Pluribus AM: Pickleball scholarships and a fugitive tortoise

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, September 28, 2023. In today’s edition, Wisconsin GOP targets gender-affirming care; Massachusetts poised to approve big tax cuts; Costco can’t keep gold bars in stock:

Top Stories

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Wisconsin Assembly Republicans have introduced legislation to bar gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The bill outlaws surgery, puberty-blocking drugs or hormones, with exceptions for treatment administered for minors born with “verifiable genetic disorder[s] of sex development.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MORE: A state judge has blocked a Montana law barring gender-affirming care for transgender youth just four days before it was to take effect. The judge sided with families who alleged the law was unconstitutional and would harm the mental and physical health of minors with gender dysphoria. (Associated Press)

ABORTION: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation Wednesday preventing state authorities from cooperating with out-of-state investigations into doctors who mail abortion pills to patients in other states. Newsom also signed a bill creating new privacy protections for online reproductive health data. (Associated Press, Los Angeles Times)

HEALTH CARE: Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) issued an order Wednesday expanding Medicaid coverage to women up to one year after they give birth, doubling the amount of coverage they can receive. Mississippi and Missouri expanded postpartum coverage earlier this year. (Omaha World-Herald, Associated Press)

CRIME: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation requiring transportation hubs to display information meant to help victims of human trafficking. The bill also expands membership in the state’s interagency task force combatting trafficking. (State of Politics) The Ohio Senate unanimously approved legislation ending a civil statute of limitations on child sex abuse in bankruptcy cases, allowing survivors to receive the full amount they are owed through a Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy settlement. (Columbus Dispatch)

TAXES: The Massachusetts House approved major tax cuts Wednesday, including an increased child and dependent tax credit, a higher threshold for estate taxes and higher tax credits for low- and middle-income seniors. The Senate is expected to give the measure final approval today. (Boston Globe) Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) says more tax cuts are coming next year after the state reported a $1.83 billion surplus. (Des Moines Register)

LABOR: Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch (D) has introduced legislation that would allow legislative employees to form a union. Welch’s staff had asked for voluntary recognition of the union they tried to form, but Welch said his attorneys advised him that state law did not allow those employees to organize. (Capitol News Illinois)

In Politics & Business

COLORADO: Supporters of abortion rights have filed papers to begin collecting signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to access abortion services. The initiatives would also repeal a 40-year old constitutional ban on state dollars being used to pay for abortions. (Colorado Sun)

MICHIGAN: State lawmakers are considering a bill that would count prison inmates at their places of residence, rather than in the facilities where they are incarcerated. Opponents of counting prisoners as living at correctional facilities call the practice “prison gerrymandering,” which gives rural areas disproportionate political power. (Bridge MI)

CRIME BLOTTER: Alabama state Rep. John Rogers (D) has been indicted on charges of obstructing a federal investigation into the misuse of state money. Rogers is the second Alabama lawmaker to be arrested in connection with the investigation; former Rep. Fred Plump (D) pleaded guilty earlier his year. (, Associated Press)

PEOPLE: Maryland Democratic Party chair Yvette Lewis will resign her post Oct. 6, she told state party leaders in an email Tuesday. Lewis, a longtime member of the Democratic National Committee, is leaving for unspecified new challenges, a state party spokesman said. (Baltimore Sun)

By The Numbers

$1.015 billion: The amount of money North Carolina’s state lottery took in last fiscal year, a new record high. The State Lottery Commission reported record sales of $4.3 billion, up $456 million from the year prior. (Associated Press)

$51.9 trillion: The value of the U.S. housing market, an increase of 49% since before the pandemic. Higher interest rates caused a brief dip in values last year before surging again this year. (Zillow)

Off The Wall

Utah Tech University may be the first in the nation to offer scholarships to competitive pickleball players. A company in St. George will cover six credit hours for students who are involved in leadership in the university’s pickleball club. Utah Tech’s team has qualified to compete in this year’s Dynamic Universal Pickleball Rating Collegiate National Championships in November. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Residents in Leighton, Pa., are on the lookout for an escaped tortoise that got out of the veterinary clinic where he had been staying. It’s the third time Tank the tortoise has broken free. (UPI)

The third time?!?

Costco has begun selling one-ounce gold bars, but the retail giant can’t keep them in stock. CEO Richard Galanti said the company typically sells out of new shipments of the gold bars within a few hours, even though sales are limited to two per customer. (KTLA)

Come for the gold bars, stay for the $1.50 hot dog.

Quote of the Day

“It’s the illicit market that’s growing in leaps and bounds right now.”

California Sen. Steven Bradford (D), on how the state’s high taxes on legal pot are driving consumers to the illicit market. (Pluribus News)