Pluribus AM: Hawaii lays claim to the Shaka

Good morning, it’s Friday, February 9, 2024. In today’s edition, we chat with Maryland’s new AI expert; millions unenrolled from Medicaid after end of pandemic-era rules; Louisiana, California tackle crime spikes:

Top Stories

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Don’t miss our interview with Nishant Shah, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore’s (D) senior advisor for responsible artificial intelligence. Read the transcript or watch the video right here.

MORE: Utah lawmakers are considering a measure to extend the state’s deceptive practices law to include artificial intelligence. The bill would create an AI laboratory to help develop regulations that businesses would have to follow. (Utah News Dispatch)

HEALTH CARE: States have removed more than 16 million people from Medicaid rolls since last April, in a post-pandemic “unwinding” process following Covid-era rules barring states from terminating coverage. Millions of those who have been unenrolled have been dropped for procedural reasons, including failing to respond to notices or return paperwork. (KFF Health News)

MORE: Kentucky’s House Committee on Health Services approved a measure aimed at improving maternal health, including adding pregnancy to a list of qualifying events to gain health insurance coverage. The bill also creates a hotline that medical providers can call if they have a patient with mental health needs. (Kentucky Lantern)

Lawmakers are referring to the bill as the “Momnibus.”

IMMIGRATION: The Iowa Senate is advancing legislation to make illegal immigration a state crime, giving local law enforcement the authority to arrest undocumented migrants. The measure tracks closely with a Texas law passed in December that’s currently being challenged in federal court. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

EDUCATION: Kentucky’s Senate Education Committee approved legislation barring public colleges and universities from providing preferential treatment based on political ideology, and banning “discriminatory concepts” related to diversity, equity and inclusion curriculum. (Associated Press)

Lawmakers in 17 states have proposed measures to restrict or require disclosure of DEI initiatives, according to the AP’s tally.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) has called a special session for Feb. 19 to consider crime-focused legislation. Landry will ask lawmakers to approve measures expanding methods for carrying out executions, restricting parole eligibility and increasing punishments for carjacking, among other measures. (Associated Press)

MORE: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will send extra prosecutors to Oakland to help crack down on rising crime in the Bay Area. Newsom announced this week he will deploy 120 California Highway Patrol officers to the city to help with targeted crackdowns on criminal activity in Oakland. (Associated Press)

DEATH PENALTY: Idaho’s House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee has advanced legislation that could make lewd conduct with a minor under 12 punishable by execution. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the death penalty was unconstitutional for any crime other than homicide or crimes against the state. (Idaho Reports)

In Politics & Business

NEW HAMPSHIRE: State Rep. Matthew Coker said Thursday he would leave the Democratic Party to become a Republican. The party switch leaves the House with 201 Republicans, 194 Democrats, three independents and two vacancies. (Boston Globe)

LOUISIANA: State legislative district lines approved in 2022 unconstitutionally dilute Black voters’ political power, a U.S. district court judge ruled Thursday. The judge blocked the current maps from being used in future elections and gave the state “a reasonable period of time” to redraw maps. (Associated Press)

We’re going to put a sign on our office wall: “It has been 0 days since a redistricting map was overturned.” (h/t @RedistrictNet for the joke)

WISCONSIN: The state Elections Commission has approved a request to allow Green Party candidates to appear on the ballot in 2024. Green Party nominee Jill Stein took 31,000 votes there in 2016 — more than the 22,000-vote margin by which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

GRIDIRON: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will headline the 139th annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington next month, plum speaking gigs that put two prominent rising stars in front of a room of D.C. political reporters. (Detroit News)

Why it matters: The Gridiron keynote slot is a frequent stop for future presidential candidates. Past speakers include Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nikki Haley, Tim Pawlenty, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz — all before they launched presidential campaigns.

By The Numbers

$200,000: The amount Nebraska Sen. Loren Lippincott wants to allocate to the State Patrol to hire an ethical hacker. The hacker would spend his or her days trying to break into state computer systems to find vulnerabilities and defects. (Associated Press)

2025: The year when Delaware Marijuana Commissioner Robert Coupe expects the state to issue its first retail and testing licenses, under a 2023 law to legalize recreational pot. Coupe says the delay will allow retailers to become operational in time. (Delaware Public Media)

Off The Wall

WJLX Radio in Alabama is off the air after thieves somehow stole a 200-foot radio tower and other equipment from its building. The theft means the channel’s AM station can no longer broadcast, though its general manager said they hoped to continue airing content on FM radio. (NBC News)

How does one steal a 200-foot tower?

Hawaii lawmakers advanced legislation to make the Shaka the official state gesture this week, in an effort to claim the symbol — thumb and pinkie extended from a closed fist, as a surfer might do — before other states. A documentary film maker warned California, Texas and Utah all have reasons to consider the Shaka as well. (Hawaii News Now)

Quote of the Day

“I’m not going to bring a bill to the floor that is so abhorrent to everybody.”

Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R), expressing skepticism about legislation to protect Confederate monuments after some lawmakers said the bill was meant to protect “White society” from the culture wars. (Florida Politics)