Catch up quick: 6 stories you might have missed this week

It’s busy season in legislatures. Here’s what you might have missed this week.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul addresses the media during a press conference in response to the Signature Bank’s closure in New York, Monday, March. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Every year, the lives of state legislative sessions follow specific rhythms: January is full of ambition and optimism as most states convene. February is a grueling work period where we see the beginning contours of major themes for the year. March is when some sessions begin to come to an end, and others — like in Florida and Texas — kick off in earnest, while in the background big blue states like California and New York work on their budgets.

March is also when the pace of news starts to go from busy to insane — even for us, and it’s our job to keep track of all these things. As we compiled our morning newsletter this week, our internal Slack channel lit up more than a few times with observations about the firehose of news headed at us.

So here are six things that happened this week that you might have, understandably, missed:

GUN POLITICS: Colorado lawmakers have sent Gov. Jared Polis (D) bills expanding the state’s red flag law and allowing citizens to file lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers. (Denver Post, Colorado Sun) North Carolina’s legislature voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of legislation that would allow someone to purchase a handgun without obtaining a permit from a local sheriff. (Carolina Journal) 

Florida lawmakers approved a bill allowing residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has said he will sign it. (Orlando Sentinel) DeSantis, visiting Georgia on his book tour, also said he would call lawmakers back into special session to pass an open carry law if he could find the votes. (Florida Politics)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Bills banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors won final approval this week in Montana, Indiana, Idaho, West Virginia and Kentucky. (Montana Free Press, Indianapolis Star, Idaho Capital Sun, Associated Press, Lexington Herald Leader) South Carolina and Texas are moving their own gender-affirming care bans. (Associated Press, Texas Tribune)

The Texas Senate has advanced measures restricting drag performances, banning transgender athletes from women’s sports and barring minors from updating the gender identity on their birth certificates. (KXAN, Texas Tribune, Texas Tribune)

HEALTH CARE: In North Carolina, Cooper signed legislation expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act after bipartisan votes in the House and Senate. The expansion will cover about 600,000 people. (Pluribus News) Idaho lawmakers approved a measure banning anyone from transporting a minor across state lines to receive abortion services. (Pluribus News)

FLORIDA: Tallahassee has been an absolute hive of activity this week. DeSantis signed tort reform legislation limiting a plaintiff’s ability to recoup attorney fees in insurance cases. (Orlando Sentinel) He signed a major expansion of education savings account programs that will now offer every student up to $8,000 for private school tuition. (Pluribus News)

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill creating a new state agency with the authority to oversee oil company profits, a compromise he and legislative leaders spent months hashing out. (Pluribus News) 

Newsom launched a new political committee, seeded with $10 million, aimed at boosting Democratic candidates in red states. He’ll travel to Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi to fundraise for local Democrats next week. (Los Angeles Times)

NEW YORK: Budget negotiations between Democrats in the legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) are going … poorly. No one in Albany was particularly shocked when the three sides — Hochul, the Assembly and the Senate — missed a Friday deadline to complete work on the budget. The sides are far apart on Hochul’s housing proposals and a disagreement over how to amend bail reform. (City & State)

COMING NEXT WEEK: Two critical elections take place next week in Wisconsin, the most closely divided Midwestern state. 

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz faces former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly for a seat on the high court that will determine which party holds a majority. They are ostensibly nonpartisan candidates, but that’s laughable — Democrats back Protasiewicz, and Republicans back Kelly. 

Voters in the Milwaukee suburbs will also pick a replacement for retiring Sen. Alberta Darling (R), who has held the seat for 30 years. The district leans Republican — former President Donald Trump carried it with 52%, even while losing the state. But if Jodi Habush Sinykin (D) can upset state Rep. Dan Knodl (R), she would deny Republicans a supermajority in the Senate.