Mark Zuckerberg-Funded CEIR Donated Nearly $12 Million So Michigan Residents Could Vote Absentee

A group directly linked to Mark Zuckerberg  donated nearly $12 million to a Michigan nonprofit to help state residents vote absentee for the 2020 presidential election. Zuckerberg and his associates donated the money with the blessing of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

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Michigan Lawmaker Aims to Ban ‘Vaccine Passports’

Phone with a QR code on it

One Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports” in a package expected to be introduced Wednesday.

The governors of Florida, Texas, Utah, and Idaho have passed legislation or executive orders prohibiting the use of vaccine passports, while a Minnesota bill aims to do the same.

Rep. Beau LaFave, R-Iron Mountain, announced a plan to prohibit a possible vaccine passport plan that would provide proof whether someone is vaccinated for COVID-19.

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Pandemic Resurgence in Michigan Prompts Whitmer to Ask for Two-Week Shutdown of Indoor Dining, School Sports, in-Person Learning

Closed storefront

 A surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan has prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to promote a two-week, voluntary lockdown of indoor dining, suspension of school sports and a full return to remote education.

Although she noted more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, the governor added the pandemic continued to wreak havoc in the state.

For example, Michigan hospitals reported 3,508 COVID-19 patients on Thursday. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released data on Thursday that revealed the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 492.1 cases per 100,000 people, the highest positivity case rate in the nation.

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Minnesota Republicans to Pitch Plan to Spend Federal Stimulus Money on Hard-Hit Industries, Unemployment Fund, and Infrastructure

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Sen. Zach Duckworth

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, and Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville, on Friday announced a package aiming to spend billions of federal dollars on hard-hit industries, filling the unemployment fund, and infrastructure plans.

“These one-time funds provide us with the chance to set Minnesotans on a path for long-lasting growth. By targeting our spending for maximum impact, we are setting Minnesotans up to rebuild their community connections, invest in their families, and help our businesses recover and grow.” Duckworth said in a statement. “Most importantly, these investments are being made without increasing taxes on Minnesotans who have already sacrificed so much in the last year.”

The bill language, expected to be released next week, seeks to direct $2.5 billion of the American Rescue Plan to Minnesotans hardest hit by the pandemic and promote economic growth, according to a press release.

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BLM Activists Block Traffic Outside Courthouse, Force People to Honk: ‘We’re Not Gonna Let You Through’

Black Lives Matter protesters have reportedly blocked traffic outside the Hennepin County Government Center and forced people to honk their horns “for justice.”
Black Lives Matter protesters stand in the street. Twitter/Alex Belser

Beginning on the first day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, BLM activists took to the streets to demand “honks for justice” from passing cars, as seen in a Fox News video.

When drivers refused to honk their horns, protesters prevented those cars from passing through.

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Bill Aims to Offer Other Math-Based Options Instead of Algebra II for Michigan High Schoolers

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D–Flint, and state Rep. Julie M. Rogers, D–Kalamazoo, are sponsoring bills aimed to allow high schoolers earn their diploma without Algebra II.

Senate Bill 318 and House Bill 4595 were introduced Wednesday with bipartisan support.

Currently, Michigan students must complete Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and a math elective to graduate. Bill proponents argue these math requirements are often excessive for students who don’t plan to enter a field requiring advanced math and will instead need to understand interest, student loan payments, and how to complete taxes.

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State’s Expert Witness Says Fentanyl Did Not Kill Floyd

According to a doctor called by prosecutors to testify in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, the potentially fatal levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine in George Floyd’s body at the time of his arrest were not the cause of his death.

Dr. Martin Tobin of Chicago said a “low-level of oxygen” caused by Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground during his arrest “caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.”

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Poll: Majority of Michigan Voters Favor Ballot Proposal to Restrict Governor’s Emergency Powers

Gov. Whitmer

A poll released Tuesday by Michigan Rising Action (MRA), a Lansing-based organization dedicated to advancing conservative principles, asserts Michigan strongly supports a ballot proposal to limit the use of gubernatorial emergency powers.

MRA commissioned the poll from Marketing Resource Group, which conducted research between March 15-18, and skews +4 Democrat.

A majority of the 610 likely voters polled within each age group supported restricting the governor’s unilateral use of emergency powers.

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CDC Director Wants Stricter COVID-19 Measures in Michigan as Cases Surge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that the Michigan should implement stricter COVID-19 measures as hospitalizations from the deadly virus surge in the state.

“I would advocate for sort of stronger mitigation strategies, as you know, to sort of decrease the community activity, ensure mask-wearing, and we’re working closely with the state to try and work towards that,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky reportedly said regarding Michigan in a Wednesday briefing. 

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‘I Ate Too Many Drugs:’ Focus in Chauvin Trial Turns to Floyd Statement During Arrest

The trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin focused Wednesday on a statement made by George Floyd during his arrest, which sparked disagreement between state prosecutors and Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney. 

“Did you hear Mr. Floyd say, ‘I ate too many drugs,’” Nelson asked Special Agent James Reyerson, who was called as a witness by the prosecution. 

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Ilhan Omar Blasts Biden After Reports of Continued Construction on Border Wall

After reports surfaced Tuesday that the Biden administration was planning to continue construction on former president Donald Trump’s border wall, a Minnesota congresswoman took to Twitter to voice her displeasure. 

“It’s shameful and unacceptable for [President Biden] to continue the construction of Trump’s xenophobic and racist wall,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) said.

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Minnesota City Tries to Force Business Owner to Remove Trump Flag

The city of Buffalo is trying to force one business owner to stop flying his “Trump 2020” flag, saying that the flag violates a city ordinance. 

But Jay Johnson, who is flying the 50 feet by 30 feet flag from a crane at his construction business, says he’s not budging. 

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Feds Deny Michigan’s Request to Waive Statewide Student Testing

The U.S. Department of Education (USED) denied Michigan’s request to waive the federal requirement to administer state summative assessments.

In late January, the Michigan Department of Education cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason not to test Michigan’s 1.5 million students. MDE requested waivers to federal requirements for state summative tests,and waivers of associated high-stakes accountability requirements. The accountability waivers were approved on March 26.

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BLM Activist Threatens Riots if Chauvin Is Not Convicted

Using her social media, a Black Lives Matter activist promised riots if former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. 

“If George Floyd’s murderer is not sentenced, just know that all hell is gonna break loose,” Maya Echols said on her TikTok account. “Don’t be surprised when buildings are on fire. Just sayin’.” 

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Restricted Michigan Has More COVID Hospitalizations than Open Texas

Despite continued COVID-19 restrictions, including social distancing, limited capacity inside businesses, and mask mandates, Michigan has more COVID-19 hospitalizations than Texas, which dropped all of its COVID-19 restrictions about one month ago.

Associated Press reporter David Eggert attended a ceremony at Ford Field on Tuesday where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was vaccinated. He reported that the state has 3100 hospitalizations for COVID-19, an increase from 2600 last Friday. 

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Bill Aims to Ban Minnesota Vaccine Passports

Senator Michelle Benson

As Minnesota returns to a semblance of normalcy with an increasing number of injected COVID-19 vaccines, one Republican aims to ban “vaccine passports.”

 SF 1589 aims to ban forced COVID-19 vaccinations, forced digital contact tracing, and required proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering a government business.

“Your personal health information should not be made public. I stand against the special interests that want your private health information,” Senate Health Committee Chair Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, posted on Facebook.

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Defense Counsel Casts Doubt on Placement of Chauvin’s Knee

Derek Chauvin

One of the most highly-anticipated moments of ex-cop Derek Chauvin’s trial came Monday when Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand for the state.

Chauvin’s former boss testified at length on the Minneapolis Police Department’s training protocols, use of force and de-escalation policies, and his work history in the department.

“The goal is to resolve the situation as safely as possible. So you want to always have de-escalation layered into those actions of using force,” Arradondo said.

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Michigan State LBGT Center Renamed to Better Reflect All Gender, Sexual Identities

The LBGT Resource Center at Michigan State University will be renamed on July 1 to “be more inclusive to the diversity of sexual and gender identities” such as asexual and agender students.

The center will be known as the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center.

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Michigan Group Sues State Health Department over Mandatory Student-Athlete COVID-19 Testing

by Scott McClallen   An advocacy group for student-athletes sued Michigan’s health director, arguing new COVID-19 testing rules for teenage youth sports are “invalid.” The Honigman Law Firm sued state Health and Human Services Department (MDHHS) Director Elizabeth Hertel Thursday on behalf of Let Them Play Michigan and three student-athlete…

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Great Lakes Governors Call on Biden to Support Critical Water Infrastructure

Four Great Lakes governors on Tuesday urged President Joe Biden to prioritize federal investments in water infrastructure.

In a letter sent to Biden, the governors lauded the American Rescue Plan Act’s $360 billion in direct aid to state and local governments that can be spent on water and sewer infrastructure.

“As your administration continues to develop and pursue its policy agenda, we respectfully encourage you to continue your emphasis on modernizing America’s water infrastructure,” readsthe letter.

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Survey: Michiganders Support Metric-Driven Plan to Ease COVID-19 Restrictions on Restaurants

Justin Winslow

A restaurant survey indicates 74% of respondents supported a required metric-driven plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday, the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) released a statewide survey indicating public support to resume indoor dining and travel.

The survey also indicated wide support for hospitality workers receiving prioritized vaccination as well as for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to produce a metric-driven plan to retain control over COVID-19 restrictions.

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Minnesota Senate OKs COVID-19 Learning Loss Recovery Bills

Roger Chamberlain and Chuck Wige

The GOP-led Minnesota Senate recently approved several bills that aim to support families and teachers in recovering from learning loss suffered during COVID-19-related school closures.

Senate File 628 seeks to require the Department of Education to administer in-person statewide Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments during the spring of 2021, regardless of the current learning format. MCAs measure student progress in core academic subjects and were canceled last year.

“At this point, we are all familiar with the pain and hardship that school closures have caused students,” Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said in a statement. “The Senate is taking the smart steps necessary to help students catch their breath and recover from some of the worst side effects of COVID.”

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Chauvin Attorney Destroys Narrative That Floyd Called for Mother Before His Death, Media Ignores

Towards the end of his questioning of George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross, Eric Nelson, the attorney for former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, uncovered a bombshell that has been left out of mainstream media coverage. 

“You and Floyd – Mr. Floyd, excuse me – I’m assuming, like most couples, had pet names for each other?” Nelson asked Ross. 

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Michigan Think Tank Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Union Agency Fee Case

The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation submitted a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday for Rizzo-Rupon v. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The Midland-based foundation seeks to extend First Amendment protections to employees who have been unionized under the Railway Labor Act, which covers railway and airline employees.

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Lucero Bill Would Protect Religious Freedom After Minnesota Gov. Walz ‘Blatantly Violated’ Constitutional Protections

A Republican representative introduced a bill last week to provide legal protections to churches during states of emergency.

Under HF 2422, authored by Rep. Eric Lucero, R-Dayton, health boards, whether at the state or local level, would not be allowed to impose restrictions upon religious organizations during a declared emergency.

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Minnesota WNBA Coach Comes Out in Favor of Trans Athletes

Cheryl Reeve

The general manager and head coach of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx came out in favor of male athletes participating in female sports Wednesday, publishing an opinion piece in Sports Illustrated explaining her position. 

“Proud to lend my voice and support for transgender inclusion,” Cheryl Reeve said on Twitter, attaching her opinion piece.

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Former U.S. Senate Candidate Launches PAC to Help Elect Republicans in 2022

A Republican former U.S. Senate candidate from Michigan is launching a Political Action Committee (PAC) with the goal of helping other GOP candidates get elected in 2022.

John James is a West Point graduate, Iraq War veteran and businessman who ran twice for U.S. Senate in Michigan. In 2020, he was barely edged out by incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) by a 49.6 percent to 48.5 percent margin. 

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Owosso Barber Karl Manke Fined $9,000 for Defying Whitmer’s Michigan Lockdown Orders

Owosso barber Karl Manke was handed fines amounting to $9,000 after defying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders in spring 2020.

Manke garnered national headlines when he refused to close his barbershop during a barrage of executive orders issued by the governor that forced the closing of businesses Whitmer deemed nonessential throughout the state. On May 18, 2020, two days prior to the Operation Haircut protests, Manke’s barber license was suspended by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

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Minnesota Audit Finds Impropriety, Violated Rules in Department of Human Services

The Office of The Legislative Auditor released an audit Monday finding the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Behavioral Health Division (BHD) had inadequate internal controls and violated safeguards to prevent fraud and abuse.

“Since the creation of the Behavioral Health Division in early 2018, DHS did not analyze the risks of fraud, waste, abuse, and noncompliance with legal requirements related to oversight of BHD grants,” auditors wrote.

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Fed Up with COVID: 44 Percent Increase in Michigan Teacher Retirements

teacher in the classroom

Michigan has seen a huge spike in teacher retirements during the past year, with many of those teachers citing COVID-19 restrictions as the reason for calling it quits. 

“From August through February, there was a 44 percent increase in midyear retirements compared with the same period in 2019-2020 as 749 teachers left public school classrooms in the middle of the school year, state data show,” Crain’s Business Detroit reported. 

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‘Normalcy is on the Horizon’ Gov. Walz Touts COVID-19 Recovery in State of State Address

Gov. Tim Walz

“Normalcy is on the horizon,” Gov. Tim Walz told Minnesotans in his 2021 State of the State speech.

Walz delivered his speech Sunday night from his old Mankato classroom.

The state is recovering quickly from the global pandemic, he said, with 80% of seniors having a single vaccine dose and two-thirds of school personnel vaccinated. Starting Tuesday, he said, all Minnesotans ages 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Michigan Campus Diversity Program Accused of Having Toxic Environment

University of Michigan’s ADVANCE program has been hit with allegations of discrimination, with former employees accusing its leadership of allowing microaggressions and a toxic environment to fester, among other claims.

The program employs about a dozen people and is focused on faculty recruitment, retention, climate and leadership development as it works “to address necessary institutional changes to support the needs of a diverse faculty in all fields,” its website reads.

An investigative piece by The Michigan Daily, the school’s student-run newspaper, found 12 alleged instances of discrimination and a hostile work environment spanning eight years from 2012 to 2020.

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Exclusive: Crime Remains a Problem on Light Rail Despite Huge Drop in Ridership

Metro Transit’s light rail lost more than half of its riders in 2020, but crime continued to flourish on the empty trains, according to documents obtained by Alpha News.

Light rail saw a decrease in ridership of 59% last year, largely due to an upsurge in telecommuters who no longer travel for work because of COVID-19.

Despite the diminishing ridership numbers, crime continued to ravage the passenger rail and its stations in 2020. Adjusting for 2020’s abnormally large decrease in ridership shows that the crime rate actually increased significantly in 2020.

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Attorneys Present Opening Arguments in Chauvin Trial

A state prosecutor and the defense attorney for former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin presented their opening arguments in Chauvin’s murder trial Monday morning.

Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd during an arrest in May of last year. The trial is being live-streamed from inside the courtroom. 

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Minnesota Bipartisan Bill Aims to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs

A bipartisan bill claims it would reduce the cost of prescription drug costs to save taxpayers a potential millions – if not billions – of dollars.

Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, held a Friday news conference with Rep. Mike Howard, D-Richfield, highlighting the bill

SF 2178 would allow the state to share bid information submitted by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for public employee contracts. The reverse auction process incentivizes PBMs to compete against each other by submitting lower offers in bidding rounds to win a contract, which is meant to achieve cost savings without impacting the quality of state health benefit plans.

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Caterers, Venue Owners, and Funeral Home Owners: Small Business People Struggle Under COVID-19 Restrictions

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Eighty-three days into 2021, Grand Rapids-based Above and Beyond Catering owner Kim Smith said she hasn’t recorded a dollar of revenue in 2021 thanks to COVID-19 restrictions enacted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Catering isn’t alone.

Wedding and funeral owners are pushing back on COVID-19 restrictions killing their business for the last year.

Smith has been in business for 45 years, she told the House Oversight Committee Thursday. Although she’s “done everything to keep afloat” since the state forced her business closed in March of 2020, her revenue is down 93.6%.

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Michigan Business Groups Oppose Some House Health Care Reform Bills

A health care reform package the House passed Wednesday is creating a rift between the state’s business groups and the GOP.

Michigan business leaders formed a new Michigan Affordable Healthcare Coalition that aims to reduce health care costs without raising costs on small businesses.

In a Thursday afternoon press conference, business leaders voiced opposition to House bills 4346 and 4354, claiming they would raise health insurance premiums that are already a heavy burden for many businesses.

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Minnesota Senator Seeks to Hold State Cosmetology Board Accountable for Past Debacles

Hair Cut at Hair Salon

A Minnesota senator presented a bill Monday that would disband the Board of Cosmetology and transfer control over the industry to the Department of Health.

Sen. Karin Housley, R-Stillwater, said the Board of Cosmetology has been accused of gross mismanagement and involved in two civil rights lawsuits in past years.

Her bill, S.F. 691, would transfer the Board of Cosmetology’s jurisdiction over licensing requirements to the Department of Health. The states of Vermont and Colorado have both decided to move licensing and regulatory authority from specific cosmetology boards to state agencies as well.

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Ohio House Sends Message to Michigan Governor to Keep Pipeline Open

The Ohio House has sent a message to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to abandon her plan to force a company to close a pipeline that could threaten Ohio energy supplies and jobs.

Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 in Ingham County Court demanding Enbridge Inc. cease Line 5 operations by May. The easement has been in place since 1953.

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Michigan Senate Bill Would Codify Restaurant Closures During Pandemics

After a year of strict lockdowns imposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state Senate wants to codify rules for business closings in the event of another epidemic. 

“If this state has a test positivity rate of less than 3% for not less than 7 consecutive days or if less than 3% of hospital beds in this state are being used to treat individuals with coronavirus for not less than 7 consecutive days, the emergency order must not place a limitation on indoor dining occupancy or on a meeting or event held at the qualified establishment,” SB 250 says. 

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Minnesota Supreme Court Makes Controversial Rape Decision

The Minnesota Supreme Court earlier this week made a controversial ruling on a case involving a convicted rapist, ordering a new trial on the grounds that the woman involved in the incident voluntarily intoxicated herself prior to the sexual encounter. 

Francois Khalil was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim who was impaired in 2019, stemming from an incident in 2017. The woman involved in the case said the two had been partying when she blacked out, and woke up to Khalil raping her. He was sentenced to five years in prison by a jury in Hennepin County. 

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Whitmer Vetoes Bill That Would Have Curbed Agency’s Emergency Powers

Embattled Michigan Gov. Gretchen Wilson (D), facing scrutiny for secret deals made with departing state employees and her COVID-19 nursing home policies, vetoed a bill that would have limited the executive power of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

Senate Bill 1 would have capped emergency pandemic orders by MDHHS at 28 days, causing them to automically expire unless they were ectended by the legislature. But Whitmer, who was long ago stripped of her emergency pandemic powers by the Michigan Supreme Court, veteod the bill, ensuring that her executive branch has unfettered power to give mandate emergency orders. 

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Minnesota Gov. Walz Backs Bill to Give Progressive Groups Influence over Hate Crimes Data, Police Training

Gov. Tim Walz expressed his support for a bill that would give progressive organizations influence over the state’s collection of data on “crimes motivated by bias” and police training standards for responding to those crimes.

“Words matter. It, to me, is stunning that we would not hold hearings in the Minnesota Senate to debate this bill that simply does the obvious, that makes it a crime to discriminate against a neighbor for any reason of who they are or their origin or their religious preferences or you name it,” Walz said at a Tuesday press conference on the bill.

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Jury Selected in Chauvin Trial, Opening Arguments Set to Begin

Opening arguments are set to begin Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officers Derek Chauvin, accused of killing George Floyd, after weeks of jury selection. 

The jury selection process in the high-profile trail was marred with controversy after the city of Minneapolis awarded Floyd’s family $27 million to settle a civil lawsuit during the criminal proceedings. 

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Whitmer’s Job Approval Rating Takes Tumble in Latest Polling of Michigan Residents

Results of a new poll indicate a majority of Michigan residents are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, and an increasing number are displeased with the job performance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Michigan Poll from Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group, released Tuesday, concludes that 52% of respondents believe the country is on the wrong track compared to 36% that said otherwise. Six months ago, the results were 66% wrong track and 25% right direction.

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92-Year-Old Sues Hennepin County After It Kept $25,000 of Home Equity After Foreclosure

foreclosure_840x480

A 92-year-old is fighting in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for $25,000 of lost equity in her former Minneapolis condo after Hennepin County seized and sold it to settle a $15,000 tax debt and kept the difference.

Geraldine Tyler moved out of her Minneapolis condo in 2010 because of rising crime but couldn’t pay both her condo’s property taxes and rent on her new apartment.

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Gov. Whitmer Announces 21 Road Rebuilding Projects

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced 21 state highway projects for the 2021 construction season.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) projects are funded through its budget and the $3.5 billion Rebuilding Michigan bonding program.

Whitmer announced the projects on Tuesday. 

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Using Boulder Tragedy, Klobuchar Promises Action on Gun Control

The morning after a mass shooting that left 10 dead in Colorado, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is using the tragedy to push a left-wing gun control agenda. 

“Since we announced a hearing on gun safety, there have been two mass shootings. That doesn’t include the hundreds affected by gun violence every day. Thoughts & prayers aren’t enough. We need to act & it starts with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing I’m heading to right now,” Klobuchar said Tuesday morning on Twitter

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Minnesota Democrats Respond to ‘Incredibly Harmful’ Voter ID Bill, Call for Permanent Mail-in Voting

Minnesota Senate Democrats announced a sweeping elections platform Monday and attacked their Republican colleagues for introducing “incredibly harmful” voter ID legislation.

“Over the past year, we watched as Republican leaders across the country and here in Minnesota helped spread the big lie that our elections are not fair,” Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, said at a Monday press conference, accusing Republicans of participating in a “voter suppression” campaign.

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