Pluribus AM: Hochul’s judge nominee goes down; Ind. Supreme Court hears abortion case; Alaska House gets a majority, finally

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. In today’s edition, Hochul’s judicial nominee goes down; Ind. Supreme Court hears abortion case; and the Alaska House has a majority!

Top Stories

NEW YORK: Justice Hector LaSalle, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) nominee to head the state Court of Appeals, lost a key committee vote Wednesday as majority Democrats voted against his confirmation. Hochul’s administration is making plans to sue to force a confirmation vote before the full Senate. Progressives opposed LaSalle’s nomination over past rulings. (State of Politics)

A feud between Hochul and legislative Democrats portends a tough budget season ahead.

INDIANA: The state Supreme Court hears arguments today over whether a Republican-passed abortion ban violates the state constitution’s privacy protections. A county judge blocked the law in September. The Indiana law bars abortions after 10 weeks. (Associated Press) Indiana was the first state to pass a new ban after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.

IDAHO: The House of Representatives will debate a measure withholding sales and use tax revenues from cities that refuse to enforce state abortion laws. The measure cleared the House State Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. (Idaho Capital Sun)

WYOMING: Lawmakers have introduced a measure barring abortion in the case of rape or incest and allowing district attorneys and the state Attorney General to sue abortion providers. The measure removes all state funding for abortion, including for those necessary to preserve the life of the mother. (Casper Star Tribune)

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds’s (R) measure to provide students with vouchers to cover private school tuition is being fast-tracked through the legislature. Senate and House education panels approved the bill on party-line votes, setting it up for floor debates next week. (Des Moines Register, Iowa Starting Line) The bill died in the state House last year.

CONNECTICUT: The General Assembly’s Public Health Committee has voted to advance aid-in-dying legislation, the 15th time such a proposal has been introduced since 1995. The bill died in the Senate last year. This year’s proposal would apply to terminally ill patients with up to six months left to live. (Hartford Courant) Medically assisted suicide is legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C.

NEBRASKA: Gov. Jim Pillen (R) has unveiled plans for a 3.99% flat tax and an immediate end to taxes on Social Security benefits. His plans also call for an end to property tax support for community colleges. The flat tax would go into effect in 2027. (Omaha World Herald)

PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) signed an order Wednesday removing four-year degree requirements for about 65,000 state government jobs. The order applies to about 92% of all state jobs, and Shapiro ordered a review of the remaining 8% that still require a degree. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

MINNESOTA: A state House committee has approved a bill banning so-called conversion therapy for LGBTQ minors. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) The House and Senate are considering bills to provide free lunch to all public school students, continuing a pandemic-era program funded by Covid relief dollars. (Fargo Forum)

TRANSGENDER CARE: Lawmakers in 11 states have introduced measures this year that would create new restrictions on doctors prescribing puberty blockers, hormone treatment or surgery to transgender children or teens, regardless of what their parents want. Legislators in South Dakota introduced a bill this week, and Utah’s bill got a hearing on the second day of session. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

ALASKA: The state House of Representatives elected Rep. Cathy Tilton (R) as their Speaker, giving a mostly Republican coalition control of the body. Tilton won thanks to the votes of a four-member Bush Caucus, two Democrats and two independents representing rural districts who sided with Republicans to give them a majority. (Alaska Beacon, Anchorage Daily News)

MASSACHUSETTS: The state Republican Party owes $52,467 for investigations it commissioned into Gov. Maura Healey’s (D) personal life. The investigation, authorized by state party chairman Jim Lyons, may have violated state law, according to party treasurer Patrick Crowley. (Boston Herald) Lyons is asking local party officials to sign onto a lawsuit against members of his own party. (Boston Herald)

MICHIGAN: The state Senate has approved $1.5 million to fund the independent redistricting commission’s legal fights to preserve newly drawn maps on a party-line vote. Republicans couldn’t reach agreement with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) over funding for the panel in last year’s lame duck session. (MLive)

NORTH CAROLINA: State Auditor Beth Wood (D) will appear in Wake County court next week after being charged in a hit-and-run incident from December. Wood, first elected in 2008, has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, property damage and unsafe movement. (Raleigh News & Observer)

ALABAMA: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) will work with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to send free books to children from birth to age 5 every month. ( Dolly Parton has refused Presidential Medals of Honor from not one but two presidents.

RURAL AMERICA: More than 50 rural towns and regions offer relocation incentives and programs to woo new residents. The programs are just a small part of the population gains that have happened in rural areas in the last few years, a reversal of decades of population loss. (Daily Yonder) We know a certain Speaker of the West Virginia House who’s quite proud of his state’s relocation program.

By The Numbers

$350 million: The amount Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) spent on his two campaigns for governor, according to new campaign finance filings, including $167 million he spent to win re-election against state Sen. Darren Bailey (R) in 2022. (Chicago Tribune)

$1.07 billion: The amount in damages caused to Florida’s agriculture industry by Hurricane Ian, according to a new University of Florida report. Farmers say even that sky-high number is an underestimate. (Orlando Sentinel)

$79.8 billion: Tax revenues New York received in the third quarter of the year, $7.7 billion higher than original estimates. (State of Politics)

Off The Wall

Hey kids, do you have an opinion on legislation up for debate before the Idaho legislature? If the bill is referred to the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee, you’re out of luck — chairman Bruce Skaug (R) will not allow constituents under the age of 18 to give testimony before his panel. Skaug says he wants to reserve the right to testify for taxpayers over 18. (Idaho Press)

Not for the birds: Anyone feeding feral chickens in Hawaii could face a $500 fine, under a new measure now before the legislature. (Honolulu Star Advertiser) Feral chickens would be a good band name.

State symbols alert: West Virginia Del. Josh Holstein (R) has introduced legislation designating the fiddle as the official state instrument. (Associated Press) North Dakota’s Senate Education Committee has advanced a bill naming curling as the official state sport. (Fargo Forum)

Quote of the Day

“The Sesame Street word of the day is ‘cooperation.’”

Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki (D), on the legislature’s opening day, amid reports of tension between legislative Democrats and new Gov. Josh Green (D). (Civil Beat)