Judge Theodore Chuang Rules Women Can Get Abortion Pill Without Doctor Visit

A federal judge agreed Monday to suspend a rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang, an Obama appointee based in Maryland, concluded that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients and are likely unconstitutional under the circumstances of the pandemic.

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Ohio Ends 2020 Fiscal Year with General Tax Revenue Down $1.1 Billion

Ohio concluded the 2020 fiscal year with General Revenue Fund tax revenues of $1.1 billion, or 4.6 percent, below estimates, a clear indication of the impact the COVID-19 restrictions have had on the state.

Tax revenues in June were $50.5 million, or 2.2 percent, below estimate. However, state officials noted that revenues were better than a month earlier when they were 13 percent below expectations.

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State Department of Labor Takes Steps to Catch Up as Tennesseans Wait on Unemployment Claims

Jeff McCord

More than a quarter of a million Tennesseans have open unemployment claims with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

While some unemployed claimants have waited more than nine weeks to receive a first benefit payment, the department said it is continuing to adapt to meet the unprecedented demand.

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Majority of Minnesota Parents Say They Are Comfortable Sending Children Back to School in Fall

A survey conducted by the Minnesota Department of Education found that the majority of parents would feel comfortable sending their children back to school this fall.

Between June 15 and July 6, the agency collected more than 130,000 responses to the informal survey, which was offered in English, Hmong, Spanish, and Somali. A total of 64 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable sending their children back to school in September. Of that 64 percent, 94 percent said they would send their children back to school full time.

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Walz Expected to Call Another Special Session to Extend Emergency Powers

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to call another special session by the end of the week in order to extend his peacetime emergency powers.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) alerted members and staff in a Monday email about the likely special session.

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Slow Processing, Lost Markets Mean New Challenges for Livestock Farmers

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many sectors of the economy and livestock farming is one of them.

Closures of public spaces such as schools, restaurants, bars, and hotels mean decreased demand for meat products. In addition, outbreaks of coronavirus-caused illness at meatpacking plants caused some large operations to shut down temporarily, swamping small mom-and-pop operations that are now booked into spring 2021.

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Republicans Say Gov. Walz Has Failed to Provide Legal Justification for Coronavirus Shutdown

Republican lawmakers who sued Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he has failed to provide legal justification for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are winning on this issue, and Gov. Walz knows it,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), one of 13 Republican lawmakers who joined a lawsuit against Walz over his use of emergency powers during the pandemic.

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Gov. Lee Announces ‘Strong Mask Movement’ to Make Wearing Face Masks ‘Fun’

Gov. Bill Lee announced a new “TN Strong Mask Movement” Thursday with the goal of making face masks more “fun.”

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the Economic Recovery Group developed the new program along with more than 30 “flagship brands” across the state, including Amazon, Bridgestone, Bristol Motor Speedway, Graceland, Jack Daniel’s, several professional sports teams and universities, and many others.

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Nine More Lawmakers Join Lawsuit Against Gov. Walz Over Use of Emergency Powers

Nine more Republican lawmakers have joined a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz regarding his use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Group Calls on Commissioner Malcolm to Resign for Failing to Address Long-Term Care Crisis

One of Minnesota’s most influential pro-life organizations has called on Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm to resign for failing to address the crisis in the state’s long-term care facilities.

As of Tuesday, COVID-19 fatalities among nursing-home residents accounted for 79 percent of Minnesota’s 1,217 total deaths. Under the threat of a legislative subpoena, Malcolm revealed in a 74-page letter to lawmakers that dozens of long-term care facilities have allowed COVID-19 patients to return to a congregate-care setting after being discharged from the hospital.

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Minnesota Hasn’t Used $6.9 Million Facility It Bought to Store Deceased Coronavirus Patients

Due to a projected surge in coronavirus fatalities, the state of Minnesota spent $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse for the “temporary storage of human remains,” but the facility has so far gone unused.

“What’s contemplated by the purchase is to buy a building where we can properly handle with dignity and respect and safety the bodies of Minnesotans who may fall victim to the coronavirus,” Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly said during a press conference in early May.

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Michigan Had 17 of 25 Counties with Highest Unemployment Nationally in April

Michigan was home to 17 of the 25 counties with the highest unemployment numbers in the nation in April.

According to a database from Lansing State Journal, Cheboygan County led the nation in unemployment with a 41.2 percent unemployment rate. Second in the nation was Mackinac County at 38.1 percent.

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Students Sue Harvard Citing ‘Subpar Online Learning Options’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

On Wednesday, students sued Harvard University for not refunding tuition and fees after the coronavirus pandemic forced classes online.

This makes Harvard at least the fourth Ivy League school to be targeted for failing to reimburse educational costs, following Brown, Columbia, and Cornell. The school is facing a $5 million federal class-action lawsuit.  Students chose to pursue legal action as a result of not having “received the benefit of in-person instruction or equivalent access to university facilities and services.” 

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Ohio Dems ‘Outraged’ by Gov. DeWine’s Plan to Address COVID-19 Racial Disparities: ‘Too Little, Too Late’

Ohio Democrats said they were “outraged” by Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposal for addressing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s black population.

African Americans make up 14 percent of Ohio’s population, but represent 26 percent of positive COVID-19 cases, 31 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and 17 percent of COVID-19 deaths.

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Group Asks Mayor Cooper to Use Coronavirus Relief Funds to Provide Free Busing to Polls

A progressive group has called on Nashville Mayor John Cooper to use funds from the city’s share of the federal CARES Act to provide “free bus fare” to the polls.

Nashville is expected to receive $121 million from the coronavirus relief bill and Mayor Cooper convened an advisory group last week to discuss how the money should be used.

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Minnesota to ‘Allow’ Churches to Reopen After Faith Leaders Defy Governor’s Orders

Gov. Tim Walz announced Saturday that he would lift his restrictions on religious services and allow all places of worship to open for larger groups beginning Wednesday.

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Minnesota State Fair Canceled for First Time in More Than 70 Years

The general manager of the Minnesota State Fair announced Friday morning that the annual gathering will be canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been working hard and doing our very best with preparations for the 2020 State Fair. The picture was cloudy in March, but things have cleared up considerably since then. Right now is the time of year when things need to really take off if we’re going to have a fair, but we can see that we’re out of runway and can’t get off the ground. There will be no State Fair this year,” General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a statement.

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Business Groups Call Walz’s Plan for Outdoor Dining Only ‘Disastrous Setback’

Minnesota business leaders have said they were blindsided by Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement that bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume only outdoor dining on June 1.

Under new guidelines announced Wednesday, bars and restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining on June 1 and must limit seating to no more than 50 people. Salons, barbershops, and other personal care services can reopen June 1, but must limit capacity to 25 percent of the building’s maximum occupancy. Like bars and restaurants, appointments are required and no walk-ins are allowed.

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Lawsuit Seeks Release of Detainees at Shelby County Jail After COVID-19 Outbreak

A new lawsuit seeks the release of inmates at the Shelby County Jail who are at “high risk of severe injury or death from COVID-19.”

As of Friday afternoon, the jail reported 160 confirmed coronavirus cases among detainees, but 156 have already recovered, according to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Another 68 employees have tested positive for the virus, 46 of whom have recovered. Only one current hospitalization was reported among both employees and detainees.

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Republicans Criticize ‘Alarming’ Interpretation of Executive Authority in Letter to Walz and Ellison

The Senate Republican Caucus expressed concern over the governor’s “alarming” interpretation of executive authority in a letter sent this week to Gov. Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison.

“Your interpretation of the scope of the Governor’s authority under Minnesota Statutes, section 12.45, is incorrect and inconsistent with legislative intent and with a more measured reading of the law. Most importantly, it is an infringement on the Legislature’s fundamental and exclusive authority to define and prescribe the punishment for a crime,” states the letter.

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Mayor Calls on Walz to Immediately Reopen Greater Minnesota Businesses

A mayor in Greater Minnesota called for immediately reopening businesses in his region in a letter sent Monday to Gov. Tim Walz.

Cambridge Mayor James Godfrey pointed to the “significant difference” in the spread of the coronavirus in rural Minnesota compared to the Metro area. Cambridge is located in Isanti County, which had just 20 confirmed cases and zero deaths as of Wednesday.

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Bonfire Restaurants Latest COVID Casualty, Announces Permanent Closure of All Locations

Bonfire Restaurants announced Friday that it will permanently close all five of its Minnesota locations because of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said in a statement that its locations in Blaine, Eagan, Mankato, Savage, and Woodbury will not be reopening.

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Mayor Cooper Signs Order Requiring Face Masks in All Government Buildings

Nashville Mayor John Cooper signed an executive order Monday that requires anyone who enters a government building to wear a face mask.

Under the order, any employee or visitor must wear a face covering while inside any building or “indoor space” that is owned, managed, or leased by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

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Keith Ellison Sues Minnesota Restaurant Owner Who Planned to Open Early, Threatens $150,000 in Fines

Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Sunday night that his office has sued a Minnesota restaurant owner who planned to reopen for business Monday.

Kris Schiffler, owner of Shady’s Bar and Grill, planned on reopening his six locations for dine-in business Monday, two weeks earlier than the June 1 reopening date set by the state. He told one local outlet that he received a call from Ellison’s office Friday threatening $25,000 in fines per location, which would amount to $150,000 in total.

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57 Workers Test Positive for COVID-19 at Tennessee Food Processing Facility

Loudon County Mayor Rollen Bradshaw announced Sunday that 57 employees of a food processing facility have tested positive for COVID-19.

Bradshaw said 57 of the nearly 300 employees at a Monterey Mushroom facility in Loudon County tested positive for the virus.

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Commentary: COVID-19 Proves America Needs Economic Nationalism

by Spencer P. Morrison   Reports of a deadly new virus began trickling out of China in December. The infection spread rapidly. By March 12, the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a global pandemic. The next day President Trump declared COVID-19 a “national emergency” that would require the “full power…

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Industry Leaders Warn Hundreds of Businesses Won’t Survive Reopening Plan, Extended Stay-Home Order

Michigan business leaders are concerned some businesses won’t survive Michigan’s mandated closures by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which she extended yesterday through at least May 28.

Whitmer announced a plan to reopen the economy Thursday but provided no dates, other than for manufacturing, for when additional businesses could reopen.

Michigan Chamber President and CEO Rich Studley said the order “may be a foreclosure notice” for many small and seasonal businesses.

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90 Percent of Ohio’s Economy Expected to Reopen This Week

An estimated 90 percent of Ohio’s economy will be reopened by the end of the week under Gov. Mike DeWine’s “Responsible Restart Ohio Plan.”

Since May 1, the healthcare industry has been able to perform all medically necessary procedures that do not require an overnight stay, such as routine check-ups, outpatient surgeries, imaging procedures, and diagnostic tests.

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Mark Green Says Pandemic Has Been ‘Made Worse by China’s Deception’ at White House Meeting

U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN-08) joined President Donald Trump at the White House Friday for a discussion on the administration’s plan for a “great American comeback.”

Green thanked the president for his leadership in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and criticized the mainstream media for laughing at decisions that have “saved American lives.”

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Minnesota to Spend $6.9 Million on Warehouse Facility for Storing Dead Bodies

The state of Minnesota plans to spend $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse facility for the “temporary storage of human remains.”

The funds will come from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund and was recommended for approval by Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans.

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Star Tribune Accepts $150,000 Grant from Facebook

The Star Tribune accepted $150,000 in grant money from Facebook, the tech giant revealed Thursday.

According to a press release from Facebook, the company awarded $10.3 million to 144 local U.S. newsrooms as part of a “COVID-19 Local News Relief Fund Grant Program.” Another $5.4 million was awarded to 59 North American newsrooms that participated in Facebook’s “Local News Accelerator” program, including The Star Tribune.

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Republicans Move to Suspend Walz’s Six-Figure Salary Until Shutdown Ends

A Republican lawmaker put forward an amendment Thursday that would suspend Gov. Tim Walz’s salary during the course of his peacetime emergency declaration.

The move is the latest escalation in a battle between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the best course of action in addressing the coronavirus pandemic. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) announced last weekend that he would block a public works bill from being passed until Walz agreed to relinquish his emergency powers.

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Tennessee Providing Names And Addresses of COVID-19 Patients to Law Enforcement, Report Reveals

The Tennessee government is providing the names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to law enforcement agencies and other first responders, documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal.

According to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) obtained by the outlet, the Tennessee Department of Health is “disclosing” the information to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, which in turn passes the information along to first responders.

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Over Half of US Counties Have Had No COVID-19 Deaths

With many state and local governments starting to relax stay-at-home orders, it’s instructive to examine just how concentrated the spread of COVID-19 has been in the U.S.

Although all U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19, the distribution of the cases and deaths has remained heavily concentrated in a small number of states, and among a small number of counties within all states.

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23,000 Tennesseans Have Received Free COVID-19 Tests, State Has Completed Twice as Many Tests as Kentucky

Gov. Bill Lee said more than 23,000 Tennesseans have received a free COVID-19 test at one of 67 drive-through testing sites over the past three weekends.

“Testing remains one of the most important tools for gaining more information in our fight against COVID-19, and the 23,000 tests we’ve completed over the last three weekends have provided incredibly valuable data,” Lee said in a statement. “We’re grateful to the thousands who came out to receive a test this weekend and we continue to remind Tennesseans: when in doubt, get a test.”

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Minnesota County With Highest Unemployment Rate Has Zero COVID-19 Cases

More than 600,000 Minnesotans have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), the state has had 633,405 applications for unemployment insurance since March 16. That number represents a little more than 20 percent of the state’s workforce, Fox 9 reported Wednesday.

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Minnesota Churches, Business Owners File Second Lawsuit Against Walz’s ‘Draconian’ Shutdown Orders

A second lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Gov. Tim Walz on behalf of multiple Minnesota churches and small business owners.

The complaint asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to strike down Walz’s emergency executive orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic as unconstitutional under the First, Fifth, and 14th Amendments.

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Chinese State Media Attacks Steve Bannon After Calling CCP ‘Enemies of All Mankind’

The propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party have set their sights on Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist and vocal critic of China’s Communist regime.

Bannon now hosts a popular radio show called “War Room: Pandemic” and has dedicated numerous segments and even whole shows to exposing the evils of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

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CBS News Accused of Staging COVID-19 Testing Line in Michigan

A CBS News crew pulled medical professionals off the floor at the Cherry Medical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and asked them to line up their vehicles outside a COVID-19 drive-through testing site, a new report from Project Veritas claims.

James O’Keefe, the founder and CEO of Project Veritas, said an insider “witnessed the whole thing and came to Project Veritas because he knew we would protect him.”

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Groups Sue to Expand Absentee Voting in Tennessee

Two legal organizations have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Tre Hargett in an effort to overturn Tennessee’s “unconstitutional” restrictions on absentee voting.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Campaign Legal Center. The two groups filed the complaint on behalf of several Tennessee organizations “whose many members are not eligible for vote by mail under current law.”

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Nursing Homes Continue to Account for 80 Percent of Minnesota’s COVID-19 Deaths

Long-term care facilities continue to account for 80 percent of all COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported nine new deaths Monday, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 428. Of those 428 fatalities, 345 (80 percent) were people who resided in long-term care or assisted living facilities.

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Minnesota Business Owners Call for Reopening Economy During Press Conference at the Capitol

Several small business owners called for reopening the economy during a Monday press conference at the Minnesota Capitol.

“We desire to honor our God, and our government and governor. We think we can do both. But we have no idea how to get a plan approved, to whom to submit it, or if anyone needs to or will consider it. The church needs to gather, we are more the church when we gather than at any other time. Please, Gov. Walz, help us by providing clear ways for plans to be approved and for us to meet,” said Rory Martin, pastor of the Liberty Baptist Church in Eden Prairie.

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House Republicans Will Block Major Legislation Until Walz Ends Peacetime Emergency

The leader of the Minnesota House Republicans said Saturday that his caucus will block a bonding bill from being passed while the governor’s emergency powers remain in effect.

Republicans have made three unsuccessful attempts to end Gov. Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency declared in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The emergency declaration expires May 13 but can be extended for an additional 30 days. Walz has already extended the peacetime emergency once.

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Protesters in Vehicles Clog Streets Outside Minnesota Capitol in Opposition to Stay at Home Order

Protesters clogged the streets with their vehicles outside the Minnesota Capitol Saturday afternoon in protest of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order.

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