Pluribus AM: 20 weeks until Election Day

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, June 18, 2024. In today’s edition, 20 weeks until Election Day; Vermont adopts clean energy standards; judge blocks Iowa immigration law:

Top Stories

ELECTIONS: The 2024 presidential election is 20 weeks away, and Democrats and Republicans vying for control of state legislatures are eyeing a battlefield that represents many of the same states that will decide control of the White House. Democrats and outside groups will spend more than $165 million, while the Republican State Leadership Committee reported record fundraising. (Pluribus News)

The seven states at the heart of the 2024 battleground: Democratic-held Michigan and Minnesota, Republican-held Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia and New Hampshire, and evenly-split Pennsylvania.

ENERGY: Vermont lawmakers on Monday overrode Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) veto of legislation that will require all utilities to provide 100% renewable energy by 2035. Vermont becomes the 15th state to enact a 100% clean energy law. (Pluribus News)

IMMIGRATION: A federal judge has blocked Iowa legislation that would have allowed state law enforcement agencies to arrest and charge undocumented immigrants if they had previously been deported or denied admission to the U.S. Attorney General Brenna Bird (R) said she would appeal. (Iowa Capital Dispatch) A different federal judge had earlier blocked a similar Texas law.

MARIJUANA: Pennsylvania Reps. Aaron Kaufer (R) and Emily Kinkead (D) have introduced legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) proposed legalizing pot as part of his Fiscal Year 2025 budget outline. (PoliticsPA)

Pennsylvania doesn’t allow for citizen initiatives, meaning any legal pot law would have to come from the legislature. Every state that touches Pennsylvania, with the exception of West Virginia, allows recreational use.

ABORTION: The Delaware Senate has approved legislation expanding access to abortion medication and emergency contraception at public universities. Universities that are already allowed to provide such care would be required to do so. (Delaware Public Media)

MORE: Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban likely won’t take effect, after lawmakers ended their annual session on Saturday. Lawmakers passed a bill repealing the Civil War-era ban, which was to take effect by Sept. 27. Laws passed during legislative sessions typically don’t take effect until 91 days after session, which would be Sept. 14. (Arizona Republic)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: California health policy officials are seeking bids for an initiative to use AI to translate health-related documents from other languages to English and vice versa. Officials say the program will help the state save money and avoid errors caused by mistranslation. (Los Angeles Times)

TAXES: Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) is asking lawmakers to clear their calendars in late July and early August for a planned special session to cut property taxes. Pillen wants lawmakers to cut another $1 billion. (Nebraska Examiner)

In Politics & Business

NEW JERSEY: Attorney General Matt Platkin on Monday charged veteran state power broker George Norcross III  in a sweeping 13-count indictment alleging racketeering, conspiracy and official misconduct. It’s the first time Norcross, long in law enforcement’s crosshairs, has faced criminal charges. (New Jersey Globe)

Hard to overstate Norcross’s hold on South New Jersey Democratic politics.

INDIANA: State GOP chair Anne Hathaway will resign her role later his month to give gubernatorial nominee Mike Braun (R) the chance to tap his own party leader. Braun is eyeing Daviess County GOP chair Janet Schuler-Hicks to replace Hathaway. (Indianapolis Star)

Longtime Indiana conservative activist and attorney Jim Bopp laid out his concerns over conservative pastor Micah Beckwith’s nomination to be lieutenant governor. Bopp warned that Democrats have a chance to win the seat because of some of Beckwith’s views and public statements. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

OREGON: A proposed measure that would give every state resident about $750 a year funded by higher corporate taxes is likely to qualify for November’s ballot. Supporters have turned in 135,000 signatures, more than the 117,173 they need to win a ballot spot. (Oregonian)

CRIME BLOTTER: Maryland House Minority Leader Jason Buckel (R) has been charged with driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license, among other charges. Trial is set for July 24. (Baltimore Banner)

By The Numbers

6: The number of vetoes issued by Vermont Gov. Scott that lawmakers overrode on Monday, the highest number of gubernatorial veto overrides in a single day. The Democratic majority surpassed their previous record, 5 bills, set last June. (VT Digger)

$684,000: The cost of a new electric trash truck that will begin collecting refuse in Portland, Maine. That’s twice the cost of a typical diesel-powered garbage truck, but the new vehicle’s costs were mostly covered by grant funding. (Maine Public Radio)

1.2 million: The number of vehicles auto giant Stellantis is recalling to fix a software glitch that might disable rearview cameras. The recall covers recent models of the Jeep Compass, Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer, as well as some Ram tracks and the Chrysler Pacifica. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

Archaeologists have uncovered dozens of bottles of preserved cherries and berries from the cellar of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. Mount Vernon’s principal archaeologist called the 250-year old preservers “essentially fresh fruit.” (Associated Press)

About 20 people in Sebastopol, Calif., scrambled last week to recapture Pickles the piglet, who escaped from his owner’s car. Body camera footage from the six police officers involved showed them trying to nab the slippery swine, who was safely recaptured after about half an hour. (Los Angeles Times)

Flashback: Sebastopol was the first city in America where Green Party candidates captured a majority of city council seats, way back in 2000.

Quote of the Day

“One of the things I’ve learned the hard way is talking too publicly about a process that’s unfolding in real time.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), on budget negotiations between his office and legislative leaders. (Los Angeles Times)