Pluribus AM: The return of religious freedom bills

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Good morning, it’s Friday, March 1, 2024. In today’s edition, lawmakers move to preempt city housing rules; DeSantis likely to veto social media bill; Alabama advances IVF protections:

Top Stories

HOUSING: Legislators have proposed more than 300 bills in 33 states to preempt local government zoning decisions in statewide efforts to drive down rising rental costs. Some legislators say they hear from local governments who appreciate the preemption, which shifts anger from city hall to the state capital. (Pluribus News)

“They’re saying to me, please get this done at the state level so that we can have this here, and we can blame you all instead of taking the heat ourselves,” Colorado Rep. Judy Amabile (D) told us.

MORE: The Oregon Senate approved a $369 million package to pay for water infrastructure projects and moderate-income housing loans to reduce costs. The bill would boost homeless services and expand recovery housing. (Oregonian)

SOCIAL MEDIA: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is likely to veto legislation banning minors from having social media accounts, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) said. The legislature is likely to pass a new bill before the end of session next Friday, hammered out during negotiations between DeSantis and House Speaker Paul Renner (R). (Tallahassee Democrat)

ABORTION: The Alabama House and Senate passed nearly identical bills to provide legal protections to IVF clinics. Final passage could come as soon as next week, after the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos held in storage are considered unborn children under state law. ( A Montana judge struck down a 20-week abortion ban and a law banning abortion prescriptions given via Telehealth. (Associated Press)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Iowa House voted to approve a religious freedom restoration act barring state and local governments from “substantially” burdening an individual’s expression of religion. LGBTQ rights supporters say the bill will allow discrimination. (Des Moines Register) The Georgia Senate approved a religious rights bill. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) pledged to sign such a bill during his 2018 campaign for office. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

IMMIGRATION: The Georgia House approved a bill allowing police to arrest anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally and to detain them for deportation. The bill would require jailers and sheriffs to report undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

CHILD WELFARE: The Utah Senate unanimously approved a measure offering legal protections for faith leaders who report ongoing child abuse during confession. The measure provides clergy members the same protections as mandatory reporters. The bill now heads to Gov. Spencer Cox (R) for a likely signature. (Associated Press)

EDUCATION: The Iowa House approved legislation capping tuition increases at state colleges at 3%. The measure also eliminates diversity, equity and inclusion positions at those colleges. (Iowa Capital Dispatch) Indiana lawmakers gave final approval to a measure restricting tenure at state schools if a staff member has not encouraged “free expression” or “intellectual diversity.” (Indianapolis Star)

AGRICULTURE: The Florida Senate has given final approval to a measure banning the sale of lab-grown meat. Florida is set to become the first state in the nation to bar such products, which are only available in two restaurants in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. (Florida Politics)

In Politics & Business

MISSOURI: State Republicans are seeking to block Darrell McClanahan III (R) from running for governor. McClanahan, who has been photographed at multiple KKK events, claims he was only an “honorary” member of the hate group. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

INDIANA: The state Senate gave final approval to a bill requiring voters to provide proof of residency when registering to vote, or to show a state driver’s license or Social Security card. The bill would allow the state to contract with third-party vendors to verify a voter’s residence. (Associated Press)

ARIZONA: A plan to place a statue of the late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is off after conservatives in the legislature objected to honoring someone one called “an undistinguished jurist.” (Arizona Mirror)

O’Connor, the first woman to serve as majority leader in a state Senate, will get her place in the Capitol anyway: President Biden signed legislation in 2022 to create statues honoring both O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

CRIME BLOTTER: Former Arizona Sen. Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete (D) was found guilty of sexual conduct with a minor. Navarrette will face up to two years in prison, though he could receive probation as a first-time offender. (Arizona Republic)

By The Numbers

47 percentage points: The difference between the share of Democrats (59%) and the share of Republicans (12%) who say dealing with climate change should be a top priority for the president and Congress. That’s the widest gap between the two parties of any issue in a new Pew Research Center poll.

5,000 pages: The length of Salt Lake City’s official bid for the 2034 Winter Olympics, formally submitted Thursday. The bid contains 53 spreadsheets, 26 site plans, 18 studies, 14 tables and infographics and two maps. (Salt Lake Tribune)

Winter Olympics > Summer Olympics. This is the hill we will die on.

0: The number of noncitizens who cast a ballot in Georgia in 2020, according to a review by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). Raffensperger’s office found 1,634 noncitizens tried to register to vote, but none were allowed to do so. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Off The Wall

University of Iowa standout Caitlin Clark is a big deal in women’s college basketball — so huge that her decision Thursday to declare for the WNBA draft made the front page of the Indianapolis Star. Why Indiana? Because the WNBA’s Indiana Fever hold the first pick in this year’s draft.

The price of bananas is virtually unchanged over time, even in the midst of rising inflation. The average monthly price of a pound of bananas stands at 62 cents, even as other fruits rise in cost. Bananas have never exceeded 80 cents per pound, according to the IMF. (Axios)

Quote of the Day

“I guess if you’re in the bread-making business, there’s a lot of dough to go around.”

California Sen. Brian Dahle (R), on the state’s $20-per-hour minimum wage law, which exempts businesses that sell bread as a stand-alone menu item. The exemption applies to Panera, a fast food joint whose chief executive, Greg Flynn, is a major donor to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). (Sacramento Bee)