Pluribus AM: Texas GOP in civil war

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, October 10, 2023. In today’s edition, top Texas Republicans at war with each other; Oregon taxpayers get record rebate; the cities with the highest office vacancy rates might surprise you:

Top Stories

EDUCATION: California students will be required to study the causes and effects of climate change after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation making his the third state to mandate climate curriculum, along with New Jersey and Connecticut. The bill requires California to adopt Next Generation Science Standards, a new way of teaching science that 20 states use to teach science. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Texas Sen. Brandon Creighton (R) introduced legislation to create education savings accounts that would allow families to access up to $8,000 in taxpayer money to pay for private schools and other educational expenses, including tutoring and transportation. The measure, a top priority of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), would allocate $500 million for the next two years to pay for the program. (Texas Tribune)

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) has called on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) to donate $3 million he received from the conservative Defend Texas Liberty PAC, after the PAC’s president hosted antisemitic white supremacist Nick Fuentes for a meeting last week. (Texas Tribune) The spat is the latest escalation in the war between Phelan and Patrick, who, we can safely editorialize, do not like each other very much.

IMMIGRATION: Newsom vetoed legislation that would have provided $1,100 to $1,900 a month to undocumented seniors. Newsom cited the bill’s estimated $180 million price tag in his veto message. (Sacramento Bee)

ELECTIONS: North Carolina lawmakers meet today to consider overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) vetoes of five bills, including a bill that would allow both majority and minority parties to have equal representation on the sate Board of Elections. They will also consider overriding Cooper’s veto of legislation that would ban private funding of election administration costs and require absentee ballots to be returned by Election Day. (Carolina Journal)

INSURANCE: A new report finds homeowners insurance premiums in Florida are unlikely to fall even after the legislature approved measures to limit lawsuits to cut costs. The report, by the catastrophic risk assessment firm Karen Clark & Co., says rising inflation, reinsurance rates and the threat of climate change will keep insurance costs rising. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and the Florida legislature tackling insurance bills.

TAXES: Oregon will return $5.6 billion in revenue surplus to tax payers, the largest “kicker” in state history. The typical Oregonian will receive a $980 credit on their personal income tax returns for 2023. (Associated Press) Kansas Republicans will advance a plan to cap property value increases as a way of controlling property taxes. Voters would have to approve the plan on the 2024 ballot if it passes the state House. (KCUR)

GAMBLING: The casino gaming industry generated $329 billion in economic activity in 2022, up 26% from 2017, according to a new report by the American Gaming Association. The industry supports 1.8 million jobs, including 700,000 jobs in the casinos themselves. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

MISSISSIPPI: Independent gubernatorial candidate Gwendolyn Gray is dropping out of the race to endorse Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D). Gray’s name will still be on the ballot. (Supertalk) The last two polls in the race, from Mason-Dixon and Siena College, did not include Gray as an option for voters to choose.

FLORIDA: Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) will seek to block a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights. In a filing with the state Supreme Court, Moody alleged that the measure does not meet legal requirements to make the ballot in 2024. (Orlando Sentinel) Supporters of the proposed initiative have gathered more than 400,000 signatures. They need 891,523 to qualify for the ballot. (City & State)

GEORGIA: Four Senate Republicans have filed a formal complaint aimed at punishing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis after she brought charges against former President Donald Trump. The Republicans are asking a newly formed Prosecuting Attorneys Qualification Commission to investigate and take “appropriate measures” to sanction Willis. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NORTH CAROLINA: Attorney General Josh Stein (D) is kicking off the first public events of his campaign to replace term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper (D) with a bus tour through Raleigh, Elizabeth City and Asheville. He faces former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan (D) in the March 5 Democratic primary. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON: Ex-U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R) intends to run for Public Lands Commissioner. The incumbent, Hilary Franz (D), is running for governor. Beutler lost her seat in 2022 after voting to impeach Trump. (Seattle Times)

TEXAS: Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said he will file criminal complaints against the 12 state representatives who led the push to impeach him earlier this year. Paxton says the representatives violated a state law by releasing documents related to the case that disclosed information about him. (Texas Tribune)

By The Numbers

588,930: The margin by which registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats in Florida, the widest gap in recent memory. A decade ago, Democrats held an edge of 558,272 registered voters. (Orlando Sentinel)

$177.76 million: The amount FEMA has delivered to 6,210 Maui households impacted by the Aug. 8 wildfires that spread across the island. (Honolulu Star Advertiser)

2,749 lbs: The size of the pumpkin that won the 50th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday. Travis Gienger, who grew the gargantuan gourd, hauled it all the way from Anoka, Minn. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

About 25% of office space in Houston, Dallas and Austin is vacant, the highest rates in the nation, according to Moody’s Analytics. By comparison, San Francisco’s office vacancy rate is at 17%, and New York City’s is at 12%. (Wall Street Journal)

The University of Maine is testing a 3D-printed, 600-square foot modular home aimed at easing the state’s housing shortage. The goal is to print a new home, using wood residuals, in two days. A family will get to live in the second home the school plans to print in the next year. (Maine Public Radio)

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, have a new employee: Casey, the bat dog. Casey went through months of training to learn how to retrieve bats. She will replace Ollie, who served as the team’s bat dog between 2008 and 2016. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

Quote of the Day

“If we had done the work I wouldn’t really trust that it was accurate.”

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, who met with Vermont Attorney General Charity Clark (D) to inspect and agree upon the border between the two states. The attorneys general are required by state law to inspect the border every seven years, after a 1917 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a dispute over taxes on a paper mill near Bellows Falls, Vt. (VT Digger)