Pluribus AM: Texas special on deck

Good morning, it’s Friday, October 6, 2023. In today’s edition, Texas preps for special session; Kentucky Gov up big on GOP rival; Alabama finally gets new U.S. House maps:

Top Stories

EDUCATION: Texas lawmakers return to Austin on Monday for a second attempt to pass a school voucher program and to provide more funding for public schools. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants to see the legislature approve education savings accounts, but his formal agenda does not include funding increases or teacher pay raises. (Texas Tribune)

MARIJUANA: Georgia will allow independent pharmacies to sell medical marijuana, the first state in the nation to allow such sales. Georgia’s General Assembly approved a measure allowing the distribution of low-THC oil in 2019; Gov. Brian Kemp (R) approved the rules last month. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

GUN POLITICS: Massachusetts House Democrats have unveiled legislation requiring serial numbers on firearm parts, updating the state’s assault weapons ban and limiting public carry of firearms. The new version of the bill will allow those who legally own assault-style weapons to keep them after the law takes effect. (Boston Globe)

House and Senate lawmakers have been at odds over gun safety legislation since the summer.

HEALTH CARE: Hawaii has filed a lawsuit against the three largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country, Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx, alleging they violated state laws against unfair competition and deceptive practices. Hawaii wants a court to order the companies to stop demanding rebates from drugmakers in exchange for ensuring drugs are covered by insurance plans. (Reuters)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Michigan lawmakers on Thursday finalized bills to require schools and child care centers to filter and test drinking water for lead. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) this week signed legislation requiring Michigan children to have their blood tested for lead at one and two years old. (MLive)

WORKFORCE: Florida lawmakers next year will consider legislation to loosen work requirements for 16- and 17-year olds. The bill will ban local governments from passing stricter work limits on children. (Orlando Sentinel)

ENERGY: New Mexico environmental regulators finalized a 10-year permit extension at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the only underground repository for nuclear waste in the country. Regulators said the new permit will prioritize cleanup of Cold War-era waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

KENTUCKY: A new Emerson College poll shows Gov. Andy Beshear (D) leading Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) 49% to 33%. It’s the widest margin recorded by any survey so far this year. (Lexington Herald-Leader) Another poll conducted by WPA Intelligence, a Republican firm working on behalf of the Club for Growth, found Beshear leading 48% to 42%. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

ALABAMA: A three-judge panel has picked a map for new U.S. House district lines that will create a second Black-majority district. The new map will throw U.S. Reps. Jerry Carl (R) and Barry Moore (R) into the same district, giving Democrats a chance to win two of the state’s seven seats in Congress. (

OHIO: A coalition of labor and community groups have sued to block new state legislative district lines approved last week by the state Redistricting Commission, alleging the new maps unconstitutionally favor Republicans. The state Supreme Court struck down previous maps five times. (Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press)

WISCONSIN: Police arrested a man armed with a handgun who demanded to see Gov. Tony Evers (D) on Wednesday. The man later posted bail and returned to the capitol with an assault rifle, where he was taken into custody and taken to a hospital. Evers was not in the building either time. (Associated Press)

VIRGINIA: The General Assembly’s gleaming new legislative building will open to the public later this month after years of construction. The $300 million facility replaces an old office building that was stuffed with asbestos. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

5: The number of states that enacted legislation this year that will lead to the end of sales of fluorescent light bulbs. Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon and Rhode Island join California and Vermont, which passed clean lighting laws last year. (Pluribus News)

$18.6 billion: Texas’s projected budget surplus after the current budget cycle, thanks to an unexpected increase in state revenue, Comptroller Glenn Hagar (R) said Thursday. The state’s rainy day fund is expected to balloon to $23.8 billion. (Texas Tribune)

$43,000: The annual salary Kansas lawmakers would earn after a bipartisan group of former legislators approved a draft plan to hike pay. The legislature will get to vote on the final plan next year. (Kansas Reflector)

Off The Wall

North Dakota Parks and Recreation is partnering with EnChroma, a California-based eyewear maker that produces glasses for colorblind people so that they can enjoy the fall colors. The company’s glasses will be available to borrow at the state’s 13 parks. (Fargo Forum)

Everyone knows drinking and driving is a bad idea. So is legislating and driving. Maryland Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D) had to warn members of the House Health and Government Operations Committee not to participate in virtual meetings while operating a vehicle, after two state delegates were seen in vehicles during a briefing. (Maryland Matters)

Quote of the Day

“It’s too bad an idea to die.”

Brien Lang, a Rhode Island man who invented the Grog and Dog Jog, in which participants run a mile, drink a beer and eat a hot dog. Proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society. (Boston Globe)