Pluribus AM: Devastating fires in Maui

Good morning, it’s Thursday, August 10, 2023. In today’s edition, wildfires kill 36 on Maui; abortion backers push 2024 ballot measures; Tenn. faces redistricting challenge:

Top Stories

WILDFIRES: At least 36 people have died in wildfires sweeping across Maui. The fires, spread by high winds fueled by nearby Hurricane Dora, destroyed Lahaina Town, which dates to the 1700s. It is the deadliest wildfire in the United States since the Camp Fire in California killed 85 people in 2018. (Associated Press) Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke (D) issued an emergency proclamation activating the National Guard. (KITV)

ABORTION: After beating back Ohio’s Issue 1 this week, advocates are backing abortion-rights measures with the intention of securing ballot access in 2024 in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New York and South Dakota. The pro-abortion rights side has won every ballot measure that has gone before voters since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. (Bloomberg)

MORE: A new Kansas law requiring doctors to tell patients that a medication abortion can be stopped once it’s started will not be enforced until legal challenges play out in court, after supporters and opponents agreed to let a Johnson County judge decide whether the measure should take effect. (KMBC)

AGRICULTURE: Sixteen states, led by Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird (R), are urging Congress to pass legislation prohibiting states from banning animal products that don’t meet certain confinement standards, a response to a measure that regulates living conditions for livestock whose products are sold in California. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to California’s Proposition 12 earlier this year. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION: Michigan officials are considering replacing gas taxes with “usage charges” on the number of miles motorists drive. Gas tax collections are expected to plunge by hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years as electric vehicles become more popular. (Bridge MI) California regulators will decide whether robotaxi services can provide around-the-clock rides for customers in San Francisco. San Francisco officials object to the proposal after the cars caused traffic disruptions and interfered with emergency response. (Associated Press)

ESG: Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) has set a new rule requiring financial advisors and institutions to have clients sign disclosure forms for investments that consider environmental, social and governance scores or prioritize other factors that may not yield maximum profit. Ashcroft said his rule is the first of its kind in the United States. (Missouri Independent)

BROADBAND: Nevada lawmakers unanimously approved a proposal to use $360 million in federal funds to expand high-speed internet access to rural areas. Congress last year approved a $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will fund state efforts to expand access. (Nevada Independent)

HEALTH CARE: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed legislation capping the price of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply. The measure passed the legislature in a unanimous vote. (Center Square)

MARIJUANA: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has signed legislation creating a commission to study state-controlled recreational marijuana sales. Sununu favors a state-control model that faced skepticism among lawmakers this year. (WMUR)

In Politics & Business

TENNESSEE: The state NAACP, the League of Women Voters and other groups have sued over Tennessee’s redistricting plan that carved Nashville into several congressional districts, helping Republicans pick up a seat in Congress. The lawsuit also challenges state Senate seats that plaintiffs claim amount to unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. (Associated Press)

SOUTH DAKOTA: State Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D) has asked for an emergency meeting of state Democrats to recall party chair Jennifer Slaight-Hansen. The call comes after Dan Ahlers, the party’s executive director, quit after just a few months on the job. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

ARIZONA: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has rejected Democratic Party efforts to keep No Labels candidates off the ballot in 2024. The judge allowed Democrats to refile the case with new allegations. The state Democratic Party said it would evaluate its options. (Arizona Capitol Times)

MISSISSIPPI: First-time candidate Rodney Hall (R) won a Republican primary to represent a state House district in part of DeSoto County on Tuesday. He faces no Democratic opposition in November, meaning he will become the first Black Republican to sit in the state House of Representatives since Reconstruction. (Supertalk)

By The Numbers

1,055: The number of active missing children cases in Arizona, where the state Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse recorded 515 cases in July alone. About half the open cases were reported in 2023, while a few cases from the 1950s and 1960s are still open. (Arizona Republic)

$50,709,159: The amount of money interest groups spent lobbying Colorado lawmakers between July 2022 and June 2023, a new record. The most-lobbied bills would have addressed the affordable housing crisis and require certainty in employee scheduling. Both of those bills died. (Colorado Sun)

170: The number of editions of the Illinois State Fair, which opens tonight with an annual parade. Fair officials unveiled an 800-lb. butter cow sculpture on Wednesday. (Associated Press)

State fair season is the best season.

Off The Wall

Every now and then it pays to check state lists of unclaimed property. Iowa Treasurer Randy Smith (R) recently returned $4.5 million in unclaimed McDonald’s stock to a state resident. (Center Square) That’s a lot of Big Macs.

Indiana American Water, the largest investor-owned utility in the state, asked state regulators for a rate increase that included a $60,000 line item for the company’s 2022-2023 Pacers tickets. The utility backed off when watchdog groups objected to forcing rate payers to cover basketball seats. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Quote of the Day

“It is natural for owners to want to keep their furry members close in the afterlife.”

California Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D), who has introduced legislation to allow cemeteries to create sections where pets can be buried with their owners. (Sacramento Bee)