Pluribus AM: N.J. worker rights bill signed; Mich., Okla., Conn. Govs detail tax cuts; critical Pa. special elections today

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. In today’s edition, N.J. worker rights bill signed; Govs in Mich., Okla., Conn. detail tax cuts; critical Pa. Special elections today:

Top Stories

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed legislation granting temporary workers new rights to equal pay and banning temp agencies from preventing workers from accepting full-time work at client firms. The Temporary Workers Bill of Rights appears to be the first of its kind. (Pluribus News)

FLORIDA: State Rep. Fred Hawkins (R) introduced the measure to alter Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District Monday in the midst of the company’s feud with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The bill would rename the area the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and hand control to a board of supervisors named by DeSantis. No one who works for Disney or a similar company would be allowed on the board. (Pluribus News, Orlando Sentinel) 

ARKANSAS: The state House has approved a bill banning “adult-oriented” performances from public property and barring minors from attending. The new version of the bill does not specifically target drag shows, after Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) raised concerns about whether it would survive a court challenge. LGBTQ rights advocates said they were significantly less concerned about the version that passed. (Associated Press)

NORTH CAROLINA: The state Senate will vote today on a “Parents Bill of Rights,” requiring schools to alert parents before calling children by a different name or pronoun and barring teaching about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms. A similar bill passed the Senate last year. The hurdle is in the state House, where Republicans are one seat short of a supermajority. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: Highlights of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) budget proposal include a $180 surplus check to taxpayers, a repeal of taxes on retirement income and increased Earned Income Tax Credits. The budget includes $50 million in stipends for student teachers and $25 million in scholarships for education majors, along with free breakfast and lunch for public school students. (Detroit Free Press, BridgeMI, MLive)

OKLAHOMA: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) called for eliminating grocery taxes and cutting the income tax rate from 4.75% to 3.99%. The twin proposals, laid out in his State of the State speech, would reduce revenue by about $600 million annually. (Associated Press)

CONNECTICUT: Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has proposed reducing income tax rates from 5% to 4.5% and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit, in what he said would be the biggest tax cut in state history — and the first rate reduction since 1996. Families that make less than $50,000 a year would not pay state income tax. (Hartford Courant, CT Mirror)

MONTANA: The state House voted largely along party lines for a bill allowing medical providers and insurers to deny services based on “ethical, moral, or religious beliefs and principles.” The bill would require providers to opt in to participating in abortion procedures in writing. (Montana Free Press)

VIRGINIA: The state Senate approved a measure Monday to prohibit foreign governments from purchasing agricultural land after 2023, in a bipartisan vote. The bill is expected to pass the House of Delegates as well. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) called for a ban on entities tied to China’s Communist Party from purchasing farmland. (WRIC)

ENERGY: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate wholesale natural gas prices to Western states. Prices jumped 300% in January, though they have since come down by more than two-thirds. (Los Angeles Times)

In Politics & Business

PENNSYLVANIA: Voters in three Allegheny County state House districts will elect new members today in what are likely to be low-turnout special elections. Democrats are favored in all three districts, which President Biden carried by wide margins; the results will determine which party controls the state House. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Read our backstory on the vacancies that upended Pennsylvania politics here.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Republican lawmakers will appeal a federal court’s decision to deem congressional redistricting plans unconstitutional, sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case centers on Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R) First District, based in Charleston, which lawmakers redrew to add more Republican voters. (Associated Press)

MARYLAND: House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) has introduced legislation that would lead to a statewide vote enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. Gov. Wes Moore (D) said he would back such a proposal, which would go before voters in 2024. (Baltimore Banner)

INDIANA: The Office of Community and Rural Affairs has signed a $50 million contract to bring high-speed internet to parts of 19 rural counties across the state. The project will serve about 10,000 homes and businesses. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

By The Numbers

12.7%: The increase in sales tax revenue in New York in 2022, over the same period a year before, driven by inflation. Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (D) said the state collected $22.1 billion in sales taxes last year. (State of Politics)

2: The number of states — Missouri and Montana — that do not have distracted driving laws on the books. Lawmakers in both states have introduced dozens of bills to restrict cellphone use while driving, but none have passed. (Montana Free Press)

$34 million: The amount the fossil fuel industry spent lobbying California lawmakers last year, as the legislature passed a measure barring new oil and gas wells within 3,200 feet of homes and schools. (Sacramento Bee)

Off The Wall

A Massachusetts state representative has introduced a measure creating up to a $250 tax credit to cover the cost of subscribing to local newspapers. The total number of newspapers in Massachusetts shrank by 27% between 2004 and 2019, according to a UNC study, while circulation dropped 44%. (Boston Globe)

How bad is the national workforce shortage? Missouri’s Department of Mental Health has canceled a $16 million project to create a new sex offender treatment center at Fulton State Hospital because the agency had no realistic chance of hiring the 400 employees needed to run the facility.(Missouri Independent)

Quote of the Day

“I do not like blueberries.” 

Mississippi state Rep. Chris Bell (D), the lone vote against a proposal to name blueberries the official state fruit. (Associated Press)