By Jim Collura, NEFI Vice President & Director of Government Affairs
Record voter turnouts were recorded across the country on November 6, 2018 as Americans came out like never before to participate in a mid-term election. While many election forecasters correctly predicted a “Blue Wave” of Democratic incumbents and candidates would take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as numerous state governments, this wave was partially stemmed by Republican gains in the Senate and deeper entrenchment in the state legislatures of formerly “Purple” Midwest states such as Ohio. Below is a wrap-up summarizing key results of the 2018 mid-term election along with possible implications for the deliverable fuels industry.
The Northeast has become a deeper shade of blue. Democrats flipped the Republican governorship, the State Senate in Maine and the State House in New Hampshire. They were unsuccessful, however, in unseating Republican governors in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Still, Democrats gained seats in almost all state legislatures, including chambers where they remain in the minority, such as the Pennsylvania House and Senate. In the Northeast, Democrats now hold the governorship and both legislative chambers (complete control of government) in Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Divided governments remain in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Vermont.
The preceding list outlines party-control for governors and state legislatures in the Northeast. For the state legislatures, total seats with projected net gains (or losses) are provided, followed by total seats in the chamber.
U.S. House of Representatives
Democrats won the majority with a net gain of at least 32 seats for a total of 227, or a 10-seat majority. As of press time, another nine races remain undecided, including several in the Northeast. Democrat Andy Kim leads incumbent Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur 49.9-48.8% in NJ-03; and Democrat Anthony Brindisi leads Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney 50.3-49.7% in NY-22. An instant “second choice” run-off will ultimately decide the race between incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democrat Jared Golden in ME-02. In the end, Democrats are expected to pick up between three and five additional seats.
The Democratic victory in the House will shift power and influence away from “red” districts in the South and Midwest to the “blue” East and West Coasts. Several Northeast members will be elevated to chairmanships of Committees and Subcommittees. Congressman Richie Neal of Massachusetts, for example, is likely to be Chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey is also in line to chair the House Energy & Commerce Committee.
Republicans retained control of the chamber with at least 51 seats, equal to its current majority. They were able to flip Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri but lost Nevada and Arizona. As this publication went to print, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith was almost certain to win a November 27 runoff election required for the Senate race in Mississippi. Likewise, a contentious recount was ongoing in Florida, where Republican Rick Scott is favored over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Considering this, Republicans are likely to start the next Congress with a net gain of two seats. The filibuster is still in place for legislation, which will require 60 votes for passage. Despite the larger majority, Republicans will still require Democratic votes to pass most legislation. Executive and judicial nominations will require a simple majority, however, and will be easier to pass.
Impact on Industry Issues
In the states, Democrats are likely to use their new (or larger) majorities to advance a bold progressive agenda. This may include carbon tax proposals, electrification initiatives, gasoline and diesel fuel tax increases, targeted truck tolling, marijuana legalization, mandatory leave, and minimum wage increases. NEFI remains committed to working with state and local industry associations as they fight back against policies that aim to make your business and the broader industry less competitive.
The new 116th Congress is likely to take up several issues important to the home heating industry. This includes a rewrite of the Renewable Fuel Standard and other federal biofuels policies, as well as a highway infrastructure bill that could increase motor fuel excise taxes and other costs on fuel delivery businesses. Other legislative issues that could find bipartisan agreement include workforce development and apprenticeship programs, immigration reform, changes to Obamacare and other healthcare laws, and targeted energy and highway safety legislation. Of course, NEFI will continue to push hard for reauthorization of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and an extension of the biodiesel and propane autogas tax credits, all of which are top priorities for the home heating industry.
NEFI will vigorously engage these issues on your behalf, but we need your help! Our success is only possible thanks to generous contributions to our advocacy fund. If your business has not yet contributed, there is still time! Visit nefi.com/donate to donate online, download a contribution form, or view a list of current donors.