Pluribus AM: Good Days and Other Days

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, June 27, 2023. In today’s edition, states advance railroad safety bills; feds dole out broadband billions; Miss. Dems in civil war:

Top Stories

RAILROADS: Legislators in at least a dozen states have advanced new safety requirements for railroads after the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Most states are limiting the length of trains, mandating trackside detectors used to identify equipment problems and requiring more notice to emergency responders about hazardous freight. (Associated Press)

GUN POLITICS: Massachusetts Rep. Michael Day (D), chair of the Joint Judiciary Committee, has introduced a measure to ban ghost guns, expand red flag laws and require those seeking a license to own a firearm to complete a training course. The bill would explicitly prohibit guns in schools, polling places and government buildings. (Boston Globe) Maine’s House has approved a measure requiring background checks on private gun sales. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which has already blocked several gun measures this year. (Maine Public Radio)

HEALTH CARE: Missouri’s Board of Pharmacy issued an emergency rule that will allow pharmacies to combine drugs needed for chemotherapy in the face of a cancer drug shortage. Some hospitals have had to ration care because of production problems at a factory in India. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

ABORTION: The South Carolina Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in a case challenging a six-week abortion ban lawmakers approved in May. The law allows for exceptions in cases of rape and incest up to 12 weeks, and in cases of a fatal fetal anomaly or when the mother’s life is at risk. (The State) North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) will not defend a new 12-week abortion ban lawmakers passed over Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto. (Carolina Journal)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R) says a new state law requires the state to reverse previously made gender changes on birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) disagrees, though it’s not clear whether she will order agencies to ignore the opinion. (Associated Press) The Maine House has approved a bill allowing teenagers to receive gender-affirming care. (Portland Press Herald)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has signed legislation partially decriminalizing prostitution. The bill eliminates the crime of engaging in prostitution, and increases penalties for soliciting a child. (Associated Press) At least four lawmakers in Montana have received envelopes with white powder, following similar letters sent to legislators in Kansas and Tennessee in the last week. No one has gotten sick, and one of the letters sent to a Montana lawmaker contained flour. (Daily Montanan)

MARIJUANA: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation allowing medical marijuana patients to renew their prescriptions via Telehealth. The bill also authorizes new marijuana growing licenses to a dozen Black farmers. (Florida Politics)

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and legislative Democrats reached a $310.8 billion budget deal that reduces investments in fighting climate change and allows faster approval for several major infrastructure plans. Newsom allowed the legislature to remove a delta tunnel project from the list of projects to be fast-tracked. (Los Angeles Times)

In Politics & Business

ALABAMA: Plaintiffs who challenged Alabama’s congressional district lines have proposed 12 new maps after winning their case before the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which would allocate a second Black-majority district. The maps put U.S. Rep. Barry Moore’s (R) seat in jeopardy. (

LOUISIANA: The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted a hold on litigation challenging Louisiana’s U.S. House district lines, likely forcing the state to draw a second Black-majority district. A District Court judge ruled in 2022 that Louisiana’s maps violated the Voting Rights Act, but that decision had been on hold until the Alabama case was resolved. (Associated Press)

MISSISSIPPI: The Democratic National Committee has committed to spend $250,000 on Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley’s (D) campaign for governor, but some Democrats worry that money is in jeopardy after state Democratic Party chair Tyree Irving insisted he alone runs the state party. (Mississippi Today)

A nasty email exchange between Irving and the state party’s executive director, detailed in the Mississippi Today story, may have jeopardized the donation.

ARIZONA: Senate Republicans will refuse to allow confirmation hearings for Gov. Katie Hobbs’s (D) nominees after Hobbs issued an executive order removing abortion prosecutions from county prosecutors. Republicans on the nominations committee said they would not hold any new meetings until they got a sit-down with Hobbs. (Arizona Republic)

PEOPLE: Former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch (D), who helped rescue New York City from bankruptcy and ran the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has died at 89. He was appointed to serve as then-Gov. David Paterson’s (D) number two in 2009. (New York Times)

By The Numbers

$11 billion: The amount state and local governments could save if they phase out gas-powered vehicle fleets and switch to electric vehicles, according to an analysis by U.S. PIRG. State and local governments operate about 4 million vehicles. (Pluribus News)

$3.3 billion: The amount Texas stands to receive through the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program, part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year that allocated $42 billion to ensure high-speed internet access. Eighteen other states will receive more than $1 billion, but Texas is the big winner by far. (Pluribus News)

$5.6 million: The amount special interest groups spent lobbying Hawaii lawmakers this year, higher than any year in recent memory. Airbnb topped the list of big spenders. (Honolulu Civil Beat)

Off The Wall

If Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) invites you over for a pool party, go — the governor’s mansion has a pool shaped like Oklahoma. (Twitter)

A new Iowa committee headed by Department of Management Director Kraig Paulsen will determine whether Iowa has too many state committees. Iowa has more than 250 boards and commissions. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) made government efficiency a top priority during this year’s legislative session. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Florida’s Department of Health has issued a statewide warning after four cases of malaria were confirmed in Sarasota County. Another case has been identified in Texas. They are the first locally-acquired malaria cases in the United States in two decades, the CDC said. (Florida Politics, Reuters)

Quote of the Day

“There have been good days, and there have been other days.”

Oregon state Rep. David Gomberg (D), looking back on a chaotic session. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)