On Apr. 20, 2023, Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5087, which removed the laws the state supreme court found unconstitutionally, officially abolishing the death penalty in Washington. The states’s supreme court ruled the laws unconstitutional in 2018.
On Apr. 7, 2023, two federal district court judges issued conflicting preliminary injunctions. On Apr. 12, 2023, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the Texas case allowing mifepristone to remain on the market while the case is heard, but restricting access: the drug may only be dispensed up to seven weeks of pregnancy instead of 10 and may not be dispensed through the mail.
Utah and Arkansas passed laws in Mar. and Apr. 2023 respectively that implement minimum age requirements among other stipulations for minors’ use of social media platforms.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation making Florida the 26th constitutional (permitless) concealed carry state.
In Mar. 2023, the Youngkin administration announced that people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences would have to apply to have their voting rights restored, a split from the previous three administrations during which rights were restored automatically by the governors.
Idaho became the first (and, thus far, only) state to enact an “abortion trafficking” law (H.B. 242) on Apr. 5, 2023.
On Mar. 24, 2023, Governor Brad Little signed HB 186 to legalize the firing squad as a backup method for the death penalty should lethal injection not be an option.
The world’s fifth-largest economy, California, will now require that half of all heavy vehicles (garbage trucks, tractor-trailers, cement mixers, etc.) sold in the state be all-electric by 2035, the same year all new passenger vehicles sold in the state are required to be electric. California was granted approval by the Biden administration on Mar. 31, 2023 to enact the plan, which required federal approval because it exceeds federal requirements.
Amid the field growing by leaps and bounds, on Mar. 29, 2023, tech giants including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, as well as leaders in other industries including Craig Peters, CEO of Getty Images, author Yuval Noah Harari, and politician Andrew Yang, published an open letter calling for a six-month pause on AI “systems more powerful than GPT-4.” The letter states, “Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable…. AI research and development should be refocused on making today’s powerful, state-of-the-art systems more accurate, safe, interpretable, transparent, robust, aligned, trustworthy, and loyal.” The letter, which was open for additional signatures, garnered 1380 signatures by Mar. 30, 2023, from other industry leaders as well as professors, artists, and grandmothers.
The European Union finalized an agreement on Mar. 28, 2023 to phase out new gas-powered cars by 2035. All new cars will have to be zero emissions, with the exception of sales of e-fueled (fuels made from captured CO2 emissions) cars at Germany’s request.
Mechoulam was called “the father of cannabis research” for a lifetime of research that included discovering THC in 1964 and then in 1992 identifying the first endogenous cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid), a natural version of THC in the brain.
A Mar. 2023 criminology study found that while police departments have not been widely defunded, the departments are experiencing between a 2.2% and 16% loss of full-time police officers. The loss has prompted some departments, including the New Orleans Police Department, to use third party organizations to respond to some 911 calls including minor traffic accidents.
John I. Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick, President and Athletics Director of Notre Dame University argue, “We have been vocal in our conviction that student-athletes should be allowed to… profit from their celebrity — for one simple reason: Other students are allowed to. If a college student is a talented artist or musician no one begrudges him the chance to make money from his skills. And athletes should as far as possible have the opportunities other students enjoy.” Do you agree or disagree?
In 2022, attempts to ban books doubled from 2021 with 1,269 attempts to ban 2,571 unique titles, according to the American Library Association. The numbers also reflect a trend in which one complaint includes challenges for multiple books, whereas in the past most complaints only included one book.
Newly updated resources include:
State Voting Laws & Policies for People with Felony Convictions
Number of People by State Who Cannot Vote Due to a Felony Conviction
Incarcerated Population by Type of Crime Committed