Pluribus AM: DeSantis targets teachers unions; FTX wants its money back; Kari Lake’s day in court

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. In today’s edition, Congress to end COVID Medicaid emergency; DeSantis targets teachers unions; Ariz. election trials begin:

Top Stories

MEDICAID: The omnibus spending bill Congress is likely to pass includes provisions phasing out COVID-related emergencies and allowing states to begin removing ineligible people from Medicaid rolls by April 1. The bill would phase out the 6.2% increase in Medicaid spending the federal government added during the pandemic over the course of the next year. (Pluribus News)

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he will ask the legislature to prevent unions from deducting dues from teacher paychecks. In a speech this week, DeSantis tied what he called “paycheck protection” legislation to proposed teacher pay raises. (WLRN)

ILLINOIS: A Kankakee County judge heard arguments Tuesday over the SAFE-T Act, a criminal justice reform package that would end cash bail. State’s attorneys want Judge Thomas Cunnington to block the new law, which takes effect in the new year; they say it violates the separation of powers clause in the state constitution. (Chicago Tribune)

MORE: The Illinois House Judiciary Committee heard more than five hours of testimony over a measure to ban assault weapons. Democrats hope to pass the measure in a lame duck session in January. (Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business)

MASSACHUSETTS: Gov. Charlie Baker’s (R) administration will award $180 million in grants to the offshore wind industry. The money will create enough electric power to light a quarter of the homes in the Commonwealth, Baker said. (Boston Herald)

ARIZONA: The state Water Infrastructure Finance Authority has approved a resolution directing its executives to begin discussions with an Israeli company planning to build a desalination plant on the Sea of Cortez. The plant is a big final priority for Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who leaves office in a few weeks. (Arizona Capitol Times)

VIRGINIA: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed $10 million to help survivors and the family members of mass violence deal with long-term mental and physical health. The survivors and family members would be eligible for assistance beginning three years after a tragedy. (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

FTX: The management team that took over for former chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried will try to claw back tens of millions of dollars that FTX executives gave to politicians and political groups. New CEO John Ray said FTX debtors will go to court to get donations returned, if necessary. Bankman-Fried and fellow executives donated more than $70 million to political causes. (Wall Street Journal)

In Politics

ARIZONA: A two-day trial begins today as former TV broadcaster Kari Lake (R) challenges her loss to Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D), but Hobbs won’t be around: Lake’s attorneys have withdrawn a subpoena seeking to force Hobbs’s testimony. Lake’s lawsuit doesn’t allege fraud, but it suggests an unknown Maricopa County employee interfered illegally with printers that had problems on Election Day. (Arizona Republic)

MORE: Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh’s (R) lawsuit over November’s election results will go to trial beginning Friday, and Hamadeh has been granted permission to inspect ballots in Navajo, Maricopa and Pima counties. Hamadeh finished 511 votes behind Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes (D). (AZ Mirror, Arizona Republic)

KENTUCKY: State Rep. Savannah Maddox (R) has dropped out of the race to challenge Gov. Andy Beshear (D) next year. (Associated Press, Lexington Herald Leader) Her exit leaves only about 17,000 other candidates in the race. Leading contenders include Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R), former U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft (R), Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R) and Auditor Mike Harmon (R).

SOUTH DAKOTA: The Government Accountability Board has dismissed a complaint against Gov. Kristi Noem (R) over her use of government aircraft to attend political events because state law does not define the term “state business.” Noem used the state plane to fly to out-of-state events six times in 2019. (Associated Press, Fargo Forum)

MISSOURI: Gov. Mike Parson (R) has appointed attorney Vivek Malek (R) to serve as state Treasurer, replacing outgoing Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R), who won election as state Auditor in November. Malek, who immigrated from India with $300 in his pocket, is the first person of color to hold statewide office in Missouri. (Kansas City Star) Parson has appointed five statewide officeholders, a record for a Missouri governor.

By The Numbers

61.5%: The share of registered voters who turned out in Oregon and Maine in November’s midterm elections, the two states with the highest voter turnout. (Oregonian) Full voter turnout data available here, compiled by our buddy Michael McDonald at the US Elections Project. 

Off The Wall

Attendees at Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) second inaugural ball will be serenaded by Kevin Bacon’s band, the Bacon Brothers. The ball, to be held at a performing arts center across the street from the state Capitol, is one of the only chances a registered lobbyist has to spend more than the $50 annual limit on a politician. (CTMirror)

The Texas Education Agency is reconsidering the way it vets vendors who train school board members after one of its approved trainers turned out to be a felon. The man, who pitched his training as a conservative alternative to “woke” programs, was convicted twice of fraud. (Texas Tribune)

Quote of the Day

“Big donors didn’t want to donate to any of our candidates. They wanted to sit out this whole cycle.”

Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock, giving her assessment of why Democrats swept to power across the state this November at a recent post-election strategy meeting. Maddock said those big donors didn’t contribute because “they hate Trump.” (Detroit News)