Pluribus AM: States push age verification bills

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, January 24, 2023. In today’s edition, Wisconsin lawmakers advance new abortion ban; Iowa, Florida push age verification requirements for websites; Republicans roll out 2024 target states:

Top Stories

ABORTION: The Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Health, Aging and Long-Term Care approved new legislation that would ban abortion after 14 weeks and ask voters to weigh in on a referendum. The bill includes exceptions in cases of sexual assault or incest. Two Republicans joined all five committee Democrats in opposition. (Wisconsin Examiner)

TECHNOLOGY: Iowa legislators have advanced legislation requiring social media companies to use age verification technology to restrict access to obscene material. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she would introduce legislation to require age verification for pornographic websites, similar to laws in Utah and Texas. (Cedar Rapids Gazette) South Dakota’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill to ban AI-generated child pornography. (South Dakota Searchlight)

MORE: The Florida House is expected to vote today on legislation banning minors under 16 from social media platforms. The bill would apply to social media companies that use “addictive, harmful, or deceptive design features.” But bill sponsors won’t say exactly which platforms would be included. (Tallahassee Democrat)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Oregon Democrats plan to advance legislation this year to re-criminalize minor drug possession, four years after voters approved a ballot measure decriminalizing minor possession. A special committee led by Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D) and Rep. Jason Kropf (D) will consider legislation in the coming weeks. (Oregonian)

MORE: The California legislature unanimously approved a bill to require health insurers to cover the cost of a pharmacist filling an order of PrEP medication, drugs that prevent the transmission of HIV. The legislature voted in 2019 to make PrEP medication available without a prescription. (Sacramento Bee)

TAXES: North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) used his State of the State address to call on legislators to end the state income tax. (Fargo Forum) Ohio Republicans have introduced legislation to phase out state income taxes over the next six years. The bill would also end a commercial activities tax. (Center Square)

TICKETS: A bipartisan group of Arizona lawmakers have introduced measures to prohibit the use of bots in purchasing event tickets, and to prevent resellers from selling multiple copies of the same ticket, or reselling tickets before they are made available to the general public. Representatives of the reselling platforms Vivid Seats and StubHub opposed the bills. (Arizona Republic)

ECONOMY: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) called legislators back into special session to approve a massive new $10 billion economic development project in Madison County. The project will be the largest economic development plan in state history, surpassing a $2.5 billion 2022 deal with Steel Dynamics. (SuperTalk)

In Politics & Business

REPUBLICANS: The Republican State Leadership Committee will target Democratic majorities in Michigan, Minnesota and the Pennsylvania House this November, while aiming to protect slim majorities in Arizona and New Hampshire, the group said. The RSLC touted its absentee ballot and early voting program, which it first field-tested in Virginia in 2023. (Pluribus News)

Sometimes we feel like we’ve written that Democrats and Republicans will target Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania about every 18 months for the last decade.

DELEGATE TRACKER: Former President Donald Trump scored 12 delegates in New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday, while former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) took home nine delegates. Trump now leads 31 to 16, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — who suspended his campaign last week — has nine.

WISCONSIN: The state Senate approved new legislative district lines, while the state Assembly considered approving lines proposed by Gov. Tony Evers (D), in a last-minute attempt to avoid the state Supreme Court imposing its own legislative map lines. The court will hear expert recommendations for new map lines on Feb. 1. (Associated Press)

MORE: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Democratic leaders are working behind the scenes to draw new maps. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

GEORGIA: A state Senate committee has approved legislation removing Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) from the State Election Board, and giving the board authority to investigate Raffensperger’s office. Raffensperger says the measure is unconstitutional. The Election Board recently declined to investigate Raffensperger over his handling of the 2020 election. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

By The Numbers

More than 300,000: The number of voters who cast ballots in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, setting a new turnout record. The previous record stood at about 296,000 voters who showed up to pick a Democratic nominee in 2020. (New York Times)

25: The number of American astronauts who hail from Ohio. The state legislature will honor those astronauts with a new painting, to be unveiled tonight, that features Buckeye natives John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Judith Resnik. (Statehouse News Bureau)

73: The number of catalytic converter thefts in Providence, R.I., in 2023, down from 631 the year prior. Law enforcement officials attribute the decline to new laws cracking down on scrap metal dealers. (Boston Globe)

Off The Wall

Indiana legislators want to make after-work hours happy again. State Rep. Jake Teshka (R) has introduced legislation that would allow bars and restaurants to hold happy hours, a practice illegal in Indiana since 1985. (Indianapolis Star)

Illinois Rep. Daniel Didech (D) has introduced a bill to ban the possession of African serval cats, after an incident in which a serval cat escaped in Vernon Hills last year. The cat died when it was captured. The bill also adds kangaroos, caracals and wallabies to the list of banned pets. (Lake McHenry Scanner)

Illinois state law currently bans the possession of lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots, jaguars, cheetah, margay, mountain lions, lynx, bobcats, jaguarundis, bears, hyenas, wolves, coyotes and nonhuman primates.

Quote of the Day

“My hope is they recognize that just chaos for its own sake doesn’t really have a lot of value around here, and we can get back to the business of governing.”

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden (R), who stripped four arch conservatives of committee chairmanships and banished them to distant parking spots over an intra-party feud. (Associated Press)

Parking spots are coveted real estate at state capitol buildings.