south carolina capitol building

South Carolina Senator Hugh Leatherman, the state’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, died this month at age 90. The funeral, set for today, is expected to draw hundreds.

First Branch News | Legislative Headlines, Week of Nov. 15, 2021

By Gene Rose | Nov. 19, 2021 | State Legislatures News | Print

The funeral for a legendary South Carolina legislator will be held today. Washington announces rules for its upcoming session. Several legislatures meet in special sessions on vaccines and redistricting. New leadership positions are announced in New Jersey, Oklahoma, Washington and Virginia. The Nevada House speaker gets a federal post.

Authority of State Legislatures

The New Mexico Legislature will now have a primary role in how federal pandemic relief is spent after the state Supreme Court rebuked the governor for not working with legislators on distributing the funds. South Dakota lawmakers, investigating the governor’s alleged influence in securing a real estate appraiser’s license for her daughter, subpoenaed an executive branch official. The dispute over health emergency powers between Indiana General Assembly and the governor has now reached the state Supreme Court. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers violated the state Constitution’s requirements regarding legislative bill titles.

Legislative Operations

The Washington House released its hybrid model for the upcoming legislative session. The Idaho Legislature on Wednesday completed what was described as its longest session ever. The governor is proposing a special session for the Vermont General Assembly regarding mask mandates. The Iowa General Assembly and the Wyoming Legislature ended special sessions on vaccine mandates, and the Kansas Legislature will begin one next week on that topic. The Alaska Legislature ended its fourth special session. Guns will be banned at the New Mexico Capitol. The Indiana General Assembly met on Tuesday for Organization Day.

Leadership News

New Jersey Senator Nicholas Scutari (D) is slated to become the chamber’s new president, following the election loss of Steve Sweeney. House Speaker Craig Coughlin (D) will remain in his post. Virginia House Republicans have selected Delegate Todd Gilbert (R) to be the new House speaker. Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D) and North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) announced their intentions to run again for the top jobs in their respective chambers. Nevada House Speaker Jason Frierson (D) was nominated to serve as the state’s U.S. attorney. Arizona Senate President Karen Fann (R) said she will retire from the legislature when her term ends. Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat (R) announced changes in the chamber’s GOP leadership positions. Washington Senate Republicans selected a new caucus chair, Senator Judy Warnick (R), and a new caucus vice chair, Senator Ron Muzzall (R).

Legislators and Staff in the News

The funeral for South Carolina Senator Hugh Leatherman (R) is being held today. Arizona Representative Charlene Fernandez (D) has accepted an appointment to be the U.S. Agriculture Department’s director for rural development in the state. Announcing they will not seek reelection were Texas Representative Garnet Coleman (D), North Dakota Senator Erin Oban (D), Maryland Delegate Maggie McIntosh (D), Indiana Senator Tim Lanane (D) and Arizona Representative Randall Friese (D). The Louisiana Legislature has three new members after filling vacant seats: Senator Jeremy Stine (R) and Representatives Adrian Fisher (D) and Delisha Boyd (D). Alabama Representative Patrice McClammy (D), Mississippi Senator Kelvin Butler (D), Indiana Senator Kevin Boehnlein (R) and Pennsylvania Representative Thom Welby (D) were sworn into office in their respective states this week. State representatives who are supporting Black farmers were noted this week. Illinois Representative John D’Amico resigned this week, hinting at running for another office. Texas Representative Ryan Guillen is now affiliating with the Republican Party.

Redistricting News

The North Dakota Legislature approved a new redistricting map, as did the Colorado General Assembly. The South Carolina House will start a special session on redistricting Dec. 1, and the South Carolina Senate will follow on Dec. 6. The Oklahoma Legislature convened on redistricting this week. South Dakota’s Legislature approved new legislative districts. Kentucky legislative leaders hope to wrap up redistricting soon. The Nevada House has approved a redistricting plan that now moves to the Senate. The Alabama Legislature has approved its redistricting plan. The Idaho Redistricting Commission has released its legislative map. And the Georgia General Assembly is in session to approve new maps.

2022 Election Moves by Sitting Legislators

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R) entered the race for governor. North Carolina Representatives Bobby Hanig (R), Gale Adcock (D) and Rachel Hunt (D) announced they will run for the state Senate. Three Democratic Wisconsin lawmakers are running for lieutenant governor: Senator Len Taylor and Representatives David Bowen and Sara Rodriguez. Texas Senator John Whitmire (D) says he will enter the race to become the mayor of Houston. Arizona Representative Diego Rodriguez has resigned to run for attorney general. Nebraska Senator Matt Williams will run for a spot on the state Board of Regents. Michigan Senator Tom Barrettt (R) will run for Congress. Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz (R) is running for U.S. Senate, and his colleague Senator Rick Brattin will run for Congress. Colorado Representative Kyle Mullica (D) and Texas Representative Alex Dominguez (D) announced runs for their respective state Senates. South Dakota Representative Steve Haugaard (R) will run for governor.

In Remembrance

Former congressman and Kentucky Representative Larry Hopkins died at 88.

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.


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