Good morning, it’s Monday, February 5, 2024. In today’s edition, winter storms slam California; New Mexico advances paid leave bill; Utah Gov leads GOP primary challengers:
Lawmakers in Oklahoma and Oregon return to work today. Welcome back!
WINTER STORMS: Officials warned of life-threatening damage and issued evacuation orders in parts of five Southern California counties as a massive atmospheric river hit the state Sunday. Los Angeles could receive up to six inches of rain, and Mayor Karen Bass (D) urged people to stay off the roads. (Los Angeles Times) Nearly a million people were without power late Sunday. (Weather Channel)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Minnesota lawmakers are expected to take up bills this year to end mandatory five-year sentences for felony gun possession, ban traffic stops for minor offenses and open more police disciplinary records. The legislature may also consider ending cash bail, top Democratic lawmakers said. (Minnesota Reformer)
GUN POLITICS: The South Carolina Senate voted to advance a measure allowing gun owners to carry firearms without a permit, while increasing penalties for felons caught in possession of a weapon. The felon-in-possession provision is a top priority for Gov. Henry McMaster (R) and the state’s Sheriff’s Association. (South Carolina Daily Gazette)
South Carolina would be the 28th state with so-called “constitutional carry” laws on the books.
PAID LEAVE: The New Mexico Senate Finance Committee advanced a program creating a paid family and medical leave plan. The bill would give employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave, with payments beginning in 2026 and leave provisions starting in 2027. (Santa Fe New Mexican)
Similar legislation failed last year.
EDUCATION: South Dakota lawmakers will consider legislation setting a minimum teacher’s salary at $45,000 a year, increasing every year based on “target” salary limits set by the legislature. Lawmakers said they were moved to act after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) asked her legislature to raise starting teacher pay to $50,000 a year. (South Dakota Searchlight)
MORE: A bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill to create a 529 college savings plan for every child born or adopted in the state. The account would be seeded with $25. An estimated 60,000 kids would be covered every year. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
HEALTH CARE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) plans to call for increased funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in her budget proposal. The clinics help increase access to mental health care regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. Whitmer said her budget would focus on increasing access to substance use disorder services. (Michigan Advance)
MORE: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said the state will erase $1 billion in medical debt, using a $6.5 million pot of federal Covid-era money to purchase debt at steep discounts. The relief will apply to about 250,000 residents who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level. (Hartford Courant)
In Politics & Business
UTAH: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) holds a wide lead over potential Republican rivals ahead of his re-election bid this year. A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll found Cox taking 50% of the GOP primary vote. Retired Marine Scott Robbins (R) takes 5%, while Rep. Phil Lyman (R), former state GOP chair Carson Jorgensen (R) and business owner Sylvia Miera-Fisk (R) take 3% each. (Deseret News)
NEW MEXICO: A state House committee advanced legislation on Friday to make it a felony to submit fake elector certificates in a presidential election. New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez (D) said last month he would not prosecute local Republicans who had signed fake elector certificates during the 2020 election because he didn’t have the authority to do so. (Associated Press)
WISCONSIN: The state Supreme Court has ordered elections officials to add U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) to the Democratic presidential primary ballot. Phillips had sued after the state Board of Elections left him off the ballot after a Jan. 2 meeting. (Associated Press)
OHIO: Supporters of a ballot measure to end photo identification requirements at the ballot box, expand the number of drop boxes and allow automatic voter registration sued Attorney General Dave Yost (R) for allegedly delaying their proposed initiative. The group sued after Yost rejected their proposed language. (Columbus Dispatch)
PEOPLE: Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic (D) will step down from her leadership post after doctors told her last week that ovarian cancer she beat last year had returned. (MPR News)
Our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
By The Numbers
3: The number of consecutive months in which Kansas tax receipts have come in below expectations. Officials cited unexpected softness in sales tax, individual and corporate income taxes as the culprits. (Kansas Reflector)
1,591: The number of AI-related patent applications IBM has filed over the last five years, topping Google, Microsoft, Samsung and other tech giants. OpenAI, the creators of ChatGPT, filed just one patent application over that period. (Axios)
Off The Wall
New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles rejected more than 3,000 vanity license plate requests last year. Among our favorites: “SIDECHIX,” “SMDH,” “C4NCERSX” and “POTTYGUY.” (WGRZ)
Who asks for these things?!?
The 2026 World Cup final will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, after the venue beat out the Dallas Cowboys’ home field in Texas. AT&T Stadium in Texas and Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta will host the semifinal games. The cup will be jointly hosted by the U.S., Canada and Mexico; 78 of 104 matches will be played in the U.S. (Associated Press)
Quote of the Day
“He’s got, like, Red Bull running through his veins or something.”
— California Sen. Angelique Ashby (D), on incoming Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire (D), who formally takes over leadership duties from outgoing Sen. Toni Atkins (D) today. (Sacramento Bee)