We’ve written before — many times — about the long fight over education vouchers in Texas, where a coalition of rural Republicans and urban Democrats in the state House have teamed up for years to block any action.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has called four special sessions to get vouchers passed. The first three failed to make any progress. But on Friday, the House took another crack at the voucher program, and this time things looked promising.
How foolish of us to expect the same process to yield a different result. The coalition held, and the House voted 84-63 to strip education savings accounts from a broader education bill, foiling Abbott’s plan once again.
In a statement, Abbott said the fight wasn’t over yet, but he didn’t commit to another special session, each of which cost taxpayers about $1 million.
One thing we’ll commit to: If Abbott does call another special session, we won’t assume his lobbying campaign has secured the votes.
Here are seven things you missed in the states this week:
HEALTH CARE: State officials expect sharp enrollment declines and increased spending on Medicaid programs. A survey of Medicaid directors finds an expected 8.6% decline in enrollment after Medicaid rolls reached record highs last year. At least 10 million people have lost Medicaid coverage since states returned to pre-pandemic eligibility rules. (Pluribus News)
The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a bill limiting out-of-pocket costs of drugs used to treat diabetes, asthma and heart conditions. The bill requires insurers to eliminate deductibles and cost-sharing requirements, and to cap co-pays on a brand-name drug at $25 for a 30-day supply. (Boston Herald)
TRUMP: Voters challenging former President Donald Trump’s eligibility on 14th Amendment grounds are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to revive their case, after a Court of Claims judge ruled Tuesday that Trump’s name can appear on the Feb. 27 Republican primary ballot. (Detroit News) A Denver court ruled Friday that Trump could stay on the ballot. (New York Times)
GUN POLITICS: Maine lawmakers have introduced seven new measures aimed at restricting gun access in the wake of the Oct. 25 mass shooting in Lewiston that left 18 people dead. Some proposals would create red flag laws, and one would allow people to sue if they are harmed at a business or facility where they are not allowed to carry firearms for their own protection. (Portland Press Herald)
IMMIGRATION: The Texas House of Representatives gave final approval to legislation making it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border illegally. The bill would allow Texas peace officers to arrest undocumented immigrants and require a state judge to order those people to leave the state in lieu of prosecution. The House also approved $1.5 billion to build more border walls. (Texas Tribune)
WORKFORCE: The Massachusetts House Labor and Workforce Development Committee will hear testimony Tuesday on legislation to give tax credits to businesses that join a pilot program testing a four-day work week. Workforce experts say the four-day work week reduces stress and burnout for employees. (CBS News)
PUBLIC SAFETY: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation appropriating $45 million for security grants to Jewish institutions and synagogues. He also signed bills providing hurricane recovery money to agriculture industries. (Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press)
POLITICS: California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D) is considering running for governor in 2026, when Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is term-limited. Atkins would face Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D), Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond (D) and former Comptroller Betty Yee (D) in the all-party primary. Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) is also considering a bid. (Associated Press)
In Virginia, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) will run for governor in 2025, she said Monday. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) is likely to join the race. On the GOP side, Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears (R) are likely to run. (Associated Press)
Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz (D) has ended her campaign for governor and will run instead for a seat in Congress, after U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D) said he wouldn’t seek a new term next year. Franz was running far behind Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) in the race to replace retiring Gov. Jay Inslee (D). (Seattle Times)
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) says he is likely to call a special session to consider new congressional district lines before the year is out. A federal judge has given lawmakers until Jan. 15 to draw a new map that creates a new majority-Black district in the state. (Baton Rouge Advocate)