Pluribus AM: Texas moves to create border police force; Ill. vloggers get protections; DeSantis jumps in

Good morning, it’s Thursday, May 25, 2023. In today’s edition, vloggers get labor protections; Texas moves to create border police force; DeSantis jumps in:

Top Stories

SOCIAL MEDIA: Children of families who record their lives on video for compensation — vloggers — are set to receive labor protections under a first-in-the-nation law on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) desk. The bill guarantees minors under 16 a portion of a parent’s gross earnings from paid online videos. (Pluribus News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Alabama House Health Committee voted along party lines to define male and female under state law. Transgender rights advocates say the bill denies their existence. (, Associated Press) A bill prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors died in Louisiana’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee. (Associated Press)

IMMIGRATION: The Texas Senate has approved legislation creating a border police force and making it a state crime to enter the state anywhere other than a port of entry. The bill also creates mandatory 10-year minimum sentences for human smugglers. The bill needs one more vote in the House before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott (R). (Texas Tribune)

EDUCATION: The Nebraska legislature gave final approval to a measure creating opportunity scholarships for low-income families, the 49th state to do so. Gov. Jim Pillen (R) has said he will sign the bill, which is expected to cover about 5,000 children. (Nebraska Examiner) The Alabama Senate voted to raise income limits for students who receive school choice scholarships, from $55,000 for a family of four to $75,000. (Yellowhammer News)

MORE: The Texas House has given final approval to a bill allowing unlicensed chaplains to work in public schools. The bill allows schools to use safety funds to pay for chaplains to work in mental health roles. (Texas Tribune)

ENVIRONMENT: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed legislation limiting legal challenges to state permits for power plants, mines and timber land under the Montana Environmental Policy Act. The measure requires individuals or groups suing to stop a project to win a preliminary injunction first, a high legal bar to clear. (Montana Free Press) New York legislators are likely to vote in the coming days on a bill to ban discharging radioactive material into the Hudson River. (State of Politics)

PUBLIC SAFETY: The Massachusetts Senate has approved a bill directing the Department of Public Health to bulk purchase testing kits that detect drugs used to spike drinks. The measure will pay for a public awareness campaign about drug-spiking at nightlife venues. (NBC Boston) The Connecticut House has approved a measure allowing Plan B birth control to be sold in vending machines, and expanding access to the opioid reversal drug naloxone. (CT Mirror)

HEALTH CARE: The North Carolina Senate Commerce and Insurance Committee has approved legislation allowing Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina and Delta Dental to create a holding company that would transfer billions in policyholder funds. The bill is meant to allow the two nonprofits to be as flexible as for-profit competitors. (Carolina Journal)

We wrote about this proposal last month. Michigan, Florida and New Jersey have approved similar changes in recent years.

TAXES: The Alabama House is expected to vote today on a proposal to cut sales taxes on groceries from 4% to 3% this year, and to 2% in 2025 if Education Trust Fund revenues grow by at least 2% annually. (Yellowhammer News) Only 13 states impose sales taxes on groceries.

In Politics & Business

DESANTIS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation allowing governors to run for president without triggering the state’s resign-to-run law, just hours before launching his presidential campaign in a Twitter conversation with Elon Musk. The bill also creates new restrictions for third-party groups that register voters. (Pluribus News)

TEXAS: The House General Investigating Committee on Wednesday laid out the results of an inquiry into Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), alleging Paxton repeatedly broke state law and misspent official funds to help a friend and donor. Committee investigators accused Paxton of committing at least three felonies. (Texas Tribune)

Our sources in Texas say the House is likely to consider impeachment, but Paxton’s fate in the Senate is still up in the air.

OHIO: Opponents of a measure to raise the threshold by which a constitutional amendment must pass to win approval have sued the Ohio Ballot Board over what they say is misleading language set for the August special election. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said for the first time he would vote for the proposal. (Columbus Dispatch)

A reminder, proponents are trying to raise the threshold by which a constitutional amendment must pass to get ahead of a proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

MINNESOTA: Minnesota legislators voted to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact that would award the state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The plan does not take effect until states representing at least 270 electoral votes sign on. The 16 states that have joined the compact, plus the District of Columbia, account for 205 electoral votes. (Minnesota Reformer)

By The Numbers

31: The number of states, out of 36 that have reported data so far, where combined March and April personal income tax collections fell compared to 2022. The average state’s tax collections dropped by 29% over the same period last year. (Pluribus News)

The run of record surpluses and unexpected revenues is coming to a close.

37 million: The number of Americans who are likely to drive at least 50 miles from home this weekend, according to AAA estimates, up 2 million from last year but still below pre-pandemic figures. (Associated Press)

15: The number of states where unemployment rates are the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track of state-level data in 1976. Twenty states have unemployment rates below 3%. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Off The Wall

Congratulations to Jose Webb, postmaster for the Indiana House of Representatives, who will retire today after 29 years on the job and 32 years at the Statehouse. Webb says November 1991 was the luckiest month of his life: He got his first position at the capitol, and he met his future wife. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Workers at Taste by Spellbound, a bakery in Avon, Conn., had to remake dozens of cupcakes after a wayward bear wandered into their garage and destroyed about 60 sweet treats — and a bunch of coconut cake. “We’re safe but the cupcakes aren’t,” the bakery wrote on its Facebook page. (MassLive)

Quote of the Day

“To be candid, there is no substitute for money.”

North Carolina Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson (R), urging lawmakers to boost pay for state employees by 10% over two years to fill the growing number of vacant jobs. (Raleigh News & Observer)