Pluribus AM: Conn. takes stab at AI regulations; Colo. Gov signs climate bills; DeSantis signs medical conscience bill

Good morning, it’s Friday, May 12, 2023. In today’s edition, Conn. takes stab at AI regulation; Colo. Gov signs climate bills; DeSantis signs medical conscience bill:

Top Stories

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) The Minnesota Senate approved a bill prohibiting the use of technology to depict sexual content or election misinformation, a bid to combat so-called “deepfakes.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

ENVIRONMENT: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a package of climate laws on Thursday setting the state on a path to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. One of the bills allocates $200 million in tax incentives to promote e-vehicle and clean energy initiatives. Another creates a 30% point-of-sale discount on electric lawn equipment and snowblowers. (Denver Post) The Vermont House overrode Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) veto of legislation requiring heating companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (VT Digger)

HOUSING: Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) is asking the legislature to approve an additional $432 million budget aimed at boosting housing supplies. The bill would spend $50 million on affordable housing, $12 million on homeless shelters and $31 million on an emergency medical system. (Spectrum)

HEALTH CARE: The Illinois Department of Public Health has approved a rule allowing women to get birth control directly from pharmacists, without first visiting their doctors. (Chicago Tribune) The Michigan Senate approved legislation allowing pharmacists to independently administer vaccines. (Detroit Free Press) 

MORE: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed a bill banning businesses and government agencies from requiring people to take Covid-19 tests or wear masks in their facilities. (Orlando Sentinel) DeSantis also 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)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has signed bipartisan legislation decriminalizing the use of fentanyl test strips. (Kansas Reflector) The Missouri legislature gave final approval to a bill banning texting while driving. (St. Louis Public Radio)

EDUCATION: The Alabama House approved a bill creating a pathway for college degree-holders to gain teaching certificates more easily. Alabama, like many states, faces a severe teacher shortage. (Yellowhammer News) The New Jersey Assembly Education Committee unanimously approved a dozen bills meant to recruit and train more teachers. Some of the bills provide stipends and expand loan forgiveness programs. (NJ Advance Media)

CIVIL RIGHTS: The California Senate voted overwhelmingly to outlaw caste discrimination, the first state in the nation to advance such a bill. The measure, introduced by state Sen. Aisha Wahab (D), the first Muslim and the first Afghan American elected to the legislature, would add caste as a protected category in state anti-discrimination laws. (Associated Press)

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)

New Hampshire Union Leader headline: “Legalizing pot bill goes up in smoke in Senate”

In Politics & Business

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The state Supreme Court heard a legal challenge to redrawn state Senate and Executive Council maps that Democrats allege unduly favor Republicans. Justices explored whether they have, or should have, a role in an inherently political process. (New Hampshire Union Leader)

FLORIDA: The cannabis company Trulieve has dumped another $8 million into a 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)

VIRGINIA: State Elections Commissioner Susan Beals has withdrawn Virginia from the Electronic Registration Information Center, the bipartisan coalition of states that work together to clean up voter rolls. Virginia joins several other Republican-led states that have pulled out of ERIC this year. (Virginia Mercury)

OREGON: The state Senate is taking a three-day break as Senate President Rob Wagner (D) negotiates with absent Republicans in an effort to end a nine-day walkout. If any Republican senators reach 10 unexcused absences, they will be disqualified from running for re-election under a constitutional amendment passed in 2022. (Oregon Capital Chronicle, Oregonian)

By The Numbers

35: The number of states that have fewer children than they did five years ago. California, Illinois and New Mexico experienced the steepest declines, while Idaho and North Dakota saw the largest increases in their child populations. (Idaho Capital Sun)

$29,766: The amount Vermont lawmakers will make in base pay beginning in 2027, a little more than twice what they earn now, under legislation the state House approved Thursday. (VT Digger)

262: The number of Washington State residents who have died of the flu during the 2022-2023 season, a five-fold increase over the last flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate as many as 57,000 Americans have died of flu this year. (Washington Department of Health)

Some perspective: The 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 flu seasons were surprisingly mild. These figures are more of a return to pre-pandemic normals.

Off The Wall

The Alaska House has approved legislation allowing gold and silver to be used as legal tender, joining more than ten other states. The bill exempts local governments from collecting sales tax when U.S. dollars are exchanged for gold and silver — but users would have to pay capital gains taxes on any increase in value between the time they bought precious medals and the time when those metals are sold. (Anchorage Daily News)

Dean Matt will stop in Eagle, Idaho, today on the 17th leg of his journey to play Pickleball in 48 states in 48 days. The “Pickleball Pilot,” as he’s called, is flying himself around. (Boise State Public Radio)

Speaking of planes, a 29-year old man who crashed his light aircraft for the YouTube likes now faces 20 years in prison for obstruction of justice. Trevor Jacob bailed out of his plane, with a selfie stick in hand, and shared the video, which then got millions of views. (Rolling Stone)

Quote of the Day

“One has to wonder what they’re hiding when every other state agency welcomes audits as routine matters.”

Massachusetts Auditor Diana DiZoglio (D), accusing state legislators of refusing to raise her office’s budget because she wants to audit the state House and Senate. The planned budget increases funding for other executive agencies, but leaves the auditor’s office budget virtually flat. (Boston Herald)