Good morning, it’s Monday, December 11, 2023. In today’s edition, Utah plans changes to social media law; Illinois lifts nuclear moratorium; three supreme courts take up abortion challenges:
SOCIAL MEDIA: Utah lawmakers will consider amending a landmark law requiring social media sites to obtain parental permission before granting accounts to kids. State Sen. Mike McKell (R), the bill’s chief sponsor, says he will introduce “safe harbor” amendments to protect social media companies from civil action, in an effort to avoid legal challenges like those that have targeted a similar Arkansas law. (Pluribus News)
ENERGY: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed legislation lifting a moratorium on new nuclear energy projects. The bill will require state safety agencies to develop rules for regulating small modular reactors, new technology that generate about a third of the power of a traditional reactor. (Pluribus News)
HEALTH CARE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed legislation prohibiting the state from entering into contracts with Medicaid managed care organizations that rely on pharmacy benefit managers, with exceptions. The law is the latest step Michigan has taken to restrict pharmacy benefit managers, after bills in 2022 that imposed licensing and transparency requirements. (Pluribus News)
CRIME: Michigan Gov. Whitmer also signed legislation adding acts of institutional desecration to the state penal code. Vandalism and threats targeting places of worship, cemeteries and community centers will now be felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. (Detroit Free Press)
ABORTION: State Supreme Courts in Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming will hear arguments this week challenging state abortion laws. Lawsuits in Arizona and Wyoming are challenging state bans on certain procedures, while abortion rights advocates are challenging local bans on abortion passed in several conservative counties. (NPR)
IMMIGRATION: Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) is pressing the Biden administration to reopen a port of entry in Lukeville. Hobbs said the state would spend up to $5 million on a National Guard deployment to the port to handle a recent surge in migrants. (Arizona Republic)
GUN POLITICS: The Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a provision in New York’s gun laws that requires concealed carry permit applicants to disclose their social media accounts. Provisions requiring applicants to “demonstrate good moral character” remain in effect. (State of Politics)
LEGAL: Florida state Rep. Alex Andrade (R) will once again introduce legislation that would make it easier for prominent people to sue for libel. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) supported a previous version of the bill, which died amid bipartisan criticism last year. (Orlando Sentinel)
In Politics & Business
TEXAS: State Sen. John Whitmire (D) won election Saturday to become Houston’s next mayor, taking 64% of the vote over U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D). Whitmire has represented Houston in the legislature for half a century. (Houston Chronicle) Jackson Lee said she will decide in the coming weeks whether to seek another term in Congress. (Associated Press)
OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma City voters head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to impose a 1% sales tax for six years to fund a new $900 million arena for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder owners would foot just $50 million of the costs. They would agree to keep the team in Oklahoma City for 25 years if the measure passes. (Associated Press)
Hey, they could always just move back to Seattle and become the Sonics again.
RHODE ISLAND: Superior Court Judge Daniel Procaccini has rebuked Attorney General Peter Neronha (D) over tweets posted while Procaccini was overseeing an assault case in November. Procaccini accused Neronha of violating the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers. (Boston Globe)
PEOPLE: Former Kentucky Gov. Julian Carroll (D), who spearheaded school reforms and modernized the state’s judicial system, has died at 92. Carroll mounted a political comeback, winning a seat in the state Senate in 2004, where he served until 2020. (Lexington Herald-Leader, Associated Press)
MORE: New York State Sen. Mark Walczyk (R) will miss most of the legislative session next year when he deploys to Kuwait with his U.S. Army Reserve unit. (State of Politics) Stay safe, Sen. Walczyk!
CORRECTION: In Friday’s edition, we improperly identified Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’s party affiliation. Reyes is a Republican. We regret the typo.
By The Numbers
7.5 million: The number of Americans expected to fly between December 23 and January 1, making it the busiest holiday travel season since AAA began tracking flight data in 2000. The number of fliers will top the previous record of 7.3 million set in 2019, back in those happy days when none of us knew what Covid-19 was. (Bloomberg)
$234,439: The yearly cost, per patient, of Tirkafta, a drug that treats cystic fibrosis. Colorado reported spending $108 million on the drug in 2022 to cover what it said was just a few hundred patients. (Colorado Sun)
2: The number of Mega Millions tickets that hit the $394 million jackpot on Friday. Both tickets were sold at the same gas station, a Chevron in Encino, Calif. (Sacramento Bee)
Off The Wall
Add South Dakota to the list of states considering a new flag after 114 years under the current design. State Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D) is considering introducing legislation to create a redesign commission, inspired by Brandon Valley High School student Ryan Schultz, an amateur vexillologist who thinks the state can do better. (South Dakota Searchlight)
Longtime readers know we love a good flag story.
About 300 Santas participated in an annual ski trip to Sunday River Ski Resort in Maine on Sunday, a 20-year tradition that raises money for a local education charity. By rule, every skiing Santa needs a white pompom on their hat. (Associated Press)
California officials collected 408 firearms at a recent gun buyback event in San Jose — including a rocket launcher, an Uzi submachine gun and 20 “ghost guns.” The county paid out about $40,000 for the firearms. (Sacramento Bee)
A rocket launcher?!?
Quote of the Day
“Let’s face it, our perception, our lifestyle was considered a little out of date.”
— Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), kicking off a new advertising campaign meant to rebrand his state’s image. (New York Times)