Pluribus AM: Wisconsin goes to pot

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, December 21, 2023. We’re taking tomorrow off — we hope you have a merry Christmas! In today’s edition, Wisconsin GOP to pursue medical marijuana; Texas flies migrants to Chicago; court strikes down California gun law:

Top Stories

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MARIJUANA: Wisconsin Republicans plan to introduce legislation next year to legalize medical marijuana, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said Wednesday. Vos said Wisconsin’s bill will be modeled on Minnesota’s medical program. Republicans have resisted calls from Gov. Tony Evers (D) to legalize both medical and recreational pot. (Associated Press)

ABORTION: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Vos said he wants to put a proposal to ban abortion after 12 to 15 weeks on the ballot, after a circuit court judge ruled an 1849 state law did not bar abortions. Abortion is currently legal through 20 weeks of pregnancy in Wisconsin. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Associated Press)

IMMIGRATION: Texas has flown 120 migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Chicago, the first such flight organized by Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) office. The Abbott administration has bused about 80,000 migrants to Democratic-led cities since last year. (Associated Press)

GUN POLITICS: A federal judge has blocked a new California law that would ban carrying firearms in most public places, including parks, playgrounds, churches and banks. The judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, said the law defied recent precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Alabama Sen. April Weaver (R) will introduce legislation next year to make porch piracy a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. “The Grinch may steal Christmas in Whoville, but if this bill and its prison penalties are passed by the legislature, he won’t do it in Alabama,” Weaver said. (Yellowhammer News) The California Assembly’s new committee on retail theft met for the first time this week. (Sacramento Bee)

ENVIRONMENT: The Oregon Court of Appeals has struck down the state’s Climate Protection Program that requires increasing cuts in emissions from utilities, finding the rule-making board did not meet disclosure requirements when implementing new rules. The court did not rule on substantive arguments about the program itself. (Oregonian)

CHILD CARE: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said Wednesday the state will invest $100 million in child care programs, including a $50 million tax credit to incentivize businesses to provide child care services for employees. The other $50 million will go toward grants for construction of new child care centers and expansions of existing centers. (State of Politics)

In Politics & Business

TRUMP: California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) has called on Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) to explore legal options to kick former President Donald Trump off the 2024 ballot, following the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling on Tuesday. A lawsuit challenging Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause is set for a hearing Jan. 8. (Sacramento Bee) Massachusetts Secretary of State Bill Galvin (D) said Trump will remain on the Bay State ballot. (Boston Globe)

Challenges to Trump’s eligibility are pending in 15 other states. Lawsuits in Michigan, Oregon, New Jersey and Wisconsin have been filed in state court. Lawsuits in 11 other states — including swing states Arizona and Nevada — have been filed in federal district courts. (New York Times)

VIRGINIA: The pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List has endorsed U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) for governor in 2025. (Augusta Free Press) Spanberger faces Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D), and potentially other candidates, in the Democratic primary.

LOUISIANA: Gov.-elect Jeff Landry (R) has tapped former U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) to lead the Department of Health. Abraham, a doctor, left Congress in 2021 to comply with his pledge to serve only three terms. (News Star)

ARIZONA: Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer (R) is suing former gubernatorial nominee and current U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake (R) for defamation, accusing Lake and her associates of spreading false information about Richer after the 2022 elections, which Lake lost. A Maricopa County judge rejected Lake’s efforts to dismiss the case on Wednesday. (Arizona Republic)

By The Numbers

More than 128,000: The number of Mainers who have been without power for four days, after a devastating wind and rainstorm blew through the state on Monday. Almost half of residents in Kennebec County are without power. (Portland Press Herald)

About $28,000: What the McCallisters’ trip to Paris in the 1990 film “Home Alone” would cost today. The flight for 15 people, including four first class tickets, would have cost at least $25,200 — even though airfare has dropped 33% over the last three decades. (Washington Post)

59%: The decline in member fees collected by the National Rifle Association between 2016 and 2022, according to tax records. The $83 million the NRA collected in member dues in 2022 was the lowest it collected since at least 2008. (Daily Beast)

Off The Wall

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias (D) has unveiled the annual list of vanity license plates his office rejected for obscenity or defamatory language this year. Among the printable rejects: “WOOPASS,” “POOPSY” and “IOWASUX.” (WAND)

Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher (R) took over an office previously reserved for the chairman of the House Budget Committee, prime real estate Plocher turned into a makeshift storage room packed with liquor, beer, wine and soda. Plocher spent about $29,000 on new furniture for his office and the new space. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Quote of the Day

“The primary thing we’re going to do in 2024 is become familiar with the topic.”

South Carolina Rep. Jeff Bradley (R), chair of a newly formed committee exploring artificial intelligence. (Pluribus News)