Good morning, it’s Wednesday, July 12, 2023. In today’s edition, Iowa limits abortion rights; Fla.’s insurance crisis worsens; Maine Gov approves paid leave program:
ABORTION: Iowa lawmakers approved legislation banning abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, after about six weeks. Legislators voted virtually along party lines, with a few Republicans joining Democrats in opposition. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) will sign the bill Friday. The regional arm of Planned Parenthood said they would challenge the new law in court. (Pluribus News)
INSURANCE: Farmers Insurance has informed Florida officials it will no longer cover new auto, home and umbrella policies, the latest major property insurance company to pull out of the state. Farmers said the decision was based on risk exposure in a state at the epicenter of hurricane territory. The change affects about 100,000 policies. (Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press)
EXTREME WEATHER: The Phoenix area has been under an excessive heat warning that has already broken a previous record, and the city is set to break its record for the longest stretch of days when the temperature tops 110 degrees. Tucson broke an excessive heat record on Monday. (Arizona Republic) Flooding rivers in Vermont began to subside late Tuesday after catastrophic damage across the state. (VTDigger)
WORKFORCE: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed a $10.3 billion state budget that includes a new paid family and medical leave plan, making hers the 13th state to implement such a plan. Beginning in 2026, workers will be able to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave in a year to care for a sick family member or a newborn. (Maine Public Radio)
HOUSING: Texas lawmakers approved legislation this year barring homeowners associations from prohibiting landlords from accepting tenants who receive federal housing choice vouchers, known as Section 8. The measure, introduced by state Rep. Chris Turner (D), passed with bipartisan support. (Texas Tribune)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Kansas Department of Revenue and the state ACLU have asked a district court to reverse a temporary restraining order blocking gender marker adjustments on state driver’s licenses. ACLU attorneys signaled they would challenge the new state law barring such amendments on constitutional grounds. (Kansas Reflector)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed a nine-bill package aimed at cracking down on sex abuse after the Larry Nassar scandal. The bills prohibit sexual contact under the pretext of medical treatment, and prohibit medical professionals from performing some procedures and exams on minors, with exceptions. (MLive)
HEALTH CARE: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has signed legislation extending Medicaid benefits for new mothers to a full year after they give birth. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved postpartum coverage extensions in 35 other states. (KCUR)
In Politics & Business
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (D) has publicly announced her run for governor in 2024, the second major Democrat to enter the race after Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D). Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has signaled he may not seek re-election, though he hasn’t made a formal announcement. (Boston Globe, WMUR)
WASHINGTON: Former U.S. Attorney (and Survivor contestant) Nick Brown (D) formally launched his campaign to replace outgoing Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) on Wednesday, according to a press release. Brown will face state Sen. Manka Dhingra (D), while several other candidates are considering running.
GEORGIA: State Rep. Mesha Mainor has left the Democratic Party to join Republicans after she broke with her party to back private school voucher and prosecutor oversight legislation. Mainor, who represents parts of Atlanta, said she faced “harassment and intimidation” after her votes. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Republicans now hold 102 of 180 seats in the state House.
VIRGINIA: Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) PAC is encouraging Republican voters to cast an early ballot in November’s elections, in spite of doubts sewn by former President Donald Trump over absentee and mail-in voting. “We can’t go into Election Day down thousands of votes,” Youngkin said in a statement. (Pluribus News)
Here’s a rare public display of a conundrum GOP strategists have faced in recent years: They like early voting — it helps campaigns hone their pitch to those who haven’t yet cast a ballot — but Trump’s efforts to undermine confidence in election systems has left some Republican voters refusing to vote early.
By The Numbers
$3,411: The typical monthly rent for single-family homes, apartments, condominiums and townhouses in San Jose, Calif., the highest median in the nation, according to Zillow data. New York City follows at $3,405, and San Diego ranks third at $3,175 — the first time rents in San Diego have topped those in San Francisco ($3,168). Overall rents are up 4.1% over last year, Zillow said. (Los Angeles Times)
25%: The reduction in water usage reported in Las Vegas so far this year as the state deals with lower levels in the Colorado River. Experts still warned that a hot, dry summer will keep water levels low. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Off The Wall
Surfers around Santa Cruz, Calif., have been assaulted by an unusual assailant in recent weeks — an aggressive sea otter, who in at least one case stole a surfer’s board. Federal and state wildlife officials are now trying to apprehend the scofflaw otter, which appears to be the pup of an otter that made a habit of jumping on kayaks in Monterey Bay five years ago. (Los Angeles)
Baker City, Ore., Mayor Matt Diaz has resigned just a few weeks after he posted a meme showing four Pride flags rearranged to form a swastika. Diaz is the second mayor of a small town in Oregon to resign this week after posting offensive items on social media, after the mayor of Newport quit on Monday. Diaz said he was resigning to take work in another city. (Oregonian)
Quote of the Day
“I’m a carton of milk, you know? And I don’t want to get sour.”
— California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), on the urgency he feels to pass legislation before his second term ends in 2027. (Associated Press)