Speakers Randy McNally and Cameron Sexton Create Omnibus Bill to Incorporate Most Other COVID-Related Legislation

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – While more than 80 bills in total were filed in each chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly, it was a bill filed by Lt. Governor and Speaker of the Senate Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) that was amended to become an “omnibus” bill to incorporate provisions included in most of the other bills.
The bills were all filed for consideration during the Third Extraordinary Session of the Tennessee General Assembly focused on COVID-related issues which began Wednesday with organizational floor sessions of the House and Senate.

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Texas’ Elections Bill Clears State House, Setting Stage to Become Law

Texas State Capitol building

Texas’ controversial elections bill cleared the state House Friday afternoon, clearing its way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk after a months-long battle that drove Democrats to flee the state in an attempt to block its passage.

Senate Bill 1 was lauded by Republicans as a means to better secure future elections, but was chastised by Democrats as an effort to restrict voting access following former President Donald Trump’s discredited claims that the 2020 election was fraudulent. It passed on an 80-41 vote that fell largely along party lines.

The Texas House considered dozens of amendments during a marathon session Thursday, and the bill now heads to the Senate for the provisions adopted to be approved before heading to the governor’s desk. Abbott, a Republican who has championed the issue, has vowed to sign it.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Signs Driver’s License Extensions into Law

People in chairs at the DMV

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed three bills dealing with the consequences of a 15-months backlog at the Secretary of State’s office extending the validation of state driver’s licenses and ID cards.

“The pandemic was tough on all of us, and these bills put Michigan drivers first by giving Michiganders the flexibility they need to renew their drivers license and IDs,” Whitmer said in a statement. “It is crucial that we continue to offer services at our Secretary of State that fit the needs of all residents as we move forward.”

The three bills add 120 days of validity for the documents expired between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.

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Criminal Justice Reform Champion Rep. Walt Blackman Jumps into Arizona Congressional Race

Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) is running for Congress in Arizona’s first Congressional district. The seat, which encompasses much of the northeast part of the state, is currently held by Tom O’Halleran, a former Republican turned moderate Democrat.

“We need to get back to the rule of law of Arizona to protect its people,” the Arizona legislator said in a video discussing his run on July 18.

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Seven State Legislators Score 100 Percent in Arizona Free Enterprise Club Rankings

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club gathered in a conference room

The Arizona Free Enterprise Club completed its rankings of how Arizona legislators performed during the 2021 legislative session, and one Senator and six House members scored a perfect 100%. AFEC ranked them based on election integrity, income tax policy, “regulatory relief and ongoing government overreach from the covid-19 pandemic, banning critical race theory in our taxpayer-funded institutions and school choice.”

The seven legislators with a perfect score are Sen. Warren Petersen (R-Mesa) and Reps. Jacqueline Parker (R-Mesa), Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek), John Fillmore (R-Apache Junction), Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), Shawnna Bolick (R-Phoenix), and Travis Grantham (R-Gilbert). 

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In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

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Hobbs’ Campaign Manager Calls Vietnamese-American State Legislator a ‘White Nationalist’ for Opposing CRT

Arizona State Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Maryvale), who is also the campaign manager for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, tweeted on July 9 that fellow legislator, Vietnamese-American Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott), is a “white nationalist” for tweeting Governor Doug Ducey’s announcement of Arizona’s new law banning critical race theory. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, fled Vietnam with his brother during the Vietnam War as a refugee, living in refugee camps until they were reunited with their parents four months later. 

Nguyen tweeted a news release from the governor’s website, “Governor Ducey, Legislature Take Strong Action to Stop Critical Race Theory” with a link. Quezada copied the tweet and wrote, “This is what #WhiteNationalism looks like,” with an arrow pointing at Nguyen’s tweet. 

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Arizona Gov. Ducey Signs Bill Banning Critical Race Theory in Government

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2906 on Friday, banning government agencies from requiring critical race theory, known as CRT. The budget bill he signed last week, HB 2898, banned critical race theory in schools. Ducey also signed 22 other bills, including one restricting sex education in schools, HB 2035. He has until Monday to sign or veto 11 remaining bills. 

“I am not going to waste public dollars on lessons that imply the superiority of any race and hinder free speech,” Ducey declared. The law prohibits the state, cities and counties from requiring employees to participate in orientation, training or therapy that suggests an employee is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously. 

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Arizona Legislature Wraps up Session for the Year

The Arizona Legislature wrapped up this year on Wednesday with a nearly record-long session, reaching 171 days. Lawmakers came to an agreement on most of the budget last Friday that contained historic tax cuts. Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill, HB 2900, also on Wednesday.

During the last few hours, the legislature approved the education budget bill, HB 2898, which included an expansion of the school voucher program. It reduces the length of time children must attend a public school before they are eligible for vouchers to use at a private school. Low-income children who live near poorly-rated schools will be eligible immediately, and others will only have to spend 45 days in the school, down from 100 days.

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Commentary: President Biden’s Tax Hike Hits Keep on Coming

Joe Biden

Just over three months into his presidency, Joe Biden has been nothing if not active. Fresh off proposing two bills that could end up costing taxpayers $5 trillion over the next decade, the President is now proposing yet another $1.5 trillion spending package. This plan, intended to fund expanded childcare and education initiatives, would include huge tax hikes that would act as yet another sucker punch to a still-rebounding economy.

About the only tax increases the President hasn’t supported thus far arewealth taxes and financial transaction taxes. But just because the tax hikes in this package are less exotic doesn’t mean they wouldn’t prove to be harmful.

In keeping with Biden’s ongoing efforts to undo the 2017 tax reform law, the first tax increase proposed is the restoration of the top tax bracket to 39.6 percent, the level it was at before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) lowered the rate to 37 percent. The top individual rate isn’t the most influential piece of the tax code on economic growth — as the Tax Foundation estimated prior to the passage of the TCJA — but it’s also far from the only tax hike that Biden is proposing.

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New House Rules Carve-Out for ‘Climate Change’ Bills Exempted from Requiring Projected Price Tag

House Democrats blocked a Republican attempt on Monday to require any proposed climate change legislation to also include its projected cost.

Under the Pay As You Go (PAYGO) rule, any additional government spending proposed must be accompanied by tax increases or separate cuts. After a push from several lawmakers in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, however, the rules package for the 117th Congress states PAYGO will not apply to legislation relating to the necessary economic recovery or U.S. efforts to combat climate change.

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Del. Rob Bloxom Commentary: Virginia Democrats’ Bill Proposals Are ‘Nothing Short of Shocking’

The Virginia House of Delegates was under Republican control for more than twenty years. This year, the Democratic party is in control of the House of Delegates, along with the Senate, and the Governor’s Mansion. This is the first time in three decades in which one party has had complete control.

The Republicans left the present Democrat controlled house with the title of being the number one rated state to do business, according to CNBC. We were also rated the third safest state in which to live and first in recidivism in the United States.

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State House of Representatives Returns to Work, But Not to Normal

NASHVILLE, Tennessee – While the Tennessee House of Representatives returned to committee and subcommittee meetings this week, the situation was anything but normal.

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on March 19, after passing a limited number of bills and a reduced fiscal 2021 budget, in the interest of slowing the spread of COVID-19. At the time, the General Assembly was to stand in adjournment until June 1.

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Deadline Passes for Filing of Bills to Be Considered This Year in the Tennessee General Assembly

Thursday marked the end of a hectic week for Tennessee lawmakers as the deadline for filing bills to be heard in the first session of the 111th General Assembly approached. The two houses of the General Assembly had their own respective deadline, with the House being on Wednesday and the…

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Minnesota House Democrats Set to Introduce a Package of 10 Bills

Minnesota Democratic House Speaker-designate Melissa Hortman (D-Brooklyn Park) announced Wednesday that democratic legislators are preparing to introduce a package of 10 bills as early as next month. The new congressional session will begin January 8 and the Speaker plans to introduce the package the next day. While the specific bills have yet…

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Bills to Watch in the 2018 Session of the Tennessee General Assembly

As the second half of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly gets underway, many committees are in the hearing and organization meeting mode awaiting bills to review. There were several interesting bills scheduled for the House Civil Justice Subcommittee Wednesday, but most were “taken off notice” by the respective bill sponsor,…

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