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  • Three scandals lead to embarrassment for constituents

    May 20, 2015

    This week’s tracker includes a look at a resignation in Missouri, the arrest of a state senator in Michigan and a controversial photo of a former delegate and current candidate in Virginia.

    Fmr. State Rep. John Diehl (R)

    • Missouri: On May 14, 2015, House Speaker John Diehl (R) resigned from the Missouri House of Representatives.[1] Diehl announced his resignation one day after the Kansas City Star reported that he exchanged text messages with an intern that were of a sexual nature.[2] The article included screenshots of the text messages.[2] The text messages ranged from normal, everyday texts about meetings and speeches to texts that took on a more sexual tone.[2] Hours after the article was released, Diehl admitted to the relationship with the college freshman, but declared that he would not be resigning.[3] By Thursday afternoon, Diehl changed his mind and decided to resign. He made the following statement when he resigned: “I have acknowledged making a serious error in judgment by sending the text messages. It was wrong and I am truly sorry. Too often, we hear leaders say they’re sorry but are unwilling to accept the consequences. … I
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  • The Federal Vacancy Count

    May 27, 2015

    This month’s Federal Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from April 29, 2015, to May 26, 2015. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on and after May 27 will be reflected in the June report. The federal judiciary had minor changes this month. With a net loss of one judge, the vacancy percentage rose slightly. The vacancy warning level remained at blue this month after three new vacancies, one new nomination and two new confirmations. The vacancy percentage rose to 6.3 percent, and the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation fell to 16. The number of vacancies of Article III judges rose to 55 out of 874. A breakdown of the vacancies on each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, see our Federal Court Vacancy Warning System.

    Vacancies by court

    New vacancies

    Eastern District of New York

    Sandra Townes

    Eastern District of Texas

    Leonard Davis

    Northern District of Alabama

    Sharon Blackburn

    New confirmations

    District of Utah

    Jill Parrish

    Southern District of Texas

    Rolando Olvera

    New nominations

    Western District of Tennessee

    Edward L. Stanton III

    Current judicial nominee statuses

    The following chart shows the number …

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  • New restrictions on the initiative process move forward in four states

    May 28, 2015

    As of May 28, 2015, Ballotpedia was covering 139 bills concerning ballot measure law that were proposed or reconsidered during the 2015 legislative sessions of 38 states. Of the total, 90 were pending, 13 were approved, 23 had been defeated or abandoned, and 13 were carried over to 2016. Most of the bills—133—were introduced this year, and the other six were carried over from the 2014 legislative session in New Jersey.

    In May 2015, legislators in both Texas and Colorado passed ballot law changes criticized by opponents for restricting local initiatives over fracking. In Texas, the bill establishes state law as preeminent concerning the oil and gas industry, preventing cities and counties from passing county or commission-referred ordinances as well as initiatives that prohibit or restrict fracking. The relevant bill in Colorado simply requires a fiscal impact analysis of any citizen initiative to be presented to voters during signature collection. Critics say this requirement would make it tough for proposed initiatives establishing local control over fracking to make it before voters. Other bills designed to add restrictions to the initiative process moved forward in the Nevada and Maine legislatures.

    See “Changes

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      Ballot Law Update
  • Extensive tax plan for roads and more on today’s ballot in Michigan

    May 5, 2015

    The people of Michigan are not the only Americans voting on a tax proposal on May 5, 2015. While Proposal 1, a complex package of laws raising taxes to increase transportation funding, is the only statewide measure, eight local tax measures and one bond measure will be decided in California. Michiganders in East Lansing will also vote on the issue of marijuana decriminalization.

    In Texas, 10 notable measures will be voted on in three counties on May 9, 2015. Two contentious issues, marijuana regulation and GMOs, will be hot topics on May 19, 2015, in Brownsville, Oregon, and Benton County, respectively. A vote on requiring a public vote on new construction projects will go before voters in Buena Park, California, on May 19, 2015.

    Complex tax and transportation funding proposal up for a vote in Michigan

    Voters in Michigan will face a complicated package of statutes and an amendment bundled together in a single measure, Proposal 1. The goal of the package is to secure additional transportation infrastructure funding without compromising funding to schools and municipalities. To meet this goal, Proposal 1 creates a new fuel tax formula, removes the sales tax from …

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Press Release

Veteran Journalist Jim Barnes Joins Ballotpedia Staff
Political Encyclopedia Adds Expert in Presidential Politics MADISON, Wis. – Ballotpedia.org announced today that veteran journalist Jim Barnes has joined its roster of reporters and writers. Barnes brings a wealth of experience to Ballotpedia, having covered every presidential election since 1984 … Read More