Catch up quick: 7 things you might have missed this week

How has Daniel Cameron managed to win over both Trump and McConnell?
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, Pool)

The Republican race to challenge Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) kicked into a new gear this week with a poll, campaign finance reports and another debate between the leading contenders — though the actual leading contender, Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), didn’t show up.

Those three events gave us a chance to pause and consider one of those nerdy political questions that keep us up at night: How did Cameron manage to score endorsements from both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Donald Trump, given their mutual animosity for each other?

The first half of that question is easy: Cameron is a McConnell protege. In fact, as one of us reported a few years ago, Cameron was a McConnell Scholar at the University of Louisville, a competitive academic prize that brought him to the senator’s attention — and eventually into McConnell’s office on Capitol Hill.

The second half might not be all that more complicated. Those keeping close tabs on the race, in Washington and Kentucky, are quick to remind us that Trump covets his win-loss record in Republican primaries. Cameron has led every poll in the race — including a survey released over the weekend that shows him ahead of former Ambassador Kelly Craft (R) by a 30% to 24% margin, with Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R) trailing at 15%.

There’s still plenty of time left before the May 16 primary, and Craft is airing many more ads than Cameron. But for now, Cameron’s lead in the polls trumps, no pun intended, any animosity with the former president over Cameron’s long relationship with McConnell.

Here are seven important things legislatures did this week that you might have missed:

EDUCATION: Republicans in at least 12 states have introduced 30 bills targeting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in higher education. (Associated Press)

Iowa House and Senate Republicans reached a deal on legislation limiting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools, and to remove books that include sex acts. (Des Moines Register) The Florida Board of Education expanded the state ban on instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity through high school. (Associated Press)

The Texas Senate passed legislation requiring public schools to prominently display the Ten Commandments in every classroom, and to end tenure at public universities. (Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune)

ABORTION: The North Dakota House has approved legislation making performing an abortion a class C felony, with limited exceptions for rape and incest. (ABC News) Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill expanding tax credits for crisis pregnancy resource centers. (Magnolia Tribune) North Carolina Speaker Tim Moore (R) says a consensus is emerging around a 12-week abortion ban, rather than a stricter 6-week ban. (Associated Press)

Democratic governors in Maryland and Oregon ordered their states to stockpile the abortion drug mifepristone as the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a lower court judge’s decision to invalidate the FDA’s 20-year old approval of the medication. (Baltimore Sun, Oregonian)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Washington lawmakers approved a bill easing restrictions on law enforcement vehicle pursuits, rolling back part of a criminal justice reform package passed two years ago. (Crosscut) A Louisiana Senate committee advanced a bill hiking maximum jail terms for those convicted of running fentanyl labs. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation allowing for death sentences in cases where just eight of 12 jurors recommend capital punishment. Only Alabama allows the death penalty in cases of a non-unanimous jury. (Miami Herald) Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed legislation formally repealing the death penalty. (Spokane Spokesman Review)

RAIL SAFETY: Lawmakers in at least 14 states have introduced bills to increase rail safety in the months after a fiery derailment of a chemical-laden freight train in East Palestine, Ohio. Bills have already passed in Ohio and Utah. (Pluribus News) The Michigan Senate spent time this week considering four bills to increase safety, including limiting the length of freight trains and increasing the number of staffers on each train. (MLive)

VOTING RIGHTS: The Texas Senate has approved a bill that would remove voters from the rolls if they fail to vote in the period between two consecutive federal elections. (Dallas Morning News)

The Ohio Senate approved a bill that will ask voters to amend the state constitution to raise the threshold for future constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60%. The election, to be held in August, would preempt a November amendment meant to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. (Columbus Dispatch)

NEW YORK: A budget deal has eluded lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) for a third week. The two sides appear to have reached a deal on bail reform, one of the biggest sticking points, by removing a requirement that judges impose the “least restrictive means” when determining bail. (City & State) It looks like Hochul’s push for the authority to override local zoning laws is going to be a casualty of the ongoing talks as lawmakers punt negotiations into next week. (City & State)

DEMOGRAPHICS: For the first time, a majority of Millennials own their own homes, rather than rent. Home ownership among Millennials is up 64% in the last five years. (Nevada Independent)

The number of deaths by suicide increased by 33% between 2001 and 2021, according to new federal data. Men are more likely than women to die by suicide, while Alaska Natives and Native Americans are by far the ethnic group at the highest risk. Thirteen states have approved money for 988 suicide and crisis hotlines since last year. (Pluribus News)

FUN FACT: New York and New Jersey have squared off at the U.S. Supreme Court half a dozen times over the last two centuries — and New Jersey has won every time. The latest came this week when the Supreme Court ruled New Jersey can exit the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. (New Jersey Globe)