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People and Politics January 2014

People and Politics | January 2014

1/1/2014

STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE

 

MASSACHUSETTS LAWMAKER MARTIN J. WALSH (D) BECAME THE 48TH MAYOR OF BOSTON this month after winning a tight race in November against John Connolly, a city councilor. Walsh, first elected to the Massachusetts House in 1997, won the post previously held by Thomas Menino, who chose not to seek a sixth term as mayor. Walsh, a long-time labor leader, is the son of Irish immigrants whose personal story of childhood cancer, being grazed by a stray bullet after a night of drinking at age 22 and his struggle to overcome alcoholism won the trust of a diverse coalition of voters.

Elephant and Donkey party symbolsCOLORADO SENATOR EVIE HUDAK (D), THE TARGET OF A RECALL DRIVE BECAUSE OF HER SUPPORT OF STRICTER GUN LAWS, RESIGNED IN DECEMBER, effectively securing Democrats’ slim  18-17 majority through 2014. Hudak was the third Colorado senator targeted for recall since the General Assembly last March passed a series of measures requiring universal background checks for private gun sales and limiting ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, among others. Senate President John Morse (D) and Senator Angela Giron (D) were tossed out of office in September. Hudak’s decision allows Democrats in her district to name her replacement. She was elected in 2008 and was chair of the Senate Education Committee.  She sponsored legislation prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence to carry guns. “By resigning, I am protecting these important new laws for the good of Colorado,” she said.

NEWS STORIES ABOUT A BRUTAL NEW FAD CALLED THE “KNOCKOUT GAME” HAVE INSPIRED AN OKLAHOMA LAWMAKER TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION toughening penalties for anyone convicted of participating. At least two people have died from the game in which one assailant tries to knock out an unsuspecting victim on the street with a single punch while another video records it. So far, no cases have been reported in his state, but Representative Bobby Cleveland (R) said the “whole purpose of the bill is to knock it out before it gets here.” Cleveland’s bill would require any minor accused of the crime to be tried as an adult and increase the penalty for unprovoked battery to 10 years in prison.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON WAS A LITTLE MERRIER FOR CALIFORNIA LAWMAKERS, THANKS TO THE CITIZENS COMPENSATION COMMISSION’S DECISION TO RAISE SALARIES by some $5,000 effective Dec. 1, 2013. The commission voted in June to restore lawmakers’ pay to 2011 levels and require the state to increase its share of elected officials’ health care coverage. It did not, however, restore all the cuts to health care benefits. The commission had previously cut wages for legislators by 18 percent, stopped providing them state-owned vehicles and reduced per diem payments. The base pay for California lawmakers increased from $90,526 to $95,291, with an annual maximum per diem of $30,000 for most legislators and additional pay for leadership positions. The state does not provide pensions for elected officials. California is estimating an operating surplus of some $10 billion a year by 2017.

IN PENNSYLVANIA, LAWMAKERS RECEIVE AUTOMATIC, COST-OF-LIVING INCREASES, and this year it amounts to $210, raising legislative pay from $83,802 to $84,012. A number of legislators, however, chose to donate the increases to charities.

JERAMEY ANDERSON CELEBRATED HIS 22ND BIRTHDAY DEC. 6, THE SAME DAY HE WAS SWORN IN AS MISSISSIPPI’S YOUNGEST LEGISLATOR. He’ll have to balance his legislative responsibilities with his school work—he’s finishing up his final year at Tulane University’s Gulf Coast campus. “I’m going to do what needs to be done,” Anderson (D) said. “The people of this district come first, and I will manage the two.” Anderson, who was his high school class president for three years, says education funding is one of his top priorities. He won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Representative Billy Broomfield, who was elected in 1991 and resigned to become mayor of Moss Point.

IN 1992, MICHIGAN REDEDICATED ITS HISTORIC CAPITOL AFTER COMPLETING A $58 MILLION RESTORATION. Now the 135-year-old building, a National Historic Landmark designed by Elijah Meyers and modeled after the U.S. Capitol, is once again showing some wear and tear. A five-bill package aims to provide a steady stream of money for restoration projects and Capitol upkeep. Senate Secretary Carol Viventi and House Clerk Gary Randall support the bills, saying they’ve asked for money for about 12 years to replace the fraying chamber carpet, held together with duct tape. “I think it’s important that we do take care of this building,” said Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R), noting the bills do not call for any new taxes or fees.

SENATOR SHARON NELSON (D) IS THE NEW SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER IN WASHINGTON. She replaces Senator Ed Murray, who resigned his seat to become mayor of Seattle. Nelson was appointed to the House in 2007 and won election to the Senate in 2010. The Senate is controlled by the Majority Coalition Caucus of 24 Republicans and two Democrats.


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