Pluribus AM: Pickleball, ‘the Taylor Swift of sports’

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, September 20, 2023. One more day of Summer. In today’s edition, North Carolina set to (finally) expand Medicaid; Maryland lawmakers plan drug price caps; redistricting updates in Ohio, Alabama, New York:

Top Stories

IMMIGRATION: Republican governors in 25 states are asking the Biden administration for details about migrants crossing the Southern border, including their national identities, relocation destinations, asylum application processing rates and how many are deported. Governors cited specific concerns about drug trafficking. (Pluribus News)

Plenty of Democratic governors are frustrated with the administration’s approach to migrants, though for very different reasons: They want the administration to grant those migrants work authorizations, as we wrote last month.

MEDICAID: North Carolina lawmakers have reached a budget deal that will allow the state to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Lawmakers had been at loggerheads over a fight over expanding casino gambling, but Senate President Phil Berger (R) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R) agreed to shelve the gambling expansion for now. (Raleigh News & Observer)

Other budget highlights: A 7% teacher pay raise, a major expansion of school vouchers and a reduction of the personal income tax rate to 3.99% by 2025.

HEALTH CARE: Prominent Maryland lawmakers say they will advance legislation next session to set upper payment limits on prescription drugs for those with private insurance. Legislation would expand the power of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board to negotiate with drug companies and implement more existing rebates. (WYPR)

EDUCATION: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) says he will call lawmakers back to special session next month to consider school choice legislation. In a tele-town hall, Abbott pledged to continue calling lawmakers back until they agree to expand voucher programs to more Texans. (Texas Tribune)

We wrote about the fraught politics of school choice in the land of Friday Night Lights here.

MORE: Michigan’s Senate Education Committee heard testimony on bipartisan legislation to make permanent universal free school meal programs implemented during the pandemic. Lawmakers approved extending the program for this school year at a cost of $160 million. (Bridge MI) Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) says he will attempt to withhold pay raises from tens of thousands of University of Wisconsin System employees unless the schools cut positions aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion. (Wisconsin Examiner)

SOCIAL MEDIA: A Pennsylvania state Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday to add restrictions on children’s use of social media. The measure would prevent social media companies from “causing or encouraging” minors to access content that could cause physical or mental harm. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

ABORTION: The Wisconsin Senate Licensing, Construction and Federalism Committee heard testimony on new bills that would prohibit any state or local government worker from providing or promoting abortion services or making abortion referrals. One measure would redefine abortion to allow a 1849 abortion ban to cover medical services. (Wisconsin Examiner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Context: A state judge ruled in July that the 1849 law does not apply to medical procedures.

CHILD WELFARE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed a series of bills raising the minimum age of marriage to 18. Previously, 16- and 17-year olds could marry with the written consent of a parent or guardian. One bill Whitmer signed prohibits secret child marriages. (Detroit Free Press)

In Politics & Business

PENNSYLVANIA: Former congressional aide Lindsay Powell (D) will become the next member of the state House of Representatives, restoring Democrats’ 102-101 majority after she won a special election to represent a strong Democratic seat in the Pittsburgh area. (Associated Press)

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Voters in Rockingham County picked Hal Rafter (D) over James Guzofski (R) in a special election to fill a vacancy created when a Republican state representative resigned in April. The Democratic pickup means the state House is now divided between 198 Republicans and 197 Democrats, with three vacancies. (WMUR)

Democrats have a chance to pick up the majority in forthcoming special elections in New Hampshire — but with 400 members, there’s always a vacancy right around the corner.

OREGON: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) will not seek a fourth term in 2024. Rosenblum, 72, said it was time for a new generation of leaders to take over. (Oregonian)

OHIO: The Ohio Redistricting Commission will meet again Wednesday to begin redrawing state House and Senate district maps after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the previous ones were unconstitutional. It’s not clear if House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) and Senate President Matt Huffman (R) have resolved their dispute from last week over a commission co-chair. (Columbus Dispatch)

And/but: Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who chairs the commission, tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. DeWine’s spokesman said the commission would meet as scheduled. (Columbus Dispatch)

MORE: The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the state Ballot Board to reword a portion of the ballot language for an abortion rights amendment set to appear on the November ballot. The court won’t order the board to change some phrases that supporters say are “intentionally misleading,” including a focus solely on abortion, rather than miscarriage care, contraception and fertility treatment. (Columbus Dispatch)

ALABAMA: Groups that sued over the state’s congressional district lines have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny Alabama’s emergency request to block a lower court’s order rejecting newly drawn lines. Earlier this month, the three-judge district court ruled that the legislature failed to fix the dilution of Black voter power, a violation of the Voting Rights Act. (

NEW YORK: The state Court of Appeals will allow the independent redistricting commission to start work redrawing district lines while litigation over the current lines continues. The decision means the commission cannot submit final maps to the legislature, but nothing prevents them from drawing new lines, in what experts called a split decision. (State of Politics)

As many as half a dozen Republican-held seats in the U.S. House — enough to put the GOP majority at risk — are at stake in this court fight.

By The Numbers

3: The number of states that set new record-low unemployment rates last month. Louisiana (3.3%), Maryland (1.7%) and North Dakota (1.8%) all notched the lowest unemployment rates since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track in 1976. (BLS)

695: The number of challenges lodged against library materials and services in the first eight months of 2023, up from 681 lodged through the same period last year, according to the American Library Association, and about twice as many as were lodged in all of 2019, the year before the pandemic. (Associated Press)

$13 billion: The amount of money the Biden administration says 16 states shorted historically Black colleges and universities over the last three decades. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a letter to those states — all of which are in the South — that majority-white land-grant institutions received $1 billion to $2 billion more than majority-Black land-grant schools. (NPR)

Off The Wall

An aquarium in San Francisco is home to the oldest living fish in captivity anywhere in the world. New DNA technology proved that Methuselah, an Australian lungfish that arrived about a year before the onset of World War II, is about 92 years old. (Sacramento Bee)

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Tuesday helped inaugurate a new set of pickelball courts in Glastonbury, the latest of the 138 pickelball locations that have sprouted up across Connecticut. Lamont might have gotten a little carried away when he called the game “the Taylor Swift of sports.” (CT Insider)

Quote of the Day

“God bless Missouri, I hope they never get their act together and never pass it.”

Kansas state Rep. Nick Hoheisel (R), on Missouri’s inaction on legalizing sports betting. Supporters of the Missouri law say tons of their residents cross the border into Kansas to make legal wagers. (Kansas City Star)