Pluribus AM: Wash., Mich. pass major gun bills; legislators tackle workforce shortages; Pa. Dem resigns

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, March 9, 2023. In today’s edition, Wash., Mich. pass major gun safety measures; legislators tackle workforce shortages; Pa. Dem resigns over sexual harassment allegations:

Top Stories

GUN POLITICS: The Washington House passed an assault weapons ban and a measure requiring a 10-day waiting period when purchasing firearms. Those purchasing weapons will have to show proof of a completed safety course. The bill heads to the state Senate. (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman-Review, Associated Press) The Michigan House approved a bill expanding background check mandates for rifles and shotguns. (Detroit News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Iowa House and the Arkansas House both gave final approval to a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The bills now head to Republican governors for likely signatures. (Iowa Capital Dispatch, Arkansas Democrat Gazette) The Iowa House also approved a bill barring teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation though sixth grade. A separate bill awaits action in the Senate. (Des Moines Register)

MORE: The Michigan House gave final approval to a bill including gay and transgender residents among groups protected under anti-discrimination laws. The bill now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). (Detroit News) The Ohio House is once again considering legislation to ban transgender athletes from girls’ sports through high school. (Statehouse News Bureau)

ABORTION: The Michigan Senate gave final approval to a measure repealing the state’s 1931 law banning abortions, a law made moot when voters approved a constitutional amendment last year. The bill now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). (MLive)

WORKFORCE: The Washington Senate approved bills promoting new training plans for nurses in rural and underserved areas; allowing retired nurses to work in patient care while receiving a pension; and enter the national Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to practice across state lines. (Pluribus News) Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is expected to sign a loan repayment plan for nurses.

MORE: Michigan’s state House passed a measure repealing a right-to-work law passed during Republican control in 2012. It’s been 60 years since any state repealed right-to-work laws. (Detroit Free Press) The Ohio Senate passed a bill allowing 14- and 15-year olds to work until 9 p.m., up from 7 p.m. allowed under current law. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed a bill eliminating age verification requirements for those under 16. (Washington Post)

EDUCATION: The Nebraska Senate gave first-round approval to a measure creating opportunity scholarships, allowing public funds to pay for some private school tuition. Nebraska is one of two states that doesn’t have some form of scholarship. (Nebraska Examiner) An Ohio bill to extend private school vouchers to any student would cost $1.1 billion in the first year, according to a new fiscal note from the Legislative Service Commission. (Statehouse News Bureau)

MORE: A Florida measure expanding school vouchers to all students regardless of income passed key House and Senate committees on Wednesday. (Florida Politics) Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) on Wednesday signed her education bill, the LEARNS Act, into law. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette) 

Don’t miss our story on the LEARNS Act and what’s in it.

FLORIDA: The state Senate has unanimously approved President Kathleen Passidomo’s (R) housing reform package, a measure that provides incentives to local developers, preempts local government rules on density, building heights and rent control. (Orlando Sentinel) Passidomo says she won’t allow open carry legislation to the floor unless it wins support from the Florida Sheriff’s Association. (Capitolist)

In Politics & Business

PENNSYLVANIA: State Rep. Mike Zabel (D) submitted his letter of resignation to Speaker Joanna McClinton (D) on Wednesday after at least three women came forward to accuse Zabel of sexual harassment. His exit leaves Democrats with a 101-100 seat majority, pending the results of a May 16 special election to replace a Republican. (Philadelphia Inquirer) Expect McClinton to schedule a special replacing Zabel for the same day.

ARIZONA: The No Labels Party has qualified for a spot on the ballot in 2024. It’s the second battleground state, after Colorado, where the party will be on the ballot. (Fox10)

A big, big deal in a big, big battleground.

NEW MEXICO: The state Senate approved on a party line vote a bill automatically registering voters, establishing a permanent absentee voting list and setting out formal requirements for ballot drop boxes. The bill goes back to the House to approve technical changes before it goes to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D). (Albuquerque Journal)

MISSISSIPPI: Lawmakers have given final approval to a bill allowing those who do not participate in elections or update their voter registration for four years to be removed from the rolls, and to a measure banning so-called “ballot harvesting.” (Magnolia Tribune, Magnolia Tribune) Mississippi’s House passed a measure restoring the ballot initiative process, though the Senate must agree to significant changes to signature requirements. (Magnolia Tribune)

MARYLAND: The House has given preliminary approval to a proposed constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. The Senate is expected to take a preliminary vote today. Voters would get a chance to weigh in on the 2024 ballot. (Maryland Matters)

IOWA: A Senate committee has approved a bill to create a new state website for the publication of public notices, ending a requirement that cities and schools publish those notices in local papers. (Iowa Capital Dispatch) Supporters estimate the bill will save $8-$12 million in costs.

MICHIGAN: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed legislation appropriating $630 million in incentives to a Ford electric vehicle battery plant near Marshall. The plant is expected to create 2,500 jobs. (Detroit Free Press)

PEOPLE: Georgia state Rep. Letitia “Tish” Naghise (D) has died at 59, after several days in the hospital. She was serving her first term in office. (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Associated Press) Our condolences to the Georgia House community.

By The Numbers

152,441,624: The number of megawatt hours of renewable energy Texas produces, making it the number one renewable energy producer in the nation, according to federal data collected by Climate Central. California produces almost 82 million megawatt hours, the second-highest, followed by Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas. (Boston Globe)

11: The number of maternity wards in New Hampshire that have closed since 2000. Frisbee Memorial Hospital in Rochester is the latest to close its labor and delivery services. (New Hampshire Bulletin)

67: The number of times a bear broke into Connecticut homes in 2022, almost double the number of entries in 2021, according to the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s annual “State of the Bears” report. (New Haven Register)

Nutmeggers, watch out for those pic-a-nic baskets.

Off The Wall

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission will work out a deal to allow Amtrak’s Downeaster line to continue selling booze on its 35-mile run through the Granite State. The commission said it was “laying tracks for a unique partnership” between Maine and New Hampshire. (Boston Globe)

Nothing brings governments together like making sure their citizens have access to booze.

Quote of the Day

“We all got burned out on these last runoffs — all the ads, how it just kept going, and the amount of money spent on these elections. It’s like a national debt of a small country.”

Georgia Senate Ethics Committee vice chair Rick Williams (R). A bill to end the runoff system has died, again, in the General Assembly. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)