Google Agrees to Nearly $400 Million Settlement with 40 States over Location-Tracking Probe

Google agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states after an investigation found that the tech giant participated in questionable location-tracking practices, state attorneys general announced Monday.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called it a “historic win for consumers.”

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Tennessee’s Skrmetti Among the GOP Attorneys General Pressing NAAG to Return $280 Million

A dozen Republican state attorneys general are fed up with what they view as the leftward drift and self-dealing of their nonpartisan national association and are asking the organization to change its ways and return roughly $280 million in assets to the states.

The National Association of Attorneys General was created in 1907 as a bipartisan forum for all state and territory attorneys general. Over the last year, several of the group’s Republican members have asserted that NAAG has become a partisan litigation machine that improperly benefits from the many tort settlements it helps to engineer.

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Georgia Among the 20 States Freed from Federal Transgender Sports, Bathroom Guidance

A federal judge in Tennessee ruled in favor of Tennessee, Georgia, and 18 other states in their effort to block federal guidelines on transgender athletes and school locker rooms.

The lawsuit, brought by Tennessee, challenged guidance from the United States Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would allow athletes who were marked as males on their birth certificates to compete in girls and women’s sports. The federal guidance also would have prohibited student shower and locker room access from being determined by birth gender and provided guidance on required pronoun use.

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21 States Join Lawsuit to End Federal Mask Mandate on Airplanes, Public Transportation

Twenty-one states have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s continued mask mandate on public transportation, including on airplanes.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody are leading the effort. Moody filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida along with 20 other attorneys general. DeSantis said the mask mandate was misguided and heavy-handed.

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Tennessee House Sponsor Bids Adieu to His Proposed Interstate Compact Legislation

Legislation that would have entered Tennessee into an interstate compact with Arkansas and Mississippi for the greater Memphis region was bid adieu Tuesday by the sponsor during a House committee meeting.

State Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville), at the start of the House Commerce Committee he chairs, announced amidst the status of the 12 bills on the calendar, he wanted to say some words over his HB1989, “Before I bid it adieu.”

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In Presenting Bill for Interstate Compact with Arkansas and Tennessee, Mississippi Senator Omits Unelected Quasi-Governmental Entity’s Broad Powers Including Eminent Domain, Passes Senate Unanimously

During his presentations of a bill that would enter the state of Mississippi into an interstate compact with Arkansas and Tennessee, the Senate sponsor completely omitted that, if passed, the law would create an unelected quasi-governmental entity with very broad powers, including eminent domain. The bill went on to pass the state Senate unanimously on February 3.

SB2716, sponsored by Republican Senator David Parker (R-DeSoto), is a 17-page document that creates the RegionSmart Development District (District) and the RegionSmart Development Agency of the Greater Memphis Region (RegionSmart Development).

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Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Director Deborah Fisher Talks About the Tri-State Pact and Gives an Update on McKinsey Report Open Records

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Coalition for Open Government Director Deborah Fisher to the newsmakers line to discuss the status of the McKinsey COVID response open records request and the Tri-state Pact economic development plans.

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Proposed Legislation Would Enter Tennessee into an Interstate Compact, Creating an Unelected Quasi-Governmental Entity with Broad Powers Including Eminent Domain

A bill scheduled to be heard by the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday would enter Tennessee into an interstate compact with Arkansas and Mississippi for the greater Memphis region, creating a quasi-governmental and public entity of unelected commissioners that will be vested with very broad powers, including eminent domain and condemnation of any and all rights or property.

If enacted, the legislation would create the RegionSmart Development District (District) and the RegionSmart Development (RegionSmart Development) Agency of the Greater Memphis Region.

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Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Sue Biden over Minimum Wage Hike for Federal Contractors

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration again Thursday, this time for requiring federal contractors to pay a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s the 21st lawsuit the attorney general has filed against the administration. Joining him are the attorneys general from Louisiana and Mississippi.

“The president has no authority to overrule Congress, which has sole authority to set the minimum wage and which already rejected a minimum wage increase,” Paxton argues.

Their lawsuit follows one filed last December by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of outdoor adventure guides, Arkansas Valley Adventures (AVA), ​​a licensed river outfitter regulated by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, and the Colorado River Outfitters Association (CROA). The CROA, a nonprofit trade association, represents more than 150 independent operators who primarily conduct business on federal lands using special use permits through Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.

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Sixteen States File New Lawsuit Against Federal COVID Vaccination Mandate

Sixteen states again are challenging a federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers who work at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Friday’s filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana comes after the issuance of final guidance on the mandate from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), arguing the guidance is an action that is reviewable.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 vote Jan. 13 against the original Louisiana challenge to the mandate and a similar Missouri filing.

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Should Roe v Wade Be Overturned, Arizona’s Abortion Restrictions Still Stand

The U.S. Supreme Court appears very likely to uphold Missouri’s 15-week abortion ban, which will gut a significant portion of Roe v. Wade, leaving much of abortion regulation to the individual states. Roe v. Wade prohibited the states from restricting abortion before fetal viability, around 23 weeks. If the Supreme Court rules for Mississippi in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is expected that 26 states will then start restricting abortion as early as 15 weeks, including Arizona, which already has an old law on the books.

When Arizona was a territory, a law was passed in 1901 banning abortion. A.R.S. 13-3603 punishes the facilitation of an abortion with two to five years in prison. A woman who attempts to obtain one, whether successful or not, unless necessary to save her life, was penalized by one to five years in prison. That law was repealed this year by the Arizona Legislature. 

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Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen Says Mississippi Shouldn’t Write its Own Abortion Laws Because it Was Once a Confederate State

U.S. Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) this week said states that want to enact pro-life policies, including Mississippi, are on the same level morally as states that legalized slavery more than 160 years ago. Cohen made his remarks on the floor of the U.S. House. He referred to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that recently went before the U.S. Supreme Court. The pending case pertains to the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that banned abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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January 6 Commission Chairman Once Sympathized with Black Secessionist Group that Killed Police Officers

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the congressional commission investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, has been a vocal critic of an event he deems an insurrection and offered his sympathy to the police officers injured that day. He’s even gone as far as to sue former President Donald Trump for responsibility for the melee.

But as a young African-American alderman in a small Mississippi community in 1971, Thompson placed himself on the opposite side, openly sympathizing with a secessionist group known as the Republic of New Africa and participating in a news conference blaming law enforcement for instigating clashes with the group that led to the killings of a police officer and the wounding of an FBI agent. Thompson’s official biography makes no reference to the separatist RNA.

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Dead, Sick Deer Are Turning up in Mississippi, Biologists Suspect a Viral Infection Called ‘Blue Tongue’

white tale doe

Authorities in Mississippi said Wednesday they’ve witnessed an increased number of sick or dead deer, and suspect one disease could be the cause, the Associated Press reported.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks believe that the increased number of dead deer is due to Hemorrhagic Disease, also known as blue tongue, the AP reported. The condition is caused by a virus that is transmitted from deer by small bugs like midges and gnats.

“The virus causes internal hemorrhaging and sometimes rapid death occurs,” Dr. Bronson Strickland, a wildlife specialist at the Mississippi State University Extension, said according to the AP. “The virus may cause ulcers which can disrupt digestion.”

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Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich Join SCOTUS Suit to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Both Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined separate amicus curiae briefs with other governors and attorneys general in an abortion case out of Missouri that would gut Roe v. Wade by banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Ducey joined 11 other governors led by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to demand that the Supreme Court uphold the state law and undo Roe v. Wade. Brnovich signed on with 23 other attorneys general led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to ask that the court overrule Roe v. Wade because it is “erroneous, inconsistent, uneven, and unreliable.”

Ducey said in a statement, “The Constitution preserves the rights of the states by specifically enumerating the authority granted to the federal government. Unfortunately, almost 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to ignore the Constitution and created policy which has led to the over-politicization of this issue for decades.” 

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Four States to Slash COVID-19 Unemployment Aid Saturday

Man in gray shirt, standing in a shop

Four states will be cutting pandemic unemployment increases three months early, ending the supplemental $300 in federal aid.

Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, and Mississippi will end pandemic-related unemployment relief on June 12. An additional 21 Republican-led states will slash federal aid before it expires on Sept. 6, according to Business Insider.

Conservatives continue to advocate an end to the increased benefits, saying they are no longer needed now that the pandemic is contained and speculating that the high payouts are discouraging would-be workers from returning.

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21 States Sue Biden Admin for Revoking Keystone XL Permit

A group of red states sued President Biden and members of his administration on Wednesday over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, The Hill reported.

The lawsuit is led by Montana and Texas, and backed by 19 other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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Mississippi Becomes First State to Ban Transgender Students from Women’s Sports

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law Thursday barring transgender athletes in public schools and colleges from competing in women’s sports.

The bill, SB 2536, is the first of such legislation to be signed into law this year, though similar initiatives have appeared in other states across the country. South Dakota’s Senate sent a similar bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem on Monday.

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Mississippi Judge Orders New Election After Finding 79 Percent of Absentee Ballots Invalid

A Mississippi judge has ordered a new election in an alderman race after finding 79% of absentee ballots were invalid and evidence of fraud and criminal activity.

Judge Jeff Weill on Monday said that 66 of 84 absentee ballots cast in the June runoff for a city of Aberdeen alderman seat were invalid and should never have been counted. He also said he found evidence of fraud and criminal activity in how absentee ballots were handled, how votes were counted and the actions by some at the polling place, according to WCBI-TV, a CBS affiliate.

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Mississippi Governor Refuses to Participate in Possible Nationwide COVID-19 Lockdown

Republican Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said his state is “not gonna participate in a nationwide lockdown,” as coronavirus cases surge throughout the nation and some areas have re-issued COVID-19 mandates.

“The fact is, we’re gonna try to work with whomever the president is, but we’re not gonna participate in a nationwide lockdown,” Reeves said in a Thursday press conference, according to Fox News.

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Google Selects Mississippi Site for First US Operations Center

Google’s first U.S. operations center is coming to northwest Mississippi.

The company announced Thursday it will lease a new 60,000-square-foot (5,574 square-meter) facility in Southaven, Mississippi, near Memphis, Tennessee. Google expects the site, which will provide customer and operations support to customers worldwide, to be operational by summer 2021.

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Mississippi Set to Remove Confederate Emblem from its Flag

Mississippi is on the verge of changing its state flag to erase a Confederate battle emblem that in recent years has become broadly condemned as virulently racist.

The flag’s supporters resisted efforts to change it for decades, but rapid developments in recent weeks have changed dynamics on this issue in the tradition-bound state.

As protests against racial injustice recently spread across the U.S., including Mississippi, leaders from business, religion, education and sports have spoken forcefully against the state flag. They have urged legislators to ditch the 126-year-old banner for one that better reflects the diversity of a state with a 38% Black population.

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Tennessee Officials Charge Fayette County and Mississippi Women with TennCare Fraud

Tennessee officials have charged two women in separate cases, one from Fayette County and another from Mississippi, with TennCare fraud.

Authorities charged Shuvonda Barnett, 36, of Rossville, with 48 counts of TennCare fraud and two counts of theft of services over $10,000 but under $60,000, according to a Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration press release.

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Commentary: Rigid Lockdowns vs. Relative Freedom

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has adopted the policy premise that anything done in the name of safety from the coronavirus trumps all other interests, including economic, religious, or other health considerations. Despite comparatively low numbers in the Tar Heel state, the ninth most populous state in the United States, and with no evidence of the healthcare system being overwhelmed, North Carolina has been in full lockdown for over a month.

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Missouri and Mississippi File Lawsuits Against China for Unleashing COVID-19 on the World

The attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi announced this week that they are filing lawsuits against the Chinese government over its handling of the coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan late last year and was allowed to spread to the rest of the world.

Missouri AG Eric Schmitt says that China’s “campaign of deceit” has led to great human suffering across the globe.

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Democrat Governor of Kentucky Orders Police to Take Down Tag Numbers of Church-Goers, Other Easter Gatherings So Government Can Impose Two Week Quarantines on Citizens

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told police to take down tag numbers of people attending churches and other gatherings on Easter so the government could go to their homes and impose a 14-day quarantine over COVID-19 concerns.

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Biden Defeats Sanders in Michigan Primary, President Trump Sees Massive Turnout

Former Vice President Joe Biden won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday night, delivering a fatal blow to the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

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Criminal Justice Reform: Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi Joins the Report and Says, ‘There’s a Better Way to Do It’

On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill chatted with Governor Phil Bryant of Mississippi who was in town for the National Conference of State Legislators in Nashville today to talk about his commitment to criminal justice reform.

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Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant Signs ‘Heartbeat Bill’

by Henry Rogers   Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a “heartbeat bill” Thursday that will make abortion illegal in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected. “I am very pro-life, always have been,” Bryant, a Republican, said after signing the legislation. “I think obviously we’ll have some legal challenges on it.…

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Commenteary: Why Does Child Care in Massachusetts Cost Four Times What it Does in Mississippi?

by Max Gulker   In the discussion of the nation’s problem with child care costs, a crucial factor has gone mostly unmentioned. This is one of the most regulated industries. These regulations are driving up costs. Adding more government control of the industry risks making a bad situation even worse. To…

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Companies Use Corporate Welfare to Pit Tennessee and Mississippi Against One Another

One could argue corporations play the Tennessee and Mississippi state governments against one another to get the best corporate welfare deals possible — at the expense of taxpayers in both states. Here’s how it works. Companies wait for Tennessee and Mississippi to pony up their incentives. Company leaders can only…

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Trump’s EPA Moves to Repeal Obama’s De Facto Ban on New Coal Plants

by Michael Bastasch   The Trump administration proposed rolling back Obama-era regulation that opponents called a de facto ban on building new coal-fired power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will raise carbon dioxide emissions limits for new coal-fired power plants and eliminate the Obama administration’s mandate that new facilities…

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Mississippi Police Ban Nike Products After Nike Endorses Colin Kaepernick

by Grace Carr   Mississippi state police won’t be able to purchase any Nike apparel or products after an announcement from the commissioner of public safety. “As commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, I will not support vendors who do not support law enforcement and our military,” Commissioner Marshall…

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Donald Trump Pays Tribute to Civil-Rights Heroes in Mississippi as Black Leaders Boycott His Visit

With some black leaders boycotting the event, President Trump paid tribute Saturday to the heroes of the civil rights movement at the dedication of two museums in Mississippi. Speaking to a small invitation-only group of dignitaries indoors at the new civil-rights museum in Jackson, Mr. Trump called the facility honoring…

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A School Named After Jefferson Davis Will Be Renamed After President Obama

A dominantly black public school in Mississippi named after Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States in the 1860s, will be renamed after former President Barrack Obama, according to a report released Wednesday. Stakeholders in the school voted earlier this month at the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting…

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United Auto Workers Suffer Another Crushing Defeat as Nissan’s Mississippi Employees Reject the Union 2-to-1

  Since 2012, the UAW has desperately worked to shore up it’s dwindling numbers – as well as gain a semblance of presence in the South – by unionizing the Canton, Mississippi Nissan plant’s over 6,000 workers.  Three weeks ago, union activists passed a significant hurdle when the petition to unionize earned the…

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