Pluribus AM: Busy lame ducks in OH, IL; TX Lt. Gov. lays out priorities; the closest state races in America

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. How is it December already? Your guess is as good as ours. In today’s edition, busy lame ducks in Ohio, Ill.; Texas Lt. Gov. sets priorities; 18 state races decided by 10 votes or fewer:

Top Stories

OHIO: The state Senate has approved a 975-page criminal justice reform package that allows some felons to have records sealed a year after release, allows inmates to reduce sentences for participating in training or drug treatment programs, reduces penalties for underage drinking and creates a new offense of strangulation. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

MORE: Senate President Matt Huffman (R) supports a move to raise the threshold by which the state constitution could be amended from a simple majority to 60% of the vote. If lawmakers approve a bill by the end of the year, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) said a question would appear on the May ballot. (Columbus Dispatch) Huffman said it is “highly unlikely” that legislators will pass a new abortion ban this year. (Columbus Dispatch)

ILLINOIS: House Democrats plan to introduce a gun safety measure today barring the sale of assault weapons and preventing residents under 21 from legally purchasing a firearm. State Rep. Bob Morgan (D) said a separate bill would create new civil liability cause of action against manufacturers or retailers who market products using deceptive practices. (Chicago Sun-Times)

MORE: Legislators introduced amendments to the criminal justice reform package known as the SAFE-T Act that would deny pre-trial release for defendants charged with severe crimes or who pose a threat. The first hearings on the bill happen today in a Senate committee. (Chicago Tribune, Center Square)

TEXAS: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has released his list of 21 legislative priorities for the year, including property tax relief, improving the state’s electric grid and more money for border security. His priorities also include establishing a parental bill of rights and potentially eliminating tenure at state colleges. Patrick signaled disagreement with Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over whether surplus money could be used for property tax relief. (Texas Tribune, Dallas Morning News) Texas’s system of government makes Patrick the most powerful lieutenant governor in America.

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) administration will require state-regulated health insurance plans to provide coverage for abortions. Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said through a spokeswoman that the mandate is likely to be in place by Jan. 1. (NJ Advance Media)

GEORGIA: The Joint Study Committee on the Electrification of Transportation has recommended legislation to speed the transition to electric vehicles, including allowing convenience stores to sell electricity by the kilowatt hour and exploring charging motorists by the mile to make up for lost gas tax revenue. The committee is expected to issue a formal report in the coming weeks. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

NEW MEXICO: Lawmakers will consider paid family and medical leave in the upcoming session, joining 11 other states and the District of Columbia. The proposal has been kicking around the Roundhouse for two decades, though a legislative task force that met earlier this year has now issued recommendations for legislation. (SourceNM)

WASHINGTON: The state Supreme Court has cleared the way for Washington to begin administering and collecting a 7% tax on capital gains over $250,000. Lawmakers passed the tax in 2021, though a Douglas County judge ruled in March that it violated the state constitution’s uniformity requirement for taxes. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case in January. (Seattle Times)

CALIFORNIA: Tobacco companies have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California ban on flavored tobacco products approved by nearly two-thirds of voters this November. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion by R.J. Reynolds to block the law in November. Tobacco companies say only the FDA has the authority to ban products. (Associated Press)

RHODE ISLAND: Recreational marijuana sales begin for the first time today in the Ocean State, where five existing medical marijuana facilities begin hybrid operations. Recreational pot will be taxed at a 20% rate, including a special 10% excise tax on marijuana products. (WPRI)

In Politics

INDIANA: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R) filed papers on Wednesday to run for governor in 2024, at the end of his current term in Washington. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (R), former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) and Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) are also considering bids. Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, a Republican-turned-Democrat, is also hinting she will run. (Pluribus News)

MAINE: Voters will get the chance to decide a ballot measure that would require the state’s two utility companies to sell their assets to a nonprofit organization that would supply power to consumers. Supporters of the measure gathered well more than the 63,000 required signatures to force it onto the 2023 ballot. The utilities have already spent millions opposing the idea of a consumer-owned utility. (Maine Public Radio)

MISSISSIPPI: State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) is considering a challenge to Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) next year. Hosemann has clashed with conservatives, including Gov. Tate Reeves (R), over a proposal to eliminate the state income tax. (Mississippi Today) One of the original Tea Partiers, McDaniel lost challenges to incumbent Republican U.S. senators in 2014 and 2018.

IDAHO: State Rep. Mike Moyle (R) will be Idaho’s next House Speaker after beating out a conservative rival. Moyle, who has served as majority leader since 2006, takes over for former Speaker Scott Bedke (R), who won election to become lieutenant governor. State Rep. Megan Blanksma (R) won the majority leader post. (Idaho Press)

MICHIGAN: Add failed Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo (R) to the list of candidates running to chair the Michigan Republican Party. Former Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno (R) is also running, and ex-Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) is thinking about it. (Detroit Free Press)

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES: The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee meets today in D.C. to consider a new calendar that will end Iowa’s place at the head of the pack. A vote could come as early as tomorrow. New Hampshire and Nevada are vying for the top slot, while Michigan and Minnesota want to join the early window. (Des Moines Register) Minnesota DFL chair Ken Martin sent a memo to committee members urging them not to pick Michigan. (Politico) Cheeky move, Ken.

By The Numbers

18: The number of state legislative races across the country decided by 10 votes or less, including one tie in New Hampshire and a race in Connecticut in which Democrat Christopher Poulos beat out Republican Tony Morrison by a single vote. (Associated Press) Don’t let anyone tell you your vote doesn’t matter.

19: The number of out-of-state political trips Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has taken during his first ten months in office. But he’s the only governor since George Allen (R) not to have led an international trade mission in his first year. (Washington Post) Youngkin, widely thought to be considering a 2024 presidential bid, was a hot ticket on the GOP campaign circuit this year.

Off The Wall

The Pennsylvania state House will be evenly divided with 101 Democrats and 101 Republicans when they come into session next year after a Democrat won re-election posthumously earlier this year. Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on which party has the right to set a date for the special election to replace the late Rep. Tony DeLuca (D) — Republicans who control the chamber now, or Democrats who won the most seats in November. (PennLive)

In search of a new home, Vern and Shireen Liebl will visit all 74 public libraries in Wyoming to decide which community is right for them. Vern, a Marine Corps veteran, said he had visited libraries around the world. “I couldn’t find a library in Kabul in Afghanistan, but I found a couple of good bookstores,” he said. “Until the Taliban blew it up.” (Cowboy State Daily)

Quote of the Day

“I can guarantee you that members on both sides have very different opinions about what it means to be pro-life.”

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R), on the complexities of passing new abortion restrictions even with a large Republican majority. (WUSF Public Media)