Pluribus AM: Maine, New Mexico debate new gun safety measures

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, January 3, 2024. In today’s edition, states opt out of summer nutrition program; Hochul wants to end insulin copays; Maine, New Mexico plan new gun safety legislation:

Top Stories

EDUCATION: Only 30 states have indicated they will participate in a new federal program to provide meals for low-income children over the summer months, according to data from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. At least one more state, Missouri, is in the process of joining the federal program, which requires states to pay for half the cost of administration. (Pluribus News)

HEALTH CARE: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has called on lawmakers to eliminate copays for insulin in what her office called the “most expansive prohibition against insulin cost-sharing in the nation.” New York lawmakers previously agreed to cap insulin copays at $100 per month per prescription. (Pluribus News)

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation capping monthly copays for insulin for residents on state-regulated health care plans.

MORE: Eleven states and the District of Columbia have opened taxpayer-funded health insurance programs for immigrants, including those who are in the United States without authorization. Those states collectively cover more than 1 million low-income migrants, numbers that could double by 2025 as seven states initiate or expand coverage. Republican-controlled Utah will begin covering children regardless of immigration status this month. (KFF Health News)

MIGRATION: The federal government will reopen points of entry at Lukeville and Nogales, Ariz.; Eagle Pass, Texas; and San Ysidro, Calif., a month after closing the crossings to handle an influx of migrants. The Biden administration had closed the ports to reassign border authorities to other places where migrant surges required more personnel. (Arizona Republic)

GUN POLITICS: Maine legislators will take up new bills aimed at curbing gun violence after a deadly shooting in Lewiston last year. Among the proposals is a measure to strengthen Maine’s “yellow flag” law, which allows a judge to remove guns from someone who is suffering a mental health crisis. (Boston Globe)

MORE: Colorado gun rights groups have sued over the state’s new ban on so-called “ghost guns,” which lack serial numbers. Gun rights advocates say the new law directly defies the Second Amendment. (Colorado Sun) New Mexico Rep. Andrea Romero (D) will introduce legislation banning high-capacity magazines on assault-style weapons. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

ENVIRONMENT: The Biden administration has given Louisiana the authority to approve carbon capture projects in hopes of speeding new construction aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Only North Dakota and Wyoming have carbon capture permitting authorities; Texas, Arizona and West Virginia are seeking those permits. (Associated Press)

AGRICULTURE: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has issued an executive order listing the purchase of farmland within 10 miles of critical military facilities by businesses or individuals with ties to the governments of China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela. The order gives the state Department of Agriculture greater oversight and enforcement authority over foreign agricultural land purchases. (KCUR)

In Politics & Business

Welcome back to session! Lawmakers in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont begin their legislative sessions today.

TRUMP: Former President Donald Trump has appealed Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’s ruling barring him from the primary ballot over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Trump’s appeal before the Maine Superior Court seeks to force Bellows to add his name to the ballot. Bellows stayed her own ruling pending the outcome of the appeal. (Portland Press Herald)

OHIO: Voting rights advocates are proposing a constitutional amendment to automatically register eligible voters, allow same-day voter registration, allow expanded early voting and rescind voter ID requirements for in-person voting. They must gather 413,000 signatures by July to qualify for the November ballot. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

MICHIGAN: Members of the state Republican Party’s executive committee will meet Saturday to consider removing chairwoman Kristina Karamo after months of low fundraising and internal strife. Karamo says those seeking her ouster don’t have the authority to call the meeting; she has called a separate executive committee meeting for Jan. 13. (Detroit News)

So that’s going well.

MISSISSIPPI: State Rep. Jason White (R) has formally won the speakership, after Democrats declined to submit a nominee. State Rep. Manly Barton (R) will serve as Speaker Pro Tempore, taking over for White. (Supertalk)

By The Numbers

48: The number of states that cut taxes or offered one-time rebates over the past three years, as budget writers found themselves flush with cash. Only Alaska and Nevada did not cut either income, sales, property or gas taxes over that period. (Associated Press)

11: The number of cities, all in Iowa and Illinois, that have signed agreements with the U.S. Census Bureau for new population counts in 2024. The cities believe their populations have grown so much since the 2020 count that they will qualify for new state funding. (Associated Press)

21 million: The number of questions answered by Larry, an AI chatbot created by the Texas Workforce Commission affectionately named after the agency’s former head Larry Temple, in its first three years. Larry was replaced by Larry 2.0 in March. More than a third of Texas agencies use some form of artificial intelligence to interact with the public. (Texas Tribune)

Off The Wall

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, RN? Noem appears in a new ad dressed in scrubs and wheeling a patient on a gurney, part of her administration’s Freedom Works Here campaign to attract new workers to the state. Legislators are looking into contracts for the ad campaign, which went to two out-of-state political firms that worked on Noem’s re-election campaign. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles denied 833 applications for vanity plates in 2023, including plates that read F M1CH, HU JASS, I B PIMPN and many, many more that are too much for this family publication. See the full list published by the Columbus Dispatch.

Quote of the Day

“By the time [Michael] Penix gets done with the Wolverines, her next State of the State will be titled ‘Fix the damn secondary!’”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), trash-talking Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ahead of next week’s NCAA football national championship game between the University of Washington and the University of Michigan. (X, formerly known as Twitter)