Pluribus AM: TikTok becomes GOP punching bag; OH lawmakers advance election overhaul; FL Senate passes insurance fixes

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. In today’s edition, TikTok becomes a GOP boogeyman; Ohio lawmakers advance elections overhaul; N.C. legislators plan new protections for energy infrastructure after attacks:

Top Stories

TIKTOK: Republican attorneys general from 15 states are demanding that Apple and Google increase the age rating for the social media site TikTok in their respective app stores. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) filed lawsuits last week alleging the app lures children to its platform without offering adequate protections. (Pluribus News) 

MORE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) joined half a dozen of their GOP colleagues in banning TikTok from state-issued phones and devices. (Des Moines Register, Fargo Forum, Yellowhammer News) TikTok has become the next front in a war on China.

OHIO: Lame duck session updates: An election overhaul package, including voter ID provisions, restrictions on absentee ballots, limiting drop boxes, and eliminating a day of in-person early voting, has passed the state Senate. (Columbus Dispatch) A proposal to change the threshold for approving constitutional amendments to 60% of the vote now looks unlikely to pass. (Columbus Dispatch) Further abortion restrictions aren’t going to happen this year. (Statehouse News Bureau)

FLORIDA: The state Senate approved an insurance reform measure that industry groups support. The bill ends a requirement that an insurance company pay a homeowner’s legal fees, and allows policyholders to assign benefits directly to contractors. It also increases rates for the state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. (Orlando Sentinel) Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) plans to convene a grand jury to investigate “wrongdoing” during the pandemic. (Associated Press)

NORTH CAROLINA: Senate President Phil Berger (R) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R) said they will prioritize new protections for utility companies and electric substations after attacks on facilities in Moore County earlier this month. Moore said he wants to work with Duke Energy, the state’s largest utility, to figure out how to fortify those facilities. (Raleigh News & Observer)

MICHIGAN: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) plans to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and middle-income workers, and to repeal a pension tax on seniors. The proposals, which would benefit about 1.2 million households, would cost the state $757 million per year. Democrats say their narrow majorities probably put tax increases on the rich out of reach. (BridgeMI)

MORE: Whitmer has signed a bill allocating $575 million for teacher recruitment and retention programs. The bill includes $175 million to certify support staff as fully authorized teachers, and $305 million for a fellowship and scholarship program to pay tuition costs for new teachers. (Center Square)

NEW MEXICO: Lawmakers are considering new abortion rights measures they might pass in next year’s session. Plans include codifying abortion rights in state law, investing in Telehealth and clinics that provide reproductive care and protecting doctors and patients who travel to New Mexico to get around restrictions in other states. (Albuquerque Journal)

OREGON: Gov. Kate Brown (D) has commuted the sentences of all 17 people on Oregon’s death row to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Brown also ordered the Department of Corrections to dismantle the state’s death chamber. Oregon has not executed any prisoners for at least a quarter century, though the death penalty remains on the books. (Oregonian)

TAX CUTS: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) says he is considering cutting income taxes for those who make up to $150,000 or $200,000 a year. (Republican-American) Utah legislators want to use $400 million for tax cuts, though lawmakers have not decided what form those cuts would take. (Salt Lake Tribune)

In Politics

ARIZONA: Courts held initial hearings in lawsuits filed by gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) and Secretary of State nominee Mark Finchem (R) on Tuesday. The hearing into Lake’s lawsuit was delayed after someone distributed the link to a Microsoft Teams line reserved for attorneys in the case. The judge will hear arguments over a motion to dismiss on Monday. (Arizona Republic)

MICHIGAN: The state redistricting commission has sued the legislature, asking a state court to order lawmakers to appropriate $3.1 million to fight challenges to new voting district lines. The commission says lawmakers have violated the state constitution by failing to appropriate new funds. (Detroit Free Press)

NEW YORK: Lawmakers are considering a measure to ban themselves from receiving outside incomes, and increasing legislator pay to compensate. State lawmakers earn $110,000 a year for their service. That figure could rise to $130,000 a year under draft proposals under discussion in Albany. (State of Politics)

CALIFORNIA: High turnover in the state legislature has breathed new life into a proposal to allow legislative staff to unionize. Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor (D), just sworn into her first term in office, introduced a measure allowing unionization along with 26 cosponsors. Former Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D), who killed the bill last year, is gone; he won election to be Sacramento County Sheriff this year. (CalMatters)

ALASKA: Trial began Tuesday in a lawsuit challenging state Rep. David Eastman’s (R) eligibility to hold public office, based on a clause in the state constitution that bars someone from holding office if they belong to a group that advocates the overthrow of the U.S. government. Eastman, a member of the Oath Keepers, is the first elected official to face such a challenge. (Anchorage Daily News)

By The Numbers

1636: The year the Massachusetts National Guard was established, the first such force in the colonies. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Major Gen. Gary Keefe celebrated the Guard’s 386th birthday at a ceremony at the State House on Tuesday. The Guard’s 181st and 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery and the 101st Engineer Battalion are the oldest military units in the nation. (Boston Herald)

$74.22: The price of a barrel of Alaska North Slope crude oil as of last week, well below the $87 per barrel Alaska needs to break even for the fiscal year. The slumping prices mean the legislature may have about $1.3 billion less to spend next year. (Alaska Beacon)

Off The Wall

Kilauea and Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s two active volcanoes, have stopped erupting, the U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday. Mauna Loa began erupting Nov. 27, after 38 years of inactivity. Kilauea has been erupting since last September. (Associated Press)

Do you have grievances that you’d like to share beyond your Twitter account? Well the Tampa Bay Times is the place for you. The newspaper is soliciting Festivus grievances for their seventh annual list. A great one from years past: “As a New Yorker that moved to St. Pete this summer, I’m annoyed by how many New Yorkers moved to St. Pete this summer.” (Tampa Bay Times)

Quote of the Day

“[M]ost people are armed up here, so we don’t worry too much.”

Catherine Gasper, a resident of Mineral, Calif., where Tahama County police have stopped daytime patrols because of what the outgoing sheriff calls a “catastrophic staffing shortage.” (CalMatters)