Pluribus AM: Texas tackles immigration, again

Good morning, it’s Friday, October 13, 2023. In today’s edition, Texas moves immigration bills; Wisconsin advances gender-affirming care ban; Newsom signs mental health overhaul:

Top Stories

ENERGY: The Biden administration is directing $7 billion to build seven regional hydrogen power hubs in 16 states, the White House said Friday. The money comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law. Projects will have assets in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Montana, California, Delaware, Texas, North Dakota and Illinois. (Washington State Standard)

IMMIGRATION: The Texas Senate has advanced bills to allow state police to arrest migrants crossing the southern border and increasing penalties for smuggling migrants or operating a stash house. One bill would create a new state crime of illegally entering Texas from Mexico. (Texas Tribune)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Wisconsin Assembly has approved legislation banning transgender girls and women from competing in high school and college sports, and a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Gov. Tony Evers (D) has pledged to veto the bills, which passed on party line votes. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) A federal judge has lifted a temporary hold on a new Idaho law that will restrict transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. (Idaho Statesman)

EDUCATION: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) says he will add teacher pay raises and public school funding to the special session agenda, but only if lawmakers approve a bill creating a school voucher program. The Texas Senate gave initial approval to voucher legislation on Thursday. (Texas Tribune)

GUN POLITICS: The Ohio House is considering legislation to block local governments from requiring firearm owners to carry liability insurance and blocking financial institutions from requiring the use of a firearms code when tracking purchases. Both measures have previously passed the state Senate. (Ohio Capital Journal)

WORKFORCE: The Wisconsin Senate Labor Committee will vote today on legislation that would end required work permits for 14- and 15-year olds. Under current law, parents must sign work permits before a young teenager gets a job. (Wisconsin Examiner)

MENTAL HEALTH: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed legislation overhauling the state’s mental health system and addressing homelessness. Voters must approve the plan in a March election; it calls for borrowing $6.4 billion for 11,150 new treatment beds and new affordable housing units. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Michigan Senate approved bills eliminating most court fees assessed in juvenile cases, prioritizing diversion programs over detention where possible and increasing access to indigent defense options for minors. The bills passed with broad bipartisan support. (Bridge MI)

In Politics & Business

NORTH CAROLINA: A new Civitas Poll conducted by the Republican polling firm Cygnal shows Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) leading the race for the Republican nomination for governor with 49% of the vote. Treasurer Dale Folwell claims 5%, while former Rep. Mark Walker (R) takes 4%.

WISCONSIN: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) is leaving open the option to impeach Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz if he disagrees with her ruling in a lawsuit over legislative district lines. Vos had backed away from impeachment talk after several conservative former justices came out against the idea, but he brought it up again at a news conference Thursday. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

OHIO: The state Ballot Board has approved a proposed constitutional amendment to reform the way in which the state’s political boundaries are drawn, taking the redistricting process out of the hands of elected officials. Supporters must gather 415,000 valid signatures to qualify for the 2024 ballot. (Ohio Capital Journal)

ARKANSAS: The Legislative Joint Auditing Committee’s executive panel has approved an audit of a $19,000 lectern purchased by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s (R) office. State Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R) requested auditors look into the purchase and documents that were made confidential under a new law approved in September’s special session. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

COLORADO: A state judge has rejected a motion from former President Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to keep him off the ballot in 2024 under the 14th Amendment. Trump’s attorneys had argued that his First Amendment rights protected his speech; Judge Sarah Wallace ruled the First Amendment does not apply in the case. (Associated Press)

FLORIDA: Senate Republicans on Tuesday will hold a ceremony formally designating Sen. Ben Albritton (R) as their next president. Albritton will succeed President Kathleen Passidomo (R) next November. (Orlando Sentinel)

PEOPLE: Former North Dakota Lt. Gov. Rosemarie Myrdal (R) has died at 94. Former Gov. Ed Schafer (R), who tapped Myrdal as his running mate, said they first met on a midnight cookie raid. (Fargo Forum)

By The Numbers

34%: The share of California wells where water levels rose significantly over the last year, thanks to a wetter-than-average winter. Aquifer levels remain about 40 inches below the average from the last century. (Los Angeles Times)

18,893: The number of Iowa students who have been approved for the state’s new education savings account program, far in excess of the 14,068 the state projected would win access to the new program. Each student can use up to $7,635 in taxpayer funds to pay for private school expenses. (Des Moines Register)

More than 30: The number of monuments and memorials overseas that are managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Missouri National Guard has asked Gov. Mike Parson (R) for $30,000 to rehabilitate one of those monuments, in Cheppy, France, that honors members of the 35th Infantry Division, troops from Missouri and Kansas, who died or were wounded during World War I. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Off The Wall

Arizona lawmakers are exploring the feasibility of aerial drone taxi services. Executives at Boeing and Hyundai are developing air taxis, which could pick people up and drop them off at pre-determined locations, flying at altitudes of between 1,500 and 5,000 feet. Hyundai plans to launch commercial flights by 2028. (Arizona Capital Times)

The taxis would fly at about 100 miles per hour, or approximately the average speed of a car zipping around Phoenix-area freeways. We kid, but not by much.

Westerners, look up on Saturday morning. A “ring of fire” eclipse will traverse Western states from Oregon to Texas, when the moon passes directly in front of the sun. Because the moon is at its farthest point away from earth, it will not completely block the sun, making for a rare sight. The eclipse will begin at 9:17 a.m. local time in Eugene, Ore., and at about 11:52 a.m. in San Antonio. (Missoulian)

Quote of the Day

“I now know that the reason God chose me to go through the hell of cancer was to make my advocacy that much stronger in Lansing.”

Michigan state Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D), a breast cancer survivor, who authored legislation requiring equal billing for chemotherapy drugs regardless of how they are administered. Michigan would be the 44th state to have a cancer drug parity law on the books. (Pluribus News)