Pluribus AM: PBMs in the crosshairs

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, March 20, 2024. In today’s edition, AGs target pharmacy benefit managers; Maryland, Vermont advance youth data privacy bills; Texas immigration law unblocked — and blocked again:

Top Stories

HEALTH CARE: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) has sued the country’s largest drug manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers for allegedly conspiring to inflate the cost of insulin. Rokita’s suit joins other lawsuits challenging PBMs and pharma companies in Louisiana, Minnesota and other states. (Pluribus News)

PRIVACY: Lawmakers in Maryland and Vermont have advanced youth data privacy legislation modeled on a California law courts have blocked from taking effect. Versions of the so-called Age Appropriate Design Code have also been introduced in Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and South Carolina. (Pluribus News)

IMMIGRATION: Yesterday, we told you the Supreme Court had extended a hold on Texas legislation allowing law enforcement to arrest people suspected of crossing the border illegally. Hours later, the Supreme Court reversed itself and allowed the law to take effect — only to have it blocked again by the Fifth Circuit. (Texas Tribune)

MORE: Iowa’s House gave final approval to a bill making illegal immigration a state crime, similar to the Texas measure. It now heads to Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) for a signature. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

GUN POLITICS: Rhode Island’s Senate has approved legislation requiring the safe storage of firearms. The bill requires licensed gun dealers to display warnings of risks of certain firearms, and it requires all guns to be sold with trigger locks. Unsafe storage would be a civil offense punishable by a $250 fine for the first offense. (Boston Globe) Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation barring assault-style weapons. (Denver Post)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Kentucky’s House Standing Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection voted to advance legislation to create a 933-foot buffer between businesses that house “performances with explicitly sexual conduct” — including drag shows — and locations where children might be present. The bill would still permit drag show story hours in libraries. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

MORE: The Louisiana legislature will consider legislation codifying restrictions on sex-based bathroom use, banning transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The bill would require public schools to designate restrooms for use by a single sex and prevent members from another sex from using them. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

SURROGACY: The Michigan Senate voted Tuesday to allow for agreements including compensation between women who are willing to become pregnant and those planning to become parents. Two Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill eliminating criminal bans on paid surrogacy contracts. (Detroit News)

ENVIRONMENT: Automaker Stellantis has agreed to comply with California vehicle emissions standards that will require zero-emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles to make up 68% of light-duty vehicle sales by 2030. Stellantis joins Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW in agreeing to California’s toughest-in-the-nation emissions rules. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

OHIO: At least four House Republicans who backed Speaker Jason Stephens (R) over Rep. Derek Merrin (R) lost primary challenges on Tuesday. Senate President Matt Huffman (R), who wants to be House Speaker when he joins the lower chamber, backed the challengers, though his candidates likely didn’t win enough seats to deny Stephens the top job. (Statehouse News Bureau)

NEBRASKA: Opponents of abortion rights have filed petitions to place a measure on the November ballot that would ban abortions after the first trimester. Supporters of abortion rights are gathering signatures for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. Both sides have until July 3 to collect enough signatures. (Nebraska Examiner)

UTAH: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) has signed legislation that will invest at least $900 million in the development and construction of a new ballpark and a new indoor arena in Salt Lake City over the next decade. The ballpark is meant to house a Major League team if Utah wins an expansion team by 2032, and the arena would host the Utah Jazz and possibly an NHL franchise, too. (KSL)

NO LABELS: Former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) has ruled out a presidential bid on the No Labels ticket, he said in a statement. (Associated Press)

PEOPLE: Arizona Rep. Jevin Hodge (D) has resigned his seat after the Arizona Republic reported he was sanctioned for violating sexual violence and abuse standards while in college nine years ago. Hodge was appointed to fill a vacant seat in late January. (Arizona Republic)

By The Numbers

Nearly $1 million: The amount of alcohol in Michigan’s state inventory that went missing in 2022, according to a new report from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. That’s almost a third of the state’s total stash. (Detroit Free Press)

$99.2 million: The amount groups and businesses spent lobbying the Massachusetts legislature in 2023, up from $85.2 million in 2020. Six of the ten top spenders are involved in health care. (CommonWealth Beacon)

5 of 6: The number of America’s most polluted national parks that are in California, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve and Yosemite National Park are the four most-polluted parks in America. Death Valley ranks sixth, just behind New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. (Los Angeles Times)

Off The Wall

University of Connecticut students and engineers have created the world’s smallest basketball, just in time for March Madness. The group used nanolithography technology to create a “carved” spherical object that is 4-5 micrometers long, about a tenth the size of a human hair. (Patch)

You’d think the defending champs would be just fine with the ball they used to win last year’s tournament.

The Minnesota legislature is considering a measure to allow the state Historical Society to purchase the pair of bright red slippers that helped bring Dorothy home from the Land of Oz. The slippers, stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005, were secretly returned to their owner last month. The owner plans to put the shoes up for auction. (MPR News)

Quote of the Day

“The Big 3, typically we stay out of each other’s races. The lieutenant governor decided not to follow that tradition. He crossed that Rubicon and that’s his issue going forward.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R), who faces a runoff against a challenger backed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). (Texas Tribune)