Pluribus AM: Voter turnout surging; NY fights catalytic converter theft; GOP to the rescue in OK

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Good morning, it’s Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. In today’s edition, voter turnout is surging already; N.Y. cracks down on catalytic converter theft; GOP rides to rescue in deep red Okla.:

Top Stories

VOTER TURNOUT: Almost 124,000 people showed up to vote on the first day of early voting in Georgia on Monday, well higher than the 71,000 who showed up on the same day in 2018 and nearly equalling the 136,000 who voted on the first day during the 2020 presidential election. (Atlanta Journal Constitution) In New Mexico, turnout during the first week was up 23% over four years ago. (Albuquerque Journal) Mark our words, this year’s voter turnout will shatter previous midterm records.

DRUG CRISIS: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) wants the state to fund distribution of Narcan, the drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses. Abbott said Narcan should be distributed to law enforcement agencies, hospitals and schools. (Texas Tribune) Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) said he would propose a bill to increase prison sentences for drug dealers tied to overdose deaths. (Alaska Beacon) Alaska registered the largest increase in overdose deaths of any state between 2020 and 2021.

NEW JERSEY: The state Senate abruptly canceled a vote on a bill to establish new rights for temporary workers on Monday, a surprise move after several Democrats yanked their support. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) had conditionally vetoed a previous version, but lawmakers in the state Assembly passed revisions earlier this month. Massachusetts and Illinois have passed similar bills over the objection of the business community. (NJ Advance Media)

CALIFORNIA: General fund agencies took in $2.78 billion in September, almost 15% below budget forecasts made earlier this year. Cash receipts for the first quarter of the year came in 11% below forecast. (Sacramento Bee) We reported earlier this month that California’s shortfall is a warning sign for other states that the era of record revenues is coming to an end.

MARYLAND: An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge has struck down a first-in-the-nation tax on digital advertising, which the judge said violated the First Amendment, the Internet Tax Freedom Act and the Dormant Commerce Clause. The state legislature approved the new tax specifically aimed at companies like Facebook and Google, over Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) veto. (DCist, Baltimore Sun)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed legislation Monday cracking down on thefts of catalytic converters. The bill requires companies that dismantle vehicles to maintain records of catalytic converters and report them to the state. The Institute of Scrap Recycling in New York called the measure too onerous on small business. (NY State of Politics)

COVID: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will formally end his state’s COVID emergency in February, he said Monday. Newsom said delaying the end of the status until next year gives California’s health care system the flexibility it will need to handle any potential winter surge in hospitalizations. (Associated Press) Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has removed weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated health care workers and masking requirements for health care facilities. (Center Square)

MICHIGAN: Retired corrections officers who temporarily return to work will be able to continue receiving retirement benefits while earning a regular paycheck under a new law signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last week. The law aims to fill a shortage of about 800 officers. (MLive)

MISSOURI: Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) has proposed changing rules to require libraries receiving state funds to create measures protecting minors from what he called “non-age-appropriate materials.” Libraries would be barred from using state funding to buy material that appeals to the “prurient interest of a minor.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Ashcroft is a likely candidate for governor next year.

MAINE: Independent auto repair shops are collecting signatures for a statewide referendum that would make wireless repair and diagnostic information available to their companies. Only manufacturers and dealerships have access to the data under current law. They need 70,000 signatures to get the measure on next year’s ballot. (Maine Public Radio) “Right to repair” laws are an emerging trend in states across the country.

In Politics

OKLAHOMA: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D) leads Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) 49%-42% in a new poll conducted by Ascend Action, an Oklahoma City-based firm with partners who worked for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the past. (KOKH) An Amber Integrated poll shows Hofmeister and Stitt tied, 46%-45%. (McCarville Report) Not a coincidence: The Republican Governors Association is launching its first ad buy on Stitt’s behalf, to begin tomorrow. (AdImpact)

MICHIGAN: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) leads online talk show host Tudor Dixon (R) 49%-44% in a new Emerson poll, which confirms the general trend of a tightening race. The poll also shows 52% say they will vote to amend the state constitution to establish a right to an abortion, while 38% will vote no. 

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) leads Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) 52%-41% in a new Siena College survey. Hochul’s approval rating stands at 52%, while 45% disapprove. Attorney General Letitia James (D) and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (D) each lead their Republican opponents by wide margins. 

GEORGIA: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) maintains a 50%-43% lead over former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), in a new poll conducted by InsiderAdvantage. The same firm found Kemp leading 50%-45% two weeks ago.

ILLINOIS: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) least state Sen. Darren Bailey (R) 50%-28%, according to a new Research America poll conducted for the Illinois Broadcasters Association. Libertarian Scott Schluter takes 6%. Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) leads Republican opponent Thomas DeVore 43%-25%, the survey found.

MINNESOTA: A new Embold Research poll for MinnPost found Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) tied with attorney Jim Schultz (R) at 47% apiece. The same poll shows state Auditor Julie Blaha (D) tied with Republican nominee Ryan Wilson at 40% each. Secretary of State Steve Simon (D) leads attorney Kim Crockett (R) 48%-41%. We reported yesterday that the poll shows Gov. Tim Walz (D) up 47%-42% over former state Sen. Scott Jensen (R).

By The Numbers

2,000: The number of barges that have been halted along the Mississippi River as water levels plunge to all-time lows. River gauges in Osceola, Ark., are at their lowest point since 1988, and the water level near Memphis is the third-lowest ever recorded. (Talk Business & Politics)

Off The Wall

Philadelphia elections officials are likely to significantly scale back a procedure known as poll book reconciliation, meant to block incidents of double-voting by comparing poll books from Election Day with mail-in ballots received beforehand. The process appears to conflict with a Republican-backed election reform measure that threatens funding for local governments if those local entities interrupt ballot-counting. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Fairfax County School Superintendent Michelle Reid says her district is exploring a deal to recruit new teachers from the Barbados Ministry of Education to fill a teacher gap in the fast-growing county. Reid said the idea came from two current teachers who immigrated from Barbados in 1995, who are now citizens. (WTOP)