Pluribus AM: Virginia elections can’t get any closer

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Good morning, it’s Wednesday, October 18, 2023. In today’s edition, Wisconsin advances gender-affirming care ban; Massachusetts Gov rolls out big housing plan; Pritzker to fund abortion rights group:

Top Stories

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Wisconsin Senate gave final approval to a measure barring gender-affirming care for minors, sending the bill to Gov. Tony Evers (D) for a likely veto. The Assembly approved bills barring transgender students from participating in high school and college women’s sports last week, but the Senate has yet to take those bills up. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

GUN POLITICS: The Massachusetts House will vote on a new gun control package Wednesday that boosts the assault weapons ban, limits where guns can be carried and cracks down on so-called “ghost guns.” The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association voted unanimously last week to oppose the bill. (WBUR)

HOUSING: Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey released a $4.1 billion housing bill aimed at creating 40,000 new low- and middle-income homes over five years. The bill would given localities the authority to impose local taxes on high-dollar real estate sales, and it would allow Accessory Dwelling Units, also called “granny flats,” on all single-family zoned lots in the state. (Boston Globe)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Michigan’s House Elections Committee advanced a package of bills Tuesday to regulate and punish the deceptive use of artificial intelligence-generated material in political campaign ads. The bills would require disclosure if any AI images are used in advertising for or against a candidate. (MLive)

ABORTION: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is launching a national nonprofit group focused on protecting and expanding abortion rights. Think Big America, operating as a 501(c)(4) group, will promote ballot measures in states like Nevada, Ohio and Arizona. The group will expand to address areas like book bans, LGBTQ rights and gender-affirming care in the future. (Chicago Sun-Times, Politico)

The group is modeled on Tom Steyer’s NextGen America, which Steyer used as a vehicle to mount a presidential campaign. Not saying, just saying.

TAXES: Arizona, California, Massachusetts and New York will launch pilot programs with the Internal Revenue Service to allow certain residents to file taxes electronically for free. The program will be open to residents who don’t have much non-wage income and are eligible for certain tax credits and deductions. Washington will launch a separate pilot program focused on a tax credit for low-income people. (Pluribus News)

MORE: The Wisconsin Senate has approved a $2 billion income tax cut that also creates a state tax credit for families paying for child care, increases income tax deductions for private school tuition and reduce licensure requirements for out-of-state professionals. Gov. Evers has promised to veto the cut. (Associated Press)

STADIUMS: The Wisconsin Assembly voted Tuesday to approve a $546 million financing plan to rehabilitate American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, in a deal that will keep the Brewers in Wisconsin through at least 2050. Gov. Evers and Milwaukee officials support the bills. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

We wrote last month about the unprecedented rush of professional teams asking for taxpayer money to fund stadium construction and renovations.

In Politics & Business

VIRGINIA: A new poll of Virginia voters ahead of November’s elections show 42% will back a Democratic candidate for the legislature, and 41% will support a Republican candidate. Most voters, 54%, either oppose or strongly oppose a proposed 15-week abortion ban, but 55% approve of the job Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) is doing in office. (13 News Now)

MORE: Former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) will run to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Jennifer Weston (D) in 2024, rather than run for governor in 2025. U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) are expected to run for the Democratic nomination, while Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears (R) are expected to run for the GOP nomination. (Associated Press)

NORTH CAROLINA: Salisbury attorney Bill Graham (R) is jumping in the race for governor with a $5 million warchest and a television advertising campaign. Graham ran for governor in 2008, though he lost the GOP primary to then-Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. (Raleigh News & Observer)

MORE: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) has sued legislative Republicans over a bill that strips his power to appoint members of state and local elections boards. The legislature overrode Cooper’s veto of the bill that will make partisan control of elections boards evenly divided between the parties, rather than giving the governor’s party an advantage. (Raleigh News & Observer)

MISSOURI: House Speaker Dean Plocher (R) fired his chief of staff after the House clerk accused Plocher of potentially illegal and unethical conduct in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to hire a private firm to manage constituent information. The clerk wrote to House members that Plocher connected the contract to campaign activity. (Missouri Independent)

By The Numbers

4, 7: The number of competitive districts in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, respectively, according to calculations by the Virginia Public Access Project. We’re visual learners, so we mapped all the competitive districts here.

38%: The decline in fatal crashes involving drivers under the age of 21 between 2002 and 2021, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The group credits state programs that phase in driving privileges, among other safety improvements, for the decline. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

North Dakota state Rep. Cole Christensen (R) won’t run for re-election citing other opportunities in his life. The most pressing other opportunity? Getting married — to Missouri state Rep. Mazzie Boyd (R). The two met at a conservative conference. (Fargo Forum)

A dead angler fish, known as the Pacific Football Fish, has washed ashore at California’s Crystal Cove State Park. The nightmare creature, with dark black flesh and razor-sharp teeth, was found — appropriately enough — on Friday the 13th. (Orange County Register)

Quote of the Day

“Um, sure.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano (D), asked if he would seek another term leading the chamber in 2025. (Boston Globe)