Pluribus AM: The most Irish state in America isn’t the one you’re thinking of

Good morning, it’s Friday, March 15, 2024. In today’s edition, lawmakers consider immigrant assimilation measures; Delaware backs gun permit bill; Connecticut moves to end Yale’s legacy admissions:

Top Stories

IMMIGRATION: Lawmakers in more than a dozen states are advancing bills to remove barriers newly arrived migrants face when integrating into new communities. Red state lawmakers have moved bills reducing licensure requirements for foreign-trained doctors and nurses, while seven states are moving to open Offices of New Americans to help migrants get job training. (Pluribus News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Maryland Senate unanimously advanced legislation Thursday to create new criminal statutes for robbing letter carriers of the keys they use to open blue mail collection boxes. More than a dozen other states have added mail theft laws to their criminal codes in recent years. (Pluribus News)

GUN POLITICS: The Delaware Senate approved legislation requiring anyone buying a handgun to be fingerprinted, undergo training and obtain a state permit. The bill now goes to Gov. John Carney (D), who backs the legislation. (Delaware Public Media, Associated Press)

Expect litigation to follow. Maryland’s permit-to-purchase law goes before a federal appeals court next week.

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee advanced a bill to prohibit transgender and nonbinary residents enrolled in Medicaid from obtaining gender-affirming care. The bill has already cleared the state House. (Idaho Capital Sun)

EDUCATION: The Georgia House approved legislation creating a school voucher program that would award families up to $6,500 a year to subsidize the cost of private schooling. The measure must pass the Senate once again to win final approval, but the House has been the bill’s major stumbling block in recent years. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) The Missouri Senate advanced its own voucher bill, expanding those accounts to families that make up to 300% of the federal poverty limit. (Associated Press)

MORE: A Connecticut Senate committee advanced legislation to ban the use of legacy and donor preferences in college admissions, including at private schools like Yale. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signed similar legislation this week. (Associated Press) Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) approved a bill allowing teachers who undergo annual firearm training to carry guns in schools. (KSL)

EVEN MORE: The New Hampshire House approved a bill to require schools to notify parents up to two weeks before they begin teaching about sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or gender expression. The bill allows school employees to respond to parental questions about a student sexuality or mental health. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH CARE: The Georgia Senate adopted legislation loosening health care certificate of need laws. The legislation could allow Morehouse School of Medicine, an HBCU, to open a new hospital in central Atlanta. It would allow hospitals to open in rural communities without an existing hospital. (Associated Press)

ECONOMY: The Michigan Senate cleared bills on Thursday that would cap interest rates on payday loans at 36% annually. Several Republicans joined Democrats in backing the bill, which mirrors about 20 other states that cap payday loan rates. Under current law, rates can skyrocket to about 391% annually. (Bridge MI)

In Politics & Business

MISSISSIPPI: The Senate voted to advance legislation that would restore the ballot initiative process in the state, with new single-subject and fiscal analysis requirements. Future ballot measures would require a two-thirds vote to pass, under the legislation that now moves to the House. (Magnolia Tribune)

Backstory: Mississippi law requires ballot measure supporters to gather a certain share of signatures in the state’s five congressional districts. But after the last round of redistricting, Mississippi has only four districts — and the state Supreme Court ruled no future initiative could qualify because of that quirk in state law.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The state House approved legislation that would eliminate all exceptions to the state’s current voter ID law. Current law allows someone who forgets their ID to sign an affidavit and to confirm their identity within a week of Election Day. (WMUR)

CALIFORNIA: Former U.S. Reps. Jerry McNerney (D), Laura Richardson (D) and George Radanovich (R) are all advancing to November’s general election as they seek election to the state legislature. Another former member of Congress, Jackie Speier (D), won a seat on the San Mateo Board of Supervisors. (Daily Kos)

NO LABELS: The centrist group announced a committee of 12 people who will decide who it should nominate to run for president. The panel includes former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), retired Adm. Dennis Blair and civil rights activist Benjamin Chavis. The group has recently held meetings with former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) about heading the ticket. (Washington Post)

By The Numbers

19.17%: The share of New Hampshire residents who claim Irish ancestry, the highest percentage in America. Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine are the next-most Irish states. Plymouth County, Mass., has a higher share of Irish residents of any county in America, at 28.5%. (Boston Globe)

Don’t forget to wear green on Sunday. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

$28 million: The amount Kansas lawmakers are planning to appropriate for spending on the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Kansas City will host six matches during the tournament, including a quarterfinal matchup. (KMBC)

30%: The decline in humpback whales spotted in Alaska waters since 2012. Researchers attribute the decrease to “the blob,” a spike in ocean temperatures between Alaska and California between 2014 and 2016. (Alaska Public Media)

Off The Wall

Happy hour is back in Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Thursday signed legislation repealing a 40-year-old ban on discount drinks during specific hours, while standing behind the bar at the Whistle Stop Inn in Indianapolis. (Indianapolis Star)

Construction on seawalls guarding areas around the Jefferson Memorial will force the National Park Service to remove about 140 Japanese cherry trees around the Tidal Basin. Crews will replace the cherry trees after construction is finished in 2027. (DC News Now)

Cherry blossoms are expected to peak in Washington between March 23-26. Save the date!

Quote of the Day

“I’d still be a speaker without term limits.”

Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who turns 90 next week, reflecting on his career during his induction into the California Hall of Fame. (CalMatters)