Pluribus AM: Mont. House boots Dem; 4 states move education reforms; Fla. GOP targets Dem-leaning unions

Good morning, it’s Thursday, April 27, 2023. In today’s edition, Mont. House boots Dem; education reforms move in S.C, N.C., Ala. and Ind.; Fla. GOP targets Dem-leaning unions:

Top Stories

MONTANA: House Republicans voted Wednesday to ban state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) from the floor or nearby anterooms for the remaining eight days of session after protests over Speaker Matt Regier’s (R) decision not to let Zephyr speak on a bill banning gender-affirming care to minors. Zephyr is the first transgender woman to serve in the Montana House. (Pluribus News)

Montana. Tennessee. Nebraska. Arizona. Texas. New York. Tempers are flaring in legislatures across the country.

IMMIGRATION: Bills making their way through the Florida legislature this week represent the most ambitious crackdown on illegal immigration in any state this year. The bills would impose new penalties on employers who knowingly hire an undocumented worker, prohibit local governments from issuing ID cards to the undocumented, and require hospitals to report citizenship status of patients. Read more details at Pluribus News.

EDUCATION: The South Carolina House approved a measure that would allow about 15,000 students to use public money for private school tuition. (Associated Press) A North Carolina Senate committee has advanced an expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program that would allow grants for all students to pay for private school tuition. (Associated Press) 

MORE: The Alabama Senate Education Policy Committee held hearings Wednesday on a bill to give parents up to $6,900 through education savings accounts to pay for education expenses. (, Associated Press) The Indiana House voted to expand eligibility for Choice Scholarships, a school voucher program, to families who make up to 400% of the income level required for free or reduced price lunch programs, covering families that make up to $220,000 a year. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

GUN POLITICS: The Minnesota House approved bills expanding background checks for firearm purchases and a red flag law allowing law enforcement to take guns from those who may pose a danger to themselves or others. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) Indiana’s General Assembly has approved a bill to establish 40-hour curriculum for teachers and school staff who want to carry firearms on campus. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

HOUSING: The Rhode Island House has approved legislation making it easier to convert office buildings, schools, churches and shopping malls into housing. The bill bans cities and towns from mandating more than one parking space per apartment in conversion projects. (Associated Press)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has signed legislation restricting transgender people’s use of a restroom in college dorms, jails and prisons. (Fargo Forum) Louisiana’s House Education Committee approved a bill modeled on Florida’s “don’t say gay” law and a bill requiring school employees to use names and pronouns on a child’s birth certificate unless a parent gives permission. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

ENVIRONMENT: California state regulators are preparing to enact rules that would ban sales of new diesel big rigs by 2036 and require large companies to convert their existing fleets to zero emission vehicles by 2042. A hearing comes today, with a vote expected Friday. (CalMatters) The Oregon House has approved a bill banning polystyrene takeout containers. (Oregon Capital Chronicle) 

LABOR: The Florida House approved a bill barring public sector unions from automatically deducting union dues from member paychecks. The measure does not apply to police, firefighter and prison guard unions — groups that typically back Republicans. (Florida Politics)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has signed legislation making it a felony to recruit a minor into a gang. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MASSACHUSETTS: The state House unanimously approved a $56 billion budget that includes $650 million in tax relief, internet-based lottery games and money to push the state’s rainy day fund to $9 billion by the end of the fiscal year. (MassLive) The Senate has its own ideas for tax reform, so this isn’t likely to be the final outcome.

In Politics & Business

FLORIDA: The state Senate approved a sweeping elections bill that would drastically raise the cap on fines for voter-registration groups that fail to submit completed voter registration applications on time and requiring county clerks to submit weekly reports on registered voters who are convicted of felonies. The bill also includes a provision allowing Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to seek the presidency without resigning. (Orlando Sentinel)

ILLINOIS: House Speaker Chris Welch (D) said a “working group” of abortion rights supporters are considering placing a constitutional amendment codifying abortion rights on the ballot in 2024. (Chicago Tribune)

MICHIGAN: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed bills that will allocate up to $630 million for a new Ford electric vehicle battery plant. The deal gives legislative leaders in the minority seats on the Michigan Strategic Board, the group responsible for approving big economic development deals. (Detroit Free Press)

WHITE HOUSE: Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) officially entered the race for the White House on Wednesday in Bentonville. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

PEOPLE: Former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca (D), the first Hispanic governor in the state’s modern history, has died at 88. Apodaca won election in 1974, age just 40, after bringing in Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter (D) to campaign with him. (Albuquerque Journal)

By The Numbers

42%: The increase in the number of antisemitic incidents reported in Florida last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure increasing penalties for religious or ethnic-based harassment. (WUSF)

1 million: The number of electric vehicle charging stations California will have to bring online in the next dozen years to meet its goal of 100% zero-emission vehicle sales. (Capitol Weekly)

11%: The share of Americans who say they are current smokers, the lowest level ever recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the mid-1960s, 42% of American adults smoked. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

The Michigan House voted this week to declare Tuesday Librarian and Library Worker Day across the state. Normally, these resolutions pass in unanimous votes — but this one passed along party lines, as every House Republican voted against. None of the no voters explained their opposition. (Michigan Advance)

Arizona state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D) has apologized for hiding Bibles in a legislator’s lounge off the House floor. The missing Bibles were found under seat cushions, and one was in a refrigerator. Stahl Hamilton, an ordained minister, said she had moved the Bibles as a protest regarding the separation of church and state. (Arizona Republic)

Quote of the Day

“I’m just confused as hell here. Green means go.”

Vermont Sen. Dick Mazza (D), on a state Department of Transportation request to add green lights to snowplows and maintenance trucks. Research shows drivers are more likely to recognize green lights than amber lights, but the Senate Transportation Committee rejected the request. (VTDigger)