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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Virginia Finance Secretary Expects $500 Million Revenue Surplus, But Is Cautious About Future Effects of Inflation

Virginia is on track for a revenue surplus of $500 million, according to presentations Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne gave to legislators in the General Assembly this week. Layne was cautiously optimistic when describing Virginia’s financial situation, saying that many jobs have come back, and the housing market is booming.

“This all adds up to a very good performance for the first ten months of the year,” he said in a Tuesday presentation to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. “We’re going to have a surplus that’s at least half a billion dollars and I think there’s an upward bias.”

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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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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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Hospitals Saw 10 Percent Decrease in Inpatient Volumes in 2020, Driving Lower Revenue

Virginia hospitals saw a 10 percent decrease in inpatient volumes in 2020 and a 30 percent decrease in emergency department visits, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA). On Wednesday, VHHA staff held a virtual press conference presenting an update on hospitalization and emergency department visit trends. Hospitalization data does not show a COVID-19-lockdown baby boom, but rather a decrease in usage of hospital pregnancy services when compares to previous years. On the other hand, inpatient discharge data shows an increase in treatment of alcohol, drug use, and related mental disorders, a trend that began before COVID-19.

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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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Billions of Coronavirus Stimulus Money Still Hasn’t Been Spent, Republican Senators Say in Letter to Biden

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A group of ten Republican senators outlined a less expensive coronavirus relief compromise bill and said much of the past stimulus passed during the pandemic hasn’t been spent yet.

The proposed stimulus framework builds on prior legislation that passed with bipartisan support, the 10 senators wrote in the letter Sunday. The group, which included Sens. Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, also requested a meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the bill.

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Northam Administration Moves to Tax PPP Loan Recipients

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s administration has recommended to the General Assembly that the state not conform its tax code to specific provisions included in the recently-signed federal emergency relief bill that gives businesses who received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans a significant tax benefit.

Under the provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), signed into law by President Donald Trump in late December, businesses in the Commonwealth that got forgivable PPP loans would not be taxed on that income and could deduct their business expenses covered by the federal payment.

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Ohio Governor DeWine Delivers Update on State Response to COVID

Governor DeWine held a 90-minute briefing during which Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff contributed.

The following information was relayed by the trio during the Tuesday session.

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Senator Kelly Loeffler Compares Her Record, Including Passage of New PPP Funding, to Raphael Warnock’s Record

U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler on Friday highlighted the stark contrasts between her record in the successful PPP program and other COVID-19 assistance in the Senate versus her opponent Rev. Raphael Warnock’s PPP record.

Loeffler pointed out the differences in a tweet.

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Delegate Cox Still Calling for Cash for Virginia Families Affected by Virtual Learning

President Trump issued an executive order on Monday allowing states to use COVID-19 funds to be provided as emergency learning scholarships for students who don’t have access to in-person learning. The funds are directed at families, not schools, and can also be used by homeschooling students. Gubernatorial candidate Delegate Kirk Cox’s staff (R-Colonial Heights) said the program is similar to one that he introduced in the General Assembly.

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Michigan House Approves $465 million COVID-19 Relief Funding Bill

The Michigan House on Monday approved a $465 million supplemental budget bill to provide relief to Michiganders in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill 748 aims to provide $64 million in small business survival relief; $220 million to extend unemployment benefits through April 1, 2021; $75 million for hospitals and health care workers; $22 million for increased testing; and $57 million for vaccine distribution.

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Guaranteed Income Coming to 55 Richmond, Virginia Families for Two Years

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is expanding a guaranteed income program, thanks to new funds from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. In October, days before Stoney was re-elected, he announced the Richmond Resiliance Initiative (RRI) would provide $500 per month for two years to 18 needy families, according to a press release. On Tuesday, Stoney announced that the city would receive a $500,000 grant that would allow them to expand the program to 55 families, thanks to a $15 million donation from Dorsey to association Mayors for a Guaranteed Income.

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Consulting Firm Co-Owned by Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Husband Received $600,000 in COVID Relief

A consulting firm co-owned by Rep. Ilhan Omar’s husband received more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds while taking millions from Omar’s campaign.

Records show that E Street Group received $134,800 from the Paycheck Protection Program and $500,000 in Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Omar’s campaign has paid the firm $2.78 million since July 2019, according to Federal Election Commission records. Between July 23 and Sept. 30, E Street Group received $1.1 million from Omar’s campaign for expenses related to advertising, digital consulting, video production and editing, travel and more.

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Follow the Money: CARES Act Update

Congress passed the CARES Act last March, sending many taxpayers $1,200, giving $100 billion to health providers, and boosting unemployment benefits by $600 a week, according to Govtrack. The $2 trillion stimulus bill also sent $150 billion to states and localities across the country. Virginia received about $3.1 billion dollars, with a separate $200 million sent directly to Fairfax County.

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Governor Northam Signs Revised State Budget

Governor Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s new biennial budget, according to a Wednesday press release. The budget is the product of a recent months-long Special Session held by the General Assembly and features key provisions for homeowners, children, and businesses.

“This budget gives us the tools we need to contend with the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic,” Northam said in a press release.

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Three Million Dollars Available to Some Small Businesses for Temporary Outdoor Winterization

The Small Business Association of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) are giving out $3 million in weatherization grants to help some small businesses expand outdoor capacity during winter.

Eligible businesses may apply to receive between $1,000 and $10,000 in funding for weatherized, temporary outdoor facilities, while eligible municipalities and local organizations may apply to receive up to $15,000.

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Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Triggers End to Federal Unemployment Benefit

Jeff McCord

Because of progress made lowering Tennessee’s unemployment rate, 3,000 Tennesseans receiving unemployment payments through the federal Extended Benefits program no longer will receive those funds beginning Nov. 7.

The U.S. Department of Labor administers the Extended Benefits program based on each state’s unemployment metrics. Tennessee crossed the threshold of economic recovery earlier this month, triggering the end of the program, the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development (TDLWD) announced Friday.

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Minneapolis to Spend $2 Million of CARES Money on Tiny Houses for Homeless

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to spend nearly $2 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) money to house the homeless.

The council passed the proposal for the project dubbed Indoor Villages, which will be operated by Avivo, a company that offers treatment, recovery and employment services.

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Virginia Proposes to Spend Nearly $121 Million in CARES Funding for COVID Vaccinations, Mentions ‘Vaccine Record Cards’

Virginia plans on spending nearly $121 million on CARES funding for COVID-19 vaccine equipment and advertisement. This according to a proposal draft, reportedly submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week.

Nearly $6 million will be spent on equipment: over $111 million on administration and staffing and $3 million in a “public education campaign.”

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Northam Announces More Money for Closed Schools

Governor Ralph Northam is sending an additional $220 million of Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to Virginia’s schools, according to a Thursday press release. The money is intended to help purchase testing supplies, personal protective equipment, sanitation, and virtual learning technology.

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Commentary: Pelosi Holds Millions of Small Businesses Hostage While Working Families Struggle

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a lot less was known about the virus and how to counter it, and while the nation was still ramping up production of testing and hospital resources including ventilators needed, 25 million jobs were lost across the country, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Since labor markets bottomed in April, 13.8 million jobs have been recovered, as states have begun steadily reopening in the months since.

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Speaker Cameron Sexton Discusses Letter to Tennessee General Assembly Requesting to See How Metro Government Has Spent CARES Act Monies

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed Speaker Cameron Sexton to the show to discuss the House efforts to audit Metro government spending.

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Gov. Northam Announces Rebuild VA Grant Fund Eligibility Expanded

The eligibility for the REBUILD! VA Grant Fund for businesses, nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 has been expanded to a wider scope of small businesses, according to a news release. 

The expansion of grant program, administered by the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), now includes small hotels, bed and breakfast facilities and Virginia film companies as well as companies that provide goods or services to eligible businesses. 

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Buckeye Institute Files Amicus Brief in Lawsuit Over CARES Act School Funding

An Ohio think tank has entered the fray in a federal lawsuit over a rule the U.S. Department of Education issued for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

The $2.2 trillion CARES Act includes an Education Stabilization Fund to help schools cover costs to safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The law directed the education department to distribute these funds “equitably” between public and private schools and students.

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Rep. Green Introduces Bill to Open Federal Reserve Board Meetings Once More

U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green wants the governing board of the Federal Reserve to resume meeting in public to comply with the Sunshine Act.

The CARES Act has allowed the board of governors to meet in secret for the most part, Green said. So, he and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) this week introduced the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act, HR 8007, to make the board transparent once again.

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Study: 68 Percent of Workers Earned More on Unemployment with $600 Weekly Enhancement

Some unemployed workers received nearly twice as much money through unemployment insurance (UI) payments authorized through the CARES Act than they earned when they were employed, a new study from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) found.

In response to states shutting down economies over coronavirus fears, Congress passed several relief bills, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. These two bills expanded the UI benefit period, suspended work search requirements, included newly eligible individuals, and added a $600-per-week unemployment benefit enhancement through July 31.

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Treasury Department: States, Local Governments Spend Only 25 Percent of CARES Act Subsidies

As deliberations continue in Congress over how to allocate another $1 trillion worth of stimulus money, governors and mayors say they need more than the $139 billion already allocated to their states in March to cover revenue shortfalls.

A total of $150 billion was allocated to help state, local and tribal governments with specific COVID-19 response programs.

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Federal Unemployment Benefits Expiring as Democratic Leaders Demand Non-COVID-19 Related Policies

The additional $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits expire Friday after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rejected a White House offer to temporarily extend them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that, “Senate Republicans tried several ways to extend the expiring unemployment assistance. Democrats blocked them all and refused another dime for COVID-19 relief unless they get to pass a bill that includes an unrelated tax cut for rich people in blue states.”

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Senate Republicans Propose New $1 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Senate Republicans’ latest COVID-19 stimulus package proposes another round of direct payments to Americans and more enhanced federal unemployment benefits for workers who lose their jobs during coronavirus restrictions.

The $1 trillion package, called the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act was released Monday.

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Democrats Seek Coronavirus Aid Bill Provision to Limit Federal Agents from Patrolling Cities

Senate Democrats are planning to insert a provision in the coronavirus relief bill that would place restrictions on the Trump administration’s ability to send federal agents to help quell protests in cities across the country.

The provision would require federal agents to identify themselves, use marked vehicles and stay on federal property rather than patrol city streets, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday, according to NBC News. Local officials including mayors and governors would need to approve the use of federal agents patrolling streets.

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Study: Unemployment Pays Better Than Work for 68 Percent of U.S. Workers

The federal unemployment insurance emergency payments of an additional $600 per week to those laid off because of COVID-19 restrictions discourages work and slows down economic recovery, several reports indicate. Several congressmen have introduced proposals to address the issue.

A report published by the Foundation for Government Ability (FGA) found that by nearly tripling average unemployment benefits through the CARES Act, “Congress has created a situation where unemployment now pays better than work” for roughly 68 percent of U.S. workers.

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‘Train Wreck’ Special Session Cost Estimated $108,000

The Minnesota Legislature’s recent special session ended with no major accomplishments, but the eight-day session will still cost taxpayers an estimated $108,000.

The special session concluded on June 20 after Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House failed to reach an agreement on police reform legislation, the allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds, and other leftover business from the regular session, such as a borrowing package for public infrastructure projects.

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Walz Distributes $841M in Federal COVID Aid to Cities, Counties

Gov. Tim Walz approved plans Thursday to distribute $841 million in federal coronavirus aid to cities and counties across Minnesota, along with another $12 million for food banks and food shelves that have seen a surge in demand since the pandemic hit the state.

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Nashville Symphony Postpones All Events Through July 2021, Citing $8M Losses From Coronavirus Shutdown

The COVID-19 shutdown has silenced the Nashville Symphony all the way through July 31, 2021, as the organization reports it lost nearly 30 percent of its annual income.

The symphony sent members an emailed announcement Friday before making the news public. Then, they posted the news online here.

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Group Asks Mayor Cooper to Use Coronavirus Relief Funds to Provide Free Busing to Polls

A progressive group has called on Nashville Mayor John Cooper to use funds from the city’s share of the federal CARES Act to provide “free bus fare” to the polls.

Nashville is expected to receive $121 million from the coronavirus relief bill and Mayor Cooper convened an advisory group last week to discuss how the money should be used.

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Republican Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Cut Waste from Coronavirus Bill

U.S. Representatives Ted Budd (R-NC-13) and Ken Buck (R-CO-04) introduced the Getting Americans Back to Work Act to amend a portion of the CARES Act, which resulted in some unemployed filers receiving higher wages through unemployment compensation than through their previous jobs.

The bill caps the amount an individual can receive from unemployment insurance at 100 percent of their previous wages.

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Democrats’ $3 Trillion ‘Relief’ Package Declared Dead-on-Arrival, Republicans Say

A new Democratic bill proposed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), without input from Republicans or the Trump administration is “dead on arrival,” top Republican leaders say.

The White House has said it wants to wait and see how the $3 trillion Congress already allocated will impact the economy and help Americans suffering from the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus.

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Ohio’s House Finance Committee to Consider Allocation of Federal CARES Money

by Todd DeFeo   The House Finance Committee will consider a trio of bills when it meets this week, including a measure to allocate $350 million of federal dollars to communities across the state. The hearing comes as state lawmakers resume business – even if in a limited capacity –…

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Former Warren Aide on Commission Overseeing COVID Stimulus Is Married to Lawyer Who Defends Big Corporate Clients

One of the regulators pegged to oversee the coronavirus stimulus is married to a corporate attorney who touts her history of defending companies in civil and criminal enforcement cases before the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), public records show.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tapped attorney Bharat Ramamurti to sit on the Congressional Oversight Commission, a five-member panel Congress created in March to oversee the $2.2 trillion stimulus package. The commission’s statute does not explicitly require members to disclose their finances, though three of the members are obligated to provide disclosures as they are lawmakers.

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Commentary: Liberals Seek to Use Coronavirus to Bail Out Reckless Spending for State and Local Governments

Americans have come together in the fight against the invisible enemy, but this situation has been made worse by some politicians who seek to take advantage of this pandemic and our recovery while so many are suffering. President Trump has been working around the clock to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus and get the economy going again, but Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have used this crisis to push their radical socialist agenda and grow the size of government. Twice now, Nancy Pelosi held American families, workers, and businesses hostage for days by delaying relief funding in the name of securing tens of millions of dollars for the Kennedy Center, pushing her Green New Deal, changing voting laws, and growing government to advance her radical socialist agenda.

Even more recently, there have been calls to give handouts to failing state and local governments, not because of the coronavirus, but because these states have been mismanaged and run irresponsibly. The American taxpayer should not bail out state and local governments for the reckless fiscal decisions made before the coronavirus.

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SBA: 2.2 Million Loans, $175B Issued So Far in 2nd Round of Paycheck Protection Program

The Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury revealed Sunday that the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program has issued 2.2 million loans, totaling $175 billion.

PPP loans are forgivable loans for small businesses to offset some of the losses experienced by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loans are meant to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

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Failed Presidential Candidate Julian Castro Says Federal Relief Packages Should Include Illegal Aliens

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said that those living unlawfully in the United States should be included in coronavirus relief packages doled out by the government.

Castro gave an interview to the Daily Kos divulging his thoughts on the recent coronavirus pandemic and how the United States should handle the crisis. Much like his time on the presidential campaign trail, Castro staked out progressive positions on the intersection of illegal immigration and role of American government.

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Feds Sending $108 Million to Ohio Airports as Part of CARES Act

The federal government is sending more than $108.8 million to 97 airports in Ohio as part of a program to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Airport Grant Program. In total, the feds are doling out $10 billion to airports nationwide.

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.

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