Communities Grant Program to Send $45 Million to 12 Connecticut Cities for Improvement Projects

Ned Lamont

A total of 12 cities will be receiving funding through Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s new grant program.

The governor announced $45 million will be awarded through the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant Program, which works to leverage $74 million in nonstate, private funding to prop up projects aimed at improving livability and vibrance of cities.

“Investing in our communities is a key part of our plan to accelerate long-lasting and equitable economic development in Connecticut,” Lamont said in a release. “This new grant program we launched will have wide-ranging impacts as we emerge stronger than ever from the pandemic, creating new jobs, improving the vibrancy and quality of life in our neighborhoods, and making all corners of the state even more attractive for investment and opportunity.”

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Small Biz Survey: Pennsylvania Government Favors Big Business

Amazon warehouse

Small businesses worry about the power of larger corporations in the marketplace, but they’re also unhappy with the subsidies and tax breaks big businesses get from the government.

A survey of independent small businesses published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance showed that small businesses perceive a business climate that favors bigger companies. A majority of respondents were retailers, and businesses had an average size of 15 employees.

Survey respondents suggested a handful of policy changes they’d like to see:

Ending subsidies and tax breaks for big businesses.
Breaking up and/or regulating Amazon.
Investing in downtowns and neighborhood business districts.
Strengthening antitrust policy and enforcement.
Capping credit card swipe fees.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer to Sign $4.8 Billion Spending Package

Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will sign a $4.8 billion spending plan into law to focus on water, broadband internet, and housing.

“The Building Michigan Together Plan makes bold, bipartisan investments in the kitchen-table issues that matter most to Michigan families, including clean water, smooth roads, fast internet, and beautiful parks,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I am so proud that the Michigan Legislature and I were able to come together to get this done. This bill will make a real difference in our communities, support tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and set up Michigan’s economy for decades of success. It is a testament to what is possible when we put Michiganders first.”

However, she didn’t say when she would sign it. Her office hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment. 

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Kemp Signs Bill to Give Georgia Taxpayers a More than $1 Billion Refund

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a measure Wednesday to give a one-time tax refund to eligible Georgia taxpayers.

Taxpayers who are single or married and filing separately will receive a $250 refund under House Bill 1302. Heads of households will receive a $375 refund, while married taxpayers who file jointly will receive a $500 refund.

The Georgia Department of Revenue will credit taxpayers with the refund once they file their 2021 taxes, which are due April 18. Taxpayers who already have filed their 2021 taxes will receive a refund based on what they indicated on their tax returns.

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Wisconsin Gov. Evers Signs Bill Appropriating $883K to Promoting Dairy Exports

Gov. Tony Evers

Wisconsin taxpayers will pay $883,000 for a new agricultural exports program to promote dairy products.

The tab results from a bill signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, which was National Agriculture Day.

Wisconsin Act 207 (Senate Bill 827) requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to apply the existing, unused appropriation for a newly created agricultural exports program.

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Commentary: Stimulus Checks Are the Latest Immigration Scam

A great plague of our contemporary political landscape is that one bad policy begets even more bad policies. Such is the case with many of America’s existing immigration laws.

Federal law, for example, calls for specific enforcement protocols. But our elected representatives have decided that some of those protocols simply should be ignored. This mindset led to ideas like catching and then releasing illegal aliens into our communities, preventing local law enforcement from working with federal law enforcement, and “sanctuary” cities where those who have broken our laws can hide from accountability.

From this witches’ brew of bad ideas has come the latest product rollout, one suited for our time: stimulus checks for illegal aliens. Using the economic damage caused by COVID-19 as a pretext, anti-borders activists and their allied politicians have found a way to sustain those here illegally while creating further incentives for even more foreign nationals to move here.

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Youngkin to Go After Unemployment Fraud, Gets Thanks from Virginia Businesses

Woman organizing table contents in restaurant

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a deal aimed at cracking down on fraudulent unemployment claims, a move that garnered support from members of the business community.

The governor and Attorney General Jason Miyares signed an agreement with the Virginia Employment Commission, which allows the attorney general to represent the VEC in the prosecution of criminal unemployment compensation fraud cases.

“The VEC has asked that I take on this responsibility, and I enthusiastically agreed to the VEC’s request,” Miyares said in a statement. “Protecting the Commonwealth from crime is one of my top priorities as Attorney General. Fraudulent claims must be prosecuted and fraud on the unemployment fund diverts resources from those who need them most.”

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Farmers Hit Hard by Price Increases as Food Price Spike Looms

Man in white shirt and jeans planting seeds in the ground of a garden

Goods and services around the country are becoming increasingly more expensive, but farmers may be among the hardest hit as inflation, supply chain issues, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are expected to send food prices soaring even higher.

That impact is being felt by farmers around the country.

“The cost of fertilizer is up as much as 500% in some areas,” said Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron. “It would be unbelievable if I hadn’t seen it for myself as I priced fertilizer for our farm in southern Indiana. Fertilizer is a global commodity and can be influenced by multiple market factors, including the situation in Ukraine, and all of these are helping to drive up costs.”

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Menthol Cigarettes Ban Could Cost Virginia More Than $121 Million in First Year

A recent report found a nationwide ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes could cost Virginia hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

If the proposed Food and Drug Administration ban on menthols was to go into effect, the commonwealth would lose more than $121.6 million in its first full year of implementation, according to a report from the Tax Foundation. The losses would be caused by lower excise tax revenue, lower sales tax revenue and lower Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) payments.

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$800M Opioid Settlement to Start Paying Out in 2022

pill bottles spilled onto a table

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined local leaders to announce the next steps of Michigan’s anticipated receipt of $800 million opioid settlements over the next 18 years. 

The settlement includes the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson.

“I took legal action once I took office to try to recoup money for the devastating impact that the opioid epidemic has had on the communities across our state,” Nessel said in a statement. “I am pleased to see our work pay off with this historic settlement that will bring Michigan communities millions of dollars to support abatement efforts. I know that no amount of money will make whole the thousands of Michigan families impacted by opioids, but this is an important victory in a hard-fought battle.”

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Connecticut Gov. Lamont: Economic Summit with Israel Strengthens Business Ties

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont

Six Israeli countries pitched business ideas business leaders from Connecticut in a recent economic mission trip, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The governor, having returned from the four-day economic summit to the nation situated along the Mediterranean Sea, said discussions focused on building and strengthening relationships with members of the country’s innovative business sector.

Meetings were held with venture capitalists, incubators, accelerators, and thought leaders during the four-day trip, Lamont said.

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Another Key Inflation Indicator Surged to Highest Level Since 1983

woman in a grocery aisle with a mask and backpack on

A key inflation indicator increased to its highest level in 38 years while consumer demand remained strong despite soaring prices, the Commerce Department announced Friday.

The Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index grew 5.2% in January, exceeding the 5.1% Dow Jones estimate, the Commerce Department reported. The PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and January’s figure marks monthly the largest year-over-year increase since April 1983.

The PCE increased 0.5% on a monthly basis in January, the same pace as the previous three months, according to the Commerce Department. Including food and energy prices, overall PCE surged 6.1% since January 2021, marking the most annual growth since February 1982.

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Home Prices Up, Inventory Down Across Wisconsin

There is good news for people looking to sell a home in Wisconsin, but the news is not so great for people looking to buy.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association released its latest report on home sales on Monday.

The numbers show fewer homes for sale and fewer homes sold in January of this year, compared to January 2021.

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Bill Proposes Minnesota Join 19 States with Co-Pay Caps for Insulin

Two Minnesota DFL legislators announced a bill to cap state-regulated health plans’ co-pays for certain prescription drugs at $25 per month.

The bill Rep. Michael Howard, DFL-Richfield, and Sen. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, if passed, HF 3592, would apply the caps to drugs and medical supplies that treat severe allergic reactions and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma. The bill would become effective in 2023.

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Wholesale Prices Jump in January as Inflation Continues to Soar

Wholesale prices jumped a full percentage point in January and 9.7 percent over last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday, as inflation continues its rapid rise.

“On an unadjusted basis, final demand prices moved up 9.7 percent for the 12 months ended January 2022,” BLS said.

That increase comes after a 0.9% increase in November and a 0.4% increase in December.

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Survey: More Than One-Third of Wisconsin Businesses Plan to Pay More

woman working in a warehouse

It is a good time to be a worker with in-demand skills in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, on Monday said its latest Employer Survey shows many businesses across the state plan to raise wages by more than 4% at some point this year.

“Wages are rising much faster than they have in recent memory,” WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer said. “Wisconsin does not have enough people to fill the jobs we have available, and that creates an aggressive competition for talent. We are seeing wages rise at a faster rate, sign-on bonuses, work flexibility and many other strategies from companies to attract and retain talent.”

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Ohio Proposes 10 Percent Cut to Workers’ Compensation Premiums

three people in hard hats looking at a clipboard

Private businesses in Ohio would save nearly $106 million over the next fiscal year if a proposal to cut the state’s workers’ compensation premiums by 10% is approved.

The reduction would follow a 10% rate reduction for public employers – counties, cities, schools and others – that went into effect Jan. 1. If approved at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) board meeting Feb. 25, it would be effective July 1.

“At the request of Gov. [Mike] DeWine, we are proposing a new rate reduction for private employers,” BWC Administrator and CEO Stephanie McCloud said. “This proposed rate reduction confirms the dedication and hard work Ohio’s private employers have towards workplace safety.”

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Commentary: America’s Phony Debts Problem

The email from “Norton Protection” said I owed $999.99, which was “charged successfully and it will appear on your bank statement in 24 to 48 hours.” Although I have an account with a leading cybersecurity company, I’ve never paid that much for its products. To “cancel” the charge, I was instructed to call a number, conveniently highlighted in yellow.

All it took to bird-dog my fake debt email was a simple search-engine query of the invoice’s telephone number. It was based in Hawaii. Unfortunately, perhaps, for the real employees of Norton’s help desk, they are likely not stationed in the Aloha State.

In a nation swimming in real debt – with the average American owing an estimated $90,000 – it’s not surprising that “phantom debts” are one of the hottest scams.

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Trump’s Entertainment Venture Outperforming All Similar Companies: REPORT

Donald Trump sitting at desk

Former President Donald Trump’s entertainment venture is currently outperforming all other special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), according to a recent market report.

Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), the SPAC used to take Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) public, is outperforming all other SPACs, according to a market analysis by SPAC Research reported by Reuters. The company’s shares ended trading at $73.12 on Friday, giving the company a valuation of roughly $13 billion, according to Reuters.

A SPAC is a company that acquires private companies and lists them publicly on a stock exchange without the private company engaging in an initial public offering (IPO). In this case, Trump used DWAC to take his company public in order to raise funding for his social media venture, TRUTH Social, which he has billed as an alternative to major tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

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Dartmouth Cancels Conservative Group’s Event after Alleged Antifa Threats

aerial view of The Dartmouth College

A conservative group at an Ivy League college was reportedly forced to take a planned event virtual after reported threats tied to a left-wing protest group, according to journalist Andy Ngo.

The Dartmouth College chapter of Turning Point USA (TPUSA) was hosting Ngo and Gabriel Nadales, a former member of the left-wing group, to discuss Antifa at a Thursday night event before the college canceled it due to concerns about security, the Post Millennial reported.

“In light of concerning information from Hanover police regarding safety issues shared late in the afternoon, similar concerns expressed by the College Republican leadership, and challenges with the student organization’s ability to staff a large public event and communicate effectively (including dissemination of the visitor policy and a prohibition on bags in the building), the College requested that the Extremism in America panel be moved online,” Diana Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Dartmouth, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Commentary: Get Ready for a New Roaring Twenties

Statue of Liberty

On New Year’s Eve of 2019, revelers gathered around the globe to ring in a new decade. Many jubilantly attended “Roaring Twenties” parties, adorned in elegant evening wear, cloche and Panama hats, and knickerbockers, harkening back to an exciting, culturally vibrant era of economic prosperity. But whatever veiled hopes partygoers had for a booming future soon met jarring realities: a once-in-a-century pandemic, global lockdowns, an economic recession, and widespread civil unrest stemming from an incident of police brutality. The Roaring 2020s were not to be, it seemed.

Take heart: Mark P. Mills, a physicist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, faculty fellow at Northwestern University, and a partner in Montrose Lane, an energy-tech venture fund, is out to rekindle our collectively dashed hopes. In his new book, The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, Mills convincingly argues with verve, vitality, and – most importantly – evidence, that humanity is about to take a great step forward in the coming decade. And unlike the first Roaring Twenties, these won’t need to end with a Great Depression.

In the opening pages, Mills reminds us that the original Roaring Twenties didn’t start off so auspiciously, either. In fact, separated by a century, our situation seems eerily similar. The 1918 flu pandemic ran well into 1920, triggering a severe U.S. recession that lasted through summer 1921. Violent riots and political instability were also prevalent. Yet from this pit of public despair, Americans pulled themselves out. Propelled by remarkable advancements in mass production, medicine, electrification, communications via telephone and radio, movies, automobiles, and aviation, the United States saw its GDP rise by an astounding 43% between 1921 and 1929.

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Awaiting Supreme Court Decision, Iowa OSHA Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Businesses

man in yellow hardhat and work jacket

Iowans are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees. In the meantime, they’re moving ahead with actions of their own.

Iowa Department of Education Communications Director Heather Doe told The Center Square in an emailed statement that since Iowa is a state-plan state, the Iowa Division of Labor typically enforces workplace safety in Iowa instead of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The state is required to notify OSHA whether it will adopt a given Emergency Temporary Standard or provide notice it will not adopt it because its standards are as effective as the new federal standard. Iowa needed to respond to the standard by Jan. 7.

Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts did so, saying that the Hawkeye State will not adopt or enforce the mandate.

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Americans Ring in 2022 with Highest Mortgage Rates Since the Pandemic Started

Mortgage rates soared to their highest level since the beginning of the pandemic in the first week of 2022, according to Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.22% in the week ending on Jan. 6, up from a 3.11% average during the previous week and marking the highest level since May 2020, Freddie Mac announced Thursday. The 30-year rate dropped to 2.65% in early 2021, its lowest level on record.

“Mortage rates increased during the first week of 2022 to the highest level since May 2020 and are more than half a percentage higher than January 2021,” said Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, according to a company release.

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Iowa Awards Two-Thirds of Strengthening Communities Grants to YMCA or YWCA Projects

Kids at a table, wearing masks, with teacher who is wearing a mask

Projects in the rural communities of Clinton, Hampton, Keokuk, Lake City, Maquoketa, Red Oak and Stanton will all together receive $250,000 in Strengthening Communities grants, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs announced Thursday.

The Iowa legislature appropriated funding for the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund for the Strengthening Communities grants. The grants support communities of fewer than 28,000 residents (based on the 2010 Census) that are renovating facilities or undertaking construction projects that promote “youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” Organizations must present a minimum of 50% of the grant amount they request. The funding must be secured, dedicated to eligible expenses, raised through public and private funding (not including state funding), and be spent between 2022 and 2024.

The funding will support the following projects:

$65,000 for the YWCA in Clinton’s reconfiguration of childcare spaces and youth classrooms to expand capacity and improve efficiency to help increase child care accessibility and provide a safe environment.

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U.S. Economy Adds Just 199,000 Jobs in December, Far Below Expectations

Man in a hard hat pointing his finger

The U.S. economy recorded an increase of 199,000 jobs in December and the unemployment dipped to 3.9%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Friday.

Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 199,000 in December, according to the BLS, and the number of unemployed Americans dipped to 6.3 million. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal projected the economy to add 422,000 jobs in December and for unemployment to fall to 4.1%.

December’s jobs report leaves the U.S. economy with roughly 6.5 million more jobs than at the end of 2020 but still 3.5 million short of pre-pandemic levels.

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European Tech Firm Chooses Arizona as First American Location

A European solar power tech company has chosen Arizona as its first location in the United States.

Switzerland-based mechanical engineering company Meyer Burger Technology AG is establishing a production site for high-performance solar modules in Goodyear, Arizona. Production is expected to be operational by the end of 2022, creating an initial 250 jobs and more than 500 jobs at full capacity.

“I am very pleased to welcome Meyer Burger to our community,” Mayor of Goodyear Joe Pizzillo said in a news release.“The decision to make a large investment in our community shows Goodyear is an excellent location for advanced manufacturing businesses. Our highly skilled workforce, modern infrastructure, and low cost of doing business has created an environment where companies can thrive.”

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Commentary: ‘Roots,’ ‘Dreams,’ and the Unequal Punishment of Fraud

A week before Christmas, on the occasion of Alex Haley’s centennial year, Michael Patrick Hearn penned a lengthy tribute to his one-time Hamilton College prof. The first 4,000 words of the New York Times article Hearn fulfilled the promise of its title, as Hearn recounted in loving detail how “Alex Haley Taught America About Race — and a Young Man How to Write.”

Only about 500 words before the article’s completion does the Times reader learn there were problems with Haley’s 1976 “magnum opus”— Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Writes Hearn, much too matter-of-factly, “Haley and Doubleday might have saved themselves a lot of trouble had they acknowledged from the first that their big best seller was based on a true story.” This is Hearn’s gentle way of saying the book is a fraud. If additional irony were needed, Hearn wrote his paean to Haley under the Times rubric, “Nonfiction.”

Haley, in fact, stands accused of three counts of literary fraud. He passed off fiction as fact. He passed off another’s work as his own. And he plagiarized. Only one popular writer in recent times has faced comparable accusations. That is Barack Obama, author of his own imagined family saga, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. More on Obama in a minute.

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Kansas Lawmakers Reveal Draft Bill to Eliminate the Food Tax

Laura Kelly

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership on Thursday released a draft bill to get rid of the food sales tax in the state. 

Known colloquially as the “Axe the Food Tax” bill, the legislation would eliminate the state’s 6.5% sales tax on food. The draft bill also includes a full exemption on state and local taxes for items bought at farmers markets. 

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, and House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, D-Wichita, helped craft the legislation and are formally looking for co-sponsors. 

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Arizona Small Businesses Don’t Want California-Style Employment Laws

Person using Apple Pay at cafe

Copper State small business owners appear to have embraced the local colloquialism “Don’t California my Arizona,” according to results of a new survey.

The Arizona chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business released its annual poll of Main St. entrepreneurs Monday. 

NFIB got responses to three questions from 247 small business owners across the state this month. 

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Commentary: The Flaw in Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying’s Proposal for the Future of Humanity

Bret Weinstein podcast

Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, evolutionary biologists and visiting fellows at Princeton University, have written a fascinating new book, A Hunter-Gatherer’s Guide to the 21st Century, which Penguin Random House released in September.

The instant New York Times bestseller is riddled with interesting ideas and clever insights, ultimately arriving at a radical conclusion about how humanity must be governed in the future if we are to avoid civilizational collapse. However, the book’s concluding argument is built upon one fundamental economic fallacy, and to understand the flaw in the proposal is to understand how truly catastrophic the pursuit of Weinstein and Heying’s vision would be.

The Fear of Abundance

Weinstein and Heying’s fundamental claim is about the human propensity to seek economic growth, and the ultimate unsustainability of that goal.

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Experts Predict Less Economic Growth, Elevated Inflation for Years to Come

Woman shopping, going up escalator

A survey released Monday found that business experts expect prices and inflation to rise at elevated levels for years to come.

The National Association for Business Economics released the results of a survey of 48 economic experts who downgraded their growth predictions and projected elevated inflation through the second half of 2023, if not later.

“NABE Outlook survey panelists have ramped up their expectations for inflation significantly since September,” said NABE Vice President Julia Coronado, founder and president, MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC. “The core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy costs, is now expected to rise 6.0% from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to the September forecast of a 5.1% increase over the same period.”

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Big Oil CEOs Thumb Nose at Green Energy Transition, Say Fossil Fuels Still Have ‘Essential Role’

Mike Worth, Darren Woods and Amin Nasser

Executives of major oil companies slammed the aggressive global push to renewable forms of energy and warned that such policies could crash economies.

Crude oil and natural gas continue to be key to the world economy’s health and cannot be discounted, CEOs of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Halliburton and Saudi Aramco said during the ongoing World Petroleum Congress in Texas on Monday. The executives agreed that climate change should be addressed, but not to the detriment of current energy needs.

“I understand that publicly admitting that oil and gas will play an essential and significant role during the transition and beyond will be hard for some,” Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said during his remarks at the summit, the Financial Times reported.  People “assume that the right transition strategy is in place. It’s not,” Nasser said, Reuters reported. “Energy security, economic development and affordability are clearly not receiving enough attention.”

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Fraudsters Used Paycheck Protection Program Loans for Bentleys, Diamonds, Luxury Homes: Watchdog

woman on laptop with eye glasses and mug next to her

This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to the Small Business Administration for millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans it issued to fraudsters who used the money to purchase luxury homes, high-priced jewelry and expensive cars, including a Bentley and two Lamborghinis, according to a watchdog report.

The Paycheck Protection Program had the highest percentage of cases of criminal activity of all the pandemic relief programs, according to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s recent Semiannual Report to Congress.

“A total of 14 OIGs have indictments/complaints, arrests, and/or convictions from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, related to the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response,” PRAC reported.

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Labor Board Orders New Union Election at Amazon Warehouse

Amazon warehouse in Maryland

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a new unionization election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, ruling that the company violated federal labor law during the first election.

“Today’s decision confirms what we were saying all along – that Amazon’s intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace – and as the Regional Director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal,” Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Monday.

“Amazon workers deserve to have a voice at work, which can only come from a union,” he continued.

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Thanksgiving Dinner, Travel, Black Friday Shopping More Expensive as Inflation Continues to Rise

People on an escalator in an indoor shopping mall

As Americans prepare for Thanksgiving this year, traveling and cooking a family dinner will be significantly more expensive.

Inflation has increased by more than 6.2% this year, according to the consumer price index (CPI), representing the highest rate of price hikes in nearly 31 years.

In January 2021, before Biden “took over the presidency, annual inflation was at a stable 1.4 percent,” Americans for Tax Reform notes. “While inflation has already hit American families hard, President [Joe] Biden is pushing policies which would make this problem even worse.”

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Sen. Cruz: Skyrocketing Inflation in U.S. Comparable to 1970s under Carter

Ted Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says that skyrocketing inflation and long lines at gas stations are a result of President Joe Biden’s policies and are returning the U.S. to the days of high inflation, high cost of living and gas lines under President Jimmy Carter.

Eleven months into Biden’s term, inflation reached a 31-year high and gas prices surpassed a seven-year high.

“I’ve got to tell you the trillions that are being spent, the trillions in debt that’s being racked up, it is historic and not in a good way,” Cruz told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Consider Dumping Daylight Savings Time

Russ Diamond

Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond says it’s time to “stop the madness of changing clocks twice a year” and permanently place the Keystone State on Eastern Standard Time.

Lawmakers in the General Assembly’s State Government Committee discussed his plan to ditch Daylight Savings Time in a hearing last week.

“The general consensus among Pennsylvanians is they’re tired of changing clocks,” Diamond, R-Lebanon, told his colleagues on the committee.

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Developers Pause, Pull Out After St. Paul Passes Rent Control

St. Paul School District

Earlier this month, St. Paul voters chose 53%-47% to impose a 3% cap on rent increases per year.  Despite the rule not activating until May 22, developers already are pausing and pulling out of projects.

The cap is strict: it doesn’t account for inflation, small or large landlords, new or old buildings, “regardless of change of occupancy.” The goal is to obtain stable, affordable housing prices, but there are also wide-reaching unintended consequences.

Pre-election, Mayor Melvin Carter said he supported the initiative.

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International Visitors to Flood Arizona After Borders Reopen

Arizona-Mexico border

Arizona’s businesses are soon to get a shot in the arm from COVID-19 vaccinated international visitors as the U.S. reopens its borders to leisure travel. 

The Biden administration will reopen the country’s borders Monday for nonessential travel. The opening marks 18 months of borders closed to nonessential travel because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

The decision was announced in October. It does not apply to illegal border crossings.

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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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‘America Is Back’: Biden Unveils Sweeping Oil, Gas Regulations That Would Cut Methane Emissions by 41 Million Tons

Drilling site at night

The Biden administration rolled out broad new regulations that it said will substantially reduce U.S. methane emissions within 15 years.

The sweeping regulations would cut methane emissions, which account for roughly 10% of the greenhouse gasses emitted by the U.S., by 41 million tons between 2023 and 2035, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Tuesday. Such a reduction is equivalent to 920 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the amount emitted by all cars and commercial aircraft in 2019.

“As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.

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Gov. Whitmer Asks Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to Refund $5 Billion to Ratepayers

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is calling for the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association to refund $5 billion in surplus funds to Michigan automotive insurance customers.

“My office recently reviewed the Annual Report of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) to the Legislature issued in September 2021,” the governor wrote in a Nov. 1 letter addressed to R. Kevin Clinton, MCCA executive director. “The report stated that the MCCA had a surplus of $2.4 billion at the end of 2020. In your annual statement issued on June 30, 2021, the surplus is now $5 billion. I am calling on you today to refund money to Michiganders.”

The governor attributes the surplus to the bipartisan Senate Bill 1 insurance reform bill she signed in May 2019. Provisions of the bill include:

Guaranteeing lower rates for drivers for eight years;    
Giving people the choice to pick their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) options with coinciding PIP rate reductions, offering unlimited coverage (at least 10% PIP reduction), $500,000 coverage (at least 20% PIP reduction), $250K coverage (at least 35% PIP reduction), $50,000 coverage for Medicaid eligible recipients (at least 45% PIP reduction), or a complete opt out for seniors or anyone with sufficient private insurance (100% PIP reduction).  
Increasing consumer protections by banning companies from using the following non-driving factors to set rates: ZIP code, credit score, gender, marital status, occupation, educational attainment, and homeownership.  
Setting fee schedules for hospitals and providers to prevent overcharging for auto-related injuries.   

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TennCare Proposes $600M Budget Increase

Tennessee’s TennCare program would like to spend $600 million more next fiscal year than this year, according to a budget request presented Monday to Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Butch Eley.

The proposed spending increase in the state’s Medicaid program includes a $250 million increase in recurring federal funds and $182 million in nonrecurring federal expense increases.

The spending increase would cost the state $137 million in additional recurring expenses.

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Report: Facebook Lobbyists Are Being Ignored and Banned from Lawmakers’ Offices

Two men in suits shaking hands

Facebook lobbyists are struggling to meet with lawmakers, Politico reported, as the tech giant faces congressional scrutiny and negative press surrounding its business practices.

Several lawmakers’ offices are ignoring Facebook’s policy team and even refusing to meet with lobbyists, Politico reported. Several congressional aides told the outlet that recent news reports on Facebook’s business practices, including its knowledge of how its platform affects teen users and its amplification of “misinformation,” have contributed to lawmakers’ hostile attitudes.

“Mark Zuckerberg has done more to polarize the country probably than anyone else and yet despite that, the antipathy towards him is one of the most bipartisan things that remains in the country,” a Democratic House staffer told Politico.

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Changes Coming to Arizona Electric Bills

Arizona utility regulators are moving forward with new limitations regarding how power company APS must do business, something the utility said could land the panel in court. 

The Arizona Corporation Commission approved several preliminary changes Wednesday. Most were voted through with expressed opposition from the power company.

Commissioners approved a narrowing of the utility’s “on peak” hours to 4 to 7 p.m. The window is where customers who elect to be charged in such a way pay more for their energy consumption. It is currently from 3 to 8 p.m.

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Ohioans a Step Away Again from Legal Fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky

The Ohio General Assembly lit the fuse for legal fireworks for a second time this year after Gov. Mike DeWine extinguished the first attempt with a veto.

The House and Senate passed House Bill 172, allowing for Ohioans to shoot consumer-grade fireworks at certain times of the year. DeWine vetoed a similar bill in July, saying it would make the state one of the least-restrictive fireworks states in the country.

The bill, which passed the Senate, 26-5, and the House, 72-23, on Wednesday, now heads to DeWine, who said in July it was in the public interest to veto legislation that would have legally allowed the discharge of fireworks on 25 holidays during the year.

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Bipartisan Michigan Bills Aims to Restore Tax Incentives for Business Development

Mark Tisdel and

A bipartisan bill aims to revive a killed business subsidy incentive that they say will spur new job creation in Michigan.

State Reps. Mark Tisdel, R-Rochester Hills and Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township, introduced House Bills (HB) 5425 and 5426 that aim to form the Michigan Employment Opportunity Program (MEOP) to provide incentives for business developments similar to the Good Jobs for Michigan (GJFM) program, which expired in 2019. 

“The Michigan Employment Opportunity Program will form a public-private partnership to bring good jobs to our state,” Tisdel said in a statement. “Government can make it easier for businesses to invest in our communities and support more Michigan workers, bringing economic growth – and the revenue that comes with it.”

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Tennessee Readies to Approve $22.7M in Business Incentives

Thermo Fisher building

Tennessee’s State Funding Board is scheduled to approve $22.7 million in FastTrack economic incentive grants at its Monday meeting.

The grants include $10.5 million to Life Technologies Corporation’s Thermo Fisher Scientific for its technology assembly facility in Lebanon, which the company has invested more than $100 million in and is expected to employ 1,400 people.

The Smith & Wesson Company is set to receive a $9 million FastTrack grant as it prepares to move its operations and corporate office to Maryville in Blount County.

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Republican Leaders Push Back Against Global Business Tax

Mike Crapo and Kevin Brady

Republican lawmakers are pushing back against the Biden administration’s plan to join a global compact implementing a tax on U.S. corporations regardless of where they operate.

One hundred and thirty six136 countries agreed Friday to implement a global business tax, and G-7 finance leaders agreed to the plan Saturday. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised the plan.

Proposed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organization, the global tax is necessary to respond to an “increasingly globalized and digital global economy,” OECD said.

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University of Wisconsin Clarifies Mental Health Hires, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty Still Worried about Racial Stereotyping

Daniel Lennington

One of Wisconsin’s government watchdogs says it’s keeping an eye on whether the University of Wisconsin’s new mental health providers for students of color discharges their duties in a discriminatory fashion.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Wednesday sent a letter to the university after UW-Madison’s September announcement that it hired nine new mental health professionals. WILL took issue with how the school originally framed the new counselors.

The university said “three of these providers will exclusively serve students of color, joining eight providers already in this role.”

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