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Pluribus AM: Begun, the AI wars have

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Good morning, it’s Thursday, February 22, 2024. In today’s edition, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky move AI legislation; Louisiana lawmakers plan parole crackdown; Wisconsin Dems aim to overturn U.S. House maps:

Top Stories

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Connecticut Sen. James Maroney (D) has filed legislation regulating AI while positioning the state to attract new industry investment. The measure, to be filed today, will require users of AI systems to implement risk management policies and conduct annual reviews to check for discrimination. Consumers would be notified when AI is used to make consequential decisions related to employment, housing or health care. (Pluribus News)

Long-time readers will remember Maroney’s name: He heads an interstate working group on AI, and he joined us back in October to talk about AI legislation.

MORE: Georgia’s House of Representatives will vote today on legislation banning deepfakes related to politics within 90 days of an election. The bill would create a new felony if deepfakes are intended to influence a candidate’s chance of being elected. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) A Kentucky Senate committee advanced legislation to allow political candidates who appear in manipulated media to bring legal action against the sponsor of such deepfakes. (Kentucky Lantern)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: The Louisiana legislature is considering a bill to eliminate parole for most prisoners. Other legislation would limit the amount of time by which sentences could be reduced for good behavior, and eliminate opportunities for post-conviction plea deals. (Associated Press)

ABORTION: The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s hospital has suspended IVF treatments after a state Supreme Court ruling declared frozen embryos are children. The court ruled that an 1872 law allowing civil lawsuits for the deaths of children applied to frozen embryos. (Alabama Reflector) Florida’s House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation extending the state’s Wrongful Death Act to unborn children, allowing parents to seek compensation. (Florida Politics)

GUN POLITICS: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) has unveiled legislation to expand background checks for firearm purchases, increase the number of crisis receiving centers and allow law enforcement to seek protective custody warrants if they believe someone with weapons poses a risk to themselves and others. The bill has support from top Democrats in the House and Senate. (Spectrum)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Maryland lawmakers are moving to bar the state from participating in criminal investigations or lawsuits that other states might bring against health care professionals who provide gender-affirming care to transgender patients. The bill also protects therapists who provide mental health services. (Baltimore Sun) A South Carolina Senate subcommitee has approved legislation banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors. (SC Daily Gazette)

EDUCATION: Georgia Senate committees approved legislation to ban sexually explicit books from school libraries, bar sex education for younger students and display the Ten Commandments in classrooms. The legislation would also allow religious chaplains to counsel teachers and students. (Associated Press)

LITIGATION: The Florida House will take up legislation to lower the threshold for defamation, after a third committee approved the measure on Wednesday. The bill would allow someone to sue a news organization if that organization publishes a false statement from an anonymous source. (Florida Politics)

The bill, advanced by allies of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), has earned fierce opposition from conservative news outlets like Newsmax.

PUBLIC HEALTH: The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee approved legislation eliminating vaccine requirements for students at private and parochial schools. The legislation also applies to students at public virtual schools. (WV Metro News) The Idaho House unanimously voted to legalize fentanyl test strips. (Idaho Press)

In Politics & Business

WISCONSIN: Gov. Tony Evers (D) has asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider the state’s congressional district boundaries, after the court ordered new legislative district boundaries. The Wisconsin Elections Commission says any new maps must be in place by March 15 to take effect for 2024. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

NORTH DAKOTA: Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has endorsed Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller (R) to replace him. Miller faces U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R) in the Republican primary. (Fargo Forum)

ARIZONA: Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) has sued the IRS to block the agency’s decision to tax rebates received by nearly 750,000 families in the state. Mayes is seeking an injunction to block the IRS from taxing those rebates. (Arizona Republic)

PEOPLE: Rhode Island Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D) has died after a battle with bladder cancer. He was 65. Lombardo chaired the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government. (Boston Globe) Our condolences to the Rhode Island legislative family.

By The Numbers

15.2%: The share of U.S. workers who worked from home in 2022, down from a pandemic-era peak of 17.9%, but still nearly three times as high as the 5.7% who worked from home before the pandemic. (Census Bureau)

35%: The increase, since August, in the number of 18 year olds who are registered to vote in Ohio. Despite the spike, more than two-thirds of Ohio 18 year olds have not yet registered to vote. (Ohio Capital Journal)

96%: The snowpack, compared to average, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Snowstorms in January and February boosted snowpack from just 10% of average at the beginning of the year. (Colorado Sun)

Off The Wall

China said Thursday it had signed agreements to send pandas to the San Diego Zoo, after most pandas on loan to the U.S. were recalled over international tensions. China is in talks with the National Zoo in D.C. to replace its pandas, too. (AFP)

Indiana is a step closer to happy hour. The Senate approved legislation Wednesday repealing a nearly 40-year old ban on drink discounts. The bill would also allow restaurants to sell carry-out alcohol. (Indianapolis Star)

A New York City man caught with three Burmese pythons in his pants as he crossed the Canadian border has been sentenced to a year of probation and a $5,000 fine. Importing Burmese pythons is regulated by international treaty and by federal regulations that list them as “injurious” to humans. (Associated Press)

The jokes write themselves.

Quote of the Day

“Bro, you will make some mistakes, but don’t kill yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let other people define you. Stay focused on your faith, understand who you are, you’ll be fine.”

Virginia House Speaker Don Scott (D), on the advice he would give his younger self. Scott served seven years of a ten-year sentence on federal drug charges in the 1990s. (Pluribus News)