Just the Facts

Five Facts on New Governors

By Emma Petasis
January 18, 2019 | Blog

These past few weeks were eventful for state politics around the country, with more than 30 governors taking office this week. Here are five facts about gubernatorial goings-on across the nation.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan highlighted bipartisanship in his inaugural address—and stoked presidential speculations.

Hogan easily won re-election to a second term in 2018 and has one of the highest approval ratings in the country. This past Wednesday, during his inauguration speech, Hogan discussed America’s “debilitating” politics. “You shouldn’t have to obsess over or argue constantly about angry and divisive politics,” Hogan said. “You should be able to have confidence in the character and competence of the people you elect to office, regardless of their party affiliation.” Hogan also stood tough on national affairs, with remarks that Politico reports implicitly challenged President Trump. Hogan, a Republican governor in a largely Democratic state, will also be in Iowa come March, fueling more speculation about a potential primary challenge to President Trump.

In Wisconsin, a U.S District judge blocked proposed restrictions to early voting, put forward in a lame duck session in late 2018.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson blocked a law signed  by former GOP Gov. Scott Walker, which would have severely restricted early voting during elections and limited counties to only one early voting location each. This comes on the tail of a controversial slate of bills Walker signed in 2018 before leaving office (Walker lost re-election to Democrat Tony Evers in 2018 elections). Walker’s laws could limit Evers’ ability to change policies surrounding health care, welfare, development, and more. The laws also seek to limit the power of the incoming Democratic attorney general. Last week, a coalition of various Democratic-leaning groups in the state filed a lawsuit to void the measures passed by Walker.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis made moves towards zero-emission transportation across the state.

Newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Friday outlining major initiatives with the objective of transitioning to zero emission vehicles: “Our goal is to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040 and embrace the green energy transition already underway economy-wide,” said Polis. The initiatives include partnering with the private sector to build charging stations along Colorado highways and providing a $5,000 tax credit for passenger electric vehicles.

Kim Reynolds was sworn in on Friday, becoming the first woman elected governor of Iowa.

Gov. Reynolds takes office alongside 45 women elected to serve in the Iowa legislature, the most ever. Reynolds previously was elevated to serve as governor in 2017 when former Gov. Terry Branstad became U.S. Ambassador to China. In her inauguration address Gov. Reynolds highlighted the need for continuing education in Iowa, discussing apprenticeships and training programs, and creating new scholarships for Iowans. She also discussed funding for bipartisan mental health legislation, and working with correctional facilities to offer felons second chances.

Newly elected Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs gun control bill into law.

Just days after being sworn in, Gov. Pritzker signed a law requiring firearms dealers in Illinois to obtain state licenses, according to CBS Chicago News. The law also requires dealers to run background checks on all employees, install surveillance equipment inside their organizations, and keep electronic records of their sales. The law additionally requires owners to train employees to recognize those attempting a straw purchase—when a customer is looking to buy for someone who cannot legally purchase a gun themselves. Lawmakers passed the gun control measure in 2018, but the bill was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

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