Pluribus AM: DeSantis targets colleges on CRT; NJ approves media literacy curriculum; Kennedy won’t run for La. Gov.

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. In today’s edition, DeSantis targets colleges on CRT; N.J. approves media literacy curriculum; Sen. Kennedy won’t run for La. Gov.:

Top News

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) administration asked state universities in a Dec. 28 memo to report information about critical race theory and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. A DeSantis spokesperson declined to say why the administration was seeking the information, but the memo references the “Stop Woke Act.” A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the bill last month. (Orlando Sentinel)

MORE: State Rep. Chip LaMarca (R) has filed new legislation to update the Name, Image and Likeness law covering compensation for student-athletes. LaMarca, author of the original law passed before the NCAA stopped preventing college athletes from being paid, would allow schools to direct compensation to athletes. (Capitolist, Florida Politics)

Background: Florida thought it was getting ahead of the NCAA on name, image and licensing issues. But when the NCAA changed policy, Florida schools found themselves at a disadvantage in recruiting athletes.

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed legislation making New Jersey the first in the nation to require public schools to teach media literacy to K-12 students as a way to combat misinformation. The bill, passed with bipartisan support, includes requirements for curriculum covering research and critical thinking. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

MAINE: Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed a $473 million spending bill that will send $450 checks to those who make less than $100,000 a year and pumps $50 million into home heating assistance programs in the face of rising energy costs. The bill was delayed last month when Republican legislators insisted on committee hearings. (Maine Public Radio)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is set to expire this year as the legislature considers renewing the state’s program, Granite Advantage. About 90,000 people are covered by expanded Medicaid under pandemic-era rules; when emergency declarations are rescinded, it will still leave 60,000 people covered by the expansion. (WMUR)

OHIO: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded access to abortion medication on Tuesday, but Ohio pharmacies won’t be allowed to distribute the pills because of a state law restricting distribution only to doctors. The Ohio law was passed in 2004. (Columbus Dispatch) Senate President Matt Huffman (R) doesn’t think the House has the votes to approve a bill requiring constitutional amendments to pass by 60% of the vote. (Statehouse News Bureau)

MASSACHUSETTS: Senate President Karen Spilka (D) kicked off the new legislative session by proposing to make community college tuition free for state residents. Gov. Maura Healey (D) said during her campaign she intended to start a program to fund free community college for students over 25. (Boston Globe) Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano (D) both said early education funding would be a priority, too. (MassLive)

MISSISSIPPI: House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) is now open to hearing proposals to reduce the top income tax bracket, rather than eliminating the state income tax altogether. (Supertalk) Gunn and Gov. Tate Reeves (R) want to eliminate the income tax, while Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) favors rebates and cuts.

HAWAII: Gov. Josh Green’s (D) administration is considering spending $100 million to $300 million on tax rebates targeted at middle- and low-income residents struggling with inflation. Hawaii spent $300 million on tax rebates last year. Green also plans to include exemptions and credits for food and vehicle registrations. (Hawaii News Now)

NORTH DAKOTA: Legislators will debate changing outdated language referring to the “insane” and the “feebleminded” still contained in the state constitution approved by voters back in 1904. “I think it goes without saying that it’s time for this change to take place and to provide people with dignity as we deal with issues of all kinds,” state Rep. Jon Nelson (R) said in presenting the resolution. (Fargo Forum)

In Politics

LOUISIANA: Sen. John Kennedy (R) will not run for governor this year, he told supporters in an email Wednesday. His absence opens the door for Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) and Treasurer John Schroder (R), both of whom said they were waiting on Kennedy. (Baton Rouge Advocate) State Republicans formally endorsed Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), but there’s no love lost between Landry and his fellow statewide officeholders.

PENNSYLVANIA: Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro (D) will nominate former Philadelphia elections official Al Schmidt, a Republican, to be Secretary of State. Schmidt, first elected to the board that oversees Philadelphia elections in 2011, defended the city’s election administration in the face of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 elections. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

ARIZONA: A state Court of Appeals will consider expediting former TV broadcaster Kari Lake’s (R) bid to overturn the results of the election she lost by 17,000 votes. The three-judge panel set a hearing for Jan. 24. Lake has asked the state Supreme Court to intercede immediately. A lower court threw out Lake’s suit last month for lack of evidence. (Capitol Media Services)

WISCONSIN: Republican legislators hope to approve a constitutional amendment to make it harder for violent criminal defendants to get out on bail. Legislators passed the measure last session, but they must pass it once again to send it to voters for an April 4 vote. (Wisconsin State Journal)

MICHIGAN: State Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock will not seek a new term in office. Seven other candidates have already declared their candidacy, including ex-Attorney General candidate Matt DePerno (R) and ex-Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo (R), both of whom lost in 2022. (MLive) The state GOP plans a $50 registration fee for delegates at its February convention to pay for the annual gathering. (Detroit News)

WASHINGTON: State Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski will not seek a new term in office after six years on the job. King County Democratic Party chair Shasti Conrad has said she will run for the post. (Seattle Times)

NEBRASKA: The unicameral state Senate has put off debate over whether to end the election committee chairs by secret ballot, though a supporter of ending the tradition, Sen. Steve Erdman, won election to head the Rules Committee. Erdman says there are enough votes to end secret ballots, but not enough to kill a filibuster to block the change. (Nebraska Examiner)

By The Numbers

5 years: The amount of time before the Great Salt Lake totally disappears, according to a new study researchers submitted to Utah lawmakers Thursday. The lake needs a “dramatic” influx of water by 2024 to be saved. It already sits 10 feet lower than its minimum healthy elevation, a shortage of 6.9 million acre-feet. (Salt Lake Tribune)

7.4%: The increase in Arkansas general fund revenue in December over the same month a year ago, up $53.6 million. Tax collections exceeded forecasts by 17.9%, thanks to larger than anticipated estimated payments on individual and corporate income taxes. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

Off The Wall

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s (D) office plans to fine the state Democratic Party for late filings showing amended information about a $500,000 contribution made by former FTX executive Nishad Singh. The Justice Department has charged former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried with making political contributions in other people’s names. (Willamette Week)

Speaking of Oregon, tiny Malheur County racked up $104 million in recreational marijuana sales in 2022, or $3,243 in sales for every one of its 32,095 residents — the third year in a row the rural county has sold more per capita than any other county in the state, by orders of magnitude. (KGW) Maybe, just maybe, that’s because Malheur County is just over the border from Boise, Idaho, where recreational pot isn’t legal.

Quote of the Day

“I like to say if the federal government is giving a dollar, we’re taking it.”

Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D), on the opportunity to spend federal infrastructure dollars. (Pluribus News)