Pluribus AM: Swatting at schools; W.Va., Ky. approve gender-affirming care bans; Fla. takes up 6-week abortion ban

Good morning, it’s Thursday, March 30, 2023. In today’s edition, swatting incidents hit schools; W.Va., Ky. approve gender-affirming care bans; Fla. takes up 6-week abortion ban:

Top Stories

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: School districts in Utah, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania reported receiving fake calls about mass shootings, dispatching police and disrupting classes across the country. (Deseret News, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dayton Daily News, KTVI) The Mississippi legislature approved a bill increasing minimum sentences for the crimes of fleeing law enforcement, resisting arrest and carjacking. (Magnolia Tribune)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) has signed a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. (Associated Press) The Kentucky House and Senate overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors. (Lexington Herald Leader, Associated Press) The Texas Senate has given initial approval to a measure banning gender-affirming care for minors. (Texas Tribune)

MORE: An Arkansas Senate committee has advanced a bill barring teachers from calling students by preferred pronouns without a parent’s consent. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) The Kansas House approved a bill requiring transgender people use bathrooms that align with their biological sex. The bill prohibits changing a birth certificate to align with a gender identity. (Topeka Capital-Journal) A South Carolina Senate subcommittee approved a measure barring gender-affirming care for minors. (Associated Press)

ABORTION: North Dakota’s Senate has approved a bill requiring schools to show students high-quality videos of a human fetus’s development during pregnancy. (Associated Press) The Florida Senate begins debate today on a bill to ban abortion more than six weeks after conception. (WESH)

FLORIDA: The state Senate has approved a bill placing new restrictions on public employee unions, including preventing unions from automatically deducting dues from members’ paychecks. (Orlando Sentinel) Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a $711 million housing package that funds affordable housing and bars local governments from imposing rent controls. (Orlando Sentinel)

OHIO: Lawmakers have approved a $13.5 billion transportation budget that includes new rules for rail safety nearly two months after the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine. The bill mandates a two-person crew for freight trains and requires immediate reporting of defects. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Associated Press)

TEXAS: The state House has approved a measure eliminating sales taxes on menstrual products and baby supplies, including diapers, wipes and bottles, along with maternity clothes and breast pumping equipment. The measure was a top priority of House Speaker Dade Phelan (R). (Texas Tribune)

GEORGIA: Lawmakers gave final approval to a $32.4 billion budget that will give $2,000 raises to teachers and $4,000 to $6,000 raises to state law enforcement officers. The budget bill cuts Georgia Public Broadcasting’s budget by 10%. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

NORTH CAROLINA: The state House has given final approval to legislation legalizing sports gambling. The Senate passed a similar measure in 2021, and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) says he backs the idea. (Associated Press) Duke vs. UNC games are going to make someone a fortune.

In Politics & Business

VERMONT: The state Senate voted to implement ranked-choice voting in presidential primaries, beginning in 2028. Backers of ranked-choice voting, which died earlier this year, say using the presidential primary is a good experiment for broader adoption. (VTDigger)

MISSISSIPPI: The legislature this week approved bills that will allow election administrators to remove voters from the rolls if they do not cast a ballot in elections over the course of four years. The legislation also allows Secretary of State Michael Watson (R) to conduct election audits. (Mississippi Today)

IOWA: The state House is considering legislation to strip powers from the state Auditor’s office, a bill passed earlier this month in the state Senate. The bill would prohibit the office from obtaining personal income tax, medical or education records. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Iowa legislature is controlled by Republicans. Auditor Rob Sand (D) is the lone Democrat to hold a statewide office.

ARIZONA: Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) has accepted the resignation of press secretary Jocelyn Berry after a social media post invoking gun violence hours after a deadly shooting in Nashville this week. (Arizona Republic)

By The Numbers

10.1%: The amount by which the population of Whitman County, Wash., grew between 2021 and 2022, making it the fastest-growing county in America by percentage. Maricopa County added more people than any other county last year, as the Rust Belt-to-Sun Belt population shift picks up after the pandemic. (Pluribus News)

What made Whitman County so attractive? All those students returning to Washington State University.

101: The number of pedestrians killed by vehicles in Massachusetts last year, up from 75 the prior year. Most of those deaths, 72, occurred in low-income neighborhoods. (Boston Globe)

Off The Wall

The Disney-friendly board eliminated last month by Florida lawmakers quietly voted to enact an agreement that effectively hands most power to the company, rather than the new board of directors appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The covenants will remain in place until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III — though the DeSantis-backed board is bringing a lawsuit. (Orlando Sentinel)

Every lawyer reading this is remembering their property law classes and the rule against perpetuities.

There will never be another Hurricane Fiona or Hurricane Ian. The World Meteorological Organization said Wednesday that the names would be retired from the rotating list after devastating storms battered Puerto Rico and Florida last year. (News4Jax)

“Over 60 earthquakes at Yellowstone Lake not sign of impending doom” (KSL)

Did impending doom write this headline?

Quote of the Day

“I’m grateful I was at the right place at the right time.”

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who saved the life of a man suffering cardiac arrest earlier this week at the state Capitol in Tallahassee. Ladapo performed chest compressions and used a defibrillator to stabilize the man. (Spectrum News)