V. Legislative Updates
Federal Legislation: The $1.1 trillion spending bill set to be approved by Congress this week includes $9.6 million for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. An earlier version of the omnibus spending bill had only included $4.8 million, but the final version fully funds the commission.
Maine: The Legislative Council will decide if a proposal designed to ensure that video recording at polling places doesn’t intimidate voters moves forward for consideration.
Maryland: The state’s top Democrats are considering introducing legislation that would automatically register every eligible voter in the state. According to The Baltimore Sun, the proposal could go further than Oregon and California by culling information from several government databases to create a list of people who are eligible to vote and signing them up they aren’t already registered. They would be given the option to opt out.
Also in Maryland, advocates in Montgomery County are pushing for state approval of a plan that would allow noncitizens to vote in county school board elections. The plan requires General Assembly approval and a statewide referendum vote.
And in Montgomery County, Maryland lawmakers are looking at introducing ranked choice voting for certain countywide elections.
Michigan: In the final hours of the 2015 session, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 13 that eliminates straight-ticket voting. Before the final vote on SB 13, a tie-bar was removed on no-excuse absentee voting legislation. The no-excuse legislation was not approved.
Missouri: Rep. Randy D. Dunn (D-Kansas City) has pre-filed legislation that would require the secretary of state’s office to create a system to automatically register people to vote based on driver’s license information.
Utah: The Iron County commission tabled a vote on moving the county to all vote-by-mail. According to the St. George News, Commissioners Dave Miller and Dale Brinkerhoff both said they felt uneasy about the process for vetting ballots and wanted to take time to make their decision.
Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker has signed legislation that will scrap the state’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board. According to Wisconsin Public Radio the GAB released a statement detailing some of the transition to the new board. "There are still many questions about how the transition will happen, which we hope to answer in coming weeks," GAB Director Kevin Kennedy said.