Pluribus AM: The (literal) gorilla in the room

Good morning, it’s Friday, October 27, 2023. In today’s edition, Michigan lawmakers battle over ethics plans; New York Gov signs deepfake ban; Georgia must redraw U.S. House maps:

Top Stories

ETHICS: Facing a voter-imposed deadline to approve new ethics rules, Michigan lawmakers are divided over requirements that they disclose sources of income. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) backs an exemption that would allow lawmakers to avoid reporting spousal income, which she said would adversely affect female candidates for office. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) testified in favor of requiring disclosure of spousal income. (Pluribus News)

Michigan and Idaho are the only states that do not require legislators to reveal details about their personal finances.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation making illegal pornographic AI-generated “deepfake” images or videos intended to humiliate or blackmail their subjects. (State of Politics)

ENERGY: The Michigan Senate has approved legislation requiring utilities to move to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% clean energy by 2040. The bills, which passed along party lines, now head to the state House. (Detroit Free Press)

Read our story from earlier this week on Michigan’s move to renewable energy.

EDUCATION: The Wisconsin Assembly is considering legislation that would bar the University of Wisconsin system from considering race and diversity when awarding state-funded financial aid to students. Gov. Tony Evers (D) is likely to veto the bill if it wins approval. (Associated Press)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown (D) and Natasha Dartigue, head of the Office of the Public Defender, are launching a partnership to reduce the mass incarceration of Black men. Black men make up 14% of the state’s population, but 73% of the male prison population. (Washington Post)

HEALTH CARE: The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved legislation making feminine hygiene products free in restrooms in public schools, group homes and shelters and prisons and jails. Similar legislation died in the state House last session. (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)

RAILROADS: The EPA and Norfolk Southern say they will finish removing contaminated soil from the site of a train derailment near East Palestine, Ohio, this weekend. Officials say the broader cleanup effort isn’t over, but they have removed 167,000 tons of contaminated soil and 39 million gallons of tainted water from the crash site. (Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

GEORGIA: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has called legislators into special session Nov. 29 to redraw congressional district lines after a federal judge ruled the existing lines violate the Voting Rights Act. Legislators will have to draw a new majority-Black district, likely giving Democrats a new seat in Congress. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Our friend Amy Walter’s reaction: “OUT: Redistricting every 10 years. IN: Redistricting every 10 minutes.”

OHIO: Supporters of a constitutional right to an abortion raised almost $29 million in the month since Sept. 8, according to new campaign finance disclosures, almost three times the $10 million opponents raised in the same period. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Associated Press)

NORTH CAROLINA: U.S. Rep. Jeff Jackson (D) will run for attorney general, after the legislature redrew his district to favor a Republican candidate. Jackson will likely face fellow Rep. Dan Bishop (R) next November. Incumbent Josh Stein (D) is running for governor. (Raleigh News & Observer)

MISSOURI: Springfield businessman Mike Hamra (D) will run for governor next year, joining House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D) in the Democratic primary. The winner will face off against one of three Republicans — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R), Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe (R) and state Sen. Bill Eigel (R). (Kansas City Star)

By The Numbers

$454 million: The amount of debt Minnesota has sold to pay for renovations to the state office building. The 90-year old building needs some serious upgrades to fix flooding and mold problems, poor ventilations and safety hazards. (Minnesota Reformer)

10%: The decline in drug overdose deaths in Mississippi between 2021 and 2022. Overdose deaths are still about twice what they were in 2016, before fentanyl began flooding the drug market. (Mississippi Free Press)

16%: The share of New Jersey residents who think the New Jersey Devil might be real. 44% say ghosts are likely or somewhat likely to be real, according to a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll. (New Jersey Globe)

Off The Wall

Former President George W. Bush will throw out the first pitch before the opening game of the World Series tonight. Bush used to head the ownership group of the Texas Rangers, who face off with the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Associated Press)

Chinese security officials briefly argued with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) security detail when Newsom wanted to take a ride on a mountainside toboggan below the Great Wall. The Chinese officials said the ride wasn’t safe. Newsom went careening down the mountain anyway. (Los Angeles Times)

We will bring you video of the ride as soon as we find it.

Move over, Alaska’s fattest bear, and make room for Rocky, the winner of the Hawaii Marine Animal Response’s chunkiest monk seal contest. Rocky became the first recorded monk seal to give birth in Waikiki in 2017; she has 14 pups. (Hawaii News Now)

Quote of the Day

“We have a guest in the chamber.”

Alabama Rep. Matt Simpson (R), chairman of the House Ethics and Finance Committee, pausing a committee meeting when a person in a gorilla costume walked in and sat in the back. (