The RP’s Weekly Web Gems – The Politics of the States

After nearly a month of power plays, peace may finally be coming to the University of Virginia’s administration.

In Virginia, the never-ending UVA power struggle may finally have come to an end. Governor Bob McDonnell has reconfirmed Helen Dragas as Rector of the University’s Board of Visitors (what most schools would call chair of the board of directors) and appointed several new members to that board. What began as an internal academic dispute when the Board effectively forced president Teresa Sullivan to resign on June 10 morphed into a statewide political matter; outcry against Sullivan’s ouster was fierce, and McDonnell had threatened to remove the entire board if they couldn’t reach a consensus regarding her status at a June 26 meeting where her resignation was unanimously reversed. The governor’s most recent move has been met with praise, even from those organizations that had called for Dragas’s resignation, namely the UVA Faculty Senate. [C-Ville]

Congress isn’t the only do-nothing legislature in the country these days. According to analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group (which, incidentally, used to employ President Obama), the the New York State Senate and Assembly have sent a total of 571 pieces of legislation to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk, the lowest number since at least 1995. The current governor has been given an average of 625 bills a year to consider signing, the lowest of any governor NYPIRG has studied. This number is the most recent data point in a decline since the governorship of — drumroll please — Nelson Rockefeller, who was in office from 1959 to 1973. Every New York Governor since Cuomo’s father in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s has averaged under 1,000 bills a year. Before Mario Cuomo, the last governor with that average was Al Smith. Who left office in 1928. [Albany Times Union]

If you guessed Colorado for “the next state to have a hyper-important vote controlled by out-of-state funding,” please come forward to collect your winnings. On November 6, Coloradans will vote on Amendment 64, which will decriminalize marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and is colloquially known as “The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.” Five groups supporting the Amendment have received around $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions, according to the Colorado Secretary of State. $16,500 has come from people and organizations with Colorado addresses. Anti-64 enthusiasm has been much more muted so far, but Smart Colorado, a pro-prohibition group supported by former US Senate candidate, has received $10,000 of its $15,000 in funding from a Florida-based group called Save Our Society from Drugs. [Denver Post]

Eyes are on Sacramento today as the California State Legislature scrambles to put together some form of pension reform and reduction before summer recess begins on Friday. Legislature Democrats are unwilling to back Governor Jerry Brown’s proposals, believing them to be too steep, and are working on their own plans. That said, it is unclear what they will produce and a legislative deal does not appear imminent. [Sacramento Bee]


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