Metro Atlanta Leaders to Use Federal Money to Address Crime

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Leaders in the metro Atlanta area said they plan to use American Rescue Plan funding to address public safety issues.

Officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta have announced plans to use a portion of the federal aid to increase public safety or address criminal justice backlogs.

According to several reports, Atlanta and adjacent cities have seen a spike in crime over the past year. State lawmakers have launched a study to look at ways to curb the issue. Gov. Brian Kemp directed $5 million last month from his emergency fund to address the crisis.

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Ohio Republicans Want $1000 Bonuses for Police, EMT, Firefighters

Ohio House Republicans have proposed $1000 bonus checks for first responders who worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Using federal relief money from the American Rescue Plan, the last economic stimulus law, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT), and police officers would receive the bonus, which is expected to cost around $83 million.

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Tennessee Proposes Giving Millions More in COVID Relief to Businesses

Tennessee is considering giving over $40 million in additional COVID relief funds to businesses, as the state’s economy continues to recover.

The Financial Accountability Stimulus Group proposed utilizing the funds from the federal government, enabled by this year’s COVID-19 relief package. The goal of the funds is to increase the size of payouts businesses can receive for their losses throughout the pandemic.

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Tennessee Receives $53 Million in Federal Funding for COVID-Related Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Tennessee announced that it received an additional $53 million in federal funds for COVID-19-related mental health and substance abuse treatments. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) will rely on that funding for the next four years. $27 million of those funds will go to mental health services, and almost $26 million will go to substance abuse services.

The funds come from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. Biden allocated $3 billion for mental health and substance abuse services nationwide.

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Florida’s Jobless Claims Dropped Under 10,000 Last Week

Jobless claims in Florida continue to decline week-to-week as the U.S. Department of Labor recorded the lowest number of claims in a week since the week that ended on March 14th, 2020.

The number of unemployment claims for the week that ended May 22nd was 8,864, which is down from the previous week that has a revised count of 14,561 claims.

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Virginia Politicians Call for Action to Make Sure Unemployment Benefits Don’t Keep People from Getting Jobs

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Virginia politicians are calling on Governor Ralph Northam to take steps to make sure unemployment benefits aren’t preventing potential employees from returning to work. Senate Republicans want to use American Recovery Plan funds to create “Back-to-Work” bonuses to incentivize current unemployment recipients to re-enter the workforce. Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-Virginia-02) is calling for better enforcement of unemployment benefit eligibility rules.

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Warner, Wexton Highlight American Rescue Plan Opportunities for Broadband Expansion and Small Business Relief

Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia-10) made two stops in northern Virginia on Friday and Monday discussing impacts of COVID-19 and financial opportunities from federal relief.

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President Biden’s ‘Infrastructure’ Rescue Plan Bars Memphis from Using Any of the $343 Million in Federal Funds to Repair Bridge

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan doesn’t allow for either Shelby County or Memphis to use their $343 million in federal funds to repair the broken Memphis bridge. The Hernando de Soto bridge, or I-40 bridge, has been closed to traffic since May 12 due to a large crack in one of its structural beams. As The Tennessee Star reported, Governor Bill Lee visited the bridge on Tuesday to review repair plans. After his visit, Lee criticized Biden’s plan for being marketed as an infrastructure plan but not assisting in actual infrastructure.

“While Congress ponders the definition of infrastructure, we call upon the federal government to prioritize the safety of actual roads and bridges. Although the American Rescue Plan designated $182M to Shelby Co. & $161M to Memphis, funds are prohibited from being spent on road or bridge infrastructure,” said Lee. “The American Jobs Plan, touted as an infrastructure plan, would spend $2T w/ a mere 5.6 percent dedicated to roads & bridges.”

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Virginia Legislators Lay Out Priorities for ‘American Rescue Plan’ Funds

The American Rescue Plan will provide $7.2 billion for Virginia: $2.9 billion allocated for municipalities, and $4.3 billion for the state government, according to a Tuesday announcement from Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic General Assembly leaders released their priorities for the $4.3 billion, including upgrading public health infrastructure, funding the Rebuild Virginia small business recovery plan, adding funds to the Unemployment Trust Fund, modernizing public schools, and deploying broadband across Virginia.

“This is a unique opportunity to invest in Virginia’s long-term future. We intend to be good stewards of these taxpayer dollars, in full compliance with fiduciary guidelines. We reject calls to refuse these federal dollars, and we support the law’s prohibition on cutting state taxes to substitute federal dollars. We embrace this rare opportunity, and we choose to invest,” Northam and the legislators wrote.

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Despite COVID Lockdowns, Georgia Revenue Up $2.5 Billion

Instead of a predicted deficit, Georgia’s total revenue increased by $2.5 billion, according to a statement released by Governor Brian Kemp’s office.

Many state elected officials predicted significant budget shortfalls due to a partially-closed economy because of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

“Year-to-date, net tax collections totaled $21.74 billion for an increase of nearly $2.51 billion, or 13.1 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year when net tax revenues totaled $19.23 billion after ten months,” the statement read.

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Judge Grants Virginia Employment Commission Brief Extension to Respond to Class-Action Lawsuit over Slow Unemployment Claims Processing

Virginia is trailing the rest of the United States in processing certain unemployment claims. That’s led to a class-action lawsuit against the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), filed in April. VEC Commissioner Ellen Hess asked for an extension until the end of May to respond to the lawsuit, but on Wednesday, a district judge ruled that the VEC could only have a four-day extension from May 7 until May 11.

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Georgia Department of Education Officials Want Public Input on American Rescue Plan Spending

Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) officials want public feedback as they plan how to spend taxpayer money they received through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which is the federal government’s third COVID-19 relief bill. This, according to a press release that GaDOE officials emailed this week.

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Virginia Applications Open for New Restaurant Revitalization Fund

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

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13 States Sue Biden Administration, Demand Ability to Cut Taxes

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Thirteen states sued President Joe Biden’s administration over an American Rescue Plan provision prohibiting states from cutting taxes after accepting coronavirus relief funds.

The 13-state coalition argued that the provision included in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package preventing states from cutting taxes if they accept relief from the federal government is unconstitutional. The coalition, led by Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

“Never before has the federal government attempted such a complete takeover of state finances,” Morrisey said in a Wednesday statement. “We cannot stand for such overreach.”

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Northam, Beyer and Buttigieg Announce $3.7 Billion Transforming Rail in Virginia Initiative

New U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Congressman Don Beyer (D-Virginia-08) joined Governor Ralph Northam at Alexandria’s Amtrak station Tuesday. Northam announced a partnership with Amtrak, CSX and the Virginia Rail Express (VRE).  The partnership includes a $3.7 billion investment into expanding infrastructure, funded by Amtrak, state, and regional partners.

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Biden Touts American Rescue Plan, Affordable Care Act at the Ohio State University

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As President Joe Biden made his first visit to Ohio since taking office Tuesday, he was criticized for what one policy group called unnecessary spending. 

Biden, in Columbus to tout his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recently passed American Rescue Plan, visited the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University late Tuesday afternoon.

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Ohio AG Responds to Criticism of American Rescue Plan Lawsuit

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost continues to receive support and criticism from groups throughout Ohio a day after announcing a lawsuit challenging requirements in the federal American Rescue Plan.

Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit progressive think tank, called Yost’s decision to seek an injunction to stop the state’s obligation to not cut taxes if it accepts more than $5 billion off base.

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General Assembly Will Need Another Session to Allocate American Rescue Plan Funds

The General Assembly will probably have another special session in 2021, which is necessary to allow the legislature to allocate federal funds granted to the Commonwealth in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) passed by Congress and signed by President Biden Thursday.

Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne said, “It will require another session, but it probably will be sometime in the future weeks or possibly months because the Governor has made no decision. But part of that is because we have not received a specific certification on the actual monies yet from the Feds.”

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Crom Carmichael Discusses the Organized Crime of the Democrats and How Trump Is Back as Leader of the Republican Party

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to discuss the Democrats cancel culture, the bogus stimulus package, and Trump’s resurgence as leader of the Republican Party.

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