Pluribus AM: The Artificial Intelligence Boom

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, July 26, 2023. In today’s edition, states start to move on AI; Ohio abortion measure makes the ballot, pot measure falling just short; abortion, transgender, library lawsuits everywhere:

Top Stories

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: Lawmakers in four states have authorized studies or advisory councils focused on artificial intelligence, while Connecticut legislators approved legislation addressing the way state agencies use AI. Lawmakers are considering new rules governing both public and private applications of AI technology. (Pluribus News)

Expect AI to be a big focus in next year’s sessions as lawmakers grapple with technology that is moving faster than they can legislate.

ABORTION: The Iowa Supreme Court has allowed Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) to continue a legal challenge against a temporary injunction preventing the state’s new six-week abortion ban from taking effect. It’s still not clear whether all seven justices will hear the case, after one justice recused herself from a decision earlier this year that blocked a previous ban. (Associated Press)

MORE: Crisis pregnancy centers have sued Vermont over a law that subjects them to false and misleading advertising statutes. The centers say the law violates their First and Fourteenth amendment rights. (VT Digger)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: Families of transgender children have sued to block a Missouri law barring gender-affirming health care for minors set to take effect Aug. 28. The suit seeks to block the law on Equal Protections grounds. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Lots of the lawsuits challenging gender-affirming care bans are mirroring each other — judges, even those appointed by former President Trump, have sided with plaintiffs who make equal protection claims.

ENERGY: Maine lawmakers have approved an offshore wind program that will produce enough power for about 900,000 homes from floating wind turbines. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has already approved similar projects under construction in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. (Boston Globe)

PUBLIC HEALTH: Massachusetts’ Joint Committee on Public Health will hear testimony Wednesday on a measure that would end religious exemptions for mandatory children’s vaccinations. The bill would also require schools to report vaccination data to the state; about 15% of kindergarten classes in Massachusetts did not report vaccination data this year. (Boston Globe)

LIBRARIES: A group of Texas bookstores and national bookseller associations have filed suit over a Texas bill that aims to ban sexually explicit material from school libraries. The bill, approved by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), is set to take effect Sept. 1. The suit says the bill violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by regulating speech with “vague and over broad” terms. (Texas Tribune)

Begun, the book wars have.

In Politics & Business

OHIO: A proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to reproductive care and abortions will appear on November’s ballot after Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s (R) office certified that backers had turned in more than enough signatures. The amendment will represent the most significant political clash over abortion rights this year. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Supporters of a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana are 679 valid signatures short of the number required to make November’s ballot. They have just ten days to collect the necessary signatures. (Columbus Dispatch) A Suffolk University poll conducted for the USA Today network found 59% of Ohio voters back legal recreational pot, while 35% are opposed. (Columbus Dispatch)

ALABAMA: The federal court overseeing the redistricting process that will lead to new U.S. House district lines is searching for a new cartographer to potentially draw districts. The court had tapped Nathaniel Persily, the Stanford redistricting expert, for the job, though he withdrew Monday. (

ARKANSAS: State Treasurer Mark Lowery (R) will resign from office at the end of September after suffering two strokes this year. Lowery won office in November, after a decade in the legislature. (Talk Business & Politics) Lowery’s family released a gracious statement thanking his constituents and staff. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

NORTH CAROLINA: House Freedom Caucus chairman Keith Kidwell (R) is the third legislator to announce a campaign for Speaker of the House next year. Rules Committee chairman Destin Hall (R) and Majority Leader John Bell (R) are also running. Speaker Tim Moore (R) has said he will retire after his current term. (NC Newsline)

REPUBLICANS: Former President Donald Trump will not sit for an interview with Iowa Gov. Reynolds at the Iowa State Fair next moth. Reynolds laid out a list of 12 candidates she will interview between Aug. 10 and Aug. 18. (Iowa Capital Dispatch) North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has qualified for the first Republican debate, after offering gift cards for small donations to cover the Republican National Committee’s contributors requirement. (KFYR)

PEOPLE: Former South Dakota House Speaker Gene Lebrun (D), the last Democrat to lead the chamber, has died at 84. Lebrun won the speakership in 1972, at age 34. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

By The Numbers

15: The number of North Carolina legislators who keep spouses or children on their payrolls as legislative assistants, staff assistants or research assistants. The General Assembly’s rules allow members to hire their families. (Raleigh News & Observer)

2,000: The number of overdose deaths caused by opioids in Cook County, Ill., in 2022, the highest total ever recorded. As recently as 2016, just 676 people died from opioid overdoses. (Chicago Tribune)

$1.6 million: The amount Tennessee Football Inc., the company that operates the Tennessee Titans, have spent lobbying lawmakers since 2009. Almost half of that has come in the last four years, as the team asks legislators to approve $1.26 billion for a new $2.1 billion stadium in Nashville. (Tennessee Lookout)

Off The Wall

Ohio resident John Carucci was scrolling Facebook one day when he came upon a post from a guy who claimed he’d eaten at Chik-fil-A for a world-record 126 days — minus Sundays. Carucci decided it was a record he could beat. His local Chik-fil-A, in North Canton, recently celebrated Carucci’s 800th-straight visit with balloons and flowers. He says he hopes he makes it to 1,500 days in a row. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The city of Baltimore had to fork over $33,000 in cell phone bills after city officials neglected to turn them off after Election Day. The Baltimore Board of Elections uses the 400 phones on a temporary basis for election employees and judges, but officials forgot to discontinue the service, at a cost of about $11,000 a month. (Baltimore Sun)

Quote of the Day

“I have a new communications team starting this week. I’ve never had a communications team.”

Georgia Rep. Mesha Mainor (R), after being inundated by interview requests after she switched her party affiliation to join Republicans. (Georgia Public Broadcasting)