Pluribus AM: Minn. legalizes pot; Newsom fast-tracks infrastructure; Mich., Ill. moving employee leave bills

Good morning, it’s Monday, May 22, 2023. In today’s edition, Minn. legalizes pot; Newsom fast-tracks infrastructure projects; Mich., Ill. moving employee leave bills:

Top Stories

MARIJUANA: Minnesota lawmakers approved legislation to legalize recreational marijuana, making Minnesota the 23rd state to do so. The bill will allow as many as 60,000 Minnesota residents to have misdemeanor marijuana convictions expunged from their records. Gov. Tim Walz (D) has pledged to sign the bill. (Pluribus News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS/ABORTION: Nebraska lawmakers approved a bill Friday that bans gender reassignment surgeries for minors and bars abortions after 12 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and medical emergencies. (Pluribus News, Nebraska Public Media) Do No Harm, a group of conservative physicians, is pushing bills to limit gender-affirming care. The group’s bills have been introduced in Montana, Arkansas and Iowa, and it has registered lobbyists in Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Florida. (Associated Press)

ENERGY: The Illinois House approved a measure removing a statewide moratorium on nuclear power plants. The Senate passed a previous version of the measure, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) says he’s open to signing a bill. (Center Square) The Minnesota legislature approved a package of energy initiatives including a $2,500 electric vehicle rebate. (MinnPost)

WORKFORCE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is proposing legislation to fast-track infrastructure projects in an effort to capture more federal dollars. Projects on Newsom’s list include a reservoir in Northern California and a tunnel moving water from the San Joaquin Delta to Southern California. (CalMatters, Associated Press) The Minnesota Senate approved a bill creating a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers. (Minnesota Reformer)

MORE: The Michigan Senate is considering legislation to grant employees up to 15 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Recipients would be eligible for up to 65% of the state’s average weekly wage. (Michigan Advance) The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation allowing employees to take at least six weeks of unpaid leave in the event of the death of a child. (WIFR)

HEALTH CARE: The Texas Senate has approved legislation extending Medicaid coverage to mothers up to a year after they give birth. A last-minute amendment bans coverage for women who end pregnancies through elective abortion, a provision that some senators worried would lead to rejection by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (Texas Tribune)

EDUCATION: The Indiana legislature has approved a measure expanding private school voucher programs to cover about 97% of students whose families make less than 400% of the federal poverty limit, or about $220,000 for a family of four. (Terre Haute Tribune-Star) 

MORE: The Texas Senate Education Committee will hear testimony on a bill raising teacher pay and expanding a voucher program. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has threatened to call lawmakers back for a special session if they don’t pass a voucher program. (Texas Tribune) The Texas House has given final approval to a measure banning diversity, equity and inclusion programs in public universities. (KXAN)

EVEN MORE: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed two bills allowing local communities to establish charter schools. The bills might conflict, though: One allows local school boards to handle requests for new charter schools, while the other creates a statewide commission to handle those requests. (Montana Free Press, Daily Montanan)

FLORIDA: The NAACP, Equality Florida and the League of United Latin American Citizens have issued a travel advisory calling the state “openly hostile” to minorities. The NAACP cited Florida’s rejection of an AP class on African American Studies and legislation banning colleges from allowing diversity, equity and inclusion programs. (Orlando Sentinel)

In Politics & Business

NORTH CAROLINA: Former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R) will run for governor, he said Saturday. Walker will face Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) and Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) in the GOP primary. The winner is likely to face Attorney General Josh Stein (D) next November. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: Anti-Trump Republicans are forming the Common Sense Party in an effort to secure a spot on the 2024 ballot. Supporters, led by ex-state Republican Party executive director Jeff Timmer, will need to gather 45,000 valid signatures in 180 days to win a spot on the ballot. (MLive)

NEBRASKA: Supporters of medical marijuana have filed papers to begin circulating a proposed ballot initiative aimed at the 2024 general election. They will have to gather more than 100,000 valid signatures to secure a spot on the ballot. (Nebraska Public Media)

CONNECTICUT: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has reached out to the NHL in hopes of relocating the Arizona Coyotes to Hartford. Voters in Tempe, Ariz., rejected a proposed new arena for the Coyotes, giving Hartford hope of winning back a team 26 years after the Whalers left for North Carolina. (Stamford Advocate)

MORE: Sandra Slack Glover, Lamont’s nominee to fill a state Supreme Court seat, has withdrawn her nomination after Democrats objected to a letter she signed on behalf of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Glover and Barrett served as clerks to different Supreme Court justices during the 1998-1999 term. (CT Mirror)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Supporters of ranked choice voting will begin gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would implement the voting system beginning in 2026. (Washington Post)

By The Numbers

$150 million: The economic boost Chicago expects from the 2024 Democratic National Convention. Economists say that’s unlikely; past conventions have failed to generate the kind of revenue that convention boosters promise in other cities. (Chicago Tribune)

1,269: The number of improper expenditures California state agencies made in 2022, including salary paid to a sewage plant employee who spent working hours shopping for comic books online. The state auditor’s office said those expenditures cost the state $280,000. (Los Angeles Times)

Off The Wall

Congratulations to Clovis Hung, who graduated Saturday from Fullerton College — at age 12. He’s the youngest person in the school’s 108-year history to receive a degree. But he didn’t just earn one degree, he earned five. (Los Angeles Times)

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D) conducted budget negotiations with Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) office on Friday from her room at a Reno hospital, where she gave birth early Saturday to a healthy baby boy. Cole Cannizzaro-Ring is expected to make his first appearance on the Senate floor in the coming days. (Nevada Independent)

Quote of the Day

“Our advice was ignored.”

Oregon acting Secretary of State Cheryl Myers, who said her office had advised her predecessor, Shemia Fagan (D), not to take a contract with an embattled marijuana company. Fagan resigned amid backlash over that contract. (Willamette Week)