Pluribus AM: FL legislature starts; MS extends postpartum Medicaid; MN allows licenses for undocumented immigrants

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Good morning, it’s Wednesday, March 8, 2023. In today’s edition, DeSantis delivers combative address as Fla. legislature kicks off; Miss. set to extend postpartum Medicaid; Minn. allows undocumented immigrants to have driver’s license:

Top Stories

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) kicked off the legislative session with a combative State of the State address, laying out a laundry list of conservative priorities lawmakers will take up this year, from youth transgender care bans to permitless carry of firearms and a teacher’s bill of rights that targets unions. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Lawmakers used the first day of session to introduce a proposal to ban abortion six weeks after conception. The legislature approved a ban after 15 weeks just last year. (Orlando SentinelFlorida Politics)

Don’t miss our preview of the legislature’s DeSantis-infused agenda.

MISSISSIPPI: The House of Representatives gave final approval to a bill extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to new mothers for up to 12 months. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said last week he would sign the bill. Mississippi was the last of 10 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to extend coverage to new moms. (Pluribus News)

MICHIGAN: The House voted to repeal a 2016 law that prohibits third graders from entering fourth grade if their reading assessment score is too low. (Detroit News) Bills to repeal the right-to-work law and reinstate the prevailing wage law are likely to be passed by the House today. (Detroit News) 

MORE: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed legislation that reverses tax bill changes for retirees and low-income earners first enacted in 2011. (Detroit Free Press)

The new Democratic trifecta is unwinding what Republicans did in the last decade.

MINNESOTA: Gov. Tim Walz (D) has signed legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. The bill deletes an old provision requiring someone to show proof of citizenship or lawful presence to get a license. Minnesota is the 19th state, most of them blue, to allow licenses for the undocumented. (Pluribus News)

PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) announced a $44.4 billion budget proposal that includes $1 billion in new education spending, raising the income threshold for a state property tax and rent rebate program, and a $24.7 million for a tax credit for those who earn teaching, nursing or law enforcement certification. (Spotlight PA)

WASHINGTON: The House on Monday approved a bill that would allow duplexes or fourplexes in cities with more than 25,000 residents, significantly curtailing local zoning rules that limit many areas to single-family homes. The bill passed on a bipartisan vote, though its fate is uncertain in the Senate. (Seattle Times)

ARKANSAS: The Senate cleared Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s (R) LEARNS Act, which expands voucher programs and raises teacher salaries. She will sign it today. (Talk Business) It also passed a bill that would make it a crime for a transgender person to be in a bathroom while a minor is present. (Arkansas Times)

IDAHO: The House passed a bill that prohibits public drag shows that feature “sexual conduct” and restricts minors from attending such shows that are held on private property. (Idaho Capital Sun)

IOWA: The Senate passed a bill that will decrease the number of cabinet-level agencies and give Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) more control of appointments and salaries of state employees. (Des Moines Register)

In Politics & Business

OKLAHOMA: Voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana, which was the only item on the statewide ballot. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2018 by 14 percentage points. (Associated Press)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is introducing a constitutional amendment to strengthen current state law, which mandates that New Hampshire’s primary is held at least one week before any other similar contest. The effort is in response to the Democratic National Committee’s attempt to alter the order of presidential primaries. (WMUR)

MASSACHUSETTS: State Auditor Diana DiZoglio (D), a former lawmaker, said she is launching a broad audit of the Democratic-controlled state legislature, which she called a “closed-door operation” in which legislation is often advanced “in the dark of night.” (Boston Globe)

VIRGINIA: State Del. Matt Fariss (R) was arrested on two felony charges stemming from an alleged hit-and-run that injured a pedestrian who had previously been riding in his car. (Cardinal News)

VERMONT: Winooski’s city council will be entirely LGBTQ after voters elected a slate of candidates Tuesday. (VT Digger)

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is eschewing the traditional State of the State speech in favor of a four-stop tour of the state March 16-19 to unveil new policies and goals. He’ll send legislators a letter after the tour to fulfill a constitutional mandate. (Sacramento Bee)

GEORGIA: State Rep. Ginny Ehrhart (R) was ordered by a federal judge to stop blocking and deleting comments on her Facebook page from those with opposing views. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

By The Numbers

4: The number of licensed recreational marijuana stores operating across New York, nearly two years after marijuana legalization passed. Unlicensed stores are driving down prices, industry experts say. (Pluribus News)

A fascinating look at the unintended consequences of pot legalization.

6%: The increase in total tax collections compared to last fiscal year in 18 states analyzed by Fitch Ratings, as collections start to slip back toward normal after years of mammoth growth. Total collections have fallen in California, Massachusetts and New York, all of which rely heavily on high earners. (Pluribus News)

$4.6 million: The amount Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) raised for his inaugural celebration. That is nearly three times as much as former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) raised for his second inaugural four years earlier. (Maryland Matters) 

Off The Wall

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission cleared state Rep. Stephen Casey (D), a firefighter and chairman of the House Committee on Municipal Government and Housing, to preside over hearings and a vote on a package of bills being pushed by the state’s firefighter lobby. Among those who joined in the unanimous commission vote were the wives of the Providence fire chief and the lead House lobbyist for the Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs, respectively. (Providence Journal)

Quote of the Day

“Once you leave middle school, you don’t really think about the state flag.” 

Illinois Sen. Doris Turner (D), who wants to create a committee to recommend a replacement for the state flag, which dates to 1915. (WCIA)