CSG National Conference August 9-13 in Anchorage, Alaska. 
The Republican Lieutenant Governors Association will hold its National Meeting August 10-13 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


The Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing August 4 to consider A.B. 1699, which prohibits the sale of personal care products containing microbeads. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriations met August 4 to discuss A.B. 1558, which requests that the University of California establish the California Health Data Organization which collects data from payers and establishes an all-payer claims database. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriations met August 4 to take up all fiscal bills originating from the Assembly, including A.B. 2200, which establishes the California Cyber Security Commission in the Department of Technology. 

The San Diego City Council will hold a special meeting August 7 to declare an emergency due to a severe shortage of affordable housing. 


A primary election will be held August 9 for the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as House and Senate seats. 


A primary election was held August 5 for the office of the Governor, as well as House seats.

The Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board will meet August 7 to discuss proposed amendments to restructure the state's teacher certification process. 


A primary election was held August 5 for all House and Senate seats. 


A primary election was held August 5 for House and Senate seats. 


The Science, Technology and Telecommunications Interim Committee will meet August 7-8 to hear testimony about shared renewable energy facilities, as well as issues pertaining to gas pipelines.


The Finance Committee met August 5 to hear proposals about tax collections relating to agriculture and draft bills related to the Public Employees Retirement System. 


A primary election will be held August 7 for the office of the Governor, as well as all House seats and odd-numbered Senate districts. 


A special runoff election was held August 5 to replace the seat vacated by Senator Thomas Williams (R). 


The Interim Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Subcommittee met August 5 to discuss the future of Youth Services regarding mental health. 


A primary election was held August 5 for all House seats and select Senate seats.

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