Pluribus AM: States worry about AI; N.C., S.C., Neb. move abortion bans; critical elections in Ky., Pa.

Good morning, it’s Tuesday, May 16, 2023. In today’s edition, states worry about AI; N.C., S.C., Neb. move abortion bans; critical elections in Ky., Pa.: 

Top Stories

TECHNOLOGY: Lawmakers in California and Connecticut are the first to consider regulations for artificial intelligence programs and products. Legislation advancing in California focuses on private sector use of AI decision-making tools, while a bill that passed the Connecticut Senate aims to regulate government use of AI products. (Pluribus News)

Observation from a smart Friend of Pluribus: ChatGPT, the program that brought AI to the fore, emerged too late to be a driving factor in this year’s legislative sessions. Watch for every state to consider AI legislation next year.

ABORTION: North Carolina’s legislature will vote today on overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto of legislation banning abortion after 12 weeks. (Raleigh News & Observer, Associated Press) The South Carolina House will debate a measure banning most abortions after six weeks, after the state Senate voted down a stricter ban. (Associated Press) Nebraska lawmakers will begin debate on whether to add a 12-week abortion ban to legislation barring gender-affirming care for transgender minors. (Nebraska Examiner, Omaha World-Herald)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Indiana Supreme Court has decided not to hear cases from two transgender girls seeking to change their gender on their birth certificates. The decision means lower courts do not have the authority to grant gender change petitions. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

EDUCATION: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed legislation prohibiting public colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The bill also gives university presidents the authority to hire and fire faculty, removing those decisions from faculty committees. (Pluribus News, Florida Politics) Oklahoma leaders have announced an agreement on education funding that will direct $500 million to public schools, most of which would go toward teacher pay raises. (McCarville Report)

WORKFORCE: Minnesota Democrats have reached agreement on a paid family and medical leave program that will cap benefits at 20 weeks per year and delay the its launch by six months. The legislation will allow insurers to sell paid leave policies. (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) Missouri lawmakers have approved a bill allowing retired teachers to teach up to four years, up from two currently allowed, while maintaining their retirement benefits. (WGEM)

MORE: The federal government has named Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; and Augusta, Ga., as federal workforce hubs. The program guides cities to existing federal grants to help train new workers. (Cleveland Plain Dealer) California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has signed legislation allowing farmworkers to unionize by signing cards, stripping out a provision that would have allowed for mail-in union elections. (Los Angeles Times)

HEALTH CARE: Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed a bill capping insurance copays for a 30-day supply of insulin at $35. Without insurance, insulin can cost up to $400 a month. (Daily Montanan)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Washington State lawmakers say they have reached a deal on drug possession laws ahead of a special session that begins today. The agreement, made necessary by a state Supreme Court ruling, will make possession of illegal substances a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

Without a deal by July 1, Washington would have inadvertently decriminalized all drugs. Read our backstory here.

MARKETING: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has signed bipartisan legislation requiring telemarketers to disclose their name and the product they are selling within the first 30 seconds of a call. The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jon Bramnick (R), calls it the “Seinfeld Law.” (New Jersey Globe)

In Politics & Business

KENTUCKY: Voters head to the polls today to pick a Republican nominee to face Gov. Andy Beshear (D) in November. Late polls show Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) leading his closest rival, former Ambassador Kelly Craft (R), by a wide margin. (Pluribus News) Voters will also pick nominees in open races for state Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor and Agriculture Commissioner.

PENNSYLVANIA: Voters in Delaware County will fill a vacant seat in the state House in a special election Tuesday that will determine which party claims the Speaker’s gavel. The district, long a Republican bastion, voted Democratic by wide margins in 2022. (Associated Press) Democrats and Republicans both hold 100 seats in the state House. 

MONTANA: Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has signed legislation prohibiting private donations to elections offices, after Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg donated $350 million to a group that helped pay some election administration costs in 2020. Elections officials who violate the law could spend up to 10 years in prison. (Daily Montanan)

OREGON: State Sens. Brian Boquist (I), Dennis Linthicum (R) and Daniel Bonham (R) have notched 10 unexcused absences this session in the midst of a Republican walkout that is blocking legislation on abortion and transgender rights. Those senators would be barred from seeking re-election under a law disqualifying absentee senators that voters approved last year. (Oregonian)

FLORIDA: The state Supreme Court will consider a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana, but Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) has signaled she will argue that the measure does not meet single-subject and clear language requirements. (Orlando Sentinel) Supporters have gathered 786,747 of the 891,523 valid signatures they need to make the ballot. 

ARKANSAS: House Speaker Matthew Shepherd (R) will not seek a leadership position next year, though he will run for re-election. Shepherd’s tenure, which began in 2018, makes him the longest-serving speaker in state history. (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

By The Numbers

22: The number of consecutive months in which Indiana has collected more revenue than expected, leaving the state with a $1.9 billion surplus. (WFYI)

$6.9 billion: Wisconsin’s projected budget surplus at the end of June, down from $7.1 billion projected four months ago, but still the largest surplus in state history. (Associated Press)

Off The Wall

Kansas state Rep. Marvin Robinson (D) broke with his party to back Republicans overriding Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of a ban on transgender athletes in K-12 sports. Republicans thanked Robinson by earmarking $250,000 for an archaeological park in his district in Kansas City. But Kelly got her revenge — by vetoing the earmark. (Kansas Reflector)

When police in Springfield, Colo., pulled over a vehicle for speeding on Saturday night, they watched as the driver attempted to switch places with his passenger. And he might have gotten away with it, too — if his passenger hadn’t been a dog. The man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. (Denver Post)

New Hampshire officials have removed a historical marker recognizing Elizabeth Hurley Flynn, a labor leader who later headed the American Communist Party in the 1960s. The marker, erected May 1 in Concord, stirred anger among state officials who first blamed city leaders — who, in turn, pointed out that the state was the one that put the marker up in the first place. (Boston Globe)

Quote of the Day

“Gentlemen, what the heck is flying around in my state?”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R), appearing on a History Channel series investigating paranormal activity at Skinwalker Ranch. A Reyes spokesman made clear he was not appearing on the show in an official capacity. (KSL)

If you’re looking for a good internet rabbit hole to go down today, here’s a long read on Skinwalker Ranch.