Pluribus AM: State spending to grow; VA gov calls for big tax cut; battle over PA House control

Good morning, it’s Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. In today’s edition, state spending expected to rise; Va.’s Youngkin seeks big tax cuts; Pa.’s state House, still a mess:

Top Stories

SPENDING: Governors and state lawmakers expect state spending to grow by almost 7% next year, according to a report out this morning from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Tax collections are beating expectations in most states; only California is falling short of projections. The average state’s rainy day fund is equal to a whopping 12% of its general fund, a sign of state fiscal health. (Pluribus News)

TIKTOK: Republican governors in Idaho, Wyoming, Georgia and New Hampshire have joined colleagues in other states banning the TikTok app from state-issued phones and computers. (Idaho Press, Casper Star Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, WMUR) The moves came the same day the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to ban the use of TikTok on government phones and devices. (The Hill)

OHIO: Wrapping up the legislative session: Disagreements over a provision to ban transgender athletes from youth sports doomed a massive education reform package in the final hours of session Thursday. (Ohio Capital Journal) Gov. Mike DeWine (R) hinted that he may veto a measure barring local governments from banning flavored tobacco products. (Ohio Capital Journal)

KENTUCKY: The state Supreme Court struck down a school choice program that provided tax credits to those who donated money for nonpublic school tuition. In a unanimous ruling, the court said the program violated a provision in the constitution that prohibits the state from raising money for nonpublic schools. (Louisville Courier Journal)

FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed a toll-relief credit program into law, a day after the legislature gave the measure final approval. (Orlando Sentinel) DeSantis signaled support for a measure banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. (Orlando Sentinel) Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier will leave his post at the end of the year in the midst of a massive insurance crisis. (Tampa Bay Times)

OREGON: Harney County Circuit Judge Robert Raschio has blocked state officials from implementing a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines, a provision of Measure 114 narrowly passed by voters in November. Raschio issued a restraining order blocking other elements of the initiative, setting up a long court fight ahead. (Oregonian)

CONNECTICUT: Legislators plan to prioritize bills closing loopholes around the possession of so-called “ghost guns” and barring high-capacity magazines in the upcoming legislative session. Legislators are skeptical of Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) proposal to restrict possession of about 80,000 assault weapons grandfathered in to a 2013 ban. (Stamford Advocate)

VIRGINIA: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has asked the legislature to cut the corporate tax rate from 6% to 5%, and the top individual income tax bracket — which begins at $17,001 — from 5.75% to 5.5%. His office estimated the cut would save the average family $578 a year. (Associated Press) Youngkin also proposed spending $230 million to expand the state’s behavioral health system. (Washington Post)

RHODE ISLAND: The Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council has approved an update to a 2016 greenhouse gas reduction plan that would put Rhode Island on a path to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The update will mean more investments in offshore wind and more work weatherizing homes and businesses. (Providence Journal)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation that will ban pet stores from selling of dogs, cats and rabbits beginning in 2024, an effort to crack down on puppy mills that breed animals in inhumane conditions. Pet stores will be allowed to charge rent to shelters that want to display pets up for adoption. (State of Politics)

NEVADA: Outgoing Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has asked the state Board of Pardons to commute all death sentences in Nevada to life without the possibility of parole. The board will consider Sisolak’s request at a meeting on Tuesday. There are 57 prisoners on death row, but Nevada hasn’t conducted an execution since 2006. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In Politics

PENNSYLVANIA: House Republican leader Bryan Cutler (R) has scheduled special elections to fill two House seats left vacant by resignations for May 16, to coincide with primary elections. Democratic leader Joanna McClinton (D), who also claims to be majority leader, had issued writs of elections for Feb. 7. The two seats are heavily Democratic; if Democrats keep both, they would hold a one-seat majority in the chamber. (Harrisburg Patriot-News) Get the popcorn, this drama isn’t going to end any time soon.

MICHIGAN: The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has approved a Dormancy and Reaction Plan, their roadmap to disbanding once lawsuits against current legislative district lines are complete. The commission will form again when it’s time to draw new lines next decade. (MLive)

TENNESSEE: Senate Democrats have named Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D) as their leader, and Sen. London Lamar (D) as caucus chair. Sen. Charlene Oliver (D) will serve as vice chair, marking the first time that three Black women will lead a Tennessee legislative caucus. (Tennessee Senate Democrats)

PEOPLE: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) doesn’t get any time off after he leaves office — he’s been named the next president of the NCAA. He’ll begin his new job March 1. (MassLive)

By The Numbers

$40 million: The amount of legal marijuana sold in Illinois in October to residents of Indiana, one of the few states where neither recreational nor medical marijuana is legal. (Evansville Courier & Press)

$146,000: The amount BetMGM must pay for accepting bets a week before online sports wagering became legal in Maryland, a record fine levied by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. A top company executive told the commission that an error in the pre-launch testing phase allowed bettors to make wagers during a three-hour window. (Baltimore Banner)

Off The Wall

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) apparently has a side gig selling designer clothing and athletic gear on Facebook Marketplace. A Slate author this week chronicled her purchase of a pair of Badgley Mischka heels from the newly independent senator, and the Arizona Mirror’s Jim Small confirms it’s actually Sinema doing the selling.

A 264,000-gallon aquarium, described as the biggest cylindrical tank in the world, burst early Friday in Berlin, sending 1,500 fish flooding into the streets. (Associated Press) Don’t miss this detail: “Among the 80 types of fish it housed were blue tang and clownfish, two colorful species known from the popular animated movie ‘Finding Nemo.’” Sorry, Dory.

Quote of the Day

“I’m going to be second-guessing myself until the day I die.”

Outgoing Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), on his decisions during the early months of the Covid pandemic. (SpotlightPA)