Pluribus AM: Pa. Dems clinch House; N.M., Fla. advance gun measures; S.C. legislature torn over abortion restrictions

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. In today’s edition, Pa. Dems clinch House control; Fla., N.M. advance very different gun bills; S.C. legislature torn over abortion restrictions:

Top Stories

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Montana’s state Senate is poised for a final vote today on a bill that would punish medical providers who give gender-affirming care to transgender children. (Daily Montanan) An Idaho House committee has approved a measure criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans youth. The bill would apply to puberty blockers, hormones and surgery. (Boise State Public Radio)

GUN RIGHTS: Florida’s House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee approved a measure allowing Florida residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit. (Orlando Sentinel) New Mexico’s House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee advanced bills implementing a 14-day waiting period for gun purchases and a bill banning ownership of assault weapons and high-capacity clips. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

WORKFORCE: Missouri’s House Budget Committee has approved an 8.7% pay hike for state workers to stop an exodus to the private sector. The bill excludes Gov. Mike Parson (R) and state lawmakers. (Missouri Independent) Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) will propose lifting a cap on wages for state employees to help retain workers. (Nevada Independent)

SOUTH CAROLINA: The House and Senate are advancing rival abortion bans after deadlocking last year. The Senate will take up a ban on abortion after cardiac activity is detected, around six weeks, with exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest after 12 weeks. A House committee approved a measure barring abortions from conception, with exceptions for rape, incest and fatal fetal anomalies. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) will ask lawmakers to appropriate $306 million to phase in universal pre-K, including $50 million in one-time spending to help schools hire new teachers. Whitmer will make her formal budget proposal before the legislature today. (Bridge MI)

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has asked legislators to authorize $95 million in funding for the Florida State Guard, a force first established during World War II that DeSantis revitalized last year. The Guard would assist the National Guard during emergencies. DeSantis’s proposal seeks aviation and maritime equipment for the state agency. (Orlando Sentinel)

MORE: The Senate today will take up a bill appropriating money for DeSantis to spend sending migrants to other states, even if those migrants are not physically located in Florida. (Orlando Sentinel)

MINNESOTA: Gov. Tim Walz (D) has signed legislation requiring state electric utilities to transition to 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. (MPR News) North Dakota lawmakers are moving to appropriate $3 million to fund a lawsuit challenging the Minnesota law, alleging it violates the Commerce Clause. (Pluribus News)

ARIZONA: The state House has approved a bill to raise the aggregate expenditure limit for schools. School districts face a $1.4 billion budget cut if legislators can’t agree on a fix by March 1. The bill’s fate isn’t clear in the conservative state Senate. (AZ Mirror)

PENNSYLVANIA: A Commonwealth Court judge has ruled the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional. The lawsuit, filed nine years ago by six school districts, argued the school system was so underfunded that it violated a constitutional requirement to provide education. The judge allowed the legislature and Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) to come up with a fix. (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

OHIO: Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has proposed expanding eligibility for publicly funded tuition vouchers for private schools, though he is resisting some GOP calls for universal vouchers. DeWine’s budget would raise eligibility caps from $69,375 a year to those making up to $110,000 a year. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

ILLINOIS: Legislative Democrats want Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) to back a state-level child tax credit of up to $700 per child for low- and middle-income children. State Sen. Mike Simmons (D), a sponsor of the bill, said it would benefit about half the children in the state. (WQAD) 

In Politics & Business

PENNSYLVANIA: Democrats coasted to victory in three Pittsburgh-area special elections on Tuesday, cementing the party’s 102-101 majority in the state House. State Reps.-elect Joe McAndrew (D), Abigail Salisbury (D) and Matthew Gergely (D) won seats that were left vacant after November’s midterm elections. (Pluribus News)

The big question now: Will Speaker Mark Rozzi (D), who won a handful of Republican votes, yield his position to Democratic leader Joanna McClinton (D)? Rozzi has hinted he wants to keep his job.

SOUTH DAKOTA: The state House has approved a bill barring the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots. The bill now heads to the state Senate. (Keloland)

NEVADA: Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D) will challenge state Democratic Party chair Judith Whitmer to lead the party when elections are held March 4. (Nevada Independent) Whitmer’s election two years ago caused a mass schism within the state party, as the remnants of the late Sen. Harry Reid’s (D) machine split off to run their own coordinated campaign.

MISSISSIPPI: The state Senate has passed a measure transferring ownership of Jackson’s municipal water system to a public entity controlled by the state. (Supertalk)

By The Numbers

50%: The share of Americans who say they are financially worse off today than they were a year ago, the first time since the Great Recession that number has risen so high. And/but: 60% say they expect to be better off a year from now. (Gallup)

6: The number of New Jersey counties where civil and divorce trials are on the brink of suspension until further notice because of a large number of judicial vacancies, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner warned Tuesday. Rabner called the vacancies a “crisis.” (NJ Advance Media)

36.3 million: The number of dead trees counted across California in 2022, nearly four times more than the number counted in 2021. The U.S. Forest Service, which conducted the count, blamed drought, insects and disease. (Los Angeles Times)

More dead trees = more fuel on the ground during wildfire season.

Off The Wall

The publisher of the Northern Plains Independent, a small Montana community newspaper, has forced out Roosevelt County Attorney Frank Piocos after challenging his residency. Piocos did not dispute that he lived in nearby Valley County when he ran for office in 2022. Existing law requires the county attorney to have five years’ experience practicing law; the only other lawyer in the county attorney’s office is just two years out of law school. (Daily Montanan)

Why does this sound like the beginning of a John Grisham novel?

Quote of the Day

“It just doesn’t fit in the mold of what we regulate.”

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies spokeswoman Katie O’Donnell. The department warned legislators it is unprepared to handle regulating and implementing Colorado’s “magic mushroom” industry, after voters legalized psilocybin mushrooms in a November ballot measure. (Colorado Sun)