Pluribus AM: Calif. legislators target tech firms; states sue over PFAS; Texas Gov appoints interim AG

Good morning, it’s Thursday, June 1, 2023. In today’s edition, Calif. legislators target tech firms; states sue over PFAS; Texas Gov appoints interim AG:

Top Stories

DISRUPTION: The California Senate voted Wednesday to approve a 15% tax on short-term vacation rentals offered by companies like AirBnB and VRBO, money that will go toward a state fund to build affordable housing. The measure would exempt hotel stays. AirBnB, opposing the bill, said it collected nearly $200 million in tourism taxes in California last year. (Pluribus News)

A first-of-its-kind proposal likely coming to more blue states next year.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is threatening to remove news posts from its social media platforms if the California Assembly approves a bill requiring companies to pay a monthly “journalism usage fee” to news outlets. News outlets in California support the bill, which would require them to use 70% of the money on journalists and support staff. (Sacramento Bee)

ENVIRONMENT: Attorneys general in Oregon and Maryland sued chemical companies over public health and environmental contamination caused by PFAS, known as “forever chemicals.” The Oregon suit alleges contamination at Portland International Airport and an air base in Klamath Falls. The Maryland suit alleges the companies knew PFAS chemicals were dangerous but continued to sell them for years. (Oregon Capital Chronicle, Baltimore Sun)

WORKFORCE: Minnesota legislators included a provision in the state budget that will ban companies from enforcing noncompete agreements on their employees. Minnesota is the fourth state to adopt such a measure, after California, North Dakota and Oklahoma. (MinnPost) The Ohio Senate has passed legislation exempting baby and child products from state sales taxes, including diapers, car seats, strollers, cribs and baby monitors. (Columbus Dispatch)

Part of a national trend we’ve seen to exclude baby products from sales taxes.

ABORTION: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that two abortion restriction bills passed this year are unconstitutional. Abortion remains illegal in Oklahoma under a previously passed trigger law. (McCarville Report) Wisconsin Republicans have introduced a package of bills clarifying the way the state’s 1849 abortion ban applies to early induction, c-sections and removal of ectopic, an embryonic or molar pregnancies. Another would allow state residents to claim embryos as dependents. (WisPolitics)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Alabama House has given final approval to a bill creating the new crimes of retail theft and organized retail theft. Supporters say existing shoplifting laws don’t cover the scale of organized theft. (Yellowhammer News) The Alabama Senate unanimously approved a bill imposing mandatory penalties for individuals who possess or use a firearm during gang-related crimes. (Yellowhammer News)

MORE: The Connecticut House gave final approval to a bill limiting police from using deceptive or coercive tactics during interrogations. The bill, which now goes to Gov. Ned Lamont (D), would deem admissions or confessions inadmissible in court if obtained through deceptive or coercive tactics. (CT Mirror) Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) signed bipartisan legislation eliminating juvenile court fees.(Arizona Republic)

GUN POLITICS: New legislation filed in Ohio would repeal sales taxes on firearms and ammunition, while creating tax incentives for gun manufacturers to move to the state. At least three major gun manufacturers — Stag Arm, Smith & Wesson and Remington — have moved from blue states to red states in recent years. (Columbus Dispatch)

HOUSING: The Connecticut Senate has approved legislation to allow residents of mobile home parks to purchase those parks before an owner sells it. Most other New England states have similar laws, meant to allow residents to avoid big rent hikes when mobile home parks are sold to developers. (CT Mirror)

In Politics & Business

TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has appointed former Secretary of State John Scott to serve as interim attorney general, while Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) awaits a trial in the state Senate. Scott served as a deputy AG when Abbott himself was attorney general. (Texas Tribune)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D) has become the first Democrat to enter the race for governor in 2024. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (D) is expected to enter the race soon. (WMUR) Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is expected to decide whether to run for re-election or to seek the White House later this month. 

WASHINGTON: State Sen. Mark Mullet (D) will run for governor next year, joining Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) and Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (D). Mullet, a moderate who beat out a progressive challenger backed by current Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in 2020, said he will center his campaign on the cost of living. (Crosscut)

LOUISIANA: Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams (D) is considering running for governor after recent attacks from Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), the leading gubernatorial candidate. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) wants Williams to stay out, and to support former Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D), the only Democrat in the race so far. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

Louisiana’s top-two primary means Wilson would likely advance to a runoff, if the Democratic vote isn’t split. 

CALIFORNIA: State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) will run for lieutenant governor, she said Wednesday. Current Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) is running for governor. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D) is also considering a run for the number-two spot. (Sacramento Bee)

OREGON: Talks between the two parties over a nearly month-long walkout by Senate Republicans stalled legislative action have broken down, Gov. Tina Kotek (D) said Wednesday. Republicans are insisting Democrats kill or scale back legislation on abortion access and reproductive care for minors. (Oregonian)

ARIZONA: Gov. Hobbs has tapped longtime Democratic strategist and lobbyist Chad Campbell as her new chief of staff, after her former top aide quit last week. Campbell served as Democratic House leader before leaving to become a lobbyist. (Arizona Republic)

NEBRASKA: The Nebraska State Educational Association has filed language for a ballot referendum aimed at repealing opportunity scholarships signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Jim Pillen (R). If they gather enough signatures, the union would qualify the measure for the 2024 ballot. (Nebraska Examiner)

By The Numbers

More than 5,000: The number of Iowa families who applied for state aid for private school expenses on the first day a new expanded education savings account measure took effect. Families with an income less than 300% of the federal poverty line may apply to receive up to $7,598 per student to send kids to a school of their choice. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

26: The number of consecutive months in which Nevada gaming revenues have topped $1 billion. Gaming revenues are up 6.6% over the first four months of last year, when the industry brought in a record $14.8 billion. (Nevada Independent)

$2 million: The amount Arkansas residents spent purchasing medical marijuana on April 20 — 4/20 — about three times higher than average daily sales in the state. (Talk Business & Politics)

Off The Wall

You, too, can own a piece of what was supposed to be the Rhode Island state capitol building. A Rhode Island nonprofit built on the site of a scrapyard for marble meant to build the capitol will sell off big chunks of the cast-off material it found while preparing the site for farming. (Providence Journal)

Former Connecticut state Rep. Michael DiMassa (D) has been sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from the city of West Haven, money that was meant for coronavirus relief projects. DiMassa will have to pay $866,000 in restitution for his crimes. (Associated Press)

Quote of the Day

“It won’t pass the House.”

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R), on Gov. Bill Lee’s call for legislation allowing extreme risk protection orders after a mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville. (Tennessee Lookout)