Pluribus AM: Blame Canada Edition

Good morning, it’s Thursday, June 29, 2023. In today’s edition, smoke covers a third of the U.S.; judges block gender-affirming care bans in Ky., Tenn.; Maine Gov to sign paid family leave bill:

Top Stories

ENVIRONMENT: More than a third of Americans live in places under air quality alerts on Thursday as more smoke from Canadian wildfires sweeps over the Midwest and the East Coast. More than 250 wildfires are burning out of control in Canada. Chicago and Detroit registered the nation’s worst air quality. (CNN)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The North Carolina House gave final approval to legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors. (Raleigh News & Observer, Associated Press) Michigan lawmakers have given final approval to a bill banning conversion therapy for minors. One Republican joined Senate Democrats in voting for the bill. (Associated Press, Michigan Advance)

MORE: Federal judges in Kentucky and Tennessee have temporarily blocked parts of bills barring gender-affirming care for minors. The judges blocked parts of the bills that would have banned puberty blockers and hormone therapy. (Associated Press) Florida has appealed two rulings by a federal judge blocking a state law barring gender-affirming care for minors. (Orlando Sentinel)

CHINA: The U.S. Justice Department has asked a federal court to block a new Florida law restricting people from China and six other countries from owning property in the state. The filing says the Florida law violates the Fair Housing Act and the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. (Orlando Sentinel)

ECONOMY: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) said she would sign a paid family and medical leave bill passed this week by the legislature. (Maine Public Radio) Connecticut formally launches its “baby bonds” program on Saturday, investing $3,200 for every child born in the state who is eligible for Medicaid. Once those children turn 18, they will be able to use the money to buy a home, pay for college, start a business or save for retirement. (CT Mirror)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Delaware’s Behavioral Health consortium will pilot the nation’s first combined xylazine and fentanyl test strip program. The program is meant to help drug users avoid overdoses. (Delaware Public Media) The Delaware Senate gave final approval to a measure funding the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline with a 60-cent per month tax on phone lines. (Delaware Public Media)

GIG WORKERS: The California Supreme Court will hear a challenge to Proposition 22, the 2020 ballot measure funded by Uber, Lyft and DoorDash that classified gig workers as independent contractors. A lower court upheld Prop. 22 in March. (Sacramento Bee)

EDUCATION: The Pennsylvania Senate has voted to require all high school seniors to fill out federal FAFSA forms that determine eligibility for postsecondary financial aid. Supporters of the bill say students who don’t fill out the form are missing up to $115 million in federal Pell Grants. (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

In Politics & Business

MISSISSIPPI: The state Democratic Party faces fines and other penalties for failing to file regular campaign finance reports, the Secretary of State’s office says. The state party told the Secretary’s office last month it did not have to file those reports because it had not spent money promoting, opposing or contributing to candidates — six days after it sent out a release blasting Gov. Tate Reeves (R). (Mississippi Free Press)

OREGON: Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has named former Portland auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade as Secretary of State, two months after Shemia Fagan (D) resigned over her outside consulting work with a troubled pot company. Griffin-Valade pledged to bring credibility, accountability and transparency back to the office. (Oregonian)

MICHIGAN: The House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the transfer of $120 million for an electric vehicle battery plant operated by Ford. The funding will go toward land acquisition and water upgrades for a facility expected to create 2,500 jobs. (Michigan Advance)

NEW JERSEY: Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R) will step down from leadership so Sen. Anthony Bucco (R) can assume the post before the 2023 midterm elections. Oroho isn’t seeking re-election this year. (New Jersey Globe)

DESANTIS: Attorneys for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) have asked a federal court to schedule trial over the new Disney entertainment district for August 2025, well after the November 2024 presidential election. Disney wants the trial to begin next July, around the time of the Republican National Convention. (Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press)

PEOPLE: Former Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker (R) has died at 92. Weicker made a national name for himself as a member of the Senate Watergate Committee, where he was the first Republican to call for Richard Nixon’s resignation. (Boston Globe)

By The Numbers

Almost 160: The number of challenges to the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial count lodged by local, state and tribal governments. Those governments have until tomorrow to file challenges that could impact how trillions of federal dollars are spent over the decade. (Associated Press)

$101.3 million: The amount Chicago has spent providing help and services to thousands of migrants who have arrived in the city since August. About three-quarters of that money has gone to staffing migrant shelters run by the city. (Chicago Tribune)

251: The number of pedestrians killed in Washington State by speeding drivers last year. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) wants to deploy more speed cameras to make drivers slow down. (Washington State Standard)

Off The Wall

Pepsi is testing a new product called Colachup — Pepsi-infused ketchup — at Major League Baseball parks in Detroit, Phoenix, Minneapolis and New York. The product will be available for one day only. (Detroit Free Press)

Nope. Nope nope nope.

National Geographic has laid off its last staff writers after 135 years in business. The magazine will no longer be sold on newsstands in the United States beginning next year. At its peak in the 1980s, National Geographic reached 12 million subscribers. (Washington Post)

Texas state Rep. Jacey Jetton (R) is being deployed on active military duty as a member of the Army National Guard, so he’ll be replaced in the legislature by his wife Fanny. “Members, we get two Jettons for the same great pay,” Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said. (Texas Tribune)

Quote of the Day

“I have hurt feelings with the way things were carried out, for sure.”

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D), on Assemblyman Robert Rivas’s (D) bid to oust him last year. Rendon will hand the speaker’s gavel to Rivas tomorrow after seven years in charge. (Associated Press)

A remarkable interview that lays bare some remaining divisions within the California Assembly’s Democratic caucus.