Pluribus AM: Legislators want more power; Dems lead GOP in TV ad wars; new polls in WI, NY, GA

Good morning, it’s Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. In today’s edition, legislators ask voters for more powers; Dems outpace Repubs in TV ad spending; and new polls in Wis., N.Y., Ga., and Ohio.

Top Stories

LEGISLATURES: Voters in five states will weigh in on ballot measures next month that would expand the authority of the legislative branch. Legislators in Arkansas, Idaho and Kentucky want the authority to call themselves into special session, a reaction to COVID-era lockdowns. Kansas lawmakers want to be able to block state agency regulations they don’t like. West Virginia lawmakers want voters to give them a final say over new Board of Eduction rules and policies. (Pluribus News)

GEORGIA: A provision of last year’s election reform law that allows anyone to challenge a voter’s eligibility has been used to question the rights of tens of thousands of people to cast a ballot this year. About 65,000 challenges have been filed this year, mostly by Republican officials; only about 3,000 have been upheld. In Gwinnett County, which gave President Biden 58% of the vote in 2020, officials have rejected challenges to 22,000 voters. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

ABORTION: The Indiana Supreme Court has blocked the state from enforcing a new abortion ban passed by lawmakers earlier this year, while it considers whether the measure violates the state constitution. (Associated Press) Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) has, as expected, appealed a Cincinnati judge’s ruling halting the state ban on abortions after six weeks. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

RHODE ISLAND: Gov. Dan McKee’s (D) administration will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that a state toll levied on trucks is unconstitutional. The tolls, administered since 2018, fall only on large tractor-trailer trucks. (WPRI) Keep an eye on this one, if the law survives, other states are likely to consider new tolls on trucking.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Gov. Kristi Noem (R) says she will not call a special session to ask lawmakers to consider repealing a tax on groceries ahead of the midterm elections. Noem said the bill she has proposed does not yet have enough support in the state Senate, where a similar measure died in March. Noem opposed a repeal then, but she’s changed her stance now. (Associated Press)

NEW YORK: About 1.8 million New Yorkers will receive tax rebate checks of around $270, just weeks before Election Day. Those who filed for a state child tax credit or earned income tax credit are eligible for the rebates, which will cost the state $475 million. (Spectrum News) Amazing how many states just happen to send out checks in October of an election year.

CALIFORNIA: Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) is expanding a campaign to eradicate illegal marijuana production. Formerly a summer-only program, the new Eradication and Prevention of Illegal Cannabis — EPIC — will now run year-round. Law enforcement organizations seized more than 203,000 pounds of illegally processed cannabis this year. (Merced Sun-Star)

FLORIDA: House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) and five other lawmakers are asking for a protective order shielding them from testifying about the constitutionality of newly drawn congressional district lines. They say they are shielded by “legislative privilege.” Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) administration has sought its own protective order, citing executive privilege. (Tampa Bay Times)

Florida’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission unanimously approved spending $360 million from the state’s $17.4 billion reserve fund to help recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian. DeSantis requested the funds to draw more money from FEMA. (Florida Politics)

In Politics

GOVERNOR’S RACES: Democrats are outspending Republicans in 9 of the 11 most expensive gubernatorial contests in play this year. Democrats and their allies have spent $416 million on television ads, while Republicans have spent about $300 million, according to data maintained by AdImpact. In states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the Democratic edge is huge. See the total breakdown and our interactive chart at Pluribus News.

WISCONSIN: Another poll, another tie. Marquette Law School found Gov. Tony Evers (D) and businessman Tim Michels (R) virtually tied, 47%-46%, while 4% back independent candidate Joan Beglinger. In September, Evers led 47%-44%. No Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate has received more than 53% of the vote in a regular election since Tommy Thompson won re-election in 1998.

GEORGIA: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) are virtually tied, 50%-49%, in a new Quinnipiac poll. Both candidates have net-favorable ratings — Kemp’s stands at 49%-44%, and Abrams’s at 48%-47%. Of all the surveys polling Georgia voters, Quinnipiac’s have been the best for Abrams over the last few months. Other surveys show Kemp ahead by wider margins.

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) leads Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) 52%-44% among those who say they will definitely vote in November’s elections, in a new Marist poll. Hochul’s favorable rating stands at 46%-43%, while Zeldin’s is at 36%-37%.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Gov. Chris Sununu (R) maintains a comfortable lead over state Sen. Tom Sherman (D), 55%-41%, in a new AARP poll conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone. Sunni’s favorable rating is a healthy 57%. 

OHIO: Gov. Mike DeWine (R) handily leads Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D), 50%-36%, according to a new Emerson College poll. That’s actually an improvement for Whaley, who trailed 50%-33% in last month’s poll.

By The Numbers

32: The number of California state legislators — 10 senators and 22 members of the Assembly — not seeking re-election this year, most because of term limits or redistricting. That means more than a quarter of the legislature will be new when they meet again in January. (Associated Press) Keep an eye on those new Assembly members, they’ll play a decisive role in the underground battle between Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) and Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D), who are vying for the top job.

1,800: The number of electric school buses ferrying children to school in California. There are only 880 electric buses on the roads in every other state, according to the California Air Resources Board. (San Francisco Examiner) We told you a few weeks ago that legislators are racing to attract new electric bus manufacturers, spurred by money in the federal infrastructure bill.

Off The Wall

Juneau Police Chief Ed Mercer, fishing during an off day, ran across and rescued three people on a fishing vessel that ran aground on a reef. “I’m not sure where they were coming from, I just know that they were trying to get to Juneau because one of the individuals on the boat was seeking medical help of some kind in Juneau, but it seemed personal and not life threatening, so I didn’t ask further questions,” he said. (Juneau Empire)

Quote of the Day

“Michigan has, I believe, a $1 billion fund. They can just write a check. It would be great if we had a closing fund in Illinois.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, floating an economic development fund to help the state land mega-deals, sliding right down that slippery slope and back into an era of giant government subsidies. (Crain’s Chicago Business)