Our Newsbeats:

  • The Federal Vacancy Count

    November 19, 2014

    This week’s Federal Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from November 12, 2014, to November 18, 2014. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on November 19th will be reflected in the November 26th report. This week saw movement in the federal judiciary as the United States Senate was back to work after the elections. Leslie Joyce Abrams became the first black female to sit on a federal bench in Georgia. The vacancy warning level remained at blue this week after two new vacancies, four new nominations and three new confirmations. The vacancy percentage remained at 7.2% and the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation rose to 35. The number of vacancies of Article III judges fell to 63 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

    District of South Carolina

    Joseph Anderson

    Northern District of Illinois

    Ronald Guzman

    New confirmations

    District of Columbia

    Randolph D. Moss

    Middle District of Georgia

    Leslie Joyce Abrams

    Northern District of Georgia

    Leigh Martin May

    New nominations

    On …

    Read More
  • Pension Hotspots: Election review

    November 17, 2014
    The Pension Hotspots Report is a monthly publication about local pensions and pension reform efforts.

    The biggest pension news from election day is the decisive defeat of Proposition 487 in Phoenix, Arizona, – the only substantial local pension reform measure on the ballot last week. Meanwhile, in predictable moves, voters in Oakland and Yorba Linda, California, approved rather innocuous pension-related measures designed to save taxpayers relatively small amounts of money.

    As of November 14, 2014, ten pension related measures were proposed for 2014 ballots. Six of these were approved and two were defeated. Court decisions removed the initiatives in Pacific Grove, California, and Ventura County, California, from the ballot.

    Pension-related election results:

    d City of Phoenix Pension Reform Initiative, Proposition 487 (November 2014):

    The only contentious pension-related measure on the ballot, which proposed drastic reform in Phoenix, Arizona, was defeated. Prop. 487 proposed switching the city’s new hires over from a defined benefit pension plan to a 401 (K)-style, defined contribution plan and implementing a five-year pensionable pay cap to curtail the process called pension spiking used by retiring employees to boost pension benefits by cashing in saved up vacation time, bonuses, sick leave …

    Read More
      Pension Hotspots Report
  • Nevada joins list of Republican trifectas

    November 17, 2014

    This week’s tracker includes a look at the new Republican trifecta in Nevada.

    • Nevada: Fresh off of an election victory that saw them retake not only the Nevada State Senate, a Ballotpedia battleground chamber, but also the Nevada State Assembly, Nevada Republicans appear to be reviving the issue of voter identification well ahead of February’s start to the new legislative session. Barbara Cegavske (R), an outgoing state senator recently elected as Nevada Secretary of State, told MSNBC’s Zachary Roth last week that at least two bills relating to voter ID are being written and could be unified.[1] Cegavske was a vocal proponent of voter ID in her bid for executive office. Her soon-to-be predecessor, Ross Miller (D), unsuccessfully pushed a 2013 bill that would have required voters without identification to have their picture taken and sign an affidavit; Cegavske criticized the bill, which would have cost $800,000 to implement, as too expensive.[2][3] Current election law requires a voter’s signature given at the polls to match the one on his or her voter registration; poll workers may request other identification, such as a driver’s license, if the signature is not considered a
    Read More
  • JP Election Brief: 2014 retention report

    November 19, 2014

    November 13, 2014


    Nationwide: Among the states that held retention elections in 2014, Montana’s justices, on average, won by the largest margins while Oklahoma’s judges were shown the least favor at the polls.

     Tennessee justices narrowly retained

    Tennessee: Justices Sharon Lee, Cornelia Clark, and Gary R. Wade of the Tennessee Supreme Court faced retention on August 7, 2014. All three justices were narrowly retained to new, eight-year terms despite an unusually large and politicized campaign against their retention. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey led the conservative effort to unseat the three Democratic justices. Joined by Ramsey was the group Tennesseans for Judicial Accountability (TNJA), while the Republican State Leadership Committee also contributed money to oppose the retentions. In response, the justices created their own campaign group, called Keep Tennessee’s Supreme Court Fair.

    Retention votes

    In October 2014, the Times Free Press reported that a final, combined total of $2.4 million was spent by both sides in the 2014 Tennessee Supreme Court retention elections.[1] The money raised by the candidates’ own campaigns directly totaled $1,142,723 as of October 10, 2014.…

    Read More
  • Hot-button issues resurfacing on future ballots

    November 18, 2014

    Only two weeks have passed since the November 4 general election, and already, activists across the country are resurrecting issues from 2014 ballots and gearing up for new campaigns in 2015 and 2016. Marijuana, firearms and fracking all featured prominently on statewide and local ballots in 2014. If supporters can successfully land more of these measures on the ballot, future election cycles are bound to be just as, if not more, contentious, especially given that 2016 is a presidential election year.

    Marijuana and firearms measures poised to appear on Nevada 2016 ballot:
    After voters passed recreational marijuana measures in Oregon and Alaska, activists wasted no time mobilizing another campaign for 2016, this time in Nevada. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, which is officially supporting the measure, turned in over 200,000 signatures – approximately 98,000 more than the 101,667 required – by the November 11 deadline. If the measure appears on the 2016 ballot and is approved by voters, it would legalize one ounce or less of marijuana for recreational use for people who are at least 21 years old. The initiative would tax marijuana sales and allocate revenue from the tax to education.[1]

    Read More
  • Election review and judge rules Nebraska’s distribution requirements unconstitutional

    November 14, 2014

    This edition of the Ballot Law Update explores the results of the November election with regard to ballot measure law, as well as covering a court ruling that overturned Nebraska’s century-old distribution requirements for initiatives.

    How did the election affect ballot law?

    Arkansas Ballot Measure Signature Requirements Amendment, Issue 2 (2014):

    On election day last week, Arkansans voted to approve Issue 2, thereby amending the state’s signature requirements. The measure was designed to demand ballot issue groups to initially collect at least 75 percent of the valid signatures required in order to receive additional time to gather extra signatures once the petition has been turned in to the Secretary of State. Before this measure was approved, petitioners had 30 days to collect additional signatures or demonstrate that rejected signatures were valid regardless of how far the original petition fell short of the required signature threshold.[1]

    The victorious supporters of Issue 2 said that it would prevent petitioners from intentionally turning in large numbers of invalid signatures in their original signature submissions just to buy time.

    Opponents claimed, “The proposed amendment does nothing to address fraud but severely hampers the ability of the people to place an initiated …

    Read More
      Ballot Law Update

Press Release

State Legislative Incumbents Cruise Through Election Season With Little Competition
Madison, Wisconsin–August 4, 2014: This year’s lineup of state legislative elections features record low levels of competition, according to an analysis by Ballotpedia.org. Where competition exists, Republicans are feeling the heat more so than Democrats. In total, 56% of this … Read More