by Karl Kurtz
With only Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin legislatures still in regular session according to State Net (and several of these are in recess or not actively meeting), it's the season for special legislative sessions.
I liked this photo of Nebraska index clerk Carol Koranda and journal clerk Vicki Buck checking to see that all of the members' voting buttons in the chamber of the Unicameral work in preparation for the special session that convenes today on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.
The story about the issue is good, too, as it outlines differing legal arguments as to whether the state has the power to regulate the siting of the pipeline or whether this is completely under the control of the federal government in regulating interstate commerce. Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman called the special session out of concern that the proposed pipeline route crosses Nebraska's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region and the important Ogallala Aquifer that provides water to much of the plains states. The governor, however, did not propose a solution, leaving the issue to the legislature to resolve.
The decennial redistricting process has caused more special sessions than normal this year because many states did not have time to complete congressional or legislative redistricting during their regular sessions but want to have new districts in place before next year's sessions. North Dakota, which does not have a regular session in 2012, is scheduled to go into special session next week to enact new legislative districts.
An unusual version of a redistricting special session may come as early as today in Arizona, where a joint legislative committee last week issued an opinion saying that the process used by an independent redistricting commission to draw legislative and congressional districts "...is so fundamentally flawed that the resulting maps have been unconstitutionally created and the only remedy is to start the process over." (Arizona Republic) This opinion was issued by the Republican majority members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting. Democrats boycotted the meeting at which the opinion was issued.
It was expected that Gov. Jan Brewer would call an unprecedented special session of the Legislature this afternoon to begin proceedings to remove some of the members of the independent commission. 11/2 update: The Arizona Legislature did convene yesterday, and the Senate impeached the chair of the independent redistricting commission on a vote of 21-6.
Minnesota (new stadium for the Vikings), West Virginia (certifying election results) and Washington (budget issues) are also scheduled to go into special sessions on specific issues in November.
Photo credit: JournalStar.com