Pluribus AM: Gun bills and voting debates ahead; lawmakers debate tax cuts; and the most-Googled politician of 2022

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. In today’s edition, blue states plot gun safety measures; election reform bills will pop up everywhere; and Google reveals the most-searched politician in America (it’s probably not who you think):

Top Stories

GUN CONTROL: Democratic-controlled states are planning one of the most ambitious gun safety agendas we’ve seen in recent years. Legislators in Connecticut, Illinois and Washington are exploring assault weapons bans. Minnesota and Michigan are considering universal background checks and red flag laws. Expect Colorado to take up legislation to address gun industry immunity laws. (Pluribus News)

The Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen earlier this year didn’t rattle gun safety advocates — but expect litigation ahead in all of these states. Lots of it.

VOTING RIGHTS: Republicans and Democrats expect to introduce new measures to change voting rules this year. Texas lawmakers have pre-filed almost 100 bills related to election law, and Ohio lawmakers plan to try again on their major elections overhaul. Officials in Minnesota and Michigan, where Democrats take charge after midterm wins, plan measures to expand voter registration and to combat misinformation. (Associated Press)

TIKTOK: Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) became one of the first Democratic governors to ban TikTok from state devices, following a rush of Republicans who did so over the last few weeks. In Louisiana, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, an appointee of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), also ordered a ban on the app. (Associated Press) 

ILLINOIS: A Kankakee County judge has ruled a provision in the SAFE-T Act eliminating cash bail is unconstitutional, just days before the measure was set to take effect in the new year. Sheriffs and prosecutors had challenged the law. Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) said he would appeal to the state Supreme Court. (Chicago Tribune, WGN)

OREGON: Lawmakers will make housing a top priority in their coming legislative session, House Majority Leader Julie Fahey (D) said, as the state faces a shortfall of about 140,000 homes. They don’t have a lot of money to play with, so legislators are likely to focus on workforce housing for those who earn between 80% and 120% of an area’s median income. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)

WISCONSIN: Republicans have yet to agree on a plan to cut taxes funded by the state’s $6.6 billion surplus. Senate President Chris Kapenga (R) said he would like to eliminate the income tax, while others back moving to a flat tax. (Center Square) Republicans don’t have the votes to override Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) veto, and the relationship between Evers and the legislature is lousy, to say the least.

VIRGINIA: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed a 10% deduction for business income aimed at steering money back to small employers who do not benefit from a proposed corporate tax cut. The proposal, based on a federal Qualified Business Income tax deduction, could benefit as many as 627,000 Virginians. (WRIC) 

WASHINGTON: Top Senate Democrats have introduced a proposed constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion and to obtain contraceptives. The measure must receive a two-thirds majority in the legislature and win voter approval in a November general election to be added to the constitution. (The Olympian)

TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and the state Railroad Commission — which oversees the oil and gas industry — to investigate Atmos Energy, the state’s largest natural gas provider, for failing to prepare for winter temperatures last week. Atmos reported low gas pressure as temperatures plunged below freezing. (Texas Tribune)

NORTH CAROLINA: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a 2017 law barring legal settlements between farms and workers from requiring a farm operation to become a union workplace. The measure, challenged by North Carolina’s only farm worker’s union, had been on hold since a judge blocked it in 2021. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: Barry Croft, a leader of the domestic terrorist cell that plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), was sentenced Wednesday to more than 19 years in prison. Prosecutors had sought a life sentence. Codefendant Adam Fox received 16 years earlier this week. (Detroit Free Press)

In Politics and Business

REAPPORTIONMENT: Census figures from the American Community Survey suggest Arizona, Florida, Texas and Idaho would gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives if current population trends hold. California, Illinois, Minnesota and New York would all lose seats. Lots of time to go before the next Census, but the trends in this year’s survey should make California especially nervous. (Pluribus News)

ARIZONA: Final results are due today in three recounts of extremely close races. Attorney General-elect Kris Mayes (D) leads Republican Abe Hamadeh by 511 votes. School Superintendent-elect Tom Horne (R) leads incumbent Kathy Hoffman (D) by 8,967 votes. And two Republicans fighting over a seat in the state House are separated by 270 votes. Any race that finishes within half a percentage point must be recounted. (Arizona Republic)

MORE: Secretary of State (and Governor-elect) Katie Hobbs (D) and Secretary of State-elect Adrian Fontes (D) are seeking sanctions against state Rep. Mark Finchem (R) and his attorney for bringing a baseless challenge to midterm election results. (Arizona Republic) Finchem lost by 120,000 votes.

OHIO: Summit County Republican Party chairman Bryan Williams will run again to head the state GOP. He will face Hamilton County GOP chair Alex Triantifilou, lobbyist Jimmy Stewart and Lake County party chairman Dale Fellows. The current chairman, Bob Paduchik, won’t seek a new term. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

STARBUCKS: The National Labor Relations Board has accused the coffee giant of breaking the law when it refused to bargain with unionized workers at 21 stores in Seattle, Olympia and Tumwater in Washington and Portland and Eugene in Oregon. Across the country, 261 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize. (Seattle Times)

By The Numbers

86: The number of public officials who faced recall elections this year, according to an analysis by recall expert Joshua Spivak. Of the 86 recall efforts that made the ballot, 50 officials got booted from office, and 36 survived. Another 18 officials who faced recalls resigned before they had to face voters again. (Pluribus News)

$226,711: The salary Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) will forego during his second term. Don’t feel too bad for Lamont — his adjusted gross income last year was $54 million. And that doesn’t count income from his wife, Annie Lamont, a successful venture capitalist. (Hartford Courant)

861: The number of Alaska state employees who make more in salary than Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R). Dunleavy earns $145,002 a year. A forensic psychiatrist who works for the prison system is the highest-paid state employee, at $415,000 a year. (Alaska Beacon)

1,166: The number of bills California legislators approved in 2022. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed 997 of them into law. (Sacramento Bee) We’ll do a little digging today, but we’re pretty certain that’s the largest number of bills passed in any state this year.

Off The Wall

Don’t miss Google’s year-end trends. Among all searches, “election results” came in second, just behind Wordle. Former Phoenix television broadcaster and failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) was the most-Googled politician. “How to help abortion rights” was the third-most searched help term, after two relating to Ukraine. And “voting near me” and “early voting near me” were third- and fourth-most searched near-me terms this year. (Google)

Top lawmakers in New Hampshire are rallying around a bill to mark May 3 as Old Man of the Mountain Day. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is on board, too. This year, May 3 marks the 20th anniversary of the iconic cliff face’s collapse. (WMUR)