Pluribus AM: New fronts in the abortion wars

HAPPENING TOMORROW: Join us as we host Washington Sen. Karen Keiser (D) in conversation about her book, “Getting Elected is the Easy Part: Working and winning in the state legislature.” Members can register here.

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, March 27, 2024. In today’s edition, Kansas legislature sets up abortion fight; new gun laws in Washington, Virginia; Dems win Alabama special election:

Top Stories

ABORTION: The Kansas Senate gave final approval to a measure that will require abortion providers to ask patients why they want to terminate their pregnancies and to report those answers to the state. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) is expected to veto the measure, but Republicans appear to have exactly enough votes to override her veto. (Associated Press, Kansas Reflector, Kansas City Star)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Georgia Senate has given approval to legislation barring transgender girls from competing in high school sports. The bill bans transgender students from bathrooms and locker rooms that conform to their gender identities, and it bars sex education in elementary schools. (Associated Press)

GUN POLITICS: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signed legislation requiring gun dealers to run annual background checks on employees, requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen guns within 24 hours and banning people from carrying weapons in libraries, zoos and transit facilities. Another bill allows the State Patrol to destroy confiscated firearms. (Seattle Times)

MORE: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed legislation banning devices that convert semiautomatic weapons into machine guns, and another bill allowing a parent to be charged with a felony for allowing a child who is deemed a threat to access a gun. Youngkin vetoed several other gun control measures, including a ban on assault-style weapons. (Washington Post)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has signed legislation legalizing test strips that detect the horse tranquilizer xylazine. The test strips would no longer be included in the definition of drug paraphernalia. Xylazine is increasingly being mixed with other drugs, leading to fatal overdoses. (Wisconsin Examiner)

AGRICULTURE: The Missouri Senate has approved legislation restricting future acquisition of farmland by foreign entities. The bill, passed in a bipartisan vote, would stop foreign sales to any foreign entity — while measures advanced in other states in recent years apply only to adversarial nations like China and Venezuela. (St. Louis Public Radio)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Kentucky House has approved legislation that would prosecute more teenagers on gun-related felony charges.Youths over 14 years old would be tried in circuit court if they are charged with felonies and if they used a gun in commission of a crime. (Associated Press)

LABOR: The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared delivery drivers for Amazon were employees, and not independent contractors. The decision will require the online retail giant to pay additional unemployment insurance taxes. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

ALABAMA: Democrat Marilyn Lands defeated Republican Teddy Powell in a special election in Madison County on Tuesday, replacing ex-Rep. David Cole (R), who resigned after pleading guilty to an illegal voting charge. Lands lost her race against Cole by seven points in 2022; on Tuesday, she won the race by 25 points. She centered her campaign on abortion rights and access to IVF care. (

This is another warning sign for Republicans ahead of November’s midterm elections: Democrats have a winning issue in abortion rights, and the GOP needs a more effective way to respond.

TEXAS: Prosecutors will drop securities fraud charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) after he performs 100 hours of community service and pays $271,000 in restitution. Paxton must also take 15 hours of legal ethics courses. Paxton will not have to admit wrongdoing as part of the settlement. (Texas Tribune)

LOUISIANA: The state Senate has adopted new district lines for state Supreme Court elections, creating a second Black-majority district on the seven-member court. The map lines are nearly identical to those proposed earlier by Gov. Jeff Landry (R) and Attorney General Liz Murrill (R). (Baton Rouge Advocate)

MISSOURI: House Speaker Dean Plocher (R) dropped his campaign for lieutenant governor and Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) dropped out of a congressional race on Tuesday. Both filed paperwork to run for Secretary of State instead, joining Senate President Caleb Rowden (R), Sen. Denny Hoskins (R) and Rep. Adam Schwardon (R) in the GOP primary field. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

MINNESOTA: The state Senate agreed to pay $110,000 to a former Democratic caucus chief of staff who was dismissed in February. The staffer alleged she was fired because of who she is married to. The agreement comes with no admission of wrongdoing. (MPR News)

By The Numbers

More than 750,000: The number of cars and trucks that entered the United States through the Port of Baltimore in 2023, making it the largest port for vehicles in America. Automakers are now scrambling to reroute their shipments after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed and blocked the port early Tuesday. (New York Times)

More than $90,000: The annual cost of attending Boston University, Tufts, Wellesley and Yale, including tuition, housing and other expenses. (Boston Globe)

$320,328: The total sales of psilocybin in Oregon between Jan. 1, 2023 and March 14, 2024. Patients using Oregon’s legal psilocybin program are charged about $1,000 to use facilities where the mushrooms are consumed and $1,000 to $2,000 to facilitators to guide their trips. (Oregonian)

Some context: Oregon’s legal cannabis market sold $955 million in product in 2023.

Off The Wall

U.S. Senate candidate and former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) declined to defend herself against defamation charges brought by Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) over Lake’s false claims about the 2022 elections. Lake’s attorneys asked a court to set a hearing to assess damages she owes Richer. (Arizona Capital Times)

The toy company Lego has asked police in Murrieta, Calif., to stop covering the faces of suspects shown on social media with Lego faces. The department used the heads to comply with a California privacy law, but the company objected to the use of its intellectual property. (Associated Press)

Quote of the Day

“It does not inspire confidence. But the good news is no money was lost.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), on the state Senate’s investigation of a $1.8 billion bank account that lawmakers aren’t entirely sure why it exists or where the money came from. (Associated Press)