Pluribus AM: Experiments in government spending

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, January 10, 2024. In today’s edition, feds give New York power to experiment with Medicaid; DeSantis, Reynolds call for teacher pay raises; California debates banning tackle football for young kids:

Top Stories

Lawmakers in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and West Virginia return to session today. Welcome back to work!

MEDICAID: Federal officials have given New York the go-ahead to spend more than $6 billion in Medicaid money to provide housing, nutrition, substance use disorder treatment and behavioral health services to vulnerable populations. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been pushing states to experiment with programs that go beyond basic medical needs. (Pluribus News)

WORKFORCE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) proposed $1.25 billion to raise teacher pay in his State of the State address Tuesday, on top of $3 billion in teacher pay raises he has signed in recent years. DeSantis also called for $1.1 billion in tax cuts, and $20 million to entice law enforcement officials to move to Florida. (Pluribus News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Ohio House will vote Wednesday on Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) veto of legislation that would bar medical and mental health care for transgender minors and block transgender girls from women’s sports. House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) says Republicans have the votes to override the veto. (Columbus Dispatch)

MORE: A South Carolina House committee has advanced legislation barring gender-affirming care for minors, and the full House could vote on the bill as early as next week. Doctors who provide such care could lose their medical licenses. (South Carolina Daily Gazette)

SOCIAL MEDIA: A federal judge has temporarily blocked Ohio’s new law requiring social media sites to obtain parental consent before allowing a minor to create an account. The judge said the law was overly broad. Social media companies have challenged similar laws in other states on First Amendment grounds. (Columbus Dispatch)

EDUCATION: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) used her Condition of the State address to propose overhauling Area Education Agencies, which provide special education services to students. The overhaul would give school districts more choice in which of the state’s nine AEAs to use, or to opt for a private company. Reynolds also proposed increasing starting teacher salaries from $33,500 to $50,000. (Des Moines Register)

Iowa Senate President Amy Sinclair (R) previewed the push to overhaul special education services in our legislative preview event last month. Watch here.

MORE: California lawmakers will debate legislation today that would ban tackle football for children under 12. California would be the first state to ban full-contact football for minors; other proposals have died in New York and Illinois. California already bans full-contact practices for youth teams and limits practices to two per week. (Associated Press)

BUDGETS: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will lay out his initial budget plan in the face of a $68 billion deficit Wednesday. It’s the beginning of a yearly process that will culminate in a revised budget proposal in June. (Sacramento Bee)

Visit our home page later today to read about Newsom’s proposal.

In Politics & Business

MISSOURI: State Rep. Sarah Unsicker (D) will run for governor, she said this week, after House Democrats voted to kick her out of the caucus last month. Unsicker ran afoul of colleagues by associating with an alleged Holocaust denier. She faces House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D) in the Democratic primary. (Kansas City Star)

WISCONSIN: The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections heard five hours of testimony Tuesday on legislation to create a final-five runoff voting system for congressional elections. Lawmakers did not vote on the bipartisan proposal, which would establish a system similar to Alaska’s runoff elections. (Wisconsin Examiner)

ALASKA: Sponsors of an initiative to raise the minimum wage turned in more than 41,000 signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot on Tuesday. The initiative would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2027, then adjust it annually for inflation. They need about 26,000 signatures to be valid to qualify for ballot access. (Anchorage Daily News)

LOUISIANA: New Gov. Jeff Landry (R) wants state lawmakers to end Louisiana’s “jungle” primary system, in which the top two vote-getters advance to a general election regardless of party. Both Democratic and Republican parties favor changing a system that’s been in place since the 1970s. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

By The Numbers

Nearly 21 million: The number of kids in 35 states, five territories and four tribal nations who will receive meals under a new Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program. The program applies to families that make less than 185% of the federal poverty limit. (Associated Press)

7: The number of St. Paul City Council members, out of seven, who are women. St. Paul, population 307,193, is probably the largest city in the country to have an all-woman city council. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

$283 million: The amount Arkansas residents spent on medical marijuana in 2023, up 2.5% over the previous year’s record. About 97,000 Arkansans have a valid and active medical marijuana card. (Talk Business & Politics)

1.19 million: The number of electric vehicles purchased in the United States in 2023, up 47% over the prior year. Americans bought 1.2 million gas-electric hybrids last year, up 54% over 2022 sales. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

New Jersey House Speaker Craig Coughlin (D) has begun his fourth term with the gavel, setting a new record as the longest-serving speaker since the position was established in 1776. (NJ Advance Media)

The late Maryland Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller, who led his chamber for 33 years, and former Illinois Speaker Mike Madigan, who held the gavel for 36 years, would like a word.

Speaking of longevity, South Carolina Sen. Nikki Setzler (D) will retire this year after serving 48 years in the state Senate. He’s the longest-serving state senator in America. (The State)

A new musical based on the life — or afterlife — of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is set to give a stage reading Thursday in New York City. The musical, The Ghost of John McCain, is set inside of former President Donald Trump’s mind. (The Messenger)

Quote of the Day

“These are not famous last words. I’m not riding into the sunset.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), in his final State of the State address. Inslee is not seeking a fourth term in November. (Seattle Times)