Good morning, it’s Wednesday, March 15, 2023. In today’s edition, N.C. nears Medicaid expansion; Ohio sues Norfolk Southern; N.Y. budget negotiations off to frosty start:
HEALTH CARE: The North Carolina Senate voted to expand Medicaid, setting up a final vote today, with a House vote likely by the end of the week. (WUNC) Montana’s House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a budget bill that would extend Medicaid coverage to mothers up to 12 months after they give birth. (Montana Free Press, Missoulian) Idaho’s Senate endorsed a measure banning employers from mandating Covid-19 vaccines. (Idaho Reports)
Join Pluribus News for a bipartisan panel discussion on paid family leave policies, the hottest new trend in workforce development this year! Mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET and register here!
PUBLIC SAFETY: Legislatures in several states have advanced measures this year allowing judges or lawmakers to keep their home addresses private, after a spike in threats and attacks on public officials. Bills have passed at least one chamber in Missouri, New Mexico and Georgia, and lawmakers in Oregon and Connecticut have introduced their own versions. (Associated Press)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) has signed legislation allowing citizens to file medical malpractice lawsuits against providers who perform gender transition procedures on them or their children. (Talk Business & Politics) Florida officials are moving to revoke liquor licenses at venues in Orlando and Miami that allowed children to be present at drag shows. (Orlando Sentinel)
MORE: Georgia’s House Public Health Committee advanced a bill barring medical professionals from providing gender-affirming care to minors. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) An Indiana bill that would have restricted the rights of transgender children to seek gender-affirming care is likely dead for the session after Senate President Rodric Bray (R) returned it to the Rules Committee. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
OHIO: Attorney General Dave Yost (R) has filed suit against Norfolk Southern to force the railroad giant to pay for cleanup and environmental damage caused by the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine. Yost’s suit seeks to force the company to pay for groundwater and soil monitoring for years. (Associated Press)
NEW YORK: Budget negotiations between Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and the legislature are off to a rocky start, after the state Senate’s plan omitted key Hochul priorities like bail reform, a cap on charter schools and suburban housing mandates. The Senate plan includes progressive priorities that Hochul hasn’t embraced. (City & State)
MICHIGAN: The Senate voted on party lines to repeal right-to-work legislation and approved a bill to reestablish prevailing wage standards for state projects. The bills have to go back to the state House, which passed slightly different versions last week, before they go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for signatures. (Detroit News, MLive)
MINNESOTA: The state Senate has approved a bill offering free breakfast and lunch to all students. The bill returns to the state House after minor amendments. (Minneapolis Star Tribune) The Senate Elections Committee has endorsed a bill raising the threshold for minor political parties to qualify for the ballot, over the loud objections of former Gov. Jesse Ventura. (MPR News)
IOWA: A massive government reorganization package cleared the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, setting it up for final passage as early as this week. The bill would shrink the number of Cabinet-level agencies and give the governor more power to hire leaders. The bill also gives much more power to the state Attorney General’s office. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
This is the biggest government reform package we’ve seen this year. We’re digging into it to bring you more details.
In Politics & Business
NO LABELS: The centrist political group No Labels has qualified for the ballot in Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Alaska, creating anxiety among Democrats that the group could lead to a second Trump presidency. The group appears to have submitted enough signatures to get on the ballot in North Carolina, Alabama, Ohio and Florida, too. (Pluribus News)
NORTH CAROLINA: The Republican-majority state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case revisiting an earlier ruling striking down GOP-drawn congressional district lines. Justices seemed receptive to arguments from the Republican-controlled legislature. (Associated Press)
What’s at stake: North Carolina’s congressional delegation is currently split 7-7. A GOP-drawn map would tilt at least three seats toward Republicans.
MARYLAND: The state Senate approved a measure placing a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the 2024 ballot, setting up final votes in both the House and Senate in the coming days. (Baltimore Sun)
YOUNGKIN: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is heading to Dallas to meet with big donors next month, his second political trip in recent weeks as he considers a White House bid. Youngkin will be hosted by Robert Rowling, the billionaire owner of Omni Hotels. (Washington Post)
By The Numbers
89.3 million: The total head of cattle in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, down 3% from a year ago and the lowest number since 2015. The number of beef cattle, 28.9 million, is the lowest total since 1962. (Talk Business & Politics)
High burger prices ahead.
400,000: The number of Massachusetts residents who signed up for mobile sports betting accounts in just the first weekend mobile wagering was available. Bay Staters placed more than 8.1 million bets since wagering went live on Friday. (Boston Globe)
Off The Wall
Massachusetts Auditor Diana DiZoglio (D) formally notified House and Senate leaders last week that she will launch the first audit of the legislature in more than a century. The response from House Speaker Ron Mariano (D) and Senate President Karen Spilka (D)? Crickets. Spilka’s office suggested last week in a statement that the legislature is not subject to the Auditor’s jurisdiction. (Boston Globe)
Prominent Japanese YouTube star Yoshikazu Higashitani won election to Parliament seven months ago, but he didn’t take to the job. Higashitani hasn’t attended a single day of work, and now Parliament plans to kick him out. He’s believed to be living in the United Arab Emirates. (BBC)
Quote of the Day
“In my opinion, they were listed as banks but they were really high-risk investment companies and they weren’t looking out for the best interest of their depositors and their investors and their shareholders.”
— New York Sen. George Borrello (R), ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. (State of Politics)