Pluribus AM: State strike river deal; Mich. gets red flag law; lawsuits filed against landmark Fla., Mont. bills

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, May 23, 2023. In today’s edition, states strike Colo. River deal; Mich. gets a red flag law; lawsuits filed against landmark bills in Fla., Mont.:

Top Stories

COLORADO RIVER: Arizona, California and Nevada announced an agreement to conserve 3 million acre-feet of Colorado River water over the next three years, or about 10% of their yearly allocation. The Bureau of Reclamation must still approve the plan, and some experts say deeper cuts are needed to prevent Lake Powell and Lake Mead from reaching critically low levels. (Pluribus News)

CHINA: A group of Chinese citizens living in Florida have sued the state over a new law barring them, and citizens from other countries with hostile relations with the U.S., from owning homes and land. The suit, brought by the ACLU, alleges the law violates federal housing discrimination laws. (Reuters)

SOCIAL MEDIA: TikTok has filed a lawsuit challenging Montana’s first-in-the-nation ban on the app, calling it a violation of free speech rights. It’s the second suit challenging the bill, after five creators filed suit last week. (Missoulian, Associated Press)

ABORTION/LGBTQ RIGHTS: Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) has signed a bill banning abortions at 12 weeks and restricting gender-affirming care for those under 19. The abortion ban takes effect immediately, while the care ban takes effect Oct. 1. (Nebraska Examiner, Associated Press) Hamburger Mary’s, an Orlando restaurant, has sued Florida over a law barring drag shows where children might be present. The chain says its First Amendment rights are being violated. (CBS News)

MORE: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed legislation defining “sex” under state law as only female and male. Kansas and Tennessee have similar laws on the books. (Associated Press) The Ohio House could vote as early as this week on a measure barring transgender girls and women from women’s high school and college sports. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

EVEN MORE: The Texas Senate voted to limit classroom lessons or school programming about sexual orientation or gender identity through 12th grade. The bill, modeled on Florida’s “don’t say gay” law, must pass the House once more before going to Gov. Greg Abbott (R). (Texas Tribune)

GUN POLITICS: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed a red flag law that will allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from those who might pose a risk to themselves or others. Michigan is the 21st state to approve a red flag law, and the second in a week, after Minnesota. (Detroit Free Press, Associated Press) The Pennsylvania House approved a red flag law and expanded background checks, though the bills have slim chances in the GOP-controlled Senate. (Associated Press)

HEALTH CARE: The Illinois General Assembly has approved legislation to ban price gouging for generic and off-brand prescription medications. The bill limits price increases to less than 30% a year, 50% or less over three years and 75% or less over five years. It passed in a bipartisan vote and now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). (WCIA)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Alabama Senate unanimously approved legislation making it a felony to shoot a gun on school property, punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison. The bill now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey (R) for a signature. (

MINNESOTA: The legislature finalized work on a $72 billion state budget, including $3 billion in tax cuts and a $260 rebate per filer and up to three dependents paid for by part of the $17.5 billion budget surplus. The votes ended a session of Democratic gains, after the party recaptured control of the state Senate in the midterm elections. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

In Politics & Business

CALIFORNIA: Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) is considering running for governor in 2026. He would face Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) and former Controller Betty Yee (D), both of whom have already jumped in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). (Sacramento Bee)

ARIZONA: A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has dismissed former TV broadcaster Kari Lake’s (R) final challenge of her loss to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) last year. The judge said Lake had failed to prove claims that the county did not verify signatures on mail ballots. (Arizona Republic, Associated Press)

MISSOURI: Voters will be asked to approve a tax break for child care centers in 2024, a proposal supporters say will help raise wages for desperately needed child care workers. Business groups and abortion opponents backed the proposal, which passed both chambers on bipartisan votes. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

OHIO: House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) has removed state Rep. Derek Merrin (R) as vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Stephens won the speakership with bipartisan support after peeling some Republicans away from Merrin, who won a vote of the GOP conference. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

OREGON: Gov. Tina Kotek (D) spent two hours in a closed-door meeting with Democratic and Republican senators seeking to end a two-week GOP walkout that has stalled the Senate over abortion, climate and transgender rights bills. Kotek said no negotiations took place. (Oregonian)

WHITE HOUSE: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is reconsidering his decision not to run for president. But, GOP sources said, Youngkin would wait until after the November legislative elections to jump in — just weeks before the Iowa caucuses. (Axios)

PEOPLE: Former Louisiana House Speaker Jimmy Dimos (D), who served six terms ending in 1999, has died at 84. Dimos immigrated to the United States from Macedonia in 1951; in an emotional speech bidding goodbye to the legislature, he recalled his home town being occupied by German and Italian forces during World War II. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

93: The number of pieces of legislation relating to firearms that have passed state legislatures since the mass shooting last year at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Of those bills, most, 56%, expanded access to firearms or aided the firearm industry. (Axios)

12%: The increase in the number of calls to Georgia’s 988 crisis center. Federal estimates suggest the call volume will double after a marketing campaign increases awareness of the 988 line. The mental health crisis is especially acute in rural Georgia, where huge numbers of farmers have contemplated dying by suicide, according to a recent study. (Georgia Public Broadcasting)

Off The Wall

The Arizona Department of Public Safety spent $11 million last year to purchase a new Bell 429 twin-engine helicopter. Now they have to pay another $300,000 to modernize the hangar in Flagstaff where the helicopter is stationed — because the hangar door isn’t tall enough for the new helicopter to fit. (Arizona Republic)

What’s the old saying, measure twice, appropriate once? Something like that.

Two Michigan State University students are suing a former professor for requiring them to purchase $99 subscriptions to a website that promoted the professor’s liberal activism. The school ultimately offered refunds of money the students paid — about $60,000 in all. (MLive)

Sometimes, reality outdoes any attempt at parody.

Quote of the Day

“I just think it’s sad that anyone would object to the observation of Teacher Appreciation Week by a legislator. Or the default would be to politicize doughnuts.”

Virginia Del. Amanda Batten (R), criticized by union officials for delivering 83 dozen doughnuts to schools around her James City district that were paid for out of her campaign fund. (Virginia Mercury)