State Board of Elections Must Certify Unlock Michigan Petition, Michigan Supreme Court Rules

Unlock Michigan sign

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday the Board of State Canvassers must certify the Unlock Michigan petition to remove Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 1945 emergency powers. 

In April, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 three times on votes whether to certify or investigate further Unlock Michigan.

“In the present case, the Board approved the form and content of the petition in July 2020,” the state’s top court wrote. “The Bureau of Elections analyzed the signatures using a random sampling method and estimated that Unlock Michigan submitted at least 460,000 valid signatures when they only needed about 340,000. The Board rejected, by deadlocked vote, a motion to investigate the collection of signatures. The Board thus has a clear legal duty to certify the petition.”

Read More

Metro Atlanta Leaders to Use Federal Money to Address Crime

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Leaders in the metro Atlanta area said they plan to use American Rescue Plan funding to address public safety issues.

Officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta have announced plans to use a portion of the federal aid to increase public safety or address criminal justice backlogs.

According to several reports, Atlanta and adjacent cities have seen a spike in crime over the past year. State lawmakers have launched a study to look at ways to curb the issue. Gov. Brian Kemp directed $5 million last month from his emergency fund to address the crisis.

Read More

Feds: Illegal Immigration Continued to Worsen in May

Temporary soft sided facilities are utilized to process noncitizen individuals, noncitizen families and noncitizen unaccompanied children as part of the ongoing response to the current border security and humanitarian effort along the Southwest Border in Donna, Texas, May 4, 2021.

The surge in illegal immigration at the southern border continues to worsen, May numbers show, as the Biden administration takes more criticism for its handling of the issue.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new data on the crisis at the southern border, showing the federal law enforcement agency encountered 180,034 people attempting to illegally enter the country last month.

May’s numbers were a 1% increase from the previous month, but illegal immigration since Biden took office has soared.

Read More

Study Finds Tennessee Collects $38M in Court Fines, Fees Each Year

Tennessee flag on pole

A new report from The Sycamore Institute shows Tennessee collects nearly $38 million annually in fines and fees through the criminal justice system, while county governments are collecting a shrinking amount in fines and fees.

While the Tennessee Department of Revenue reports its collections of fines and fees annually, other agencies, such as the Department of Correction, the Department of Safety & Homeland Security and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, do not report detailed information on their collections.

The Sycamore Institute study found 360 fees and fines authorized in Tennessee law, from being charged with a crime to civil asset forfeiture to incarceration costs.

Read More

High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Read More

Michigan State Health Director Backs COVID-19 Nursing Home Death Numbers Despite Undercounting Allegations

The Michigan House Oversight Committee on Thursday heard opposing testimony related to whether Michigan is undercounting COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

For over a year, Republicans have alleged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order to place COVID-19 infected patients into nursing homes with non-infected seniors contributed to an excess number of deaths than otherwise would have happened. In March, more than 50 lawmakers asked the federal government to investigate Whitmer’s policy. The death data from Michigan’s nursing homes could be compared to states with similar senior populations that didn’t pursue similar nursing home policy. 

Steve Delie, an attorney for the Mackinac Center For Public Policy, sued the Michigan Department for Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on behalf of reporter Charlie LeDuff, testified before the committee on Thursday. Delie argued the nursing home and long-term care COVID-19 death count in Michigan isn’t accurate, saying MDHHS enacted an accountability check between March 1 and June 30 of 2020, where it located 648 deaths out of a pool of 1,468 vital records deaths that could be traced back to a nursing home facility.

Read More

Court Grants Injunction in Tennessee Restaurant Owner’s Case over Recovery Money

Inside of a bar, view of the drink selection on the wall

A federal appeals court ruled in favor of a Tennessee bar and restaurant owner, granting an injunction against the U.S. Small Business Administration from prioritizing COVID-19 relief funds based upon the restaurant owner’s race and sex.

Two of the three judges on the panel agreed with the injunction, which is subject to appeal. Tennessee U.S. District Judge Travis McDonough ruled last week against the lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a nonprofit conservative law firm, on behalf of Antonio Vitolo, owner of Jake’s Bar and Grill in Harriman.

WILL appealed the decision. The lawsuit was filed May 12 in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Read More

Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

Read More

Texas State Border Officials Fear Large Spikes in Overdose Deaths with Drug Traffic Increases

Texas Department of Public Safety SUV

Texas officials said Thursday they’re worried about dramatic spikes in drug overdose deaths in some areas of the state as illegal border crossings and drug trafficking have picked up since President Joe Biden took office.

Gov. Greg Abbott joined Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn on Thursday in Fort Worthto provide an update on the border crisis.

“We’re heading for a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in Tarrant County alone,” Waybourn warned, noting that the amount of drugs flooding into Tarrant County has skyrocketed even with DPS intervention.

Read More

Minnesota’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations Drop Below 400

Doctors talking with masks on

COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 400 in Minnesota for the first time since March, state health officials reported Friday.

About 396 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) data reports. Of those, 116 are in an intensive care unit.

Hospitalizations peaked at 699 in early 2021, but have fallen following the first vaccine injection of 2.8 million Minnesotans, or 63% of state residents ages 16 and older. COVID-19 disproportionately killed older people. About 90% of Minnesotan’s COVID-19 deaths were seniors ages 65 and older.

Read More

Whitmer, Legislature Reach Deal on COVID-19 Restrictions, Collaborate Spending Billions

After 14 months of fighting over COVID-19 policy, GOP leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reached an agreement Thursday to negotiate the state budget and stimulus money in return for setting a date to end COVID-19 restrictions.

In return, Whitmer has agreed to withdraw the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (MIOSHA) proposed permanent rules and discuss legislative input on epidemic orders.

“Throughout the pandemic, we saw Michiganders all over the state step up and come together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” Whitmer said in s statement. “Now, Michigan’s task is to unleash the potential of our people, to drive innovation and investment, and create tens of thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for all. Together, we can stay laser-focused on growing the economy and getting Michiganders back to work. Let’s hit the gas.”

Read More

Lee Signs Slew of Bills, Including Tax Deals for Titans, Smokies

Nissan International Stadium

Tax deals for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans and minor league baseball’s Tennessee Smokies were signed into law this week by Gov. Bill Lee.

The governor also signed two bills that are key cogs in his criminal justice reform initiative. They aim to reduce recidivism and keep lower level offenders related to substance abuse and mental health out of jail and in community-based alternative programs.

The Titans deal is estimated to have a $10 million annual sales tax impact on the state. It will allow the team to retain sales tax revenue from all events at Nissan Stadium and keep half of the tax revenue from a planned mixed-use development around the stadium to use toward future stadium upgrades.

Read More

New Interim Teacher Certification Program Aims to Provide More Teachers of Color in Schools

State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has approved the New Paradigm for Education program to promote alternative teacher certification in the state.

New Paradigm will offer a residency-based alternative route to teacher certification to recruit, train, and retain high-quality educators, particularly teachers of color and male teachers of color.

“We continue to work beyond conventional methods to help address the gaps in the teacher workforce,” State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice said in a statement. “There is a substantial teacher shortage in Michigan, which is even more acute for teachers of color.”

Read More

Michigan House Oversight Committee Considers Legislation to Ban Vaccine Passports

Mask on passport Vaccination card on blue background

The Michigan House Oversight Committee convened Thursday to discuss a bill that aims to ban vaccination passports, sparking heated debate on the topic.

The committee specifically focused its discussion on House Bill 4667. Introduced by bill sponsor Rep. Sue Allor, R-Wolverine, the bill would prohibit “a governmental entity from producing, issuing or providing an incentive for a COVID-19 vaccination passport.”

However, the meeting also prompted testimony from a variety of guests who defended their personal decisions to not receive any of the three available COVID-19 vaccines. Most cited the Federal Drug Administration’s emergency authorization of the vaccines does not equate to the agency’s explicit approval.

Read More

Ohio City Income Tax Law Continues to be Challenged

Robert Alt

An Ohio think tank’s fight over the state’s municipal income tax laws, which continue to be an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic, has moved to the state court of appeals.

The Buckeye Institute, a research and education think tank based in Columbus, has filed four lawsuits challenging the state law that requires taxes to be paid to the city where work is actually done. During the pandemic, however, more and more people were working from home but still paying taxes to cities where their office was located, rather than where they actually worked.

The Buckeye Institute appealed Thursday to the Ohio Tenth District Court of Appeals its case of three of its employees who worked from home after the state’s stay-at-home order but continued paying taxes to city of Columbus. A Franklin County judge dismissed the case Tuesday.

Read More

Midwest Farmers Among Those Challenging Biden Administration Loan Forgiveness

Field with tractor in it, loaded with hay on trailer

A pair of Wisconsin farmers are part of a new lawsuit challenging President Biden’s race-based program for farm loan forgiveness.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the suit on behalf of Calumet County farmer Adam Faust and Crawford County farmer Christopher Baird, as well as clients in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio. The suit claims the farm loan forgiveness program included in the American Rescue Plan discriminates because it is only open to farmers of color.

“President Joe Biden’s signature COVID-19 relief legislation signed in March, provides billions of dollars of debt relief to ‘socially disadvantaged’ farmers and ranchers,” WILL said in a statement about the case. “But the law’s definition of “socially disadvantaged” includes explicit racial classifications: farmers and ranchers must be Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander. Other farmers — white farmers, for example — are ineligible.”

Read More

Former Michigan Health Director Submits to Subpoena, Testifies to House Oversight Committee over $155,000 Severance Payment

After declining four previous requests to testify, former Michigan Director of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon was finally compelled to testify Thursday before the House Oversight Committee.

Gordon abruptly resigned his position in January, and signed a controversial nondisclosure agreement the following month that included a $155,506 buyout. The Oversight Committee issued Gordon a subpoena earlier this month, forcing him to appear before the committee.

The subpoena was the first issued by the Oversight Committee in 30 years, according to Rep. Patrick Outman, R-Six Lakes.

Read More

Law Professor May Be Fired After Personal Blog Post Criticized Chinese Government

Tom Smith

The University of San Diego is formally reviewing a law professor who made a blog post critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

“If you believe that the coronavirus did not escape from the lab in Wuhan, you have to at least consider that you are an idiot who is swallowing whole a lot of Chinese cock swaddle,” wrote Professor Tom Smith on his blog The Right Coast. He later clarified that the reference was to the Chinese government, not the people in the country.

When he first published the March 10 post, the USD Law School placed him under investigation, citing complaints of bias. Now, the law school has sent his case to administration for a formal review.

Read More

‘Unlock Michigan’ to File in State Supreme Court After Canvassing Board Deadlocks Petition Certification

Gretchen Whitmer

The Board of State Canvassers on Thursday deadlocked 2-2 three times on votes whether to certify or investigate further the conservative Unlock Michigan petition to remove Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 1945 emergency powers before adjourning.

On Oct 2, 2020, Unlock Michigan filed signatures with the Secretary of State’s office. The group gathered roughly 460,000 valid signatures, more than the 340,047 needed. Those petitions are normally handled within 60 days, but this time, 202 days after filing, two Democrat members are refusing to certify the petition.

Instead, Democrat Vice-Chair Julie Matuzak motioned to engage in the Administrative Procedure Act regarding promulgation of a new rulemaking process for petitions and to pause the petition. Matuzak said she didn’t know who would fund that investigation or how long it would take.

Read More

Ohio Attorney General Continues Court Fight Over American Rescue Plan Taxing Provision

Dave Yost

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says Congress crossed a line and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen struggles to explain whether states retain authority to set their own tax codes if they accept money from the recently passed American Rescue Plan.

Yost responded Thursday with a motion in support of his lawsuit for a temporary restraining order to stop the federal government’s tax mandate in the ARP. Yost believes the mandate holds states hostage and takes away Ohio’s control of its tax structure and economic policy.

“Congress crosses the line separating permissible encouragement from impermissible,” Yost’s latest motion reads. “Ohio stands to receive $5.5 billion. In the pandemic-caused economic crisis, Ohio cannot realistically turn that down.”

Read More

Jury Finds Derek Chauvin Guilty on All Counts in the Death of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin

Less than a year after the death of George Floyd in police custody, a jury found former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Anger from the tragic death in police custody  on May 25, 2020, was fueled by a bystander filming part of the arrest, showing Floyd pinned under Chauvin’s knee for 9 minutes and 45 seconds, while he pleaded “I can’t breathe.” Floyd was declared dead later that day.

The video caused protests worldwide and pushed discussion of police accountability and proper levels of force for minor crimes, as Floyd was arrested for allegedly attempting to spend a fake $20 bill.

Read More

Report: Three-Fourths of All 2019 Property Insurance Suits in U.S. Were Filed in Florida

In 2019, Florida homeowners accounted for 8.16 percent of the nation’s property insurance claims, but more than 76 percent of property insurance lawsuits lodged against insurers.

Pointing to this “disparity,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier in a five-page April 2 letter to House Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, outlined four proposals to reduce property insurance litigation.

Insurers cite rampant litigation, ballooning reinsurance costs, “loss creep” from 2017-18 hurricanes and coastal flooding as a “perform storm” of coalescing factors leading to double-digit property insurance rate hikes that Florida businesses and 6.2 million homeowners are seeing or will see when renewing policies.

Read More

Warner, Kaine Introduce Red-Flag, Other Federal Gun Control Changes to Mirror Virginia Law

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner introduced federal gun control legislation Thursday to mirror some of the laws that recently passed their home state of Virginia.

The policies include expanding background checks, limiting handgun purchases and enacting red flag laws at a national level. The senators are calling the legislation the Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act.

“Virginia knows all too well the heartbreaking consequences of gun violence,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “We’ve seen it in the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Virginia Beach and the countless drive-by shootings, domestic violence, and suicides by firearm across the country. We’re proud of the Commonwealth for leading the way to advance gun reform; now it’s time for Congress to save lives.”

Read More

Ohio Bill Would Reduce Requirements for School Districts to Arm Employees

Hand gun with ammunition

An Ohio lawmaker, whose father served a school resource officer who chased an active shooter from a building, wants to make it easier for school districts to arm its employees.

Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, introduced legislation that requires school employees to complete only concealed carry weapon training to be able to carry on gun on campus. School employees currently must complete more than 750 hours of peace officer training.

Conceal carry training is six hours of classroom instruction and two hours of on-range training.

Read More

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns California’s Restrictions on In-Home Religious Activities

Group of people singing at a worship service

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Friday that California’s COVID-19 restrictions on in-home religious gatherings, limiting worship to families from a maximum of three households, could not continue.

In the 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s limits on people exercising their First Amendment rights to freely practice religion at home.

In its written order, the court noted that it was the fifth time it has “rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

Read More

Crom Carmichael Weighs in on Arkansas Transgender Age of Consent Legislation and Offers Corporations a Solution for True Woke Equity

Monday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio who commented on the recent age of consent for transgender surgery in the state of Arkansas and the true meaning of woke equity.

Read More

State Redistricting Deadlines in 2021, 2022, and 2023

U.S. Census 2020

The U.S. Census Bureau announced in February that it would deliver the detailed datasets needed for redistricting to the states by Sep. 30, 2021, after the original April 1, 2021, deadline. Some states’ own redistricting deadlines predate the Census Bureau’s projected data delivery date, prompting states to consider postponements or alternative data sources.

State redistricting deadlines generally take one of three forms:

Constitutional deadlines are set out explicitly in state constitutions. Altering these deadlines typically requires either a constitutional amendment or a court order.
Statutory deadlines are set by state legislatures. They are subject to change at the legislature’s discretion.
Redistricting deadlines can also be inferred from candidate filing deadlines. For example, if a state sets its filing deadline for congressional candidates for Feb. 1, 2022, it can be inferred that the congressional maps must be fixed by that point.

Read More

DeWine Signs Partial Repeal of Ohio’s Controversial Nuclear Power Bailout

Nuclear power plant

A little more than eight months after the billion-dollar government bailout of the state’s nuclear energy industry led the arrest of former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, Gov. Mike DeWine officially put it to rest.

DeWine signed House Bill 128 into law late Wednesday. It repeals the nuclear provisions of the infamous House Bill 6.

Gone is the bailout for the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. Also eliminated was the ability for FirstEnergy to have its revenue levels relatively the same even during years when energy consumption decreases. HB 128 directed refunds of money already collected under the guarantee.

Read More

Law Enforcement Agencies Meeting Ohio’s New Minimum Standards

More than 500 agencies in Ohio have adopted the state’s new law enforcement minimum standards to be state certified, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday.

Ohio changed its standards after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota last spring and the subsequent protests.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s 2021 Law Enforcement Certification Report showed 529 Ohio agencies have adopted fully the primary standards, which include new ones created last year. Eleven agencies are in the process of adopting and being certified.

Read More

Virginia’s Northam Seeks Greater COVID-19 Executive Authority in Proposed Budget Amendments

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed 18 amendments to the budget legislation passed by the General Assembly, which includes giving the executive branch more authority to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also propose three language amendments to ensure our ability to continue responding to needs related to the COVID pandemic by giving agencies the flexibility to respond and the authority to address the opportunities presented by the federal funding such as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), until we can address the matter fully at a special session,” Northam said in a letter to the House of Delegates.

One amendment to the budget would grant the director of the Department of Planning and Budget the authority to direct the additional Medicaid revenue from the recent federal stimulus plan to current services. Another would grant the superintendent of public instruction the authority to issue temporary flexibility or waivers for deadlines and requirements that cannot be met because of the COVID-19 state of emergency and school closures.

Read More

General Assembly OKs Paid Parental Leave for Georgia State Workers

A follow-up attempt by lawmakers to implement paid parental leave for Georgia state employees is on its way to Gov. Brian Kemp.

The measure allows state employees in Georgia to take three weeks of paid parental leave. The House agreed Monday, 153-8, to the Senate’s changes to House Bill 146 after it unanimously passed the Senate last week. A similar measure cleared the House in 2020.

Under HB 146, state or local school board employees who worked at least 700 hours over the six months preceding the requested paid leave date can qualify for the paid time off after the birth of a child, adoption of a child or taking in of a foster child. Paid parental leave would be granted only once a calendar year. State agencies and school boards are able to dictate the policy rules.

Read More

Landlords Struggle Under Extended CDC Eviction Ban, Class-Action Lawsuit Argues

John Vecchione

Landlords are struggling after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended a national ban on certain evictions apparently to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC extended the moratorium, first enacted in Sept. 2020, through June 30.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa on behalf of Asa Mossman of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and other housing providers. 

Read More

Georgia Senate Passes Measure Blocking Local Efforts to Reduce Police Funding

A bill that bans counties and municipalities in Georgia from reducing their police department budgets by more than 5% has passed the Georgia Senate and will be sent back to the House.

Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, a law enforcement veteran, said the legislation, House Bill 286, is a response to local efforts to “defund the police.”

“I think everyone sees the things that are going on around our country right now related to law enforcement, and what this does is just guarantee the citizens of any community that they’re not caught up in the politics that revolves around policing and offers protection,” said Robertson, who sponsored the bill.

Read More

Ohio House Sends Message to Michigan Governor to Keep Pipeline Open

The Ohio House has sent a message to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to abandon her plan to force a company to close a pipeline that could threaten Ohio energy supplies and jobs.

Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 in Ingham County Court demanding Enbridge Inc. cease Line 5 operations by May. The easement has been in place since 1953.

Read More

More Than $4 Billion to Go to Illegal Immigrants Through Biden Stimulus Checks

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 2.65 million illegal immigrants have Social Security numbers and, because of their income threshold and number of children they have, are eligible to receive federal stimulus checks.

In a new report, CIS estimates that illegal immigrants could receive an estimated $4.38 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed by Democrats along party lines.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said that illegal immigrants would be receiving $1,400 checks through the legislation and introduced an amendment to stop it. Democrats rejected the amendment.

Read More

Ohio Lieutenant Governor Says Federal ‘Tax Mandate’ Could Harm Job Creation

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says restrictions in the recently passed federal American Rescue Plan will limit economic development and job growth in the state.

Husted, responding to a federal lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost that asks for the plan’s “Tax Mandate” be stopped, said the restrictions could affect the state’s ability to attract jobs with tax credits and other means.

“The precedent Congress is attempting to set here is that anytime the federal government sends money to state and or local governments, they could add strings to control the tax policies of all 50 states. This is both arrogant and unconstitutional,” Husted said in a statement. “At a practical level, this could affect economic competitiveness of the state attempting to attract jobs with job creation tax credits or other tax-based economic incentives.”

Read More

Eleven States File Motion to Intervene in Ninth Circuit Case over Public Charge Rule

Eleven states, led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, have filed a motion to intervene in a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case over challenges to a 2018 public charge rule change that required immigrants coming to the U.S. to prove they could financially support themselves.

The Biden administration removed the rule change, effective March 9. Subsequently, the Department of Homeland Security announced on March 11 it will no longer apply the rule.

In a statement, it said it had “closed the book on the public charge rule and is doing the same with respect to a proposed rule regarding the affidavit of support that would have placed undue burdens on American families wishing to sponsor individuals lawfully immigrating to the U.S.”

Read More

Minneapolis to Pay Record $27 Million in George Floyd’s Wrongful Death Settlement

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to settle George Floyd’s wrongful death lawsuit for a record $27 million. 

The settlement was announced on Friday.

In a viral May 2020 video, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, causing police brutality protests worldwide. Floyd died later that night. By the end of the week, the three officers involved were fired. 

Read More

Michigan Senate Authorizes Second Lawsuit Against Gov. Whitmer

The GOP-dominated Michigan Senate on Thursday approved a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

At issue is a possible attempt by the governor to unilaterally spend nearly a million dollars attached to a bill she vetoed this week.

Senate Resolution 26 reads: “Any attempt by Governor Whitmer to expend moneys that she vetoed without further legislative approval or expend certain funds without the enactment of Senate Bill No. 1 or House Bill No. 4049 would be contrary to both law and Michigan’s constitutional system.”

Read More

Lawsuit Claims Northam’s COVID-19 Restrictions Discriminate Against Certain Businesses

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke claims COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam discriminate against certain businesses while allowing others to operate more freely.

Northam recently eased the COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor gatherings for amusement and entertainment venues. However, the governor failed to include wedding venues and other businesses in the recent change.

Read More

Michigan’s New Unemployment Director Faces Questions from House Oversight Committee

Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Liza Estlund Olson was grilled Thursday morning by the state House Oversight Committee.

Committee members asked pointed questions about recent revelations relating to the departure of Olson’s predecessor, Steve Gray, in November. Gray received a $76,626 payout and another $9,246 in attorney fees and signed a confidentiality agreement with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration.

Read More

Ohio AG Files Lawsuit Against Health Care Giant for Overcharging Medicaid

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost claims in lawsuit filed Thursday a health care giant raised prices for taxpayer-funded care to maximize company profits.

Yost said Ohio sued Centene Corp. in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, alleging its subsidiary, Buckeye Health Plan, used a web of subcontractors for the provision of pharmacy benefits to be able to misrepresent pharmacy costs. That, Yost said, resulted in millions of dollars of overpayments by the Ohio Department of Medicaid.

Read More

Lawmakers Say Legislation Would Curb Ohio Unemployment Fraud

Unemployment line

As legitimate and fraudulent unemployment claims rose over the past year, and with additional federal jobless assistance most likely on the way, Ohio lawmakers have introduced legislation they hope cracks down on system abuse.

If the bill passes and is signed into law, Ohioans would be required to provide proof of identification at a local employment office before state or pandemic unemployment assistances would be paid.

Senate Bill 116 outlines proof as either a driver’s license or any of the two documents required to obtain an Ohio driver’s license that contain the applicants name and address, including a birth certificate, Social Security card and proof of Ohio residency, legal presence or name change.

Read More

Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

Read More

Ducey Removes Arizona’s COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has rescinded the business restrictions he put in place last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Ducey’s latest executive order, which he signed Friday, removes the capacity limits on businesses he had put in place July 9, effective immediately. 

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.”

Ducey said Arizona, unlike many other states, never shut down.

Read More

Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s Ex-MDHHS Director Got $155,500-Taxpayer-Funded Payout to Leave Quietly

When state health director Robert Gordon abruptly resigned in January, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t mention his $155,506-taxpayer-funded payout.

That sum was equal to nine months of Gordon’s annual salary and health benefits. The monies received by Gordon release the state from any potential legal claims.

Read More

Tennessee Signed Contract With Consulting Firm While Also Investigating it for Role in Opioid Epidemic

Tennessee entered into a consulting contract with Washington-based McKinsey & Company consulting firm while the state attorney general was investigating the firm for its role in the opioid epidemic, state records show.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery recently announced the state would receive more than $15 million from a multistate lawsuit settlement with McKinsey over the firm’s role in consulting opioid manufacturers on how to best market and profit from opioid drug sales.

Read More

DFL Introduces Adult-Use Cannabis Bill Opposed by Senate Leader

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, has introduced adult-use cannabis legislation that a Senate Republican leader opposes.

The bill is derived from conversations in 15 communities statewide.

“The tide is shifting,” Winkler said in a press conference about the 15 states that’ve legalized marijuana so far.

Read More

Minneapolis City Council Votes to Ban Facial Recognition for Police Use

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to ban facial recognition technology for police use.

The determination prohibits every city department from acquiring, obtaining, or using facial recognition technology or information derived from the technology.

Read More