Pluribus AM: A Leap Day Miracle

Good morning, it’s Thursday, February 29, 2024. Happy Leap Day! In today’s edition, Mississippi, Alabama move toward Medicaid expansion; Louisiana lawmakers advance stiffer criminal penalties; Illinois judge kicks Trump off ballot:

Top Stories

HEALTH CARE: The Mississippi House on Wednesday approved legislation to expand Medicaid to cover those who make less than 138% of the federal poverty limit. The bipartisan vote of 96-20 advances a bill that includes requirements that recipients work at least 20 hours per week in a job that does not provide health insurance. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R), who leads the Senate, has signaled his support for a companion bill. (Pluribus News)

Mississippi would be the 41st state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) remains skeptical that work requirements will stick.

MORE: Alabama leaders are laying the groundwork for their own Medicaid expansion program — one that may not require a formal legislative vote to adopt: The State Hospital Association has proposed a new health plan that would offer private health insurance to low-income residents, paid for by a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize lottery and sports betting. (Pluribus News)

This reminds us of those Republican governors — like Mike Pence, then Indiana’s governor — who expanded Medicaid without calling it Medicaid expansion.

GUN POLITICS: Maine Democrats have introduced a package of gun safety measures that would create crisis centers for those experiencing mental health issues, a three-day waiting period for most firearm sales and a prohibition on bump stock modifications. Gun rights groups voiced support for new crisis centers, and opposition to other elements of the plan. (Maine Public Radio)

MORE: Louisiana lawmakers gave final approval to legislation allowing residents over 18 to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The bill would eliminate current requirements for fingerprinting and safety training. Gov. Jeff Landry (R) is likely to sign the bill. (Associated Press) The Virginia legislature is set to give final approval to measures banning assault-style weapons. (WRIC)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Louisiana lawmakers approved a package of crime bills that would treat 17-year olds as adults under the criminal justice system, increase penalties for juveniles convicted of murder, rape or aggravated kidnapping, and bar convicts of violent crimes from eligibility for probation or suspended sentences. Another bill increased penalties for distribution of drugs containing fentanyl. (Louisiana Illuminator)

ABORTION: Alabama’s Senate Health Care Committee advanced bills to shield entities and individuals involved in providing IVF services from criminal and civil actions, except in cases of intentional misconduct. The bills, introduced just this week, are on the fast track to Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) desk after the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children. (Yellowhammer News)

MORE: Kentucky’s Senate Families and Children Committee approved legislation to grant the right to collect child support for unborn children. The measure would allow a parent to seek child support up to a year after giving birth to cover pregnancy expenses. (Associated Press)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Alabama House Judiciary Committee approved legislation creating legal definitions of men and women based on the presence of certain reproductive cells. The bill would require state and local agencies to create separate spaces assigned to each gender. (Alabama Reflector)

MARIJUANA: The Virginia General Assembly has given final approval to bills that would create a recreational marijuana market by next year. The measures would allow the state to start taking applications for cultivating, testing, processing and selling pot, with products taxed at a rate of 11.625%. (Associated Press)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is no fan of legal pot, though he hasn’t explicitly threatened a veto.

In Politics & Business

NEW YORK: Legislative Democrats adopted new congressional district lines that shift two Republican-held swing seats to the left, while cementing two Democratic-held swing seats. A handful of Senate and Assembly Republicans joined Democrats in approving the new maps. (New York Times)

A win for Democrats, but not as substantial as some had hoped. Had Democrats shot for the moon, they might have put four or even five GOP-held seats in play.

MICHIGAN: The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission approved a new state House map, redrawing 15 districts to come into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The maps will be submitted to federal judges who threw out previous versions they ruled unduly diluted the power of Black voters. (Detroit News)

OHIO: The state Senate approved legislation that would prohibit anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident from contributing money to a ballot issue campaign. The measure comes after a Democratic group funded in part by a Swiss billionaire spent $9 million helping to pass a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

TRUMP: A Cook County judge ordered the Illinois Board of Elections to remove former President Donald Trump from the March 19 primary ballot, siding with a group of voters who sued to block Trump over the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause. The judge put her own order on hold until Friday to allow an appeal. (Chicago Tribune, Associated Press)

By The Numbers

0.4%: The amount GLP-1 weight-loss drugs could add to the U.S. gross domestic product, according to Goldman Sachs estimates. That’s the equivalent of about a trillion dollars over the next four years. (CNN)

36%: The annual percentage rate at which payday loans would be capped under new legislation working its way through Michigan’s Senate Finance, Insurance and Consumer Protection Committee. The current rate can add up to 370% on an annual basis. (Michigan Advance)

1: The number of days Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has to decide whether to sign or veto legislation banning minors under 16 from having social media accounts. House Speaker Paul Renner (R) says he’s working with the governor’s office on the bill, which passed last week. (Orlando Sentinel)

Off The Wall

Connecticut legislators are considering legislation to name the lollipop the official state candy, the Siberian Husky the official state dog and dueling measures to name either the Spring Azure Butterfly or the Autumn Meadowhawk Dragonfly the official state insect. Those insect-lovers will have to depose the European mantis as the official state insect, a position it has held since 1977. (

Old and busted: Y2K. New hotness: Leap Day. Gas stations in New Zealand are back online after a software glitch shut down payment systems for more than ten hours. The country’s main gas stations said the problems occurred because the payment software hadn’t been programmed to understand that Feb. 29 comes around every four years. (New Zealand Herald)

Quote of the Day

“I clearly have no intention to resign.”

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher (R), under an ethics cloud over an $800,000 software contract and taxpayer reimbursements for trips he paid for through his campaign fund. (KCUR)

Isn’t that exactly what someone says right before they resign?