Pluribus AM: Iowa passes gov’t reform bill; N.C. Medicaid expansion inches toward finish line; new polls in Miss., La.

Good morning, it’s Thursday, March 16, 2023. Quick, read this before the first NCAA games tip off! In today’s edition, Iowa passes gov’t reform bill; N.C. Medicaid expansion inches toward finish line; La. Gov poll shows Dem likely to make runoff:

Top Stories

EDUCATION: The Arkansas House has given approval to a bill creating a process to challenge books available to kids in public and school libraries, eliminating a defense intended to protect librarians from criminal prosecution under obscenity laws. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) The Kansas House approved school choice legislation establishing education savings accounts, but by a narrow margin that could not override a potential veto from Gov. Laura Kelly (D). (Topeka Capital-Journal)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Idaho’s House Education Committee has approved a bill to prohibit K-12 schools from allowing people to use bathrooms that do not match their biological sex. (Idaho Reports) A Montana bill to define “male” and “female” based on the function of a person’s reproductive system has cleared an initial vote in the state Senate. (Montana Free Press) 

MORE: The Maryland House has given initial approval to a bill allowing students who are subjected to bullying because of their orientation or gender identity to decide whether those incidents are reported to parents. (WYPR) Kentucky lawmakers face a deadline today to finish work on a bill barring gender-affirming care to transgender youth. An amendment passed Wednesday would bar surgeries while allowing nonsurgical treatments. (Associated Press)

ABORTION: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) has signed a measure barring abortion clinics beginning next year. Utah will stop renewing or issuing licenses for abortion clinics beginning May 2. (Salt Lake Tribune) Wisconsin Republicans have unveiled a bill allowing exceptions to the state’s 1849 abortion ban for pregnancies caused by abortion and incest. (Associated Press)

IOWA: The Iowa Senate approved a bill allowing access to birth control without a prescription. (Cedar Rapids Gazette) The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a bill to eliminate state income tax. (Iowa Capital Dispatch) The state House gave final approval to Gov. Kim Reynolds’s (R) overhaul of state government, a 1,500-page bill that will cut the number of Cabinet-level agencies from 37 to 16. (Des Moines Register) 

We took a deep dive into the bill, the most significant government reform measure any state is considering this year. Read it here.

NORTH CAROLINA: Medicaid expansion cleared a final hurdle in the state Senate on Wednesday, setting up a “concurrence” vote in the House by the end of the week. (Charlotte Observer) Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has proposed a $32.9 billion budget that provides $2,500 raises to teachers and 5% raises for state employees. (NC Policy Watch)

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) administration has announced plans to grant a yet-to-be-established panel within the California Energy Commission the authority to decide how to deal with rising gas prices. The decision comes five months after Newsom pledged to hold oil companies accountable for windfall profits. Legislative action is uncertain. (Sacramento Bee) Los Angeles teachers plan to go on a three-day strike beginning Tuesday, shuttering schools that serve 420,000 kids. (Los Angeles Times)

TENNESSEE: The Senate Transportation and Safety Committee has advanced legislation to take control of the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, the legislature’s latest shot at the Democratic-run city. The authority’s members are currently appointed by the mayor. (Nashville Post)

SOUTH DAKOTA: Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has signed legislation updating the state constitution to include gender-neutral references to the governor and lieutenant governor. The constitution currently refers to top state officials as “he” or “him.” (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

In Politics & Business

MISSISSIPPI: A new survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy for the Magnolia Tribune shows Gov. Tate Reeves (R) leading Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) 46%-39%. Presley leads narrowly among independents, 42%-37%. (Magnolia Tribune)

LOUISIANA: A new poll from JMC Analytics shows former Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) atop the field in the race for governor at 29% and 28%, respectively. Rep. Garret Graves (R), who decided last week not to run, pulled 12%. Treasurer John Schroeder (R) and trial attorney Hunter Lundy (I) took 3% each. (Lafayette Daily Advertiser)

OHIO: Protect Women Ohio, a new group founded to oppose a ballot measure to establish a constitutional right to abortion services, will launch a $5 million television and digital campaign in the coming weeks. Their initial ad features a mother worried that the amendment would end parental consent for abortion rights and transgender care. (Columbus Dispatch)

TEXAS: The state Senate unanimously approved Jane Nelson as the new Secretary of State, months after she retired after 30 years in the chamber. (Texas Tribune) Texas hasn’t had a Secretary of State who served more than two years in office since Esperanza Andrade left office in 2012.  

By The Numbers

7 million: The number of Californians who are no longer under water restrictions, after the 11th atmospheric river of the year swept through the state on Wednesday. Los Angeles has recorded just under two feet of rain this year, and 27,000 people are still under evacuation orders. Wind speeds hit 74 miles per hour at San Francisco International Airport. (Associated Press)

11: The number of curling clubs in North Dakota, the most per capita of any state in the nation. New legislation seeks to make curling the official state sport. (Fargo Forum)

38: The number of fires caused in New York City this year by improperly charging e-bike batteries. (City & State) That seems like a lot.

Off The Wall

The Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission has recommended a 67% pay raise for state lawmakers, to $84,000 a year — just days after all five of the commission’s members were replaced by new appointees. The legislature rejected a pay raise for state officials that omitted lawmakers. Two new commissioners said they were surprised by the proposal to hike lawmaker pay, though they voted for it anyway. (Anchorage Daily News)

To borrow from a favorite poem: There are strange things done in the midnight sun / By the men who moil for gold / The Arctic trails have their secret tales / That would make your blood run cold.

Quote of the Day

“We invite them to join us. And we also will send a condolence card to them when they lose their elections in 2024.”

Arizona House Democratic Leader Andres Cano (D), on his Republican colleagues, amid rapidly vanishing hopes for bipartisanship between the legislature and Gov. Katie Hobbs (D). (Arizona Republic)