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Governors Spotlight: Crypto Mining, Ban on Plastics, Tenant Safety & More

July 01, 2022 (6 min read)

Upstate Dems Pressure NY Gov to Halt Crypto Mining

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is facing pressure from some members of her own party over a pending bill that would pause crypto mining in the Empire State.

Eight Democratic officials from county committees in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions sent Hochul a letter last week urging her to sign the bill, which would impose a two-year moratorium on the practice. Environmental groups oppose proof-of-work (PoW) data mining over the high amount of energy it uses, something they say is in direct contrast to the state’s carbon reduction goals. Under AB 7389, approved in the waning days of the Empire State legislative session, only PoW operations fueled by 100 percent, renewable energy would be allowed to continue operations.

Hochul has remained noncommittal on the measure amidst growing pressure from both supporters and opponents of cryptocurrencies.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has urged her to veto the bill, saying it would “get in the way” of crypto investments upstate. But opponents note that both Adams and Hochul have also taken large campaign donations from the crypto industry.

Hochul in theory had 10 days from the bill’s June 3rd passage to sign or veto the measure, but she recently told reporters she might not act on the bill until toward the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Hochul and federal officials did sign off on an agreement that returns more than 1,000 acres of land to the Onondaga Nation. The tribe plans to use the reacquisition to create a wildlife and brook trout sanctuary. (NEW YORK GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, COINTELEGRAPH, CITIZEN [AUBURN], SPECTRUM NEWS, NEW YORK TIMES, NEW YORKER, PROTOCOL)

CA Gov Signs Sweeping Plastics Ban, Massive Budget

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed SB 54, a bill that imposes the nation’s strictest regulations on single-use plastics and packaging.

The bill’s tenets will be phased in. Starting on Jan. 1, 2028, 30 percent of all the plastic items sold, distributed or imported into the state must be recyclable. That figure rises to 40 percent on Jan. 1, 2030, and 65 percent on Jan. 1, 2032.

The measure further requires that at least 25 percent of all expanded polystyrene be recycled by 2025 or the product will be banned in the Golden State. Supporters of the bill said that tenet almost assures a ban will be implemented, noting that recycling rates for expanded polystyrene are currently in the low single digits.

Companies that fall into non-compliance face penalties of up to $50,000 per day, and there are strict limits on how fees collected from recycling can be used.

Newsom’s signing of the bill ended months of negotiations between environmental groups, lawmakers, and industrial leaders over how to best reduce plastic wastes in the environment. The agreement also ensures that a proposed ballot measure will not go before voters in November. That proposal would undoubtedly have been even stricter but was unlikely to have received the full support of the environmental community.

Newsom also signed a $308 billion budget deal that promises gas refunds for 17.5 million Californians. Refund checks will range from $200 for individuals to $1050 for couples.

The gas rebates are part of an overall $17 billion relief package, with $9.5 billion in gas refunds, $1.4 billion in utility payment assistance, expanded tax credits, $250 million for paid sick leave grants, a suspension of the sales tax on diesel fuel at a cost of $439 million to the state and $75 million in drought relief grants. (LOS ANGELES TIMES, CALMATTERS, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

FL Gov Vetoes Business Tax Bill, Signs Tenant Safety Bill

Calling its language too “broad and ambiguous,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vetoed a bill (SB 620) that that would have required taxpayers to pay damages if a local government ordinance results in a business losing 15 percent of its revenues. The measure was opposed by local governments, who said it would encourage frivolous lawsuits and pit businesses against each other.

DeSantis did sign SB 898, a bill that among several things will require landlords or licensees of transient and non-transient apartments to perform background checks on prospective employees, maintain a log for each dwelling unit’s keys, and increase notification requirements for maintenance and repairs from 12 to 24 hours. The law also bars motels and hotels from charging hourly room rates as a way to try to prevent sex trafficking. (MIAMI HERALD, VILLAGES-NEWS)

Dem Govs Continue Efforts to Safeguard Abortion

A number of Democratic governors continued to take actions to protect access to abortion and contraceptives in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling on Dobbs vs. Jackson.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz (D) issued an executive order that prohibits state agencies from helping other states investigate or prosecute people who seek reproductive health care that’s legal in Minnesota. Similar orders were issued by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R).

Baker is the lone Republican to issue such an order. He has also encouraged the state to offer incentives to lure companies away from states that have banned or have said they will ban abortion.

All of these efforts come in the wake of governors in California, Oregon, and Washington forming a compact intended to, as noted in a release by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), “defend access to reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, and committed to protecting patients and doctors against efforts by other states to export their abortion bans to our states.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) signed HB 455, a bill that allows medical professionals to continue providing abortion services and bars the state from extraditing anyone to another state over providing those services. The measure also protects Delaware citizens from civil litigation from those states. (CNN, BOSTON GLOBE, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, NEVADA INDEPENDENT, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO, KRQE NEWS)

MO Gov Signs Voting Laws

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed HB 1878, which among several things requires all registered voters to provide a photo ID to vote and repeals the use of mail-in ballots. The measure further bans the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and prohibits the use of electronic vote-counting machines after January 1, 2024.

Parson also signed HB 1606, legislation that bars people from sleeping on state-owned property and gives the state attorney general the power to sue local governments from enforcing the ban. Opponents say the bill criminalizes homelessness, while supporters say it takes a new approach to homelessness by prioritizing short-term shelter for unhoused people. (MISSOURI GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH)

HI Gov Issues Veto List

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) issued a list of bills he intends to veto. The list includes a vaping ban (HB 1570) critics say became so convoluted it eventually lost the support of anti-vaping groups, a bail reform bill (HB 1567) opposed by a large coalition of prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and all four county mayors, and a bill (SB 2510) that would require each island to have at least 33.33 percent of its renewable energy generated by “firm” renewable energy, which is renewable energy that is available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year with exceptions for maintenance and repairs. (MAUI NOW, HAWAII GOVERNOR’S OFFICE)

 --Compiled By RICH EHISEN


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