Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. In today’s edition, surprise Speaker results in Ohio, Pa.; we round up legislative session previews; and 6 new states start session today:
LEGISLATIVE AGENDAS: Local news outlets typically preview state legislative agendas in the days before and after sessions begin. We’ve collected and summarized those previews to give you a sense of the hot topics in legislatures this year. Read them all here.
ARIZONA: Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) will not call a special session of the legislature to repeal a Civil War-era ban on abortion after an Appeals Court ruled that a newer 15-week ban takes precedence. Hobbs had pledged to call the special session during her run for office, but she said the court decision made such a session unnecessary. (12News)
COLORADO: Gov. Jared Polis (D) is asking legislators for another $200 million toward property tax relief, in addition to $700 million approved last year. In an updated budget request, Polis asked for $70 million more for job training programs and expanded clean energy tax credits and rebates for electric vehicles and yard products. (Denver Post)
MASSACHUSETTS: The Massachusetts Teachers Association is asking legislators to change state law to allow educators to leave classrooms to join picket lines. Sen. Becca Rausch (D) will file legislation to allow strikes this year. (Boston Globe) In one of its final acts, the legislature approved a bill criminalizing so-called “revenge porn,” long a priority of outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker (R). (Boston Herald)
OHIO: Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Tuesday signed a 1,000-page bill overhauling the state’s criminal justice system. The law will toughen distracted-driving laws, reduce consequences for minor marijuana offenses and give officials more latitude to release inmates early. The bill will also allow prosecutors and city officials to expunge low-level marijuana convictions. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation banning PFAS chemicals in the manufacture of apparel and clothing. The ban on “forever chemicals” will take effect at the end of 2023. (State of Politics) New York joins California in banning PFAS chemicals.
TEXAS: Teenagers will need a parent’s consent to get birth control at federally funded clinics after a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the federal Title X program violates parental rights and state and federal law. The state administrator has directed clinics to require parental consent as the federal Department of Health and Human Services appeals. (Texas Tribune)
NEW MEXICO: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) will ask the legislature to create a state Health Care Authority aimed at getting more people insured. Grisham proposed the new agency, which would buy and oversee health insurance, in her inaugural address over the weekend. (SourceNM)
VERMONT: The state Department of Health plans to close walk-in Covid and flu vaccine clinics by the end of January as demand for shots trickles off. The department said the clinics gave out 20,000 doses in December, the lowest number since the clinics began operating. As of late December, 31% of Vermonters over 5 had received Covid bivalent boosters, twice the national average. (VTDigger)
In Politics & Business
OHIO: State House Democrats joined with a few dozen Republicans to choose state Rep. Jason Stephens (R) as the next House Speaker in an upset. Stephens beat out Rep. Derek Merrin (R), who won a vote of the Republican conference last month. (Pluribus News, Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer) Merrin’s support for right-to-work legislation may have played a role in a state where even some Republicans remain pro-union.
PENNSYLVANIA: The state House picked moderate Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) as their next Speaker in a bipartisan vote after months of sniping between the Democratic and Republican leaders (backstory on that fight here). Rozzi said he would not caucus with either party, though he held a joint press conference with legislative Democrats last night. Democrats are expected to reclaim the majority when three special elections are decided in February. (Pluribus News, Spotlight PA, Philadelphia Inquirer)
GOVERNORS: Massachusetts Gov.-elect Maura Healey (D) and Arkansas Gov.-elect Sarah Sanders (R) get to remove the “-elect” from their titles when they are formally sworn into office today. Both are the first women elected to the top job in their states.
NEW JERSEY: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (D) said he will not seek re-election to a fourth term in 2025, opening what insiders say is the unofficial kickoff of a gubernatorial bid that year. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces term limits. (Jersey Journal)
INDIANA: Sen. Mike Braun (R) raised about $1.5 million in the month since launching his bid for governor. He transferred another $1.5 million from his Senate campaign account. That gives him about as much raised as Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (R) and businessman Eric Dozen (R), the other two top Republicans running to replace outgoing Gov. Eric Holcomb (R). (Associated Press)
MISSISSIPPI: Gov. Tate Reeves (R) formally launched his re-election bid Tuesday at a press conference at state GOP headquarters. (Supertalk) Ex-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. (R) is considering another challenge to Reeves; Reeves beat Waller by eight points in a 2019 runoff. (Mississippi Today)
SOUTH DAKOTA: State Sen. John Wiik (R) and state Rep. Kevin Jensen (R) are running to replace outgoing South Dakota Republican Party chairman Dan Lederman. Wiik has backing from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Gov. Kristi Noem (R). (Dakota News Now)
PEOPLE: Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Almond (R), who spent two decades prosecuting corruption and gangsters before winning office in 1994, has died at 86. He served as U.S. Attorney under Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. (Providence Journal)
New legislative sessions begin today in Connecticut, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
Legislators in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maine are in session.
By The Numbers
220: The number of Massachusetts state employees who earned more than $100,000 in overtime pay alone. Most of those employees work for the state police, the MBTA, corrections facilities and health care facilities. Two employees earned more than $400,000 in gross income. (Boston Herald)
Off The Wall
The biggest donor to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) re-election campaign last year was Las Vegas entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who cut a $10 million check. Bigelow is best known for spending his fortune searching for extraterrestrial life. Bigelow’s company got a big government grant to investigate reports of UFOs a decade ago at the behest of another UFO enthusiast, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). (Orlando Sentinel)
A Hawaii corrections officer is under investigation after he tried to pick up nearly 100 pounds of illegal aerial fireworks that were sent to an inmate at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. The inmate on the address label isn’t even serving his sentence in Hawaii; he’s in jail in Arizona. (Hawaii News Now)
Quote of the Day
“Every day as governor is an adventure. It is the greatest job in politics and an immense responsibility.”
— Ex-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), in a handwritten letter to his successor, Gov. Katie Hobbs (D). (12News)