Pluribus AM: La. lawmakers advance insurance plan; Hochul picks fights with N.Y. Dems; N.M.’s ‘state aroma’?

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. In today’s edition, La. lawmakers advance insurance reform; Hochul picks more fights with N.Y. Dems; will N.M. get a “state aroma”?

Top Stories

LOUISIANA: Lawmakers meeting in special session this week are considering a $45 million plan to entice property insurers back to the state. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the insurer of last resort, now holds over 125,000 policies. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon (R) says without a fix, thousands stand to lose their homes. (Pluribus News) The bill passed the House Appropriations Committee unanimously on Tuesday. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) expects to call a special session next week to consider the proposed state takeover of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Lawmakers dissolved Reedy Creek last year in the midst of a dispute over DeSantis’s education overhaul that critics call the “don’t say gay” bill. (Orlando Sentinel) Lawmakers have introduced a measure to allow juries to recommend a death sentence if just eight of 12 jurors agree. (Florida Politics)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and legislative Democrats are feuding over the expiration of tax increases on large corporations. Democrats approved the tax hikes two years ago, though they are now set to expire. Hochul lays out her budget plan today. (New York Times) Hochul vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have updated wrongful death laws, further inflaming tensions. (City & State)

ARIZONA: Republican lawmakers are rushing to pass a budget without the input of Gov. Katie Hobbs (D), risking a government shutdown if they can’t reach agreement by July 1. Republicans proposed keeping government funding steady at current levels while they and Hobbs negotiate over a $2 billion surplus. (Arizona Republic)

GUN CONTROL: Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) and Attorney General Peter Neronha (D) proposed banning assault-style weapons on Tuesday. Neither House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) nor Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D) included gun legislation among their top priorities for the year. (Boston Globe, Providence Journal) California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Wednesday will call for new restrictions on concealed carry rules after two mass shootings in recent weeks. (Sacramento Bee) A bipartisan working group in the state House has unanimously recommended legislation to prevent minors carrying guns in public. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 

EDUCATION: The Idaho Senate Education Committee introduced a measure creating universal education savings account modeled on Arizona’s version. Idaho students would be able to use $5,950 in taxpayer funding to attend private schools or for homeschooling. (Idaho Capital Sun) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) endorsed a school choice policy that could give families up to $10,000 for private school or homeschooling. (Texas Tribune)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Bills prohibiting gender affirming care for minors and barring “obscene” material from schools passed Montana Senate committees on Tuesday. (Daily Montanan) The Montana Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill barring gender-affirming care for minors. (Missoulian) An Iowa Senate subcommittee has advanced a bill barring teaching gender identity and allowing parents to take legal action. (Iowa Starting Line) North Carolina senators introduced their own version on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

WATER: In a letter to the Biden administration, 25 Republican governors asked for a delay in implementing revisions to the Waters of the United States rule, released Dec. 30, that reinstates pre-2015 water protection rules under the Clean Water Act. (Center Square)

COLORADO RIVER: A day after declining to join the six other Colorado River states in a plan to cut water usage, California has offered its own plan to conserve up to 2 million acre feet of water. The California plan does not account for about 1.5 million acre feet lost to evaporation and during transportation, which the other plan does. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

HUNTING: A conservative group is kicking off a new digital ad campaign pressuring lawmakers in Iowa, Florida, Ohio and South Dakota to add right-to-hunt provisions to their state constitutions. The International Order of T. Roosevelt, a 501(c)(3) run by a veteran of Americans for Prosperity, wants to add those four to the 23 states that already guarantee the right to hunt. (Pluribus News)

Today we learned Vermont was the first state to enshrine a right to hunt in the state constitution, way back in 1777.

SOUTH CAROLINA: House Republicans have expelled 16 members of the Freedom Caucus for refusing to pledge not to campaign against fellow Republican incumbents. (FitsNews)

Isn’t that exactly what House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had to pledge in return for votes from conservatives early last month?

MASSACHUSETTS: State Republicans voted Tuesday to oust party chairman Jim Lyons in favor of longtime committee member Amy Carnevale by a three-vote margin. (Boston Globe) Sign of the times: Neither Lyons nor Carnevale mentioned ex-Gov. Charlie Baker (R) during their pitches to voters.

MICHIGAN: The state House gave final approval to a bill changing the date of Michigan’s 2024 presidential primary to late February, sending the bill to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in time to comply with a deadline set by the DNC. Michigan would be the fifth state to vote in presidential primaries. (Detroit News)

MISSISSIPPI: A proposal to revive the ballot initiative process has survived a critical deadline when it passed a committee vote Tuesday. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the initiative process was invalid. (Mississippi Today, Associated Press) Read the backstory on how losing a congressional seat killed a legal marijuana initiative, and the entire initiative process, here.

PENNSYLVANIA: House Speaker Mark Rozzi (D), elected last month as a compromise candidate, says he hopes to keep the job even after three open Democratic seats are filled. Rozzi said he wouldn’t necessarily step aside in favor of Democratic floor leader Joanna McClinton, who had been poised to be speaker before vacancies threw the chamber into chaos. (Associated Press)

WHITE HOUSE: Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on Fox News he is giving a potential presidential bid “very serious consideration.” (Baltimore Sun) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will headline Republican Party dinners in Houston and Dallas next month on a Texas fundraising swing. (Texas Tribune)

PEOPLE: Mississippi state Sen. Alyce Clarke (D), the first Black woman elected to the state legislature, will not seek a new term. Clarke, 83, was first elected in 1985. (Associated Press) Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) is a grandfather for the first time. McKee’s son and daughter-in-law had their first child on Monday. (Providence Journal) 

By The Numbers

Nearly 1,600: The number of 747 aircraft produced by Boeing since the jumbo jet debuted in 1969. The last Queen of the Skies rolled off the assembly line Tuesday in Everett, Wash. (NW News Network)

1995: The last time the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountain range stood as high as it does now, after winter storms pounded California through January. This year’s snowpack is the third-highest since 1950. (San Jose Mercury News)

$201 million: The amount of money Virginia school districts had expected, but will not receive, after an error in a mathematical formula contained in an Excel spreadsheet the Department of Education gave to local school districts. The department blamed human error. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

Dedicated readers know we love stories about new state symbols, but New Mexico is taking the honorifics to new heights: The Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee has approved a measure that would make the smell of a green chile the official state aroma. (SourceNM)

Hat tip to the headline writer on that story: “State aroma bill passes its first sniff test”

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) has filed a harassment complaint against state Sen. Kurt Fevella (R), after Fevella made comments critical of Housing chief Nani Medeiros. Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi (D) will determine whether Green’s complaint merits a bipartisan probe. (Hawaii News Now)

Awkward alert: If Kouchi orders a bipartisan probe, the only other Republican in the Senate, Sen. Brenton Awa (R), would likely be involved. Fevella and Awa fought over which of them would get to be minority leader before reaching an agreement. (Honolulu Star Advertiser)

Quote of the Day

“I may be the only one in Montana, maybe the only one in the country.”

Ex-Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), asked if any other former governor owns a bar. Bullock’s Brothers Tapworks at the Confluence in Helena opens today. (Missoulian)