Newsmakers | March-April 2019 | State Legislatures Magazine


Who's Making News Under the Domes

WOMEN ARE CONTINUING THEIR WINNING STREAK. After getting elected in record numbers to legislatures last year, women have claimed more leadership posts than ever. They now hold the presiding position in eight state Senates and six state Houses.


OHIO HOUSE MEMBERS HAVE SELECTED LARRY HOUSEHOLDER (R) AS SPEAKER AND BILL SEITZ AS MAJORITY FLOOR LEADER. House­holder, who is serving his second consecutive term, was speaker from 2001 to 2004. Seitz was first elected to the House in 2000, where he served as majority whip, assistant majority whip and chair of the Civil and Commercial Law Committee. He then served in the Ohio Senate from 2007 to 2016, before returning to the House, where he is serving his second consecutive term.


ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS NAMED REPRESENTATIVE GREG HARRIS (D) MAJORITY LEADER, making him the first openly gay lawmaker to hold such a post. House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) credits Harris with leading efforts on multiple fronts: making Illinois one of the first states to pass marriage equality, overhauling Medicaid and resolving the budget crises. Harris replaces Barbara Flynn Currie (D), who has retired after 40 years of service and who was appointed by Madigan as the state’s first female majority leader in 1997.


ALASKA REPRESENTATIVE BRYCE EDGMON WAS RE-ELECTED HOUSE SPEAKER after a month of impasse, when two Republicans broke with their colleagues to vote for Edgmon, who had changed his party affil­iation recently from Democrat to undeclared. “We can pick up where we left off,” Edgmon told the chamber, “and make up for lost time and really focus on what the responsibility is in front of us, which is a fiscally sustainable budget.”


MONTANA REPRESENTATIVE RHONDA KNUDSEN (R) WAS ELECTED TO TAKE OVER HER SON’S SEAT. Former Speaker Austin Knudsen (R) was term-limited after serving eight years. Rhonda Knudsen ran because she wants to “keep our taxes low,” she told The Courier. “I want to see the state maintain a smaller budget.”

New Mexico

“Raising the minimum wage is about reducing inequality, but it’s also about restoring the true value of work.”

—Representative Miguel P. Garcia (D) on a proposal to raise the state mini­mum wage to $10, in the Albuquerque Journal.


“Do we let people wait until hell freezes over at a light, or do we trust them?”

—Representative Ken Ivory (R) on his bill to allow cars to run red lights legally at times of extremely low traffic, in the Salt Lake Tribune.


“That’s the intention of this bill— to help people believe their vote matters.”

—Representative Emily Sirota (D) on a bill to award the state’s presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, from The Associated Press.

North Carolina

“Constituents should be the ones that pick their lawmakers, and not the other way around.”

—Representative Chuck McGrady (R) on a proposal to create an independent commission to draw electoral maps, in The News & Observer.

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