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Pluribus AM: Billions at stake in broadband battle; MN Dems consider gun measures; legal pot coming to NH?

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. In today’s edition, billions at stake in broadband battle; Minn. Dems consider gun measures; and is legal pot coming to N.H.?

Top Stories

OPIOIDS: CVS and Walgreens will settle lawsuits from 18 states over their role in furthering the opioid crisis for $10.7 billion. Neither company will admit wrongdoing. States have until the end of the year to accept the settlements; attorneys general in Pennsylvania, New York, California, Oregon, Massachusetts and North Carolina have already signaled they will accept. (NPR)

BROADBAND: States across the country have raised concerns over the accuracy of a map of local internet speeds released by the Federal Communications Commission last month. The federal data will be used to determine how the federal government distributes broadband infrastructure funding; states have a month to report inaccuracies. (Route Fifty)

FLORIDA: Senate committees have approved Republican plans to provide immediate relief to those hit by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole earlier this year. One bill would give homeowners tax rebates based on the length of time their homes have been deemed uninhabitable. The bill would also give grants to homeowners who spent money repairing their homes. (Florida Politics)

MINNESOTA: Democrats will revive a push for new gun control measures after taking control of the legislature in November’s elections. Top legislators say they will consider expanding criminal background checks to cover private transfers, and new “red flag” protective orders. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

NEW YORK: State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D) has introduced legislation allowing state residents to sue oil and gas companies for damage caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The bill is modeled on Texas legislation allowing lawsuits against abortion providers. (State of Politics)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: State House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R) and Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm (D) are teaming up to back a bill to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill’s fate in the state Senate is unclear. (New Hampshire Union Leader) All of New Hampshire’s neighbors allow recreational marijuana. 

CALIFORNIA: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the state’s ban on flavored tobacco products filed by major tobacco companies. The decision means California’s ban on those products, approved by voters in November, will take effect Dec. 21. (Associated Press)

NEW JERSEY: The cost of health care for state, county and municipal employees is set to rise 22.8% on Jan. 1, sending lawmakers scrambling to avoid a massive tax increase. Towns are asking Gov. Phil Murphy (D) for a one-time $350 million appropriation to handle the hike. New Jersey is sitting on a $6 billion surplus. (New Jersey Globe)

IOWA: The state Supreme Court will consider whether to hear arguments over a state law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected after a district court judge refused Gov. Kim Reynolds’s (R) request to reinstate the law. Reynolds said her office would appeal. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

OREGON: Gov.-elect Tina Kotek (D) says she will back spending as much as $300 million to bolster the state’s microchip industry. Lawmakers are working on incentive packages and workforce programs to attract microchip manufacturers, and to win over billions in federal money to help grow the industry. (Oregonian, KOIN)

In Politics

PENNSYLVANIA: State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) was sworn in as Republican leader and claims he will be the rightful majority leader when the legislature begins its session in January. Democrats won 102 of 203 seats in the state House, but a death and two resignations mean Republicans will have more members on day one. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star) Read our report on the dysfunction in Harrisburg here.

OHIO: Abortion rights supporters will begin collecting signatures to qualify at least one constitutional amendment guaranteeing access ahead of the 2023 elections. Two groups, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, each said they will begin circulating petitions. The second group, a coalition that includes the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, is considering waiting until the 2024 election. (Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

NOT UNRELATED: An Ohio state House committee on Monday advanced a proposal to raise the threshold by which constitutional amendments must pass from a simple majority to 60%. If the measure makes it through the legislature by the end of session, it would go before voters in a May special election. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

SOUTH DAKOTA: Outgoing state Republican Party chairman Dan Lederman will back state Sen. John Wiik (R) as his replacement. Wiik is backed by most statewide elected officials, including Gov. Kristi Noem (R), Sen. Mike Rounds (R) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R). (Keloland)

PEOPLE: Massachusetts Gov.-elect Maura Healey (D) has named Kate Cook, her first assistant attorney general, as her incoming chief of staff. Gabrielle Viator will serve as a senior advisor, and Matthew Gorzkowicz will serve as Healey’s top budget officer. (Boston Globe)

By The Numbers

245%: The increase in the number of calls to poison control centers across the nation related to abuse or misuse of marijuana by school-aged children over the last 20 years, according to a report from Oregon Health Sciences University. Marijuana-related calls are now more common than alcohol-related calls. (Portland Tribune)

$8.9 million: The amount of extra revenue generated for Arkansas by the massive Powerball jackpots last month. Powerball revenues reached $11 million in November, up from $2.1 million in the same month last year, as players vied for a record jackpot. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

$186 million: The amount wagered on mobile sports gambling apps in the first eight days that online betting was legal in Maryland. Because of big promotions for first-time users, the mobile sports industry in Maryland lost about $38 million in November. (WYPR)

Off The Wall

Rural America grew faster than urban areas for the first time in half a century last year, according to new Census Bureau figures. For the first time in a decade, rural communities added residents; non-metropolitan communities grew by 77,000 last year, aided by net migration from other parts of the country. (Vermont Public Radio)

A new statue commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage has been unveiled at Idaho’s state Capitol in Boise. First Lady Teresa Little, whose great-great grandfather voted in favor of women’s suffrage as a member of the state legislature, helped introduce the new statue. (Idaho Statesman)

Quote of the Day

“I used to ride them, but after seeing what I see at work, I don’t get on them at all.”

Dr. Eric Lavonas, an emergency physician at Denver Health, on electric scooters. Denver Health treats an average of 3.6 people for scooter-related injuries each day. Alcohol is a contributing factor in at least 20% of crashes that lead to injury. (Colorado Sun)