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Governors Spotlight: Bitcoin Mining, TikTok Ban, DEI & More

December 02, 2022 (4 min read)

NY Gov Partially Limits Bitcoin Mining, Signs NIL Bill

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has signed legislation imposing the nation’s first temporary ban on new fossil fuel-powered cryptocurrency mining projects.

The moratorium under AB 7389 applies to fossil-fuel power plants seeking new permits to convert to proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining, a process used in the transaction of digital currencies like Bitcoin. It does not apply to already existing mining operations or those which connect directly into the power grid or use renewable energy sources.

The law further requires the Empire State to study the crypto industry’s impact on the state’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Hochul faced intense pressure from both supporters and opponents of the measure since its passage in June, with the crypto industry lobbying hard for a veto while environmental groups pushed equally hard for her to sign the bill into law. But Hochul – who had until the end of the year to act on the bill – put off addressing it until after securing re-election on Nov. 8th. Her opponent, Republican Lee Zeldin opposed the legislation.

In a signing memo, Gov. Hochul acknowledged that cryptocurrency mining – which involves extremely powerful computers solving complex mathematical equations to validate transactions – could provide a significant economic boost to upstate communities “that have been left behind.” But the process requires extraordinary amounts of electricity, a fact environmentalists say makes it almost impossible to reach the state’s climate reduction goals. 

Hochul ultimately signed the measure, calling it “a key step for New York as we work to address the global climate crisis.”

The governor also signed SB 5891, a measure that allows college athletes to be paid for the use of their name, image or likeness without losing their college eligibility or scholarships. The Empire State became at least the 32nd to adopt a so-called NIL law since California became the first in 2019. Measures to amend current NIL laws are also in the works in California and New Jersey. (NEW YORK TIMES, POLITICO, NEW YORK GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

SD Gov Bans TikTok

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) issued Executive Order 2022-10, which bans the social media app Tik Tok from state devices used by State of South Dakota government employees, contractors and agencies.

In her directive, Noem called the Chinese-owned social media platform a “growing national security threat.”

Her words echo that of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who told a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing that he had “a number of concerns” about TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices,” Wray testified.

Under Chinese law, companies can be forced to share their data with government officials. The company has argued that it stores U.S. user data in America and is free from Chinese government content moderation requirements. But multiple media reports have shown that China-based ByteDance employees have accessed personal data of U.S. users on numerous occasions.    

The South Dakota ban took effect immediately. (SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER, SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

CT Gov Signs Bill Extending Tax Cuts, Free Bus Service

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) signed SB 6001, a measure that extends a handful of cost-saving measures for consumers first adopted in the spring.

The main tenet of the measure Scott signed is extending a suspension of the state’s 25-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax through the end of the year, after which it will be reinstated in 5-cent increments over the first five months of 2023.

The bill also extends the suspension of fares on public transit buses through March of next year and allows retailers to continue selling off inventory without being in violation of the changes to the state’s beverage container redemption program that are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. 

The measure also bolsters the federally-funded Low-Income Household Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program with another $30 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. (CONNECTICUT GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, NBC CONNECTICUT)

VT Gov Announces New DEI Program

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced the launch of a new statewide inclusivity program called IDEAL Vermont - standing for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action and Leadership – to encourage local municipalities to focus more on equity and inclusion in their practices and policies.

The program will be coordinated by the state Office of Racial Equity. Executive Director Xusana Davis said the mission will be to bring municipalities together to share ideas and gather information about equity initiatives, from land use to policing.

Davis said that communities which sign on will have access to a resource library and technical guidance, and can apply for small grants as they work to improve equity in areas such as local education or zoning policies. (NECN [NEEDHAM], VERMONT DIGGER)

OH Gov Prioritizes Mental Health in Budget Proposal

Newly re-elected Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said he would ask lawmakers to commit to expanding mental health services, research, and job development in 2023, including building a new behavioral-health research hub in the Buckeye State, conducting a “landmark study” of the root causes of mental illness and addiction, and ensuring that Ohioans can get a full range of mental-health services in their area. DeWine said he would unveil the full plan to lawmakers as part of his annual budget proposal next year. (CLEVELAND.COM)

CA Gov Calls Special Session on Gas Prices

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called a special session to address historically high gas prices in the Golden State. The governor is calling for “a price gouging penalty on oil companies that will keep money in Californians’ pockets.” (CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, SACRAMENTO BEE)

--Compiled by RICH EHISEN


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