Pluribus AM: S.C. passes 6-week abortion ban; Mont. bans drag story hours; DeSantis set for launch

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, May 24, 2023. In today’s edition, S.C. passes 6-week abortion ban; Mont. bans drag story hours; DeSantis set for launch:

Top Stories

ABORTION: The South Carolina Senate approved a bill banning abortion after 6 weeks, over the objection of all five women in the chamber. The bill requires anyone seeking an abortion to make two in-person doctor’s visits and two ultrasounds. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has said he will sign the ban, though a court challenge is certain. (The State)

IMMIGRATION: The Texas Senate has approved a bill to create a state border police force. The bill also makes it a state crime to cross the border anywhere but a port of entry, and it creates mandatory 10-year minimum prison sentences for human smugglers. The bill still needs a final Senate vote and House concurrence. (Texas Tribune)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed first-in-the-nation legislation to ban people dressed in drag from reading books to children in schools and libraries. Unlike bills in other states, the new Montana law does not require an event to be sexual in nature to fall under the ban. (Montana Free Press, Associated Press)

MORE: Maine lawmakers have given initial approval to legislation allowing a minor 16 or older to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy without parental consent. (Portland Press Herald)

EDUCATION: The Texas legislature has given final approval to a bill barring sexually explicit material from school libraries. The bill creates a rating system that would lead to book bans. (Associated Press) The Alabama Senate has approved a bill expanding eligibility for private school vouchers to families of four that make up to $75,000 a year, up from $55,000 a year under existing law. (, Associated Press)

MORE: The Illinois legislature has given final approval to a bill requiring public school districts to offer full-day kindergarten by the 2027-2028 school year. (NBC Chicago) Illinois lawmakers also approved a bill requiring schools to create policies prohibiting discrimination and racist harassment. (WTVO) The Louisiana Senate Education Committee approved a measure limiting access to books about gender and sexuality in school libraries. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

MARIJUANA: New Hampshire lawmakers have amended a bill legalizing recreational marijuana to put the state in control of distribution and access, a last-ditch effort to save the legislation by making changes Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has sought. But even some supporters of legal pot are skeptical that the changes will pass. (Boston Globe)

CHINA: The Louisiana House on Tuesday approved a bill banning anyone tied to the governments of China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela from buying or leasing property in the state. The sponsor amended the bill to exempt those who live in the United States. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

CIVIL RIGHTS: The Michigan Senate passed a measure banning discrimination against race-based hairstyles. The bipartisan vote sets Michigan up to join 20 other states that have banned discrimination based on someone’s natural hairstyle. (Detroit News)

ROBOCALLS: Attorneys general in 48 states and Washington, D.C., have filed suit against an Arizona-based robocalling firm that allegedly made more than 7.5 billion calls to people on the Do Not Call Registry. AGs launched a multi-state Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force last year. (Pluribus News)

In Politics & Business

DESANTIS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will launch his presidential campaign Wednesday during an online conversation with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. DeSantis will follow his announcement with appearances on conservative media outlets including Fox News and Mark Levin’s radio show. (Orlando Sentinel, Associated Press)

TEXAS: House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) announced the House General Investigative Committee has been investigating “alleged illegal conduct” by Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), hours after Paxton accused Phelan of being drunk on the job. Lawmakers are considering whether to approve using $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars to settle a whistleblower lawsuit against Paxton, who’s also been under indictment on securities fraud charges since 2015. (Texas Tribune, Associated Press)

This year’s Texas legislative session has had more twists and turns than your average soap opera.

MISSISSIPPI: Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has launched his first ad of the general election, a $1.3 million blitz promoting his first term. (Jackson Clarion Ledger)

OREGON: Three weeks into their walkout, Republican senators say they will return to session on June 25, the last day of session. The senators ostensibly walked out over the legibility of bills introduced, but they also object to bills on abortion rights and gender-affirming care that are stalled without their presence. (Oregonian, Associated Press)

NEVADA: The Oakland Athletics have reached a loose agreement with state officials over a public financing package of at least $325 million to build a stadium in Las Vegas. The team originally sought $500 million. Legislation on the package will be introduced in the coming days. (Nevada Independent)

ALABAMA: State Rep. Fred Plump (D) has resigned after being charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice by the U.S. Department of Justice. Plump allegedly benefitted from state grants funneled through a youth baseball league. (, Yellowhammer News)

By The Numbers

48%: The increase in New Mexico’s unhoused population over last year, according to an annual survey. The state’s unhoused population had been declining for a decade. (Albuquerque Journal)

$200,000: The amount Maryland political leaders spent, in taxpayer money, on an invitation-only tent at the Preakness Stakes last weekend. Gov. Wes Moore (D) and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) both placed bets on a horse named Bipartisanship in one of the day’s earlier races. (Baltimore Sun)

Spoiler: Bipartisanship didn’t win.

21,516: The number of new businesses that registered with Tennessee’s Secretary of State’s office in the first three months of the year, the highest quarterly total in the 25 years the office has been maintaining data. (Tennessee Journal)

Off The Wall

Congratulations to the residents of Zia Pueblo, a community located 45 minutes northwest of Albuquerque and home to the nation’s best tasting water. Water from Zia Pueblo took gold at the Annual Great American Water Taste Test, which is apparently a thing. (Albuquerque Journal)

A Miami-Dade elementary school has removed The Hill We Climb, the poem read by Amanda Gorman at President Biden’s inauguration, after one parent complained the poem contained “hate messages.” The parent who filed the typo-ridden complaint also objected to books on Black and Cuban history. (Politico)

Quote of the Day

“Just like oil, just like gas, just like timber, this is a commodity that can be monetized now.”

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), signing new legislation that allows the state to use state land for carbon credits that businesses can buy to offset greenhouse gas emissions. (Alaska Beacon)