Pluribus AM: California tackles budget, retail theft woes

Good morning, it’s Thursday, January 11, 2024. In today’s edition, Newsom rolls out retail theft crackdown, budget plan; Ohio, South Carolina advance gender-affirming care bans; Dems lay out 2024 election priorities:

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) outlined plans to crack down on retail and property crimes by increasing penalties for those who commit retail theft or resell stolen property. Newsom also asked legislators to make it easier to charge someone with grand theft, after a voter-approved measure in 2014 reduced theft sentences from a felony to a misdemeanor. (Pluribus News)

BUDGETS: Newsom on Wednesday proposed pulling $13.1 billion out of the state’s rainy day fund, cutting $8.5 billion in spending and deferring billions more to address what he said was a $37.9 billion budget hole. Newsom said the state did not face a budget crisis. The biggest proposed cuts will come from programs dedicated to fighting climate change. (Pluribus News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Ohio House voted Wednesday to override Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of legislation banning gender-affirming medical and mental health care for transgender minors. The state Senate is expected to vote to override the veto on Jan. 24. (Columbus Dispatch) An Ohio House committee voted to advance legislation barring transgender students from using bathrooms that correspond to their gender identities. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

MORE: A South Carolina House committee gave final approval to a measure barring gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The bill, which also bars Medicaid from covering treatment for those under 26, now heads to the House floor. (Associated Press)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: An Indiana House committee voted unanimously to advance legislation adding computer-generated nude images of real people to the state’s revenge porn statute. The Indiana Public Defender Commission raised concerns that the bill might violate First Amendment protections. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

GUN POLITICS: Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) introduced legislation to create a first-in-the-nation gun violence prevention center. Moore also proposed a public safety apprenticeship program, and a reformed victim’s compensation system that would provide new resources to crime victims. (Washington Post) An Oregon judge has signed a final order striking down a voter-approved measure requiring those seeking to own a firearm to undergo a criminal background check and a safety training course before purchasing a weapon. (Associated Press)

EDUCATION: The Florida Senate approved bills to “deregulate” public schools, including measures to remove requirements that high school students pass a 10th grade English language exam  and an Algebra 1 test to graduate. Senators eliminated a provision to end a 3rd grade reading test after former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) objected. (Orlando Sentinel)

MORE: A Florida House panel approved legislation that would allow high school sophomores and juniors to work longer hours per day and per week with fewer mandatory break periods. Business groups cast the bill as a way to address the state’s workforce shortage. (Florida Politics)

PUBLIC HEALTH: South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) has proposed legislation to criminalize the use and possession of xylazine, the livestock tranquilizer that has been found cut into fentanyl. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting) Oregon lawmakers are considering proposals to recriminalize minor drug possession after voters approved a decriminalization measure in 2021. (Oregonian)

In Politics & Business

DEMOCRATS: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee plans to spend at least $60 million to protect thin majorities in Michigan, Minnesota and the Pennsylvania House, and to target Republican majorities in Arizona, New Hampshire and the Pennsylvania Senate. (New York Times)

Read the full memo here.

TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) intends to spend $19 million he raised over the last six months of 2023 to target state House Republicans who opposed his push for expanded school voucher programs. Twenty-one House Republicans joined Democrats in blocking the voucher program this year; Abbott has endorsed challengers to seven of those Republicans. (Texas Tribune)

NEVADA: The Clark County Education Association is launching a signature-gathering campaign to place a measure on the ballot that would guarantee the right to strike. They must gather 102,362 valid signatures to qualify by November 20. (KLAS)

PEOPLE: Former Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) will resign from office the day before the legislative session begins next month. Daudt led the House from 2015 to 2019, and served as majority leader until 2022. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) North Dakota state Rep. Nico Rios (R) has been removed from his committee assignments after he used vulgar and homophobic language toward a police officer during a traffic stop in which he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

More than 20 million: The number of Americans who signed up for insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange, setting a new record. Eligible residents have until next Wednesday to enroll in coverage. (The Hill)

$274 million: The total sales of recreational and medical marijuana sold in Connecticut last year. The state set new monthly records in both November and December, according to data from the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. (Marijuana Moment)

Off The Wall

Department of Clever Acronyms: Tennessee lawmakers have rolled out first-in-the-nation legislation aimed at protecting musicians and songwriters from having their voices appropriated by artificial intelligence. The bill is known as the Ensuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act — or the ELVIS Act. (Pluribus News)

Kansas’s court system suffered a massive ransomware attack that left its online filing system disabled for months. The culprit: Affiliates of a Russian-based hacker group, according to Chief Justice Marla Luckert. Kansas restored access to the online system earlier this month, but they now face a backlog of paper-only court records. Luckert said Kansas did not pay the ransom. (Kansas City Star)

Add Vermont to the list of states where fans can now wager on sports online. Legal sports gambling takes effect today, just in time for the first round of the NFL playoffs. (Associated Press)

Quote of the Day

“For every young kid that makes a mistake, they can look at Don Scott and say, ‘I’ll never give up. I can still be what I want to be in America.’”

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who restored Virginia Del. Don Scott’s (R) voting rights after Scott served an eight-year sentence on a drug-related conviction. On Wednesday, Scott became the first Black speaker in the 400-year history of Virginia’s House of Delegates. (Washington Post)