Pluribus AM: California considers reparations

Good morning, it’s Thursday, February 1, 2024. In today’s edition, how the tech industry shaped digital privacy laws; Massachusetts tackles gun safety package; California becomes first state to consider reparations:

Top Stories

DIGITAL PRIVACY: Data privacy laws adopted in more than a dozen states were overly influenced by tech industry lobbyists and do not add robust protections for consumers, advocacy groups say in a new report out this morning. All but one of the 14 comprehensive data privacy laws passed in recent years borrow from a Virginia sample bill written by tech lobbyists. (Pluribus News)

GUN POLITICS: The Massachusetts Senate will vote today on sweeping gun legislation that includes requiring serial numbers on gun frames and receivers and bans so-called “ghost guns.” The bill is similar to the one the House passed in October. The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, long an opponent of gun reform legislation, backs the Senate version. (Boston Globe)

MORE: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) outlined a package of gun control measures in her State of the State address, including proposals to expand background checks to private and advertised gun sales, creating a network of crisis prevention centers and altering extreme risk protection order laws. The proposals come after a mass shooting in Lewiston claimed 18 lives. (Maine Public Radio)

Influential gun rights groups in Maine expressed moderate praise for the legislation, an important factor in a state that has historically backed gun rights.

REPARATIONS: California’s Legislative Black Caucus unveiled a package of 14 bills meant to provide reparations for the descendants of slaves, including measures to restore property seized through discriminatory practices, financial aid for redlined communities and criminal justice reforms. The package does not include any measures that would provide direct monetary compensation. (CalMatters)

ANTISEMITISM: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed legislation Wednesday defining antisemitism in state hate crime and discrimination law. The new law allows for harsher criminal penalties against those who target victims because they are Jewish. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

We wrote about the Georgia bill, and broader state attempts to define antisemitism, last week.

SOCIAL MEDIA: The South Carolina House approved new legislation to require minors to get parental consent before opening a social media account. The bill is modeled on Louisiana legislation that is somewhat vague about how social media companies would verify user ages. The House also approved a measure requiring pornographic websites to verify user ages. (South Carolina Daily Gazette)

MORE: A Utah Senate committee has approved legislation requiring smartphones and tablets to automatically enable a filter on devices owned by minors to prevent children from seeing explicit material. A similar bill passed in 2021, but that measure wouldn’t go into effect until five other states went first. (Deseret News)

NCAA: Attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA challenging its ban on using name, image and likeness deals in recruiting college athletes. The NCAA is investigating the University of Tennessee for potential recruiting violations related to NIL deals. (Associated Press)

A reminder, the NCAA is also facing a separate suit from a large contingent of attorneys general challenging their transfer rules.

In Politics & Business

MAIL-IN VOTING: Republicans are challenging extended mail ballot deadlines in Mississippi and North Dakota, in legal cases that could have widespread impacts this year. If federal judges rule against deadlines for receiving ballots that stretch past Election Day, similar challenges could emerge in swing states across the nation. (Associated Press)

MICHIGAN: The fundraising arms supporting House Democrats and House Republicans each hauled in more than $1 million in the final quarter of 2023, according to new campaign finance documents. Republicans ended the year with $4.2 million in the bank, while Democrats banked $3.5 million. (Detroit News)

MISSOURI: House Speaker Dean Plocher (R) fired his legislative director on Wednesday, the latest exit in the face of an ethics investigation into Plocher’s use of taxpayer dollars. FBI agents have interviewed several individuals about Plocher’s spending. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

ARIZONA: State Rep. Leezah Sun (D) resigned from the House on Wednesday just before legislators were set to vote on whether to expel her from office. The House Ethics Committee found this week that Sun had engaged in disorderly behavior when she allegedly threatened violence against a lobbyist. (Associated Press)

FLORIDA: A federal judge dismissed Disney’s lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his administration claiming retaliation for the company’s public opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Disney said it would continue to fight the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Entertainment District, the government entity it had controlled for half a century before DeSantis replaced it with allies. (Spectrum News)

By The Numbers

$158.5 million: The amount Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and supportive super PACs spent on his presidential campaign through the end of 2023, according to campaign finance documents filed late Wednesday. The two groups raised about $180 million – the difference was probably spent between the end of the year and the Iowa caucuses. (Orlando Sentinel)

$24 billion: The size of a new industry of hemp-derived intoxicants, including delta-8 and delta-9, in food and vape products being sold at gas stations, vape shops and convenience stores. While states including Massachusetts has made their sale illegal, enforcement has been lax. (Boston Globe)

$23.1 million: The estimated damage and economic losses suffered by Hawaii farmers from August’s wildfires. The vast majority of the damage came on Maui, where fires killed at least 100 people. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

Off The Wall

In the midst of a conversation with students advocating for gun control legislation, Indiana Rep. Jim Lucas (R) flashed his own firearm, concealed under his sport coat. Lucas said he didn’t intend to intimidate the students – but it’s not the first time he’s done so. In 2019, Lucas showed off his firearm in a room full of constituents after another student asked about gun safety. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Minnesota’s fourth annual snowplow naming contest has a winner: Taylor Drift, a name that’s popped up elsewhere too. Other strong contenders: Beyonsleigh, You’re Killin’ Me Squalls and Fast and Flurrious. (Associated Press)

Quote of the Day

“We’ve been in the minority, so I mean, I think we still continue to be in the minority.”

Arizona House Minority Leader Lupe Contreras (D), on a number of seats left open by vacancies. (Arizona Republic)