Pluribus AM: Gun debates not over for the year

Good morning, it’s Thursday, July 13, 2023. In today’s edition, Calif. considers gun excise tax; inflation eases; Ga. targets pharmacy benefit managers:

Top Stories

GUN POLITICS: California Senate committees are working through legislation to impose an 11% excise tax on retail firearm sales, money that would fund a new gun violence prevention program. The measure passed the Assembly in May; the Senate Public Safety Committee approved it on a party-line vote this week, and it heads next to the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Michigan Democrats are working on new legislation that would ban those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms for years after their convictions. Another proposed bill would allow those at risk of self-harm to place themselves on a registry barring their access to firearms. (Michigan Advance)

ECONOMY: The Consumer Price Index rose 3% through June, according to new government data, less than the 4% increase through May and just a third of the peak of 9% last summer. The core index, which does not include food and gas prices, climbed at the slowest pace since August 2021. Inflation remains above the Fed’s 2% goal, but the lower rate means regulators may be able to stop raising interest rates after its meeting this month. (New York Times)

EDUCATION: The North Carolina House has unveiled a Children’s Law Omnibus bill that would allow parents to request a transfer to another school, notify parents on how to opt out of sex ed classes, require public libraries to restrict access to some materials and require schools to inform parents if their child is self-identifying as a gender different from their biological sex. The bill would also require a school district to consider firing a superintendent if five parents file affidavits alleging their rights have been violated. (Carolina Journal)

ABORTION: Three pro-abortion rights groups have challenged Iowa’s new six-week abortion ban, even before Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has had a chance to sign it. The legislation, passed late Tuesday, would go into effect when Reynolds signs it unless a Polk County court grants a temporary injunction. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

HEALTH CARE: Georgia legislators will take up legislation targeting pharmacy benefit managers again next year, after legislation passed the state House but stalled in the Senate this year. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) said the state Department of Health will expand a program to stockpile antibiotics in case of medical emergency. The state will begin storing away stockpiles of albuterol, epinephrine, insulin, prednisone and pediatric amoxicillin. (South Dakota Searchlight)

MORE: Wisconsin’s Senate Health Committee is considering bipartisan measures that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control and to require health insurance policies to cover extra screenings for those at risk of breast cancer. (Wisconsin Examiner) Massachusetts lawmakers are advancing a supplemental spending package that includes $180 million to support “fiscally strained” hospitals still struggling with the fallout from the pandemic. (Boston Globe)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Wisconsin Republicans have reintroduced legislation to ban transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports. Separate bills would apply to K-12 schools and the University of Wisconsin system. Similar bills passed the Assembly in 2021, but died in the Senate. (Wisconsin Examiner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a law allowing 16- and 17-year olds to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy without a parent’s consent. (Maine Public Radio)

POVERTY: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed a bill removing asset tests for food assistance eligibility, a requirement put in place under former Gov. Rick Snyder (R). Michigan is the 36th state to eliminate asset tests for food assistance, cash assistance or emergency relief. (Detroit News, MLive)

In Politics & Business

MISSISSIPPI: The federal Department of Justice is seeking to join a lawsuit filed by the NAACP against a new Mississippi law that requires the appointment of some judges in Jackson’s Hinds County, a majority-Black county where judges are otherwise elected. The Justice Department argued the new law, signed earlier this year, discriminates against people based on race. (Associated Press)

GEORGIA: The state Board of Elections is suing True the Vote, the Texas-based group that filed complaints over alleged fraud in the 2020 election, for failing to turn over information about their allegations. The group refused to comply with an April 2022 subpoena from the state board. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) raised more than $15 million in the 12 days in June that followed the legislative session. Abbott, who won’t be up for re-election — if he decides to run — until 2026, has $23 million in the bank. (Texas Tribune) If Abbott wins a fourth term, he would break ex-Gov. Rick Perry’s record of 14 years in office.

By The Numbers

6%: The share of voters who cast ballots in both 2020 and 2022 who voted for candidates of different parties in those two elections. Among Biden voters, 7% voted for a different party’s candidates in the 2022 midterms; among Trump voters, just 3% defected. (Pew Research Center)

This is why parties focus most of their attention on mobilizing their own voters, rather than persuading those in the middle: In today’s hyper-polarized world, there’s almost no middle to speak of.

$195.6 million to $431.3 million: The amount Florida could generate in local and state sales tax revenue on a legal marijuana market, according to a state finance committee’s estimate of the potential market. The economists estimate an initial recreational marijuana market could generate $1.7 billion in sales. (Tallahassee Democrat)

$699.6 million: The surplus with which Mississippi ended the last fiscal year, according to new state figures, after the state collected 10% more revenue than official estimates anticipated. (Mississippi Today)

127 years: The length of time Anchor Brewing Company brewed beer in San Francisco, making it the oldest craft brewery in the country. Anchor’s parent company said it would shut down and liquidate after years of declining sales. Overall beer sales slid 3.1% in the United States last year amid rising wine and spirits sales. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

Men and women can now legally cohabitate without being married, after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a bill repealing a 1931 law that made those who “lewdly and lasciviously” live together vulnerable to misdemeanor charges. It’s not clear when the last time the antiquated law was actually enforced, but it’s been many, many decades. (Michigan Advance)

Mainers are likely to get the chance to vote on a new state flag in the coming months. Legislators could not decide whether to keep the current flag, adopted in 1909, or revert to a 1901 version that includes only a pine tree and a blue North Star, so they punted to voters to make the choice. (Maine Public Radio)

Hunters in South Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve captured a 19-foot Burmese python, the largest such snake ever measured. Though they are native to Southeast Asia, the two largest Burmese pythons ever found have come from South Florida. (Fort Myers News-Press)

Well there’s our nightmare fuel for the week.

Quote of the Day

“If there’s no place for you to go, then there’s no school choice.”

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R), previewing the next front in the battle to expand education choice: Spurring construction and establishment of new private schools. (Columbus Dispatch)