Senators Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to End U.S. Reliance on Chinese Minerals

Mark Kelly and Tom Cotton

A Republican and Democratic senator introduced legislation Friday that aims to end U.S. reliance on rare-earth metals sourced from and produced in China.

The Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act would prevent supply disruptions and bolster domestic production of the minerals, according to Sens. Tom Cotton and Mark Kelly, the bill’s sponsors. They said the legislation is important for American national security and development of advanced technologies.

“The Chinese Communist Party has a chokehold on global rare-earth element supplies, which are used in everything from batteries to fighter jets,” Cotton said in a statement. “Ending America’s dependence on the CCP for extraction and processing of these elements is critical to winning the strategic competition against China and protecting our national security.”

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Pennsylvania Republican Lawmakers Planning Bill to Relocate Illegal Aliens from Covert DHS Flights to Delaware

person sitting in airplane seat

In Pennsylvania, Republican members of the state legislature are drafting a bill that would forcibly relocate illegal aliens brought into the state by Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and instead move them to Biden’s home state of Delaware.

Fox News reports that the legislation was first mentioned in a memo by State Senator Mario Scavello (R-Penn.), who informed his colleagues of his intentions to introduce the bill.

“In the very near future, I intend to introduce legislation to address the influx of illegal immigrants being relocated into Pennsylvania,” Scavello stated. “How many illegal immigrants has the president relocated to his own home state of Delaware? If it is good enough for Pennsylvania, then why not redirect the relocation to Delaware?”

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State Rep. Quang Nguyen Introduces Bill to Protect Religious Arizonans from Liability If an Employer Requires the COVID-19 Vaccine

Religious employees in Arizona who suffer an injury due to being required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by their employer will have a remedy if a proposed bill makes it into law. State Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), along with several co-sponsors, introduced HB 2043 that makes employers liable for a “significant injury” to an employee resulting from the vaccine if the employer denies them a religious exemption. 

“This is one of the most important bills I’m introducing this coming session,” Nguyen said in a statement. “The reality is COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time. Public and private health mandates are not a good solution and could instead cause harm in some cases. If businesses and employers are intent on mandating vaccinations as a condition of employment, they should be held accountable if their employees face serious harm or illness.”

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Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for Mass Spending, Climate Bill, Dealing Blow to Biden

Senator Joe Manchin speaking

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., declared Sunday he won’t vote for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, saying he feared the bill’s mass spending and climate provisions may worsen inflation.

“This is a no,” Manchin told Fox News Sunday, “I have tried everything I know to do.”

The West Virginia Democrat’s decision all but dooms Biden’s signature legislation in an evenly divided Senate.

Manchin said he was concerned about the continuing effects of the pandemic, inflation, and geopolitical unrest. His decision came after an intense lobbying campaign by the president and fellow Democrats failed to change his mind.

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Democratic Senate Bill Allocates $5 Million for ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ at National Science Foundation

Black scientist with safety goggles and mask on

A Senate bill that ostensibly focuses on strengthening American competition with China includes a provision between the lines that would designate $5 million for funding of a new “chief diversity officer” position at the National Science Foundation (NSF), according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The bill is the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which is supported by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. The bill aims to address the ongoing economic rivalry and supply chain crisis between the United States and China, by increasing domestic manufacturing and tightening supply lines in the United States.

According to the bill, the duties of the NSF’s new “chief diversity officer” would include “establishing a strategic plan for diverse participation” in the foundation’s various programs, as well as collecting information on the demographics of the NSF’s staff and patent applicants, in order to know which demographics to hire to offset alleged “inequity.” The bill would direct states to close such “equity gaps” by giving subgrants to students in computer science education classes who face “systemic barriers.”

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Legislation Expands Options for Pennsylvania Home-School Students

The Pennsylvania House has advanced legislation introduced by Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, to expand educational offerings for home-school students.

House Bill 1041 amends the Public School Code of 1949 to permit home education students to take advantage of their local high school by attending up to four academic courses in a school day and participating in co-curricular activities. They also would have access to programs offered at career and technical education centers.

Pennsylvania home-school students currently are permitted to participate in extracurricular activities at the high school in their district.

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Ohio Legislators Advance Bill to Protect Law Enforcement

Sara Carruthers and Cindy Abrams

Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday advanced the Ohio Law and Order Act, aimed to protect members of law enforcement.

The legislation, House Bill 109, would allow police officers who are injured in a riot to sue protest organizers.

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Ohio Bill Would End Most Special Elections to Save Taxpayer Money

Thomas Hall

A bill before the Ohio House would end nearly all August special elections in the state in an effort to save taxpayers money and increase election integrity, the bill’s sponsor said.

State Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, said August special elections draw few voters and cost state and local governments tens of thousands of dollars. He also said eliminating special elections would help increase transparency and election integrity.

“Unless there are unique circumstances, we should have two elections a year in Ohio: a primary election and a general election,” Hall said. “August special elections are costly to taxpayers and fail to engage a meaningful amount of the electorate in the process. They should be eliminated from the elections calendar.”

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Analysis: Five Controversial Policies Tucked Inside $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Passed by Congress

The final $1.2 trillion INVEST in America Act passed the Democrat-led House in a late night vote on Friday. Tucked away inside the infrastructure bill are some controversial policies, including these five:

1. The cryptocurrency tax provision in the Senate version of the bill was the subject of scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans. The language was not amended in the final bill that passed the House. The legislation includes an IRS reporting requirement for brokers of cryptocurrency transactions.

2. Under the “national motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot” section of the bill, there is a pilot program to create a vehicle miles traveled system for taxing drivers based on their annual vehicle mileage. During his confirmation process, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg floated the idea of taxing motorists based on the number of miles they travel each year as a way to partly fund the legislation. The Biden administration backed off of full-scale development of the controversial proposal, settling instead for a pilot program.

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Texas Sen. Cruz Introduces Bill Prohibiting Vaccine Mandate for Minors

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that would prohibit the federal government and any entity at the federal, state and local level that receives federal funding, including school districts, from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for minors.

“Parents should have the right to decide what is best for their children in consultation with their family doctor,” he said. “My view on the COVID-19 vaccine has remained clear: no mandates of any kind.

“President [Joe] Biden and his administration have repeatedly ignored medical privacy rights and personal liberty by pushing unlawful and burdensome vaccine mandates on American businesses, and now they are preparing to push a mandate on kids by pressuring parents – all without taking into account relative risk or the benefits of natural immunity.”

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Bipartisan Bills Would Eliminate Michigan Sales Tax on Vehicle Rebates

row of cars

The Michigan Senate will consider legislation to eliminate sales and use taxes from automotive manufacturer rebates, which could save new car buyers in the state an estimated $31 million annually.

House Bills 4939 and 4940 passed the Michigan House earlier this week. The bipartisan bills were sponsored by Reps. John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, and Joe Tate, D-Detroit.  The bills aim to take new vehicle customers off the hook for paying taxes on automotive manufacturer discounts.  

Currently, Michigan car buyers incur a tax obligation for the full price of the vehicle they purchase, and no deductions are allowed for rebates offered by manufacturers. The bills under consideration would exempt rebates from state sales and use taxes.

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Ohio Businesses in Line for Easier City Income Tax Filing Process

Bill Roemer

Filing municipal income taxes for businesses might get a little easier if a bill passed unanimously by the Ohio General Assembly gets Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature.

State Rep. Bill Roemer, R-Richfield, said House Bill 228 will reduce unnecessary state and municipality paperwork for Ohio businesses and simplify the tax filing process.

“The way we currently file municipal net profits taxes in Ohio places an unneeded burden on business owners,” Roemer said. “The last thing businesses need is another hoop to jump through. This bill streamlines the filing process so business owners can get back to creating jobs and contributing to their communities. I am very pleased that both the House and Senate have unanimously agreed to send this bill to Governor DeWine.”

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Millions of Illegal Immigrants Could Get Amnesty, College Tuition Help and More Under Democrats’ Reconciliation Bill

Temporary processing facilities in Donna, Texas, safely processes family units and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) encountered and in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol March 17, 2021. The facility will bolster processing capacity in the RGV while the permanent Centralized Processing Center in McAllen is renovated. CBP Photo by Jaime Rodriguez Sr.

Millions of illegal immigrants could have access to amnesty, assistance with college tuition, various tax credits and waived grounds for inadmissibility to the U.S. under the Democrats’ proposed reconciliation bill.

The reconciliation bill might allow illegal immigrants with expunged criminal offenses to enter the U.S. and give millions of others illegally living in the U.S. a chance at parole.

“It is outrageous that congressional Democrats and the Biden administration are trying to ram through a massive amnesty and significant increases of legal immigration during this historic and worsening border crisis,” Director of Regulatory Affairs and Policy for the Center for Immigration Studies Robert Law told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday.

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Far-Left Activists Plan to Further Harass Kyrsten Sinema at Boston Marathon

Kyrsten Sinema

Radical far-left activists publicly announced their plans to continue harassing Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) over her opposition to the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, this time with plans to follow her around at the Boston Marathon, Fox News reports.

The Green New Deal Network, an alliance of 15 far-left groups, issued a press release declaring their intent to follow and harass Sinema at the annual event on Monday, in an act known in politics as “bird-dogging.” The pressure from radical activists stems from Sinema’s refusal to support the “Build Back Better Bill,” an effort to shove through many far-left agenda items through the legislative process known as reconciliation; reconciliation, which is often reserved exclusively for budgetary matters, cannot be filibustered and thus only requires a narrow majority of 51 votes in order to pass.

Sinema, along with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), has repeatedly refused to support a bill that costs as much as $3.5 trillion, instead advocating for a reduction in the overall cost.

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Commentary: Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Could Rise or Fall Based on 2012 Roberts Ruling on Obamacare Individual Mandate

“Construing the Commerce Clause to permit Congress to regulate individuals precisely because they are doing nothing would open a new and potentially vast domain to congressional authority.”

That was Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion ruling in 2012 that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was unconstitutional under Congress’ Article I, Section 8 power to regulate interstate commerce.

And yet, the mandate was rescued in the very same decision by Roberts, ruling that penalty under the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’ Article I, Section 8 power to collect taxes.

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Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty Joins Bill to Keep Children and Families Safe from Lead Hazards

On Wednesday, Tennessee Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) in introducing the Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act. The bill which would direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify and remediate risk exposure to lead hazards, including lead wall paint and lead drinking water service lines, in Section 8 housing programs.

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California Lawmakers Send Newsom Bill That Could Ban Gas Generators

Gas powered Honda generator

Legislation to restrict the use of gas-powered landscaping equipment in California also would outlaw portable generators in a state only a year removed from rolling power outages amid deadly heat.

Lawmakers have sent Gov. Gavin Newsom Assembly Bill 1346. The bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Marc Berman, D-Menlo Park, said the legislation would phase out the sale of new gas-powered small off-road engines (SOREs) in California.

“Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and other equipment with small gas-powered engines emit staggering levels of air pollution,” Berman said in a statement. “These noisy machines are terribly disruptive to communities across California, and the workers who breathe in exhaust from this equipment day in and day out face disproportionate health risks, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”

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Texas Passes Law Targeting Social Media Companies for Alleged Censorship

The Texas state Senate passed a bill Tuesday that aims to curb perceived political censorship by social media companies.

The bill, introduced in the Texas Senate by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, would prohibit social media platforms from “censoring” users based on their viewpoints. “Censoring” includes actions such as removing content, banning users, demonetizing users, and suppressing posts, according to the bill.

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House Lawmakers Set to Square off with White House, Treasury Department over ‘Stifling’ Crypto Tax Plan

House lawmakers are set to return from recess Monday and will likely take up the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate passed last week — and with it, a controversial and last-minute cryptocurrency tax provision.

The bill contains a tax reporting mandate forcing cryptocurrency “brokers” to disclose gains and transactions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of a scheme designed to help cover part of the infrastructure bill’s cost. However, the bill’s definition of “broker” has been criticized by the cryptocurrency community and pro-crypto lawmakers as vague, expansive and potentially unworkable, with many fearing it could stifle the industry and force crypto companies to collect personal information on their customers.

The provision defines a broker as “any person who is responsible for regularly providing any service effectuating transfers of digital assets on behalf of another person,” and forces brokers to report transactions to the IRS in a form similar to a 1099. This means brokers have to collect and report customer information such as names, addresses, and taxpayer identification numbers.

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Federal Infrastructure Bill Could Pump $7.8 Billion into Michigan Roads, Bridges, Internet

aerial shot of Michigan highways

Michigan could be on the receiving end of $7.8 billion in federal dollars if the U.S. Senate’s $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill becomes law.

The estimated total is derived from $7.3 billion for Michigan highways and an additional $563 million to fix an estimated 1,200 bridges currently deemed in disrepair.

The monies earmarked from the bill would be in addition to the $3.5 billion in bonds issued by the Michigan Department of Transportation to fix the state’s roads and bridges, which is in addition to the $1.8 billion increase in the state’s transportation spending since 2012.

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House of Representatives Passes Bill to Allow Illegal Aliens to Work as Staffers

Tim Ryan

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill allowing illegal aliens to work as House staffers, while also increasing the budget for staffing by 21 percent, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

The bill, H.R. 4346, was introduced by Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who is currently running for the United States Senate in Ohio, and was supported by the most far-left members of Congress, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The bill spends a total of $4.8 billion on a wide range of Congressional expenses, including staffing increases and more Capitol Police funding.

The bill passed on a nearly party-line vote of 215 to 207. Every Democrat voted in favor, along with a single Republican: Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). Every other Republican in the House voted against it. The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

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Michigan’s $348.7 Million Pandemic Relief Bill, with Funds for Child Care, Hospitals, Signed into Law

Jim Stamas

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed Senate Bill 27 to appropriate $384.7 million in supplemental pandemic relief funding.

Signed by the governor on Monday afternoon, the bill also provides $10 million of financial support for Southeast Michigan families and businesses that endured massive flooding in June.

SB 27 was introduced by Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, in January. The bill combines $367.7 million of federal COVID relief funding authorized through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and $17 million from the state’s general fund.

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Ohio Communities Gain Control of Wind, Solar Projects

Three wind turbines

Local communities in Ohio got a little more power regarding renewable energy projects after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that addresses wind and solar projects.

DeWine made Senate Bill 52 law and gave power to county boards on whether to allow or prevent certification of wind and solar projects. The legislation also establishes decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities.

“One of the most important things we can do as state legislators is to listen to the input of our fellow constituents,” Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, said Monday after DeWine signed the bill. “I can confidently tell you that Ohioans within Seneca County vehemently spoke out against a wind project being built within their communities – Senate Bill 52 being signed into law solidifies their right to local control over these types of projects.”

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Federal Bill Would Ban Vaccine Database in Response to Biden’s ‘Door-to-Door’ Pledge

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a bill that would prohibit the federal government from creating and maintaining a federal database of every American who has received COVID-19 vaccines.

Cruz introduced the bill after White House officials announced a plan to use taxpayer dollars to pay individuals to go door-to-door in regions of the country where there are relatively low vaccination rates.

In response to statements made by President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the door-to-door outreach initiative, Cruz tweeted, “When the Biden admin calls for ‘targeted’ ‘door-to-door outreach’ to get people vaccinated, it comes across as a g-man saying: ‘We know you’re unvaccinated, let’s talk, comrade.’ My bill to ban federal vaccine passports prohibits the feds from maintaining a vaccine database.”

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July Ushers in Georgia Income Tax Cut, New Business Incentives

Person writing on paper with pen

New laws that will cut income taxes for Georgians and increase tax incentives for businesses go into effect Thursday with the start of a new fiscal year.

Dubbed the Tax Relief Act of 2021, House Bill 593, raises the standard deduction on state income tax returns for a single taxpayer by $800 to $5,400 and by $1,100 to $7,100 for a married couple filing a joint return, starting in the 2022 tax year.

HB 593 created the second tax cut of its kind in three years. It will cut income taxes by more than $600 million collectively over the next five years. The Georgia Legislature doubled the state’s standard deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in Georgia in 2018.

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Gov. Whitmer Signs Emergency Insulin, Education Bills into Law

Gov. Whitmer signed a flurry of bills Thursday with topics ranging from affordable insulin to changing college scholarship metrics.

“I am committed to bringing Republicans and Democrats together to make real, lasting change for Michigan families,” Whitmer said in a statement. “For people living with diabetes, access to insulin is a matter of life and death. I’m proud to sign Senate Bills 155 and 156 because they ensure access to an emergency insulin supply for people facing an interruption of care, and require insurance to cover that emergency supply. I’m also proud to sign House Bills 4055 and 4056 – students should be able to afford a college education based on their overall scholastic achievement, especially when facing unprecedented obstacles to taking otherwise required tests like the ACT and SAT. ”

Senate Bill (SB) 155 aims to ensure access to emergency insulin supply at an affordable cost by allowing pharmacists to dispense an emergency supply of insulin to individuals with an expired but otherwise valid prescription issued within the last 12 months.

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House Passes Resolution Creating Select Committee into Capitol Riot

The House approved a resolution Wednesday to create a select committee into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol weeks after Senate Republicans killed a bipartisan commission into it.

The bill authorizes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to select eight members and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to select five in consultation with her. It passed 222 to 190, with two Republicans joining all Democrats in voting in favor.

Though the bill passed with bipartisan support, it was significantly less than the 35 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan commission in May. House Republican leadership came out against the bill Tuesday, urging its caucus to vote no on the grounds that it would “pursue a partisan agenda and politicize the Jan. 6 attack.”

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Michigan Senate Passes $17 Billion Budget Plan

The Michigan Senate passed a plan totaling $17 billion for K-12 schools, hours before the budget deadline that levies no penalties for late action.

The real deadline for the state budget is Sept. 30, ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the state’s fiscal year.

House Bill 4410 passed on a 34-0 vote, which Senate Appropriations Chair Jim Stamas, R-Midland, called an “immediate priority.” The bill includes $10 million to repair natural disaster relief in cities flooded in June 2021.

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Commentary: Quashing H.R. 1 is Not Enough

People going to vote

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has upset the plans of his party leaders to jam though hyper-partisan legislation and tip the electoral balance in favor of Democrats for all future elections. Manchin, a secretary of state before he was elected governor, is refusing to end the filibuster, or to vote for H.R. 1, the cynically named “For the People Act.” Writing in the Charleston Gazette Mail, Manchin contends: 

The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner. . . . I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy . . .

H.R. 1, which Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to bring to the floor for a vote this week, proposes a near-complete takeover of elections by Congress; it would replace most state election laws, substituting new laws that in some instances are even worse than the “progressive” approach take in states like Minnesota and California. The proposed law also taps the people’s tax revenue for political campaigns and hijacks state rules on redistricting. 

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Ohio Senate Approves Legalized Sports Betting

Cleveland Browns football defense

Sports bettors in Ohio are a step closer to being able to stay in state to place a wager after the Ohio Senate passed a bill legalizing sports betting and e-bingo.

If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine, Senate Bill 176 brings Ohio in line with neighboring Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania by allowing sports bets through retail or online sportsbooks.

The legislation passed Wednesday with a 30-2 vote.

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Peter Navarro: ‘St. Fauci’ and Others Have Blood on Hands after Blocking Trump Admin. from Distributing 60 Million HCQ Tablets

Hydroxychloroquine tablets

It turns out that the anti-malaria drug former president Trump famously touted in March of 2020 as a promising treatment for COVID-19, would indeed have been a “game changer” if only it had been widely used.

Use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus can increase survival rates by over 100 percent, according to a new study.

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Senate Poised to Approve Billions for Well-Heeled Computer Chipmakers

Computer mother board

The Democrat-led Senate is poised to approve as early as Tuesday a China security bill that will earmark billions in taxpayer subsidies to the well-heeled computer chip-making industry, which saw record profits last year and doled out millions in lobbying fees and political donations.

The $54 billion in subsidies for chipmakers inside the 1,445-page U.S. Innovation and Competition Act has some seeing an unnecessary corporate welfare program that could benefit such iconic brands as Intel, Qualcomm and AMD and increase the government’s reach over free market business.

“This bill will increase government’s influence over the private sector while weakening America by increasing our debt,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), one of the legislation’s fiercest critics. “Democrats love spending other people’s money and growing government. I have no idea why any Republican would want to help them do that.”

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Ohio Holidays Could Pack More Punch with Fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky

It may not come in time for the Fourth of July, but Ohioans could add some excitement to certain celebrations if a bill passed Wednesday by the Ohio Senate eventually clears the House and gets signed into law.

Senate Bill 113 would allow people to have consumer-grade fireworks in the state and set them off on certain days and holidays.

Ohioans would be allowed to set off fireworks on New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year; Cinco de Mayo; Memorial Day weekend; Juneteenth; July 3, 4 and 5, along with the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays preceding and following; Labor Day weekend; Diwali; and New Year’s eve. Local communities, however, can eliminate any of those days or ban the practice entirely.

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Expanding Broadband Access in Ohio Becomes Law

Gov. Mike DeWine

Advancing broadband access across Ohio became official when Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that creates a grant program that government and business groups said is critical to economic development.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted signed the bill Monday at Middletown’s Amanda Elementary School, along with students, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Development Services Agency Director Lydia Mihalik.

“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for all Ohio industries, including manufacturing,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association. “The pandemic has illuminated the need for Ohio families and businesses to efficiently access broadband in today’s technology-based economy.”

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Tom Cotton Introduces ‘SECURE CAMPUS Act’ to Stop Chinese Spying at Universities

Tom Cotton

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill to stop the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from conducting espionage on American college campuses.

According to a press release from his office, Sen. Cotton re-introduced the “SECURE CAMPUS Act” on April 22. The bill would “prohibit Chinese nationals from receiving visas to the United States for graduate or post-graduate studies in STEM fields and would ban participants in China’s foreign talent recruitment programs and Chinese nationals from taking part in federally-funded STEM research.”

Sen. Cotton remarked that “Allowing China unfettered access to American research institutions is akin to granting Soviet scientists access to our critical laboratories during the Cold War.”

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Tennessee Becomes Second State to Ban Trans Hormone Treatments Before Puberty

child running with trans flag

Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed legislation Tuesday that bans hormone treatment for prepubescent minors.

SB0126 goes into effect immediately, making Tennessee the second state to ban trans procedures for minors, NBC reported. The Arkansas state legislature overrode Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill banning transgender surgeries and procedures for minors in April.

Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act,” otherwise known as the SAFE Act, prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures, such as puberty blockers or “top” and “bottom” surgeries, on minors before puberty. Transgender surgeries include vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, breast implants, and facial surgeries.

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Lee Signs Slew of Bills, Including Tax Deals for Titans, Smokies

Nissan International Stadium

Tax deals for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and minor league baseball’s Tennessee Smokies were signed into law this week by Gov. Bill Lee.

The governor also signed two bills that are key cogs in his criminal justice reform initiative. They aim to reduce recidivism and keep lower level offenders related to substance abuse and mental health out of jail and in community-based alternative programs.

The Titans deal is estimated to have a $10 million annual sales tax impact on the state. It will allow the team to retain sales tax revenue from all events at Nissan Stadium and keep half of the tax revenue from a planned mixed-use development around the stadium to use toward future stadium upgrades.

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Gov. Whitmer Signs $37 Million Bill Funding 76 Projects Statewide

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday signed House Bill 4469 which appropriates $37.8 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants for 76 recreation projects and land purchases throughout Michigan.

“The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund supports quality outdoor recreation, giving Michiganders the ability to safely enjoy the outdoors and boosting local economies,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This funding is crucial to helping communities utilize their natural resources and make Michigan’s public spaces more accessible and attractive to residents and visitors. I am proud to sign this piece of bipartisan legislation into law and support Michigan’s recreational resources and economy.” 

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund is a restricted fund established in 1976 to provide funding for public acquisition of lands for resource conservation and outdoor recreation.

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Kemp Signs School-Choice Expansion Bills in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a trio of bills Thursday to expand education options in Georgia.

Senate Bill 47 expands the state’s Special Needs Scholarship program to students with 504 Plans. The program offers scholarships for students with individualized education plans to attend a private school or a public school of their choice.

“COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the challenges that families face and finding the right education for their child, especially those with special needs,” Kemp said Thursday during a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol. “This bill will give more parents greater options to ensure their child has every opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

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Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Scrapping All of Florida’s Covid Restrictions

Gov. DeSantis discussing COVID-19 bill.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Wednesday scrapping all COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state and an accompanying bill that limits localities’ ability to enforce emergency precautions.

“I think that’s the evidence-based thing to do,” DeSantis said during a press conference Tuesday announcing the executive order. “I think folks are saying they need to be policing people at this point, if you’re saying that, then you’re really saying you don’t believe in the vaccines.”

DeSantis signed SB 2006, which says that any emergency orders can last no longer than six weeks. It gives him the authority to overrule cities that adopt restrictions deemed too harsh or unnecessary, and gives city and county commissions the power to overrule mayors.

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Hawley Cites ‘Culture War’ in Proposal for Monthly Payments to Families with Children

Josh Hawley

Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”

The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.

“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”

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Kansas Governor Vetoes Ban on Biological Males on Women’s Sports

Laura Kelly

The governor of Kansas has vetoed a bill that would have banned biological males from participating in women’s sports.

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the “The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” Thursday, saying in a news release that the legislation “sends a devastating message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families, including those who are transgender — who are already at a higher risk of bullying, discrimination, and suicide,” according to local outlet KMBC.

“As Kansans, we should be focused on how to include all students in extracurricular activities rather than how to exclude those who may be different than us,” Kelly said. “Kansas is an inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does not do that.”

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Arkansas Legislature Passes Bills Tightening Signature Verification, Absentee Ballot Requests

Asa Hutchinson

Arkansas became the latest state to pass a series of voting reforms this week, sending multiple bills to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

The bills, overwhelmingly passed by the state’s Republican legislature, focus on in-person and absentee voting, while a third transfers additional authority to county election commissioners instead of local clerks. Hutchinson has not publicly said whether he plans to sign them.

The Arkansas Senate passed HB 1715 Tuesday, which prohibits clerks from sending unsolicited absentee ballots to voters and requires them to report how many absentee ballot applications they receive each day. It also requires a voter’s signature to match their signature from when they first registered to vote, and forbids county clerks from providing a ballot if they do not match.

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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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Measure Granting Tennessee School Boards Sole Authority to Close Schools Heads to Lee’s Desk

Gov. Bill Lee

A bill that will give local school boards the sole authority to close schools was approved Thursday by the Tennessee House and is on its way to Gov. Bill Lee.

Senate Bill 103, which passed the House, 85-2, makes it clear local school boards can close public or charter schools in the state, not the governor through executive orders or local health departments.

The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, aimed to clarify who had the authority because during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unclear in some locales whether the county health department or local school board held the authority.

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Georgia Senate Passes Measure Blocking Local Efforts to Reduce Police Funding

A bill that bans counties and municipalities in Georgia from reducing their police department budgets by more than 5% has passed the Georgia Senate and will be sent back to the House.

Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, a law enforcement veteran, said the legislation, House Bill 286, is a response to local efforts to “defund the police.”

“I think everyone sees the things that are going on around our country right now related to law enforcement, and what this does is just guarantee the citizens of any community that they’re not caught up in the politics that revolves around policing and offers protection,” said Robertson, who sponsored the bill.

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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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Michigan House Unanimously Expands FOIA to Include Governor and Legislature

The Michigan House unanimously passed a flurry of bipartisan bills seeking to reform the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by including the governor and legislature under the new Legislative Open Records Act (LORA).

The House passed the package during “Sunshine Week,” which celebrates government transparency, and after reporters used FOIA to expose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration gifting $253,000 in secret, taxpayer-funded  severance packages.

The bill package is virtually identical to bills introduced in the 2015-16, 2017-8, and the 2019-20 legislative session other than technical changes and effective dates.

Those packages all failed.

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Missouri House Sends Bill Clipping Health Officials’ Emergency Powers to Senate

A bill that would require local governments to approve extensions of public health emergency orders after 15 days is ready for adoption by the Missouri House.

House Bill 75, sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy, was perfected Wednesday in a floor debate and awaits only a floor vote to be transferred to the Senate, where a raft of similar bills are matriculating in committees.

HB 75, which has already passed through the House Special Committee on Small Business and Rules – Legislative Oversight committees, would allow local public health officials to order a closure for no more than 15 days.

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