Pluribus AM: Florida’s coming abortion wars

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, April 2, 2024. In today’s edition, Michigan rolls back last restriction on paid surrogacy; Florida court rules in favor of 15-week abortion ban; New York budgeteers consider AI program and protections:

Top Stories

FAMILY PLANNING: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed legislation Monday to repeal a ban on paid surrogacy, making Michigan the last state to do so after a wave of paid surrogacy bans passed in the 1980s. States began repealing surrogacy laws to allow LGBTQ families and couples dealing with infertility to have kids. (Pluribus News)

ABORTION: The Florida Supreme Court upheld a state law banning abortions after 15 weeks, clearing the way for a more restrictive six-week ban to take effect. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the 15-week ban in 2022; he signed the six-week ban last year, a bill written so it wouldn’t take effect until a month after the 2022 law was upheld. (Associated Press)

But wait, there’s more! Read on to the Politics section.

MORE: Maine legislators fell short of reaching a two-thirds threshold to add a right to an abortion and reproductive care to the state constitution. The defeat means the proposed amendment will not go before voters this November. (Portland Press Herald, Maine Public Radio)

EVEN MORE: The Kansas House gave final approval to legislation making it illegal to coerce a woman into receiving an abortion. The measure passed by a near-veto-proof majority. The bill would make it a felony to make physical or financial threats against a pregnant person, withhold documents or access to medication. (Kansas City Star)

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: New York lawmakers are debating a budget provision backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) that would create a $400 million public-private grant program to boost AI research at eight state universities. Assemblyman Alex Bores (D) wants to include provisions regulating deepfake images and audio ahead of the elections. (State of Politics)

New York lawmakers have until Thursday to reach a budget deal.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) has signed legislation re-criminalizing minor drug possession. The new law allocates $211 million for programs and projects to expand substance abuse treatment access. The law guts parts of Measure 110, the voter-approved law from 2020 that made minor possession a non-criminal offense. (Oregonian)

ENVIRONMENT: The Vermont Senate is expected to give final approval this week to a bill that will create a state program that fossil fuel companies must pay into for climate change adaptation projects across the state. Maryland, Massachusetts and New York are considering similar measures. (Associated Press)

ANTISEMITISM: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has issued an executive order requiring higher education institutions to discipline antisemitic speech and acts on campus. The executive order singles out pro-Palestinian groups that Abbott said had violated free speech policies. (Texas Tribune)

In Politics & Business

FLORIDA: The state Supreme Court ruled that proposed constitutional amendments to legalize abortion access and recreational marijuana may appear on the 2024 ballot this year, rejecting challenges from Attorney General Ashley Moody (R). Both measures must reach 60% of the vote to pass, under Florida law. (Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel)

On Florida’s ballot in 2024: The presidential race, a Senate race, and two of the biggest ballot measures in the country. Pity the poor Floridians whose mailboxes will runneth over with flyers.

WISCONSIN: Voters head to the polls today to cast ballots on two Republican-backed constitutional amendments that would ban the use of private money to run elections and require that only election officials designated by law administer elections. The measures are a response to the 2020 elections, when the Center for Tech and Civic Life, a group bankrolled by Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and physician Priscilla Chan, helped small governments buy election-related supplies. (Associated Press)

VIRGINIA: Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears (R) leads Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) in the 2025 Republican primary field by a whopping 44% to 16% margin, according to a new poll by Cygnal, a Republican polling firm. Sears has a 62% favorable rating among Republican voters, while Miyares is seen favorably by 50% of GOP voters. (538)

WEST VIRGINIA: A political action committee backing car dealer Chris Miller (R) is spending $1.4 million on ads against Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who leads the GOP field in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Miller has run seven television ads so far this year, outpacing the rest of the field. (Parkersburg News and Sentinel)

PEOPLE: Our best wishes for a speedy recovery for Tennessee Sen. Steve Southerland (R), who experienced a medical emergency on the floor of the Senate Monday. Southerland was awake and alert as he was taken to a local hospital. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

97.4 inches: The amount of snow that fell across Maine this year, about 30 inches below the historical average of 128 inches. (Maine Public Radio)

52.46 inches: The amount of rain that fell on Los Angeles in the 2022-2024 rainy seasons, the second-largest amount for back-to-back seasons ever recorded. The record was set back in 1888-1890, according to the National Weather Service. (Los Angeles Times)

Off The Wall

Planning to view next week’s solar eclipse? Wear red or green to take advantage of something called the Purkinje effect, which changes the way we perceive both colors. Decreasing light intensity makes red objects appear to fade faster than blue objects, while green objects stand out as brighter. (Detroit Free Press)

Farewell to the Tropicana Las Vegas, which closes its doors today after 67 years in business. The hotel will be demolished to make way for a new Major League Baseball stadium. (Associated Press)

Who’s filching all the silverware and china from Air Force One? White House officials are eyeing reporters who fly with President Biden. The White House Correspondents Association has sent an email to members warning them that missing serving items from the plane has caught the eye of Air Force officers who staff the president’s trips. (AFP)

Quote of the Day

“It’s been a good shotgun marriage.”

Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll (D), on her working relationship with Gov. Maura Healey (D) during their first year in office. Past relationships haven’t been so great: Former Gov. Mike Dukakis (D) once accused his lieutenant governor, Evelyn Murphy, of plotting a coup while he prepared for an overseas trip. (Boston Globe)