Tennessee House Committee Unveils State House Legislative Map

The Tennessee House Select Committee on Redistricting made public Friday its plan for new state House legislative districts.

The committee heard several publicly submitted plans and responses, along with the House Democrats’ plan, during Friday’s meeting before committee Vice Chair Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, introduced the committee’s plan.

The House must approve the plan during the General Assembly’s upcoming legislative session, which begins in January, before sending the plan onto the Tennessee Senate and Gov. Bill Lee for his signature.

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper Moves to Make Juneteenth a Paid Metro Holiday

In a statement released from the Nashville Metro Government, it said Mayor John Cooper had submitted legislation to make Juneteenth a paid Metro holiday. Cooper said that Juneteenth is a holiday for Nashville and the nation to celebrate the freedom of all African Americans.

“I submitted this request to the Civil Service Commission for their consideration and with their approval, I will sign an executive order for Metro Government to celebrate Juneteenth as a paid holiday beginning in 2022,” said Mayor Cooper. “Adding Juneteenth as a Metro holiday is consistent with the Federal Government’s addition of Juneteenth to the list of Federal holidays this year.”

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Physician Visiting Tennessee Urges a Convention of the States to Curb Federal Government’s COVID-19 Authority

An Indiana physician who addressed hundreds of people about COVID-19 as he visited Gallatin this weekend said people concerned about the federal government’s overly-broad powers must call for a Convention of the States.

That man, Daniel Stock, and several other speakers discussed and analyzed their findings regarding proper COVID-19 treatment and care. They said these are findings that federal agencies either don’t report or don’t acknowledge.

The Tennessee Star asked Stock what frustrated Tennesseans can do to ensure that federal officials provide greater medical transparency.

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Commentary: Individual Liberty and the Rule of Law

silhouette of Statue of Liberty

I have been looking back over Alexis de Tocqueville’s unfinished masterpiece, The Old Regime and the French Revolution. It is full of piquant observations, for example this from the end of the preface: “a man’s admiration of absolute government is proportionate to the contempt he feels for those around him.” How much contempt do you suppose emanates from the apparatchiks who inhabit the D.C. swamp and control our lives? How slavish is their devotion to the unfettered prerogatives of the idol they serve, the state?

That dialectic between adulation of the sources of power and contempt for those subject to it may in one sense be perennial, a sentiment captured by the old Latin tag: Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris: “it is part of human nature to hate those whom you have injured.” But Tocqueville translated that psychological characteristic into the realm of politics in which the question of liberty is paramount. Like Edmund Burke, Tocqueville was a supreme anatomist of the ways in which power co-opts the passion for liberty in order to counterfeit liberty’s essence. Describing the habit of “governmental paternalism,” Tocqueville notes that “Almost all the rulers who have tried to destroy freedom have at first attempted to preserve its forms.”

This has been seen from Augustus down to our own day. Rulers flatter themselves that they can combine the moral strength given by public consent with the advantages that only absolute power can give. Almost all have failed in the enterprise, and have soon discovered that it is impossible to make the appearance of freedom last where it is no longer a reality.

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Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Announces New Plan for $1.35 Billion Funding from American Rescue Plan Act

Tennessee Capital building

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) released its plan to administer its portion of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) monies directed to Tennessee, outlining the department’s approach for improved water infrastructure in communities across the state, according to a Friday press release.

The Volunteer State was allocated $3.725 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which is designed to help Americans recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. A condition of the funding from ARPA is that spending must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and expended by December 31, 2026. The Water Infrastructure Investment Plan was developed by TDEC based on input provided by leaders and experts from agencies internal and external to the state government, the press release reports.

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Chinese Tennis Star Now Denies Ever Making Sexual Assault Allegations

Tennis star Peng Shuai denied she ever made sexual assault allegations on Sunday, addressing the matter for the first time since her initial post in early November, Reuters reported.

“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point,” Peng said from the sidelines of a cross-country skiing event in Shanghai, Reuters reported.

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‘Naughty and Nice Retail List’ Takes Defense of Christmas Into Commercial Arena

Legal challenges to Christmas and holiday displays have been going on for decades. In order to combat the anti-Christmas sentiment outside of the courtroom, a nonprofit religious liberty organization is encouraging shoppers to do so with their wallets.

Liberty Counsel’s Naughty and Nice List classifies retailers according to whether they censor or celebrate Christmas — an allusion, of course, to Santa’s list of naughty and nice children from the Christmas standard “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

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Teachers Get Raises, Bonuses From Federal COVID Relief Funds Meant to Reopen Schools Safely

This week’s Golden Horseshoe once again goes to the U.S. Department of Education for allowing school districts to use pandemic relief funds for pay raises and bonuses for teachers despite the funds being appropriated to reopen schools safely.

Schools nationwide received $190 billion through three relief packages passed. Of that total, the largest sum, $122 billion, was from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

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Capitol Rioter Who Attacked Police Sentenced to 63 Months, Longest January 6 Sentence Yet

A Capitol rioter who had pleaded guilty to attacking overwhelmed police officers with a fire extinguisher and other potentially dangerous objects was sentenced Friday to more than five years behind bars, the longest sentence so far in connection with the Jan. 6 incident.

“Your honor, I’m really really ashamed of what I did,” the rioter, 54-year-old Robert Palmer, told a federal judge in Washington, D.C., during his sentencing hearing, according to the Associated Press.

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Medical Officials, Experts Criticize Biden Admin for ‘Reckless’ Handling of Pandemic

The federal agencies in charge of COVID-19 response are taking hits from former officials and high-profile medical professors for “sidelining experts,” not conducting basic research, and mischaracterizing evidence related to vaccines and masks for young people.

The Biden administration is getting a pass for “extreme political pressure” that “appropriately” prompted outrage against its predecessor, two FDA alumni wrote in The Washington Post Thursday.

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Chinese-Backed Hackers Are Exploiting One of the ‘Most Pervasive’ Cybersecurity Flaws

Hackers backed by China are using a recently-discovered vulnerability in a common software tool to gain access to data and systems belonging to internet infrastructure companies.

The vulnerability, known as Log4Shell, was discovered by Chinese cybersecurity researchers from Alibaba last week and is found in an open-source software tool called Log4J used by enterprise software companies and cloud infrastructure providers. If exploited, the flaw allows hackers to gain access to a company’s data and internal networks.

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Biden, Influential Climate Scientist/Activist Use Deadly Tornado to Push Climate Change Narrative

President Joe Biden surveyed the damage from a deadly weekend tornado in Mayfield, Ky., on Wednesday and said, “We’ve got $99 billion worth of damage just this year — just the year — because of foul weather and climate change.”

In Dawson Springs, Ky., he reiterated the cost of damages and then, in a possible reference to his Build Back Better Act, he said: “I promise you: You’re going to heal. We’re going to recover. You’re going to rebuild. You’re going to be stronger than you were before. We’re going to build back better than it was.”

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Frat House Cannot Hang Its Own Christmas Wreath, University Insists

Christmas wreath on an oak door

Fraternity and sorority students at Emory University are not allowed to hang their own exterior Christmas decorations.

That policy was news to members of the Atlanta university’s Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity when Josh Gamse, assistant director of sorority and fraternity life, informed the chapter Dec. 3 that its wreath was violating school policy.

“Since this is the second violation of the policy, an incident report will be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct,” Gasme wrote in an email obtained by Campus Reform. 

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Parents Group Claims Two Schools Discriminated Against Students Based on Race

A parents group has filed complaints with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, claiming that two schools are discriminating against students on the basis of race.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) alleges that a monthly playground night reserved for non-white families at Centennial Elementary School in Denver, Colorado, and a field trip advertised to non-white students at Downer’s Grove South High School in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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Texas School Board Doubles Down On Efforts to Censure Two Mothers Who Objected to District Policies

Two conservative Texas school board members are embroiled in a legal battle against their fellow trustees fighting their attempts to investigate and censure them, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mary Bone and Danielle Weston are up against the other five members of Round Rock Independent School District’s (RRISD) Board of Trustees, who are attempting to investigate and censure them for opposing their COVID policies and use of its police force to keep the public out of a Sept 14. board meeting, the two women told the DCNF. If the censure resolution passed, it would strip them of their powers and duties, restrict their access to school property and hinder their ability to do their job.

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Zuckerberg-Funded Nonprofit Heavily Favored Democrats in Allotting Millions in Election Aid: IRS Filings

A Chicago-based nonprofit funded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to local election offices in what critics charge was a bid to elect Democrats in the 2020 elections, newly released IRS filings show.

The Center for Technology and Civic Life’s IRS Form 990 filing for 2020, which Just the News obtained, reveals thousands of grants to election offices across the country. IRS 990s detail where organizations received and spent money.

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California Teachers Accused of Coaching a Student on Clandestine Gender Transition

Two teachers in a California school district are accused of coaching a student into coming out as transgender behind the backs of the student’s parents, according to video footage circulating on social media.

School staff reportedly changed the student’s name and pronouns and also called Child Protective Services (CPS) when the parents objected to the transition, according to a twitter thread by LibsofTikTok posted early Thursday morning, which included video of the parents addressing the school board of the Spreckels Union School District on Wednesday.

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Buzzfeed’s Holiday Party Becomes Super-Spreader Event Despite Company’s Vaccine Mandate

Buzzfeed’s holiday party appears to have become a super-spreader event, despite a company-wide vaccine mandate that required partygoers to present their vaccination cards in order to get into the event.

Three BuzzFeed staffers were reportedly infected with COVID-19 following the company’s Christmas party in Manhattan last week, and about six others are awaiting test results after becoming ill.

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Border Agents Encountered a Five Percent Increase in Migrants Last Month

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported Friday that agents encountered 173,620 migrants at the southern border in November.

The number is a 5% increase from October’s encounters. Over 50% of those encountered were processed under a Trump-era public health order for expulsion, CBP said.

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Commentary: Democrats Promised An Insurrection But All They Got Was a Lousy Obstruction Case

Former President Donald Trump

History, it appears, is repeating itself—at least when it comes to the latest crusade to destroy Donald Trump and everyone around him.

For nearly three years, the American people were warned that Donald Trump had been in cahoots with the Kremlin to rig the 2016 presidential election. Trump-Russia election collusion, the original “stop the steal” campaign—that is, until questioning the outcome of American elections was designated a criminal conspiracy after November 2020—dominated the attention of the ruling class and the entirety of the national news media.

Every instrument of power—the FBI, a secret surveillance court, congressional committees, a special counsel—was leveraged to uncover the “truth” about the Trump campaign’s alleged dirty dealings with Mother Russia.

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Delegate Jay Jones Announces Surprise Resignation, Triggering Last-Minute Scramble to Find Candidates for Special Election

After winning reelection, Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) announced Thursday that he is resigning to focus on his family at the end of 2021, setting off a last-minute scramble to find candidates and hold a special election in House District 89 on January 11. Jones cited personal changes that have happened since he first announced his candidacy in 2017, including getting married and now expecting a baby in summer 2022.

“As most parents can attest, bringing a child into this world is a massive time commitment and every second with your family and child is worth its weight in gold. I’m 32, a practicing attorney, and have given everything that I have in my soul to serving Norfolk and the Commonwealth since 2017. But my new job-to-be is as a father, and I’m ready to make that the highest priority in my life,” he wrote in a public letter.

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Report Shows Arizona Has Recovered All Jobs Lost During COVID-19 Pandemic

Job fair by Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity

Arizona has recovered all jobs that were lost during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).

The data shows that the state’s economy has gained 101 percent of jobs lost during the initial months of the economic shutdowns associated with the pandemic.

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Independent Redistricting Chair Sides with Democrats in First Round of Arizona’s Legislative Maps

Commission Chair Erika Schupak Neuberg

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) elected to begin final debate on a set of congressional maps that are favored by Democrats.

The decision was made when independent Commission Chair Erika Schupak Neuberg sided with two Democrats to override the two-vote GOP minority.

The commission was established in November 2000, when voters in the state passed Proposition 106, a citizen initiative that amended the Arizona Constitution by removing the power to draw congressional and state legislative districts from the state legislature and reassigning this task to the IRC.

The vote that Neuberg decided created a starting point for the discussion of the final boundaries. The committee will continue to debate through multiple meetings on December 21 and 22nd.

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Two Florida Men Plead Guilty to $35 Million COVID Relief Scam

Two South Florida men have pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud the federal government of $35 million worth of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and funded by federal coronavirus relief money.

James R. Stote, 55, of Hollywood and Phillip J. Augustin, 52, of Coral Springs pleaded guilty this week in the Northern District of Ohio for leading a scheme that stretched from Florida to Ohio, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced. The two pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each faces up to 20 years in prison.

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Wisconsin House Considers Hunting Regulation Rollback Plan

It’s now the Wisconsin Assembly’s turn to consider what to do with the staggering 55,000 regulations for hunting and trapping in the state.

The Assembly’s Committee on Sporting Heritage on Wednesday held a hearing on AB 676, which would require the state’s Department of Natural Resources toss three regulations for every new rule it puts into place.

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Legislative Proposal Would Allow Critical Comments at Florida School Board Meetings

Florida State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-FL-23) has filed legislation requiring Florida school board meetings to be publicly broadcast and recorded on video, along with the ability of parents to make their voices heard and criticize school board members.

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Minnesota GOP Calls on Sheriff to Resign, Police-Reform Democrats Silent

Dave Hutchinson

The Republican Party of Minnesota has called on Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson to resign after he drunkenly crashed his county-owned vehicle outside of Alexandria earlier this month.

“As Hennepin County faces serious challenges with violent crime, residents need a sheriff who is laser-focused on public safety. Sheriff Hutchinson should step down and focus on his health so residents can have a top law enforcement officer better able to focus on fighting crime,” the party said in a statement.

Hutchinson rolled his vehicle off the road while traveling home to Minneapolis from a sheriffs’ conference. After the accident, his urine revealed a blood alcohol content of .13 — nearly twice the legal limit of .08.

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Ohio Businesses Could Get Incentives to Hire, Train Students

Business groups praised the passage of a bill they say makes it easier for Ohio employers to train and hire student workers.

The legislation, if signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, establishes the Student Pathways to Career Success Grant Program, which would give businesses financial incentives and creates a two-year pilot program that would allow a workers’ compensation premium discount to an employer with a work-based learning experience for students.

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Georgia’s COVID Relief Spending Transparency Among the Country’s Best: Report

Georgia was one of six states classified as having exemplary disclosure of its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending, according to a new report on transparency in CRF spending.

The CRF was established from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and gave states a total of $111.8 billion to cover COVID-19-related costs.

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University Ordered to Pay Almost $2 Million After Students Win Religious Freedom Lawsuit

A federal judge ordered the University of Iowa (UI) to pay $1.9 million in fees and damages after two student groups won a series of religious discrimination lawsuits against the university. 

The Becket Fund, which represents Business Leaders in Christ, will receive $1.37 million while Intervarsity Christian Fellowship will get $533,000, Crux reports. 

Eric Baxter, a senior VP and counsel at The Becket Fund, told Campus Reform targeting students of faith “comes at a price.” 

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Ohio Election Commission Decides to Move Complaint Against GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Joe Blystone to a Full Hearing

The preliminary hearing to review allegations of wrongdoing by Ohio gubernatorial candidate Joe Blystone was referred to a full hearing by the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) on Thursday.

The action stems from a complaint filed with the Commission that alleges Blystone underreported cash contributions, failed to disclose the names of those contributors in campaign finance reports, and that the purpose of doing so was to “facilitate a theft of these campaign funds by the respondents.”

The Ohio Star reported in early November that former co-campaign manager, Sarah Chambers, filed the complaint.

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Pennsylvania Hospital Creates In-House Staffing Agency to Solve Nursing Shortage

Healthcare workers

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UMPC) announced on Friday that the hospital will establish an in-house staffing agency to solve its nursing shortage.

Dubbed “UPMC Travel Staffing,” the new program will allow the hospital system to move nurses among different locations in order to fill the staffing needs of each hospital.

According to a press release from the medical center, nurses who join the new agency will be allowed to work in the system’s medical facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.

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Gov. Evers, Others Pan Proposal to Eliminate Wisconsin Income Tax

There is a growing list of people and groups who are not fans of the idea to scrap Wisconsin’s personal income tax.

Former Gov. Scott Walker, University of Wisconsin economist Noah Williams, and a host of conservative reform groups on Thursday proposed eliminating Wisconsin 6.27% personal income tax and replacing the lost revenue with a slight increase in the state’s sales tax.

Walker, and Williams’ analysis, say most Wisconsin taxpayers will save about $1,700 a year with that swap.

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Florida Jobs Report Shows Growth, Unemployment Rate Continuing to Drop

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) released the November jobs report along with labor force statistics, and the unemployment rate in Florida dropped to 4.5 percent. Compared to one year ago, the rate was a 5.4 percent.

State officials say the continued drop is more indication the “open for business” policies in Florida have kept Florida’s economy recovering from the pandemic-induced economic slow-down.

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Michigan’s $40 Million ‘Going Pro’ Fund Helps 30,000 Train and Get Jobs

A $40 million project is estimated to help 30,000 workers statewide secure employment through the state’s Going PRO Talent Fund.

The program aims to lure back Michigan’s workforce lost during COVID-19, encourage specialization, and help businesses fill jobs in a tight labor market. Between Feb. 2020 and April 2020, Michigan’s labor force plunged by 341,500 or 6.9%. Labor force levels in Michigan have rebounded modestly, increasing by 139,400 or 3% percent from April 2020 to August 2021.

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Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk Urges More Production of Military Aircraft Manufactured in Marietta

Representative Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11) announced late last week that he has asked the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to increase the number of new C-130J aircraft, which are manufactured at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia. That Lockheed Martin factory, Loudermilk went on to say, employs 3,000 Georgia residents.

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Former Georgia US Sen Johnny Isakson Has Died

Former Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, died Sunday morning at 76.

Isakson’s death was confirmed by Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who called the former senator one of Georgia’s “greatest statesmen.”

“As a businessman and gifted retail politician, Johnny paved the way for the modern Republican Party in Georgia, but he never let partisan politics get in the way of doing what was right,” Kemp said.

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Multiple Cases of Omicron Variant Detected in Tennessee

Person with mask on holding COVID vaccine

Officials in multiple jurisdictions throughout Tennessee have detected cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Shelby County reported the first case of the new variant. New cases were discovered on Thursday by both the Metro Nashville Public Health Department and the Hamilton County Health Department.

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