Catch up quick: 6 things you missed this week in the states

Legislators are taking their time to understand AI — and they assume Congress won’t act.
The ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, May 18, 2023.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

As Americans play around with ChatGPT and other new artificial intelligence products, state legislators have begun to consider how they should address the nascent industry — whether they should court AI businesses, or put guardrails on AI’s use in public.

Those legislators are clear about one thing: They — like the rest of us — don’t yet fully grasp what AI technology is.

“The primary thing we’re going to do in 2024 is become familiar with the topic,” South Carolina state Rep. Jeff Bradley (R), the chairman of a new committee in his state to look into AI technology, told us in a recent interview.

We’ve heard similar sentiments from lawmakers who are involved in an interstate working group led by Connecticut Sen. James Maroney (D).

It’s rare that some new product or industry comes along that demands a whole new set of regulations. Even a product like legal marijuana has an analog set of regulations, in alcohol. When it comes to AI, legislators are going to have to write a completely new set of rules.

And while no one has a clear idea where those rules are going yet, most legislators are working off at least one common assumption: That the action is going to come from the states, not from the least productive Congress in modern times.

Here are six things you missed in the states this week:

SOCIAL MEDIA: A top tech industry group on Monday sued Utah over new legislation requiring social media companies to obtain parental consent before their kids open accounts. The group, NetChoice, alleges the Utah law violates free speech rights and federal law. (Pluribus News)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will introduce legislation to restrict minors from TikTok, the popular social media company. The ban is part of Youngkin’s Right Help, Right Now plan to overhaul his state’s youth mental health system. Youngkin has also asked lawmakers to bar social media companies from targeting youth for advertising purposes. (Pluribus News)

Google agreed to pay $700 million in a settlement with all 50 state attorneys general over charges it stifled competition in its Google Play App Store. Google agreed to let developers offer alternative in-app payment systems alongside Google Play, along with a handful of other changes. About 90% of the settlement money will be returned to consumers. (The Verge)

IMMIGRATION: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed legislation creating a state crime of illegally crossing the border from Mexico, and another bill earmarking $1.5 billion for construction of a border fence. The bill creating a state-level immigration crime, which could lead to up to six months in jail, is likely to set off a legal battle with the federal government. (Texas Tribune)

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) has deployed members of the National Guard to the southern border to assist law enforcement agencies dealing with a surge of migrants. Hobbs said the Biden administration “has refused to deliver desperately needed resources to Arizona’s border.” (Arizona Republic)

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)

GUN POLITICS: Virginia Democrats will consider measures to ban assault weapons and large-capacity magazines, and to create liability for gun owners when a minor uses their firearm to commit a crime or to bring a weapon to school. Democrats will control majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly next year. (WVTF)

REPARATIONS: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation creating a committee to study potential reparations for the descendants of enslaved people. The nine-member panel, with appointees chosen by the governor and legislative leaders, will submit a report and recommendations to the legislature within a year. (State of Politics)

POLITICS: Ohio Supreme Court Justice Joe Deters (R) will challenge Justice Melody Stewart (D) in the 2024 elections instead of running for re-election to his own seat. Deters, appointed to the job by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) last year, would help solidify the GOP’s 4-3 majority on the high court. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

In Florida, abortion rights backers say they will submit 1.4 million signatures to qualify a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing access. Florida elections officials have until Feb. 1 to verify signatures toward the  891,523 valid signatures required to qualify for the ballot. Those officials have already verified 753,762 signatures as valid, all but guaranteeing the measure will appear in November. (Orlando Sentinel)