For overworked legislative staffers and lawmakers, there are no sweeter words than sine die. From the Latin for “without a day,” it marks the official end of a legislative session.
In most states, lawmakers just pack up and go home. But a few states have special traditions to mark the occasion: In Florida, the House Speaker and Senate President meet in the Capitol rotunda to drop a handkerchief. The Georgia Speaker and lieutenant governor drop handkerchiefs from their respective podiums.
Oregon and Washington legislative leaders pound their gavels at the same time. In Hawaii, the legislature meets in joint session to hear a traditional Hawaiian song. In Connecticut, lawmakers meet to hear the Secretary of State shout “Oyez, oyez, oyez.”
However you celebrate, for those of you who have just gone through the arduous final days of session, happy sine die.
Here are eight things legislatures did this week that you might have missed:
TECHNOLOGY: The Connecticut Senate unanimously approved a bill requiring state agencies to inventory artificial intelligence tools they use and to create AI policies. A new state working group would develop an artificial intelligence bill of rights to recommend best practices. (CT Mirror)
Expect many more states to tackle AI in the coming years. The emergence of ChatGPT and other tools has spooked some lawmakers, but there’s no clear consensus about how to move forward yet.
The Connecticut House has approved legislation regulating owners of virtual crypto kiosks — known as crypto ATMs. The bill would allow first-time crypto investors to cancel their transactions within 72 hours and limit investments to $2,500 per customer. (Middletown Press)
Campaigns to approve youth digital privacy legislation in several states are running into stiff opposition from legacy media outlets, concerned that such laws could significantly impact their business models. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has lobbied against Minnesota’s version of the legislation, while the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association helped kill a bill in Maryland. (Pluribus News)
HEALTH CARE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a measure allowing health care providers to refuse to provide services based on moral, ethical or religious beliefs. The bill gives providers immunity from liability over denied care. (Panama City News Herald)
IMMIGRATION: DeSantis signed legislation making it a felony to transport more than five undocumented people and requiring hospitals to report data on the immigration status of their patients. (Pluribus News, Orlando Sentinel) The Texas House has approved a bill creating a new border policing unit and sending $100 million to border communities for detention centers, courts and security. (Texas Tribune)
ENVIRONMENT: Minnesota is on the brink of passing the nation’s toughest ban on “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, as a House-Senate conference committee negotiates final details. Gov. Tim Walz (D) is expected to sign the bill. (Associated Press) The Alaska Senate unanimously approved a bill ending the use of firefighting foams that use PFAS chemicals. Those foams are mostly used around airports. (Alaska Beacon)
ABORTION: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has signed legislation expanding protections and access to reproductive care. One bill protects health care providers from being forced to cooperate with out-of-state investigators, and another restricts crisis pregnancy centers that seek to dissuade patients from receiving abortions. (VT Digger, Burlington Free Press)
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Saturday will veto an abortion ban the legislature passed last week. He is targeting four Republican legislators, only one of whom would be needed to uphold his veto. (Carolina Journal)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) signed legislation banning transgender students from bathrooms that align with their gender identity and barring schools from adopting policies requiring staff to address stunts by preferred gender pronouns that do not match their sex at birth. (Fargo Forum)
The Louisiana House has passed a bill requiring school employees to use names and pronouns on a student’s birth certificate, unless parents provide written permission to do otherwise. (Baton Rouge Advocate)
MARIJUANA: The New Hampshire Senate has rejected a House-passed bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use. One Democrat voted to kill the bill, while one Republican voted in favor. (WMUR)
The cannabis company Trulieve has dumped another $8 million into a Florida ballot measure campaign to legalize recreational marijuana, bringing their total investment to $38.5 million. Supporters have gathered 786,702 signatures out of the 891,523 they need to qualify for the November 2024 ballot. (The Capitolist)
POLITICS: Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz (D) will run for governor next year, she said Wednesday. She joins Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) in the race to replace retiring Gov. Jay Inslee (D). (Seattle Times)
In North Carolina, ex-U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R) is expected to announce later this month he will run for governor, joining Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) and Treasurer Dale Folwell (R) in the race. (Carolina Journal) The winner of the GOP primary is likely to face Attorney General Josh Stein (D).
In New Jersey, U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D) has signed veteran strategist Michael Soliman as he considers a 2025 bid for governor. (New Jersey Globe) Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (D) is already in the race, while U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D), former Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D), Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (D) and teacher’s union chief Sean Spiller are all meeting with party leaders to talk about the race.
The measure is meant to get ahead of a potential vote in November on an amendment that would codify abortion rights. We wrote about the broader trend of restricting citizen initiatives here.