Catch up quick: 8 things you missed this week

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, Thursday, May 4, 2023, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As we celebrate a full year of Pluribus News, we’re reminded once again of the thesis that drives our reporting: Washington, D.C., is broken, and new public policy ideas come from the states.

Consider the events of the last few days. The U.S. House of Representatives is without a speaker and mired in gridlock, after arch conservatives aligned with Democrats to boot Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the top job just nine months into his tenure. The House won’t even try to elect a new speaker until next week.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking on the 45-day spending measure that ultimately cost McCarthy his job, and it doesn’t appear that the next speaker is going to be in any better position to negotiate with Democrats who control the Senate than McCarthy was.

On the other hand, Massachusetts lawmakers just passed a big tax cut, Ohio and Michigan legislators are working through the end of their busy sessions, and Texas is about to gavel in a new special session to deal with education and immigration issues. We’re already seeing the contours of next year’s sessions, and lawmakers are working across state and party lines to begin to address artificial intelligence legislation.

We can’t believe our luck — the states matter now more than ever. And we’re glad you’re here for the ride.

Here are eight things the states did this week that you might have missed:

SOCIAL MEDIA: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear constitutional challenges to social media anti-censorship laws passed in Florida and Texas in 2021. Justices said Friday they will consider whether restrictions on content moderation violate the First Amendment, and whether a requirement for individual explanations of content moderation decisions is constitutional. (Pluribus News)

TORT REFORM: Allies of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) are launching a digital media campaign to back his plan to limit what he calls “frivolous” lawsuits and to cap jury damages. Kemp advisers say he will play a direct role in crafting legislation to limit lawsuits. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

EDUCATION: Texas lawmakers return to Austin on Monday for a second attempt to pass a school voucher program and to provide more funding for public schools. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants to see the legislature approve education savings accounts, but his formal agenda does not include funding increases or teacher pay raises. (Texas Tribune)

IMMIGRATION: In a letter to the Biden administration, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said the influx of asylum-seekers arriving in his state is “overwhelming” the state’s ability to provide aid. Pritzker wants the White House to appoint a single person to oversee border control efforts. (Chicago Tribune)

ENVIRONMENT: Thirty-three states introduced about 200 pieces of legislation dealing with so-called “forever” PFAS chemicals this year. As of last month, 25 states have adopted 131 policies to address elements of PFAS products, banning their use in everything from indoor and outdoor furniture to cosmetics, children’s products and dental floss. (Portland Press Herald)

HEALTH CARE: The Michigan Senate has approved legislation creating a prescription drug affordability board that would eventually have the authority to cap drug prices, and to require health insurers and Medicaid to comply with payment limits. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is expected to sign the bills, which she made a priority during the fall session. (Detroit Free PressMichigan Advance)

Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against the three largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country, Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx, alleging they violated state laws against unfair competition and deceptive practices. Hawaii wants a court to order the companies to stop demanding rebates from drugmakers in exchange for ensuring drugs are covered by insurance plans. (Reuters)

ENERGY: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island officials said Wednesday they will jointly solicit bids for offshore wind projects in an effort to curb costs and promote clean energy development. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said it “opens up the potential for us to procure clean energy from offshore wind together at more competitive and affordable rates.” (Pluribus News)

POLITICS: A new Emerson College poll shows Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) leading Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) 49% to 33%. It’s the widest margin recorded by any survey so far this year. (Lexington Herald-Leader) Another poll conducted by WPA Intelligence, a Republican firm working on behalf of the Club for Growth, found Beshear leading 48% to 42%. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) leads Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) by a 51%-43% margin in a new Mason-Dixon Poll conducted for the Magnolia Tribune. Reeves leads 47%-42% among independents, and he holds a 28-point edge among men. Women favor Presley 53%-41%. (Magnolia Tribune) Reeves and Presley will debate for the first time on Nov. 1, just days before voters head to the polls. The two sides have been negotiating for weeks over potential debates. (Supertalk)

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee will add another $1 million to legislative campaigns in Virginia this year. That’s on top of the $1.5 million the Democratic National Committee has given state Democrats. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has poured more than $5 million into the GOP’s campaign to reclaim a majority in the House of Delegates. (Axios)