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BPAA State Policy Update - November 28, 2020

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COVID-19 Updates and Tracking


Political Update

  • In The States: The AP has called enough individual races in the Arizona state House for the GOP to hold its majority. The AP previously called the New Hampshire state Senate as a GOP flip, while Republicans held majorities in the Arizona state Senate, North Carolina state House and state Senate, Pennsylvania state House and Senate, Michigan state House, Iowa state House, and Minnesota state Senate.
  • MN: Longtime State Senators Publicly Break With DFL, Citing Polarization in the Party Longtime” state Sens. Tom Bakk (D) and David Tomassoni (D), both from the Iron Range in the rural northern part of the state, “severed ties with their party on Wednesday, forming an independent caucus and altering the dynamics in a narrowly divided Minnesota Senate.” Bakk and Tomassoni “cited growing political polarization and an opportunity to chair committees and better serve their districts within the legislative framework as reasons for the split.” Read more at National Journal.
  • Republican Kirk Cox begins bid for Virginia governor's seat Kirk Cox, a Republican state delegate who represents the 66th district, announced that he would be running for Virginia governor in 2021. Cox is a former Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. According to his campaign website, the retired teacher was first elected in 1989. The 66th District includes part of Chesterfield County and the City of Colonial Heights. Read more here.


  • 26 Pa. House Republicans call for withdrawing certification of presidential electors Declaring the results of statewide electoral contests in the 2020 general election to be in dispute, a group of Pennsylvania House Republican lawmakers has announced its intention to introduce a resolution calling for Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to withdraw their certification of the Nov. 3 election results in the presidential and other statewide contests.
    • Citing what they described as election law compromises, irregularities and improprieties associated with mail-in balloting, pre-canvassing, and canvassing, the 26 lawmakers stated in a news release issued late Friday afternoon the issues raised about the election have “undermined our elector process and as a result we cannot accept certification of the results in statewide races.”
    • The proposed resolution, if it gets introduced, has only a short life since the legislative session ends on Monday. All pending bills and resolutions will die at its conclusion.
    • A spokesman for House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Lancaster County Republican, said Mr. Cutler was not involved in writing the resolution. Mr. Cutler also has not scheduled any session days to consider it before the session’s end. Read more at the Post-Gazette.
  • Trump will campaign for Georgia GOP Senate candidates, urges supporters not to boycott runoff elections President Donald Trump, who has blamed his loss to President-elect Joe Biden on false claims that the U.S. voting system was “rigged,” urged his supporters on Friday not to boycott two all-important Georgia runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate. With Democrats poised to take the White House and hold on to their House majority, the Senate has become the last bastion for Republicans to keep a check on the power of the lower chamber and the executive branch. But the GOP’s hold on the Senate depends on winning at least one of Georgia’s two runoffs. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face competitive challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively. Georgia election rules called for runoff races when no candidate exceeded 50% of voter share in either race during the Nov. 3 general election. Read more at CNBC
    • Georgia election officials are also extending the use of secure ballot drop boxes for use in the state’s twin Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, where the Republican majority in the Senate is at stake.
  • State Senate committee to hold election hearing as Trump campaign touts 'review': A Michigan Senate committee will meet next week to discuss vote counting in Detroit, an announcement that comes one day after a news release from the campaign of President Donald Trump touted legislative hearings examining election results in several states across the country.  Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for  state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said Wednesday afternoon the hearing was previously planned and "is not at all related to Trump." Read more here.
  • Rationales shift as Nevada considers future of vote by-mail Nevada’s decision to send all active voters mail-in ballots ahead of the election put the swing state at the center of the nationwide debate over voting procedures. Nevada Republicans, the Trump campaign and candidates for lower office have challenged the move post-election in multiple lawsuits, alleging problems with signature verification machines, dead people on voter rolls, and, without evidence, widespread fraud. Though Nevada’s vote by mail policy has been a flashpoint in 2020, its effects ended up being different from the expectations of proponents and detractors when the policy was under consideration. Read more at AP.


COVID-19 Update

  • Midwestern Governors Seek More Federal Covid-19 Aid for Businesses A growing number of governors are calling for another round of coronavirus-relief legislation from Washington, saying they are unable to provide additional funds to small businesses amid budget shortfalls. The issue is gaining urgency as money from federal relief passed earlier this year runs out ahead of a year-end deadline to spend it. States have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid into everything from personal-protective equipment and hazard pay for front-line health-care workers to schools and food banks. Businesses, which generally got a smaller slice of the aid than programs directly tied to the public-health emergency, are in a particularly precarious spot. In addition, federal loans to businesses during the shutdown earlier this year—known as the Paycheck Protection Program—have since run out. Read more at the WSJ.


  • State's gym owners, bowling alley operators seek exemption from COVID-19 closure order Operators of Washington state's fitness centers and bowling alley operators have received a powerful new ally in their efforts to have Gov. Jay Inslee remove them from the list of current businesses that have been ordered to shut down as the state tries to reverse a rising surge in COVID-19 cases. Republican lawmakers are siding with the businesses in their attempts to reopen immediately. Read more here.
  • Illinois COVID-19 restrictions: Bowling alleys, indoor recreation, face second full shutdown New statewide COVID-19 mitigation starts Friday, and will shutter indoor dining in restaurants, cut capacity in retail stores, and shut down indoor recreational activities including bowling. Owners tell ABC 7 they don't know how long they'll be able to survive. "My grandfather and his brother built Waveland Bowl in 1959, so I'm third generation. My kids both work here. It's all I've done my entire life," said Waveland Bowl President Gary HandleThe lanes, the pins, to Handler, they're home. "In my 40 years, I've been through a lot of catastrophes and recessions but nothing has ever compared in any way or form to this," Handler said.  Read more here.
  • Minnesota bars, restaurants to move to take-out only, gyms to close under new COVID-19 restrictions Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce that Minnesota bars, breweries and restaurants will be restricted to take-out and delivery only, while all indoor fitness centers will be ordered to close under a new round of coronavirus restrictions as the virus continues its rapid spread throughout the state. According to a source in the governor's office, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues are also set to close. Read more here.


  • California governor imposes new restrictions in pandemic California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was pulling the “emergency brake” Monday on reopening the state's economy as coronavirus cases surge at the fastest rate since the start of the outbreak. “We are sounding the alarm,” Newsom said. “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet — faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic or even this summer. The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes." Read more at ABC News.
    • Thanksgiving 2020: What’s open and closed in L.A.: Under L.A. County’s restrictions, these options (mostly indoors) are off the table: restaurant dining rooms and patios (take-out is OK), arcades, bowling alleys, movie theaters, bars and distilleries (except for retail sales), nightclubs, live performance theaters and concert venues, museum, gallery and aquarium interiors, indoor places of worship, stadiums and arenas, theme/amusement/water parks and basketball and volleyball courts. Read more here


Tax Policy Update

  • New York Democrats Claim Supermajority in State Senate; First Priorities: The Senate majority’s first priority would be the state budget situation and getting the coronavirus under control, Stewart-Cousins said. The state is facing a $14.9 billion budget gap for the current fiscal year and about $16 billion for fiscal 2022, which begins April 1, according to the state budget office.
    • Lawmakers will look at all potential revenue raisers, for example legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana and allowing statewide mobile sports betting, Stewart-Cousins said. “Everything is on the table for us.”
    • Raising taxes on the ultrawealthy—something Cuomo opposes—is also at the top of the to-do list, Gianaris has said.
  • Seattle ‘Amazon Tax’ Eyed by Lawmakers as Statewide Template Washington’s State’s majority Democratic lawmakers are turning their attention to Seattle’s “Amazon Tax” as a template to address a projected $3.6 billion revenue shortfall and a plethora of pandemic-related and social service needs. Like the Seattle tax, a statewide bill would tax business payroll expenses on cumulative salaries over a minimum compensation threshold, likely around $150,000, at rates that could range from .1% to .25%. Businesses, including Amazon, see support for a statewide payroll tax bill as a way to kill Seattle’s tax and eliminate the possibility of such taxes proliferating around the state by inserting a clause in the bill preempting local ordinances. Read more here.
  • Will Mississippi Be the Next State to Phase Out its Income Tax? Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R), in his budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2022, has announced his goal of phasing out the state’s income tax by 2030. Mississippi’s income tax currently has three marginal rates of 3 percent, 4 percent, and 5 percent. The corporate rates and brackets match the individual rates and brackets, and the brackets contain a marriage penalty because the rates kick in at the same marginal income levels regardless of filing status. Read more here at Tax Foundation.
  • Pressure Rises for California Wealth Tax Plan to Return in 2021 Proposals to raise taxes on wealthy Californians are likely to resurface in 2021 now that voters rejected a property tax increase that would have raised as much as $11.5 billion a year.
    • The failure of Proposition 15 on the Nov. 3 statewide ballot erased the possible influx of property tax revenue that would have funded local governments and schools and taken pressure off lawmakers to increase taxes in other ways. The proposition, backed by labor unions, would have ended a 42-year-old cap on property tax rates by assessing commercial property at current market value each year. It would have preserved a cap on residential property tax at 1% of the purchase price.
    • Lawmakers, who this year floated unsuccessful measures to increase income tax rates on Californians who earn more than $1 million a year and impose a new tax of 0.4% on net worth over $30 million for joint tax filers, are poised to try again with those or other tax bills in next year’s session.
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