Pluribus AM: DeSantis in spotlight; Ga., Ark. pass trans bills; 3 red states quit voter roll program

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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, March 7, 2023. In today’s edition, DeSantis takes center stage; Ga., Ark. advance trans care, bathroom bans; 3 red states quit voter roll program:

Top Stories

FLORIDA: Lawmakers kick off their session in Tallahassee today to tackle Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) agenda as he prepares a presidential campaign. DeSantis has backed major education reforms and changes to college curriculum; bills to make it easier to sue the media; open carry and abortion restrictions. (Pluribus News, New York Times, Tampa Bay Times)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Georgia’s state Senate has passed a measure barring gender-affirming care to minors. (Associated Press, Atlanta Journal Constitution) The Arkansas Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill making it a crime for a transgender person to be in a bathroom when a minor is present. (Arkansas Times)

TECH PRIVACY: The Iowa Senate unanimously approved a measure establishing data privacy rights for consumers. The measure requires companies that hold personal data to notify consumers of data collection practices. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

EDUCATION: The Georgia Senate approved a bill expanding vouchers of up to $6,000 to cover private school tuition. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) The Arkansas Senate Education Committee backed Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s (R) LEARNS Act expanding voucher programs and raising teacher salaries. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) An Illinois House Committee has approved a bill requiring school boards to establish full-day kindergarten. (State Journal-Register)

MINNESOTA: The state House has approved $1.9 billion in infrastructure spending, including $245 million for transportation projects. Senate Republicans say they will block the bill if it doesn’t include tax cuts. (Duluth News Tribune)

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says the state won’t do business with Walgreens after the pharmacy giant said it would no longer offer abortion medication in 20 Republican states. It’s not clear what cutting ties with the company means, but Walgreens shares dropped after Newsom’s announcement. (Los Angeles Times) 

SOUTH DAKOTA: The state Senate has revived Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) proposed grocery tax cut in the session’s closing days, passing it by a single vote. The state House has until Thursday to act. (South Dakota Searchlight)

MISSOURI: The House has voted to allow state government to take over the St. Louis Police Department. Missouri voters put the department under local control in 2012, for the first time in 150 years. Two St. Louis Democrats voted for the bill, though most Democrats voted against. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

IDAHO: The state Senate has approved a bill repealing a law banning groups of people from parading in public with firearms. (Idaho Capital Sun)

In Politics & Business

ERIC: Florida, Missouri and West Virginia have dropped out of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a national consortium of state election offices that work to clean up voting rolls. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) also threatened to leave the group. (Associated Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Orlando Sentinel) 

OKLAHOMA: Voters head to the polls today to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. Marijuana would be taxed at a 15% rate. (McCarville Report)

VIRGINIA: Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D), the first woman and first Jewish person to serve as Speaker of the House of Delegates, won’t seek re-election this year. She is contemplating a run for governor in 2025. (Washington Post)

ARKANSAS: The state Senate has given final approval to a measure raising the signature threshold for ballot initiatives. Supporters would be required to gather signatures of half of all voters in 50 counties, up from 15 counties under current law. The bill now heads to Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) for a signature. (Arkansas Times, Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

GEORGIA: The state House approved a measure creating a new state board that would have the authority to punish or fire district attorneys. Supporters of the bill say it has nothing to do with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation into former President Donald Trump. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

OHIO: Closing statements are set today in the trial of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, accused of participating in a $60 million bribery scheme related to a $1 billion nuclear power plant. The trial has taken six weeks. (Associated Press)

PEOPLE: Longtime Montana political reporter Chuck Johnson has died at 74. Johnson covered Montana politics for 45 years before his retirement in 2017. (Montana Free Press, Missoulian) A great reporter, and a great mentor to young journalists.

By The Numbers

$60,000: The raise New Mexico statewide elected officials would receive under a measure passed by the Senate Finance Committee on Monday. (Santa Fe New Mexican) Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) makes $110,000 a year, on the lower end of gubernatorial compensation. 

140 inches: The amount of snow that has fallen at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, the second-highest total recorded since Arizona started keeping track a century ago. (Arizona Republic)

18 tons: The amount of potatoes Oregon farmers donated to the annual Capitol Food Drive, according to Sen. Bill Hansell (R). Oregon produced 2.7 billion pounds of potatoes in 2020. (Oregon Faith Report)

Off The Wall

Connecticut’s official state hero is Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War spy who regretted he had but one life to give his country. But Gov. Ned Lamont (D) wants to replace Hale with Noah Webster, father of the modern dictionary. Lamont also backs pizza as the official state food and Pez as the state candy. (Patch)

Passengers riding Amtrak between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston will no longer be able to buy alcohol when the train crosses through New Hampshire, after the New Hampshire Liquor Commission said it would begin enforcing a state law that bars serving alcohol that has not been purchased in the state. The company that provides the train’s food and beverage services buys its alcohol in Maine. (Portland Press Herald)

Quote of the Day

“I know it’s not fun to come to the Finance Committee and talk about problems, but I find it’s a lot better to air the laundry out on the line, have the whole neighborhood look at it and we just fix it, rather than pretend it doesn’t exist.”

Alaska Senate Finance Committee co-chair Bert Stedman (R), on a months-long backlog in the state food stamp program. (Alaska Current)