Audit of Florida Veterans’ Nursing Homes Finds Staffing and Procurement Issues

The State Florida Auditor General released this week the results of an audit into the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, which analyzed the department’s nursing home staffing, time and attendance records and followed up a 2019 audit.

The first issue surrounded staff members missing meal breaks during shifts that ranged from 6 to 16 hours, while other staff were missing their entitled two 30-minute breaks during double shifts.

According to the department’s own procedures and policies, staff members must have written approval from a supervisor to be able to work through meal breaks.

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Virginia Senate Subcommittee Recommends Against Legislation to Provide Medically-Assisted Death for Terminally Ill Patients

A Virginia Senate subcommittee recommended against a bill that would have allowed terminally ill people to request a medically-assisted death after Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke City) joined with Republicans in opposition; the bill will still go before the full Senate Education and Health Committee for consideration.

“I know this is a very sensitive issue, but this is an issue about which I’ve heard from so many individuals and families who have requested an option to have control over their final decisions as they reach they end of their life,” SB 930 sponsor Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield) said in the Health Professions subcommittee on Friday morning.

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Texas Representative Gooden Calls on Administration to Investigate Gifts to Penn from China

A Texas congressman is asking the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) to investigate funding that foreign entities have bestowed on the University of Pennsylvania.

Last week, U.S. Representative Lance Gooden (R-TX-5) authored a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in which he noted that $51 million flowed to the Philadelphia Ivy League university from non-American sources in 2021 and 2022. Of those donations, $14 million came from unnamed Chinese or Hong Kong entities and $2.4 million came from Saudi Arabia. 

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Governor Kemp, Atlanta Mayor, and Other Officials Condemn Violence in Atlanta

Georgia state and Atlanta officials criticized a violent protest in the city on Saturday; Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said that some business’ windows were broken and a police car was set on fire, but said that no citizens or officers were injured.

“The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department will not tolerate this and we continue to protect the right to peacefully protest. We will not tolerate violence or property destruction,” Mayor Andre Dickens said in a Saturday press conference, according to 11Alive video.

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Ohio Lawmakers File Bill to Overhaul the State’s Medical Marijuana Program

Two Republican state lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill to change the state’s medical marijuana regulations, which would allow more people to use cannabis for medicinal purposes and establish a new state agency to manage the program.

Senate Bill (SB) 9, sponsored by State Senators Steve Huffman (R-Tipp City) and Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), is similar to another proposal from the previous legislative session, SB 261, which was passed by the Ohio Senate in December 2021 but was defeated in the Ohio House of Representatives.

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Pennsylvania Auditor Digs up $20,000 Pension Underpayment After Miscalculations

The latest batch of audits for municipal pension plans show a few localities received too much in state aid — and one error led to a $20,000 underpayment.

In West Caln Township in Chester County, officials reported inaccurate data for their 14-person non-uniformed pension plan and 4-person police pension plan. As a result, the non-uniformed plan understated payroll by $11,000, leading to a $700 underpayment from the state.

The police pension plan understated payroll by $73,000, leading to a $19,000 underpayment.

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Tennessee U.S. Reps. Burchett, Cohen Reintroduce the Tennessee Valley Authority Transparency Act

Tennessee U.S. Representatives Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) and Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) reintroduced a bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives that would require the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to work to ensure its decision-making process is publicly available.

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Tennessee Senate Education Chair Files Bill That Gives Local Districts Flexibility on Class Size

State Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), who serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee, filed legislation that would lift classroom size limits for k-12 schools.

SB0197, if made law, would repeal the existing maximum class sizes, maximum class size averages, student-teacher ratios, and the prohibition against split-grade classes established by law. It would authorize each local education agency (LEA) and public charter school with authority to establish the maximum class sizes for schools under its control and jurisdiction. Transferring power from the Tennessee Department of Education(TDOE) back to local school boards while still requiring the department to set recommendations.

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Florida Supreme Court Upholds Law Forbidding Local Governments from Over-Restricting Gun, Ammo Sales

The Florida Supreme Court has upheld a law that forbids local governments from restricting sales of guns and ammunition beyond state law. 

In a 4-1 ruling, the court said local officials could face stiff penalties if they try to enforce the restrictions that go beyond the Florida law.

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Ohio Lawmakers Consider Bill to Localize State Agency Licensure Appeals

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would transfer the conflict over state licenses that have been suspended or repealed to local county courts as opposed to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.

Senate Bill (SB) 21 sponsored by state Senators Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Michele Reynolds (R-Canal Winchester) would provide legal challenges to licenses issued by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, the State Medical Board, the State Chiropractic Board, the Board of Nursing, and the Liquor Control Commission to take place in the county where that person or company is based.

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Benefactor’s Family Demands Refund After University of Richmond Removes Name from Law School

The University of Richmond recently removed the name of T.C. Williams, an early benefactor, from its law school because of his alleged ownership of slaves in the 19th century.

But his descendants say Williams contributed to the demise of slavery and now argue the university should refund Williams’ previously donated money to the institution.

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Minnesota State Agency Wants to Create Database to Track ‘Hateful’ Speech

One Minnesota lawmaker is voicing his concerns about a proposed bill he says would allow the state government to keep track of “bias” incidents and “hate speech” in which no crime may have been committed.

On Tuesday the Minnesota House of Representatives’ Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee held a hearing on HF 181, a bill introduced Jan. 9 that proposes an expansion of reporting “crimes motivated by bias,” an update in peace officer training standards, and the appropriate funding thereto.

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DOJ: Atlanta Man Recruited 10 Others for $3 Million Paycheck Protection Program Loan Scheme

Eleven men have been sentenced after a scheme to obtain $3 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans; Atlanta man Rodericque Thompson recruited nine business owners to obtain $300,000 loans with fraudulent applications according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

“The CARES Act and the PPP designated funds to aid struggling businesses during a pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said in a press release. “American businesses needed these funds to keep their companies and employees afloat during a national emergency and world-wide pandemic. These defendants took advantage of that program to obtain money to which they were not lawfully entitled. We will continue investigating and prosecuting those who attempt to steal these critical funds.”

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Wisconsin Flat Tax Proposal Overshadows Zero Tax Idea

Tax reform is top of mind for Republicans this legislative session. But while a flat tax measure has taken center stage, another proposal by one legislative leader to eliminate Wisconsin’s personal income tax has seemingly disappeared from the tax cut discourse.

A new State Policy Network (SPN) survey shows a good deal of support for nixing the state income tax.

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‘Fuel Poverty’ Stresses Pennsylvania’s Hospitals

Pennsylvania’s hospital administrators say rising energy costs driving worldwide “fuel poverty” threaten the stability of the entire U.S. health care system.

“Folks can’t pay to heat their homes,” Chuck DiBello, vice president of facilities and real estate for the Allegheny Health Network, told the Senate Majority Policy Committee. “They get sick and they come to the hospital – sometimes just to get warm.”

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Connecticut GOP: State Democrats Have ‘Lost Their Minds’ on Plan to Give Voting Rights to Illegal Immigrants

The Connecticut Republican Party is criticizing the Democrat-led state House for a proposal this legislative session to consider voting rights for illegal immigrants, saying Democrats in the state in considering such as idea have “lost their minds.”

“It’s official. @CTDems have lost their minds,” the Connecticut GOP tweeted Thursday. “Now they are proposing voting rights for ILLEGAL ALIENS. Elections are for U.S. citizens only. We will fight this tooth and nail to preserve the integrity of our democratic system.”

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Maricopa County GOP Censures Republican Maricopa County Supervisors, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer over Election Integrity at Annual Meeting

The Maricopa County Republican Committee voted on January 14 at their annual meeting to censure Maricopa County Stephen Richer and the four Republican members of the Maricopa County Supervisors; Bill Gates, Thomas Galvin, Clint Hickman and Jack Sellers. The vote for the censure resolution was 1,460 for, 138 against, and 36 abstaining.

Maricopa County Member-at-Large Brian Ference told The Arizona Sun Times, “The PCs in Maricopa have spoken, overwhelmingly censuring Richer and the MCBOS, the key line being ‘Ceases immediately any and all recognition and support of the above individuals being censured and encourages all registered Republicans to expel them permanently from office.’”

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Hobbs, Mayes Temporarily Halt Death Penalty in Arizona

Gov. Katie Hobbs issued an executive order on Friday to review the death penalty process in Arizona, while a stay from Attorney General Kris Mayes halts it for the time.

Hobbs will be selecting an “independent review commissioner” to investigate “all components” of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, & Reentry’s “execution process for lethal injections and the gas chamber,” the order states.

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Ohio School Districts Struggle to Rebut Undercover Video of Staffers Saying They Mislead Parents

School districts around Ohio’s capital Columbus are reeling from undercover video of their employees discussing how they mislead parents who oppose critical race theory and related concepts into thinking schools aren’t exposing their children to versions of those concepts.

Accuracy in Media, led by an alum of undercover journalism nonprofit Project Veritas, released its latest sting of school districts Tuesday, following previous investigations of Idaho, Iowa and Tennessee.

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Tennessee U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett to Serve on Three House Committees in the 118th Congress

Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) announced that he was selected to serve on three House committees in the 118th Congress.

Burchett will be returning to serve on both the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. Burchett was also chosen to serve as a new member on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

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Susan B. Anthony List Applauds 22 Pro-Life Attorneys General, Including Tennessee’s Skrmetti, in Urging the FDA to Reverse New Policy on Abortion Drug

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America recently thanked a coalition of 22 attorneys general, including Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, for sending a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the agency’s “illegal and dangerous” policy on mifepristone, a chemical abortion drug.

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SK Food Group, Inc. Announces $205.2 Million Investment in Bradley County

Custom foods manufacturer SK Food Group, Inc. announced that it will invest $205.2 million to construct a production facility in Cleveland, Tennessee.

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Judge Denies the City of Phoenix’s Motion to Dismiss Residents’ Lawsuit Over Homeless Encampment ‘The Zone’

A lawsuit filed last August challenging “the largest homeless encampment in Arizona” is going ahead after a judge denied the City of Phoenix’s motion to dismiss. Residents who live near “the Zone,” which has grown to over 1,500 people, allege that the city has failed or refused to enforce criminal, health, or quality of life statutes to improve the Zone.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Tully said in his January 16 ruling that dismissal wasn’t warranted because the city didn’t meet the standard where “as a matter of law plaintiffs would not be entitled to relief under any interpretation of the facts susceptible of proof.” He found that the plaintiffs properly pleaded their case and supported a private cause of action for public nuisance.

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University of Michigan Medical School’s Anesthesiology Department Hosts Critical Race Theory Seminar to Mark MLK Day

The University of Michigan Department of Anesthesiology hosted Monday a screening of the video “Critical Race Theory: American Law and Racism” as part of the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day symposium.

Kimberly Ward, the department’s DEI administrative specialist, joined Kristen Howard, senior director of the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, to screen the pre-recorded video, in which Columbia law professor and coiner of the term “intersectionality” Kimberlé Crenshaw gave a rundown of critical race theory history and significance.

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Florida Legislative Committee Wants Accountability from Audited Entities

Florida State Capitol

The Joint Legislative Auditing Committee met in Tallahassee Thursday to discuss issues that have been found in some school districts, municipalities and private entities that have repeatedly not been addressed and also discussed ways to ensure more compliance.

According to Auditor General Sherrill Norman, who was in attendance during the most recent committee meeting, she and her staff were asked to produce “a list of things that would help address the barriers we had in completing our work.”

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Connecticut Pro-Life Democrat Lawmaker Calls Out ‘Systemically Racist Abortion Industry’ at March for Life Rally

Connecticut State Representative Treneé McGee (D-West Haven) told the thousands of pro-life activists at the March for Life rally Friday that black women of the pro-life movement are actively exposing the “systemically racist abortion industry.”

McGee, who was one of 14 state House Democrats – among them 10 people of color – who voted against a bill to expand abortion rights further in Connecticut, fired up the crowd in an address that bluntly accused the abortion industry and Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, of racism.

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Youngkin Supports Expanding Virginia Literacy Act to Fifth Grade

RICHMOND, Virginia — Governor Glenn Youngkin is asking legislators to expand the 2022 Virginia Literacy Act to fifth grade; the program currently provides literacy curriculum, materials, testing, and intervention for kindergarten through third grades.

“We know that K through third graders, if they’re behind in reading, it’s really hard to catch back up,” Youngkin said at a Thursday press conference at George W. Carver Elementary School. “And that’s why we’re working to extend the Virginia Literacy Act support into fourth and fifth grade. It’s such an important effort for us. And the great thing is this is all being done on a bipartisan basis.”

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Minnesota House Passes ‘Most Extreme’ Abortion Law in Nation

The Minnesota House passed the DFL’s keystone “Protect Reproductive Options Act” in a 69-65 vote after four hours of emotional debate Thursday night.

The bill will grant Minnesotans a “fundamental right” to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, via any method and for any reason, with no age restrictions.

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FBI Offers $25,000 Reward for Information on Pro-Abortion Terrorists Behind Pro-Life Center Attacks

More than eight months after Wisconsin Family Council/Action’s Madison headquarters was firebombed by pro-abortion extremists, the FBI is now offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the “identification, arrest, and conviction” of the individuals involved in the attack. “It’s about time,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Council/Action, a pro-life organization that advocates for religious liberty and traditional family values.

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Mentor Leaders Call for Lake County Commissioners to Rescind Sales Tax Increase

In Lake County, a discussion about raising the sales tax is ongoing. The county’s 7.75 percent sales tax rate, which is now the third-highest in the state, was approved earlier this month by the county Board of Commissioners after a 0.5 percent hike.

On January 12th, the commissioners passed the sales tax increase by a vote of 2 to 1, with John R. Hamercheck and Richard J. Regovich voting in favor and John Plecnik opposed.

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Goldwater Institute Calls on Tucson School District to Cease Unlawful Union Practices

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute (GI) demanded Thursday that the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) stop an unlawful practice of making it difficult for employees to leave a union.

“We think it is critically important for government employers to respect public employees’ constitutional rights. Under the U.S. and Arizona constitutions, no one can be forced to remain a member of — or make payments to — any private organization, particularly if it engages in speech or political activity the person disagrees with. Unions are no exception and should not be making deals with government entities to trap public employees into being union members or paying union dues,” said GI Staff Attorney Parker Jackson in a statement emailed to The Arizona Sun Times.

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Wisconsin Bail Reform Amendment Goes to Voters

A constitutional amendment proposal to reform Wisconsin’s cash bail system is now headed to voters in April’s election. Following the Republican-controlled Senate’s approval of the measure earlier this week, the GOP-dominated Assembly on Thursday passed the resolution. 

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Bill to Repay Loans of Mental Health Professionals Clears Virginia House Committee

A bill to create a loan repayment program for Virginia mental health professionals sailed through a House of Delegates subcommittee Thursday, receiving bipartisan approval from a panel of lawmakers. 

House Bill 1534, authored by Del. Nadarius Clark, D-Portsmouth, and supported by other Democratic lawmakers, proposes the creation of a Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program for professionals who have worked in the mental health field in Virginia for at least five years. 

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Hamilton County Republican Party Names Melissa Powers as Next County Prosecutor

Melissa Powers, a former juvenile court judge, has been chosen by the Hamilton County Republican Party to serve as the county’s next prosecutor.

The Hamilton County Republican Party’s central committee met late Thursday afternoon at Clovernook Country Club in North College Hill to choose Joe Deters’ successor after his appointment to the Ohio Supreme Court. Powers, who did not seek re-election to the juvenile court bench last year, received a resounding majority of the vote.

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Wall Street Guru and Finance Expert Liz Peek Gives Her 2023 Forecast on the American Economy

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Fox News contributor and financial guru Liz Peek to the newsmaker line to give her outlook for Wall Street and the economy for 2023.

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Attorney Braden Boucek Comments on the U.S. Supreme Court So-Called Investigation into the Dobbs Decision Leak

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed attorney Braden Boucek of the Southeastern Legal Foundation in studio to analyze the so-called investigation into the U. S. Supreme Court document leak in response to the Dobbs decision in February 2022.

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Southeastern Legal Foundations’ Braden Boucek Talks SCOTUS Clerks’ Invocation of Self-Incrimination Surrounding Press Leak

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist, Braden Boucek in studio to discuss the details of the SCOTUS leak investigation and Penn Biden Center classified docs.

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Southeastern Legal Foundation Litigation Director Braden Boucek Weighs in on AG Skrmetti’s Veteran Affairs Amicus Brief

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed attorney Braden Boucek of the Southeastern Legal Foundation in studio to weigh in on Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti’s recently filed amicus brief with the Department of Veteran Affairs.

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Tennessee Congressman David Kustoff Reacts to 15 Ballot U.S. House Speaker Election Process and Double Standard Justice

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Congressman (R-TN-08) David Kustoff to the newsmaker line to give his reaction to 15 ballots needed to elect a new Speaker of the U.S. House and the current double standard justice system.

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College Math a ‘White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space,’ Vanderbilt Professor Says at Major Conference

An education professor delivered a lecture in early January at a major mathematician meeting that described college math as “white” and “cisheteropatriarchal.”

“Undergraduate Mathematics Education as a White, Cisheteropatriarchal Space and Opportunities for Structural Disruption to Advance Queer of Color Justice” was the full title of the lecture given by Luis Leyva, associate professor of mathematics education at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.

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Metro Nashville Public Schools Limits What the Public May Say at Board Meetings

The Metro Nashville Public School Board is changing the way that it hears from its constituents. In Chairwoman Rachael Elrod’s view, this is less a change in policy and more of enforcing a policy already in existence. As a result of this new interpretation, the public will be granted more opportunities to publicly address board members but less leeway in what they can talk about. Public participation is scheduled at every meeting, but the only topics open during public participation, are those included in the published agenda. 

In a Facebook post dated January 10, Elrod lays out her reasoning to constituents. She writes, “Our public participation policy has been in place since 2017 (before I was on the board) and was most recently updated in March 2022. It has said, since 2017, that public participation should “address the board on an item on the agenda,” she continues with, “After making sure that internal teams could manage this change in enforcement and with no colleague proposing changes to the policy, I announced that I will begin enforcing this policy in 2023.”

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ZLINE Kitchen and Bath Announces Multimillion-Dollar Expansion Project in Gibson County

On Wednesday, ZLINE Kitchen and Bath announced a multimillion-dollar expansion in its Northwest Tennessee distribution operations by locating a new facility in Milan.

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Temporary Victory Achieved in the Goldwater Institute’s Free Speech Lawsuit Against Phoenix

The Goldwater Institute (GI) announced Wednesday that its lawsuit against the City of Phoenix has resulted in a judge barring it from enforcing its “Clean Zone” law, at least for the next week.

“Phoenix residents and business owners shouldn’t have to beg the NFL for permission to freely communicate with the public on their own property. Yesterday’s temporary injunction ensures they don’t have to — and we hope that city leaders will do the right thing and repeal this unconstitutional mandate at next week’s City Council meeting,” said GI Staff Attorney John Thorpe in a statement emailed to The Arizona Sun Times.

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Ohio Attorney General Sues Fake Home Warranty Company After over 1,200 Consumer Complaints

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is suing a “home warranty” firm and its administrator due to misleading and unethical business tactics.

Since 2018, more than 1,200 consumers combined have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office about Amazon Home Warranty, a Wyoming company based in New Jersey that uses a Columbus customer-service address, and Amazon Warranty Administrators, which lists a Dublin address but is not, as required by state law, registered with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office.

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Tennessee Attorney General Skrmetti Files Amicus Brief Against the Department of Veterans Affairs New Abortion Rule

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the Western District of Texas in the case of Carter v. McDonough.

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Ohio Casino Control Commission Considers Banning Sports Bettors Who Harass College Athletes Online

According to its executive director, the Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) may examine the prospect of banning Ohio sports gamblers who harass college athletes over gambling losses on social media.

OCCC Executive Director Matt Schuler said he would ask the commission to look into adding any Ohio sports bettor to a sports betting exclusion list if they harass college athletes based on the outcome of a sports bet.

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Amid Renewed Controversy, Penn Scholars Defend Opposition to China Initiative to Catch Spies

Revelations that President Joe Biden kept classified federal documents at his University of Pennsylvania office in Washington, D.C., have brought renewed scrutiny to his relationship with the university — and the role many Penn professors had in persuading his administration to kill a Justice Department project combatting Chinese espionage.

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