Legislative Action Bulletin: April 27, 2011
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Kansas Voter ID Bill Signed
Governor Sam Brownback (R) signed HB 2067 last week, making Kansas the 28th state to require voters to show identification at the polls. The photo ID requirement takes effect on January 1, 2012, and a requirement that new registrants show proof of citizenship in 2013.
Kansas was one of 20 states considering a new voter ID requirement this year. Many observers expected Iowa to pass voter ID this year, but HF 95 failed to win Senate committee approval by last Friday’s deadline.
Thirteen of the 27 states that already have voter ID laws are considering strengthening their requirements this year. Those to keep an eye on include Montana, where a bill is on its way to the governor (although observers expect a veto) and Tennessee, where a bill is awaiting concurrence. In South Carolina and Texas bills have gone to conference committee. Disagreement in South Carolina centers on whether early voting should be included in the voter ID bill. In Texas, the House amendments made the ID requirements in the original Senate bill much stricter.
Arizona Governor Vetoes Candidate Citizenship Bill
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) last week vetoed HB 2177, which would have required candidates for President and Vice-President to document their U.S. citizenship. Similar legislation has been introduced in 17 other states.
Vermont Adopts National Popular Vote
The Vermont General Assembly last week gave final approval to S 31 and Governor Peter Schumlin (D) signed it days later, making Vermont the seventh state (plus D.C.) to join the National Popular Vote compact and bringing the total number of electoral votes in the compact to 77. The legislature passed a similar bill in 2008, only to see it vetoed by then-Governor Jim Douglas. Lawmakers have introduced National Popular Vote legislation in 35 states this year, including bills in four states to withdraw from the compact.
The governor in Montana vetoed an attempt to repeal Election Day registration, while the California Assembly approved a bill to allow new citizens to register and vote on Election Day. A bill approving electronic voter registration is awaiting gubernatorial action in Maryland, and a similar proposal is in conference committee in Hawaii.
Washington Moves to All-Mail Voting
The governor signed SB 5124, requiring all counties to conduct all elections by mail ballot. Since 2003, mail voting has been an option, and the lone holdout was Pierce County. Washington becomes the second state, after Oregon, to move to all-mail voting.
Military and Overseas Voters
The number of states with legislation to comply the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) has grown from 29 to 31 since the last issue of the LAB, and the bills continue to pass through legislatures with relative ease. Recent enactments include Arkansas, Kansas, Montana and North Dakota.
In Arizona, Maryland, Tennessee and Washington, MOVE bills are awaiting gubernatorial action. HB 1615 is pending concurrence in Oklahoma. A bill in Hawaii to change the date of the state primary to meet MOVE’s timelines has gone to conference committee. Bills that have moved to the second chamber this month include HB 176 in Alabama, AB 293 in California, HB 1219 and SB 189 in Colorado and SB 100 in Texas.
An Idaho bill allowing political parties to restrict participation in their primaries to voters registered with the party sailed through the legislature in record time. Introduced on April 6, it was signed by the governor just one week later. Bills to change primary dates have seen recent action in:
- California, moving the presidential primary from February to June, consolidating it with the state primary
- District of Columbia, moving the presidential primary from February to April
- Georgia, moving the state primary from August to July
- Georgia, moving the presidential primary from February to a date selected by the secretary of state
- Missouri, moving the presidential primary to seven days after the New Hampshire primary
- Oklahoma, moving the presidential primary from February to March (HB 1614) and the state primary from July to June (HB 1615)
- Tennessee, moving the presidential primary from February to March
- Washington, canceling the 2012 presidential primary and making the state primary two weeks earlier (on the governor’s desk)
Legislatures in all 50 states will hold regular sessions this year. So far, 14 already have adjourned. The Louisiana Legislature convened on April 25.
By the end of May, more than half of state legislatures will have concluded their 2011 regular sessions. Upcoming adjournments include:
- April 29: Indiana
- Late April/early May: Arkansas, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota
- May 6: Florida
- May 11: Colorado
View a complete 2011 session calendar on NCSL’s website.
2011 By the Numbers
|States currently in session
States adjourned for the year
States with no regular session this year
Election bills introduced
Pending in chamber of origin
Pending in second chamber
Awaiting gubernatorial action
Carried over to 2012 session
Failed to pass
For More Information
Contact NCSL's elections staff at 303-364-7700.