Pluribus AM: States save for rainy days; flu season arrives early; Dems downplay midterm expectations

Good morning, it’s Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. Ballot drop boxes in Boston are closed for Halloween, for some odd reason, but we’re open for business:

Top Stories

RAINY DAY: A new study by Moody’s Analytics finds 43 states have saved enough money to survive a moderate recession without cutting spending or raising taxes. States closed FY 2022 with a collective $136 billion in reserve, up 73% from FY 2019 — and, importantly, way higher than what they had saved before the Great Recession. (Pluribus News)

INFLUENZA: Flu season is back with a vengeance, and hospitalizations are at the highest levels in more than a decade, the CDC said. The unusually severe H3N2 is the dominant strain circulating this year. (ABC News) During the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of influenza hit historic lows, as one of us wrote back then.

NEW ENGLAND: The chief executive of Eversource Energy is warning the Biden administration that New England may run out of natural gas if a severe cold streak hits the region this winter. Joseph Nolan blamed Russia’s war in Ukraine for high prices. (WMUR)

IOWA: Lawyers for Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) have asked a state judge to lift an injunction against a 2018 law that bars most abortions after cardiac activity can be detected, usually at about six weeks. The injunction cites an Iowa Supreme Court decision guaranteeing the right to an abortion under the state constitution — a decision that has since been overturned. (Associated Press)

MASSACHUSETTS: The Commonwealth is returning $2.9 billion in excess tax revenue to taxpayers this week. About 3.6 million taxpayers are expected to receive payments mandated under a 1986 law that requires rebates if Massachusetts collects revenue that surpasses a cap tied to wage and salary growth. (Boston Globe)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation requiring public college campuses to carry Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug. The law takes effect immediately. New York Health Commissioner Mary Bassett earlier this year ordered pharmacies to carry the drug. (State of Politics)

MISSISSIPPI: Call center workers at a company that handles Medicare and Affordable Care Act enrollment say they will go on strike on Tuesday if their employer, Maximus, doesn’t raise wages to a minimum of $25 an hour. Open enrollment in ACA plans begins tomorrow. (Mississippi Free Press)

HAND COUNTS: Cochise County, Ariz., now plans to hand-count all ballots cast in November’s elections, reversing course from last week and potentially violating state law. Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s (R) office approved the hand-count, while Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has threatened to sue. (Arizona Republic) Nevada’s Supreme Court has ordered Nye County to halt its hand-count. (Reno Gazette Journal)

COLORADO: House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (R) died suddenly on Sunday, just days after his 55th birthday. The county coroner’s office said he had suffered a heart attack. (Colorado Sun) In a statement, Gov. Jared Polis (D) called McKean “a true public servant.” Our condolences to his family and friends.

In Politics

DEMOCRATS: In the face of rising midterm headwinds, Democrats are starting to temper expectations in state legislative races. The DLCC and other groups started raising money faster than ever after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, but the tide has turned and voters are now more likely to say the economy and inflation matter most to them. (Pluribus News)

NEW MEXICO GOV: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) leads meteorologist Mark Ronchetti (R) 50%-42%, while 3% back Libertarian Karen Bedonie in a new Albuquerque Journal poll conducted by Research & Polling Inc. Lujan Grisham led 47%-40% in the paper’s August survey.

NEW YORK GOV: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D leads Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) 50%-44% in a new Emerson College poll conducted for The Hill and Pix11. Independent voters are breaking for Zeldin; 57% say current bail reform policy has led to a rise in crime. The Democratic Governors Association has filed papers to open a new super PAC to help Hochul in the race’s closing days. (New York Times)

MARYLAND: Nearly two-thirds of voters, 63%, say they favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while only 25% are opposed, according to a new University of Baltimore poll conducted for the Baltimore Sun. The poll doesn’t exactly ask about a ballot measure to legalize pot, but other surveys have showed the measure is likely to pass by a wide margin. 

CALIFORNIA: State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) and Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D) are stumping for candidates across the state with an eye toward Dec. 5 — the day Democrats will meet to pick next session’s speaker. Rivas claimed in May that he had the votes to win the speakership; Rendon says he still has support from his caucus. (Sacramento Bee) The most interesting leadership contest in America, right here.

By The Numbers

$1,520,868: The total spent by Iowa state Sen. Jake Chapman (R) and his opponent, Sarah Trone Garriott (D), in the fight over a single state Senate district covering Dallas County and West Des Moines. (Des Moines Register)

11: The number of days a bar-tailed godwit named B6 stayed airborne as it made its way from Western Alaska to Tasmania. B6, the first of its species tracked with a solar-powered transmitter, is just four months old. (Anchorage Daily News)

Off The Wall

A 70-year old Delaware woman who claimed a $100,000 lottery prize celebrated on the way home from collecting her winnings by purchasing another lottery ticket. That ticket also won, netting her another $300,000 on the same day. (Delaware News Journal) We would like that woman’s thoughts on tonight’s Powerball drawing.

Not real: The threat of “rainbow fentanyl” in Halloween candy. Very real: The threat posed by vehicles. Studies show children are more likely to be struck by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. (Philadelphia Inquirer) Stay safe out there, trick-or-treaters.

Quote of the Day

“I’ll cut to the chase. This sounds very illegal.”

Paul S. Ryan, an election law expert at the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, on Vermont congressional candidate Liam Madden (R), who went on a local radio program and described, in detail, a straw donor scheme meant to funnel money to his campaign. (VTDigger)