State of the States – Jan’22
Redistricting dominated political headlines in 2021 and it will continue to make news in 2022 as many states are still deep in the process. So far, 25 states have finished redrawing their congressional maps — most recently California, Michigan, and Virginia. For some states, the process continues to be very bumpy.
For instance, North Carolina and Ohio are encountering heated challenges as Republican enacted maps face lawsuits that allege gerrymandering. Other states have simply been unable to come to an agreement, like Connecticut and Wisconsin, which has resulted in the state supreme court taking over the redistricting process.
Turning to legislation and regulatory news, there are several new developments to take note of, such as recreational marijuana, abortion, and more. Here’s what you need to know as the new year gets underway!
Despite heated partisan fighting, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was able to come to a unanimous vote on a finalized congressional map. A judge has ruled that voters have the right to decide a referendum in November 2022 that seeks to repeal tax cuts that the state legislature approved and Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law.
On Dec. 26, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved final congressional maps. The redrawn lines are expected to yield seven to 10 competitive seats, which will cause a scramble for current House members to figure out which districts they’ll run in.
The Connecticut Reapportionment Commission has failed to meet its Dec. 21 deadline for a new congressional map. The state supreme court will appoint a special master to complete the redistricting process.
Nearly 300 laws will take effect on Jan. 1 in Illinois, which includes new ethics measures for legislators due to various scandals. The plan requires additional financial disclosures and implements the first-ever “cooling off” period before ex-legislators can begin lobbying their former colleagues.
On Dec. 28, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted 8-5 to adopt a final congressional map. The map creates six Republican-leaning seats, four Democratic-leaning seats, and three highly competitive seats.
Recreational cannabis sales will launch in Montana on Jan. 1, 2022. Voters legalized medical cannabis in 2004 and then recreational in 2020. Local governments are striving to balance the voters’ will with the regulatory framework by the state Legislature, as well as input from the industry.
Passed as part of the state budget, a new provision prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of gestation (with exceptions for the mother’s life or health). Other new laws in 2022 include drunk driving penalties, animal welfare, and sexual assault protections.
The New Jersey Redistricting Commission approved the Democratic party’s preferred new congressional map after former Supreme Court Justice John Wallace casted the tiebreaking vote to back the map. Some Republicans assert that the map is gerrymandered.
New rules governing the manufacture, sale, and transport of recreational marijuana in New Mexico are now in effect. Legislation passed earlier this year required that the rules be in place by Jan. 1, 2022. Sales are expected to start by April 1.
On Dec. 8, the state supreme court halted candidate filing and delayed the primary elections to May 17, about two months after the original date. Per the court’s order, a hearing on the state’s redrawn lines must be held on or by Jan. 11.
On Dec. 28, a congressional redistricting case was heard by the state supreme court. The National Redistricting Action Fund is challenging the congressional maps approved in November and focuses on compliance with the constitutional reforms voters approved in 2018 that revised the redistricting process.
The Vermont House of Representatives will begin debate on an amendment in early 2022 that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and send the question to voters in the midterms. Across the country, state legislatures will be responding to the possibility of drastic change to the 1973 Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States.
The state supreme court unanimously approved Virginia’s new redrawn maps on Dec. 28, ending the redistricting battle between Republicans and Democrats. The new congressional and General Assembly maps were put forth by court-appointed special masters after the bipartisan redistricting commission was unable to come to an agreement.
State of the States Summary
More and more states are finalizing and approving congressional maps, but we still have a while to go before every state reaches that goal — whether it’s because of power struggles or gerrymandering lawsuits. Between redistricting, new laws being enacted in January, and the midterms, 2022 is gearing up to be another busy legislative year.