A federal judge on Thursday struck down a new Montana law that was set to bar the popular video app TikTok from operating in the state, in a widely expected ruling that found the law likely violates the First Amendment.
This is becoming something of a theme: Legislatures around the country are trying to impose new guardrails on websites and social media companies — from age verification rules to privacy laws and content moderation guidelines. And then those laws run into the judicial system, where judges strike them down.
Since August, our colleague Austin Jenkins reports, federal judges have halted an Arkansas law requiring parental consent for teens to get a social media account, a California law aimed at protecting youth privacy online, and a Texas law mandating age verification for porn sites.
Lawmakers aren’t going to stop trying to regulate social media companies. But they haven’t yet found solutions that withstand legal scrutiny.
Here are eight other things you might have missed in the states this week:
ENVIRONMENT: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Tuesday signed a package of clean energy bills that will require utilities in the state to produce 100% carbon-free energy by 2040. One measure in the package will preempt localities from rejecting large wind and solar projects. Michigan is the 14th state to set 100% clean energy goals. (Pluribus News)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: An Ohio Senate committee will take up legislation barring physicians and mental health professionals from providing gender-affirming care to transgender minors. The bill, which has passed the House, specifically prohibits mental health professionals from diagnosing or treating a minor with a gender-related condition without the consent of both the child’s parents. (Pluribus News)
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)
New legislation filed in Florida would ban nonprofit groups or employers who receive state funding from requiring training on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, a major expansion of the state’s so-called “don’t say gay” law. The bill would prevent businesses from disciplining employees for refusing to use someone’s preferred pronouns. (Orlando Sentinel)
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)
HEALTH CARE: North Carolina has begun enrolling people in Medicaid after the legislature agreed earlier this year to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. State officials say about half the estimated 600,000 residents newly eligible for coverage will be enrolled by week’s end. (Associated Press)
HOUSING: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed legislation allocating $30 million in new rental assistance for low-income residents in the face of a wave of post-pandemic evictions. Polis also signed legislation creating a task force to study long-term fixes to rising property tax costs. (Greeley Tribune)
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) said she will make housing her highest priority in next year’s session. Kotek’s chief priority will be legislation putting $500 million into housing production, along with bills allocating $65 million to increase shelter capacity and $33 million to boost rental assistance. (Oregonian)
EDUCATION: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) will ask legislators to set up a new fund to offer as many as 20,000 students up to $7,000 each per year to pay for private and parochial schools. The funds would apply to students whose families make less than 300% of the federal poverty line, or about $90,000 a year for a family of four, and to 10,000 students in public schools. (Tennessee Lookout)
LABOR: Wisconsin labor unions filed a lawsuit Thursday in an attempt to overturn Act 10, the near-total ban on collective bargaining for most state employees signed in 2011 by then-Gov. Scott Walker (R). The lawsuit comes months after control of the state Supreme Court shifted to liberals. (Associated Press)
POLITICS: Georgia House and Senate committees voted Thursday to advance proposed new legislative district lines that would add Black-majority districts without imperiling GOP control over the chambers. Both maps could hit their respective floors on Friday. Republican lawmakers haven’t yet unveiled proposed changes to congressional district maps. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press)
Louisiana lawmakers will have until Jan. 30 to redraw congressional district lines after U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick gave them an extension from the original Jan. 15 deadline. The extension means Gov.-elect Jeff Landry (R) will have to call a special session shortly after he is inaugurated Jan. 8. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) has filed papers to run for Virginia governor in 2025, making him the second Democrat — along with U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) — to join the race. Stoney served in former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) administration before becoming the youngest mayor in Richmond history. (Washington Post)
New Jersey Assemblyman Brandon Umba (R) has conceded defeat to his Democratic challenger, Andrea Katz, after late ballots put Katz ahead by 216 votes out of more than 54,000 cast. Umba’s concession, in a traditionally Republican district, means New Jersey Democrats added six seats to their majority in the Assembly. (NJ Advance Media)
A new American Pulse poll shows West Virginia 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)