higher education schools reopening covid

Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) resigned his seat and is expected to announce a run for the governor’s office.

First Branch News | Legislative Headlines, Week of Aug. 30, 2021

By Gene Rose | Sept. 3, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

The Minnesota Senate majority leader resigns his seat with an eye on the future, while a colleague in the House has a tragic hand accident. The Missouri House speaker pro tem makes a calculated election move. And several key staff moves are announced.


Legislative Operations

The Texas Legislature ended its special session debate on voting regulations. The New York Legislature convened in a special session this week to address eviction moratoriums. Judges rule that the Wisconsin Legislature can intervene in certain redistricting cases. Three California legislators have reportedly contracted COVID-19. Workers at the Alabama Statehouse were without power for a couple of hours this week.

Legislators and Staff in the News


Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) resigned his seat and is expected to announce a run for the governor’s office. Vanessa Hawker has been named the new Legislative Education Study Committee director in New Mexico. Massachusetts Senator Joe Boncore (D) is leaving the legislature to lead the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.


Maryland Delegate Ronald Watson (D) was appointed by the governor to a state Senate seat vacated when Douglas J.J. Peters was appointed to the state’s board of regents. Minnesota Representative Erin Koegel (DFL) lost fingers in a power saw accident recently. Indiana Senator Dennis Kruse (R) announced he will not run for reelection. Nellie Davis is replacing James Lucero as the chief of staff for Colorado Senate Democrats. Joshua Elliott, deputy chief of staff for the New Hampshire Senate, has been nominated by the governor to lead policy and programs at the new state Department of Energy.


2022 Election Moves by Sitting Legislators

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D) announced she is running for governor. Georgia Senator Burt Jones (R) is running for lieutenant governor. Florida Representative Clay Yarborough (R) is seeking a state Senate seat. Florida Representative Chris Latvala (R) will not run for reelection and instead seek a spot on his county’s commission. Axios looked at potential matchups for state legislative races in Minnesota. Missouri Senators Eric Burlison (R) and Mike Moon (R) are considering runs for Congress. Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann (R) is running for the state Senate. Connecticut Representative Hilda Santiago (D) is considering a run for secretary of state. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R) and Senator Michelle Benson (R) appear to be running for governor.


In Remembrance

Babette Josephs, a former Pennsylvania state representative, died of cancer this week. Former Ohio Representative Doug Green died after complications from COVID-19. Former New Jersey legislator Leonard Lance died this week. And Charles Ford, who served in the Oklahoma Senate for 38 years, died at age 90.


Other News

A member of a County Superior Court in New Hampshire recently wrote a three-minute civics lesson on representative versus direct democracy.

This Week From NCSL’s State Legislatures News

First Branch News is NCSL’s weekly roundup of legislative headlines from news sources across the country and throughout the territories. Articles and social media posts from news sources curated in First Branch News are provided for information purposes only and do not reflect NCSL views. 

Gene Rose is NCSL’s communications director.

Additional Resources