Pluribus AM: The weighty cost of weight loss drugs

HAPPENING THURSDAY: Join us as we host prominent Colorado legislators for a close-up look at the nation’s housing crisis, sponsored by the American Planning Association. Register for this free event right here.

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Happy Mardi Gras! In today’s edition, states grapple with rising Ozempic costs; judge blocks Ohio’s social media rule; special elections today in New York, Pennsylvania:

Top Stories

HEALTH CARE: Lawmakers in at least ten states have introduced measures placing new requirements that insurers cover GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy for weight loss purposes. The drugs are starting to cost Medicaid systems hundreds of millions of dollars as they explode in popularity, but only 16 state Medicaid programs cover at least one weight loss drug to treat obesity in adults. (Pluribus News)

SOCIAL MEDIA: A federal judge blocked Ohio’s new law requiring social media companies to obtain parental consent for teenagers who want to open a new account. NetChoice, the industry group challenging the law, alleges the measure is too broad and vague and unconstitutionally infringes on free speech. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

EDUCATION: The New Mexico Senate approved a measure to set aside $959 million in a permanent trust to guarantee tuition-free college in a budget bill Monday. Legislators expect a $3.5 billion budget surplus, driven by oil and gas revenues from production in the Permian Basin. (Associated Press)

MORE: Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) reversed course and said his state would accept $18 million in federal funding to feed low-income children over the summer break. Rural lawmakers pressured Pillen to join the program. (Associated Press)

Nebraska was one of 15 Republican-led states that said it would reject the extra money.

PUBLIC HEALTH: Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman (R) filed suit Monday against grocery giant Kroger, alleging its pharmacies helped spread the opioid addiction crisis. The lawsuit alleges Kroger failed to implement effective monitoring programs to stop suspicious orders. (Associated Press)

MORE: An Iowa House subcommittee advanced legislation to allow pharmacists to distribute birth control without a prescription. The bill, backed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), has stalled in the state House in previous years, but supporters are optimistic it will clear the legislature this time. (Quad City Times)

HOUSING: The Missouri House approved legislation Monday that would block local governments from enacting eviction moratoriums. The measure comes after St. Louis and St. Louis County passed eviction moratoriums during the pandemic. (Kansas City Star)

IMMIGRATION: Arizona Republicans have introduced legislation to make illegal immigration a state crime. The measure mirrors a Texas law that has been challenged in federal court. (Arizona Republic)

If you have a sense of deja vu, it’s not just you: Iowa lawmakers introduced a similar bill last week.

MORE: Update to an item we featured last week: A Minnesota proposal to make the state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants is dead after several Democrats voiced opposition. House Speaker Melissa Hortman (D) said she didn’t see the votes to advance the bill this year. (Minnesota Reformer)

In Politics & Business

ELECTIONS: Voters head to the polls in New York to elect a replacement for former U.S. Rep. George Santos (R), and in Pennsylvania to fill a vacancy in the state House. Both seats lean toward Democrats, and a snowstorm hitting Long Island is going to further skew turnout. Still, the elections will have a psychological effect we wrote about here.

NEW YORK: The Independent Redistricting Commission will hold a public meeting this week to vote on a new set of congressional district maps. The new map proposals have not yet been released to the public, but they are almost certain to give Democrats a chance to pick up seats. (State of Politics)

The GOP’s House majority is already slim. This map alone could change the balance of power in Washington.

MICHIGAN: House Speaker Joe Tate (D) said he had stripped Rep. Josh Schriver (R) of his committee assignments, legislative staff and office budget as punishment for a racist social media post amplifying the so-called “great replacement” theory. (Detroit Free Press)

IDAHO: Rep. Jason Monks (R) will serve as House Majority Leader, after House Republicans ousted Rep. Megan Blanksma (R) from the job last week. House Republicans have been feuding over the budget process and a workforce development program. (Idaho Press)

CRIME BLOTTER: Tim Mapes, a former top aide to ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), was sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying to a federal grand jury during a corruption investigation into Madigan. Madigan is set to go on trial on federal racketeering charges in October. (Chicago Tribune) Former Sen. Annette Collins (D) was convicted of cheating on her taxes in a case tied to the Madigan investigation. (Chicago Sun-Times)

PEOPLE: New Hampshire state Rep. Sharon Nordgren (D) has died at 80. She served 18 terms in the state House, making her one of the longest-serving legislators in the state. (Boston Globe) Our condolences to the New Hampshire political family.

By The Numbers

123.4 million: The number of viewers who tuned in to the Super Bowl, making it the most-watched program in U.S. television history. Viewership was up 7% over last year’s record mark. (Associated Press)

81%: The snowpack in California’s Northern Sierra mountains as of Feb. 11, as measured against historical averages. Consecutive winter storms dumped tons of snow across the state, raising the average snowpack from 61% on Jan. 29. (Los Angeles Times)

Off The Wall

Congratulations to Briana DeSanctis, 40, the first solo female hiker to complete the American Discovery Trail, which stretches from coast to coast. DeSanctis took two years, and lots of detours, to cover 6,800 miles. (Bay Area News Group)

Oregon officials have reported a case of bubonic plague in a local resident who likely contracted the virus from her cat. It’s the first case of bubonic plague in the state since 2015. (Associated Press)

In the market for a used speedboat? Why not buy the one that once belonged to former President George H.W. Bush? The 1,000-horsepower boat, complete with the presidential seal, will be auctioned off this week in Houston. (Portland Press Herald)

Quote of the Day

“To quote Eric Idle — it’s not dead yet.”

Virginia Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D), on a proposal to bring the Washington Capitals and Wizards to a new arena in Alexandria. Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee chair Louise Lucas (D) declared the proposal dead in a dispute over how the arena is financed. (Washington Post)

We’re suckers for a good Monty Python reference.