Pluribus AM: La. nears insurance crisis fix; Conn. Gov wants to cancel medical debt; why Pa.’s Speaker changed the locks

Good morning, it’s Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. In today’s edition, La. insurance fix nears final passage; Conn. Gov’s plan to cancel medical debt; why Pa.’s Speaker changed the locks:

Top Stories

LGBTQ: South Dakota’s state House has passed a bill preventing minors from receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy. (Dakota News Now) The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a measure criminalizing gender-affirming care for children. (Casper Star Tribune) The Michigan Senate heard testimony over a bill expressly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. (BridgeMI)

LOUISIANA: The Senate Finance Committee approved a House-passed $45 million plan to boost the property insurance market, setting it up for a final vote today, two days before the end of a special session called by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) to address the insurance industry crisis. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

CONNECTICUT: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has unveiled a plan to use $20 million in federal pandemic aid to cancel billions of dollars in medical debt. The administration would hand the money to a nonprofit that buys debt from hospitals at steep discounts, which it would then cancel. Lamont will outline the plan when he lays out his budget proposal next week. (CT Mirror)

GEORGIA: Republican lawmakers introduced legislation that would allow them to take over the health insurance exchange marketplace for plans offered under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) had asked the Trump administration for permission to block access to, but the Biden administration suspended the proposal. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) The House Appropriations Committee backed Kemp’s call for $1 billion in property tax cuts. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) 

NEW MEXICO: The Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee has approved a measure to send $750 tax rebates to single filers and $1,500 to joint filers. The measure, approved in a unanimous vote, now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

MINNESOTA: The state House has approved a bill restoring voting rights to felons who have finished serving their sentences. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) The state Senate has given final approval to a measure that would set Minnesota on the path to 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. The legislation passed on a party-line vote. (MPR News) Minnesota’s Senate has not one but two meteorologists — Sens. Nicole Mitchell (D) and Rob Kupec (D).

CALIFORNIA: State Sen. Scott Wiener (D) has introduced legislation to cap the out-of-pocket costs of insulin at $35 for a 30-day supply. California is working on developing its own insulin supply, though that process is expected to take at least two years. A similar bill died in committee last year. (CalMatters)

HAWAII: The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a new wealth tax on those with assets of more than $20 million. It’s the second year the committee has approved the measure backed by chairman Karl Rhoads (D). (Civil Beat)

In Politics & Business

PRIMARIES: Ohio legislators are backing a bipartisan bill to move presidential primaries from March to May, to coincide with already-scheduled primary elections. The Ohio Association of Election Officials backs the plan. (Statehouse News Bureau)

FLORIDA: Supporters of legal recreational marijuana turned in more than 294,000 signatures for a measure they hope to qualify for the 2024 ballot. The state Supreme Court will now review the measure’s wording before it qualifies. Trulieve, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator, has contributed $20 million to the signature drive. (Orlando Sentinel)

NEW JERSEY: The Senate State Government Committee approved a bill creating universal prepaid postage on mail-in ballots. Some New Jersey counties already provide voters with free postage to cast their ballots. (New Jersey Globe)

IDAHO: State Rep. Joe Alfieri (R) has introduced legislation limiting absentee ballots to those actively serving in the military, those who are hospitalized, students and those who can’t make it to the polls because of work. Alfieri said his goal is to reduce the number of absentee ballots cast in elections. (Idaho News)

KANSAS: Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said the state would pay out $300 million in incentives to Integra Technologies, a firm building a semiconductor plant in Wichita. The plant will create an estimated 2,000 jobs, Kelly said. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

MISSOURI: Recreational marijuana sales begin today after the state Department of Health and Senior Services said it would issue licenses to qualifying dispensaries. At least 170 medical marijuana dispensaries have qualified for recreational licenses. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

DESANTIS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) plans to address the Alabama Republican Party’s annual winter fundraiser in Birmingham March 9. (Yellowhammer News) The trip follows his planned stops in Texas this month. 

By The Numbers

6 hours: The amount of time the Connecticut legislature spent in a hearing over whether to allow grocery stores to sell cider and wine made by small producers. More than 100 residents testified. (CT Mirror)

-100: The wind chill expected on Mount Washington, New Hampshire’s tallest peak, as temperatures plunge around the Northeast on Friday. (MassLive) Yes, that’s a minus sign.

Off The Wall

Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler is furious with Speaker Mark Rozzi (D) after Rozzi ordered the Department of General Services to change the locks on a suite of offices at the capitol without notice. Cutler’s chief of staff, Jake Smeltz, found the doors locked when he arrived for work Wednesday morning. Rozzi said Republicans should have vacated the rooms on Jan. 3, when he took over as Speaker in a bipartisan vote. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

South Dakota state Sen. Julie Frye-Mueller (R) was suspended after a legislative aide alleged she made comments about the aide’s decision to have her child vaccinated, and other more salacious topics that we’ll let you read about from the Associated Press.

Rhode Island state Rep. David Bennett (D) has introduced legislation naming rhythm and blues the official state music. Bennett, once a drummer in a band, says his bill would honor the Celebrity Club, considered the first integrated club in New England where Black musicians like Louis Armstrong and Count Basie played in the 1950s. (Boston Globe)

Quote of the Day

“I’m as enthused right now as I was the first day I walked in over here.”

South Carolina state Sen. Nikki Setzler (D), the longest-serving state senator in the nation. He first won election in 1976. Asked whether he’ll run for re-election in 2024, he said: “That’s up to God.” (The State)