Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Calm Before The Storm edition

So it's Election Day 2015, which is a super normal thing in Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Jersey. To everyone else, it's weird or, ahem, "bullshit." 

While I can't speak to how odd-year elections came to be in those other states, I do know that they have a totally innocent beginning in the Commonwealth (Virginia, of course, not Kentucky, because it's the original Commonwealth -- Kentucky was part of Virginia until 1792). 
  • Basically, Virginia's odd-year elections came about because of the 1851 adoption of a new state Constitution. The new Constitution allowed for the popular election of governors, extended their term from three years to four, and prohibited them from serving consecutive terms. The first popular election for governor was held later that year, and Virginia elections have been held in odd years ever since.

  • Who's afraid of Virginia's wolves? But you know what's not a Virginia tradition? Vandalizing candidates signs and offices in threatening ways. It's happened to two Democrats in the past week; a Hanover County Board of Supervisors candidate found a swastika spray-painted on one of her 4x8 roadside signs on Sunday morning, and state Senate candidate KIm Adkins arrived at her campaign HQ on Saturday morning to find a threatening message painted on the side of the building.
    • Adkins is running against Sen. Bill Stanley, who gained some notoriety last week for his staged freakout about some nasty messages a grieving father had posted on his Facebook page (which paled in comparison to the Senator's own previous threat to give someone "a face full of my Glock"). 
    • A vandal painted "Back oFF Bitch" and a target on the campaign office building. 
      • Adkins, a former Martinsville mayor and NRA staffer, supports the Second Amendment AND common sense gun safety measures. 

Virginia races to watch tonight: SDs 10, 13, 21, 29.

  • Fun fact! The state legislature is up in Mississippi tonight, too. The state House is the chamber to watch; Democrats need to pick up seven seats for an outright majority, which is a mighty big lift for one cycle, but our candidate recruitment was so solid that Republicans themselves admit the chamber is "in play." That's overstating things a bit, but watch for Democratic gains in the chamber.
    • An interesting Mississippi wrinkle comes in the form of a pair of competing ballot measures
      • Initiative 42 was initiated by a citizens' petition and would allow people to sue to seek funding for "adequate and efficient" public school systems.
      • The GOP-controlled legislature, apparently lacking confidence in the quality of those school systems, placed a competing measure on the ballot, helpfully known as Alternative 42. The Alternative measure says the Legislature will establish "effective" public schools, but "without" all that pesky "judicial enforcement."

  • Born to Run (for state Assembly): The lower chamber of the New Jersey legislature is also up tonight. Democrats will definitely hold our majority, and we may even expand it. Ten of the 80 seats to watch are Districts 1, 2, 5, 8, 11, 22, 24, 31, 33, and 38. 

  • Reform is just another word for nothing left to loseOne of the most under-exposed items on the ballot today is a measure in Ohio that would change the way the state handles legislative redistricting. 
    • "Reform" is a sexy-sounding word to attach to changes in redistricting execution, but, as Daily Kos Elections helpfully explains, the current proposal is far from ideal -- and it could ultimately hurt Democrats in the long run. 
      • The measure's biggest changes from the current system would be the addition of one more lawmaker from each party to the commission (making it the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two legislators from each party, growing it from five members to seven) and the granting of veto authority to the minority party. 
      • If the maps pass along partisan lines and fail to earn the approval of two votes from the minority party, the maps are in effect for four years, instead of the full ten. 
      • After those four years are up, the commission reconvenes and votes on the maps again. If approved, even without any votes from the minority party, the legislative maps remain in place for the rest of the decade. 
    • This new system isn't necessarily any worse than the old system. It may even be a tiny bit better. But the ultimate practical effect of this "reform" measure is that the majority party will still be able to implement the maps it prefers for ten years without input or approval from the other side of the aisle. 
    • And the next time Ohio Democrats or citizens push for real redistricting reform (independent commission, anyone?), Republicans will point to this measure and say, Hey guys, we already did that, shut your pieholes. 

  • To clean or not to clean, that is the questionMaine voters are deciding whether or not to strengthen the state's Clean Elections Law by increasing disclosure, increasing penalties for violations of campaign finance and ethics laws, and implementing a stronger system of public campaign financing. 
    • Question 1 would also establish transparency and rules for a little-known period of dark money indulgence in Maine politics: the governor's transition fund. 
      • Currently, a governor-elect receives a mere $5,000 to cover operating costs incurred during the period between his/her election and actually taking office, during which a governor vets commissioners and other administration officials, begins work on the budget and other legislative priorities, and generally gets his/her governing apparatus into shape. 
      • To make up the difference between that $5,000 and what this actually costs, governors-elect can accept private contributions, which are basically unregulated and not subject to any transparency requirements. 

  • Viva Little Rock: Filing has just begun for state, federal, and judicial candidates in Arkansas. Elvis Presley is running for state Senate. That is all. 

The following 8 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALASKA, FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.



On November 3, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia and 24 of the top 100 most populous cities will hold regularly scheduled elections to elect state executives, legislators, mayors and councilmembers.


The American Public Health Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Exposition October 31 - November 4 in Chicago, Illinois. 

The National Association of Medicaid Directors will hold its Fall Conference November 2-4 in Arlington, Virginia. 

The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Fall Consumer Protection Meeting November 2-4 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The National League of Cities will hold its Congress of Cities & Exposition November 4-7 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The National Association of Counties will hold its Cyber Resiliency Forum November 5-6


The Governor’s Cabinet on Nonprofit and Human Services will meet November 4 to analyze existing public-private partnerships with respect to the state’s health and human services delivery systems. 


The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice met November 2 to discuss S.B. 386, which reduces the period of time that a minor’s criminal history record must be retained before it may be expunged. 

The Legislature is set to adjourn its special session November 6


The Study Committee on the Use of Drones will meet November 5 to discuss the use of drone technology in State Law Enforcement. 


The House Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor will meet jointly November 3 to discuss voting reforms, including proposals for all-mail elections. 


The Health Policy Oversight Committee will meet November 3 to discuss a series of topics related to the implementation of the Medicaid managed care system, including Medical Loss Ratio and rates and reimbursements for managed care organizations and providers. 


The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will meet for an executive session November 5 to discuss S.B. 67, which establishes a committee to study opioid misuse, methods to support patient access to opioids and the use of appropriate pain treatments. 

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