Ohio Commits More Federal COVID-19 Money to Law Enforcement

Ohio plans to use more federal COVID-19 money to help local law enforcement agencies reduce violent crime, Gov. Mike DeWine announced.

The state plans to add $50 million from American Recovery Plan Act funds to the Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, which began this year with $8 million in the state budget.

“One of the most important things that we can do to support our law enforcement officers is to give them the tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe,” DeWine said. “By significantly increasing the amount of funding available, we can help more law enforcement agencies better combat crime and protect their communities.”

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‘We Can Not Back Down’: GiveSendGo Comes Back Online After Hackers Stole Donor Information

Crowdfunding service GiveSendGo came back online Tuesday after a Sunday hack forced the site to temporarily shut down.

“Sunday evening, February 13th, GiveSendGo was attacked by malicious actors attempting to eliminate the ability of its users to raise funds,” the company said in a statement posted to Twitter, acknowledging the hack publicly for the first time and announcing that the site was back online.

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Minnesota Senators Pass Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Bill

Eric Pratt of Minnesota

A bill to repay Minnesota’s federal Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund passed the Senate Monday and it will now travel to the House for consideration.

The bill, SF 2677, appropriates $2.3 billion from the state fiscal recovery federal fund and $408.5 million from the fiscal year 2022 general fund to the commissioner of employment and economic development. 

The commissioner would repay the federal government outstanding loans and accrued interest within 10 days of the bill’s enactment. For the 2022 and 2023 calendar years, the base tax rate would be one-tenth of one percent.

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Governor Lee Joins 15 Governors to Urge President Biden to ‘Defer to the States’ Infrastructure Act Implementation

Along with 15 other governors on Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called on President Joe Biden to work with states as partners and provide states with maximum flexibility to determine the best use of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds.

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Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Announces New Plan for $1.35 Billion Funding from American Rescue Plan Act

Tennessee Capital building

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) released its plan to administer its portion of the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) monies directed to Tennessee, outlining the department’s approach for improved water infrastructure in communities across the state, according to a Friday press release.

The Volunteer State was allocated $3.725 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which is designed to help Americans recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. A condition of the funding from ARPA is that spending must be obligated by December 31, 2024 and expended by December 31, 2026. The Water Infrastructure Investment Plan was developed by TDEC based on input provided by leaders and experts from agencies internal and external to the state government, the press release reports.

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Report: Biden Considering $450,000 Payments to Illegal Immigrant Families Separated at Border

The Biden administration is considering paying illegal immigrant families who were separated at the border under former President Donald Trump’s policies up to $450,000 per person, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The illegal immigrants filed a lawsuit claiming the federal government detention resulted in major psychological trauma, according to the WSJ. Most of the families were made up of one parent and child who could receive around $1 million in payouts, though the amount could vary by family depending on the circumstances.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represents some of the families involved in the lawsuit against the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services, the WSJ reported. Around 940 families filed claims and the number of those who might qualify for the settlement is expected to be lower.

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Commentary: Real Estate Scams Are on the Rise as the Housing Market Remains Hot

When Jeff, a retired marketing consultant from Chicago, was closing on his home sale, he received a new set of instructions at the last minute on where to send several thousand dollars in closing expenses. At first blush, the email looked legit with an official-looking logo and professional language specifying the amount owed and itemized expenses. But one thing caught his eye: The email address looked strange. Just to be safe, he called his mortgage broker.

“Don’t do that!” his broker told him in an alarmed voice. It was a scam. If he hit “send,” his closing fees would go to a thief who had been monitoring his emails. “I was a keystroke away from losing thousands of dollars,” Jeff recalled.

As the housing market sizzles across the country – with nearly 6 million homes bought last year – scammers have been finding new ways to tap into this once-secure market. Real estate transactions still demand reams of paperwork and regulations involving lawyers, brokers, title insurance companies and banks, but the fact that much of this work now takes place online gives thieves countless opportunities to exploit vulnerable buyers. Last year, more than 11,000 homeowners were scammed out of more than $220 million in closing funds alone, according to the American Land and Title Association, a trade group that represents professionals who perform property transactions.

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Phoenix to Use Federal Funding for Universal Basic Income Pilot

Phoenix City Council Building

One thousand lucky Phoenix families will get $1,000 in taxpayer funding a month in 2022. 

The Phoenix City Council has approved $12 million for a “Financial Assistance for Phoenix Families Program,” a lottery-based form of universal basic income that will begin in January 2022 if not sooner.

The program, which has yet to be finalized, will send approximately 1,000 families a monthly stipend of $1,000 for all of 2022. According to a city document, the funds would be limited toward “basic household necessities” such as housing, childcare, food and other staples. 

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Senate Fails to Wrap Up Infrastructure Bill After Talks to Expedite Process Collapse

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set up a critical vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill Saturday after talks to expedite the process fell apart late Thursday.

Both Republicans and Democrats engaged in marathon talks Thursday in a bid to vote on a package of amendments and to advance the sweeping public works package. Doing so, however, required approval from all 100 senators, and Tennessee Republican Sen. Bill Haggerty refused to go along even as his Republican colleagues urged him to do so.

In a statement, Hagerty attributed his objection to  the Congressional Budget Office’s estimation that the bill would add $256 billion to the national debt over 10 years.

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Georgia to Start Accepting Applications for American Rescue Plan Funds Sunday

COVID Testing station

Georgia is still deciding how to divide more than $8.1 billion from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.

Applications for more than $4.8 billion in funding opens up Sunday. State government entities, local governments, businesses and nonprofits have 30 days to apply for the aid.

The aid will be issued in two installments and cover expenses from March to the end of 2026, but the state has until December 31, 2024, to allocate all of the funds.

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Gov. Whitmer to Spend $15.6 Million on Economic Recovery

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) announced grants totaling more than $15.6 million to help get Michigan back to work. 

The government awarded Michigan Learning and Education Advancement Program (MiLEAP) grants to 10 groups who will help support individuals who are dislocated, underemployed, essential workers, living in distressed rural and urban communities, or economically disadvantaged.

“My administration is committed to uplifting Michiganders whose economic security has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “By providing grants to help people make the move from education or training programs to good-paying, high-skill jobs, we can ensure all Michiganders thrive as we continue our economic jumpstart. The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and their Regional Consortia partners will help people get back on their feet and take the next step on their path to financial security.”

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Georgia to Use $277M in Federal Coronavirus Aid on Transportation Projects

Georgia will use $277 million in federal coronavirus relief for local transportation projects, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said Monday.

Kemp’s office said the money was set aside for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to offset projected COVID-19-related revenue gaps.

“I am thankful for these one-time federal resources that will help keep Georgians working while also keeping our economy on the road to recovery,” Kemp said.

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