TDOT Set to Begin $140 Million Project to Complete Infrastructure Improvements on the I-55 and Crump Interchange in Memphis

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) awarded a construction contract to Bell & Associates Construction, LLC to complete infrastructure improvements on the I-55 and Crump interchange, including I-55 bridge repairs, the department announced Friday in a press release.

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Tennessee’s Unemployment Reaches Lowest Level Since January 2020

Unemployment in Tennessee reached a two-year low in December, according to new data that the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) released late last week. The state ended 2021 with an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, which was 0.2 of a percentage point lower than the rate it recorded in November. Over the past year, Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased by 1.8 percentage points from 5.6 percent to 3.8 percent.

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More Job Resignations Than Ever as Openings Sit Near Record Highs

A record number of American workers quit their jobs in November 2021 as the gap between available jobs and potential workers continues to increase, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Over 4.5 million workers quit their jobs in November 2021, a jump from October’s 4.1 million, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Tuesday.

Quits in accommodation and food services saw the greatest increase, 159,000, while other low-wage sectors like health care, social assistance, transportation, warehousing and utilities also saw spikes as workers looked for jobs with higher pay.

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California to Ban Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers, Lawn Mowers

Leaf blower moving leaves downstairs

A California environmental regulator approved a measure banning new purchases of small off-road engines including leaf blowers and lawn mowers beginning in 2024.

The measure will also affect portable generators and recreational vehicle engines which will need to meet “more stringent standards” in 2024 and zero-emission standards in 2028, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announcedThursday. The vote was part of the state’s aggressive climate program and goal to achieve a “zero-emission future” as outlined by an executive order Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September 2020.

“Today’s action by the Board addresses these small but highly polluting engines. It is a significant step towards improving air quality in the state, and will definitely help us meet stringent federal air quality standards,” CARB Chair Liane Randolph said in a statement. “It will also essentially eliminate exposure to harmful fumes for equipment operators and anyone nearby.”

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Lyft’s Safety Report Shows Thousands of Sexual Assaults over Three Years

Man driving a car with GPS set up on dashboard

Lyft reported 1,807 sexual assaults in 2019 in its first-ever safety report, released Thursday. The release mentioned that in 2019 the company received 156 reports of rape and 114 reports of attempted rape.

The rideshare company’s release listed categories of sexual assault ranging from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration.” Reports of all five categories of sexual assault included in the release increased from 2018 to 2019.

From 2017 to 2019, rape was reported in about one in 5 million Lyft rides, according to the release. There were 4,158 total reports of sexual assault in Lyft rides during those years.

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Commentary: Parents Aren’t Domestic Terrorists

It is probably an understatement to say that when one group designates another as a terrorist organization, diplomatic relations between the two become strained.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights.”

Truths. Equal. Creator. Rights. Concerned parents want schools to teach truths, not ideologies; operate under equality, not equity; and respect faith in our Creator and our parental rights. These are the fundamental principles from our Declaration that are at stake in American education today.

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Public May Not See Net Benefit of Infrastructure Bill That Could Expand Rail in Northeastern Pennsylvania

Much fanfare surrounding infrastructure legislation in Congress focuses on road and bridge improvements, but the bill’s implications for relatively costly rail transit in northeastern Pennsylvania and elsewhere have gotten far less attention.

The current proposal to spend $66 billion on Amtrak would be the largest federal expenditure on passenger rail since the creation of the transit agency.

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Joe Biden Mistakenly Calls Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ‘Jennifer’ as She Backs Infrastructure Plan, Mileage-Tax Pilot Program

President Joe Biden mistakenly called Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) “Jennifer” on Wednesday, an apparent reference to a previous Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm, who is now Biden’s energy secretary.

Of course, the two Great Lake State Democrats aren’t that easy to get confused; Granholm finished her tenure as governor eight years before Whitmer took office.

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As Infrastructure Bill Heads Toward Passage, Tennessee’s Blackburn and Hagerty Sound Alarm on Debt

Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn

As U.S. Senate leaders expect to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Tuesday morning, both of Tennessee’s senators, Marsha Blackburn (R) and Bill Hagerty (R) are vehemently opposing the legislation, alarmed by its potential to worsen the national debt.

Senate Democrats have expressed their intention to use a process called reconciliation to avoid any possible filibuster, thus allowing themselves expand the measure to encompass $3.5 trillion in federal spending.

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Tennessee Rep. Fleischmann: Don’t Expand Infrastructure Plan Beyond Infrastructure

As the U.S. Senate prepared to approve a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Friday, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-3) advised against expanding the legislation to include non-infrastructure spending at an added cost of over $2 trillion at least.

The bill passed by a vote of 66 to 28, with 16 Republicans joining all Democrats in favor.

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Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gets $100K Raise

Commissioner: Russell R. McMurry

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry has received a $100,000 raise, making him one of the highest-paid unelected state officials in Georgia.

The State Transportation Board unanimously approved McMurry’s 29% raise Thursday without debate, increasing his salary from $350,000 to $450,000.

McMurry started his career with the department in 1990. He was the planning director before being appointed commissioner by the board in 2015.

McMurry’s salary in fiscal year 2015 was more than $165,000. McMurry’s salary climbed from $185,000 in fiscal year 2016 to $250,000 in fiscal year 2017 and $336,000 in fiscal year 2018. He used an average of $6,900 in travel expenses over the past six year

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Florida Legislature Passes Toll Road Repeal Bill

The Florida House passed SB 100 yesterday, a repeal bill of the Multi-use Corridors of Regional Economic Significance (M-CORES) program. The program was a priority of former Senate President Bill Galvano to build new toll roads as part of an infrastructure plan connecting Florida’s metro areas.

The bill will cancel the Heartland Parkway, connecting Polk and Collier counties.

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Minnesota Lawmaker Asks Federal Government to Withhold Transportation Funds if Highway Protests Continue

A Minnesota lawmaker has asked the federal government to withhold federal transportation funds from the state if leaders continue to allow protesters to block highways.

“In the last few months, we have seen two of our primary interstates blocked by protesters, 35 and 94, with the acquiescence of state and local officials. While some arrests have been made, the penalty for this offense is low; it encourages others to protest in the same way,” Rep. Cal Bahr (R-East Bethel) said in a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

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Michigan House Bill Package Looks to Find $800 Million Annually to Fix Local Roads Without Tax Hike

road construction

A House bill package seeks to put about $800 million annually into local roads without a 45-cent gas tax hike or increasing future debt.

The six-bill package, if enacted, would eliminate the six percent sales tax on fuel over three years and replace it with another excise tax that would fund the 92 percent of local roads that aren’t touched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $3.5 billion bonding plan.

Much of that bonding money would go to repair roads in Metro Detroit.

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What to Expect from Ohio Governor DeWine’s State of the State Address

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine is scheduled to give his first State of the State Address Tuesday, but don’t expect any major revelations from it. In an interview last week, the first term governor stated, “I don’t think you’ll find any great surprises,” adding: We’re going to talk…

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Ohio Department Of Transportation Introduces Comprehensive Gas Tax that Could Increase Every Year

Gas up

Friday, Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks formally introduced the proposed 2020-21 Biennial Budget. House Bill 62 (HB 62), the budget’s formal designation, includes an 18-cent gas tax increase. While lower than some reports have suggested, the proposed tax will give Ohio one of the highest gas tax rates in the country.…

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Ohio Governor DeWine to Announce Gas Tax Hike

At an annual forum sponsored by the Associated Press, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced Wednesday he intends to formally recommend raising the current gas tax. The recommendation will come as he introduces his first two-year transportation budget Friday. Despite appointing an Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure Issues specifically to explore alternative…

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Governor DeWine Accelerates Gas Tax Planning with No Limits Set

It’s safe to say that when Ohio Governor Mike DeWine appointed his “Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation” to develop solutions for paying for road and bridge repairs, citizens were hoping they’d come up was some creative answers. Instead, the committee reached a consensus last week that the primary means by which…

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TDOT Commissioner Says Nashville Transit Plan Would Have Helped No One

John Schroer

TDOT’s leader said Nashville’s transit plan failed at the ballot box because it “had no bearing on regional traffic” and would not help anyone, the Nashville Business Journal reports. John Schroer made the comments at a town hall meeting last week at Williamson Inc., the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce.…

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Off the Record: Busted! ‘Fast Eddie’ Smith Files an Amendment That Could Make Boyd’s Property Redevelopment Very Profitable

State Rep. “Fast Eddie” Smith (R-Knoxville) just “filled in” his caption bill, HB2361 last week in the House Transportation Subcommittee and the “amendment that makes the bill” as they say in the legislature, looks like it’s gonna help La Raza Randy make more millions. Think of the caption bill like…

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Haslam Reduced Highway Fund Budget By 13 Percent, Grew State Budget By 20 Percent Before Proposing Gas Tax Increases

Tennessee Star

Governor Haslam reduced the Highway Fund budget by 13 percent, while he grew the State budget by 20 percent during his first six years in office. Only after he made these reductions in the Highway Fund budget did he propose the gas tax and diesel tax increases included in the…

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