Pluribus AM: GOP turns screws on ESG; gun laws in OR, WA, IL; and FL, LA struggle with insurance industry

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. In today’s edition, GOP turns screws on ESG; Ore. gun measure on hold; Fla., La. struggle with insurance industry:

Top Stories

FINANCE: The investing firm Vanguard Group will pull out of the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative after Republican attorneys general in 13 states tried to block the company from purchasing public utilities over environmental, social and governance investing practices. (Philadelphia Inquirer, Reuters) The Texas Senate’s Committee on State Affairs wants BlackRock to testify about its ESG investing policies under oath. (Dallas Morning News)

ILLINOIS: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said he backs a Democratic-sponsored bill to ban assault weapons, raise the minimum age for possessing a firearm to 21 years and bar high-capacity magazines. Pritzker said he wants the legislature to approve the measure in the first half of next year. (Chicago Tribune)

OREGON: The state Supreme Court has declined to overturn a county judge’s ruling blocking Measure 114, the gun safety legislation approved by voters last month. Harney County Judge Robert Raschio will hold a hearing on the measure’s constitutionality on Dec. 13. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON: Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) will ask the legislature to pass a ban on the purchase or transfer of assault-style semiautomatic weapons. Democrats last year approved a measure prohibiting large-capacity magazines. Gun rights proponents point to protections in the state constitution that go farther than the federal Second Amendment. (Crosscut)

OHIO: The state Senate has passed a measure overhauling the Department of Education and stripping the Board of Education of most of its responsibilities. It’s not clear whether the House will make the bill a priority, though Gov. Mike DeWine (R) supports it. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Republicans moved to strip the Board of Education of its power after Democrats gained a toehold on the panel in November’s elections.

FLORIDA: Legislators moving to overhaul the state insurance system are likely to address so-called “one-way” attorney fees in next week’s special session, House Commerce Committee chairman Bob Rommel (R) said. Legislative leaders are also considering ways to bring down lawsuit costs and increase reinsurance. (Orlando Sentinel)

LOUISIANA: United Property & Casualty Insurance will not renew about 36,000 home insurance policies in Louisiana next year, the largest insurance firm to exit the state market. At least 23 insurance companies have quit Louisiana or gone under, leaving about a fifth of state homeowners without a plan. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

MISSOURI: Possession of marijuana is now legal in Missouri, after voters last month approved a constitutional amendment. Recreational sales won’t begin for months to come. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Missouri’s old 1887 law banning opium dens was the oldest in the country, according to the pro-marijuana group NORML. 

MAINE: A measure to send $450 relief checks to almost 900,000 taxpayers to help with high heating costs ran into procedural hurdles in the state Senate, where it received 21 votes — three shy of the number it needed to take effect immediately. Senate Republicans want the bill to go through committee hearings first. (Maine Public Radio, Portland Press Herald)

VIRGINIA: A commission formed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has recommended amending Virginia’s hate crime laws to clarify that they cover Jewish residents, too. The commission advised police departments to conduct “proactive policing” near sites of worship during Jewish holy days. It also urged the state to avoid doing business with anyone involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. (Virginian-Pilot)

In Politics

ARIZONA: An appeals court heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of mail-in voting. The suit, brought by the Arizona Republican Party and chair Kelly Ward, claims mail-in voting does not guarantee the state constitutional right to a secret ballot. (Arizona Capital Times)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: State Sen. Jeb Bradley (R) will be the new Senate president, taking over for ex-Sen. Chuck Morse (R), who ran for a U.S. Senate seat. Bradley had served for years as majority leader. He will be replaced by state Sen. Sharon Carson (R). (WMUR)

FLORIDA: Former Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler will run to chair the Republican Party of Florida. Leon County GOP chairman Evan Power is also running. Current chair Joe Gruters will not seek a new term. (Florida Politics)

TEXAS: State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D) will be the new chair of the House Democratic Caucus, after he beat out two rivals. Martinez Fischer replaces Rep. Chris Turner (D), the Democratic leader since 2017, who did not seek a new term. (Texas Tribune)

By The Numbers

$18.4 billion: The size of the 2023-2025 budget proposed by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), the largest in state history. The state will take in $6 billion in oil and gas taxes, also a record high. (Fargo Forum)

60%: The share of Massachusetts judges appointed to their posts by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who is preparing to leave office after two terms. (Boston Globe)

$200,000: The amount three Roman Catholic diocese paid lobbyists in Maryland to advocate against allowing survivors of sexual abuse from filing lawsuits against the church. (Baltimore Sun)

Off The Wall

Pennsylvania House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (D) held an unannounced ceremony in which a Delaware County judge administered the oath of office, in what Republicans call an “illegitimate power grab.” McClinton has declared herself the presiding officer — even though Republicans hold more seats than Democrats. Democrats won a 102-101 majority, but one member died before Election Day and two more are resigning to take other offices they won last month. (PennLive) Early contender for craziest story of the year, right here.

Florida state Rep. Joe Harding (R) has been indicted on charges that he illegally obtained $150,000 in pandemic-era small business loans using the names of two companies that no longer do business. Harding said in a statement he had fully repaid the loans. (Tampa Bay Times)

A hunting tag sale put on by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game suffered system crashes brought on by high demand — a debacle that at least one hunter compared to TicketMaster’s recent screwups. “It’s like Taylor Swift for hunters because the system crashed,” said George Culpepper, who found himself 15,000th in line when the system opened. (Idaho Statesman)

Quote of the Day

“You won’t get it for Christmas, but hopefully a New Year’s wish.”

North Carolina state Sen. Jim Burgin (R), on his plans to pass Medicaid expansion after years of debate. (Raleigh News & Observer)