Pluribus AM: Texas moves to ban Covid vax mandates

RSVP TODAY: Join our conversation on the future of clean energy, with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R), tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. Register right here.

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, October 17, 2023. In today’s edition, violent crime rates fall, property crimes up; Massachusetts nears migrant capacity; Texas moves to ban Covid-19 vaccine mandates:

Top Stories

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Violent crime rates dropped substantially in 2022, according to new data from the FBI, and murder rates plunged 6%, the steepest decline since 1999. At the same time, property crimes were up, led by a massive 11% increase in auto thefts, the third straight year auto thefts have risen by a double-digit margin. Nearly a million vehicles were stolen in 2022. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Michigan lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation to increase drug sentencing recommendations for heroin and fentanyl dealers. The bills would increase the felony class for crimes related to manufacturing or delivering those drugs. Nearly 2,900 Michiganders died of overdoses in 2022. (Center Square)

IMMIGRATION: Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D) said her state’s emergency shelter system will reach capacity by month’s end. Healey said she will begin limiting how many families can enter the emergency shelter system. Massachusetts is the only state in the nation with a right-to-shelter law that obligates housing eligible families. (Boston Globe)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Texas lawmakers are considering legislation to prohibit private employers from requiring employees to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. The bill would impose a $10,000 fine on employers who take an “adverse action” against an employee, contractor or applicant who refuses a vaccine. The bill passed the Senate last week and is now before the House Committee on State Affairs. (KXAN)

TICKETS: The Pennsylvania House has approved legislation on a broad bipartisan vote to make it illegal to use or sell software designed to circumvent online ticket sales systems in order to sell tickets at higher prices on a secondary market. The vote comes after fans had trouble getting tickets to Taylor Swift’s recent tour. (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has signed an executive order directing state agencies to switch to all-electric vehicle fleets by 2035. Lujan Grisham said she would push the legislature to approve tax credits for electric vehicles in the coming legislative session. (Associated Press)

WORKFORCE: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) will funnel $170 million in “emergency funding” to maintain Child Care Counts, a federally-funded pandemic-era program that boosts child care facilities. Republican lawmakers rejected Evers’s proposal to spend $340 million to keep the program running next year. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

LABOR: The United Auto Workers strike against the Big Three car manufacturers has entered its second month. About 34,000 of the 150,000 hourly workers employed by the companies are walking picket lines. Sticking points include the union status of workers in EV battery facilities, wages and restoring health care benefits and pensions. (Bridge MI)

In Politics & Business

VIRGINIA: Democratic legislative candidates narrowly outraised Republican rivals over the last three months, according to campaign reports filed Sunday night. Democratic candidates for state Senate seats raised $6.4 million, compared with $6 million for Republicans; in the House, Democrats raised $8.8 million compared with $8.3 million for GOP candidates. (VPAP)

Democrats have consistently outraised Republicans this year, but not by the overwhelming margins they did in 2021.

MORE: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) kicks off his donor retreat Tuesday at a historic Virginia Beach hotel. Youngkin will be joined by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he woos about 100 big donors. Youngkin’s stated goal for the retreat is to get big donors to write checks to legislative candidates. (Washington Post)

NEW JERSEY: About 200,000 voters have already cast votes by mail ahead of November’s elections, representing about 20% of the ballots distributed by the state. Democrats have returned more absentee ballots than Republicans in all 40 legislative districts around the state. (New Jersey Globe)

MISSOURI: Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R) reported raising $1.3 million in the last quarter, leaving him with $5 million in the bank for his race to replace term-limited Gov. Mike Parson (R). Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) raised $208,000 and has $636,000 in the bank, while a supportive super PAC has $1.6 million on hand. State Sen. Bill Eigel (R) raised $370,000 and has $524,000 left over. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

RAILROADS: Colorado officials aren’t certain who owns the bridge that collapsed in a train derailment near Boulder over the weekend. BNSF, the railroad company that owns the train, says the state owns the bridge. State officials initially said it was BNSF’s property, though they are now checking their records. It remains unclear whether the bridge collapse caused the derailment or vice versa. (Colorado Public Radio)

By The Numbers

2.4 million acres: The total area burned by wildfires across the United States this year, way below the 10-year average. By this point last year, about 6.9 million acres had burned. Experts pointed to a wet winter and big snowpacks as a reason for the better-than-average year. (Boise State Public Radio)

$5.3 billion: The amount of surplus with which Georgia ended the last budget year, the state Accounting Office said Monday. It’s the third straight year of massive surplus, giving lawmakers $10.7 billion to play with next year. (Associated Press)

$2.4 billion: The projected budget surplus in Minnesota this year, almost 50% above initial estimates. The state brought in more tax and fee revenue than expected, and spent less than anticipated, giving lawmakers an extra $820 million cushion. (Minnesota Public Radio)

37%: The share of catalytic converter thefts nationwide that take place in California, where about 1,600 of the devices are stolen each month, according to federal prosecutors. Three members of a ring that shipped $600 million worth of catalytic converters from California to New Jersey pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

California now has an official state bat, after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation bestowing the designation on the pallid bat. State Sen. Caroline Menjivar (D) wanted to honor the bat because it’s good for pest control. (Sacramento Bee)

Longtime readers know how much we love a good state symbol story.

A model of an X-wing fighter used in the original Star Wars movie sold Sunday for $3,135,000, the highest price ever commanded by a Star Wars prop. The fighter came from the collection of Greg Jein, a longtime Hollywood visual effects artist who died last year. (New York Times)

Quote of the Day

“Some people believe AI is a disruptor similar to when Uber came out, or the iPhone, or even the internet. This will literally change everything we do.”

Georgia Sen. John Albers (R), chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, which will begin hearings on the future of artificial intelligence on Nov. 1. (Georgia Public Broadcasting)