5 State Policy Trends to Watch in 2024

March 18, 2024
5 State Policy Trends to Watch in 2024

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[Read an in-depth analysis on key policy areas of 2024.]

2024 has brought new or renewed attention to a variety of issues, including the influence of AI-generated deepfakes on elections, the effects of social media on young people, the introduction of climate disclosure legislation, the expansion of data privacy laws, and the rise in minimum wages, especially within specific industries. Here are five key state policy areas to watch in greater detail throughout this year.

States create laws to combat AI deepfakes in elections

Seven states have outlawed the use of artificial intelligence in political campaigns to mitigate the risks of misinformation during elections.

All seven bills share the same objective of curbing the production of election-related deepfakes by requiring content creators to disclose that they used AI-generated images, video, or audio of candidates. Without this disclosure, deepfakes could mislead voters into believing falsities and ultimately influence the outcome of an election.

Each state differs in addressing this issue. Disclosure requirements apply only 90 days before an election in such proposals as New Hampshire (HB 1596), South Carolina (HB 4660), and New Jersey (AB 5510). Illinois’ bill (SB 1742) imposes a 30-day limit.

Disclosure measures pertain to anyone distributing election materials in many states; however, Wisconsin’s bill would specifically target candidates, parties, and committees.

In New Jersey, the proposed bill allows any register voter, along with political candidates, to sue for an injunctive or other equitable relief. South Carolina and New Hampshire are considering similar measures.

More social media restriction laws receive pushback

Governors in New York, Virginia, and Idaho are prioritizing new social media restrictions for young people in 2024 to tackle rising mental health issues, social media addiction, and other concerns. However, so far, the tech industry has blocked implementation of these laws in Arkansas, Ohio, and California through legal measures.

NetChoice, a tech trade association, has successfully filed several First Amendment lawsuits to prevent the passage of state-level online restriction laws. Despite legal setbacks, state lawmakers continue to propose legislation with more stringent social media regulations.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin asked legislators to draft a bill that restricts access to TikTok for youth under 18. Similarly, Idaho Gov. Brad Little urged legislators to enact substantial reforms to safeguard children from the negative impacts of social media. Florida lawmakers have filed a bill that would prohibit minors from using social media.

Opponents, including the Chamber of Progress, argue that social media restriction laws are a form of digital censorship, which can adversely impact vulnerable communities, like LGBTQ youth, who might not have the same level of support at home as they do on online spaces.

California’s climate disclosure law influences other state legislators

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed first-in-the-nation legislation requiring thousands of private and public companies to disclose climate-related financial risks and report greenhouse gas emissions.

The emissions reporting legislation (SB 253) applies to any company doing business in California and generating $1 billion in revenue to report their emissions from operations and outputs from energy use beginning in 2026.

A second bill (SB 261) requires companies with over $500 million in revenue and that have operations in the Golden State to report every two years on climate-related financial risks on or before Jan. 1, 2026.

The two bills go further than the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s disclosure requirements, which apply only to public companies. More than 5,300 companies are covered by the new rules, including Apple Inc., Salesforce Inc., and Google.

Based off California’s reporting requirements, New York lawmakers wrote the Climate Corporate Accountability Act to drive forth further sustainability efforts. However, the bill (S897A) still sits with the Senate Committee.

Download: 2024 State Policy Watchlist

Read the complete breakdown of how states are addressing key policy areas, including AI, social media, climate, data privacy, and minimum wage.

New privacy laws take effect but diverge in approaches to health and kids’ data

Throughout 2024, comprehensive consumer privacy laws in Florida, Oregon, Texas, and Montana will go into effect. In 2025, laws in Iowa, Tennessee, and Delaware will become effective. In 2026, Indiana’s privacy law will be implemented.

Reflecting bipartisan concerns over data privacy, this patchwork of state laws requires companies to be transparent about what information they are collecting from consumers and how that data is utilized. Under most of these laws, consumers are given the right to access their data, correct inaccuracies, delete their personal information, and opt out of targeted advertising.

Although state privacy laws share a similar framework, there is variation in how compliance is enforced and what entities are covered or exempted. States are also deviating from each other in their approach to health data and children’s privacy, including laws in Utah and Arkansas that require parental consent for minors to use social media.

State and local governments are pushing wage floors higher

Minimum-wage workers are scheduled to get greater hourly pay in more than 20 states and roughly 40 cities and counties in 2024. That number is anticipated to rise throughout the year in both blue and red states.

State legislators have begun mandating industry-specific increases. For example, in California, employers will have to pay a minimum of $20 for fast-food workers April 1 and $25 for workers in health-care facilities, starting June 1.

Although these legislative deals are seen as wins from California’s powerful labor unions, lawmakers may scale back some scheduled increases, as the state faces a budget shortfall.

Based on voter-approved ballot initiatives, Republican-led states, like Florida and Nebraska, are moving toward $15 minimums by 2026. Similarly, ballot proposals for a $15 minimum wage could go before Ohio and Oklahoma voters this November.

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