Pluribus AM: Election lawsuits on the rise; states consider work zone speed cameras; our guide to state legislative elections to watch

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. In today’s edition, states install work zone cameras after a spike in deaths, election-related lawsuits already on the rise, and the key state legislative chambers to watch this year:

Top Stories

ELECTIONS: More than 100 lawsuits have been filed this year around the midterm elections, the largest number of suits ever brought before an election even takes place. The suits, filed mostly by Republican groups, target mail-in voting, early voting, voting machines, registrations, improperly-marked absentee ballots and access for poll watchers. (Associated Press)

TRAFFIC DEATHS: States are giving a new look at automated speed cameras in work zones after an alarming rise in worker fatalities. Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia have all authorized speed cameras in recent years, while Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma and West Virginia have all considered adding work zone cameras to their roadways. More than 850 people died in work zone crashes in 2020. (Pluribus News)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is considering a measure that would establish a “right to repair” for electronic devices. The bill would force manufacturers to provide tools and parts to independent repair shops and individuals to repair cell phones and other electronic devices. It passed the legislature with near-unanimous support. (NY State of Politics) “Right to repair” is a phrase you’ll hear a lot in upcoming legislative sessions.

MICHIGAN: Three men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) were convicted of materially aiding a terrorist and being members of a gang after a jury deliberated for just five hours on Wednesday. They had been charged with aiding two ringleaders who were convicted in August. (Detroit News)

PENNSYLVANIA: State House Republicans have filed articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D). A select committee investigating Krasner tied his policies to rising rates of gun violence, though its report did not recommend his impeachment. House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R) promised a quick vote. (PoliticsPA)

PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS: Republican governors in 19 states have written to the Biden administration opposing the mandatory use of Project Labor Agreements for federal construction projects. The governors say the mandate discourages competition and gives too much power to unions. A proposed rule would apply to construction contracts exceeding $35 million. (Center Square)

SOUTH DAKOTA: State legislators hoping to hold a special session to repeal sales taxes on groceries failed to gather enough signatures to call lawmakers back to the capital. Gov. Kristi Noem (R), once an opponent of the repeal, has said she will call for an end to grocery sales taxes in her State of the State opening next year’s legislative session. (Keloland)

ALBERTSONS: A bipartisan group of six attorneys general have called on Albertsons grocery chain to delay a planned $4 billion special dividend to shareholders as they and the Federal Trade Commission finish reviewing a planned merger with another major grocery chain, Kroger. In a letter, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (R) said Albertsons would lack the cash to compete while the merger is ongoing. (Idaho Statesman, Seattle Times)

MISSISSIPPI: Former Gov. Haley Barbour (R) was airlifted to a hospital late Wednesday after flipping his SUV. Barbour is being treated for non-life threatening injuries. He swerved to avoid hitting a dog. (Y’all Politics, Darkhorse Press) First, our best wishes for a speedy recovery, Gov. Barbour. Second, let’s appreciate that the Yazoo County Sheriff’s name is Jake Sheriff.

In Politics

LEGISLATURES: Democrats and Republicans are spending unprecedented money on state legislative elections this year, and the battle for power is coming down to nine states. Democrats are trying to recapture GOP-held chambers in Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Republicans are trying to recapture chambers in Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada. Read our electoral preview — with exclusive data! — here.

NEVADA GOV: A new poll conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno finds Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) leading Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R) by a statistically insignificant 47%-45% margin. Sisolak’s approval rating stands at just 42%. Take this one with a grain of salt, the same poll shows Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) leading former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) 52%-39%, a much larger lead than any other poll has shown. 

ARIZONA GOV: Choose your own adventure here: An InsiderAdvantage poll conducted for Fox 10 shows former television anchor Kari Lake (R) leading Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) 54%-43%. Data For Progress, a progressive pollster, shows Lake ahead 50%-46%. Notable in the Data For Progress poll is that Lake’s favorable ratings stand at 48%, much higher than we’ve seen in previous surveys.

Cochise County officials said their “hand count” will include only those cast at the polls in next month’s midterm election, a modification to earlier plans that drew legal scrutiny. Secretary of State Hobbs said the new plan adheres to state law. (Arizona Republic)

ILLINOIS GOV: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) leads state Sen. Darren Bailey (R) 50%-41%, with Libertarian Scott Schluter at 3%, in a new Emerson College poll conducted for WGN and The Hill. Emerson’s last poll, a month ago, found Pritzker up 51%-36%.

SOUTH DAKOTA GOV: Remember that poll from a few weeks ago that showed Gov. Kristi Noem (R) only narrowly leading state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith (D)? Either that one was an outlier or this one is: A new Emerson College poll conducted for KELO and The Hill finds Noem waltzing to re-election, 56%-37%, with 3% backing Libertarian Tracey Quint. Measure 27, which would legalize recreational marijuana, is trailing 40%-51%.

CALIFORNIA GOV: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) leads state Sen. Brian Dahle (R) 55%-36% in a new PPIC survey. Propositions 26 and 27, both relating to sports betting, are losing by wide margins. Voters oppose Prop. 26, supported by tribal governments, 34%-57%. They oppose Prop. 27, supported by the big national gaming companies, 26%-67%. Read our primer on those two ballot measures here.

By The Numbers

$70 million: The annual tax revenue Massachusetts expects to bring in from sports betting once it actually begins next year, according to state Gaming Commissioner Bradford Hill. (Boston Herald) A similar story is playing out in other states where sports betting is legal: It’s a nice windfall for the state, but it’s by no means a cure-all to future budget woes.

$3.5 million: The amount Massachusetts has agreed to pay New Hampshire to settle a long-running dispute over lost property taxes caused by infrastructure that prevents flooding on the Merrimack River. Massachusetts has been paying New Hampshire for lost property tax revenue since 1957, but the two states haven’t agreed on how much to pay since 2014. (MassLive)

Off The Wall

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R) is running for re-election in the 23rd district, where he is registered to vote at an address in Grimes. But public records unearthed in an investigation by KCRG-TV and KCCI-TV show the condominium in Grimes has not used water since February, raising questions about whether Whitver actually lives in the district he wants to represent. (Des Moines Register)

Arizonans suggested 4,700 potential names for three new snowplows the state Department of Transportation is buying. Among the 15 finalists: Alice Scooper; Blizzard of AZ; Optimus Brine; Snokopelli; Snowguaro; and the Yavapai Yeti. (Arizona Republic) That last one gets our vote.

NASA is beginning new practice runs for moon missions in a remote area of Arizona desert 40 miles north of Flagstaff, after an 11-year absence. The mission helps astronauts practice for establishing a long-term base camp. (Arizona Republic)

Quote of the Day

“We were waiting to see if he would just come out on its own. As of right now, he’s healthy and up there walking around.”

Sherri Taliercio, a spokeswoman for the Ocean County Library in Toms River, N.J., where a large red-tailed hawk has been trapped since Monday. (NJ Advance Media)