Pluribus AM: States boost security at religious sites

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, November 15, 2023. In today’s edition, states move to secure religious institutions; Medicaid officials expect enrollment drops; Texas to make illegal immigration a state crime:

Top Stories

PUBLIC SAFETY: State governments in California, Florida, New York and Texas have rolled out new funding to bolster security at U.S. religious institutions, nonprofits and schools in the face of rising antisemitic and Islamophobic hate. The state-level spending comes on top of $305 million in federal nonprofit security grants available to those institutions. (Pluribus News)

HEALTH CARE: State officials expect sharp enrollment declines and increased spending on Medicaid programs. A survey of Medicaid directors finds an expected 8.6% decline in enrollment after Medicaid rolls reached record highs last year. At least 10 million people have lost Medicaid coverage since states returned to pre-pandemic eligibility rules. (Pluribus News)

IMMIGRATION: The Texas House of Representatives gave final approval to legislation making it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border illegally. The bill would allow Texas peace officers to arrest undocumented immigrants and require a state judge to order those people to leave the state in lieu of prosecution. The House also approved $1.5 billion to build more border walls. (Texas Tribune)

ABORTION: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the state constitution guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion when necessary to preserve her life. Oklahoma’s near-total abortion ban remains on the books. (Associated Press) Virginia Democrats will consider seeking a constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion, now that they have reclaimed control of the state House. (Newport News Daily Press)

Proposed amendments in Virginia must pass two consecutive sessions, with an election in between, before going to voters. The earliest a measure could qualify for the ballot is 2026.

EDUCATION: The South Carolina Board of Education voted to advance a universal definition of “age appropriate” education materials in schools and libraries. The proposal would ban descriptions or visual depictions of what it deems sexual content, or things that are “obscene” or “indecent.” (Associated Press)

HOUSING: The Massachusetts legislature has just hours to come to an agreement on how to spend $250 million in new housing for the state’s emergency shelter system as a flood of migrants push the system to the brink of capacity. The House version requires the state to spend $50 million to build an overflow facility within 30 days, while the Senate version gives Gov. Maura Healey (D) more discretion in spending the money. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has vowed to reassess a state policy of leasing land underneath roads to bring in money for mass transit projects after a massive fire shut down a stretch of Interstate 10 near downtown Los Angeles. Newsom said the 10 could be closed for three to five weeks for repairs. (Associated Press)

STADIUMS: The Wisconsin House and Senate approved legislation to spend up to half a billion dollars rehabilitating the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium over the next several decades in a move that would keep the team there through 2050. Gov. Tony Evers (D) has said he will sign the bill. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

We reported in September on the unprecedented rush of sports teams seeking billions in taxpayer dollars to rehab or build new stadiums.

In Politics & Business

TRUMP: Michigan Court of Claims Judge James Redford has rejected a lawsuit seeking to bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot over the Jan. 6 insurrection. Redford ruled that Trump followed state law to gain ballot access. It’s the second time in a week a state has declined to boot Trump from the ballot, after a ruling in Minnesota last week. (Associated Press)

NEW YORK: The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit aiming to overturn U.S. House district lines. Democrats want to redraw those lines to give themselves an advantage in the 2024 elections. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: Democrats are unlikely to regain their majority in the state House until well beyond February, Speaker Joe Tate (D) said Tuesday, after two Democratic members won election to mayoral offices in their home towns. An effort to schedule special elections for Feb. 27, the same day as the state’s presidential primary, isn’t feasible, Tate said. (Bridge MI)

Legislative rules mean Tate will still run the House, but the 54-54 tie, with two vacancies, will slow down any Democratic hopes of another big year.

KANSAS: Secretary of State Scott Schwab’s (R) office reported receiving a letter with a “suspicious substance” on Tuesday. The office was evacuated. Elections offices in at least six states have reported receiving threatening mail in the week since Election Day. (Associated Press)

CONGRESS: Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom (R) will challenge U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola (D) in the 2024 election. Republicans hope to coalesce around one candidate to challenge Peltola, who beat former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and another Republican in 2022. (Anchorage Daily News) New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy (D) will run for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D) seat in 2024, joining U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D) in the Democratic primary. Menendez faces federal corruption, bribery and conspiracy charges. (NJ Advance Media)

By The Numbers

5.9 years: The gap between the life expectancy of American women (79.1 years) and American men (73.2 years). It’s the widest gap registered between genders since 1996, according to a survey published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. (Stat)

$40.3 billion: The economic impact Disney says it has on Florida, in a new report the company released on Tuesday. The report found Disney accounts for 263,000 jobs, more than three times the actual number of employees at Walt Disney World. (WLRN)

74: The number of votes that separate Virginia Del. Kim Taylor (R) and Democratic challenger Kimberly Pope Adams in a battleground district that covers Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Prince George and Surry, a difference of 0.26% — inside the margin under which state law allows for a recount. (Progress-Index)

2,335: The number of zero-emission vehicles in California’s state motor pool, or about 7% of the 35,702 vehicles the state owns. California owns 554 Teslas. (Sacramento Bee)

Off The Wall

Headline of the Day: “Minnesota officials ready for potential feral pig invasion.” (MPR News)

Virginia Tech senior Chaz Nuttycombe, who runs the CNalysis website, correctly predicted the results of all 140 races for House of Delegates and state Senate seats this year. Nuttycombe says he wants to build “a combination of 538, Politico and the Virginia Public Access Project, sort of all in one.” (13NewsNow)

Chaz is worth following on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Department of Clever Names: Tennessee’s Department of General Services is in the midst of a project aimed at reducing the state government’s footprint in Nashville. The operation has been dubbed “Project Tetris.” (Nashville Post)

South Dakota Auditor Rich Sattgast (R) says he has received as many as 20 complaints that state legislators have conflicts of interest on pending legislation — many of them filed by warring factions of legislators themselves. “We have these factions that are trying to take one another out, and they’re trying to use this office as their way of going about that,” he said. (South Dakota Searchlight)

Quote of the Day

“I think, you know, this is ‘Schoolhouse Rock’-type stuff. We need to make sure that we have the three branches of government, and the constitution is what we abide by.”

Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R), throwing cold water on a proposal to strip state judges of the authority to rule on Ohio’s new abortion rights amendment. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)