Proposal Would Send Inflation Relief Checks to Michiganders

All Michigan taxpayers will get inflation relief checks and retirees will average four-figure savings in a plan Michigan’s top Democrats say answers the call for helping families.

The size of those relief checks wasn’t announced. 

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Senator Calls for Apple, Alphabet to Boot TikTok from App Stores

A U.S. Senator has called on the nation’s top tech companies to break up with the popular short-form video service TikTok.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, asked Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to remove TikTok from the company app stores immediately over national security concerns.

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Sanders Tapped to Give Republican Response to State of the Union

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will give the Republican address following President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week. 

“Americans are still struggling from inflation, a border crisis, record crime, and a failing school system,” said Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in a news release. “As House Republicans work to fix these problems in Congress with our Commitment to America, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders is addressing them head-on with her conservative agenda outside of Washington.”

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Detroit Gets $24 Million to Reduce Traffic Deaths

The city of Detroit will receive $24.8 million to redesign existing transportation infrastructure in high crash areas to reduce traffic fatalities.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the money is part of $800 million in grant awards for 510 projects through the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program.

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Bill Seeks to Cap Pay for Diversity Employees at Department of Defense

Two Republican Congressmen have filed legislation that would limit the pay of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employees at the Department of Defense to that of front-line soldiers. 

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, introduced legislation Wednesday that would cap the amount of compensation for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion employees at the Department of Defense to the rank of E-5, which is $31,000 a year. U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, introduced companion legislation in the House.

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Marines Continue Fight with Department of Defense over Vaccine Mandate

Several members of the U.S. Marines are still fighting the U.S. Department of Defense in a lawsuit they filed over its August 2021 COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The DOD asked the court to dismiss the case after Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was forced to drop the mandate by Congress. President Joe Biden, who strongly opposed repealing the mandate, agreed to repealing it when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law in December.

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U.S. Economy Adds 517,000 Jobs as Unemployment Drops to Lowest Since 1969

The U.S. economy added 517,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate dropped to 3.4%, the lowest since May 1969.

By comparison, there were 260,000 jobs added in December 2022 and the 517,000 was the largest increase since 568,000 in July 2022, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Michigan State Superintendent Opposes Retention Part of ‘Read-by-Three’ Law

The Democrat-dominated Michigan Legislature wants to scrap the retention part of the 2016 read-by-grade-three law.

Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, introduced Senate Bill 12, which aims to stop the state from possibly holding students back who are one or more grade levels behind on reading. The law also requires reading intervention and ongoing monitoring assessments to support student literacy.

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Biden’s Second Home in Delaware Searched by FBI for Classified Documents

President Joe Biden’s personal residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, was searched by the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday as part of an ongoing probe into classified documents, according to a statement released by Biden’s personal attorney. “Today, with the President’s full support and cooperation, the DOJ is conducting a planned search of his home in Rehoboth, Delaware,” attorney Bob Bauer said in a statement. “Under DOJ’s standard procedures, in the interests of operational security and integrity, it sought to do this work without advance public notice, and we agreed to cooperate.”

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Overregulation Can Limit Reach, Effectiveness of U.S. Charities

Overregulation of charitable organizations can make it more difficult to get care to residents where they need it most, according to a new study from Philanthropy Roundtable, a Washington D.C.-based organization dedicated to protecting philanthropic freedom. 

The group’s analysis classified state regulations of charities into five categories: start-up regulations, annual reporting requirements, rules for paid solicitors, audit mandates and oversight regulations. Pacific Research Institute economist Wayne Winegarden wrote the report, The 50 State Index of Charity Regulations, for Philanthropy Roundtable.

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Wyoming Bill Would Allocate Resources to Fund Border Wall

Republican lawmakers in Wyoming are advancing legislation that would appropriate more than $5 million toward border security efforts in Texas, Arizona and Florida.

SF0166, “Border wall and sanctuary city transport,” was filed by Republican state Sen. Larry Hicks, with Sens. Dave Kinskey, John Kolb and Cheri Steinmetz cosponsoring. Republican state Reps. John Bear, Donald Burkhart, Mark Jennings, and Ember Oakley filed the House companion bill.

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Michigan Doctor Sentenced to More Than 16 Years for His Role in Healthcare Fraud, ‘Shots-for-Pills’ Scheme

A Michigan doctor was sentenced to 16.5 years in prison for his part in a health care fraud scheme that billed more than $250 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, Medicaid, and health insurance programs and illegally distributed over 6.6 million doses of opioids.

In September 2021, Francisco Patino, M.D., 68, of Wayne County, was convicted at trial in the Eastern District of Michigan of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and pay and receive health care kickbacks, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering.

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Republican U.S. Senators File Bill to End China’s Permanent Normal Trade Status

Several Republican senators filed a bill on Friday to end China’s Permanent Normal Trade Status (PNTR), citing concerns over American job losses and human rights abuses overseas. The China Trade Relations Act, which would strip China of its PNTR, was filed by U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Rick Scott, R-Fla., Ted Budd, R-N.C., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio.

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SPN Poll: Parents Support School Choice

More than six out of every 10 voters with children under 18 would be receptive to the prospect of their child attending a school outside of their locally zoned public district, a new State Policy Network poll finds. Overall, the SPN State Voices opinion poll of roughly 2,000 registered voters conducted in partnership with Morning Consult through online interviews found that 62% of respondents said they would interested in such an option, some 30% of them very much so.

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Legislative ‘Adopt and Amend’ Procedure Upheld on Michigan Ballot Proposals

The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld the process by which Republican legislators amended two 2018 ballot initiatives passed by Michigan voters.

One ballot proposal would have increased the state’s minimum wage to $12 per hour in 2023 and increased tipped wages to the full minimum wage. A second ballot measure would have forced businesses to adopt extensive paid sick leave for employees. The proposals would have gone into effect on Feb. 20.

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25 States Sue Biden Administration over Federal ESG Policy

Twenty-five attorneys general and several other plaintiffs have sued the Biden administration asking the court to halt a federal ESG policy that could negatively impact the retirement savings of 152 million Americans. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Northern District Amarillo Division naming Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh and the U.S. Department of Labor as defendants.

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Agriculture Economists See Several Concerns for Farmers in 2023

Farmers aren’t likely to enjoy a calm year this year, according to agricultural economists from Purdue University. After a year of dealing with historic inflation rates, farmers must now be prepared for an economic downturn that could spark a recession. However, there’s even more uncertainty across the horizon, said Roman Keeney, an associate professor of economics at Purdue’s College of Agriculture.

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Government Report: Unemployment Fraud May Top $60 Billion During Pandemic

A U.S. government report released Monday estimates that there could have been more than $60 billion in unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic. The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office says that figure is an estimate spread over the entire unemployment system and should be “interpreted with caution.”

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer Calls for ‘Immediate’ Relief in State of the State Address

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for “immediate” relief to some Michiganders from rising prices in her State of the State address Wednesday evening.

Whitmer, the Democrat who won a second term in November, said three proposals will make a “real difference” to many residents who are “facing the pinch right now” at the grocery store and with medical bills and prescription costs.

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Study: Michigan Toll Roads Could Cost $10 Billion Now to Raise $2 Billion by 2030

The Michigan Department of Transportation has commissioned a study about enacting highway toll roads to raise revenue to fix roads.

The study follows a growing tax revenue hole from increasing fuel efficiency that leads to fewer fillups at the pump and more electric vehicles whose drivers don’t pay state or federal fuel tax.

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Michigan Court Approves $20 Million Unemployment Fraud Settlement

The Michigan Court of Claims has entered an order certifying the $20 million class-action settlement against the Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The settlement resolves a class-action lawsuit against the agency claimed in 2013 it falsely accused unemployment recipients of fraud and seized private property without due process.

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Michigan Mayor Blames Residents for Crime

After being sued for violating the First Amendment, Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens spent 15 minutes at Tuesday’s council meeting airing her grievances against the public. Owens complained that at a previous meeting, her daughter heard a member of the public criticizing her.

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Eighteen State AGs Voicing Support for New York Gun-Industry Liability Law

A coalition of 18 state attorneys general, all Democrats, on Wednesday submitted an amicus brief in support of New York’s firearms industry accountability law.

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Border Patrol Agents Report More than 300,000 Apprehensions, Gotaways in December Alone

At least 225,797 people were apprehended entering the U.S. illegally nationwide in December, according to official U.S. Customs and Border Protection data released late Friday.

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Existing Home Sales Slid 17.8 Percent Last Year

Sales of existing homes fell 17.8% in 2022, marking the weakest sales performance since 2014 as interest rates climbed. Interest rates rose quickly last year, a factor that weighed on the residential real estate market. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.15% as of Jan. 19, down from 6.33% last week, but up from 3.56% a year ago, according to Freddie Mac.

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Report: Michigan Legislature Gave Private Company $4 Million

The Michigan Legislature is supposed to make laws and spend taxpayer money wisely and transparently.

But a report from the Detroit News says the GOP-led Legislature gave $4 million to a for-profit company, with an unclear return on investment for taxpayers. The details of the corporate handout weren’t discovered until months after the appropriation.

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Arizona Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Abolish the State Income Tax

by Cole Lauterbach   Although Arizona’s state income tax recently dropped to one of the lowest in the nation, a rookie lawmaker disagrees with the concept of having an income tax at all.  State Rep. Austin Smith, a West Valley Republican, filed House Bill 2395. He said taxpayers have struggled to make…

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Michigan to Begin $81 Million Opioid Settlement Distribution

Michigan’s government is expected to receive part of $81 million from two multi-state opioid settlements later this month.

“I am relieved the court ruled in accordance with the law, and I thank the judge for the keen attention she paid to this important matter,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “It’s critical that communities throughout Michigan are indemnified for the harm they suffered due to the recklessness of the opioid manufacturers and distributors. The frivolous challenge by Ottawa County delayed millions of dollars from being put to good use to help Michigan residents our communities recover.”

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Report: Children Under 14 Dying from Fentanyl Poisoning at Faster Rate than Any Other Age Group

Children under age 14 are dying from fentanyl poisoning at a faster rate than any other age group in the U.S., according to a new analysis from Families Against Fentanyl.

In the past two years, synthetic opioid (fentanyl) deaths among children surged.

Fentanyl-related deaths among infants (children under age one) quadrupled from 2019 to 2021; more than tripled among children between the ages of 1 and 4 and nearly quadrupled among children between the ages of 5 and 14.

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New Bill Would Ban Feds from Working with Big Tech to Censor Americans

Leading Republican lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives filed new legislation that would ban federal employees from working with big tech companies to censor Americans.

The bill comes as ongoing reports show that federal law enforcement and the White House have regularly communicated with social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, pressuring the companies to remove posts and accounts for a range of issues, including questioning the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Michigan Projects $9.2B Surplus, Which Could Trigger a Tax Cut

Despite a possible mild recession, Michigan’s fiscal experts project a $9.2 billion taxpayer surplus that could trigger a tax cut.

Nonpartisan fiscal agencies project Michigan will gather $32.4 billion in revenue for the 2022-23 fiscal year.

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Nation Health Agency Spends Millions on Equity, LGBT Issues Instead of Researching Cures

Congress’ recent $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill increased the budget for medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health to nearly $50 billion in 2023 alone. A closer look at the agency reveals that NIH is increasingly spending its time, and funds, on equity and LGBT issues as well as “systemic racism and inequities.”

The National Institutes of Health has devoted millions of taxpayer dollars toward these kinds of issues for their research, taxpayer money that did not go to the federal health agency’s primary research goal of finding cures and medical treatments.

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Feds Borrowed $4 Billion Per Day in 2022, Totaling $10K Per Household

Federal debt soared by $1.4 trillion in 2022 as President Joe Biden and Congress approved multiple new spending packages.

The Congressional Budget Office released the final details of federal spending in 2022 showing the federal government had a $1.4 trillion deficit last year, borrowing roughly $82 billion in December alone. 

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Americans Needing Help with Food Feel Negative Impact of $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Bill

Emergency allotments for food benefits were more than $2 billion nationwide from March 2020 to this past December.

Congressional passage and Democratic President Joe Biden’s signing of the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill the last week of December signaled the end to those extra benefits. Many states, in the two weeks since, have been steadily announcing changes to their respective Food and Nutrition Services programs. February will be the last of the additional help.

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Biden’s Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Loses in Court Again

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost applauded a federal appeals court decision to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Cincinnati agreed late Thursday with a lower court ruling that imposed a preliminary injunction on the proposed mandate that would have also required tens of millions of Americans to wear face masks at work.

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Michigan Legislature Sets Stage for Policy Battle

Michigan Democrats filed bills aiming to fulfill a 40-year pending wishlist, which include restoring the prevailing wage and repealing right to work.

Other bills filed include repealing the retirement tax, boosting the earned income  tax credit, and repealing the 1931 abortion ban despite a constitutional amendment voiding the law.

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Biden Touts Falling Food Prices When They Are Actually Rising

President Joe Biden touted falling food prices Thursday, but the latest federal data shows the price of food is actually on the rise and has been for more than a year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation data Thursday that showed the overall consumer price index dropped 0.1%, driven in part by a decrease in energy prices.

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Detroit Charter Schools Tout College Enrollment Numbers

As Michigan Democrats holding a political trifecta aim to regulate charter schools, data from the graduating class of 2021 show that the top eight open-enrollment high schools for college enrollment in Detroit are all charter schools.

Researchers from Grand Valley State University’s Charter Schools Office analyzed which high schools had the most students enrolling in college within six months of graduation.

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Michigan’s Proposed $12.5M Alcona County Community Center Draws Scrutiny

A town of about 300 people in rural Michigan received $12.5 million from the Michigan Legislature to build a senior center.

The money was allocated from the budget approved last summer. Now, the Alcona County Commission on Aging plans to build a complete community hub in Lincoln, consisting of the senior center, housing, and recreation facilities to encourage younger people to interact with seniors.

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Poll: More Americans Oppose Biden’s Immigration Policies than Support Them

More Americans polled in a recent Los Angeles Times/YouGov survey expressed opposition to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies as opposed to supporting them, including catch and release and not detaining and deporting millions of people who’ve illegally entered the U.S. since he’s been in office.

They also expressed support for local and state governments doing more when the federal government fails to do its job.

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DHS Chief Mayorkas Insists Border is Closed as Biden Tours El Paso

Ahead of President Biden’s first trip to the southern border on Sunday in El Paso, Texas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas again said the U.S. southern border is closed.

His comments came despite thousands of illegal border crossers pouring into the city, filling the airport, sidewalks, homeless shelters. Over the past few days, many were bused out of town and otherwise cleared out ahead of the president’s visit.

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