Pluribus AM: Dueling DEI debates

HAPPENING THURSDAY: Join us for the first in a series of events examining the nation’s housing crisis. We’ll host prominent Colorado lawmakers to zoom in on a state at the center of the affordability crisis for a conversation sponsored by the American Planning Association. Register for free here.

Good morning, it’s Monday, February 12, 2024. In today’s edition, lawmakers zoom ahead on social media requirements; dueling DEI bills in the states; Texas GOP censures its own House speaker:

Top Stories

SOCIAL MEDIA: Lawmakers in 14 states have introduced bills to require social media companies to obtain parental consent before allowing minors to open accounts, in spite of litigation backed by the industry that is challenging youth privacy laws in Arkansas, California and Ohio. California and New York lawmakers have introduced bills to require stronger default settings for a minor’s social media accounts. (Pluribus News)

DEI: Republican lawmakers have introduced about 50 bills in 20 states to restrict initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion. Democrats have filed about two dozen bills in 11 states that would require or promote DEI initiatives. Most of the restrictive bills focus on higher education, as well as K-12 schools, state government, contracting and pension investments. (Associated Press)

GUN POLITICS: The New Mexico Senate approved legislation requiring a seven-day waiting period on gun sales. The measure now returns to the House for a final vote before heading to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). The House approved bipartisan legislation increasing penalties on felons in possession of a firearm. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The West Virginia House on Friday approved legislation that requires birth certificates to include a child’s sex at birth. The legislation prohibits birth certificates from using the term “non-binary.” (West Virginia Watch) Idaho lawmakers have introduced legislation prohibiting public employees from being required to refer to people by preferred pronouns. (Idaho Statesman)

HEALTH CARE: Alabama Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to authorize a state lottery, casinos and legal sports betting — and to expand Medicaid. A provision of the measure would allow, but not require, lawmakers to fund rural health care and health benefit plans for those making below 138% of the federal poverty limit. Funding would come from the Gaming Trust Fund. (

Telling: Neither the sponsors nor Medicaid expansion proponents nor House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D) wanted to discuss the provision.

MORE: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) have asked lawmakers to approve legislation blocking medical debt from being transferred to surviving spouses, accruing interest or being reported to credit bureaus. The measure would also ban health care providers from collecting payment through “revenue recapture,” like taking a patient’s tax refund. (Minnesota Reformer)

LABOR: The Georgia Senate approved a measure that would bar businesses from receiving state incentives if they voluntarily recognize labor unions without a vote from employees. The bill requires employees to vote on whether to form a union on a secret ballot. (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

RIGHT TO DIE: The Virginia Senate approved a measure to legalize medically-assisted death, and the House of Delegates is expected to take up the measure this week. The bill would apply to patients who have received a terminal diagnosis who have less than six months to live. (WAVY) Illinois lawmakers filed a similar bill last week. (St. Louis Public Radio)

MARIJUANA: Virginia’s House of Delegates approved a measure Friday to create a legal adult-use cannabis market in Virginia. A final vote is scheduled for today. Democrats approved legal pot in 2021, but the state has yet to approve rules regulating sales and purchases. (Cardinal News)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) told reporters last month that he’s not interested in authorizing a legal pot market.

In Politics & Business

PENNSYLVANIA: Democrats are back in control of the state House, after Rep. Joe Adams (R) resigned Friday over medical concerns. His resignation means Democrats hold a 101-100 seat majority, subject to a special election on Tuesday for a Democrat-leaning seat in suburban Bucks County. (Associated Press)

We wrote about the high stakes in two special elections set for tomorrow — the Pennsylvania House contest, and a U.S. House election on Long Island, to fill former Rep. George Santos’s (R) seat — right here.

TEXAS: The state Republican Party voted Saturday to censure House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) over his role in impeaching Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). The party also voted for a resolution stating it would not associate with antisemites, after voting down a similar measure in December. (Texas Tribune)

VIRGINIA: The House of Delegates advanced legislation setting up a state authority to oversee the construction of a new home for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in Alexandria, across the Potomac River from Washington. The measure would grant legislators more control over the authority, at the expense of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) office. (Washington Post)

PEOPLE: Arkansas Chief Deputy Attorney General Bob Brooks died suddenly on Sunday at age 61, Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) said. Brooks was a longtime veteran of Republican politics, with stints at the RNC and as chief of staff to several members of Congress. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) Our condolences to Brooks’s friends and family.

By The Numbers

$5.35: The current tax on a pack of cigarettes in New York, the highest rate in the nation. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) wants to raise cigarette taxes to $4.50, which would tie the state with Washington, D.C., for the second-highest rate in the nation. (Rhode Island Current)

5: The number of Arizona state employees who earned more than $1 million in 2022. All five were head coaches of college basketball or football teams. Arizona State University football coach Herm Edwards, who was fired that year, tops the list at $3.9 million. (Arizona Republic)

$58.58: The cost of a Surf and Turf Nachos basket at Sunday’s Super Bowl at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The chips came with lobster and filet mignon, as well as a souvenir shot glass filled with salsa. (The Sun)

Off The Wall

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) skipped the traditional friendly bet on last night’s Super Bowl in favor of a charity plan. Newsom and Parson signed Super Bowl merchandise and memorabilia that will be donated to the Special Olympics, their offices said. (Los Angeles Times)

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) used an official gubernatorial proclamation to declare New Haven the Pizza Capital of America. New Haven is home to 75 pizza restaurants that combine for more than $100 million in sales every year. (Hearst)

New York, Detroit and Chicago would like a word.

Quote of the Day

“No matter when you leave any job that you have, there are always going to be things that you look back and you’re like, ‘Hey, that’s something that’s unfinished business.’”

Oregon House Speaker Dan Rayfield (D), on attempts to pass new limits on campaign contributions. Oregon is one of just five states that do not limit political giving. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)