The last 3 days in particular have probably been the most active 3 days for merit selection in decades, with efforts to end it, adopt it, extend it, or change it advancing in 4 states.
Adopt it: Minnesota HB 1083 is a constitutional amendment and statute that goes into effect if the amendment is approved. The amendment creates a merit selection system for all judges in state and requires judges up for retention election be subject to judicial performance evaluation commission. It was approved by the Minnesota House Elections Committee Tuesday.
Change it (1): Arizona’s HB 2600 would expand from the constitutionally established minimum of 3 to a minimum of 5 the number of names a governor must receive from a judicial nominating commission in the state. The increase, previously approved by the full House, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday.
Extend it: I’ve noted in the past that Tennessee’s merit selection system is set to statutorily sunset this year, leaving no way for appellate judges to be elected. HB 835 would extend the state’s performance evaluation commission, a part of the merit selection system, until 2014. Coupled with HB 796 (previously approved by the full House in February) which extends the judicial nominating commission, merit selection would remain in place in the state until at least 2014. HB 835 was approved by the House Government Operations Committee earlier today.
End it (1): That 2014 date is important because Tennessee’s SJR 2 will be on the 2014 ballot and replace the state’s merit selection system with a quasi-federal one. SJR 2 passed the Hose with the required 2/3rds majority on Monday.
End it (2): The other legislature moving to end merit selection was Kansas. HB 2019, approved by the House Committee of the Whole Tuesday, would end merit selection for the state’s Court of Appeals only. A parallel effort to change it for the state’s Supreme Court, which would required a constitutional amendment, while obtaining the 2/3rds majority in the Senate earlier in the session does not appear to have the 2/3rds votes in the House.