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Governors Roundup: TikTok Ban, Death Sentences, Affordable Housing & More

December 16, 2022

More GOP Govs Ban TikTok

Citing data privacy concerns, a growing number of Republican governors have issued orders barring the use of the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from state-owned devices.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem started the trend in November, and was quickly followed in kind by governors in Maryland, Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Nebraska. They were subsequently joined this week by governors in Idaho, Utah, North Dakota and Iowa.

“TikTok raises multiple flags in terms of the amount of data it collects and how that data may be shared with and used by the Chinese government,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said in a statement.

In a statement, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called the app “a national security risk to our country,” adding “I refuse to subject the citizens of Iowa to that risk.”

At issue is whether ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, could be compelled by the Chinese government to share the data it collects on the app’s millions of users. The company said the bans are being driven by “misinformation” about the company.

“We are always happy to meet with state policymakers to discuss our privacy and security practices,” ByteDance spokesperson Jamal Brown told the Associated Press. “We are disappointed that the many state agencies, offices, and universities that have been using TikTok to build communities and connect with constituents will no longer have access to our platform.”

The bans generally prohibit state employees under the executive branch from downloading or using the TikTok app or visiting the website on any state-owned devices.

Republican lawmakers in several other states have indicated they will introduce legislation to ban the app if their governor doesn’t do so via executive order first.

Bipartisan legislation to impose a national ban is also moving through the U.S. Congress. To date, no Democratic governors have announced a ban or plans to impose one. (DES MOINES REGISTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS, NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, IOWA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

Baker to Head NCAA

Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) already has a new job lined up – president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Baker said he was initially cool to the idea when first approached by the NCAA in recent months. But he gradually warmed to it when he realized the situation was similar to others he has been in during his career.

“Yeah, it’s big and complicated. So have been a lot of things I’ve done in my life, but most of the time, they were absolutely worth doing,” Baker said during the introductory press conference.

“It’s about being a convener and the collaborator of a very large organization that has a lot of points of view and seeking to find those places where people can come together, can agree, and can make a case generally to the public, to their student athletes, to their alumni and their fans about what the best way to ensure that we don’t lose this jewel going forward,” he added.

Long considered a pragmatist who excels at building consensus on complex issues, Baker will be tasked with helping the NCAA heal some fences with Congress, which has been reluctant to answer the organization’s wishes for federal legislation around the issue of college athlete compensation. (ESPN, BOSTON GLOBE, NCAA, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE [BOSTON])

Noem Wants to Limit Foreign Ownership of SD Ag land

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) joined with two GOP lawmakers to propose legislation that would restrict the purchase of state agricultural land by foreign buyers.

The legislation would create a new state committee to investigate proposed purchases of ag land by foreign interests and recommend either approval or denial to the governor.

“With this new process, we will be able to prevent nations who hate us – like Communist China – from buying up our state’s agriculture land,” Noem said in a statement. “We cannot allow the Chinese Communist Party to continue to buy up our nation’s food supply, so South Dakota will lead the charge on this vital national security issue.”

The measure will be authored in the Flickertail State Legislature by Sen. Erin Tobin and Rep. Gary Cammack, both Republicans. (ARGUS LEADER [SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA GOVENOR’S OFFICE)

OR Gov Commutes 17 Death Sentences

Calling capital punishment “both dysfunctional and immoral,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) commuted the death sentences of all 17 prisoners awaiting execution in the Beaver State to life without parole.

“I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people — even if a terrible crime placed them in prison,” Brown said in a statement. “This is a value that many Oregonians share.”

Brown further ordered state corrections officials to dismantle the state’s lone death chamber, located at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.

Oregon has had a moratorium on executions since 2011, imposed by then-Gov. John Kitzhaber (D). Brown’s successor, Democratic Gov.-elect Tina Kotek, has made clear her own opposition to capital punishment and is expected to keep that prohibition in place as well. (PORTLAND OREGONIAN, CNN, OREGON GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

WA Gov Pitches $4B for Affordable Housing

The budget proposal unveiled by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) last week includes $4B to support 7,500 new affordable housing units statewide over the next two years, while preserving another 2,700 units already in existence.

“Our traditional systems for funding housing take an incremental approach, but if there was ever a time we need to buck those systems, it’s now,” Inslee said in his budget address. “Homelessness and housing shortages are burdening every community in Washington. We can’t wait decades to build, we need housing now or the numbers of people sliding into homelessness will grow.” (SEATTLE TIMES, AXIOS)

-- Compiled by RICH EHISEN

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