Executive Branch

The two governorships up for election in the year following a presidential election are the first statewide electoral indicators of mood following a presidential election. If they draw media coverage beyond their regions, it is often for this reason. The 2017 races drew particular attention this time around because they were the first top-of-the-ballot statewide elections following the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January 2017. With no U.S. Senate candidates on the ballot in 2017, the races for governor became major measures of voter sentiment toward the president.

Neither state had an incumbent running for office. Virginia’s governors are prohibited from serving consecutive terms, and New Jersey’s governors are limited to two consecutive terms, which meant that Gov. Chris Christie (R) could not run in 2017.

Chapter 4 of The Book of the States 2018 contains the following article tables:

CSG Midwest

The race for governor in Kansas got off to an unusual start this election cycle — the announced candidacies of six teenagers, the editor of an alternative weekly newspaper in Oregon, and even a dog. The canine’s run was stopped, but at least as of early this year, nothing in the state’s Constitution or statutes prevented minors and out-of-state residents from seeking the governorship.

“If this isn’t changed, people in prison could run,” adds Kansas Rep. Blake Carpenter, noting the lack of a requirement that a gubernatorial candidate be a “qualified elector.”
Carpenter’s HB 2539, which as of late February had passed the House by a wide margin and was awaiting action in the Senate, adds the “qualifying elector” requirement for anyone running for statewide office. (His bill wouldn’t take effect until January 2019, thus not impacting the campaigns of teens or out-of-state residents running this year.)

On Friday, February 9, 2018, President Trump signed a continuing resolution, or CR, and spending deal that ended a brief government shutdown that morning. The two-year deal funds the federal government at current levels until March 23.

CSG Midwest
North Dakota legislators sued Gov. Doug Burgum in December, alleging he overstepped his line-item veto authority by deleting words or phrases in ways that changed legislative intent. The state’s Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and gave the governor’s office until Jan. 16 to file a response.
CSG Midwest
A disagreement in Minnesota over tax and budget issues this spring led to a surprising action — a line-item veto by Gov. Mark Dayton of the $130 million appropriation for the House and Senate.

It has been more than 17 years since the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or GASB, issued its landmark Statement No. 34: Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments. It’s hard to believe, but true. With the release of an invitation to comment in December 2016, GASB is again turning its attention to the government reporting model, beginning with a focus on the governmental funds. This highly anticipated reporting model project addresses several potential improvements to governmental fund reporting, and the GASB believes this project will have a significant impact on the foundation of state and local governments’ accounting and financial reporting.

State and territorial attorneys general are using antitrust and consumer protection enforcement authority to address issues in the health care marketplace, as well as warning consumers about virtual currency called Bitcoin.

Without funding or resources to update outdated voting systems and software, states and localities are struggling to understand—and implement—the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s January 2017 designation of elections as “critical infrastructure.” Many states support a push to have the Trump administration rescind the executive order. Election officials that oppose the measure are concerned about the lack of federal government parameters and the possibility it will create more problems at the polls than it solves, but national intelligence officials say it’s necessary to properly secure the process against threats—particularly foreign-government cyberattacks. No matter what happens in Washington, state policymakers are asking: How can we protect and secure our voting process for the future?

With a national anti-establishment mood and 12 gubernatorial elections—eight in states with a Democrat as sitting governor—the Republicans were optimistic that they would strengthen their hand as they headed into the November elections. Republicans already held 31 governorships to the Democrats’ 18—Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is an Independent—and with about half the gubernatorial elections considered competitive, Republicans had the potential to increase their control to 36 governors’ mansions. For their part, Democrats had a realistic chance to convert only a couple of Republican governorships to their party. Given the party’s win-loss potential, Republicans were optimistic, in a good position.

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