Pluribus AM: The complicated politics of booze

Good morning, it’s Friday, July 14, 2023. Happy Bastille Day! In today’s edition, GOP AGs threaten companies over diversity policies; Texas Republicans reach property tax deal; N.Y. court hands Dems a big redistricting win:

Top Stories

ALCOHOL: Liquor control agencies in four states have denied or signaled their intent to deny licenses to distribute Hard Mtn Dew, a new alcoholic product from the soft drink manufacturer Blue Cloud. The product tests the boundaries of the traditional three-tier distribution model, put in place after Prohibition. Legislators in North Carolina and Mississippi tightened rules this year on alcohol distribution. (Pluribus News)

The politics of liquor and alcohol amount to the legislative equivalent of four-dimensional chess.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Thirteen Republican attorneys general, led by Tennessee’s Jonathan Skrmetti, issued a letter to Fortune 100 companies threatening legal action if those companies use race-based policies. The attorneys general cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from last month that ended race-based admissions policies at universities. (Tennessee Lookout)

GUN POLITICS: Massachusetts lawmakers will meet in closed-door session next week to consider a gun reform bill that would increase licensing requirements, restrict where guns can be carried and address so-called “ghost guns” that come without traceable serial numbers. Speaker Rob Mariano (D) wants the bill passed before lawmakers take their traditional August break. (MassLive) Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) signed legislation banning ghost guns. Possession of an undetectable firearm would be punishable by up to 364 days in prison. (KOIN)

INFRASTRUCTURE: Ohio is the first state to announce plans to use money from the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in 2021 to build electric vehicle charging stations. The state said it would build 27 stations every 50 miles along their six interstates. (Statehouse News Bureau)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: California’s Assembly Public Safety Committee has advanced legislation to increase penalties for child sex traffickers, after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) intervened to revive the bill sponsored by Sen. Shannon Grove (R). The bill would make child sex trafficking a strike under California’s three-strikes law. (Sacramento Bee)

PRIVACY: Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R) has sued Kansas City-based tax preparer H&R Block, along with Taxslayer and TaxAct, for allegedly violating consumer protection laws by sharing sensitive data with Meta and Google. Bailey asked a judge to issue a permanent injunction against the companies barring them from collecting sensitive data without disclosures. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

HEALTH CARE: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has signed legislation allowing people from out of state to use the state’s medical aid-in-dying law. The law allows doctors to provide medication to terminally ill patients to end their lives. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

TAXES: Texas legislators gave final approval to an $18 billion property tax cut, ending a months-long stalemate that set House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) against Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R). The deal will drop property taxes an average of 40% for about 5.7 million homeowners, and it offers savings to small businesses and non-homestead properties. The plan expands homestead exemptions from $40,000 to $100,000. (Texas Tribune)

In Politics & Business

NEW YORK: An appellate court ruled Thursday that the state’s independent redistricting commission must redraw congressional district lines, effectively handing control to the legislature’s Democratic supermajority. Republicans pledged to appeal, but if Thursday’s ruling stands, it could drastically shift momentum in the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives toward Democrats. (Pluribus News)

ALABAMA: Speaking of redistricting, Alabama lawmakers begin a special session Monday to consider redistricting plans after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Black voters who sued the state over congressional district lines. Republicans who control the legislature have not yet released proposals to redraw those maps. (Associated Press)

ARIZONA: Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) has assigned a team of prosecutors to look into alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The team has contacted several fraudulent electors who tried to submit documents claiming former President Donald Trump carried the state, which President Biden won by about 11,000 votes. (Washington Post)

TEXAS: Former state Supreme Court Justice Harriet O’Neill (R) will join the team of lawyers set to prosecute impeached Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) before the state Senate in September. Lt. Gov. Patrick on Wednesday ordered House impeachment managers to share evidence with Paxton’s legal team. (Texas Tribune)

MINNESOTA: Payday America, the state’s biggest lender, has stopped offering short-term loans after Minnesota lawmakers capped interest rates at 36% annually. Before the law passed, the company was offering loans at annual rates of up to 210%. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

By The Numbers

1,400: The number of distilleries in the United States, up from just 66 in 2001, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. California and Texas have the most distilleries, at 104 and 103, respectively, while Kentucky distilleries employ the most people, at more than 6,000. (Pluribus News)

We made a couple of cool maps to show where distilleries and distillery jobs are — check them out at the link above!

$125,000: The salary Maine’s next governor would earn, under legislation that cleared the legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs committee this week. Gov. Janet Mills (D) earns just $70,000, the lowest salary of any governor in America. Maine’s governor hasn’t gotten a salary increase since 1987. (Associated Press)

$5.75 million: The amount Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) political committee reported raising in the second quarter, more than any previous Virginia governor has raised over the course of an entire year. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

America is being plagued by another critical shortage — this time of Sriracha. A severe drought in Mexico has created a shortage of the peppers the Los Angeles-based company Huy Fong uses to make the spicy condiment, leading to higher prices and empty shelves. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Miami-Dade County stands to lose millions of dollars after administrators forgot to renew a local gas tax that has been on the books for 30 years. Local officials said the state notified county leaders of the tax’s expiration too late to renew it on time, meaning the county will forgo about $18 million in revenue during a four-month gap before they can reinstate the tax. (Miami Herald)

Quote of the Day

“I certainly didn’t pay attention and didn’t do it, and I don’t think any of us recognized it wasn’t done, and after that it was too late. It was a mistake on the legislature’s behalf, and I’m just being honest.”

Virginia Del. Terry Austin (R), after the General Assembly forgot to extend a sales tax holiday on school supplies. (Cardinal News)