February 24, 2020 •

New Mexico Legislature Adjourns, Passes Budget Bill

New Mexico Capitol Building - Ken Lund

The Second Session of the 54th New Mexico Legislature adjourned sine die on February 20 at noon after 30 days in session. During the session, legislators endorsed a $7.6 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. […]

The Second Session of the 54th New Mexico Legislature adjourned sine die on February 20 at noon after 30 days in session.

During the session, legislators endorsed a $7.6 billion general fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The budget raises annual spending by $536 million, setting aside $17 million toward an initiative that may eventually provide tuition-free education at public colleges.

The budget bill also places $320 million in an endowment fund designed to underwrite early childhood education programs with future investments earnings.

Lawmakers also introduced but did not pass Senate Bill 53, which would have required a lobbyist or lobbyist’s employer to file reports within 14 days following the conclusion of a legislative session.

Senate Bill 53 would have required the post-session report to indicate legislation lobbied and the position taken on each piece of legislation.

Opening day of the 2021 legislative session is scheduled for January 19.

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February 13, 2020 •

Utah Congressional Vacancy Bill Progresses Over Objections

Utah Capitol Building - Jkinsocal

A compromise over filling congressional vacancies progressed on February 11, earning passage through the House on a party-line vote. House Bill 17 seeks to resolve years of dispute that began in 2017 with the resignation of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. […]

A compromise over filling congressional vacancies progressed on February 11, earning passage through the House on a party-line vote.

House Bill 17 seeks to resolve years of dispute that began in 2017 with the resignation of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. The state law was largely silent on the process for replacing members of Congress.

The legislative and executive branches have continued to disagree on the subject. Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed legislation last year that would have set a process for picking congressional replacements.

The current bill calls for the governor to issue a proclamation to schedule a primary and general election to fill a House vacancy.

Those elections generally would be held on the next municipal general election, a presidential primary or regular primary, or general election.

House Bill 17 is now in the Senate for consideration.

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February 13, 2020 •

Oklahoma Governor Issues Executive Order to Cut Regulations

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt

Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order on February 3 designed to prune state regulations by 25%. Executive Order 2020-03 has two main requirements. First, state agencies must review their administrative rules and list any that are expensive, ineffective, redundant, […]

Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order on February 3 designed to prune state regulations by 25%.

Executive Order 2020-03 has two main requirements.

First, state agencies must review their administrative rules and list any that are expensive, ineffective, redundant, or outdated.

Second, for all new restrictive rules proposed after February 15, agencies have to eliminate at least two existing regulatory restrictions until agencies reduce regulations by 25%.

The order requires the Oklahoma secretary of state to write an annual report for the governor that outlines progress made in eliminating burdensome regulations and streamlining state government.

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February 11, 2020 •

New Mexico Representative Resigns from House District 40

Rep. Joseph Sanchez is resigning from his House District 40 seat to run for election to the 3rd Congressional District. Sanchez previously defeated Tweeti Blancett in the general election for the seat on November 6, 2018. The race for the […]

Rep. Joseph Sanchez is resigning from his House District 40 seat to run for election to the 3rd Congressional District.

Sanchez previously defeated Tweeti Blancett in the general election for the seat on November 6, 2018.

The race for the House District 40 seat now has two contestants: Roger Montoya and Justin Salazar-Torrez.

The election will take place on June 2.

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February 11, 2020 •

Honolulu Voters Will Decide On Two-Term Limit for Prosecutor

Honolulu Hale City Hall

Voters in the November 3 election will decide whether the Honolulu prosecuting attorney should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms. Honolulu City Council members voted unanimously on January 29 to add the measure to the 2020 election ballot. Voters […]

Voters in the November 3 election will decide whether the Honolulu prosecuting attorney should be limited to two consecutive four-year terms.

Honolulu City Council members voted unanimously on January 29 to add the measure to the 2020 election ballot.

Voters last addressed a potential term limit on the prosecutor in 2016.

That year, citizens voted down a measure that would have established a three-year term limit for the prosecuting attorney, the mayor and council members.

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February 11, 2020 •

Oklahoma Senator Resigns from District 28 Seat

Former Rep. Jason Smalley - Michael Duncan

Rep. Jason Smalley resigned from his Senate District 28 seat effective January 31 after serving six years in the district. Smalley will become a senior account manager at Motorola Solutions Corp. for their Oklahoma operation. By law, the special election […]

Rep. Jason Smalley resigned from his Senate District 28 seat effective January 31 after serving six years in the district.

Smalley will become a senior account manager at Motorola Solutions Corp. for their Oklahoma operation.

By law, the special election must fall on the dates of the regular primary election, runoff primary election, or general election.

Gov. Kevin Stitt must call for a special election no later than 30 days after Sen. Smalley’s vacancy.

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January 31, 2020 •

Santa Fe Campaign Disclosure Ordinance Ruled Constitutional

A federal judge in New Mexico ruled on January 30 that a Santa Fe ordinance requiring disclosure of campaign spending more than $250 on a ballot proposition is constitutional. Santa Fe Campaign Code 9-2.6, passed in 2015, states that a […]

A federal judge in New Mexico ruled on January 30 that a Santa Fe ordinance requiring disclosure of campaign spending more than $250 on a ballot proposition is constitutional.

Santa Fe Campaign Code 9-2.6, passed in 2015, states that a person or entity spending $250 or more in support or defeat of a ballot proposition must disclose all expenditures made and contributions received with the city clerk.

Senior U.S. District Court judge Judith C. Herrera’s ruling stems from a 2017 lawsuit brought by nonprofit Rio Grande Foundation.

The suit claimed that disallowing anonymous donations to the foundation was an infringement on free speech.

While the foundation argued that anonymity protects donors from potential harassment from those who disagree with the issues being advocated, the judge found that the disclosure requirements of the ordinance serve substantial governmental interests.

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January 30, 2020 •

Injunction Upheld in Arkansas Campaign Contribution Blackout Case

Arkansas State Capitol

A panel of federal appellate judges held on January 27 that a campaign contribution blackout law that has been in place in Arkansas since 1996 is likely unconstitutional. The panel upheld a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge James Moody […]

A panel of federal appellate judges held on January 27 that a campaign contribution blackout law that has been in place in Arkansas since 1996 is likely unconstitutional.

The panel upheld a preliminary injunction that U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. imposed June 17 to prohibit Arkansas Code Annotated 7-6-203(e) from being enforced while its constitutionality is determined.

The law, part of a package of campaign-finance measures approved by voters in 1995, bars candidates for state offices from accepting campaign contributions more than two years before an election.

The constitutionality of the law was challenged as an infringement on the right of political expression by preventing contributions to potential candidates in the 2022 election cycle.

The state argued that the purpose of the blackout period is to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption, but the panel said it hadn’t shown that early contributions present a greater risk of corruption than later contributions.

The Office of the Attorney General could seek a rehearing before the full 8th Circuit within 14 days.

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January 28, 2020 •

El Paso City Council to Hold Runoff for District 6 Seat

Voters in east El Paso and the Lower Valley will choose a new representative in a special runoff election for City Council District 6 on Saturday, January 25. Claudia Rodriguez and Debbie Torres face off in the runoff after they […]

Voters in east El Paso and the Lower Valley will choose a new representative in a special runoff election for City Council District 6 on Saturday, January 25.

Claudia Rodriguez and Debbie Torres face off in the runoff after they had advanced from the December 14 election where four were competing for the seat.

Both are campaigning to keep taxes low and to increase structural repairs.

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January 28, 2020 •

Colorado State Representative Resigns to Join Trump Administration

State Rep. Susan Beckman announced her resignation from House District 38 to assume a position within President Trump’s administration. Beckman has not yet announced what position she will assume. Her District 38 seat will be filled by a vacancy committee […]

State Rep. Susan Beckman announced her resignation from House District 38 to assume a position within President Trump’s administration.

Beckman has not yet announced what position she will assume.

Her District 38 seat will be filled by a vacancy committee consisting of members representing the political party that last held the seat.

The person appointed will serve the remainder of Beckman’s term, which ends in November 2020.

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January 28, 2020 •

Puerto Rico Protesters Urge Governor Vázquez to Resign

Gov. Wanda Vazquez

Hundreds of demonstrators are calling for Gov. Wanda Vázquez to resign after the recent discovery of unused disaster relief supplies in a warehouse in the southern coastal city of Ponce. A video of the crowd storming the warehouse went viral, […]

Hundreds of demonstrators are calling for Gov. Wanda Vázquez to resign after the recent discovery of unused disaster relief supplies in a warehouse in the southern coastal city of Ponce.

A video of the crowd storming the warehouse went viral, leading to nationwide outrage.

Gov. Vázquez terminated several officials who were unable to provide further information she requested about other collection and distribution centers in meetings with leaders of her administration.

The protests are similar to those that escalated over the summer and led to the resignation of former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, as demonstrators are once again vowing to remain in the streets until Gov. Vázquez also steps down.

Former Gov. Rosselló was forced to step down after a report leaked that he was using public resources and services for partisan purposes and was allowing government officials and contractors to misuse public funds and time for non-government work.

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January 21, 2020 •

New Mexico Senator Sponsors Post-Session Lobbying Bill

New Mexico Capitol Building - Ken Lund

In an effort to increase transparency, Sen. Jeff Steinborn is sponsoring a bill that would require post-session lobbying reports. Under Senate Bill 53, lobbyists or their employers would have to file an expenditure report within 14 days after each legislative […]

In an effort to increase transparency, Sen. Jeff Steinborn is sponsoring a bill that would require post-session lobbying reports.

Under Senate Bill 53, lobbyists or their employers would have to file an expenditure report within 14 days after each legislative session listing the legislation they supported or opposed.

The 2020 session of the 54th Legislature is scheduled to begin on January 21 and adjourn on February 20.

If Steinborn’s bill passes, it will become effective on May 20.

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January 20, 2020 •

Utah Agriculture Commissioner Resigns to Run for Congress

Kerry Gibson - State of Utah

Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner Kerry Gibson has resigned from Gov. Gary Herbert’s cabinet to run for Utah’s 1st Congressional District. Kelly Pehrson was named the interim manager of the department. Heading into the November 3 election is incumbent Rob […]

Utah Agriculture and Food Commissioner Kerry Gibson has resigned from Gov. Gary Herbert’s cabinet to run for Utah’s 1st Congressional District.

Kelly Pehrson was named the interim manager of the department.

Heading into the November 3 election is incumbent Rob Bishop, who has served since 2003.

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January 20, 2020 •

Kansas State Rep. Resigns to Become Mayor

Rep. Brandon Whipple

After eight years, Kansas Rep. Brandon Whipple resigned from his House District 96 seat on January 13 to become mayor of Wichita, Kansas. Whipple defeated incumbent Jeff Longwell to become Wichita’s mayor on November 5, 2019. The Sedgwick County Democratic […]

After eight years, Kansas Rep. Brandon Whipple resigned from his House District 96 seat on January 13 to become mayor of Wichita, Kansas.

Whipple defeated incumbent Jeff Longwell to become Wichita’s mayor on November 5, 2019.

The Sedgwick County Democratic Party has nominated Stephanie Yeager to succeed Whipple.

Gov. Laura Kelly must appoint a successor and has not yet approved Yeager’s nomination.

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