STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE | february 2014
NEW JERSEY ASSEMBLYMAN VINCENT PRIETO (D), a construction code official in Secaucus, has been elected speaker. Prieto was born in Cuba, came to the United States when he was 10, and is the second Cuban-American to serve as New Jersey speaker. U.S. Representative Albio Sires (D) held the position from 2002 to 2005. Prieto said he plans to focus on lowering property taxes. He replaces Sheila Oliver, who did not run for a third term as speaker.
KEN GORDON, A FORMER COLORADO MAJORITY LEADER WHO URGED FELLOW DEMOCRATS to support bipartisan agreements in education, health care and transportation, died Dec. 22 at 63. “Ken was willing to set aside partisanship to do what was best for Colorado,” former Colorado Governor Bill Owens, a Republican, told the Denver Post. Gordon was a lawyer who took pride in representing low-income residents and minorities. As a representative, then a senator, Gordon helped draw attention to causes he felt were overlooked, often doing so with flair. In 2005 he led a 350-mile march across the state to help tout a ballot initiative that won voter approval and boosted state funding for education.
HAWAII SENATE PRESIDENT DONNA MERCADO KIM (D), a veteran oF 31 Years oF pUblIc servIce, including tenure in both houses of Hawaii’s Legislature, is running for Congress. “Fundraising will begin vigorously for the federal race, and I’m looking to raise $1 million, if not more,” says Kim, one of at least five candidates running for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
TEXAS SENATOR LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE (D) Made the much-antIcIpated declaratIon that she is running for lieutenant governor. Van de Putte said transportation, health care and education need critical attention in Texas. Should Van de Putte win the nomination, she would join presumptive gubernatorial nominee Senator Wendy Davis, who is at the top of the ticket.
THE ALASKA ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS THROWN OUT AN EFFORT TO RECALL REPRESENTATIVE LINDSEY HOLMES (R), who angered some Democrats when she switched parties last year. Holmes won re-election to her Anchorage House seat as a Democrat in 2012 but announced she was changing her party affiliation to Republican before the start of the last legislative session. The recall group has said it plans to appeal.
ALABAMA HOUSE SPEAKER MIKE HUBBARD (R) AND SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM DEL MARSH (R) HAVE UNVEILED A “REPFINDER” APP to help voters identify their House and Senate members under newly redrawn legislative districts. Mobile phone users can look up legislators using an address or their current location and get their contact information. Hubbard said the RepFinder app is the first of its kind to allow voters to identify their legislative representation under the recently drawn 2014 legislative districts.
A CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMAN IS INVITING CONSTITUENTS TO DRAFT WHAT WILL become the first piece of crowdsourced legislation in the country. Mike Gatto (D) has created a website, mikegatto.wikispaces.com, for what he calls his wiki-bill on probate. “Government has a responsibility to listen to the people and to enable everyone to be an active part of the legislative process,” Gatto wrote on his homepage. “Just like a Wikipedia entry, you can see what the current draft is, and propose minor or major edits. The marketplace of ideas will decide the final draft.” Gatto says the probate process should be made less cumbersome.
ARIZONA’S MINORITY SENATE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS OVERTURNED ITS LEADERSHIP IN A SURPRISE MOVE. Senator Leah Landrum Taylor, who is running for secretary of state, was replaced by Senator Anna Tovar as minority leader. Landrum Taylor lashed out at her fellow Democrats. “They said I could not possibly run for state office and serve as the leader in the Legislature,” she told the Arizona Republic, adding that in the past, men have done just that numerous times. “It’s disgusting and degrading.”
MASSACHUSETTS DEMOCRATIC SENATOR KAREN SPILKA’S WORK to overhaul her state’s Child in Need of Services system and other juvenile justice reform issues has earned her recognition as a Champion of Change by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.“Senator Spilka’s extraordinary leadership on a broad array of progressive juvenile justice reforms in Massachusetts has resulted in demonstrable and meaningful impact on the lives of children and families across the Commonwealth,” several organizations and individuals wrote in their nomination of Spilka.