Pluribus AM: Okla. voters to decide on legal pot; N.Y. proposes new social media curbs; voter turnout soars in Mich.

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Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022. In today’s edition, Okla. voters to decide on legalized pot; N.Y. officials propose new social media curbs; voter turnout surging in Mich.:

Top Stories

NUCLEAR POWER: Ten states approved new measures to study or back new nuclear projects as states look for alternatives to fossil fuels to meet climate change goals. States like Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and West Virginia are exploring the possibilities presented by small modular reactors, which generate about a third of the capacity of a traditional nuclear reactor. (Pluribus News)

MARIJUANA: Oklahoma Voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana in a March 7 election, Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) said Tuesday. A delay at the Secretary of State’s office in confirming signatures kept the measure off this fall’s ballot. (McCarville Report) Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) says he will not issue blanket pardons for state-level marijuana possession charges, snubbing President Biden’s request. (Indianapolis Star)

HACKERS: Chinese government hackers are probing Democratic and Republican Party websites looking for vulnerabilities. The FBI is contacting state parties to warn them of the scans. (Washington Post) Michigan Democrats and Republicans both said they had received warnings from the FBI. (MLive)

COLORADO RIVER: Hydropower production is down about 20% over the last year, and down 30% from the yearly average since 2000, according to the Bureau of Reclamation. The last time hydropower generation in Upper Colorado River states — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico — was this low was back in 1967. (Colorado Sun)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and Attorney General Letitia James (D) are backing a package of changes to laws governing social media platforms after a mass shooting in Buffalo killed ten people earlier this year. Hochul and James want lawmakers to approve civil liability for anyone transmitting videos of a murder; include verification requirements for live-streaming; and put more onus on hosting companies to restrict violent or hateful content. (NY State of Politics)

MISSOURI: Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick (R) said the state had pulled $500 million in pension funds managed by BlackRock over the investment firm’s environmental, social and governance policies. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Louisiana, Utah, South Carolina, Arkansas and other red states have pulled BlackRock investments recently, citing ESG policies.

FLORIDA: Agriculture losses from Hurricane Ian could reach $1.56 billion, according to an early study from the University of Florida. That’s nearly a quarter of the region’s annual $8 billion haul. Citrus growers stand to lose as much as $304 million, after early forecasts already showed a slumping season ahead. (WUSF)

CONNECTICUT: The state’s two children’s hospitals are already full to overflowing with children suffering from respiratory disease. Officials at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital say they are seeing a spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, rather than COVID. (Hartford Courant) Flu season is still on its way.

CALIFORNIA: Wildfires that destroyed 4.2 million acres of forest in 2020 released almost 140 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air, as much as passenger vehicles generate in a typical year, according to new research from UCLA. The fires emitted twice as much carbon dioxide as the state saved through efforts to reduce emissions between 2003 and 2019. (Sacramento Bee)

WYOMING: Lawmakers have advanced a bill to strip political parties of their role in filling vacancies in office. The new bill would require a special election if more than half of the outgoing official’s term remains; if less than half a term remains, either the governor or county commissioners, depending on the office, would pick an applicant. (Casper Star Tribune) The proposal comes after nasty battles this year to fill a Superintendent of Public Instruction seat and the Secretary of State’s office.

In Politics

MICHIGAN: A surge in voter interest has elections officials warning that results could be delayed in November. More than 1.7 million Michiganders have requested an absentee ballot, up from 912,000 four years ago. More than 432,000 have already returned their ballots. (BridgeMI) Add Michigan to other states reporting high turnout, like Georgia, Florida and New Mexico.

GEORGIA: A new Landmark Communications survey finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) holding a 51%-45% lead over former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D). It’s Landmark’s first poll of the race, but it’s in line with most other recent surveys that have Kemp holding a steady lead in the mid-to-high single digits. Republicans lead down ballot matchups by wider margins. 

PENNSYLVANIA: Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) is still outpacing state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) by a wide margin. A new poll conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone for the AARP shows Shapiro up 53%-42% on Mastriano, a wider edge than the last time AARP took a poll in June. 

ARIZONA: State Rep. Mark Finchem (R) is virtually tied with former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes (D), 43%-41%, in the race for Secretary of State, according to a new OH Predictive Insights poll. Attorney Abraham Hamadeh (R) leads former Corporate Commissioner Kris Mayes (D) in the race for Attorney General, 42%-39%. State Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R) leads by a 46%-35% in her bid for another term. 

MASSACHUSETTS: A new Suffolk University poll conducted for the Boston Globe, NBC10 and Telemundo shows Attorney General Maura Healey (D) leading former state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R) 56%-33%, with Libertarian Kevin Reed at 4%. A whopping 69% of Bay State voters approve of the job outgoing Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is doing. 

Total Wine & Spirits has dropped $2.1 million on a campaign opposing Question 3, a ballot initiative that would increase the number of retail beer and wine licenses and limit the maximum number of licenses an individual business can own. The company has six outlets in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

OREGON: Oregon voters looking for unbiased voter information will see a Democratic website at the top of their Google search results. Legislative Democrats and labor unions have purchased ads directing voters to websites that promote former state House Speaker Tina Kotek (D), the party’s gubernatorial nominee, ahead of the state’s actual voter guide. (Oregonian)

YOUNGKIN: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has raised $5.8 million, including $1 million from his own checkbook, for a leadership PAC, far more than any of his predecessors. Youngkin is currently on a Western swing, stumping for Republican gubernatorial candidates in Oregon last night and Arizona today. (Washington Post)

By The Numbers

73%: The increase in the price of an average turkey for sale in the United States, over last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The per-pound price of an 8-16 lb. bird will set you back $1.99, compared with $1.15 a year ago. Commodities experts blame the spread of a bird flu that is worse than any since 2015. (CNBC)

Off The Wall

Happy trails to Patrick O’Donnell, the clerk of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, who is retiring this year after 44 years on the job. O’Donnell is the longest-serving state legislative clerk in America. “Calls to O’Donnell on Tuesday evening seeking comment went unanswered. One source said it might be because his beloved New York Yankees were playing a key playoff game.” (Nebraska Examiner)

Members of at least five sheriff’s offices across the country have been offered Caribbean cruises by Smart Communications, a company vying for contracts to provide communications services to prison and jail inmates. The company’s chief executive said in a statement that the cruises — billed as “Annual Technology Training Summit Cruises” — have never actually occurred. (The Appeal)

Quote of the Day

“Does Central Jersey exist? Let’s put it on the map.”

— New Jersey state Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D), among legislators who have proposed a new bill requiring state-produced tourism maps to include Central Jersey as an official region. (NJ Advance Media)