Pluribus AM: Primary day in Ohio, Illinois

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, March 19, 2024. In today’s edition, Alito extends block on Texas immigration law; Maryland advances new gun taxes; voters head to polls in Ohio, Illinois:

Top Stories

IMMIGRATION: Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has extended an order blocking a Texas law allowing law enforcement to detain and jail migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally. The law is being heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. (CBS News)

AGRICULTURE: The Iowa Senate has advanced legislation providing chemical manufacturers with immunity from lawsuits over failure to warn consumers about potential adverse health effects. The bill, backed by Bayer, maker of Roundup, would not apply to Chinese state-owned companies, singling out the chemical maker Syngenta. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

ANTISEMITISM: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) vetoed legislation defining antisemitism as discrimination in education settings. Holcomb said the bill did not go far enough to protect Jewish students. He objected to the exclusion of provisions that leave out “contemporary examples” of antisemitism, a part of the bill dropped during negotiations between supporters and critics. (Indianapolis Star)

GUN POLITICS: Maryland’s Senate voted Monday to create a new 11% excise tax on the sales of firearms and ammunition. The bill would allocate taxes mostly to trauma systems that bear the brunt of the cost of gunshot victims. (WYPR)

HOUSING: New Jersey lawmakers approved a package of bills providing tax exemptions for affordable housing projects and providing protections from lawsuits aimed at stopping new housing projects. One bill also provides incentives to build housing near grocery stores and transit. (NJ Advance Media)

MORE: Hawaii’s Senate approved legislation giving power to control or phase out short-term rentals to county governments. The measure advanced through two House committees at the same time. (Honolulu Star Advertiser)

EDUCATION: The Iowa Senate approved legislation restructuring the state’s Area Education Agencies, allowing local districts to decide whether to contract with those agencies for special education services. Districts would be able to contract with private providers if they choose. (Des Moines Register) This bill is far from the finish line; lots of negotiations between the House and Senate ahead.

MORE: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) on Monday signed legislation making it easier to ban books from school libraries. The bill would remove a single book from all Utah public schools if at least three school districts determine it amounts to “objective sensitive material.” The state Board of Education would be able to reverse a ban. (Salt Lake Tribune)

ENVIRONMENT: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has signed legislation banning the installation of ornamental grass, invasive plants and artificial turf on most commercial, industrial and government property. The law does not apply to residential properties, except those owned by homeowners’ associations. (Denver Post)

In Politics & Business

ELECTIONS: Voters head to the polls to pick party nominees in Illinois and Ohio today. We’re keeping an eye on Ohio state House races, where Republican factions backing Speaker Jason Stephens (R) and his former rival, state Rep. Derek Merrin (R), are battling for control of the GOP. Merrin himself is running for Congress in a district held by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D).

Other races to watch: The battle for the Republican nomination to face U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) pits Trump-backed businessman Bernie Moreno (R) against state Sen. Matt Dolan (R), backed by Gov. Mike DeWine (R). Moreno has surged to a late polling lead. Ohio has competitive primaries to replace retiring Reps. Bill Johnson (R) and Brad Wenstrup (R).

MISSOURI: Senate President Caleb Rowden (R) has dropped his bid for Secretary of State. Sen. Denny Hoskins (R), Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller (R), Rep. Adam Schwadron (R) and activist Valentina Gomez (R) remain in the GOP field. The winner will face state Rep. Barbara Phifer (D) in the general. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

MASSACHUSETTS: State lawmakers begin hearings today over proposed ballot questions that would allow ride share drivers to unionize, and to specify whether app workers are independent contractors. (Springfield Republican)

GEORGIA: The state Senate advanced legislation that would reduce the number of voting machines available on Election Day, require post-election audits and post images of ballots online. The bills would also make voter intimidation a felony and allow poll watchers to stand or sit as close to election workers as is practicable. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

By The Numbers

$0: The amount of tax revenue collected under a Minnesota law requiring sellers of illegal drugs to purchase stamps for marijuana, cocaine and other substances. The last time any drug dealer purchased stamps, in 2014, he did so because he thought it would provide immunity from prosecution. He was wrong. Lawmakers are now trying to repeal the tax. (MinnPost)

$2 million: The amount Nike co-founder Phil Knight contributed to an Oregon PAC meant to elect Republicans to the legislature. It’s the third $2 million contribution — all made by Knight — to an Oregon campaign or committee since 2019. Recently-passed campaign finance limits will cap Knight’s future contributions to $30,000 to a party, $30,000 to a party PAC or $6,000 to individual candidates. (Oregonian)

$176,500: The average bonus earned by employees of Wall Street firms in 2023, down 2% from the $180,000 average in 2022, according to New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s (D) office. Average bonuses have ranged from $111,400 in 2011 to $240,400 in 2021. (Associated Press)

Crocodile tears…

Off The Wall

April’s solar eclipse will bring millions of tourists to the path of totality that stretches from Texas to Maine. It also has scientists on high alert: Researchers at the Fort Worth Zoo plan to monitor animal behavior during the eclipse. During the last eclipse, researchers noticed that Galapagos tortoises at a zoo in Columbia, S.C., started acting amorous, while giraffes and flamingos demonstrated anxious behavior. (Associated Press)

So if your pet giraffe starts acting weird, you’ll know why.

Belgium’s national soccer team unveiled new home and away kits ahead of the European championships this summer, and the away kits look remarkably like the uniform worn by the country’s most famous cartoon character, Tintin. The uniforms include a blue jersey with a white collar, brown shorts and white socks, akin to what the intrepid reporter wears in his adventures. (Associated Press)

To quote Captain Haddock: Blistering barnacles!

Quote of the Day

“I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen Tuesday. At this point, I’m not sure anyone does.”

Alabama Sen. Greg Albritton (R), on a package of gambling bills that would create new lottery options. The House version, initially slated to allow new casinos and sports betting, has been watered down in the Senate, but lawmakers say they’re unclear about the path forward. (Alabama Reflector)