Sometimes, the shortest weeks are the busiest. Thus it was this week, as lawmakers wrapped up sessions in several states across the country, debating long into the night and passing last-minute bills that will have ramifications for years to come.
Here are 6 things states did this week that you might have missed:
TECHNOLOGY: The Texas legislature unanimously passed a comprehensive data privacy bill in the final hours of session. The bill places restrictions on the sale and processing of personal data and gives consumers the right to access information a company has about them. (Pluribus News) Texas is the fifth state to pass a digital privacy law this year.
The Louisiana House Commerce Committee has approved a bill requiring social media companies to verify the ages of new users, modeled on Utah’s version. The Louisiana version would require social media giants to verify the ages of those who are under 16. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
The California Senate voted Wednesday to approve a 15% tax on short-term vacation rentals offered by companies like AirBnB and VRBO, money that will go toward a state fund to build affordable housing. The measure would exempt hotel stays. AirBnB, opposing the bill, said it collected nearly $200 million in tourism taxes in California last year. (Pluribus News)
A first-of-its-kind proposal likely coming to more blue states next year.
LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Texas legislature gave final approval to a measure criminalizing performers who put on sexually explicit shows in front of children and the businesses that host those performances. The bill does not explicitly restrict drag shows, but opponents say it targets drag queens by prohibiting “accessories or prosthetics” that exaggerate sexual characteristics. (Texas Tribune)
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has signed legislation banning transgender women from female sports teams in college. The state already has a ban on transgender athletes participating in K-12 sports. (AL.com) South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has sent a letter to the state Board of Regents asking them to prohibit enforcement of preferred pronouns and prohibiting drag shows on campus. (Los Angeles Blade) New York lawmakers are considering bills to mandate teaching LGBTQ history in public school curriculum. (NY State of Politics)
The Louisiana Senate has revived legislation to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth, a week after the Senate Health and Welfare Committee killed the bill by a one-vote margin. The full Senate voted Thursday to send the bill to the Judiciary Committee instead. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
GUN POLITICS: The Texas legislature approved a school safety measure that requires an armed security officer at every school and compels school districts to create active-shooter plans. (Texas Tribune) The Louisiana Senate will vote on a bill to offer $500 tax credits for gun owners who purchase safes, locks and other safety devices. The bill won bipartisan approval in the state House. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has allowed legislation requiring safe storage of firearms, a 72-hour waiting period for gun purchases and an expanded red flag law to take effect without his signature. Scott said he was concerned that the waiting period provisions would be unconstitutional. (VTDigger)
MARIJUANA: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) formally signed legislation legalizing recreational marijuana, making his the 23rd state to do so. (Pluribus News, Minneapolis Star Tribune) An effort to legalize recreational pot in New Hampshire is dead, again, after a House committee failed to reach agreement on a state-control model. (WMUR)
A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana has gathered enough signatures to make the ballot in 2024, Florida’s Department of State reported. Supporters have turned in 967,528 valid signatures, 70,000 more than required. The state Supreme Court must rule on a challenge from Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) before the measure formally qualifies. (Politico)
WORKFORCE: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has ordered state agencies to eliminate college degree requirements from the vast majority of state jobs. Youngkin said about 90% of state jobs will no longer require a college degree. Virginia has about 1,100 open full-time jobs posted on an internal jobs board. (Pluribus News)
Youngkin follows Republican and Democratic governors of Alaska, Maryland, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Utah who have sought to address a state workforce crisis by expanding access to jobs. We wrote about those moves back in February.
Minnesota legislators included a provision in the state budget that will ban companies from enforcing noncompete agreements on their employees. Minnesota is the fourth state to adopt such a measure, after California, North Dakota and Oklahoma. (MinnPost)
The California Senate has approved a bill raising the minimum wage for health care workers to $25 an hour. The bill would apply to all workers at covered facilities, including support staff, who are directly or indirectly involved in patient care. (Sacramento Bee)
POLITICS: New Hampshire Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington (D) has become the first Democrat to enter the race for governor in 2024. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (D) is expected to enter the race soon. (WMUR) Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is expected to decide whether to run for re-election or to seek the White House later this month.
A Hinds County Circuit Court judge has ordered Bob Hickingbottom (D) back on the ballot after the state Democratic Party blocked him from running for governor. Hickingbottom will face Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) in the Aug. 8 primary. (Supertalk)
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has appointed former Secretary of State John Scott to serve as interim attorney general, while Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) awaits a trial in the state Senate. Scott served as a deputy AG when Abbott himself was attorney general. (Texas Tribune)