Southern States Approaches to Regulating Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Decision-Making, and Machine Learning

In a brief nine-month period between late 2022 and early 2023, users in the United States conducted nearly 19 billion visits to the most popular generative artificial intelligence (AI) application on the web. These American users – more than 5.5 billion – represented more than 22 percent of these AI applications’ worldwide user base. Despite rising to prominence among the cultural zeitgeist, these tools are still in a state of early integration in business and public sector work, with the United States Census Buraeu’s Business Trends and Outlook Survey reporting that, as of November 28, 2023, less than 4 percent of U.S. businesses say they are using artificial intelligence to produce goods or services. Recognizing the urgent need to study how existing regulations apply and what new guardrails are needed for AI, state leaders are taking steps to understand this complex topic as its usage increasingly gains widespread commercial appeal.

In response to the proliferation of AI, state lawmakers across the U.S. introduced more than 780 pieces of legislation concerning aspects of artificial intelligence. From the first proposal filed in 2003 to the more than 200 measures proposed in 2023 alone, this issue has been on members’ minds for more than a decade.

Click Here to Download the Full Issue Alert

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A Tough Pill To Swallow: How States Are Facilitating School Responses to Youth Opioid Overdoses

From the small towns of Appalachia and the rural Deep South to the college towns in the heartland, the heights of the Ozarks and Smokey Mountains, the vacation destinations of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, and beyond, abuse and misuse of illicit or prescribed opioids is an epidemic without boundaries. Indeed, every state in the South has suffered dearly from this crisis. Nearly one in four (or 24.9 percent) individuals aged 12 or older reported illicit drug use or abuse in the past year. According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 3.5 million youth between the ages of 12 and 17 misused prescription or illicit drugs in the past year – including more than 420,000 who used or misused opiates. Most of these individuals (44.6 percent) reported receiving, stealing, or purchasing opioids from friends or relatives, while another 41.3 percent were prescribed or stolen from a healthcare provider. Others bought from a drug dealer or other unknown individual (8.5 percent) or obtained the drugs some other way (5.6 percent).

This is especially troubling given the seven states that dispense opioids at the highest rate are in the South – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Tennessee – making youth in these states inherently more vulnerable to exposure to these dangerous drugs.

Click Here to Download the Full Regional Resource

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Southern Pulse Newsletter, March

As the days are growing warmer, sunsets are coming later, and the sounds of March Madness fills the air, we can only know that sine die is approaching soon for many of you. To all of our member states who are counting down the days, we hope that this month brings good luck to you.

In the CSG South office, we are still going strong with our state visits. We recently wrapped up Oklahoma and we will be visiting Tennessee this week, with Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas all in April!

Our planning for the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is continuing to steam ahead. Please continue to check your emails for any critical updates that will come within the next couple of months. Visit our registration website here for deadlines, sessions, and more details.

Finally, we want to feature your STAR state! Please check out our State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award. The winner will be honored at the closing state dinner at SLC at the historical Greenbrier in West Virginia.

Our members are truly the pot of gold under the rainbow – we are so lucky to have you all!

All the best,
Lindsey G.

Click Here to Read Southern Pulse – March 2024

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CSG South Announces Collaboration with Casey Family Programs

Download Official Release Here

Atlanta, Georgia – March 22, 2024 – CSG South has partnered with Casey Family Programs to work with five Southern states to delve deeper into identifying child welfare system approaches that can better serve children and families. This partnership will provide increased knowledge, collaboration, and resources to the participant states and will provide a template for additional work throughout the South.  

The five states selected for this initial project are Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia. In the next year, CSG South, with support from Casey Family Programs, will conduct focus groups and learning opportunities with stakeholders working to improve outcomes for children and families involved in or at risk of being involved with child protective services, including legislators and child welfare professionals.  

As part of the project, CSG South will hold webinars to provide training and technical assistance on relevant topics identified in the focus groups and develop products to help inform the rest of the field.  

“It is always our goal to do what we can to help children and families thrive,” said David Sanders, Casey Family Programs’ Executive Vice President for Systems Improvement. “We are grateful for the commitment and partnership of CSG South in seeking innovative practices and policies that can safely reduce the need for foster care, strengthen families, and ultimately help these five states better serve their communities.” 

“CSG South is excited to partner with Casey Family Programs, one of the most respected and well-known child welfare foundations in the country, to examine child welfare systems in five Southern states and collaborate on how to better serve children and families. While this is not a challenge unique to the South, this collaboration will place the South as leaders in addressing this issue,” said Lindsey Gray, CSG South Director.  

About Casey Family Programs 
Casey Family Programs is the nation’s largest operating foundation focused on safely reducing the need for foster care in the United States. Our mission is to provide and improve — and ultimately prevent the need for — foster care. Founded in 1966, Casey Family Programs works in all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and with tribal nations across North America to influence long-lasting improvements to the well-being of children, families and the communities where they live. We are committed to Building Communities of Hope, a nationwide effort to prevent the need for foster care by supporting families in raising safe, happy and healthy children. 

About CSG South 

Established In 1947, The Council of State Governments Southern Office (CSG South) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that exists to support members in all three branches of state government. At CSG South we act as an extension of state government, fostering the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials and staff shape public policy and create problem-solving partnerships.  

The mission of CSG South is to promote and strengthen intergovernmental cooperation among its 15 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Predominantly, this is achieved through the ongoing work of CSG South’s seven standing committees and supporting groups.  

Legislative leadership, members, and staff depend on CSG South to identify and analyze solutions for the most prevalent and unique policy issues facing Southern state governments. We facilitate outreach in state capitols, leadership development, staff exchange programs, domestic and international policy delegations, and other efforts to support state policymakers and legislative staff in their work to build stronger, more successful states.  

The Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) is the largest regional gathering of legislative members and staff. SLC boasts an array of well-established programs—focusing on both existing and emerging state government innovations and solutions—providing policymakers and staff diverse opportunities to interact with experts and share their knowledge with colleagues.   


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Former Arkansas State Legislator Awarded Woman of the Year

Joyce Elliott, a former Arkansas State Legislator, is one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year. This award is a recognition of women who have significantly impacted their communities and across the country.

She made a lasting impression at CSG South by sitting on our Education Committee for 10 years and was a proud participant in multiple SLC conferences.

Joyce Elliott has also left an indelible impression on Arkansas’ legislative landscape with her commitment to public service, education reform, and social justice.

Read more about Joyce Elliott and the award here.

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Southern Pulse Newsletter, February 2024

It is the month of love, and there is no one we love more than our Members!

Our team has been traveling nonstop across the South to meet members in the thick of their labor of love: working through the legislative session! We thank our legislators and legislative staff from Virginia, West Virginia, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky for taking time out of their incredibly busy schedules to meet with us. We can’t wait to sit down with Mississippi, South Carolina, and Oklahoma in the coming weeks!

On February 1st, we officially launched registration for the most anticipated regional conference in the nation. The 2024 Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) will be held over five action-packed days in the historic Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, and the registered attendees are already pouring in! Keep an eye out for our emails and social media for updates on overflow hotels and our guest and youth programs. 

From state visits, one-on-one meetings, policy information requests, and SLC planning, we proudly showcase how we continue to be the best regional resource for our Southern legislators and staff.

All the best,
Lindsey G.

Click Here to Read Southern Pulse – February 2024

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CSG Justice Center Appoints Cam Ward as New Advisory Board Chair

The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has announced the appointment of Cam Ward, the Director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, as the new Chair of its Advisory Board.

Cam Ward is the Director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, where he is responsible for all agency operations in support of the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles. From 2011 to 2020, Ward served in the Alabama State Senate, where he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee for nine years. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to serve as the chair of Alabama’s Prison Reform Task Force, which is a group of state policymakers and practitioners that guides the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Alabama. Ward previously served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives. He received his bachelor’s degree from Troy University and his JD from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

You can read more here.

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Cody Allen Named 2024 Catalyst Fellow

CSG South Senior Policy Analyst Cody Allen was named to the 2024 Cohort of EDSafe AI Alliance of Catalyst Fellows.

The AI Catalyst Fellowship is a year-long program that supports exceptional and impact-minded individuals by providing an outstanding platform to learn and work on questions of AI in education. Fellows have the opportunity to work with world-renowned experts in AI safety, ethics, and policy. They also participate in a rigorous seminar series, where they learn about the latest advances in AI research and discuss the potential impacts of AI on society.
Designed for leaders in the education sector from industry and the field, this interdisciplinary fellowship brings together leaders on the supply and demand side to reimagine education as a learning system enabled by AI.
About EDSAFE: 
Founded in 2020, the EDSAFE AI Alliance is a global initiative led by InnovateEDU and powered by a coalition of organizations representing stakeholders across the education sector to provide global leadership for developing a safer, more secure, more equitable, and more trusted AI education ecosystem through a focus on research, policy, and practice.

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