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Governor's Spotlight: Social Media Legislation, Child Care Services, Loan Forgiveness & More

September 16, 2022 (3 min read)

CA Gov Signs First-in-the-Nation Social Media Bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 587, a first-in-the-nation bill that requires social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms.

The law further requires companies to make twice-annual reports on their enforcement of those policies to the state attorney general’s office. Data reports must also include details about how automated content is being moderated, how often content flagged for removal is still being viewed, and how that content was handled.

“California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country,” Newsom said in a statement.

The law has drawn strong praise from civil rights and anti-hate groups, but harsh criticism from tech companies and free speech advocates.

Adam Kovacevich, CEO of the industry group Chamber of Progress told the Washington Post the law is “like requiring a bookstore to report to the government which books it carries, or requiring the New York Times to explain which stories it publishes.”

Newsom followed that up days later by endorsing AB 2273, which among many things, bars “companies that provide online services, products or features likely to be accessed by children from using a child’s personal information; collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation; profiling a child by default; and leading or encouraging children to provide personal information.”

The tech industry had been girding itself for the bill’s signing for weeks. But privacy supporters were elated.

“Today, California is leading the way in making the digital world safe for American children, becoming the first state in the nation to require tech companies to install guardrails on their apps and websites for users under 18,” said Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D), one of the bill’s authors, in a statement. “The Design Code is a game changer, and a major step forward in creating a global standard for the protection of youth online.”

The signings came days after Newsom signed two more first-of-their-kind bills: AB 257, which will create a statewide council to regulate wages and workplace conditions in the fast food industry and SB 1338, which creates a new program to direct persons suffering from severe mental illnesses into treatment even if it is against their will. (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, CAL MATTERS, WASHINGTON POST, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

AK Gov Signs Min Wage Exemption Bill

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) signed SB 185, legislation that repeals a Last Frontier law that allowed employers to pay workers with physical or mental disabilities a subminimum wage. (ALASKA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

ND Gov Unveils Child Care Proposal

Saying the high cost of child care has forced many families “to make a choice to work and pay for childcare or not work at all,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) joined with legislative leaders to unveil the framework for legislation that would use up to $80 million in state funds to address the availability, affordability and quality of child care services across the Flickertail State.

Burgum said the state has 64,000 kids under age five spread across 45,000 households, adding that the lack of affordable quality child care has led to “tens of thousands of unfilled jobs.”

The proposal, which is still in draft form, would include a childcare tax credit for low- to middle-income families, expansion of child care assistance and matching money for businesses that offer their employees childcare. (INFORUM [BISMARCK], U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT)

NY Gov Signs Student Loan Forgiveness Bill

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed SB 8389, a bill that establishes uniformity around what qualifies as full-time employment for the purposes of accessing the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and allowing public service employers to certify employment on behalf of workers. The measure expands the program to include teachers and faculty who work 30 hours a week. (NEW YORK GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, SPECTRUM NEWS1)

GOP Govs Demand Biden Rescind Student Loan Forgiveness

Twenty-two GOP governors signed a letter to President Joe Biden demanding he “immediately” rescind his plan to forgive as much as $20,000 in student loan debt for eligible borrowers. The governors claimed the plan will disproportionately benefit higher-salaried workers at the expense of those making less. Biden’s plan caps eligibility at those making $125,000 or less annually. The GOP governors claim the plan will cost $600 billion annually; The Biden administration estimates the annual cost of the program at $24 billion. A report from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania pegs the cost at $469 billion to $519 billion over 10 years. (REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA)

--Compiled by RICH EHISEN


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