Biden to Increase Number of Immigrants Approved for Refugee, Visa Status

President Joe Biden’s border policy will include an increase in the number of people approved for refugee and visa status, his administration announced Tuesday.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly asked the Biden administration to answer questions about who is transporting individuals and families to the Texas-Mexico border and what the administration is doing to prevent crimes and human and drug trafficking. He says he has still received no response. He also called on Biden to label Mexican cartels as terrorists because, Abbott said, they are committing crimes and wreaking havoc in Texas, and has also received no response.

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Ohio Democrats Propose New Gun Control Legislation

Mike DeWine

Ohio Democrats continue to criticize the state’s new stand your ground law and unveiled a package of gun control legislation Monday that goes further than a proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine that has seen no movement in nearly two years.

Monday’s call comes 20 months since a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and less than a week after another one in Indianapolis. It also comes nearly two weeks after a law that removes the duty to retreat from Ohioans to defend themselves with deadly force went into effect.

“Ohioans have spoken loudly and clearly that we need to do something to end gun violence. Democrats are listening to you, the people of Ohio who overwhelmingly support commonsense solutions to keep our kids and communities safe,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said Monday at a news conference. “In the 20 months since Dayton, shootings have gone up, not down. We need reform now to ensure the promise of safety and security for all Ohioans.”

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Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Expanding the U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court

Democrats enthralled their base and alarmed Republicans with the recent announcement of a new push to add four justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the latest polling suggests the majority of Americans don’t favor expanding the highest court in the land.

New polling released by Rasmussen Tuesday found that only a third of likely voters support adding justices to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, 55% of likely voters oppose expanding the bench, which has remained at nine justices for over 150 years.

The poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters between April 15 and April 18 of last week. Respondents were asked:

“The U.S. Supreme Court as defined by law has nine members – a chief justice and eight associate justices, all appointed to lifetime terms. Do you favor or oppose increasing the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court?”

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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.

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Proposed Florida Vote-By-Mail Restrictions Scaled Back, But Opponents Not Swayed

Dennis Baxley

A key Senate panel Wednesday amended a controversial bill imposing a range of restrictions on the state’s vote-by-mail (VBM) laws but did not vote on the measure after an exhaustive debate.

The Senate Rules Committee ran out of time before it could issue a verdict on Senate Bill 90 during a fiery marathon meeting that began with an hours’-long fracas over a proposed bill preempting local governments from regulating ports in areas “of critical state concern.”

Committee chair Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, concluded the meeting without calling for a vote on SB 90, saying the panel could take up the measure in its Friday meeting or next week. The bill was not on panel’s Friday agenda as of Thursday afternoon.

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Ohio’s Portman, Yost Voice Opposition to Expanding U.S. Supreme Court

Dave Yost

Saying a plan to increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court would question the court’s legitimacy, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has called on Congress to ignore any potential legislation that would expand and politicize the court.

Yost joined a growing group of attorneys general from around the country criticizing what they see as an attempt at “court packing” and throwing their support behind the bipartisan Keep Nine amendment currently in the U.S. House.

“The Court’s orders are followed because the Court is seen as legitimate – even when we don’t like a particular decision. Tampering with the Court to drive political outcomes will dismantle that legitimacy,” Yost said Thursday in a news release. “I support the Keep Nine amendment because it will forever take the threat of Court packing off the politicians’ table – Republicans or Democrats – and protect the court from politics.”

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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.

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House Republicans Offer Tax Cuts, School Funding Change in New Ohio Budget Proposal

Group of young students

Ohio House Republicans announced Tuesday they want to put the focus on funding the state’s schools and tax breaks.

The House Finance Committee accepted a substitute bill containing the House GOP’s version of a new two-year state budget, which also includes COVID-19 relief help for small businesses and more oversight of state spending.

“This is a thoughtful, structurally balanced and comprehensive budget plan that funds Ohio’s priorities and invests in Ohio’s future,” said Finance Committee Chair Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton.

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Florida Transgender Sports Ban Advances Despite Potential Backlash

Women playing lacrosse

Florida Republicans are advancing bills banning transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports despite – perhaps, in spite of – potential corporate criticism and likely sanctions by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“I certainly couldn’t care less,” House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said Wednesday after the House approved the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act in a 77-40 vote after a four-hour debate in which 18 amendments were rejected.

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, House Bill 1475, filed by Rep. Kaylee Tuck, R-Lake Placid, would enact a blanket ban on transgender athletes competing as women in Florida. Transgender athletes could still compete in men’s sports.

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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.

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‘Return to Learn’ Tracker: 42 Percent of U.S. School Districts Are Providing Full In-Person Instruction

About 42% of more than 8,500 public school districts in the country have returned to full in-person instruction, according to a “Return to Learn” tracker developed by the American Enterprise Institute and the College Crisis Initiative of Davidson College.

Iowa and Florida, which are fully reopened, are the only two states in which 100% of their school districts are providing in-person educational instruction, the analysis found. While Texas is also fully reopened, only 73% of its districts are providing full in-person instruction. Districts in states still under lockdown restrictions, like the District of Columbia and Hawaii, have no schools providing full in-person instruction, the analysis found.

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DeWine: Use Stimulus Money to Repay $1.5 Billion Federal Unemployment Loan

Believing the state’s economy continues to move in a positive direction, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine thinks it’s time for payback.

DeWine recently recommended the General Assembly use nearly a quarter of the expected $5 billion in federal stimulus money on its way to Ohio to repay loans the state needed to balance its unemployment compensation fund as jobless claims skyrocketed during the pandemic.

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Gas, Other Consumer Prices Spike in First Quarter of 2021

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released data Tuesday showing a sharp increase in consumer prices, especially gasoline, as many Americans struggle to make ends meet.

March saw a 0.6% increase in consumer prices, the largest spike in nearly a decade. That increase can be attributed in large part to a rise in inflation.

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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.”

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Local Control, Business-Energy Efforts at Odds with Proposed Ohio Legislation

Field of wind turbines

The decision over whether to build solar and wind turbine farms in Ohio could soon fall to local voters.

Two separate bills – one in the House and one in the Senate – would allow local townships to decide for themselves whether approved renewable energy projects will actually be built.

Under current law, solar farms or wind turbines can be built by developers once their project is approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board. According to the new bills, the application would instead be sent to the local board of trustees, who would then have 30 days to decide whether to allow the project, ask for public opinion, or put the matter to a vote of the people in the next election.

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Poll: Support for School Choice Increases After COVID Shutdowns

Classroom full of kids, that are being read a book

After states shut down schools and forced families into virtual learning, parents and families found new ways to provide K-12 education to their children. While doing so, support for school choice options soared, a new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research found.

Among those surveyed, 71% said they support school choice, which is defined as giving parents the option to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school that best serves their needs. Across all racial and ethnic demographics, an overwhelming majority expressed support for school choice: Blacks (66%), Hispanic (68%), and Asian (66 percent).

These results “were the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters,” the survey states.

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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.

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Gas Tax Increase, Budget Cuts Give Ohio $2 Billion for Road Projects

Ohio Department of Transportation worker

Despite traffic on state highways, roads and bridges decreasing significantly in 2020, the Ohio Department of Transportation expects to spend nearly $2 billion in the next year on nearly 1,000 projects.

Traffic volume fell by 15.5% during the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic limited road travel, ODOT said. More people worked from home. Stay-at-home health orders, capacity limits, business closures and statewide curfews also reigned in optional travel.

Despite the limited driving, which also leads to less fuel consumption and less taxpayer money available, ODOT pointed to a 2019 gas tax increase, along with budget cuts, for staving off what could have billon a $3 billion swing in taxpayer money for the department.

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Abbott: Biden Administration Is Presiding over ‘Abuse of Children’

Gov. Greg Abbott held a short press conference Wednesday night outside of the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio to discuss allegations about the abuse of migrant minors occurring at a federally run detention center.

Two separate state agencies received reports of child abuse and neglect occurring at the Freeman Coliseum, problems Abbott says “are a byproduct of [President Joe] Biden’s open border policies and lack of planning and fallout from those disastrous policies.”

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Ohio Secretary of State Has Serious Concerns About H.R. 1

While Congress continues to push toward voting law changes and efforts to federalize elections, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose continues to speak out in trying to protect states’ authority.

LaRose and the Ohio General Assembly were among the first a month ago to call attention to House Resolution 1, which LaRose said is a federal takeover of state-run elections.

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Ten Percent of Migrant Minors Held in San Diego Convention Center Test Positive for COVID-19

San Diego Convention Center

Of the more than 700 unaccompanied migrant minors who were transported to the San Diego Convention Center from Texas, roughly 10% have tested positive for COVID-19, according to multiple news reports citing health officials.

The Department of Health and Human Services reported on March 30 that 70 of these minors tested positive; none required hospitalization.

The San Diego Convention Center is currently holding 723 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 – all of whom were transferred from federal shelters in Texas.

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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.

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Minnesota Breweries Take Expansions to Other States Because of Outdated Alcohol Laws

Twenty miles means a world of difference for Minnesota breweries that have grown as much as state law allows.

Minnesota’s alcohol laws are pushing breweries to expand in other states, Brad Glynn, Lift Bridge Brewing cofounder and vice president of marketing told The Center Square in a phone interview.

In May, Lift Bridge Brewing Co plans to expand to a New Richmond, Wisconsin location.

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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.

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DeWine Signs $8.3B, Two-Year Ohio Transportation Budget

Highway with cars

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine praised the $8.3 billion state transportation budget he signed into law despite it missing the increased vehicle fees and massive cuts for public transportation he proposed.

The two-year budget, House Bill 74, provides money for road and bridge construction and maintenance, as well as other transportation priorities established by the committees in the House and Senate, along with DeWine.

“The budget ensures that we can continue to maintain and invest in Ohio’s roadways,” DeWine said Wednesday. “Ohio’s transportation system continues to be a critical part of our economy, moving materials and people safely across our state. This budget advances our commitment to invest in state and locally-maintained roadways.”

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Surveys: 46 Million People Can’t Afford Health Care, Majority of Hospitals Not Providing Pricing Transparency

Assorted color syringes.

An estimated 46 million people — or 18% of the country — would be unable to pay for health care if they needed it today, a recent poll conducted by Gallup and West Health found.

In another survey by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. have yet to comply with a transparency ruling implemented this year that would help patients shop around for the most affordable prices.

Gallup’s findings are based on a poll conducted between February 15 and 21 among 3,753 adults with a margin of error of 2%.

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Ohio to Pay Google $1.4M to Help Identify Unemployment Fraud

Gov. Mike DeWine

Ohio continues to add resources to a public-private partnership to combat unemployment fraud, which the state says has cost taxpayers more than $200 million, and the newest additions are a pair of big names.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced recently a new agreement between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Google to conduct data analytics on all outstanding claims. The state will pay the tech company $1.4 million to use Google Analytics to help discover fraud.

“This is one of the first things the private sector group told me when they came in is drilling down on this data and doing it in a very sophisticated way,” DeWine said.

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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. 

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861 Criminals, 92 Sex Offenders Encountered at Texas Border in Past Few Days, Agent Says

More than 850 criminals have been encountered at the U.S. border with Mexico this year, including 92 sex offenders and 63 gang members, a U.S. Border Patrol agent tweeted this weekend.

Included among “the copious amounts of groups being encountered” at the Rio Grande Valley, Hastings said, are “a Salvadoran man with a prior conviction for murder” along with 862 criminals, Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings tweeted.

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Commerce Department Report: Red States Leading U.S. Economic Growth

Inside a business with several customers.

Red states are leading economic growth in the U.S., a new report by the U. S. Commerce Department shows, with South Dakota, Texas and Utah reporting the highest growth.

The report is based on 2020 fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data and February 2021 unemployment rates.

Real GDP increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the fourth quarter of 2020. Real GDP for the U.S. as a whole increased at an annual rate of 4.3%. The percent change in real GDP in the fourth quarter ranged from 9.9% in South Dakota to 1.2% in the District of Columbia.

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California Senators Call on Biden to Ban the Sale of Gasoline-Powered Cars in the U.S.

California’s two U.S. Senators, both Democrats, are calling on President Joe Biden to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars in the United States.

Sens. Diane Feinstein and Alex Padilla sent a letter to Biden urging him to “follow California’s lead and set a date by which all new cars and passenger trucks sold be zero-emission vehicles.”

Last September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who now faces a potential recall election, signed an executive order banning the sale of gasoline-powered cars in California by requiring all new cars and trucks being sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Currently, electric vehicles account for less than 3 percent of all vehicle sales in the U.S.

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84 Percent of Texas Facilities Holding Unaccompanied Migrant Children Have Seen Positive COVID-19 Tests

Border surge

Thirty-seven of 44 shelters, or 87 percent, currently housing unaccompanied migrant minors in Texas reported positive COVID-19 test results between March 5 and 23, according to data collected by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Cases are identified by shelter facilities and foster care providers, which are then reported to officials at the agency.

“The Biden Administration has been an abject failure when it comes to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied minors who cross our border,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. “The conditions unaccompanied minors face in these federally run facilities is unacceptable and inhumane. From a lack of safe drinking water in one location to a COVID-19 outbreak in another, the Biden Administration has no excuse for subjecting these children to these kinds of conditions.

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U.S. Senate Confirms Dr. Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health

Rachel Levine

Dr. Rachel Levine became the highest-ranking transgender official to serve in federal office with her confirmation Wednesday in the U.S. Senate.

Levine joins the Department of Health and Human Services as assistant secretary of health after President Joe Biden nominated her for the post in January.

At the time, Biden described Pennsylvania’s former Secretary of Health as an “historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.”

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Ohio Legislature Passes Transportation Budget with Additional Allocations

The Ohio Senate approved more than $8 billion it hopes will spur both economic development and job growth while tackling the state’s transportation needs over the next two years.

The state’s proposed transportation budget passed the Senate unanimously Thursday with some adjustments made by the Senate, including additional money for public transportation, local road projects and emergency road repair. It also requires the Ohio Department of Transportation to reopen currently decommissioned weigh stations to serve as overnight parking areas for commercial truckers.

“This transportation budget makes critical investments in Ohio’s communities and local infrastructure,” said Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. “I am confident House Bill 74 will improve roads and infrastructure that Ohioans use every day and will enhance Ohio’s economy and promote job growth.”

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Ohio Tax Law Will be in Line with Federal Rules

A wide spectrum of Ohioans could catch a break when it comes to state taxes after the Ohio House passed a bill Wednesday that brings state tax rules in line with federal rules.

The bill, which already passed the Senate and now awaits Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature, increases the child and dependent care credit, provides tax breaks for student loan payments and eliminates taxes on the first $10,200 in unemployment compensation.

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Biden Sets New Vaccine Target, Faces Questions on Border Crisis, Senate Filibuster

Biden Press Conference

President Joe Biden on Thursday set a new target of 200 million Americans being vaccinated by the end of April while also facing questions about the southern U.S. border crisis, the potential to end filibusters in the U.S. Senate and other issues.

At the first news conference of his presidency, held later into his first term than recent presidents, Biden said the U.S. was on target to vaccinate more than 200 million Americans by his 100th day in office.

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Biden Touts American Rescue Plan, Affordable Care Act at the Ohio State University

biden-ohio_840x480

As President Joe Biden made his first visit to Ohio since taking office Tuesday, he was criticized for what one policy group called unnecessary spending. 

Biden, in Columbus to tout his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recently passed American Rescue Plan, visited the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University late Tuesday afternoon.

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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.

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Ohio Lawmakers Want Easier Access to Ballot Drop Boxes

Two Democratic Ohio lawmakers want state voters to have more access to voter drop boxes throughout the state, and they say Secretary of State Frank LaRose can make voting more convenient for Ohioans.

Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, and Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, want the state to require multiple ballot drop boxes per county based on geography and population. They say current law allows multiple boxes, despite LaRose’s decision to restrict them to one per county.

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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.”

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Current Staffer Becomes Eighth Woman to Accuse Cuomo of Inappropriate Behavior

A new accuser has come forward in the ongoing sexual harassment scandal tied to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On Friday, a current staffer came forward with a series of allegations against the leader facing numerous calls to resign over similar accusations.

Alyssa McGrath told The New York Times that the governor gawked at her body and commented on her appearance. In another instance, she claimed Cuomo “gazed down her shirt.”

She becomes the second current aide to accuse Cuomo of harassing behavior. Last week, the Albany Times Union reported an unnamed individual filed a complaint that the governor grabbed her in the executive mansion last year.

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Ohio AG Responds to Criticism of American Rescue Plan Lawsuit

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost continues to receive support and criticism from groups throughout Ohio a day after announcing a lawsuit challenging requirements in the federal American Rescue Plan.

Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit progressive think tank, called Yost’s decision to seek an injunction to stop the state’s obligation to not cut taxes if it accepts more than $5 billion off base.

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Dead Missouri Measure to Cut Loathed Personal Property Taxes Revived

The Missouri Senate Monday night rejected a proposed five-year phase-out of the state’s property tax that could have saved state taxpayers nearly $1.5 billion by 2027.

On Thursday, the measure was resurrected as a proposal to make any increases in the personal property tax rate the same percentage as any real property tax rate hikes approved by counties, among a bevy of other provisions.

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Senate Confirms Deb Haaland of New Mexico as Interior Secretary

Former U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, who opposes fracking and oil drilling on federal lands, was confirmed as President Joe Biden’s new Interior secretary Monday in a narrow, 52-40, vote.

Haaland, who will become the first cabinet secretary of Native American descent, was criticized by many Republicans and supporters of the U.S. oil and gas industry as being extreme on climate change.

“America’s energy workers will be disappointed, but this close vote is hardly a ringing endorsement for Deb Haaland and the Biden anti-energy agenda,” Power The Future’s Western States Director Larry Behrens said in a statement. “With 40 Senators voting against her confirmation, it’s clear many across the country don’t trust Deb Haaland to run a critical federal agency.”

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Teamsters Officials Forced out of LA Trucking Company After 80 Percent of Workers Sign Petition to Remove Them

The union for a Los Angeles trucking company, Teamsters Local 986, was forced out after nearly 80% of workers signed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to remove it.

The National Labor Relations Act governs private sector workers, unionization and how workers can remove a union from their workplace. In 27 right-to-work states, union payments are voluntary. In California and other non right-to-work states, union payments are mandatory for all unionized and non-union employees.

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Survey: Majority of Freelance Writers Worry PRO Act Will Harm Their Earning Potential

The PRO Act, which passed the U.S. House Tuesday on a largely partisan vote, could eliminate most forms of independent contracting, gig work and freelancing – potentially impacting as many as 59 million freelance workers who represent 36 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

In 2020, the freelance community accounted for $1.2 trillion in earnings, according to a report published by UpWork.

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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.”

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Ohio’s Professional Sports Teams Want Piece of Gaming Action

Ohio’s professional sports teams want a piece of sports gambling in the state when and if it ever comes.

Testifying this week before The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming, Cincinnati Reds Chief Financial Officer Doug Healy told lawmakers professional sports organizations recognize the potential benefits of sports gaming.

“It is imperative that Ohio’s sports betting market include access to both mobile and retail sportsbooks for Ohio’s professional teams so that, as the content creators, we share in both the risks and the benefits, just like the casinos,” said Healy, who also said he was speaking on behalf of the Cleveland Indians.

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Ohio Shows Worst Unemployment Recovery in Nation

Ohio had the slowest weekly unemployment claims recovery in the nation last week, based on a new report from the personal finance website WalletHub.

The report compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia over three metrics: changes in claims during the latest week compared with 2019 and 2020 and changes in claims filed from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic versus the previous year.

Based on the data, Ohio ranked 51st out of 51 in recovery over the latest week and 37th since the pandemic began. Ohio ranked behind Colorado, West Virginia, Mississippi and Virginia in weekly recovery.

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Biden to Direct States to Make All U.S. Adults Eligible for COVID Vaccine by May 1

President Joe Biden said Thursday night that he is directing U.S. states to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all American adults by May 1 in an effort to more quickly reopen the country and prop up the staggering U.S. economy.

“To do this we’re going to go from a million shots a day … to 2 million shots a day,” he said.

In most U.S. states currently, only older Americans, front-line workers and those with pre-existing conditions are eligible, though getting scheduled for a first dose has been problematic in many states even for the most at-risk.

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