The Department of Justice announced this week a Knoxville, Tennessee man was arrested for defrauding COVID-19 economic relief programs. James Waylon Howell pled guilty to “engaging in more than $150,000 in fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and to committing money laundering.” He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
“This prosecution highlights the Department of Justice’s commitment to aggressively prosecute those who have defrauded these important programs enacted to provide economic relief to those who have suffered financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said United States Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III. “Fortunately, the quick and capable work of our federal partners permitted the recovery of a substantial amount of stolen funds.” Read More
Georgia was one of six states classified as having exemplary disclosure of its Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) spending, according to a new report on transparency in CRF spending.
The CRF was established from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The act was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 and gave states a total of $111.8 billion to cover COVID-19-related costs. Read More
Minnesota neither is an “exemplary state” at disclosing CARES Act assistance spending nor a state that has “inadequate or no disclosure,” a new report from national policy resource center Good Jobs First says.
Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wyoming provide a clear picture of how they spend Coronavirus Relief Fund monies, earning them designation as having “exemplary disclosure,” the report said. Read More
A Washington, D.C.-based group said in a new report that Georgia is one of only six states that do a good job disclosing how they spend COVID-19 relief money. Members of this organization, Good Jobs First, in a report they released Monday, ranked how states spend federal CARES Act money. Read More
Nashville Meharry Medical College announced just before Thanksgiving that each of its students would receive $10,000 in cash as a gift from the university. In a video posted on the school’s Twitter account, the President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth Sr. announced the money would come from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), which the medical school received as part of the federal CARES Act. The money was either directly deposited into the student’s banking accounts, or held as a check at one of the campus offices.
Dr. Hildreth said, “I’m sure many of you are grateful for the break in the daily routines that Thanksgiving Holiday brings. The chance to take a break, and assess what you’re grateful for in your own life, and contemplate the true value of friends, family, and colleagues.” Read More
Danville voters resoundingly approved a referendum for a one percent sales tax increase to pay for school renovation projects 60.43 percent to 39.57 percent according to unofficial results. But their neighbors in Pittsylvania County may have barely killed a similar proposal; the sales tax referendum is losing by just 44 votes out of 25,404 — 0.18 percent. Elections officials are still counting mail-in ballots, according to Pittsylvania County Schools (PCS) Superintendent Mark Jones.
He said elections officials think there are more than 44 outstanding ballots, and final results will be certified Friday. Read More
“No one got everything they wanted, including me, but that’s what compromise is. That’s consensus. And that’s what I ran on.”
That was President Joe Biden on Oct. 28 unveiling his latest $1.75 trillion spending bill—watered down from $3.5 trillion after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) refused to budge on the topline number—that Congress is expected to vote on this week. Read More
A Georgia pastor and tax preparer is in trouble with the law after federal authorities indicted him on charges of COVID-19 recovery assistance fraud. This, according to a press release that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia published this week. Read More
Most IRS guidance documents make for poor pleasure reading. Then again, most IRS guidance doesn’t effectively impose a retroactive tax on small business owners merely for having a family. IRS Notice 2021-49, issued on August 4, includes a bizarre interpretation of the law that will effectively raise taxes for business owners with close relatives, even if their family members have no involvement in the company.
A core goal of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed early on in the pandemic was to assist businesses in keeping employees on their payroll even as they dealt with the economic effects of lockdowns. Part of the plan was the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC), which provides a tax credit against employer payroll tax liabilities. Read More
Federal officials have indicted certain South Georgia medical professionals for the alleged illegal distribution of opioids and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. This, according to a press release that officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia published Friday. Read More
Judge Layne Smith of Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit Court held a hearing Wednesday for a lawsuit filed against Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and its Secretary, Dane Eagle.
The complaint was filed on July 25th by attorneys on behalf of a group of Broward County residents in response to the $300-a-week in federal unemployment benefits – known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the ‘CARES Act’ – that were cut off in Florida on July 26th. Read More
Old Dominion University (ODU) is canceling any unpaid balance its students incurred in the spring 2021 semester. Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Donald Stansberry said that an outstanding balance blocks students from receiving diplomas or registering for fall classes.
“Old Dominion is committed to helping our students reach their academic potential,” Stansberry said in a press release. “At a time when many families are facing financial stress because of the pandemic, these CARES Act funds will help eliminate significant roadblocks so students can continue on their academic journeys.” Read More
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve Bank and Congress have taken unprecedented steps to stabilize the economy after entire industries and sectors ground to a halt last year amidst the public health crisis. The Fed has kept interest rates near zero, created lending programs to pump trillions of dollars into the economy, and bought securities to support financial markets. Congress passed three major COVID-19 stimulus packages in response to the crisis: the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March 2020, the $900 billion Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act in December 2020, and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan in March 2021. Read More
A federal grand jury has returned a 12-count indictment charging a Sycamore, Georgia, resident with bank fraud, money laundering and making false statements related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Officials indicted Anthony C. Boncimino, 46, this month with four counts of bank fraud, four counts of money laundering and four counts of making false statements. Read More
Governor Ralph Northam issued his first proposal for spending American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds Monday. Northam’s $353 million proposal includes $250 million for the Rebuild VA small business fund. It also includes $50 million for state agency the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), and $53 million for the Industrial Revitalization Fund and the Virginia Main Street program.
“Virginia is roaring back stronger than we could have imagined one year ago, but small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they need additional support to get back on their feet,” Northam said in a Monday announcement. Read More
Phoenix City Council approved $8 million in CARES Act Funding for two nonprofit organizations to provide homeless shelter services. The contracts began on Thursday and end June 2023.
These contracts are the latest effort to mitigate over 7,400 individuals that make up Phoenix’s homeless population – an estimated 11 percent increase from the 2019. Currently, there are only enough shelter beds for approximately 23 percent of the city’s homeless population. Read More
Two Georgia residents in two separate cases allegedly committed massive Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act fraud while another Georgia resident admitted in federal court to committing such fraud. In the first case, federal officials took two Columbus residents into custody after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging them both with wire fraud and theft of government property related to the CARES Act. This, according to a press release that officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia published this week. Read More
Thursday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the Heartland Institute’s State Government Relations Manager Samantha Fillmore to the newsmakers line to discuss the calculated stifling of America’s workforce through excessive unemployment legislation. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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.” Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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.” Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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.” Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read 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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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.” Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More