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First Branch News | Legislative Headlines, Week of Sept. 20, 2021

By Gene Rose | Sept. 24, 2021 | State Legislatures Magazine | Print

The Arizona and Indiana House chambers both lost members this week. Florida selects its House speaker for 2022. A Georgia House member is appointed ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Legislative Operations 

Members and staff of the Massachusetts House will have to show proof of vaccination in order to enter the State House under a new rule. Maine legislators will require masks when the Legislature meets in special session next week. The governor of Alabama will call a special session of the Legislature on issues related to the state’s prison system. The Georgia General Assembly will be called into special session in November on redistricting and other matters. The Arkansas Independent Citizens Commission is recommending a 3% pay raise for state legislators in fiscal year 2022.

Legislators and Staff in the News

Arizona Representative Frank Pratt (R) died Tuesday, following a long illness, as did Indiana Representative Steve Davisson (R), who died of cancer. The next speaker of the Florida House will be Representative Paul Renner (R). Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R) announced she is cancer free following surgery in June. Georgia Representative Calvin Smyre (D) was appointed by the president to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Dominic Republic.

State legislators who announced they will not seek reelection next year include North Carolina Representative Verla Insko (D), North Carolina Senator Ben Clark (D), Indiana Representative Tony Cook (R), and a number of Texas legislators, including House GOP Chair Jim Murphy (R) and Representatives Celia Israel (D), Scott Sanford (R) and Chris Paddie (R). Washington Senator Jeannie Darneille (D) will become the assistant secretary for the Women’s Prison Division in the state Department of Corrections.

Authority of Legislatures

New Mexico legislators filed a lawsuit challenging the governor’s authority to distribute federal relief funds. In Rhode Island, the governor has called on legislative leaders to produce a plan to spend those same funds. Pennsylvania lawmakers for the first time extended an executive branch emergency order following hurricane-related damage. 

2022 Election Moves by Sitting Legislators 

Ohio Senator Matt Dolan (R) announced he will run for the U.S. Senate. Arizona Representative Aaron Lieberman (D) announced he will run for governor. California Assemblyman Marc Levine will run for state insurance commissioner next year.

In Remembrance

Former Michigan Representative Jack Minore (D) died at age 82. James Van Engleenhoven (R), who served in the Iowa House of Representatives, died at age 78.

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 necessarily reflect NCSL views.

Gene Rose is NCSL’s communications director.