Pluribus AM: IVF bills on the fast track

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Good morning, it’s Friday, March 8, 2024. In today’s edition, red states move to protect IVF; Iowa advances new immigrant smuggling crime; California lawmakers introduce retail theft bill:

Top Stories

IVF: Lawmakers in at least five states with abortion restrictions on the books have introduced measures to protect in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments, after Alabama’s Supreme Court ruling that embryos are people. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed legislation this week, while lawmakers in Georgia, Missouri, Kentucky and South Carolina are still racing their bills to the governor’s desk. (Pluribus News)

GUN POLITICS: Utah lawmakers are considering legislation to ban merchants and financial institutions from tracking the purchase of firearms or related items via a merchant category code. (Deseret News) The Delaware House approved legislation requiring someone who wants to purchase a handgun to undergo training, be fingerprinted and obtain a state permit. (Associated Press)

EDUCATION: The Alabama House voted Thursday to advance legislation prohibiting diversity, equity and inclusion programs at universities and state agencies. The bill bars classes, training or programs where attendance is based on race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin or sexual orientation. (Associated Press)

IMMIGRATION: The Iowa House voted Thursday to create a new crime of “smuggling” for people who transport undocumented immigrants for gain, or with the intent to conceal them from law enforcement. The crime would be a class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison — or life in prison if the person who was smuggled is injured, killed or sexually abused. (Des Moines Register)

HOUSING: Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) introduced a 15-bill legislative package meant to spur housing development. The bills would make it easier for developers to build new housing, identify properties that could become new developments, and allow homeowners to develop accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. (Boston Globe)

MORE: Oregon legislators cleared the final component of Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) $376 million housing package, providing small cities build at least 585 new homes. The bill requires developers to commit to reserving at least 30% of new homes for low-income residents. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D) and Assemblyman Rick Chavez Zbur (D) unveiled a legislative package to tackle retail theft. The bill adds criminal penalties of up to three years for possession of stolen property with the intent to resell, and requires online sellers to maintain chain of custody records for goods they sell. (Sacramento Bee)

MORE: The Oregon legislature approved a bill making drug use on public transportation a crime. The measure would make such use a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)

In Politics & Business

REPUBLICANS: The Republican National Committee begins its spring meeting Friday in Houston, where North Carolina GOP chairman Michael Whatley and Lara Trump are expected to be elected as the committee’s chair and co-chair. (CNN)

OREGON: The legislature gave final approval to a new campaign finance reform bill that will cap donations from individuals at $3,300 for statewide candidates. Oregon is one of about a dozen states with no existing limits on campaign contributions. (Associated Press, Oregonian)

ALABAMA: The state Senate approved legislation allowing a lottery and state-regulated gambling. The bill is a much-pared down compromise that no longer includes casino gambling or legal sports betting. (

GEORGIA: Electric vehicle maker Rivian has paused plans to build a $5 billion vehicle and battery plant east of Atlanta. The company had promised to bring 7,500 new jobs to the state. Rivian will instead build its new crossover vehicle at a plant in Illinois. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

By The Numbers

18: The age of Washington Rep. Lilian Hale (R), sworn into office on her birthday Thursday on the final day of session. She’s the youngest person to ever serve in a state legislature, beating the previous record-holder — West Virginia Rep. Saira Blair (R) — by about 143 days. (Pluribus News)

$1.4 million: The amount Wisconsin lawmakers claimed in expenses during 2023, up about $200,000 from the last regular session year in 2021. (WisPolitics)

8,346,200: The number of private-sector jobs in New York, according to the state Department of Labor. That’s more than the 8,333,800 private sector jobs that existed in March 2020, before pandemic-era lockdowns. (State of Politics) New York is one of the last states — if not the last — to recover jobs lost during the pandemic.

Off The Wall

The New Orleans City Council has voted to change the locks on a city-owned apartment in the French Quarter after Mayor LaToya Cantrell came under fire for her personal use of the space. The council president said last month that Cantrell had stored furniture and other personal effects in the apartment. (Associated Press)

Sterling Cale, the last known survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, has been laid to rest at a Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery. (Honolulu Star Advertiser) Cale was 102, according to a December profile in Midweek Magazine. He saved between 20 and 40 people after the attack.

Federal authorities have arrested six New York City residents for allegedly smuggling illegal duck and goose organs from China through Los Angeles. The only meat and poultry products allowed to be imported from China are catfish and cooked poultry. (Los Angeles Times)

Quote of the Day

“So if you’re out at Walmart or Publix or anywhere and one of your kids starts acting the foot, you take that kid over to one of our locations and there’ll be somebody there that’ll take the kid and take them inside and shut the door and just beat the living daylights out of them, okay?”

Florida Rep. Sam Killebrew (R), during his farewell address, proposing — jokingly — a new business to handle misbehaving children. (Lakeland Ledger)