Pluribus AM: Lobbying spending soars; rainy day funds in good shape; Calif. Dems reach deal on oil company profits

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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, March 21, 2023. In today’s edition, lobbying spending soars to new heights; state budgets in good shape; Calif. Dems reach deal on oil company profits:

Top Stories

INFLUENCE: Interest groups, advocacy organizations and businesses are spending record amounts on state-level lobbying. Public reports show advocates spent $445 million lobbying the California legislature in 2022, $330 million in New York, $276 million in Florida and more than $100 million each in Connecticut and Massachusetts — all new record highs. They spent more than $200 million in Texas last year, even though the Texas legislature wasn’t even in session. (Pluribus News)

BUDGETS: Rainy-day fund balances were at an all-time high in 37 states at the end of Fiscal Year 2022, the best showing in more than two decades, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Association of State Budget Officers. States have saved a combined $134.5 billion. (Bloomberg)

GUN POLITICS: A federal judge has sided with the California Rifle and Pistol Association in a case challenging state requirements that new handguns have advanced safety technologies to win approval for sale. The preliminary injunction will take effect in two weeks, giving the state Department of Justice time to appeal. (Associated Press) Oregon lawmakers will hear testimony on a package of gun safety bills this week. (Oregonian)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Idaho legislature has passed a measure allowing the state to execute prisoners by firing squad, by veto-proof majorities. Idaho would join Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina in allowing firing squads. (Idaho Press, Associated Press) Alabama lawmakers will consider a bill imposing mandatory prison times for distributing fentanyl. ( A Florida Senate committee has advanced a bill allowing for the death penalty for those who commit sexual batteries on children under 12. (Orlando Sentinel)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Indiana lawmakers will hear testimony on a bill to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and on a measure requiring schools to notify parents if their child asks to be referred to by a different pronoun or name. (WTHR) Missouri Democrats used an overnight filibuster to block a bill barring gender-affirming care for transgender youth. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) said he would implement a rule requiring an 18-month waiting period and therapy requirements before doctors can provide gender-affirming care to minors. (Associated Press)

EDUCATION: The Idaho state House approved a measure allowing parents to sue libraries that lend “harmful” material to children. (Boise State Public Radio)

ABORTION: The Minnesota House of Representatives has approved a bill offering legal protections to patients who travel from out of state to receive an abortion, and to the providers who treat them. (MPR News) The Florida Senate’s Health Policy Committee advanced a bill banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy. (Florida Politics) The Tennessee House approved a bill decriminalizing some types of abortion based on a physician’s “reasonable judgement.” (Tennessee Lookout)

CALIFORNIA: Legislative Democrats and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have reached an agreement seeking to put a lid on runaway gasoline prices. The bill would allow a new unit within the California Energy Commission to issue subpoenas and cap oil company profits through a rule-making process. The commission would set a cap on profits. (Pluribus News)

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday called for legislation banning the use of Centralized Banking Digital Currencies. Such a currency doesn’t exist in the U.S., and Fed chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed would not begin research on such a currency without congressional approval. (Orlando Sentinel)

In Politics & Business

WISCONSIN: Voters can begin casting ballots today in the hotly contested race for a state Supreme Court seat, two weeks before Election Day. The two sides have spent more than $30 million on the race so far, twice the amount of the previous most expensive court race ever, a 2004 contest in Illinois. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON: Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) and Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (D) are making plans to run for governor if Gov. Jay Inslee (D) decides three terms is enough. The most prominent Republican, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier, said Friday he has no plans to run. (Seattle Times)

Washington has the longest streak of electing Democratic governors in the country. The last Republican to win, John Spellman, was elected in 1980.

ARIZONA: Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang says his Forward Party will seek ballot status in Arizona. The group hopes to gather 50,000 signatures by the October deadline. (Arizona Republic)

MISSOURI: State Democrats have picked ex-U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) as their new chairman. “May those who love us, love us. And those [who] don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. If he doesn’t turn their hearts, turn their ankles — so we will know them by their limping,” Carnahan said. (St. Louis Public Radio)

OHIO: Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights have asked the Ohio Supreme Court to rule the amendment covers more than one subject and must be split into multiple ballot measures. Supporters have already started collecting the 413,446 signatures they need to qualify for the ballot; an adverse ruling would require them to start over. (Columbus Dispatch)

NEW JERSEY: The state Senate has approved an Elections Transparency Act that would create reporting requirements for outside groups, standardized pay-to-play laws on government contracts, and double most campaign contribution limits. The bill would give the governor power to appoint members of the Election Law Enforcement Commission. (New Jersey Globe)

By The Numbers

0: The number of members appointed to a New York commission that is supposed to make plans to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in 2026. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a bill last year creating the commission, but she hasn’t appointed anyone to begin planning. (State of Politics)

1 in 3: The share of registered nurses in New Jersey who have quit their jobs in the last three years. Major health care unions rallied in Trenton on Monday to call for passage of a bill that would set nurse-to-patient ratios. (NJ Advance Media)

25%: The share of Virginia state senators who are not running for re-election this year. State Sen. John Cosgrove (R) became the ninth member to announce his retirement, and a 10th, Jennifer McClellan (D), resigned recently after winning a special election to Congress. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Off The Wall

A team of Purdue researchers has won a national innovation award from the South by Southwest Festival for creating what they call the world’s whitest paint. The paint absorbs much less heat than other shades of white, potentially significantly reducing energy use. (WFYI)

The Oregon House has passed a measure allowing self-service options at every gas station in the state. Existing rules allow people to pump their own gas in 20 rural counties. Oregonians haven’t been allowed to self-service their cars since 1951. (OPB) We’ve seen this bill many times before. Let’s see if it survives the Senate.

Two new measures in California and Connecticut aim to help the news media: A California measure introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D) would assess a “journalism usage fee” on social media companies like Facebook. In Connecticut, news outlets rallied behind a bill requiring half of state print and digital advertising be purchased from their stocks. (Sacramento Bee, Waterbury Republican American)

Quote of the Day

“They haven’t figured out that if they keep this up, we’re going to get massacred.”

Ex-Arizona state Sen. Paul Boyer (R), warning his party is “tone-deaf” in advance of next year’s elections. (Arizona Republic)