Data: 303 Michigan Schools Haven’t Touched ESSER III COVID Funds

More than 300 Michigan school districts haven’t touched their final tranche of federal COVID money, according to lagging spending data from the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University.

The data, updated on Oct. 28, 2022, tracks Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief III spending. It shows that billions of dollars haven’t been spent from more than $5 billion of federal monies given for pandemic learning-loss recovery.

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Experts: Minnesota School District Can Now Conceal Students’ Gender Identity from Parents

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District adopted a new transgender student policy that experts say will permit students to change their gender identity at school and allow the district to conceal that information from parents.

According to the new policy, adopted on Nov. 17, “all students have a right to privacy, including the right to keep private one’s transgender or gender expansive status at school.”

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Waukesha Christmas Parade Trial Judge Enters Race for Wisconsin Supreme Court

The judge who oversaw the Waukesha Christmas Parade trial is jumping into the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Judge Jennifer Dorow on Wednesday made the official announcement that she is running in the spring election.

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Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget: State Unemployment Rates Steady in Last Month

Not seasonally adjusted unemployment rates barely changed in Michigan’s 17 labor market areas over the month, according to data released Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget.

“Michigan regional labor markets displayed little change during October,” Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “Payroll jobs advanced modestly in most metro areas over the month.”

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Legislative Audit Finds Significant Waste in Two Wisconsin Coronavirus Grant Programs

No one really knows just how much of Wisconsin’s nearly $600 million in small business coronavirus grant money was wasted or given to scammers.

The Legislative Audit Bureau on Tuesday released a limited review of the “We’re All In” and “Wisconsin Tomorrow” programs, and confirmed that the state handed out money to ineligible businesses.

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Minnesota College Pledges to Expand All-Gender Housing Following Student Complaints

Macalester College pledged to increase its all-gender housing options following student complaints in the student newspaper, Fox News reported.

Joe Linstroth, a Macalester College spokesperson, told Fox News that the college is “working in partnership” with students to “create living and learning environments that support the needs of our community.” The response comes on the heels of a string of complaints listed off by Macalester students in a November article published in the student newspaper The Mac Weekly.

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Wisconsin Law Firm Wants Worker Freedom for Lawyers in Wisconsin

The next legal fight over whether someone has to belong to a group in order to do their job may be coming for the courtroom itself.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Monday asked the United State Supreme Court to once again take a look at mandatory membership in the state bar.

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Rep. Brandtjen: Military Ballot Voting Dropped over 80 Percent in 2022

There are new questions about the 2020 election after the latest numbers from the 2022 election.

Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, on Tuesday said this year’s military voting numbers show something happened between the two elections.

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Michigan’s Underperforming Public Schools Require State-Mandated ‘Comprehensive Support’

Fifty-four Michigan school districts and 112 schools will receive required state partnership intervention, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Michigan Department of Education.

The department partners with districts with schools scoring in the bottom 5% on the state’s index accountability system, or that possess a four-year graduation rate below 67%, or that meet both criteria.

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GOP-Aligned Group Spent Money Against Endorsed, Incumbent Minnesota Republicans Again

A Republican-aligned committee once again spent money against two Republican candidates for the Minnesota House of Representatives, with both of them going on to lose to their Democratic challengers in the general election.

The Minnesota Jobs Coalition Legislative Fund, an independent expenditure committee affiliated with the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, spent a combined $55,134 in TV and direct mail advertising against incumbent Rep. Erik Mortensen and newcomer Mark Bishofsky during their primary elections, according to data from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.

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Controversial Energy Official Charged with Stealing Woman’s Luggage at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport

Sam Brinton, one of the first “openly genderfluid individuals in federal government leadership,” was charged with felony theft last month after allegedly stealing a woman’s luggage at MSP Airport.

The MIT grad went viral earlier this year when he announced his new role as the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition in the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Minneapolis Police Department Remains Critically Low on Patrol Officers

minneapolis police department

The Minneapolis Police Department only has 235 officers available to respond to 911 calls throughout the city, according to internal numbers obtained by Alpha News.

“The Minneapolis Police Department continues to face critical staffing shortages and remains far below its authorized strength,” Sherral Schmidt, president of the Minneapolis police union, told Alpha News.

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Wisconsin Dips to 41st in the Nation for Hospital Safety

Wisconsin’s hospital safety standings with The Leapfrog Group dropped from 40th to 41st in the country over this past year.

The portion of Wisconsin hospitals that received an “A” grade decreased from 16.9 percent in spring 2022 to 11.9 percent in fall 2022.

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More than a Half-Million Dollars Set for ‘Equity Consulting,’ as well as Vaping and Motion Detectors Removed from Michigan Schools’ COVID Spending

Nineteen vape detectors, $550,000 in equity coaching, motion sensors, and metal detectors are some items deleted from Michigan schools’ initial COVID spending plans.

The Center Square discovered the removed spending by filing more than 100 records requests to school districts statewide in an attempt to learn how schools plan to spend more than $6 billion in recovery pandemic funds. 

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Minnesota’s Limited Restrictions on Abortion Could Lead to Increased Taxes

Minnesota is more friendly to abortion than some of its neighbors, and that might impact Minnesota taxpayers.

Some abortion clinics are moving from states that are banning or limiting abortions to states such as Minnesota with fewer abortion restrictions. For example, Red River Women’s Clinic moved from Fargo, N.D., to Moorhead, Minn., to continue performing abortions, and says on its website that it offers abortion care and family planning services to all of North Dakota, northwestern Minnesota and South Dakota.

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Wisconsin Drops in National Hospital Safety Ranking

Wisconsin’s hospital safety standings with The Leapfrog Group dropped from 40th to 41st in the country over this past year.

The portion of Wisconsin hospitals that received an “A” grade decreased from 16.9% in spring 2022 to 11.9% in fall 2022.

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Michigan Health Officials Update RSV Infections

Respiratory syncytial virus cases in Michigan may have peaked, according to state health experts.

However, they also warn hospitals continue to experience pediatric bed shortages and advise parents to seek initial care for their children at urgent care facilities or primary care doctors before resorting to emergency room visits.

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Outgoing Minnesota Lawmaker Pursues New Legal Avenue in Abortion Fight

A retiring Minnesota lawmaker and pro-life activist is asking his local city council to consider adopting a pro-life ordinance.

Outgoing state Rep. Tim Miller proposed a “Life City” ordinance before the Prinsburg City Council last week. The ordinance would allow citizens to sue medical providers for helping to carry out an abortion within city limits. The mother or father of the child would not be subject to litigation.

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Minnesota Department of Agriculture Asks Public to Weigh In on Food Purchase Assistance Program

Taxpayers have until Dec. 12 to tell the Minnesota Department of Agriculture how they want it to distribute $3.16 million in grants through a community food procurement and distribution program.

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its Agricultural Marketing Service signed an agreement with Minnesota under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program. The American Rescue Plan authorizes the program to maintain and improve supply chain resiliency, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Sept. 7 news release said. The program’s goal is to buy local food from socially disadvantaged farmers and distribute it to the state’s underserved communities. Nationally, the USDA is awarding up to $400 million to states and Tribal governments to buy food from producers in the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination.

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Study Concludes Michigan Charter School Enrollment Increased During Pandemic

Student enrollment for Michigan charter schools increased each year during the pandemic while traditional public-school enrollments dropped.

Data compiled by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools tracked three years of enrollments during the pandemic and show Michigan’s charter schools had a 2.14% increase, or 3,147 students, between 2019 and 2022. NAPCS researchers relied on available public records for its study of 41 states, concluding charter school enrollment increased in 39 of the 41 states covered by the study during the three years of the pandemic.

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McCarthy Says GOP Will Remove Omar from Committee Assignment

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he will follow through on his promise to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee when Republicans retake control of Congress.

“Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks. I’m keeping that promise,” McCarthy said on Twitter.

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Whitmer Appoints Kyra Bolden to Michigan Supreme Court

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she will appoint Kyra Harris Bolden to fill a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve on the state’s high court.

Justice Bridget McCormack resigned this year, leaving an open seat. Bolden, a current state Representative, was a Democratic pick for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court during the Nov. 8 election but lost.

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DOE Rejects Funding for Palisades Nuclear Plant

The Department of Energy has rejected the Palisades nuclear plant’s application for federal funding.

Palisades was sold to Holtec Decommissioning International in June 2022, which applied for a federal Civil Nuclear Credit on July 5 to reopen Palisades.

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University of Minnesota to Host Author of ‘The 1619 Project’

The University of Minnesota has announced an event with Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the The 1619 Project, a journalistic endeavor that “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 6, Jones will be participating in a “moderated discussion” with Kyndell Harkness, a photographer and assistant managing editor of diversity and community at the Star Tribune. The event, free and open to the public, is hosted by U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

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Wisconsin Republican Budget Chiefs Insist Latest Surplus Numbers Don’t Give Governor ‘Blank Check’

The Republicans who will write Wisconsin’s next state budget say Gov. Tony Evers shouldn’t get excited about the latest surplus numbers.

The Department of Administration on Monday said Wisconsin’s budget surplus could top $6.6 billion by the time the current state budget ends in June.

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Court Orders Michigan Park to Repay $750,000 Loan

An Ingham County Circuit Court ordered Detroit-based Recovery Park to repay $750,000 in Michigan Strategic Fund loans.

A May 2022 lawsuit filed by Michigan assistant attorneys general says the nonprofit Recovery Park and its subsidiary for-profit Recovery Park Farms failed to reach a third milestone of hiring six additional employees for loan forgiveness.

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Minnesota AG’s Office Objects to Pro-Life Group’s Attempt to Intervene in Abortion Case

A Minnesota-based advocacy group called Mothers Offering Maternal Support (MOMS) has taken action to restore common-sense abortion restrictions for young girls and women, against the wishes of Attorney General Keith Ellison.

The group, which has close to 50 members, filed a new motion on Monday, Nov. 14 in its effort to oppose a ruling made by Ramsey County Judge Thomas Gilligan on July 11.

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Ridership Reports of $147.5 Million Taxpayer-Funded Suburban Detroit Transit Agency Kept from Public

SMART officials in suburban Detroit say they won’t release ridership figures for the $147.5 million taxpayer-funded bus operation for fear of misinterpretation. 

“We are currently operating at 65% service levels and ridership is trending back to approximately 70%,” said Brandon Adolph, the acting assistant vice president of marketing and communications for Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation. “Thus, any ridership data wouldn’t be accurate due to the fact we aren’t at our 100% levels prior to the pandemic.”

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Target Blames $400 Million Decrease in Profits on ‘Organized Retail Crime’

Target’s profits have been suffering this year — much of it, by their own admission, due to “organized retail crime.”

After releasing its third quarter earnings, the Minneapolis-based retail giant told reporters on an earnings call that it had thus far lost $400 million in gross profit margin compared to last year.

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Incoming Michigan Democratic Leadership Mostly Mum on Line 5

Lansing’s crop of newly elected and reelected officials is mostly mum on the fate of Line 5, or more specifically, the five-mile dual pipeline spanning the lakebed of the Straits of Mackinac.

The 2022 midterm election delivered majorities for Michigan Democrats in the state House and Senate, and the governor’s office – a trifecta for the first time in 40 years. State public policies and litigations could be significantly impacted by both chambers and the reelection of two key Democrats, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel.

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Minneapolis Bans Pro-Life Activists from Sections of Public Sidewalks

The Minneapolis City Council adopted an ordinance Thursday that will prohibit pro-life sidewalk counselors from being on sections of public sidewalks.

“We believe this proposal is unconstitutional and want to express our opposition as we prepare to challenge it should it go into effect,” said an email from Thomas Wilkin, Pro-Life Action Ministries’ sidewalk counseling manager.

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Jan Malcolm, Three Others to Depart Walz Administration

Four members of Gov. Tim Walz’s cabinet won’t seek reappointment during his second term, including Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Education Commissioner Heather Mueller.

Both faced criticism from Republicans for their handling of two major crises on Walz’s watch: the COVID-19 pandemic and the Feeding Our Future scandal.

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Michigan Jobless Agency to Replace Troubled Computer System

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has chosen a vendor to design and install a new $78 million computer system to replace its previous system, which was riddled with flaws.

Deloitte will build the new system for filing UIA claims for workers and employers.

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Minnesota’s Tom Emmer Elected Majority Whip

A Minnesotan will be the third most powerful Republican in the U.S. House come January.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer was elected by his caucus Tuesday for the House majority whip position, defeating Reps. Jim Banks and Drew Ferguson. He will be outranked by just the speaker and majority leader.

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Milwaukee Democrats Oppose State Plan to Widen I-94

There is a growing chorus of Milwaukee Democrats who say the state is missing the mark by expanding I-94 instead of focusing on buses and bicycles.

The Department of Transportation on Friday announced plans to widen I-94 between 70th Street and 16th Street in Milwaukee. That includes the lanes around American Family Field. The ultimate goal is to add new lanes, going from the current six lanes up to eight lanes.

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Minneapolis Fed Sued for Religious Discrimination Against Unvaccinated Officer

Rodney Maki, a former law enforcement officer, is suing the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for religious discrimination after it denied his vaccine accommodation request.

“Because Maki’s sincerely held religious beliefs prevent him from becoming vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine, and because the Bank’s Policy was not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest, Maki is entitled to relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” the lawsuit claims.

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Advocate Warns About Consequences of Repealing Michigan’s Right-to-Work Law

Advocates for the right-to-work law in Michigan warn that repealing the law that has been in effect since 2013 would hurt the state economy.

For the first time since 1984, Democrats hold a trifecta in the Michigan state legislature with control of the House and Senate and the governor’s office. Democrats have talked about repealing the right-to-work law since it was passed in 2012.

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Company Accused of Employing Minors to Clean ‘Kill Floors’ at Minnesota Slaughterhouses

The U.S. Department of Labor accused an industrial cleaning company of employing minors for work at three slaughterhouses across the Midwest, including two in Minnesota.

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week claims Packers Sanitation Services Inc. (PSSI) employed at least 31 children between the ages of 13 and 17 to fulfill sanitation contracts at JBS USA plants in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Worthington, Minnesota, and a Turkey Valley Farms facility in Marshall, Minnesota.

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University of Michigan Hires Five ‘Inequality and Structural Racism’ Professors to ‘Impact Society’

The University of Michigan recently hired five faculty members under its Anti-Racism Faculty Hiring Initiative who have “expertise in inequality and structural racism,” campus officials announced.

The faculty will deepen the university’s expertise “on issues of race and racial justice and tangibly impact education and society,” according to an Oct. 28 statement by the university.

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Michigan Democrats Want to Repeal Third-Grade Reading Law, Reform or Repeal Standardized Testing

Democrats seized a political trifecta in Lansing for the first time in 40 years, and now two legislators are suggesting changing the state’s education policies.  

State Sen. Dayne Polehanki, D-Livonia, tweeted possible policy priorities, including repealing right-to-work, providing “adequate funding” for schools, and repealing the retirement tax.

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FBI Official Who Headed Whitmer, Jan. 6 Probes Set to Retire Ahead of GOP’s Control of House

Steven D’Antuono, the FBI agent in charge of the investigations into both the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is set to retire at the end of the month, just weeks before the Republican Party is projected to take the House and likely apply increased scrutiny to those probes.

An internal FBI memo, written by FBI Director Chris Wray and circulated on social media, revealed that D’Antuono will be retiring at the end of the month from his role as assistant director of the bureau’s Washington field office, to be replaced by Agent David Sundberg. 

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Jason Lewis Commentary: ‘Candidate Quality’ Doesn’t Explain the Failed Red Wave

Well, that didn’t take long.

Long before the votes were tallied on Tuesday night, the establishment went to work on the disappearing red wave. Mitch McConnell’s self-serving warning that “candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome” had long been forgotten in a wave of pollyannish polling. Once the Republican sweep failed to materialize, it was resurrected in a New York minute.

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Minnesota Ranked Third Nationwide for Charitable Service

Minnesota is the third most charitable state in the U.S., according to a new report from WalletHub.

WalletHub divided 19 metrics into two categories in the report released this week. Minnesota ranked third for volunteering and service, and it ranked seventh for charitable giving. Overall, the North Star State falls behind Maryland and Utah.

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Michigan Mayor Sued After Shouting Down Residents During Public Comment

When Eastpointe residents criticized Mayor Monique Owens in a Sept. 6 city council meeting, she claimed the residents were “assaulting” her.

Now, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that defends free speech, filed a federal lawsuit accusing Owens of “abuse of authority.”

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