U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA on Payment for College Athletes

Paying college athletes has been a hotly debated topic for years, but now the U.S. Supreme Court has released a ruling on the issue.

A group of current and former student athletes brought the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the organization violated antitrust laws when it prevented student athletes from accepting certain education-related benefits.

The case, filed in 2018, challenged the NCAA and the biggest conferences including the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the students Monday, saying the NCAA could not deny those benefits, which could include things like “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid posteligibility internships.”

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Virginia Emergency Ending Could Affect Masks, Remaining COVID-19 Regulations

Young boy getting vaccination

Gov. Ralph Northam intends to let the COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency expire June 30, which could affect mask wearing throughout the commonwealth and the remaining restrictions on businesses.

Virginia law normally prohibits a person from covering one’s face with the intent of concealing one’s identity in public spaces, which was put on hold during the state of emergency. According to the Virginia code, a person can only wear a mask in certain situations, which include a legitimate medical reason when advised by a physician or during a health-related state of emergency when the governor expressly waives this section of law.

With the governor ending the state of emergency, it’s unclear whether wearing a mask in public could be grounds for prosecution absent a doctor’s note. The governor has said a person would not be prosecuted for wearing a mask and that he has been in contact with police groups that told him police would not arrest anyone for wearing a mask. The provision that states a person would only be guilty when intending to conceal his or her identity with the mask could be difficult to prove when a person is simply following guidelines from the governor’s office and the Center for Disease Control.

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Some Virginia Colleges Will Continue to Prohibit Marijuana on Campus to Protect Federal Funds

Virginia Commonwealth University

Some Virginia universities intend to prohibit marijuana on campus grounds after it becomes legal for recreational use for adults age 21 and older in the state.

Although the commonwealth will allow legal possession beginning in two weeks, the plant still is illegal at the federal level and a schedule I drug under the controlled substance act. If a university allows marijuana on campus, some universities worry it could threaten their federal funding.

A spokesperson from James Madison University told The Center Square the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices will continue to address incidents of marijuana on campus because use and possession are illegal under federal law.

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As Biden Seeks to Limit U.S. Oil Production, Reliance on Russian Imports Rises

Within months of President Joe Biden halting the Keystone Pipeline, pausing new oil and gas leases on federal lands, and imposing further restrictions on U.S. oil companies, U.S. oil imports from Russia set a new record in March.

According to International Energy Agency, U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products from Russia reached 22.9 million barrels in March, the highest level since August 2010. They had reached over 25 million barrels in April 2009.

Crude oil imports from Russia in March stood at 6.1 million barrels, making Russia the third-largest oil exporter to the United States.

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Virginia Will Give Higher Education Assistance to Illegal Immigrants

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam held a ceremonial bill signing on legislation that provides financial assistance for higher education to students who are in the country illegally.

House Bill 2123/Senate Bill 1387 will allow students who are in the state illegally to access education benefits equal to residents of the commonwealth, including in-state tuition and financial assistance programs the state provides for public and private colleges and universities.

“Until last year, undocumented students had to pay out-of-state tuition rates,” Northam said Monday during the ceremony at Marymount University. “We’re all proud to have changed that. Lowering the cost barriers for children who have grown up in our schools. And now it’s time to give those students the opportunity to get help in paying for their education.”

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Voter I.D. Constitutional Amendment Proposed in Pennsylvania

People in line, waiting to vote

A pair of Pennsylvania lawmakers said Friday that state residents themselves should decide the stringency of the state’s voter identification law.

The push comes after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he’d never support strengthening existing voter I.D. law – one of the top priorities for Republicans in their election reform proposal unveiled Thursday. 

Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, and Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Williamsport, both support their party’s proposal to require identification each and every time a resident casts a ballot in-person. Current law stipulates identification only for first time voters in a precinct. 

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Emergency SNAP Benefits Extended into June for Virginians

Virginians who receive food stamps will continue to be eligible for higher pandemic-era benefits through June, the Virginia Department of Social Services announced.

Families receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see additional benefits automatically loaded onto their EBT cards. The funds will be added n June 16.

A household of one will be eligible for up to $234 monthly while the emergency funding continues. A family of two could receive up to $430, a family of three up to $616 and a family of four up to $782. The funding gradually increases for every additional member of a family.

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Turnout in Virginia Democratic Primary Dropped About 11 Percent

Ralph Northam

Voters from around the commonwealth cast their ballots Tuesday to determine which candidate will represent the Democratic Party in Virginia’s 2021 race for governor, but the turnout dropped by about 11% compared to the 2017 primary.

In total, more than 488,100 people voted in the party’s five-candidate primary, compared to 542,858 in 2017’s two-candidate primary. This shows an 11% drop and more than 50,000 fewer votes cast in 2021.

About 8% of Democratic voters turned out for the primary, which is lower than 2017 when about 10% turned out to cast a vote. However, despite the numbers being low compared to the previous election, they are still higher than average when compared to the other most recent gubernatorial primaries.

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Feds: Illegal Immigration Continued to Worsen in May

Temporary soft sided facilities are utilized to process noncitizen individuals, noncitizen families and noncitizen unaccompanied children as part of the ongoing response to the current border security and humanitarian effort along the Southwest Border in Donna, Texas, May 4, 2021.

The surge in illegal immigration at the southern border continues to worsen, May numbers show, as the Biden administration takes more criticism for its handling of the issue.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released new data on the crisis at the southern border, showing the federal law enforcement agency encountered 180,034 people attempting to illegally enter the country last month.

May’s numbers were a 1% increase from the previous month, but illegal immigration since Biden took office has soared.

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Arizona Gains 66,000 New Taxpayers, Mostly from California

Phoenix, Arizona cityscape

Taxpayers are coming to Arizona from other states by the tens of thousands and bringing billions of dollars in annual earnings with them. 

The Internal Revenue Service released its annual migration statistics, a record of address changes by filers and their dependents between tax years. The data released in late May reflects changes from the 2018-2019 tax years, which symbolize moves that occurred between 2017 and 2018. Nationwide, 8 million people relocated to either another state or county. 

Arizona gained 218,736 new taxpayers in that time. Having lost 152,769, that’s a net gain of 65,967 exemptions from one tax year to the next. That’s nearly 1,000 more than the previous tax year.

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Virginia DMV Expands Appointment Opportunities Reduced During Pandemic

People at windows of DMV

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is gradually expanding its appointment opportunities this month and next month now that most of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have come to an end.

Starting June 1, the DMV opened 184,000 additional appointment opportunities  and the department will open up more appointments June 15 and again in July. Residents can secure their slots for the June 15 appointment expansion at this time. The department is hiring and training new employees to keep up with the higher number of appointments.

“Virginians have told us they appreciate the convenience and high quality service the appointment system affords,” Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said in a news release at the time of the announcement. “The Governor’s announcement … enables us to open more windows so customers can secure appointments sooner, but we are still taking great care to offer service that is safe for everyone.”

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Migration Study Shows Big Cities Continue Losing Population During First Quarter

U-Haul truck

Americans in the first quarter of 2021 continued their 2020 pattern of moving from expensive, densely populated areas to warmer, more tax-affordable states, according to a new study from Updater Technologies.

Updater Technologies is an online platform that allows people to use a centralized hub for moving, including finding a moving company, connecting internet and utility services and updating their address. The company says the inbound and outbound data it uses is more reliable than tabulating mail forwarding forms because it captures fully completed permanent moves in real time. It also indexes cities and states based on population, since using raw numbers would skew toward the most populated areas based on sheer volume.

Out of roughly 300,000 household moves during the first quarter, only 16 states had a greater percentage of inbound moves than outbound: Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia and Maine.

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High Court Hears Arguments on Tennessee’s School-Choice Program

ORNL Traveling Science Fair at the TN 4th Annual Tennessee STEM Innovation Summit and STEMx Event, Nashville, TN

Tennessee’s highest court heard arguments on a disputed school choice program.

Tennessee’s Education Savings Accounts (ESA) pilot program, approved by the state Legislature in 2019, would provide state-funded scholarships of about $7,100 to low-income students in Nashville and Memphis – home to the state’s two lowest-performing school districts. Students would be able to use the funds to attend nonpublic schools of their choice.

A district court ruled the program unconstitutional when the two counties sued the state to stop the program. The state Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

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IRS: California Shrank by 165K Taxpayers, $8.8 Billion in Gross Income

Aerial shot of a California suburb

California residents of all ages and incomes are leaving for more tax friendly climates, and they’re taking billions of dollars in annual income with them.

The Internal Revenue Service recently released its latest taxpayer migration figures from tax years 2018 and 2019. They reflect migratory taxpayers who had filed in a different state or county between 2017 and 2018, of which 8 million did in that timespan.

California, the nation’s most-populous state, lost more tax filers and dependents on net than any other state.

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New Report Says Biden Energy Policy Is Misleading and Unattainable

Recent experiences in three states provide an insight into how problematic President Joe Biden’s push for renewable energy could be for electric customers nationwide, according to a new report from Power the Future.

The report, titled “Lights Out: How Green Mandates are Undermining the Affordability and Reliability of Electricity,” was written by Larry Behrens, western states director for Power the Future, a nonprofit trade group that speaks for oil and gas workers.

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Texas Gov. Abbott Issues Disaster Declaration in Response to Border Crisis

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration in response to several hundred thousand immigrants illegally entering the U.S. through Texas since President Joe Biden’s border policies began in January.

The five-page order comes roughly two months after Abbott initiated Operation Lonestar on March 6, directing the Texas Department of Public Safety to protect Texans from increased crime being committed by immigrants.

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Third Virginia Sheriff Switches from Democrat to Republican over Policing Reforms

Police lights on top of car

In response to legislative Democrats enacting a series of police reforms, three Southwest Virginia sheriffs elected as Democrats have changed their party to become Republicans.

Sheriff Chip Shuler of Smyth County, who was elected as a Democrat in 2015, was the most recent addition to the Republican Party. In a news release, Shuler said law enforcement has faced relentless attacks from Democrats in Washington and Richmond.

In 2015, Shuler was elected with slightly more than 59% of the vote and was re-elected in 2019 with slightly more than 60% of the vote. Smyth County is a mostly Republican district in which more than three-fourths of votes backed former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

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Red States Top Those with Lowest Unemployment Rates

"Come in, we're hiring!"

Republican-led states and Vermont reported the lowest unemployment rates in April, according to a new report by the U.S. Commerce Department. States led by Democratic governors recorded the highest jobless rates, according to the report.

Unemployment rates were lower in April in 12 states and the District of Columbia and stable in 38 states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

States with the highest unemployment rates in April were Hawaii (8.5%), California (8.3%), New Mexico and New York (both at 8.2%), and Connecticut (8.1%). All five states with the highest unemployment are run by Democratic trifectas, meaning Democrats control the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature.

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Starkist Moving Headquarters from Pennsylvania to Virginia

Starkist Tuna

Packaged tuna manufacturer Starkist is closing up its headquarters in Pittsburgh and moving to northern Virginia, but most of the details about the move have not been revealed.

Starkist will close its office in the North Shore of Pittsburgh on March 31, 2022, but will maintain a presence in the area. Its new headquarters will open in northern Virginia in 2022, but the company did not say in which locality.

The company did not announce the reasons for its relocation. No announcements have been made related to taxpayer-funded subsidies or other incentives, which could be part of a deal.

Starkist has been owned by South Korea-based Dongwon Industries since 2008. It employs about 2,630 people and generates more than $24 million in revenue, according to Zippia.

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Missouri’s Treasurer Opposes Biden Administration’s Influence on Divesting in Fuel Companies

Gas station at night

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick and 14 other Republican state treasurers are questioning President Joe Biden’s administration pressuring of U.S. banks and financial institutions to not lend to or invest in fossil fuel companies.

The group of chief financial officers sent a letter to presidential climate envoy John Kerry this week expressing concern about a reported strategy to eliminate the coal, oil and natural gas industries by cutting off loans or investments.

“While the pursuit of more renewable sources of energy is a noble cause, the fact is that fossil fuels remain critical to our country and the entire world,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “The Biden Administration’s failure to acknowledge this will result in increased costs for consumers and businesses. An energy independent America is vital for national security and strengthens our economy which impacts all Americans – especially our poorest citizens who feel rising prices at the gas pump and the checkout line most. Attempts to pressure financial institutions to cut off the fossil fuel industry amounts to nothing less than an abuse of power by the federal government and should not be tolerated by states.”

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Gov. Lee’s Signature Makes Tennessee a Second Amendment Sanctuary

Guy shooting hand gun at gun range

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill Wednesday that makes the state a Second Amendment sanctuary.

Senate Bill 1335 prevents any “law, treaty, executive order, rule, or regulation of the United States government” that violates the Tennessee Constitution or the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from being enforced in the state.

That violation would have to be determined by either the Tennessee or U.S. Supreme Court. The stipulation was added during debate of the bill in the Tennessee House, and the Senate concurred.

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Texas State Border Officials Fear Large Spikes in Overdose Deaths with Drug Traffic Increases

Texas Department of Public Safety SUV

Texas officials said Thursday they’re worried about dramatic spikes in drug overdose deaths in some areas of the state as illegal border crossings and drug trafficking have picked up since President Joe Biden took office.

Gov. Greg Abbott joined Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn on Thursday in Fort Worthto provide an update on the border crisis.

“We’re heading for a 50 percent increase in overdose deaths in Tarrant County alone,” Waybourn warned, noting that the amount of drugs flooding into Tarrant County has skyrocketed even with DPS intervention.

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More Americans Lack Confidence in U.S. Economy

Joe Biden on the phone

As economic figures cast doubt on a post-COVID economic boom, the latest polling data show Americans lack confidence in the economy under President Joe Biden.

New polling data released by Gallup Monday shows Americans are not confident in the economy and are largely unhappy with the nation’s current trajectory.

The poll found only 36% of Americans are “satisfied with the way things are going.” Specifically on the economy, Americans also are pessimistic.

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Virginia Directs Nearly $136 Million for State and Local Criminal Justice Programs

Arlington Police motorcycles

Virginia awarded $135.8 million worth of grants to support state and local criminal justice programs, primarily to support those who have been the victims of a crime, Gov. Ralph Northam announced late Thursday afternoon.

Nearly 63% of the funding, $85.5 million, will be used to provide services for victims. Many organizations receiving money provide direct services for traditionally underserved populations and for victims of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Each of these grant recipients play an important role in keeping our communities safe and supporting victims and survivors of crime,” Northam said in a statement. “This funding will sustain the operations of a variety of critical programs and help expand the reach of services to underserved areas of the Commonwealth.”

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Some Virginia Universities Ease Mask Mandate for Vaccinated Students, Faculty, Staff

College student walking on campus, wearing mask

Some Virginia universities have eased their mask mandates for those who have been fully vaccinated to follow more closely with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Universities that officially made mask changes for vaccinated people include the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University and Old Dominion University.

“Based on the advice of University medical experts, we are pleased to inform you that the University will follow the advice of the CDC and the Governor and update our policy so that UVA community members who are fully vaccinated can now safely forego masks both indoors and outdoors,” UVA President Jim Ryan said in a statement with other university leaders.

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Businesses, Republicans Raise the Alarm over Biden Taxes

Local icecream shop with chalkboard menu

As President Joe Biden promotes his several trillion dollars in proposed federal spending, Republicans and small businesses are raising the alarm, arguing the taxes needed to pay for those spending plans are a threat to the economy.

The House Ways and Means Committee met Thursday to discuss infrastructure development and in particular the impact of proposed tax increases to pay for it. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking member on the committee, argued that only 7% of Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill goes to infrastructure and that raising taxes would incentivize employers to take jobs overseas.

“As bad as the wasteful spending is, worse yet, it’s poisoned with crippling tax increases that sabotage America’s jobs recovery, hurts working families and Main Street businesses, and drives U.S. jobs overseas,”  Brady said. “We cannot fund infrastructure on the backs of American workers.”

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Republicans Release Plan to Address Growing Inflation Under Biden Administration

High gas prices

Congressional Republicans grabbed headlines this week after releasing an aggressive budget they say would cut taxes and spending, but key measures in the plan also would address one of the country’s most serious economic problems.

The House’s Republican Study Committee released a budget that lays out several measures to deal with inflation, a growing concern among economists after the latest federal data showed a spike in consumer prices. Notably, the index for used cars and trucks rose 10%, the largest one-month increase since BLS began recording the data in 1953. Food and energy costs rose 0.9% in the month of April, prescription drugs rose 0.5%, and gasoline rose 1.4% during the same month. The energy cost index rose 25% in the previous 12 months.

Republicans on the committee say their plan would address concerns over inflation by balancing the budget within five years, thereby eliminating the need to monetize debt, a process where the federal government prints money to make payments on what it owes. The national debt has soared to more than $28 trillion and is expected to continue climbing under President Joe Biden’s new spending plans.

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Watermarked Absentee Ballots Coming to Tennessee in 2022

Woman voting at booth

Tennessee’s absentee ballots will have a watermark, starting in elections in 2022.

Gov. Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 1315, the Tennessee Election Integrity Act, which was passed by the Tennessee Legislature last month and will put an approved watermark on all absentee ballots with the goal of providing more security to the election process.

The watermark does not apply to military electronic absentee ballots, which are not printed onto paper. Local election authorities will be required to dispose of previously purchased ballot paper at the end of 2021.

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Most Americans with Children to Receive Monthly Federal Payments Starting in July

Man with two children

Millions of American families will receive hundreds of dollars in regular federal payments beginning next month, the Internal Revenue Service said Monday.

The IRS announced July 15 as the start date for monthly child tax credit payments that would affect the vast majority of Americans with children.

“Eligible families will receive a payment of up to $300 per month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 per month for each child age 6 and above,” the IRS said in a statement.

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Critics of Biden’s Proposed Oil-and-Gas Industry Taxes Fueled by Gas Shortages

Gas shortage "out of service" stickers

Gas shortages on the East Coast have helped rally Congressional opposition to the portions of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan that would force oil and gas companies to pay more in taxes.

House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., calling on Democrats to oppose Biden’s plan to “eliminate tax preferences for fossil fuels.”

The letter, signed by 55 Republicans, came after a cyber attack of Colonial Pipeline shut down a major pipeline on the East Coast and led to fear-driven gasoline shortages. The attack also raised questions about the nation’s energy infrastructure and vulnerability to attack.

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More Than $60 Million to Go to Virginia Schools to Offset Pandemic Learning Losses

To offset learning losses caused by the shutdown of in-person public education, Virginia will be spending more than $60 million in recovery grants for public schools, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

After public schools in the commonwealth were completely shut down for in-person classes for a period of time, the governor implemented restrictions that required hybrid teaching models that included both virtual and in-person learning for months. Since those guidelines have been lifted, some schools have returned to fully in-person education, while some are still using a hybrid model.

To minimize the learning gaps caused by the closures, the state will provide $62.7 million in LEARNS Education Recovery grants. About $55 million of the funding will come from federal relief and the remaining $7.7 million will come from state funds.

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Federal Government Awards Virginia Money for Damage from February Winter Storms

Sidewalk covered in snow and parked vehicles

The federal government will award the Commonwealth of Virginia and local governments money related to the costs of damages from winter storms in mid-February, President Joe Biden announced.

Biden declared a major disaster for severe weather storms that happened between Feb. 11 and Feb. 13. Federal assistance will be available for the state, tribal and local recovery efforts related to the storms.

Funding is also available to some private nonprofits for the cost of emergency work and repair or replacement of facilities.

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Poll: Majority of Voters Blame Biden for Border ‘Crisis’

Border Patrol arrest illegal aliens

As the Biden administration continues to wrestle with an influx of people illegally crossing the southern border, new polling shows Americans are unhappy with the president’s handling of the issue.

Polling released Tuesday from Rasmussen reports that roughly two-thirds of Americans think “the current situation with migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is a crisis.”

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Gas Shortage and Price Hike Expected This Summer

A gas shortage is expected this summer not because there won’t be enough fuel but because there aren’t enough highly trained and licensed tanker drivers to transport it.

Many tanker drivers retired last year after demand for oil and gas plummeted because fewer people were traveling during the height of the pandemic. And most driving schools where new drivers could have received their training were closed due to state-mandated shutdowns. The two factors combined is resulting in a shortage of roughly 25% of tanker truck drivers needed to transport fuel, says the National Tank Truck Carriers, the trade association representing the tanker truck industry.

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Virginia Approves Nearly $900,000 in Grants to Aid Pharmaceutical Company Expansion

Gov. Ralph Northam approved nearly $900,000 in grants to help a pharmaceutical company expand its operations in Petersburg, Virginia.

The company, AMPAC Fine Chemicals, will expand its current facility on North Normandy Drive in the city. The company will invest about $25 million for the expansion and create 156 new jobs.

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Wyoming Becomes Latest State to Ban Vaccine Passports

People walking in airport

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday issued a directive blocking state agencies from using vaccine passports.

The directive requires state agencies, boards and commissions to “provide full access to state spaces and state services, regardless of a constituent’s COVID-19 vaccination status.”

The directive also urges local governments and private businesses to align their policies and practices with the state.

“Vaccine passport programs have the potential to politicize a decision that should not be politicized,” Gordon, a Republican, said in a statement. “They would divide our citizens at a time when unity in fighting the virus is essential, and harm those who are medically unable to receive the vaccine. While I strongly encourage Wyomingites over the age of 16 to get vaccinated against COVID-19, it is a personal choice based upon personal circumstances.”

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Republicans Debate Breaking up Big Tech After Trump’s Facebook Suspension

Smart phone with Facebook etched out

Many Republicans in Congress have reignited their calls to break up the big tech companies after Facebook announced last week they would maintain the suspension of former President Donald Trump’s account.

A new poll released by Rasmussen Friday found that 59% of likely voters “believe operators of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are politically biased in the decisions they make” with only 26% disagreeing. The rest are unsure.

The poll results went on to say that “a majority of voters now favor ending legal protections for social media companies.” The reported public opinion against the tech giants comes the same week Facebook announced they would keep Trump suspended from their platform, citing his alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

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Teachers Union Gave Nearly $20 Million to Dems Before Influencing CDC School Reopening Guidance

American Federation of Teachers

The teachers union in the middle of a scandal for influencing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official school reopening guidance gave nearly $20 million to Democrats in the 2020 election cycle, filings show.

Federal election filings reveal that the American Federation of Teachers and its local affiliates spent $19,903,532 on political donations during the 2020 cycle, with nearly all of the funds going to Democrats and liberal groups.

Last year’s AFT donations include $5,251,400 for the Democrats Senate Majority PAC and $4,600,000 for the Democratic House Majority PAC, according to data compiled by The Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets database.

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States, Political Parties Draw Battle Lines over Taxpayer Funding of Critical Race Theory

A grassroots group of conservatives and Republican state leaders is pushing back after the Biden administration tied federal education funding to adopting controversial critical race theory teachings in schools’ curriculum.

The Biden administration in April proposed a new Department of Education rule that gives preference in grant awarding to schools that incorporate into their curriculum content from the “1619 Project,” a controversial history project that is the most prominent work containing critical race theory ideas.

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Small Businesses Say Big Labor’s PRO Act Would Put Them Under

Rally goer holds up a "Small Business fighting for survival" sign

The Biden Administration sent some stock prices tumbling and left small businesses worried after taking sides on a hotly contested labor issue that critics say could threaten the jobs of millions of independent workers and thousands of small businesses.

In his address to the nation Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that would ban the use of freelance workers in most instances.

A report from the freelance site UpWork found that about 59 million gig workers make up $1.2 trillion of the U.S. economy.

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Texas Counties Declare Disaster over Border Crisis, More to Follow

Greg Abbott

Four Texas counties have issued disaster declarations and called on the governor for help because of escalated crime in their communities resulting from a surge in illegal immigration.

In response, Gov. Greg Abbott has asked counties and state agencies to report the financial costs to his office in an attempt to be reimbursed by the federal government for the strain being placed on law enforcement. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star last month in an effort to divert Texas DPS, Ranger, and National Guard resources to the border to reduce cartel- and other-related crimes stemming from the surge of illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Atascosa, Goliad, Kinney, and La Salle have issued disaster declarations, saying the “health, life, and property” of their residents are “under imminent threat of disaster from the human trafficking occurring on our border with Mexico.”

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Hawley Cites ‘Culture War’ in Proposal for Monthly Payments to Families with Children

Josh Hawley

Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”

The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.

“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”

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Republicans Push Back After Biden Lays Out Democratic Agenda

Tim Scott

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and other Republicans are speaking out against President Joe Biden’s agenda, which has become increasingly more wide-ranging and expensive since he took office.

Biden addressed Congress and the nation Wednesday night, when he laid out a litany of aggressive gun control, taxes and spending proposals. He also spoke on the historic nature of his vice president’s race and gender, police reform, and the war in Afghanistan.

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Survey: ‘Troubling’ Freedom of Association, Speech Concerns on U.S. College Campuses

A newly released survey of students at over 500 colleges and universities who belong to Greek-letter fraternities and sororities found that the majority of students don’t feel comfortable publicly disagreeing with their professors on a controversial topic.

“Students who aren’t able to freely express ideas among professors or peers are unlikely to realize the full measure of what higher education has to offer,” Nathan Harden, editor of RealClearEducation, said. “Students are equally underserved by campuses where they don’t feel that their student organizations are treated equally or welcomed on campus. Fostering an environment where students are free to explore a diversity of ideas is one of the chief goals of the university – and this includes the right to form voluntary associations based on shared interests or beliefs.”

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Gov. Gavin Newsom Faces Recall Election After Enough Petition Signatures Verified

The California Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Monday that it has received and verified enough signatures to trigger an election for the removal of Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.

Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber said Monday the threshold of verified signatures reported by counties had been met and exceeds the required amount of 1,495,709.

“A recall election will be held unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn,” Weber said.

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Report: U.S. National Debt Closer to $123 Trillion, Nearly $796,000 Per Household

The U.S. national debt is closer to $123 trillion, more than four times what the Treasury Department is reporting, Chicago-based Truth in Accounting calculates in its new annual analysis of the nation’s finances.

The federal government has $5.95 trillion in assets and $129.06 trillion worth of bills resulting in a $123.11 trillion shortfall, or a debt burden of $796,000 per U.S. household.

Because of this massive amount of debt and repeatedly poor financial decisions made by lawmakers, TIA gave the U.S. government an “F” grade for its financial condition.

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Biden Lays Out Aggressive Climate Agenda at World Summit

Sign that says "Climate Justice Now!"

President Joe Biden hosted a virtual climate summit with dozens of world leaders Thursday, the same day the White House released a set of aggressive climate goals. Critics say the plan could jeopardize the economy at a time it is recovering from record-breaking unemployment because of the pandemic and governments’ response to it.

First among those priorities is a pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2030.

“The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now,” the White House said in a statement. “Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice.”

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Senate GOP Counters Biden with $568 Billion Infrastructure Plan

Joe Biden

A group of Republican U.S. senators have unveiled a $568 billion plan that would look to rebuild and expand infrastructure nationwide and counter a more expensive proposal by President Joe Biden.

The GOP plan includes $299 billion for roads and bridges, $61 billion for public transit systems and $65 billion for broadband infrastructure. Also included in the plan is $20 billion for rail, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, $13 billion for safety, $17 billion in ports and inland waterways, $44 billion for airports and $14 billion for water storage.

Emphasized in the bill is the expediting of projects through regulatory processes and several measures to minimize new spending. The plan calls for repurposing federal COVID-19 relief funds that have remained unused, along with ensuring the federal debt is not increased.

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