Our Newsbeats:

  • 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

    April 30, 2015

    This month’s Federal Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from April 15, 2015, to April 28, 2015. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on April 29 will be reflected in the May report. The Federal Vacancy Count will be released on the last Wednesday of each month moving forward. Confirmations, nominations and vacancies occurring throughout the month will still be updated and added as usual, but will be pulled into one monthly article as opposed to four or five weekly articles every month. The vacancy warning level remained at blue this month after one new vacancy, one new nomination and one new confirmation. The vacancy percentage remained at 6.2 percent, and the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation remained at 17. The number of vacancies of Article III judges remained at 54 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

    Eighth Circuit

    Kermit Bye

    New confirmations

    Southern District of Texas

    George Hanks

    New nominations

    District of Minnesota

    Wilhelmina Wright

    Current judicial nominee statuses

    The …

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  • Nebraska and Wyoming remove bans on pay-per-signature

    April 9, 2015

    As of April 8, at least 125 bills concerning ballot measure law were proposed or reconsidered during the 2015 legislative sessions of 37 states. Of the total, 111 were pending, five were approved, and nine had been defeated or abandoned. At least four more bills had passed through the state legislatures and merely awaited gubernatorial signatures for full approval. Most of the bills — 119 — were introduced this year, and the other six were carried over from the 2014 legislative session in New Jersey.

    The changes in law proposed this year include efforts to make the initiative and referendum process more difficult, attempts to regulate campaign contributions and circulators, and bills that would establish the power of initiative in non-I&R states or make the power more accessible.

    See “Changes in 2015 to laws governing ballot measures” for a periodically updated list of proposed ballot measure law changes organized by state. This page also includes a brief summary of each proposed bill, the status of the bill and links to more information.

    Recent legislative news

    Nebraska legislators encourage initiatives by voting to repeal the state’s ban on pay-per-signature:

    On April 7, 2015, Nebraska

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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