The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course Tuesday, reversing its previous COVID-19 guidance by urging Americans to wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status. Critics quickly denounced the reversal, saying it undermines vaccine confidence.
The CDC said all students and teachers should wear masks, even if they are vaccinated, and that all Americans, including those with the vaccine, should wear masks in public places where the virus has a significant presence. The agency cited the delta variant of COVID, which is more transmissible.
The CDC had previously announced in May that vaccinated individuals did not have to wear masks. The White House fended off questions from reporters at the White House press briefing on the reasoning behind that reversal.
Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., passed away on Tuesday following complications from a bicycling accident in Wyoming.
The Wyoming Republican, who served 24 years in the Senate before retiring last year, was 77.
“His family expresses their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time,” a tweet from the former senator’s account said.
Saying he does not believe he has the authority to mandate masks in Ohio public schools, Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday turned that decision over to local school boards and parents.
DeWine, along with other state health officials and physicians, almost pleaded with parents to either have their children vaccinated or wear masks as the beginning of the school year draws near and a new COVID-19 variant is causing increased infections.
“I do not believe I have the ability today to mandate [masks in schools]. There is not the appetite in this state for that kind of a mandate,” DeWine said. “We are at a point in the pandemic where information is out there but these decisions must be left to the local community and must be left to the parents.”
The state has been paying some Ohio farmers for the past two years in an effort to reduce Lake Erie water contamination, and at least one city has spent two decades dumping sewage into the lake with little punishment.
Rep. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, said he wants that to change and has proposed legislation that would ban cities from dumping sewage into Lake Erie and increase fines for violators.
“Instead of blaming northwest Ohio farmers, we should thank them for their work to help reduce Lake Erie algae,” Cross said. “The vast majority of farmers are good stewards of the environment.”
Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings reported that his sector at the Texas-Mexico border alone took into custody more than 15,000 illegal immigrants in one week, the most so far this year.
In the same sector, agents saw a 900% increase in those being detained who tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ohio’s largest school district will require all students, staff and visitors to wear masks inside buildings and on buses this fall, but an Ohio lawmaker has introduced a bill that prohibits schools from requiring masks.
The Columbus City Schools Board of Education said in a news release it relied on recommendations from The American Academy of Pediatrics and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with talks with Columbus Public Health, to reach the decision.
“Safely returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, and masks provide and extra layer of protection in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Superintendent Talisa Dixon said Wednesday in a news release. “Throughout this pandemic, we have relied on the guidance of our public health officials. We feel that this was the best decision for our district and community.”
Ohio churches, businesses, schools or any nongovernment group no longer can partner with local boards of election to help educate or register voters or for anything related to voting or an election.
An Ohio state representative wants that changed.
The election reforms passed as part of the state budget after failing to make it out of the House when they were introduced with other election changes as a standalone bill. The new law prohibits any public official from collaborating with nongovernmental groups or individuals on any election-related activity.
The California Secretary of State’s Office has certified 46 candidates running for governor against Gov. Gavin Newsom during September’s recall election. The list includes five more candidates from the preliminary list released on Saturday, including conservative radio commentator and Republican candidate Larry Elder, who had been left off the list and successfully sued to be added back on.
“Victory!” Elder tweeted after the court ordered he be added to the list. “My next one will be on Sept. 14 at the ballot box.”
The recall election is scheduled for Sept. 14.
Militiamen arrested for the alleged plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claim the government set them up.
Court documents obtained by Buzzfeed show government informants played a crucial role in the kidnapping plot. One informant posed as a demolition expert who advised members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia where to plant explosives and even offered to get them as much as they needed. The informant was vouched for by another informant, leaving unclear how many confidential informants existed compared to actual extremists.
The Biden administration has sparked controversy for endorsing elements of critical race theory in education programs, and the latest polling reveals a source of that concern.
A poll released by Convention of States Action found that many Americans are opposed to critical race theory in curriculum, and are open to removing their kids from public schools to avoid it.
Gov. Doug Ducey has called on Arizona’s congressional delegation to urge the Biden administration to maintain Title 42 restrictions, which allow federal officials to prohibit entry into the U.S. for those posing a potential health risk.
“I am writing to you today to share details of the impact this dangerous and misguided idea would have on Arizona and to request your assistance on behalf of the people of Arizona in urging the Biden administration to maintain these critical protections,” Ducey wrote last week in a letter to Arizona’s 11 members of Congress.
The Texas Farm Bureau and 50 other state and national farming organizations have asked the Biden administration to “enforce legal immigration” after an influx of illegal immigration resulted in a crime wave impacting ranchers and farmers.
“The current situation should not be acceptable to you or to any American,” they write to the secretaries of the U.S. departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Interior. “People are being treated as a disposable source of income, and landowners are living in fear while Coyotes [human smugglers] reap a windfall from leaving people destitute. You must not allow this to continue. On behalf of farm and ranch families and our communities, we urge you to recognize the crisis and take swift action.”
One of Ohio’s largest cities had one of the country’s largest homicide rate increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent report.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, released a report that showed only New Orleans had its homicide rate grow more than Cincinnati as the country worked its way through the pandemic.
The city of Austin faces a crisis of rising violent crime after the City Council voted last year to drastically reduce the police department’s budget, interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon says.
Last summer, the Austin City Council voted to defund the police department by $150 million, which resulted in canceling multiple cadet classes and disbanding multiple units responsible for responding to DWIs, domestic violence calls, stalking, and criminal interdiction.
Instead, the council redistributed the money to other city programs and suggested that community organizers respond to 911 calls, instead of the police department.
The country is opening up and travel is increasing, but visitors are finding the rental car landscape a bit empty.
Rental car companies are continuing to have a hard time keeping up with demand after selling off fleets to stay afloat during the pandemic.
“The fundamental thing that’s causing it is the very rational corporate response to the pandemic and the almost shutting down of international and domestic travel for most of 2020 and the first half of 2021,” Gregory Scott, spokesperson for the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), told The Center Square. “Airport rentals dropped 70-90% in March and April of last year, and as a result there were literally tens of thousands of vehicles sitting unrented and unwanted because people stopped traveling.”
As more federal data show a major spike in inflation, another top federal official said the U.S. is in for more aggressive inflation for the rest of 2021.
Federal officials have been pressed to speak on rising inflation after \data released earlier this week showed that the all items index increased 5.4% over the last 12 months, the biggest spike since the 2008 financial crisis.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen commented on the rise in inflation, saying it would grow worse this year.
Small business owners are continuing to have problems attracting new workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and are trying to entice them with new incentives, a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows.
“Small businesses are bearing the brunt of the current worker shortage,” said Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the Chamber. “Many have given up on actively recruiting new workers as it is too hard to find skilled and experienced workers for their open positions.”
Ohio public schools, colleges and universities cannot require COVID-19 vaccines after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that originally was introduced to help military families.
The Ohio Senate amended House Bill 244, which passed in late June along party lines, to prohibit public schools from requiring any vaccine not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and from discriminating against unvaccinated individuals. The FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines on an emergency basis.
The bill also allows military families moving into Ohio to enroll their children in school virtually or through advanced enrollments before they move into the state.
Louisiana U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has introduced a bill to limit protections for social media companies that secretly leverage user data to promote divisive content.
Kennedy, a Republican, blasted Silicon Valley behemoths such as Facebook and Twitter for “provoking” platform users and blamed the “manipulative” business practice for causing unnecessary social conflict.
“Social media giants are using people’s data to manipulate them into spending more time on their sites, but the price is a more polarized America,” Kennedy said in a statement. “It’s time to stop rewarding platforms that use their algorithms to target users with content that plays on individuals’ emotions without their consent.”
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.
Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.
“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.
Government money that established grants for small businesses in Ohio has doubled since June and remains available, according to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
DeWine initially established the grant program in June with $155 million in federal relief dollars. The fund doubled to $310 million at the beginning of July after DeWine signed the state’s new budget, which included the additional money approved by the General Assembly.
The money is meant to help small- and medium-sized businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Republicans have argued for months that federal unemployment benefits are keeping Americans from going back to work, and a new survey seems to support that claim.
The survey from Morning Consult released Wednesday found that 1.8 million Americans have turned down jobs even though they were unemployed saying, “I receive enough unemployment benefits without having to work.”
Local communities in Ohio got a little more power regarding renewable energy projects after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law that addresses wind and solar projects.
DeWine made Senate Bill 52 law and gave power to county boards on whether to allow or prevent certification of wind and solar projects. The legislation also establishes decommissioning requirements for certain wind and solar facilities.
“One of the most important things we can do as state legislators is to listen to the input of our fellow constituents,” Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, said Monday after DeWine signed the bill. “I can confidently tell you that Ohioans within Seneca County vehemently spoke out against a wind project being built within their communities – Senate Bill 52 being signed into law solidifies their right to local control over these types of projects.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to double down on an incentive program to encourage more Ohioans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as cases are on the rise in the Buckeye State.
Speaking to reporters at a ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of a highway project in Columbus, DeWine said he expects to announce a new program soon in an effort boost the state’s vaccination percentage, which ranks as one of the lowest in the nation.
More than 60 House Democrats who fled Austin Monday to prevent a vote on election reforms will be arrested when they return to Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said.
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said.
The 67 Democratic lawmakers flew on chartered flights to Washington D.C. in protest of proposed legislation seeking to reduce the chances of fraud in future elections. The legislation is one of a number of measures being considered during a July special session called by Abbott.
A coalition of 16 states is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to not reinstate a waiver allowing California to implement its own carbon emissions standards that essentially regulate the automotive industry for the rest of the U.S.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a coalition led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, which also includes attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.
Under the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration created national standards for vehicle carbon emissions for model years 2021 through 2026. The policy revoked a waiver previously granted to California in order to treat all states as equal sovereigns subject to one federal rule, the attorneys general explain in their 12-page letter.
The Center for Disease Control updated federal COVID guidance Friday with several major changes as schools around the country grapple with policies for students’ return in the fall.
The CDC urged schools to allow students to return to in-person classes whether or not they are vaccinated as most studies showed significant learning loss during remote-only or hybrid teaching models.
The agency also said teachers and students should wear masks unless they have gotten the vaccine, a recommendation that is certain to drive controversy.
Ohioans victimized by unemployment fraud or were overpaid unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic could be off the hook for repaying those funds, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder said late last week if a waiver is approved, claimants will not have to repay money previously labelled as an overpayment and also could receive benefits that have been withheld because of an overpayment status.
Claimants should be notified soon of how to apply for a waiver and processing could begin later in the summer, Damschroder said.
“We understand the hardships that overpayments caused during what is already a very stressful time.” Damschroder said. “Our unemployment program is in a much better position than it was a year ago.”
FirstEnergy customers in Ohio will see nearly $30 million in refunds on their electric bills after the Public Utility of Commission of Ohio ordered the money returned.
The PUCO ordered implementation of the recently passed and signed House Bill 128, which was one of the many bills introduced this year in the Ohio General Assembly aimed at tackling the House Bill 6 scandal that led to the indictment and eventual removal from office of former House Speaker Larry Householder.
The bill, which became effective June 30, dealt with “decoupling,” which Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has referred to as designed to allow FirstEnergy to overcharge customers.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a bill that would prohibit the federal government from creating and maintaining a federal database of every American who has received COVID-19 vaccines.
Cruz introduced the bill after White House officials announced a plan to use taxpayer dollars to pay individuals to go door-to-door in regions of the country where there are relatively low vaccination rates.
In response to statements made by President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the door-to-door outreach initiative, Cruz tweeted, “When the Biden admin calls for ‘targeted’ ‘door-to-door outreach’ to get people vaccinated, it comes across as a g-man saying: ‘We know you’re unvaccinated, let’s talk, comrade.’ My bill to ban federal vaccine passports prohibits the feds from maintaining a vaccine database.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio wants a court to force Republican lawmakers to turn over records related to redistricting it says it asked for five months ago and never received.
The group has filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Ohio, seeking the records as the state closes in on the release of U.S. Census Bureau data and a constitutional mandate to redraw congressional and state representative district boundaries.
House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, have not responded to open records request made in February, the lawsuit said. The ACLU said the records will help it monitor the redistricting process.
Giving away millions of federal tax dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships did nothing to improve Ohio’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, a recent study concluded.
Those results have Democratic leaders saying the state needs to do more to address vaccine hesitancy and deal with what they call root causes of Ohio’s stagnant vaccination rate.
The study, conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded reports that the state’s Vax-a-Million lottery program increased rates failed to factor in vaccinations expanded to ages 12-15.
President Joe Biden has pushed for beefing up IRS audits of corporations to raise revenue for his new spending proposals, but Republicans are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of the plan.
Biden unveiled his “Made in America Tax Plan” earlier this year as a strategy to help fund his trillions of dollars in proposed new federal spending that includes several tax hikes. Despite this, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a basic framework for Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, but one element has been the theme of the negotiations among Republicans: no new taxes.
The GOP pushback against raising taxes, though, puts more pressure on the Biden administration to find ways to fund his agenda. Aside from Biden’s controversial tax hike proposals, the president also has proposed adding $80 billion in funding to the IRS so it can increase audits of corporations.
Governors from 15 states are sounding the alarm over an executive order issued by President Joe Biden tasking his administration to “conserve” 30% of all land and water in the U.S. by 2030.
Known as the “30 x 30 plan,” the directive is part of a United Nations Agenda 2030 land and sustainable development goal, which directs nations to conserve land and water to combat climate change.
Biden refers to the policy as part of the United State’s acceptance of rejoining the Paris Agreement, a deal former President Donald Trump pulled out of.
As the country continues to climb back from more than a year of an economic downward spiral during the COVID-19 pandemic, cities in states with Republican-led governors that imposed fewer restrictions are experiencing a faster and more robust comeback.
A study by WalletHub ranked the top 180 cities in the country to determine where economic recovery is occurring.
More Ohio farmers can be paid by the state to implement measurers officials say help protect Lake Erie as 10 more counties have been added to the H2Ohio program, which received a $120 million boost in the recently signed state budget.
The program, which offers funding to farmers who use proven conservation practices that limit agricultural phosphorus runoff from fertilizer, now includes 24 northwest Ohio counties. Officials said phosphorus runoff is the primary factor behind algal blooms in Lake Erie.
The majority of all U.S. counties have been designated as Second Amendment sanctuaries, according to an analysis by SanctuaryCounties.com.
As of June 20, there are 1,930 counties “protected by Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation at either the state or county level,” representing 61% of 3,141 counties and county equivalents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Texas was the 21st state to pass a constitutional carry bill, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law, and becomes effective Sept. 1. And while some state legislatures are not taking the same action, county officials have chosen to enact their own legislation. Roughly 1,137 counties “have taken it upon themselves to pass Second Amendment Sanctuary legislation and likely hundreds of cities, townships, boroughs, etc. have done so at their level as well,” the site states.
Celebrating Independence Day means a little more for some states than others, at least in terms of being independent and self-sufficient.
A report from personal finance website WalletHub showed which states were the most-self-sufficient, and Ohio ranked 36th in where Americans are the most self-reliant despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
To determine the ranking, WalletHub compared five sources of dependency: consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. Those categories were broken down into 39 key indicators.
School groups throughout Ohio and around the nation have praised the recently signed Ohio state budget that expands education choice opportunities for parents and students.
The budget, signed late Wednesday night by Gov. Mike DeWine, increased the state’s voucher system, created a new tax-credit scholarship program and established the state’s first education savings accounts.
“Governor Mike DeWine has signed a budget that expands existing school choice options and creates Ohio’s first-ever education savings account program helping parents afford desperately-needed resources and giving them the flexibility necessary to improve their children’s educational outcomes,” said Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy. “These bold reforms are some of the most significant that Ohio’s families have seen in a decade.”
Three weeks after a federal judge said Ohio could move ahead with a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s plan to tie federal funding to a state’s agreement to not cut taxes, the same court granted Ohio a permanent injunction to stop the practice.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio stopped the regulation that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said unconstitutionally restricted the state’s power to cut taxes, Yost announced Friday.
“The Biden administration reached too far, seized too much and got its hand slapped,” Yost said. “This is a monumental win for the preservation of the U.S. Constitution – the separation of powers is real, and it exists for a reason.”
The recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been set for September 14.
Registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail whether they asked for one or not by mid-August.
“Gavin Newsom and his allies have tried every trick in the book to avoid this day of reckoning,” Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley said in a statement. Kiley, who has been asked by constituents to run for governor, said he will make an announcement about his own role in the recall “very soon.” He says the recall presents Californians with an opportunity “to turn the page on this era of corruption in California.”
Newsom’s campaign argues the election is “a naked attempt by Trump Republicans to grab control in California” and called on his supporters to “defend our state.”
As Americans prepare to hit the road for Independence Day weekend, gas prices hit a seven-year high.
An expected 43.6 million Americans are set to hit the road this holiday weekend, and they’ll pay the most they have to fill up their tank since 2014, the American Automobile Association (AAA) says.
A bill Ohio Republicans call an effort to protect law enforcement and Democrats said limits protest quickly went from committee passage to House passage on nearly a party line vote.
Sub House Bill 22 expands the state’s definition of obstruction of justice to include failure to follow a lawful order, throwing objects and inhibiting or depriving a law enforcement officer of control over a detainee.
A new report shows states that decided to turn away federal unemployment benefits have seen a drop in unemployment.
The Biden administration pushed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill earlier this year that included extending $300 weekly unemployment benefits for Americans in addition to unemployment benefits already provided by the states.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a California regulation allowing union organizers to trespass on private property to recruit agricultural workers violated private property rights.
In Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid released Wednesday, California agriculture businesses Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company challenged a state law allowing labor unions a “right to take access” to an agricultural employer’s private property three hours per day, 120 days per year to recruit new union members. The court held that this constitutes a “per se” taking. They reversed and remanded prior rulings on California’s access regulation with a 6-3 vote, the dissenting votes belonging to the court’s three left-leaning justices.
In 2015, union organizers entered Cedar Point Nursery at 5 a.m., disrupting work during harvest season with bullhorns to convince the farm employees to join the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Mike Fahner, the owner of the strawberry farm, did not grant the union workers permission to enter his property, nor was he given notice of their arrival. He was not legally allowed to ask the union organizers to leave his property.
Several Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate sent a letter to the IRS Friday demanding the agency correct a ruling they say could have major implications for churches and faith-based organizations in the U.S.
Fifteen members signed the letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about a Christian group in Texas called Christians Engaged. The group released a letter from the IRS stating that the federal tax agency denied the group 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, saying “Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”
That line of reasoning has sparked significant controversy.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of free speech rights for students outside of the classroom in a decision Wednesday.
The court sided with former Mahanoy Area High School student and cheerleader Brandi Levy in the case, formally known as Mahanoy Area School District v B.L., with a 8-1 decision in her favor. Mahanoy Area High School is located in Pennsylvania.
Levy, upset that she had not made her school’s varsity cheer team, posted on the social media site Snapchat a simple message with explicit language expressing her frustration.
The president of the largest union of health care workers in the U.S. says it will fight companies requiring its members to have mandatory COVID-19 shots as a condition of employment.
The announcement came one day after Houston Methodist announced that 153 employees had been fired or resigned for refusing to get the shots as a condition of employment. Those suing argue requiring employees to receive a vaccine approved only through Emergency Use Authorization violates federal law. After a recent court dismissal, their attorney vowed to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, is weighing the organization’s legal options.
Federal authorities have seized significantly more fentanyl along the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona and California since October than they did in the entire 2020 fiscal year.
Since October, authorities have seized 7.000 pounds of the drug, compared to just 4,500 pounds in the entire last fiscal year, according to data from Customs and Boarder Protection. The reasoning, according to authorities, is simply supply and demand.
An Ohio lawmaker believes it’s now more important to make it easier for teachers to have guns in the classroom following an Ohio Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that school districts must require police-level training for employees to be armed.
Rep. Thomas Hall, R-Madison Township, introduced legislation in April that requires school employees to complete only concealed carry weapon training to carry a gun on campus.
In a 4-3 ruling, the court sided with a group of Madison Local Schools parents who sued the district in September 2018 to stop teachers from being armed without extensive training, including more than 700 hours of peace officer training. Madison Local Schools adopted a policy that required only 24 hours of training before staff could carry a concealed weapon.