Pluribus AM: Governors weigh in on AI debate

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, January 9, 2024. In today’s edition, governors wade into AI debates; big tech sues to block Ohio social media law; Wisconsin GOP unveils medical marijuana proposal:

Top Stories

Lawmakers in Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee kick off their 2024 sessions today. That makes 22 legislatures back in regular session.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) unveiled a $400 million public-private partnership aimed at attracting AI research and development firms to the state. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) issued an executive order requiring the state to integrate AI systems responsibly and ethically, alongside a new state digital services team. (Pluribus News)

We’re keeping an eye on how governors are talking about AI in their State of the State addresses. It’s already proving the hot topic of the year.

ENVIRONMENT: The Biden administration will dole out more than $950 million to 300 school districts in 37 states to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric, natural gas and propane-powered buses, the White House said Monday. It’s the second tranche of funding from a pool of $5 billion authorized by the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. (Pluribus News)

SOCIAL MEDIA: NetChoice, an industry trade group, has sued to block an Ohio law requiring social media companies to obtain a parent’s consent before allowing minors under 16 to sign up for social media accounts. (Center Square) Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) used his State of the State address to urge lawmakers to draft new laws regulating social media use by minors. (Idaho Statesman)

MARIJUANA: Wisconsin Republicans have introduced legislation to create a medical marijuana program and state-run dispensaries. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) unveiled the measure Monday, though it’s not clear he has support from leading members of the state Senate. Wisconsin is one of just 12 states that does not have a medical or recreational pot program. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Lambda Legal and other groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to block Louisiana’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Louisiana became the 22nd state to ban or restrict transgender care when the law took effect Jan. 1. (Associated Press, Baton Rouge Advocate)

GUN POLITICS: The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request to review a ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court that upheld a state law requiring gun owners to register assault-style weapons they own. The law bans the delivery, sale, import or purchase of assault-style weapons. (Chicago Tribune)

EDUCATION: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) will ask legislators to tighten retention policies to require third grade students who fail a standardized reading test to repeat the grade. Holcomb will also seek to expand the number of child care and early education providers by adding credentialing training to state-sponsored grant programs. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

MORE: Nebraska Sen. Loren Lippincott introduced legislation to end tenure for university professors. The bill, which has 11 cosponsors, is similar to those introduced last year in Texas, North Dakota, Florida and Iowa. (Nebraska Examiner) Idaho Gov. Little proposed spending $2 billion over 10 years to address crumbling public school buildings. (Idaho Capital Sun)

CORRECTION: In Monday’s edition, we incorrectly identified Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s party affiliation. Kelly is a Democrat. We’re sorry for the typo.

In Politics & Business

FLORIDA: The state Republican Party removed chairman Christian Ziegler during an emergency meeting in Tallahassee Monday, elevating former party vice chairman Evan Power to the top spot. Ziegler faces allegations of rape and video voyeurism; he had resisted calls to resign since the allegations came to light. (NBC News)

MISSISSIPPI: Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) is considering a run for governor in 2027. Auditor Shad White (R), Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R), Secretary of State Michael Watson (R) and Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson (R) are all seen as potential contenders. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) faces term limits. (Mississippi Today)

MICHIGAN: A panel of federal judges has ordered the state redistricting commission to redraw metro Detroit state House seats by Feb. 2. Those suing the redistricting commission allege the Detroit-area districts violate the federal Voting Rights Act by diminishing the political power of Black voters. (Detroit Free Press)

NORTH DAKOTA: A federal judge has ordered the state to adopt new legislative district lines that would advantage two Native American tribes. Judge Peter Welte said the maps he chose would only alter three district lines. (Associated Press)

KENTUCKY: Gov. Andy Beshear (D) will launch a new political action committee to back candidates at home and across the country. (Lexington Herald Leader, Washington Post) The PAC will help Beshear raise his national profile, in case he decides on a future national campaign.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Attorney General John Formella has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Democratic National Committee insisting the party stop referring to the Jan. 23 primary as “meaningless.” Formella said the DNC’s comments risk violating state law by attempting to prevent or deter voters from participating, even though the primary will not award any delegates. (Boston Globe)

By The Numbers

19.6%: The share of office space in major U.S. cities that were not leased in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to Moody’s Analytics, up from 18.8% a year earlier. It’s the highest vacancy rate recorded since Moody’s began keeping track in 1979. (Wall Street Journal)

128.7 million: The number of tax returns the IRS expects to be filed by the April 15 deadline. The IRS says it expects to issue most refunds within 21 days, a much faster pace than in recent years. (Associated Press)

$1.66 million: The salary earned by UMass Amherst men’s basketball coach Frank Martin, making him the highest-paid state employee in Massachusetts. The UMass system employs the 22 highest earning state employees. (Boston Globe)

Off The Wall

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) and his wife Susan have purchased a $4 million mansion in Helena, the Hauser House, built in 1885. The couple plans to donate the nine-bedroom home to the state to be used as the governor’s official mansion. The current mansion has been closed since 2021 for renovations. (Associated Press)

“A man crashed his car outside a Bass Pro Shop in Alabama, stripped down to his birthday suit and plunged into the giant aquarium inside the store, police said.” (Associated Press)

Perfect lede. No notes.

A passenger aboard Alaska Airlines flight 1282 lost an iPhone when a section of the plane’s fuselage blew out at 16,000 feet over the weekend. An aviation enthusiast found the phone — working and completely intact. The phone has been returned to Alaska to give it back to its owner. (Seattle Times)

Meanwhile, ours breaks when we drop it off a coffee table.

Quote of the Day

“It’s going to be a messy year, whether this issue makes it messy or other issues make it messy.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), on her ruling that state law requires her to place former President Donald Trump on the ballot. (Michigan Advance)