NEXT WEEK: We’re sitting down with legislative leaders from across the country to preview their 2024 agendas. Register to join our Blue State Legislative Preview on Tuesday, Dec. 19, and our Red State Legislative Preview on Thursday, Dec. 21.
Good morning, it’s Thursday, December 14, 2023. In today’s edition, New York bars medical debt reporting; Ohio approves gender-affirming care ban; Pennsylvania declares the Taylor Swift era:
HEALTH CARE: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation barring hospitals, health care professionals and ambulance firms from reporting medical debt to credit agencies. New York is the second state, after Colorado, to adopt a law seeking to stop medical debt from harming someone’s credit. (Pluribus News)
Similar measures have been introduced in recent years in New Mexico, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Expect other blue states to take these bills up in the future.
LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Ohio House gave final approval to a measure that would bar gender-affirming care for transgender minors and block transgender girls and women from playing on female sports teams in high school and college. The bill, which heads to Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) desk, allows those already receiving care to continue treatment. (Columbus Dispatch)
As we wrote last month, the Ohio measure contains a twist not seen in other efforts to block gender-affirming care: It bars mental health professionals from diagnosing or treating a minor for gender-related conditions without parental consent.
MORE: Three Florida public school teachers have sued to block the state ban on using personal pronouns that do not match a person’s sex at birth. The teachers say the law violates their constitutional rights and discriminates on the basis of sex. (Orlando Sentinel) A federal trial began Wednesday in Miami challenging Florida’s restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors. (CBS News)
PUBLIC HEALTH: The Ohio House voted to override Gov. DeWine’s veto of legislation barring cities from imposing flavored tobacco bans. Republicans say they want uniform rules for tobacco sales statewide. The Senate has yet to vote on DeWine’s veto. (Columbus Dispatch)
The General Assembly is breaking for the winter without taking action on Ohio’s new legal marijuana industry, after some lawmakers proposed higher taxes and limits on home-grow.
MORE: Missouri has launched a new statewide database of opioid prescriptions, aimed at helping doctors identify those with potential addictions. A law passed in 2021 will require pharmacists to report when they provide drugs listed as controlled substances. (Associated Press)
ABORTION: A Wyoming judge could rule as soon as today whether to uphold a state law barring most abortions, including a first-in-the-nation ban on medication abortions. Teton County District Judge Melissa Owens has ruled three times in favor of abortion rights advocates. A full bench trial is expected to begin April 15. (Associated Press)
MORE: The U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to limit access to mifepristone, the abortion-inducing drug that has been available for more than two decades. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Food and Drug Administration did not follow proper procedures when it granted access to the drug. (Washington Post)
In Politics & Business
NEW MEXICO: The state Republican Party is dropping its challenge to New Mexico’s congressional district lines after the state Supreme Court ruled the lines did not violate constitutional protections. Democrats who control the redistricting process added 40,000 Democratic voters to a district in southern New Mexico, allowing Democrat Gabe Vasquez to defeat then-Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) in 2022. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
MAINE: The state’s two utilities, the Maine Association of Broadcasters and the Maine Press Association are suing over a voter-approved referendum that would bar foreign entities and companies in which those entities hold a substantial ownership stake from advertising in political campaigns. The utilities say their free speech would be impacted, while the media groups say the law imposes a censorship mandate. (Associated Press)
Question 2, the referendum barring foreign spending, passed with 86% of the vote.
FLORIDA: Supporters of abortion rights have collected more than 1.3 million signatures to qualify a proposed constitutional amendment to guarantee those rights. Of those, 687,699 signatures have been validated, with more to count. They need to collect 891,523 valid signatures by Feb. 1 to get their measure on the 2024 ballot. (NBC News)
Of the 1.3 million signatures collected, 150,000 have come from registered Republican voters.
By The Numbers
2,670: The number of bills introduced in Rhode Island’s legislative session this year. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (D) wants to cut down that number by limiting the number of bills lawmakers are allowed to introduce to 15 per legislative session. (Providence Journal)
$4.4 billion: The amount of gas tax revenue California stands to lose annually with the adoption of electric vehicles, according to a report by the state legislative analyst’s office. That’s 31% of the gas tax the state currently collects. (Sacramento Bee)
91%: The share of non-public schools in Indiana that teach cursive writing, compared with just 52% of public schools that teach cursive, according to a new survey by the Indiana Department of Education. State Sen. Jean Leising (R) has been pushing bills for years to return cursive instruction to public schools. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Off The Wall
The earliest forms of Mickey and Minnie Mouse will enter the public domain on Jan. 1, 95 years after the couple debuted in Disney’s “Steamboat Willie.” More modern versions of Mickey remain under copyright, Disney reminded everyone in a statement. (Associated Press)
We told you earlier this week that the South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division will no longer apply “good taste” standards to proposed vanity plates. In place of their opinions, the division will rely on Merriam-Websters’ online dictionary to define vulgar or swear words that won’t be allowed on customized plates. (South Dakota Searchlight)
Quote of the Day
“Apparently, the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”
— Pennsylvania House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D), after a surprisingly contentious vote on a resolution naming 2023 the “Taylor Swift Era.” The resolution passed 103-100, on Swift’s 34th birthday. (Harrisburg Patriot-News)
So many legislators making so many bad Taylor Swift puns.