Governor DeSantis Signs Florida Elections Reform Bill

Ron DeSantis

On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an elections reform bill into law, causing much debate over the new law’s contents.

The bill, SB 90, designed to ensure election integrity, has been the subject of debate for weeks since the Florida Legislature was passing the bill through committees. The bill will install new requirements for ballot drop boxes as well as mail-in voting, specifically voters who wish to vote absentee will have to ask for a ballot each general election cycle. Also, the drop boxes will need to be staffed by an employee from the supervisor of elections’ office whenever the box is receiving ballots, and times to access the drop boxes will be limited.

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Metro Nashville Officer Shot, Hospitalized After Responding to Call Set Up to Lure and Kill Officers

Three Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officers were ambushed after responding to a 911 call alleging that a woman had been shot. One officer, Brian Sherman, was shot multiple times in the upper left arm and transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. According to MNPD, the call was a setup executed by an individual that police identified as the gunman, 22-year-old Salman Mohamed. His immigration status is unknown.

In a press conference late Tuesday night, Metro Police Public Information Officer Don Aaron explained that Salman falsely told the 911 operator around 6 p.m. CST that his brother had shot his mother, and that shots were continuing to be fired. Aaron explained that Mohamed answered the door when the MNPD officers knocked on the door of the residence identified in the 911 call about ten minutes later. Only Sherman was hit in the ensuing gunfire.

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Commentary: The Origins of the Cruel Ritual of Diversity Training

In the typical scenario, students, staff, and faculty submit themselves to the mercies of hectoring lectures and demeaning demonstrations that purport to reveal white privilege and the oppressive conditions faced by “underrepresented populations” in their institutions. Former Smith College staffer Jodi Shaw’s account of how, as part of such training, she was humiliatingly reduced to her racial identity and reprimanded for her role in the oppression of non-white co-workers is but the most recent high-profile example being discussed and debated.

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Memos Hint Zuckerberg to Continue Big Spending on Georgia Election Workers, Infrastructure

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s multimillion dollar investment in the 2020 presidential election process may extend into this year or beyond, at least if Fulton County is any measure.

Georgia’s largest county, which encompasses the blue-leaning city of Atlanta, received more than $6.3 million in private grants from the Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) to conduct elections during the 2020 pandemic, but recently reported it did not use all the money last year.

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Some Immigrant Spouses Won’t Need to Submit Fingerprints to Renew Their Visas

CBP detainee

Some spouses of immigrants working in the U.S. won’t be required to submit new fingerprints to renew their visas, the Department of Homeland Security said in a court filing Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Trump administration required new fingerprints to safeguard against misrepresentation in 2019, though the requirement caused tens of thousands of immigrants to lose their visas due to processing delays, the WSJ reported. The requirement will be suspended for two years starting May 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decided.

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Tennessee General Assembly Eliminates Sentence Reductions for Sex Trafficking, Rape, Molestation, Child Abuse and More

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill eliminating sentence reductions for 31 sexually-related offenses. These offenses were largely related to rape, assault, sex trafficking, and a variety of crimes against children. The Senate hastened to pass the bill on Wednesday after the House passed it on Tuesday. The General Assembly voted unanimously in favor of the bill. 

As amended, the bill established that there would be no release eligibility for the following offenses: female genital mutilation, felony domestic assault, sex trafficking, advertising minor sexual abuse, rape, aggravated and non-aggravated sexual battery, aggravated statutory rape, felony indecent exposure, patronizing or promoting prostitution, public indecency, continuous child molestation, sexual battery by an authority figure, felony solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, statutory rape by an authority figure, promoting travel for prostitution, unlawful photography of a child under 13, observation without consent, incest, aggravated and non-aggravated child abuse or child neglect and endangerment, child pornography, sale and distribution of child-like sex dolls, and aggravated and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. It would also ensure no release eligibility for conspiracy, criminal attempt, or solicitation of any of the above offenses.

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Tennessee U.S. Rep. Mark Green Introduces Bill to Block Critical Race Theory Training in U.S. Military Service Academies

U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN-07) announced Wednesday that he has introduced a bill that would, if enacted into law, fight back against Critical Race Theory (CRT) training in U.S. Military Service Academies. “Critical Race Theory is based on a massive and purposeful misunderstanding of the American founding, American history, and America as it exists today. This is a Marxist ideology created to tear American institutions down,” Green said in a press release.

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‘Enemy of Free Speech:’ Republicans Hit Back at Facebook After It Upholds Trump Ban

Republicans are hitting back at Facebook and the Big Tech giants in Silicon Valley after Facebook’s Oversight Board announced Wednesday that it will uphold its ban of Former President Donald J. Trump.

Facebook claimed in a statement that Trump post “violated Facebook’s rules prohibiting praise or support of people engaged in violence,” when he called Capitol protestors “great patriots” and and “very special” on Jan. 6. 

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Big Corporations Come Out Against Texas Election Integrity Bills

As the state of Texas considered several comprehensive bills aimed at cracking down on voter fraud, multiple large corporations have released statements condemning the measures with baseless allegations of voter suppression, according to The Hill.

On Tuesday, 52 different companies signed onto a letter demanding that the state legislature reject any such bills, without providing any evidence or naming any specific pieces of legislation. Among the signatories were the tech company Microsoft and American Airlines.

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Hamilton College Student Leaders Work to ‘Defund the Police,’ Claim ‘White Supremacists’ Are on Campus

Hamilton College

Following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, students and faculty at Hamilton College received an email denoting some of them as white supremacists and calling for the admissions office to better block such students from enrolling in the future.

It was part of a larger push to grow a “defund the police” effort at the private, New York college.

The email came from leadership at the school’s Student Assembly and was signed by President Saphire Ruiz as well as Fall Vice President Eric Stenzel and Spring Vice President Christian Hernandez Barragan.

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Chauvin Attorney Moves for Mistrial After Claims of Biased Jury Emerge

Derek Chauvin

After a jury found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on charges of second and third degree murder, along with manslaughter for killing George Floyd, his attorney has made a motion requesting a hearing to argue that Chauvin’s conviction to be vacated, and a new trial granted. 

In a motion filed Tuesday, attorney Eric Nelson argued that Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill’s failure to order the jury to be sequestered, and failure to allow the trial to be moved out of Minneapolis, along with the sheer amount of media coverage of the trial, amounts to a violation of Chauvin’s constitutional right to a fair trial. 

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States, Political Parties Draw Battle Lines over Taxpayer Funding of Critical Race Theory

A grassroots group of conservatives and Republican state leaders is pushing back after the Biden administration tied federal education funding to adopting controversial critical race theory teachings in schools’ curriculum.

The Biden administration in April proposed a new Department of Education rule that gives preference in grant awarding to schools that incorporate into their curriculum content from the “1619 Project,” a controversial history project that is the most prominent work containing critical race theory ideas.

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Crom Carmichael Weighs in on Oracle Move and Middle Tennessee’s Real Estate Quandary

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio to discuss Oracle’s big move to Nashville’s East Bank and the consequences of a real estate boom in Middle Tennessee.

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Tennessee House Majority Leader Senator Jack Johnson Confident Anti-Critical Race Theory Bill Will Pass

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Tennessee House Majority Leader Senator Jack Johnson to the newsmakers line to explain the expected passing of a caption bill that would put the guardrails on the teaching of critical race theory in K12 public schools.

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Steve Scalise Wants Liz Cheney Out of Leadership

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is openly backing the ousting of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her Republican leadership position and supporting New York Rep. Elise Stefanik to replace her.

“House Republicans need to be solely focused on taking back the House in 2022 and fighting against Speaker Pelosi and President Biden’s radical socialist agenda, and Elise Stefanik is strongly committed to doing that, which is why Whip Scalise has pledged to support her for Conference Chair,” his spokesman, Lauren Fine, said in a statement first reported by Punchbowl News.

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REPORT: Biden, DOJ Plan to Challenge Laws Banning Biological Boys from Girls’ Sports

boy and girl soccer

President Joe Biden’s administration and the Department of Justice are reportedly preparing to challenge bills banning biological males from women’s sports, multiple sources told the Daily Beast.

“We are having conversations with the Biden administration about additional actions that they should be taking as it relates to anti-LGBTQ bills that we’re seeing in these states,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Alphonso David told the Daily Beast. “But we want to make sure we don’t lose sight of how important those words are, and how important his early actions have been to support and protect LGBTQ people throughout the country.”

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Washington Correspondent Neil McCabe on His Breaking Story as GOP Challenger Bouchard Gains Funding in Takedown of Cheney

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Washington Correspondent for the Star News Network Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line to discuss his recent piece outlining Utah Senator Anthony Bouchard’s momentum as a financially viable challenger to Liz Cheney.

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King George County Researching Marijuana Sales Ban

Marijuana sales won’t be legal in Virginia until 2024, according to legalization bills passed by the General Assembly in 2021. But King George County is already moving to potentially ban sales. At its April 27 meeting, the Board of Supervisors requested County Attorney Matt Britton to research how to implement such a ban.

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GOP Lieutenant Governor Candidate Winsome Sears Makes Stop in Roanoke

Group of people standing outside

  ROANOKE, Virginia – Winsome Sears made a campaign stop as a part of her statewide RV tour in Roanoke on Thursday. The former Delegate is seen by many as an insurgent candidate in the wide-open race for Lieutenant Governor. Sears served in the United States Marine Corps as an electrician.…

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DeSantis Announces Special Election to Replace Congressman Alcee Hastings

On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would sign an executive order to set the date for the special election to replace recently deceased Congressman Alcee Hastings who represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District.  The date scheduled for the special primary election is November 2nd, 2021; and January 11th, 2022 for the special general election.

Since the death of Hastings, Democrats have been pressing DeSantis to set the dates for the special election. One candidate, Rev. Elvin Dowling, filed a federal lawsuit to force DeSantis into setting the date. In past circumstances when a special election was necessary, the average amount of time between a seat becoming vacant and being filled is approximately 4 months, whereas the seat left vacant by Hastings will remain unfilled for approximately 9 months.

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Florida Legislature Passed Insurance Reform, Industry Future Uncertain

After weeks of debate, Florida lawmakers passed insurance reform bills at the tail end of session. In the end, lawmakers passed legislation potentially leading to rate increases for customers of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

Legislators also took steps to reduce the amount of roof-damage claims and lawsuits due to concerns of hurricane damage claims being filed long after the storm.

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Senator Ted Cruz Stumps in Virginia for Gubernatorial Hopeful Glenn Youngkin

Gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin was joined on the campaign trail by United States Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Wednesday. The former CEO of the Carlyle Group is currently in a seven way race for the Republican nomination for Governor in Virginia, hoping that the last minute endorsement from the conservative stalwart will help seal the deal.

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Police Protection Under Marsy’s Law Heads to Florida Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court Building

A lawsuit filed by two police officers after separate use-of-force incidents claiming that they are entitled to protection under Florida’s recently-adopted Marsy’s Law Constitutional amendment will head to the state Supreme Court for a decision. 

“A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month sided with two Tallahassee police officers, who argued that, as victims, they were entitled to privacy protections included in Marsy’s Law,” WFSU reported. 

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Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Hustle Before the Convention

After months of contention among party leadership and claims of cheating and irregularities among the candidates, the Republican Party of Virginia will finally select its candidates for statewide office on Saturday, although the final count may not be known for several days. The candidates have fanned out across the state, emphasizing policies like reopening schools and businesses, supporting gun rights, and fighting for election integrity. This week the candidates are making their final appeals to convention delegates with more calls for reform, campaign stops, and support from major GOP political figures.

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Virginia Applications Open for New Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Restaurants can now apply for up to $10 million in COVID-19 relief funds through the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a part of the recently passed American Recovery Plan (ARP). The RRF will provide a minimum $1,000 in funds to eligible restaurants and similar businesses to replace funds lost due to the pandemic.

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Michigan Loosens Mask Mandate Starting Thursday

The state health department revised its mask mandate beginning Thursday, May 6, through Monday, May 31, so that masks aren’t generally required outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated unless there’s a gathering of 100 or more people.

New Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) guidance says anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms isn’t required to wear a mask at indoor residential gatherings.

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Georgia U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson Insists Packing U.S. Supreme Court Will Attract More Public Support

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-04) said members of the public should prepare for several Congressional hearings where he and other elected officials will make their case for increasing the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices. Johnson chairs the U.S. House of Representatives’ Courts and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. Staff at the Decatur-based website Decaturish.cominterviewed Johnson this week in a question-and-answer-style format. The congressman said expanding the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court “will…gather support as we make the case for reform in the justice system.”

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Tennessee General Assembly Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory Tenets in K-12 Schools

Classroom of students.

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill effectively banning critical race theory (CRT) from K-12 education. The legislature had to create a conference committee on Wednesday to resolve the legislature’s conflict on amending language effectively banning CRT in schools. That conference committee not only approved the ban – they added onto the ban. In addition to the original language of the bill outlining and banning 14 tenets of CRT, The Tennessee Star was informed by State Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) that the conference committee report added on three tenets. In effect, these tenets further defined the prohibited conclusions typically advanced by CRT.

“(12) The rule of law does not exist, but instead is a series of power relationships and struggles among racial or other groups; (13) All Americans are not created equal and are not endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; or (14) Governments should deny to any person with the government’s jurisdiction the equal protection of the law[,]” read the added provisions.

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