Pluribus AM: Pennsylvania’s Porch Pirate Penalties

DON’T FORGET: Register today for our special legislative preview events next week. We’ll sit down with blue state leaders on Tuesday, and red state leaders on Thursday.

Good morning, it’s Friday, December 15, 2023. In today’s edition, Pennsylvania targets porch pirates; Kansas Gov makes new Medicaid expansion push; SCOTUS won’t block Illinois high-power gun ban:

Top Stories

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) signed legislation sealing criminal records if those convicted of crimes go ten years without committing a new offense. Another bill Shapiro signed creates clearer parameters for parole hearings into minor probation violations. (Harrisburg Patriot-News) Shapiro also signed a bill creating a new criminal offense targeting home delivery package thieves, or “porch pirates.” (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

MORE: New York Democrats will prioritize sentencing and parole reform in next year’s legislative sessions. Legislators said they would introduce bills to increase opportunities for inmates to be released from prison, including mandatory parole hearings for inmates over 55 who have served at least 15 years. (State of Politics)

HEALTH CARE: Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has asked legislators to expand Medicaid with a work requirement for recipients, in a bid to win Republican support. House Speaker Dan Hawkins (R) was skeptical of the proposal; he cited the Biden administration’s revocation of previously-approved work requirements in other states. (Kansas City Star)

MORE: Federal officials are expected to decide by Jan. 5 whether to approve Florida’s plan to import cheap prescription drugs from Canada. Health Care Administration Secretary Jason Weida told lawmakers he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Food and Drug Administration will approve the plan, backed by lawmakers in 2019. (Orlando Sentinel)

CONSUMER PROTECTION: Michigan lawmakers will consider new bills to cap interest rates charged by payday lenders at 36% annually, matching limits set in 20 other states and the District of Columbia. Current rates can exceed 340% annually. Michigan was the last state to legalize payday lending, in 2005. (MLive)

MENTAL HEALTH: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will ask legislators to spend $500 million on new behavioral health programs. Youngkin will ask the legislature to pass a bill allowing people experiencing mental health crises to have access to family members. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

ENERGY: California’s Public Utilities Commission voted to extend operations at Diablo Canyon Power Plant through 2030, giving the state’s last nuclear plant five more years of life. Keeping the plant open is expected to cost the state more than $6 billion. Diablo Canyon supplies about 9% of California’s electricity, and 17% of its zero-emission power. (Los Angeles Times)

GUN POLITICS: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block an Illinois law that would ban high-power semiautomatic weapons, set to take effect Jan. 1. A three-judge panel of the 7th District Court of Appeals voted 2-1 in favor of the law last month. The law also bans high-capacity magazines for rifles and handguns. (Associated Press)

WORKFORCE: The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments Friday over whether Amazon delivery drivers are employees or independent contractors. Amazon considers the drivers independent contractors, but the state Department of Workforce Development says they are misclassified, and that Amazon owes more than $200,000 in unemployment insurance payments. (Wisconsin Examiner)

In Politics & Business

TRUMP: The Michigan Court of Appeals said it would not block former President Donald Trump from gaining access to the primary ballot on 14th Amendment grounds. In a ruling similar to one issued in Minnesota, judges said political parties are responsible for determining who qualifies for a ballot spot. (Detroit News, Associated Press)

KENTUCKY: The state Supreme Court rejected a Democratic lawsuit challenging state House and congressional district lines that give Republicans a substantial advantage. The court concluded that the maps represented a partisan gerrymander, but justices said the state constitution has no provision forbidding such a gerrymander. (Associated Press)

FLORIDA: Republican Party chairman Christian Ziegler has asked for a $2 million payout to resign from office in the midst of allegations of sexual assault. State party officials this weekend are set to launch an investigation into Ziegler that could lead to his ouster. (Florida Politics)

By The Numbers

105: The number of men for every 100 women at birth in the United States, a measure demographers call the sex ratio. That ratio inverts — meaning there are more women than men — around age 30, because mortality rates for men are higher than for women in almost every age group. (Associated Press)

$3.7 million: The amount the Texas House spent on outside attorneys prosecuting Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) impeachment. Total costs, including staff attorneys and a former judge hired by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) to help him oversee the trial, likely exceeded $4.3 million. (KXAN)

1: The length, in sentences, of apology letters written by former Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro to the citizens of Georgia. The attorneys were required to write letters under plea deals reached with prosecutors over their roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election results. (Associated Press)

$19.5 million: The amount spent on campaigns for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this year, a new record in the state. The previous record of $15.8 million was set in 2015, though that money was spread across races for three seats. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Off The Wall

The latest product to be impacted by snarled supply chains: Christmas trees. High demand coupled with a summer drought has led to a shortage of trees in Michigan, farmers report. North Carolina, Oregon and Michigan produce the most Christmas trees in the nation. (Bridge MI)

What’s that on the train tracks? It’s a loose bull, causing traffic jams at Newark’s Penn Station. Authorities eventually caught the animal, which will be sent to a local animal sanctuary. Incredibly, it’s not the first time a bull has gotten loose in Newark: It happened in both 2004 and 2006. (Associated Press)

Photo of the wandering bovine here.

Quote of the Day

“People are going to need to recalibrate their expectations.”

California Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D), chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, on cuts the state will have to make to close a $68 billion budget shortfall. (Pluribus News)