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Good morning, it’s Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. In today’s edition, states consider bans on foreign-owned farms; Fla. to address property insurance crisis; and the tribes flex their muscle in Okla.:
FARMLAND: Legislators in states across the country are considering new laws prohibiting foreign ownership of agricultural lands amid growing concerns about long-term food security. California lawmakers passed a bill restricting foreign ownership, though Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed it. Legislators in Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota all considered similar bills this year. (Pluribus News)
STUDENT DEBT: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Missouri and five other red states seeking to block the Biden administration’s student debt forgiveness program. The ruling came an hour after Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to hear a separate legal challenge. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s (R) office said it would appeal. (Springfield News-Leader)
FLORIDA: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will call legislators into special session after the midterm elections to address property insurance fallout after Hurricane Ian. DeSantis said legislators would provide property tax rebates to areas impacted by the storm. Citizens Insurance, the state-created insurer of last resort, now has more than 1 million policyholders. (Politico, Associated Press)
NEW YORK: A U.S. District Court judge has issued a temporary stay blocking New York’s new ban on firearms in houses of worship. The ruling is separate from another temporary restraining order on multiple provisions of the same bill, issued by a different District Court judge. (State of Politics) The law in question was passed in the wake of a Supreme Court decision earlier this year that struck down another New York measure.
KENTUCKY: Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Thursday his administration would expand Medicaid coverage to dental, vision and hearing care beginning Jan. 1. The change will impact about 900,000 adults enrolled in the state Medicaid program. Federal funds will cover about 90% of the $36 million annual cost. (Louisville Courier Journal)
MARYLAND: Voters have yet to approve a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana, but the state House of Delegates is already making plans for its passage. A new committee report released this week proposes moving the Medical Cannabis Commission into the state Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to put regulators under one roof. (Maryland Matters)
MISSISSIPPI: The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether the state Department of Environmental Quality discriminated against the city of Jackson by refusing to fund improvements to the water system. Jackson Mayor Choke Anwar Lumumba is seeking a new water management vendor rather than one proposed by the joint state-federal team working to fix the water crisis. (Supertalk)
NEVADA: The legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved $100 million in funding for water conservation projects and $6.4 million to upgrade data systems monitoring groundwater basins. The money will speed programs shifting commercial buildings away from evaporative coolers and residential buildings onto municipal sewer systems. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CALIFORNIA: Just nine companies headquartered in California went public in the first three quarters of the year, compared to 81 during the same period last year. Those IPOs generated $177 million in revenue for the state, versus an average of $16 billion per year over the last five years. (CalMatters) Remember, California is unusually reliant on capital gains taxes for generating revenue.
SECRETARIES OF STATE: Democratic candidates and outside groups like iVote and End Citizens United are outspending Republicans and their outside allies by a 57-1 margin in Secretary of State races in six battleground states. Of the $700,000 Republicans have spent on Secretary races, $500,000 has come from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s (R) campaign. (New York Times) Reality check: Democrats could still lose all six races.
TEXAS: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has opened a 54%-43% lead over former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) in a new Texas Politics Project poll. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) all lead their Democratic rivals by similar margins. The group’s last survey, in early September, showed Abbott up just five.
MAINE: Gov. Janet Mills (D) leads former Gov. Paul LePage (R) 49%-39%, with independent Sam Hunkler taking 2%, according to a new Pan Atlantic Research survey. The top issues facing voters: The cost of living (71%), inflation (43%) and high taxes (26%). (Spectrum News)
ARKANSAS: Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) leads pastor Chris Jones (D) 51%-40% in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). The poll found Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (R) leading his Democratic opponent by wide margins in the race for Attorney General. (Talk Business & Politics)
OKLAHOMA: Tribal nations are “wielding their considerable influence” to oppose Gov. Kevin Stitt’s (R) re-election bid, their most overt foray into politics in living memory. Five tribes weighed in on behalf of Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D), the first time they have made a public endorsement. Stitt has feuded with tribes over gaming, sovereignty and hunting and fishing rights. (Associated Press)
GEORGIA: Television stations are racing to add local newscasts to capture some of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on TV ads in competitive races this year. One channel added a 3 p.m. broadcast; another added a new weekly political show, syndicated by other channels across the state. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) A smart business play: Local channels keep more of the money spent on ads during programs they produce.
OREGON: Voters approved a ballot measure legalizing so-called “magic mushrooms” in 2020. The initiative allowed cities and counties to prohibit the manufacture and use of psilocybin, and now voters in about 100 cities and 26 counties will get to decide whether to nix the drug. Multnomah County, home of Portland, is one area that does not have an opt-out measure on its ballot. (Willamette Week)
By The Numbers
37.6 million: The number of acres of agricultural land in the United States owned by foreign investors, according to USDA figures. That’s about 3% of all privately held agricultural lands in the country. (Pluribus News)
3.5%: The increase in enrollment in Catholic schools during the 2021-2022 school year, a notable reversal from downward trends in recent years, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. Catholic schools teach 1.69 million kids across the country — still down from the pre-pandemic peak of 1.74 million, but an increase of about 60,000 students nationwide. (Carolina Journal)
Off The Wall
Rhode Island has the worst drivers in America, according to a completely subjective review of tweets about each state’s driving habits analyzed by a firm called Clunker Junker. The firm found 71% of tweets about Rhode Island drivers were negative. Mississippi, Virginia, Arizona and Texas followed close behind. (Clunker Junker) We have strong feelings about this that we will keep to ourselves.