May 31, 2018 •

Special Election Called for Minnesota Senate District 13

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach resigned from Senate District 13, ending the controversy of her simultaneously holding both offices. Gov. Mark Dayton has called a special for November 6, 2018. The special primary election, if necessary, will be held on […]

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach resigned from Senate District 13, ending the controversy of her simultaneously holding both offices.

Gov. Mark Dayton has called a special for November 6, 2018. The special primary election, if necessary, will be held on August 14, 2018.

Photo of Lt. Gov. Fischbach by David Oakes on Wikimedia Commons.

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May 31, 2018 •

Phoenix Mayor Resigns

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigned this week to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress. Arizona has a resign to run law, forcing Stanton to leave his position to campaign for a different office. Thelda Williams, a council member […]

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigned this week to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress. Arizona has a resign to run law, forcing Stanton to leave his position to campaign for a different office.

Thelda Williams, a council member representing Phoenix’s District One, will serve as the interim mayor until June 11 when the Phoenix City Council will appoint a mayor pro tempore who will serve until a special election is held. The special election will likely take place on November 6, 2018 along with the state’s regularly scheduled elections.

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May 31, 2018 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance California: “That Political Mailer on Your Kitchen Counter Isn’t What It Seems” by Taryn Luna for Sacramento Bee Massachusetts: “There’s a Bill That Would Rein in Charlie Baker’s Fundraising, but Democrats Aren’t Touching It” by Frank Phillips for […]

Campaign Finance

California: “That Political Mailer on Your Kitchen Counter Isn’t What It Seems” by Taryn Luna for Sacramento Bee

Massachusetts: “There’s a Bill That Would Rein in Charlie Baker’s Fundraising, but Democrats Aren’t Touching It” by Frank Phillips for Boston Globe

New Jersey: “Mayor’s Ex-Treasurer Helped Run Big Campaign. Now He’s Facing Jail Time.” by Thomas Moriarty and Karen Yi (NJ Advance Media) for Newark Star-Ledger

Elections

National: “Richard Painter Makes Unlikely Senate Bid in Minnesota” by Ben Kamisar for The Hill

Ethics

National: “‘Spygate’ Spotlights Trump’s Use of Conspiracy Theories to Erode Trust” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman (*New York Times) for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

National: “Concerned by Trump, Some Republicans Quietly Align with Democrats” by Kenneth Vogel for New York Times

National: “Trump Asked Sessions to Retain Control of Russia Inquiry After His Recusal” by Michael Schmidt and Julie Hirschfeld Davis (New York Times) for MSN

Missouri: “Greitens Offered to Resign as Part of Deal to Dismiss Computer-Tampering Charge” by Lindsay Wise and Joseph Bustos for Kansas City Star

Legislative Issues

Ohio: “Key Laws, Residents Vexed When Legislative Leaders Resign” by Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) for Morning Journal

Lobbying

Nova Scotia, Canada: “Chrétien Ignores Lobbyist Registrar’s Inquiry on Meeting with N.S. Premier” by Michael Tutton (Canadian Press) for CBC News

Procurement

Massachusetts: “Baker Adviser Helped Energy Firms Land Big Mass. Contracts” by Joshua Miller and Jon Chesto for Boston Globe

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May 30, 2018 •

Missouri Governor Announces Resignation

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has announced his resignation amid potential impeachment proceedings. Greitens was indicted in February on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from an affair; he was charged with another felony in April related to the improper […]

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has announced his resignation amid potential impeachment proceedings. Greitens was indicted in February on a felony invasion of privacy charge stemming from an affair; he was charged with another felony in April related to the improper use of a nonprofit donor list to raise money for his 2016 political campaign. After he refused to step down, the Missouri Legislature convened a special session this month to consider possible impeachment proceedings.

Though he admitted to the affair, Greitens has consistently denied any criminal misconduct. His resignation is effective Friday, June 1.

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May 30, 2018 •

Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Federal Election Commission Can’t Decide If Russian Interference Violated Law” by Peter Overby for WAMU National: “Invitations Offer Wealthy Chinese Access to President Trump at Fundraiser” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy, Emily Rauhala, and Simon […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Federal Election Commission Can’t Decide If Russian Interference Violated Law” by Peter Overby for WAMU

National: “Invitations Offer Wealthy Chinese Access to President Trump at Fundraiser” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy, Emily Rauhala, and Simon Denyer (Washington Post) for San Antonio Express-News

California: “Chairwoman of California’s State Campaign Watchdog Agency Resigns Amid Power Struggle” by Patrick McGreevy for Los Angeles Times

Ethics

National: “Ivanka Trump Wins China Trademarks, Then Her Father Vows to Save ZTE” by Sui-Lee Weefor New York Times

National: “Garret to Quit Congress Amid Servant Scandal, Alcoholism” by Alex Isenstadt and John Bresnahan for Politico

Arizona: “Ex-Arizona Regulator Charged with Bribery Heads to Trial” by The Associated Press for KNAU

Missouri: “Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens Resigns, Ending Political Career Once Aimed at Presidency” by Jason Hancock and Bryan Lowry for Kansas City Star

Oklahoma: “Ethics Budget Dispute Continues with Senate Email Request” by Dale Denwat for The Oklahoman

Lobbying

National: “Former Drug Industry Lobbyist Helps Steer Trump Drug Plan” by David Pittman for Politico

Wisconsin: “Wisconsin Lawmakers Got $164,000 in Travel and Perks Last Year from Outside Groups” by Keegan Kyle and Patrick Marley for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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May 29, 2018 •

Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Campaign Finance National: “Who’s Behind Those Political Ads on Facebook? Now, You Can Find Out.” By Tony Romm (Washington Post) for San Antonio Express-News Ethics National: “Trump’s Lawyer and Chief of Staff Appear at Briefings on F.B.I.’s Russia Informant” by […]

Campaign Finance

National: “Who’s Behind Those Political Ads on Facebook? Now, You Can Find Out.” By Tony Romm (Washington Post) for San Antonio Express-News

Ethics

National: “Trump’s Lawyer and Chief of Staff Appear at Briefings on F.B.I.’s Russia Informant” by Nicholas Fandos and Katie Brenner (New York Times) for WRAL

National: “Ex-Aides Say Congressman and Wife Made Them His Servants” by Rachel Bade, Alex Isenstadt, and Kyle Cheney for Politico

Illinois: “Lawmaker Charging Retaliation Wants Complaint System Changes” by John O’Connor (Associated Press) for Virginian-Pilot

Michigan: “Feds: Ex-Detroit airport manager took bribes, ate evidence to cover up crime” by Tresa Baldas for Detroit Free Press

North Carolina: “She’s Charged with Stealing $926,000, but Gets a $89K Pension. A Bill May Change That” by Will Doran and Paul Specht for Raleigh News and Observer

Lobbying

National: “Why a Storied Lobbying Firm Gambled on Michael Cohen” by Theodoric Meyer for Politico

Ohio: “Payday Lenders Say Ex-Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger Threatened Them, Delayed Bill” by Jackie Borchardt for Cleveland Plain Dealer

Texas: “Farenthold to Keep $160K Job after Calhoun Port Board Deadlocks” by Jon Wilcox  for Victoria Advocate

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May 25, 2018 •

NYCU Video Digest – May 25, 2018

Cryptocurrency contributions, campaign disclosure changes, and tax breaks for small business all in this weeks quick News You Can Use Video Digest.

Cryptocurrency contributions, campaign disclosure changes, and tax breaks for small business all in this weeks quick News You Can Use Video Digest.

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May 25, 2018 •

Lobbying Disclosure and Congressional Revolving Door Bills Introduced

Legislation affecting lobbying was introduced this week in both the Senate and House. Senate Bill 2896 would require lobbyists to disclose any conviction for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion, fraud, conflicts of interest, making false statements, perjury, or […]

Legislation affecting lobbying was introduced this week in both the Senate and House.

Senate Bill 2896 would require lobbyists to disclose any conviction for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion, fraud, conflicts of interest, making false statements, perjury, or money laundering.

A rather ambitious House bill aimed at restoring trust in Congress would impose a lifetime ban on lobbying for members.

House Bill 5946 would also prohibit members of Congress from being paid if Congress has not approved a budget on a timely basis; eliminate automatic pay adjustments; prohibit first-class airline accommodations; and prohibit House consideration of measures lacking demonstrable bipartisan support.

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May 25, 2018 •

News You Can Use Digest – May 25, 2018

      Federal: The Princes, the President and the Fortune Seekers Seattle Times – Desmond Butler and Tom LoBianco (Associated Press) | Published: 5/21/2018 Two Americans sought to leverage access to President Trump while angling for lucrative contracts from two Gulf countries […]

 

 

 

Federal:

The Princes, the President and the Fortune Seekers
Seattle Times – Desmond Butler and Tom LoBianco (Associated Press) | Published: 5/21/2018

Two Americans sought to leverage access to President Trump while angling for lucrative contracts from two Gulf countries wanting to shift U.S. foreign policy against Qatar. Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy and businessperson George Nader reportedly worked to catch the president’s ear by passing along praise from the princes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Broidy and Nader, who marketed themselves as having a back channel to the Oval Office, sought million-dollar contracts with the two Gulf countries for their efforts, according to the Associated Press investigation. The AP previously reported that Broidy and Nader sought to pass an anti-Qatar bill through Congress, while trying to hide their money trail related to such efforts. Nader is now reportedly cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators, who are said to be examining foreign influence inside the Trump White House.

Trump Violated the Constitution When He Blocked His Critics on Twitter, a Federal Judge Rules
Tampa Bay Times – Brian Fung and Hamza Shaban (Washington Post) | Published: 5/23/2018

U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled President Trump cannot block people from viewing his Twitter feed over their political views. Buchwald said the president’s Twitter account is a public forum and blocking people who reply to his tweets with differing opinions constitutes viewpoint discrimination, which violates the First Amendment. The government does not dispute that Trump blocked the Twitter users for political reasons, but the Justice Department had argued the president was largely acting in a personal capacity. Buchwald did not order Trump to unblock his followers, saying clarification of the law is sufficient to resolve the dispute. Should the president ignore the ruling, analysts say, future litigation could force Twitter to unblock Trump’s followers unilaterally.

Washington Lobbyists Put on Notice Over Foreign Agent Law
Associated Press – Chad Day and Eric Tucker | Published: 5/22/2018

The prosecution of a Pakistani man in Maryland reflects what current and former U.S. Justice Department officials say is an aggressive enforcement strategy against unregistered foreign agents that began even before special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation exposed a shadowy world of international influence peddling. Officials say they are not interpreting any differently the little-known law called the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people to disclose when they lobby in the U.S. on behalf of foreign governments or political entities. But they have been taking a more aggressive approach, asking more probing questions of people and firms they suspect need to register, requesting more documents, and conducting investigations with an eye toward bringing criminal charges when appropriate.

From the States and Municipalities:

Alabama: Reform Commission Begins Work on Alabama Ethics Law
AL.com – Mike Cason | Published: 5/17/2018

A committee created to propose changes to the law governing ethics for Alabama officials, public employees, lobbyists, and others is aiming to have a proposal ready in October, allowing time to fine tune it before the 2019 legislative session starts March 5. Deputy Attorney General Mike Duffy was the main author of an ethics bill that was introduced during the 2018 legislative session. Lawmakers decided to set it aside and created the Ethics Reform Commission with the goal of passing reforms next year. Duffy said meetings with people affected by the law helped identify areas of concern that were addressed in the bill, such as more clearly defining who is considered a “principal.”

Arizona: Array of Arizona Politicians, Lobbyists Connected to Bribery Case
Arizona Capitol Times – Katie Campbell | Published: 5/18/2018

The trial of a former regulator, a utility owner, and a lobbyist has tentacles that stretch to many others in Arizona’s political universe. Eighty-two prospective witnesses may be called to testify at the trial scheduled to begin May 30. Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce and his wife, Sherry, along with lobbyist Jim Norton and Johnson Utilities owner George Johnson, face charges of felony conspiracy, bribery, and fraud. Barry Aarons, who has lobbied at the Legislature for 40 years, said the public is in for a bad impression of Arizona politics no matter the outcome of the trial. “It reinforces that sense people have that the whole thing is corrupt,” said Aarons.

Florida: Florida’s Porous Campaign Finance Laws: ‘You can do almost anything’
Tampa Bay Times – Gary Fineout (Associated Press) | Published: 5/21/2018

So far, at least $13 million has been spent on television ads in the Florida governor’s race that includes six candidates vying for the job that will be vacated by Rick Scott. Television ads are poised to play a crucial role in the race since polls continue to show a majority of the state’s voters do not really know the Republican or Democratic candidates vying to replace him. Some of the ads are being paid for by groups that insist they have no legal obligation to disclose who is paying for them. Other ads are being coordinated with campaigns relying on their own legal interpretation to sidestep laws and rules intended to place limits on ad campaigns being funded by large donors. Mark Herron, an election law attorney based in Tallahassee, said: “You can do almost anything in Florida if you put it in the right bucket.”

Florida: Want to Speak at a Miami Beach Meeting? For Business Owners, That Could Cost $850
Miami Herald – Kyra Gurney | Published: 5/24/2018

Businesses owners who want to speak to public officials in Miami Beach are required to register as lobbyists under Miami-Dade County law and the city charges lobbyists a $500 registration fee plus $350 for each issue on which they plan to lobby. Most cities waive lobbying fees for business owners speaking on their own behalf. While the Miami Beach fees might not be a problem for big businesses and the lobbying firms hired to represent them, they have deterred several “mom-and-pop” business owners from speaking at a city commission meeting.

Georgia: Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Making History
MSN – Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns (New York Times) | Published: 5/22/2018

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams won the Democratic primary, bringing her a step closer to becoming the nation’s first African-American woman governor. By defeating Stacey Evans, Abrams also became the state’s first black nominee for governor. The general election is sure to draw national attention as voters determine whether a black woman can win in the Deep South, a region that has not had an African-American governor since Reconstruction. Abrams has signaled she is unlikely to spend much time persuading rural whites to return to a Democratic Party they have largely abandoned. She has embarked instead on a strategy of energizing a coalition of young and nonwhite Georgians who represent a growing share of the state’s population.

Louisiana: New Orleans City Council to Investigate Entergy for Paying Actors to Lobby for Power Plant
New Orleans Times-Picayune – Beau Evans | Published: 5/18/2018

In the wake of Entergy’s admission of waging an “astroturf” lobbying campaign leading up to the approval of a power plant in New Orleans, the city council will change public comment cards and introduce legislation to require lobbying groups register. Entergy conducted an internal investigation that found one of its contractors, Hawthorn Group, hired Crowds on Demand, which admitted to paying actors to testify in support of the power plant. The investigation also found Entergy’s contractors coordinated to have other people paid to sit in the audience of a council meeting to show support for the plant with handmade signs.

Maine: Legislative Typo Threatens to Undermine Clean Elections Campaigns
Lewiston Sun Journal – Kevin Miller (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 5/21/2018

Maine lawmakers left dozens of measures in limbo when they adjourned the 2018 legislative session. Advocates for the state’s public campaign finance system and a state ethics commission official warn that a little-noticed victim of the partisan rancor could have significant financial ramifications for the November 2018 elections. Lawmakers failed to pass a routine “errors and inconsistencies” bill to correct unintended budget language that prevents the ethics panel from disbursing additional money to clean elections candidates starting on July 1. As a result, more than 200 legislative candidates and potentially three gubernatorial campaigns will be unable to tap into at least $3 million, money that lawmakers already have budgeted for the public campaign finance system, in the final months of the election season.

Missouri: Missouri Lawmakers Can Keep Accepting Lobbyist Gifts After Failing to Pass Amendment
Kansas City Star – Allison Kite and Jason Hancock | Published: 5/18/2018

Missouri lawmakers can keep accepting free meals, drinks, and event tickets after the House defeated a proposed constitutional amendment. Sen. Jason Holsman had sought to ban lobbyist gifts and alter legislative term limits. The House brought up the proposal in the last hour of the legislative session only to move on moments later after some lawmakers tried to attach tried to attach amendments and sink the proposal. When the session ended, the proposal died.

Montana: Appeals Court Upholds Montana Campaign Finance Reform Law
Washington Times; Associated Press –   | Published: 5/23/2018

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Montana’s 2015 law to increase campaign reporting and disclosure meets constitutional muster. A group called Montanans for Community Development was unwilling to register and disclose its donors and spending as required under the statute. The appeals panel called the group’s constitutional claims against the law “scattershot.” It also called the group’s argument “absurd” that the law’s requirement to file electronic campaign reports may be unconstitutional.

New York: From the E.R. to the Garden, M.T.A. Chief Holds Unusually Powerful Perch
New York Times – Brian Rosenthal | Published: 5/22/2018

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last June selected Joseph Lhota to head the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). But Lhota would only agree to return to the position he held in 2012 on the condition that he could keep his full-time job as the chief of staff of one of the state’s biggest hospital networks, and also retain the prerogative to join any other paid board he wanted. While Lhota remains a respected official, his growing web of jobs has led to potential conflicts-of-interest and competition for his time, complicating the still-flailing effort to resuscitate a transit system used by millions of people every day. Nobody has ever led the MTA while balancing as many other leadership posts as Lhota.

Oklahoma: Many Felons Can’t Vote, But They Can Lobby at the Capitol
Oklahoma Watchdog – Paul Monies | Published: 5/16/2018

Questions have come up in recent years about who can be barred from becoming a registered lobbyist in Oklahoma and whether elected officials should be banned from accepting jobs as lobbyists shortly after leaving office. An Ethics Commission rule requiring a two-year waiting period before certain officials could become lobbyists was rejected by the Legislature this year, with some lawmakers saying it was unjust to deny people the freedom to seek private employment. The issue becomes trickier when it involves someone convicted of a felony. Nothing in state law or ethics rules prohibits lawmakers convicted of felonies from lobbying their former colleagues, but their ability to do so depends largely on prosecutors’ demands.

Pennsylvania: Pa. House GOP Leaders Planning to Impose Sanctions Against Rep. Nick Miccarelli
PennLive.com – Jan Murphy | Published: 5/17/2018

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders said they were moving to take away committee assignments from Rep. Nick Miccarelli, who is accused of abusing two women who dated him, including a fellow lawmaker who is now assigned a bodyguard while she is at the statehouse. The GOP leaders accused Miccarelli of repeatedly violating a caucus policy against retaliation, even after he was told several times about it. Rep. Tarah Toohil obtained a protective order against Miccarelli in March and House leaders provided her with a security escort when she is in the Capitol. The leaders said they also are moving Miccarelli’s desk on the chamber floor, so it will be farther from Toohil’s.

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May 24, 2018 •

Court Upholds Montana’s Dark Money Disclosure Laws

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Montana’s campaign spending disclosure laws this week. The three-judge panel ruled the law is not unconstitutionally vague and requiring groups spending money on electioneering communications to report their donors is proper. The […]

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Montana’s campaign spending disclosure laws this week.

The three-judge panel ruled the law is not unconstitutionally vague and requiring groups spending money on electioneering communications to report their donors is proper.

The law, proposed by Gov. Steve Bullock and passed by the Legislature in 2015, still has wide bipartisan support.

Montanans for Community Development, the group challenging the disclosure laws, asserted the requirements were vague and overly broad, giving too much enforcement discretion to the commissioner of political practices. They also argued being required to file electronic campaign reports may be unconstitutional, a point the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called absurd.

The current commissioner, Jeff Mangan, said he and his office are pleased with the ruling.

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May 24, 2018 •

Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup

Elections Alabama: “Competition Sparse in Many Alabama Legislative Districts” by Mike Cason for AL.com Georgia: “Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Making History” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns (New York Times) for MSN Ethics National: “Senate Anti-Harassment […]

Elections

Alabama: “Competition Sparse in Many Alabama Legislative Districts” by Mike Cason for AL.com

Georgia: “Stacey Abrams Wins Georgia Democratic Primary for Governor, Making History” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns (New York Times) for MSN

Ethics

National: “Senate Anti-Harassment Bill Could See Fast Action” by Katherine Tull-McManus for Roll Call

National: “Michael Cohen’s Business Partner Agrees to Cooperate as Part of Plea Deal” by Danny Hakim, William Rashbaum, and Vivian Wang for MSN

Massachusetts: “Galvin Disciplines Employees for Performing Political Tasks on Government Time” by Matt Stout for Boston Globe

Ohio: “Cincinnati Councilman Jeff Pastor’s Campaign: Unusual donations, loans, gifts to churches” by Sharon Coolidge for Cincinnati Enquirer

Texas: “Democratic State Rep. Ron Reynolds Likely Headed to Jail after Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Refuses to Review His Case” by Jolie McCullough for Texas Tribune

Lobbying

National: “Lobbying Firm Shuttered, but Tony Podesta’s Fate in Mueller Probe Still a Mystery” by Trish Turner for ABC News

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May 23, 2018 •

Third Request for FEC to Consider Rulemaking Concerning Foreign Interference in Elections

At the May 24 meeting of the Federal Election Commission, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub resubmitted proposals for the commission to reconsider concerning whether to engage in a rulemaking to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference. As stated in […]

At the May 24 meeting of the Federal Election Commission, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub resubmitted proposals for the commission to reconsider concerning whether to engage in a rulemaking to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference.

As stated in her May 17 memorandum to the commission, the proposals were initially brought in both September 2016 and June 2017. The impetus for her new request was a bipartisan joint statement released by Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, in which they both call for better efforts to combat foreign interference in federal elections.

This request to be considered at the commission’s meeting can be found here.

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May 23, 2018 •

Vermont Lawmakers Reconvene for Special Session

Lawmakers reconvene today in Montpelier for a special session called by Gov. Phil Scott. The focus of the special session will be on the state budget and property tax bills passed by the General Assembly during the regular session. Gov. […]

Lawmakers reconvene today in Montpelier for a special session called by Gov. Phil Scott.

The focus of the special session will be on the state budget and property tax bills passed by the General Assembly during the regular session.

Gov. Scott has signaled to the Legislature his plan to veto both bills in their present form.

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May 23, 2018 •

West Virginia Legislature Adjourns Special Legislative Session

The West Virginia Legislature adjourned a two-day special legislative session on May  21, 2018. Lawmakers passed eight bills, including a bill creating the Department of Arts, Culture, and History. Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill in March eliminating the Department […]

The West Virginia Legislature adjourned a two-day special legislative session on May  21, 2018.

Lawmakers passed eight bills, including a bill creating the Department of Arts, Culture, and History.

Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill in March eliminating the Department of Education and the Arts.

Under the new bill, the commissioner of culture and history will become the curator of arts, culture, and history and report directly to the governor.

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