One of the things we love most about covering state policy is the rhythm of the legislative year. In January, we were writing lots about Iowa’s explosion out of the gate. In February, Georgia was all the rage. By March and April, our attention turned to Florida and New York.
These days, lawmakers in Texas and Minnesota are wrapping up work — and they’re moving fast. Just this week, Minnesota legislators passed gun legislation, paid family leave bills, a measure legalizing recreational marijuana and a bill creating a public health care option. Texas lawmakers are teeing up a busy week next week as they prepare for sine die.
As we always like to say, there are 500 reporters in the Capitol chasing a few stories. We’re the few reporters who get to chase 500 stories around the country. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Speaking of never-ending firehoses, here are eight stories you might have missed this week:
TECHNOLOGY: Lawmakers in California and Connecticut are the first to consider regulations for artificial intelligence programs and products. Legislation advancing in California focuses on private sector use of AI decision-making tools, while a bill that passed the Connecticut Senate aims to regulate government use of AI products. (Pluribus News)
Observation from a smart Friend of Pluribus: ChatGPT, the program that brought AI to the fore, emerged too late to be a driving factor in this year’s legislative sessions. Watch for every state to consider AI legislation next year.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed first-in-the-nation legislation to ban TikTok from all devices, public and private, across the state. The law would bar Apple and Google app stores from offering TikTok in the app. The law is certain to be challenged in court before it takes effect in January. (Pluribus News)
DISRUPTION: Uber is lobbying against an Illinois bill that would extend “common carrier” safety standards to ride share companies, the same standards that exist for taxis, trains and airplanes. The standards would hold ride share companies liable for harm that happens to a passenger. (WTTW) Uber is also lobbying against Minnesota legislation that would guarantee drivers minimum pay rates and protections against being “deactivated.” The bill’s sponsor says Gov. Tim Walz (D) has pledged to sign it. (Minnesota Reformer)
HEALTH CARE: The Minnesota House is considering legislation to create an Obamacare-style public health insurance option in the waning days of session. The state Senate has already approved the bill. (Pluribus News)
The New Hampshire House has approved legislation making permanent the state’s Medicaid expansion program. Lawmakers first expanded Medicaid in 2014, with a sunset date. (Associated Press)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors, expanding a prohibition on classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity through 8th grade, banning minors from drag shows and requiring transgender people to use bathroom facilities that conform to their sex at birth. (Pluribus News)
The Texas Senate gave final approval to a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors, sending the bill to Gov. Greg Abbott (R). (Texas Tribune)
ABORTION: North Carolina lawmakers successfully overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of legislation banning abortion after 12 weeks. None of the four lawmakers Cooper targeted voted to sustain his veto. (Pluribus News) Montana Gov. Gianforte (R) has signed legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order. (Montana Free Press)
The South Carolina House adopted legislation that would ban most abortions after six weeks, after Republicans voted down more than 900 Democratic amendments. The state Senate must now vote on the measure. (Associated Press)
EDUCATION: Florida Gov. DeSantis (R) has signed legislation prohibiting public colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The bill also gives university presidents the authority to hire and fire faculty, removing those decisions from faculty committees. (Pluribus News, Florida Politics)
ENVIRONMENT: Montana Gov. Gianforte (R) has signed a bill banning state agencies from considering the impacts of climate change when analyzing proposed coal mines and power plants. (Montana Free Press)
The Michigan Senate approved legislation allowing state agencies to impose environmental regulations that are stricter than federal standards. The bill overturns a rule enacted under former Gov. Rick Snyder (R). (Michigan Advance)
POLITICS: Kentucky Republicans nominated Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) as their pick to take on Gov. Andy Beshear (D) in November. Cameron took 48% of the vote, easily besting Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (R) at 22%. Former Ambassador Kelly Craft (R), who spent millions of her own dollars, finished a distant third. (Pluribus News)
Democrats and Republicans split victories in two Pennsylvania special elections on Tuesday, reaffirming the one-seat Democratic majority in the state House. In a Delaware County seat that Republicans had recently held, and where Democrats spent more than $1 million, state Rep.-elect Heather Boyd (D) beat out Republican Katie Ford by a 21-point margin. (Philadelphia Inquirer)