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Good morning, it’s Monday, November 27, 2023. In today’s edition, states set to hike minimum wages; a solution to catalytic converter thefts; weight-loss drugs cost states big bucks:

Top Stories

MINIMUM WAGE: Half of all states will see minimum wage increases in 2024, and seven will set wage floors at $15 an hour, double the federal minimum wage. Wages will rise most in Hawaii, Nebraska, Maryland and Delaware. Supporters of a higher minimum wage are pushing new ballot measures to raise pay in California, Alaska, Missouri and Oklahoma. (Pluribus News)

Gaining ballot access is tantamount to winning a higher minimum wage: The last 25 ballot measures seeking to raise the wage have passed, in red states and blue states alike. A minimum wage measure hasn’t failed since Missouri’s Proposition A and Montana Initiative 121 in 1996.

PUBLIC SAFETY: The epidemic of catalytic converter thefts is waning after highs in 2021 and 2022, thanks in part to state laws meant to crack down on secondary markets for stolen goods. Hawaii approved new paperwork and reporting requirements, and catalytic converter thefts are down 71% through the first half of the year. Forty three states have passed laws addressing catalytic converter theft since 2021. (Pluribus News)

MORE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is deploying California Highway Patrol officers to key retail districts across the state to combat retail theft during the holiday season. The task force Newsom created will have teams in Southern California, the Bay Area, the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee)

SOCIAL MEDIA: New Jersey legislators will consider a bill to require social media platforms verify users are at least 18, or to get parental consent before minors sign up for accounts. Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D) introduced the measure, which would follow Utah and Arkansas laws passed this year. (NJ Advance Media)

GUN POLITICS: The Ohio House Government Oversight Committee approved legislation that would block state law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun control measures. The bill would eliminate references to the United States Code relating to gun laws, making Ohio law the standard in such cases. (Center Square) A federal appeals court has struck down a Maryland law requiring someone seeking to buy a handgun to obtain a state license. The state has two weeks to appeal. (Maryland Matters)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony last week on a bill that would ban drag shows from venues other than adult entertainment facilities. The bill would expand the definition of adult cabaret performances to include drag shows. (Ohio Capital Journal)

ABORTION: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed legislation codifying abortion rights into state law and repealing requirements that abortion clinics are licensed as freestanding surgical centers. Whitmer has yet to sign a bill that would void a 92-year old abortion ban in state law. (Detroit News)

In Politics & Business

WEST VIRGINIA: A new American Pulse poll shows Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) leading the field of candidates vying to replace Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is running for U.S. Senate. Morrisey takes 31%, followed by Del. Moore Capito (R) at 23%, Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) at 14% and auto dealer Chris Miller (R) at 10%. (WOWK TV)

GEORGIA: Legislators return for a special session this week to redraw state legislative district lines, after a court ordered lawmakers to create two new majority-Black Senate districts in south Atlanta. The court also ordered five new majority-Black state House districts be created in Atlanta and Macon, and one new majority-Black U.S. House district around Atlanta. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

MICHIGAN: Gov. Whitmer has scheduled special primary elections in January and general elections in April to fill two Metro Detroit state House seats that Democrats are likely to win. The incumbents will resign to take mayoral seats they won in this month’s elections, temporarily leaving the state House in a 54-54 tie. (Detroit News)

PENNSYLVANIA: Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer (D) will run for Attorney General in 2024. He joins state Rep. Jared Solomon (D), former Auditor Eugene DePasquale (D), former prosecutor Joe Kahn (D) and defense lawyer Keir Bradford-Grey (D) in the Democratic primary. York County District Attorney Dave Sunday (R) and former prosecutor Katayoun Copeland (R) are running on the Republican side. (Associated Press)

CONNECTICUT: The shadow race to replace Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is beginning to play out behind the scenes, as Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz (D) is asking supporters for formal pledges. Attorney General William Tong (D), Comptroller Sean Scanlon (D) and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin (D) are considering bids too, though Lamont has not formally said he won’t seek a third term in 2026. (Hartford Courant)

CALIFORNIA: Assembly Majority Leader Isaac Bryan (D) has been ousted in a big leadership shakeup. Speaker Robert Rivas (D) tapped Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D) to replace Bryan. Rivas tapped Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D) to head the Appropriations Committee, and Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D) to lead the Budget Committee. (Sacramento Bee)

Close observers will recall Wicks was instrumental in elevating Rivas to the Speaker’s chair in a deal that sidelined former Speaker Anthony Rendon (D).

By The Numbers

84%: The share of state Departments of Transportation and public works agencies that are short of the number of snow plow drivers they need, according to a report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The average snowplow operator makes $23.49 an hour. (Pluribus News)

10: The number of states (plus the District of Columbia) where fewer than 5% of residents do not have health insurance. Those states — Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Iowa, Rhode Island, Minnesota, New Hamsphrei, Michigan and New York — have all expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. (Vox)

$9,430,642: The amount Rhode Island residents spent on recreational and medical marijuana in October, just below the record set in September. Recreational stores have sold $34.3 million in pot products since retail sales began in December. (Providence Journal)

Off The Wall

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2023: Authentic. Peter Sokolowski, the dictionary’s editor at large, said lookups for the word were consistently high over the year. The runners up: “X,” “EGOT,” and “Elemental,” after the new Pixar film came out. (Associated Press)

How popular are Ozempic, Wegovy and other weight-loss medications? Popular enough that they’re costing state governments millions more than expected. In Delaware, the state health insurance fund is $15 million in the hole — a deficit officials say is tied to the weight-loss medications. One state official said the state spent more than $7 million on the drugs, more than three times what they anticipated. (Delaware Public Media)

Quote of the Day

“They’re once again playing a game — and winning the game — of discount chicken, where they wait for retailers to discount to where they feel most comfortable.”

Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce, on consumer spending habits during the holiday sales period. Consumer spending was up 5.5% on Thanksgiving Day, to $5.6 billion. (Associated Press)