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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Warner, Kaine Introduce Red-Flag, Other Federal Gun Control Changes to Mirror Virginia Law

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner introduced federal gun control legislation Thursday to mirror some of the laws that recently passed their home state of Virginia.

The policies include expanding background checks, limiting handgun purchases and enacting red flag laws at a national level. The senators are calling the legislation the Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence Act.

“Virginia knows all too well the heartbreaking consequences of gun violence,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “We’ve seen it in the tragedies of Virginia Tech and Virginia Beach and the countless drive-by shootings, domestic violence, and suicides by firearm across the country. We’re proud of the Commonwealth for leading the way to advance gun reform; now it’s time for Congress to save lives.”

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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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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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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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Gov. Northam Seeks Greater COVID-19 Executive Authority in Proposed Budget Amendments

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed 18 amendments to the budget legislation passed by the General Assembly, which includes giving the executive branch more authority to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also propose three language amendments to ensure our ability to continue responding to needs related to the COVID pandemic by giving agencies the flexibility to respond and the authority to address the opportunities presented by the federal funding such as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), until we can address the matter fully at a special session,” Northam said in a letter to the House of Delegates.

One amendment to the budget would grant the director of the Department of Planning and Budget the authority to direct the additional Medicaid revenue from the recent federal stimulus plan to current services. Another would grant the superintendent of public instruction the authority to issue temporary flexibility or waivers for deadlines and requirements that cannot be met because of the COVID-19 state of emergency and school closures.

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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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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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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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Lawsuit Claims Northam’s COVID-19 Restrictions Discriminate Against Certain Businesses

A lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke claims COVID-19 restrictions imposed by Gov. Ralph Northam discriminate against certain businesses while allowing others to operate more freely.

Northam recently eased the COVID-19 restrictions on outdoor gatherings for amusement and entertainment venues. However, the governor failed to include wedding venues and other businesses in the recent change.

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Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

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Ducey Removes Arizona’s COVID-19 Restrictions on Businesses

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has rescinded the business restrictions he put in place last year to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Ducey’s latest executive order, which he signed Friday, removes the capacity limits on businesses he had put in place July 9, effective immediately. 

“We’ve learned a lot over the past year,” Ducey said. “Our businesses have done an excellent job at responding to this pandemic in a safe and responsible way. We will always admire the sacrifice they and their employees have made and their vigilance to protect against the virus.”

Ducey said Arizona, unlike many other states, never shut down.

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