Pluribus AM: Covid Fraud and Opioid Bucks Edition

Good morning, it’s Monday, June 12, 2023. In today’s edition, pharmacies pay big opioid settlements; Maine Dems eye abortion rights expansion; new poll in Wash. Gov race:

Top Stories

OPIOIDS: Walgreens, CVS and two pharmaceutical manufacturers paid $17.3 billion as part of a November agreement to settle state lawsuits over their role in the opioid crisis. Walmart is expected to settle its own suit in the coming days. (Sacramento Bee) Arizona received $380 million, Illinois received $515 million and Oregon got $220 million. (Arizona Republic, State Journal-Register, KOIN)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Connecticut legislators have given final approval to a measure broadening the definition of “sexual orientation” to include attraction. The new language will also prohibit discrimination against someone perceived to be a member of the LGBTQ community even if they are not. (CT Examiner) Alaska’s state school board has voted to advance a proposed regulation banning transgender girls from high school girl’s sports teams. (Alaska Beacon)

MORE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has created a first-of-its-kind commission to consider issues facing the LGBTQ community. (MLive)

ABORTION: Maine Democrats have advanced legislation eliminating a ban on abortions after 24 weeks. The legislation, which won passage in committee on a party-line vote, would allow an abortion when a doctor deems it medically necessary. (Maine Public Radio)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has signed legislation increasing punishments for those caught street racing. Those convicted of street racing could face up to 364 days in prison and a $6,250 fine for their first offense. (Oregonian) New York lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that will automatically seal misdemeanor criminal records three years after sentencing, and felony records eight years after someone is released from prison. The bill does not apply to class A felonies or crimes that require someone to register as a sex offender. (State of Politics)

HEALTH CARE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has signed legislation that will allow Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to reorganize to become more competitive with private insurers. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey (R) opposed the plan, which he said limits his regulatory authority. (Associated Press)

CIVIL RIGHTS: The Michigan House has given final approval to a measure banning hair-based discrimination. The CROWN Act, a version of which has passed in several other states, won broad bipartisan support. (Michigan Advance)

WORKFORCE: Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) signed a budget deal last week that includes a big raise for home health care workers. Those workers stand to make a minimum wage of $16 an hour, up from $11 an hour under current law. (Las Vegas Sun) Oregon Gov. Kotek has signed legislation barring employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who refuse to do work that would expose them to serious danger. (Salem Statesman Journal)

CLIMATE CHANGE: Trial begins today in a lawsuit brought by 16 young Montana residents suing the state government for failing to protect them from the impacts of climate change. The plaintiffs argue Montana has a constitutional obligation to act. It’s the first case of its kind to make it to trial; similar suits in just about every other state have been dismissed. (Associated Press, Daily Montanan)

In Politics & Business

WASHINGTON: A new poll released by the Northwest Progressive Institute finds Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) leading the race to replace retiring Gov. Jay Inslee (D) with 25%, followed by Yakima physician Raul Garcia (R) at 17%, Richland School Board member Semi Bird (R) at 10%, Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (D) at 9% and state Sen. Mark Mullet (D) at 7%. The top two vote-getters advance to a general election regardless of party affiliation. (Crosscut)

NORTH CAROLINA: Former President Donald Trump will endorse Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) for governor, cementing Robinson as the front-runner in the GOP field. (Associated Press)

WISCONSIN: Gov. Tony Evers (D) hinted at this weekend’s Democratic convention he would seek a third term in 2026. A spokesperson later clarified Evers hasn’t made up his mind about running for a third term. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Since Wisconsin expanded gubernatorial terms to four years, only one Wisconsin governor — Tommy Thompson (R) — has served more than two terms. Evers beat then-Gov. Scott Walker, who was seeking a third term, in 2018.

NEW YORK: Legislators gave final approval to a measure that will allow New Yorkers to cast ballots early by mail. Voters in 2021 rejected a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. (State of Politics)

GEORGIA: Former state Sen. Josh McKoon (R) won election Sunday to head the Georgia Republican Party. McKoon said Georgia Republicans were united, even though Gov. Brian Kemp (R) stayed away from this year’s convention. (Associated Press)

OREGON: The state Democratic Party will return a $500,000 campaign contribution made by a former executive at the crypto company FTX. The state party doesn’t have the money, but campaign committees controlled by Gov. Tina Kotek (D), Sens. Ron Wyden (D) and Jeff Merkley (D) and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D), Suzanne Bonamici (D) and Val Hoyle (D) will cover the costs. (Oregonian)

PEOPLE: Ron Richard, the only Missouri legislator ever to serve as both House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem, has died at 75. Richard left the legislature after hitting term limits in 2018. (KCUR) Our condolences to the Missouri legislative family.

By The Numbers

$280 billion: The amount, at least, of Covid-19 relief funding stolen by fraudsters, according to an analysis by the Associated Press. The federal government has charged more than 2,230 defendants with pandemic-related fraud, with thousands of investigations still open.

$36 billion: New York’s anticipated budget gap over the next three years, $15 billion more than initially anticipated. Budget officials have lowered estimates for future tax receipts by nearly $37 billion. (State of Politics)

$25 million: The money already spent by political action committees trying to woo Republican primary voters in Iowa. Make America Great Again Inc., the PAC backing Trump, accounts for $20 million of that total. (Des Moines Register)

1.1 million: The number of pheasants hunters in South Dakota harvested this year, up 8.6% from last year. (KELOLAND)

Off The Wall

Watch out, lobsters: Virginia “Ginny” Oliver will be back on a lobster boat hauling traps this year, at the age of 103. It’s her 95th season on the water; she began working with her father and older brother at 8, in the midst of the Great Depression. (Providence Journal)

Cool kicks: Wisconsin state Rep. Dave Considine (D) maintains a collection of 177 pairs of Converse sneakers he began during his 29 years as a middle school teacher. “My kids get mad at me because sometimes they get me a pair and I already have it,” he said. (Wisconsin State Journal)

Quote of the Day

“The positive news is everyone is continuing to talk.”

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D), on ongoing negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans aimed at ending a seven-week walkout that has brought the legislature to a standstill. (Oregon Capital Insider)