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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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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Kemp Suspends Embattled Mayor After Fraud, Identity Theft Charges

Gregory Carswell Jr.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has suspended Waynesboro Mayor Gregory Carswell Jr. from office after the mayor’s indictment on felony fraud, forgery and theft charges.

Carswell, an evangelical pastor, was elected mayor of the city outside of Augusta in 2017. He was indicted in December on one count of identity fraud, one count of theft by taking, one count of theft by deception and one count of forgery in the second degree. Carswell announced May 17 he was taking a leave of absence as mayor because of his legal troubles and personal issues.

“Of course, you know we have legal issues that are going on, and we want to deal with those, and we want the citizens to have the full confidence and trust and knowing the people they elected are going to do the best things for them,” Carswell said at the May 17 city council meeting.

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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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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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Georgia Lawmakers to Study Crime in Atlanta

Police line do not cross tape

Georgia lawmakers will study the rise in crime in Atlanta this summer.

The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee plans to hold a series of hearings to look at the causes and solutions for the increase in crime in the state’s capital city.

“We want to have productive hearings that can get down to exactly what’s going on because, as you all know, the success of the city of Atlanta is directly impacted by the success of Georgia and vice versa,” Committee Chair J. Collins, R-Villa Rica, said.

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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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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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Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Gets $100K Raise

Commissioner: Russell R. McMurry

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry has received a $100,000 raise, making him one of the highest-paid unelected state officials in Georgia.

The State Transportation Board unanimously approved McMurry’s 29% raise Thursday without debate, increasing his salary from $350,000 to $450,000.

McMurry started his career with the department in 1990. He was the planning director before being appointed commissioner by the board in 2015.

McMurry’s salary in fiscal year 2015 was more than $165,000. McMurry’s salary climbed from $185,000 in fiscal year 2016 to $250,000 in fiscal year 2017 and $336,000 in fiscal year 2018. He used an average of $6,900 in travel expenses over the past six year

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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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Kemp Extends Suspension of Georgia Gas Tax by a Week

"Sorry out of service" bag covering gas pump

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s temporary suspension of the fuel tax through May 22 as Colonial Pipeline works to become fully operational after a cyberattack.

Kemp issued an executive order Monday that suspended the gas tax, increased weight limits for trucks transporting fuel and prohibited price gouging. The order was set to expire Saturday before Kemp extended it Friday.

“While Colonial Pipeline is now operational, the company has informed the public that it will be a few days until full service is available statewide,” Kemp said in a statement. “This executive order will ensure fuel supply chains have every resource needed to deliver gas quickly and safely, and that Georgians aren’t hit with state gas taxes at the pump during this shortage. I continue to ask Georgians to only purchase the fuel they need for essential travel through the upcoming weekend.”

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Economic Development Roundup: Charging Station Producer Heliox Opening Headquarters in Georgia

Black, electric car being charged at charging station

E-mobility charging systems producer Heliox is establishing its North American headquarters in Atlanta, creating more than 70 clean-energy jobs, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said.

Netherlands-based Heliox makes fast-charging systems for electric vehicles. It has installed more than 1,600 fast-charging points worldwide.

The headquarters is expected to open June 1 and will include a campus for research and development and corporate offic

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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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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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Kemp Signs School-Choice Expansion Bills in Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a trio of bills Thursday to expand education options in Georgia.

Senate Bill 47 expands the state’s Special Needs Scholarship program to students with 504 Plans. The program offers scholarships for students with individualized education plans to attend a private school or a public school of their choice.

“COVID-19 has certainly highlighted the challenges that families face and finding the right education for their child, especially those with special needs,” Kemp said Thursday during a bill signing ceremony at the state Capitol. “This bill will give more parents greater options to ensure their child has every opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

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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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Kemp Approves Paid Parental Leave for State Workers in Georgia

State workers will have three weeks of paid parental leave under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

Under House Bill 146, state government or local school board employees who worked at least 700 hours over the six months preceding the requested paid leave date can qualify for the paid time off after the birth of a child, adoption of a child or taking in of a foster child. Paid parental leave would be granted only once a calendar year.

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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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Gov. Abbott: Smugglers Transporting 2,000 People Every Day Through Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott gave Americans a view of the Texas border area being breached every day by cartels and human smugglers in an interview on Sunday with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo. Flying above the Rio Grande River, he said 2,000 people are entering Texas every day in rafts, boats, and through gaps in the unfinished border wall.
Abbott said known criminals are entering Texas and the U.S. illegally as a result of the Biden administration’s open border policies. In the month of March alone, the Texas Department of Public Safety made 598 criminal arrests and 16,000 referrals to U.S. Border Patrol. Many being arrested are known criminals, sex-offenders and gang members, he said.
Abbott said the Biden administration’s border policies “have created an open season for human traffickers, for drug smugglers, for drug cartels and gangs.

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Biden Promotes 'Free' Community College for Americans, 'Dreamers'

President Joe Biden touted a key part of his education initiative Monday, pushing for two years of free community college nationwide, but some critics question the long-term efficacy of his plan.
Biden spoke at Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia, to promote his proposal, which would provide, among other things, $109 billion for two years of tuition-free community college.
“Do we want to give the wealthiest people in America another tax cut, or do you want to give every high school graduate the ability to earn a community college degree?” Biden asked during his speech, arguing that 12 years of schooling is not long enough in the modern economy. “That’s why the American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – two years of universal, high-quality pre-school and two years of free community college.”

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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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University System of Georgia Board Freezes Tuition, Fees

Students walking on college campus

Students at Georgia’s public universities and colleges will pay the same amount in tuition and fees during the next academic year.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted this month to freeze the rates for the second consecutive year. It is the fourth time in six years the USG board has not raised tuition rates.

“USG over the past several years has remained committed to making public higher education as affordable as possible for students and their families, while maintaining results that rank our campuses among some of the best in the nation,” USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “We are grateful for the support of the board and state leaders toward this priority, and recognize students’ hard work, especially over the past year, to maintain success toward graduating and entering Georgia’s workforce with college degrees.”

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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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University System of Georgia Board Freezes Tuition, Fees

Students walking on college campus

Students at Georgia’s public universities and colleges will pay the same amount in tuition and fees during the next academic year.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (USG) voted this month to freeze the rates for the second consecutive year. It is the fourth time in six years the USG board has not raised tuition rates.

“USG over the past several years has remained committed to making public higher education as affordable as possible for students and their families, while maintaining results that rank our campuses among some of the best in the nation,” USG Chancellor Steve Wrigley said. “We are grateful for the support of the board and state leaders toward this priority, and recognize students’ hard work, especially over the past year, to maintain success toward graduating and entering Georgia’s workforce with college degrees.”

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More Rural Georgia Counties to Get Internet Upgrade under Private-Sector Deal

Workers installing broadband internet

More rural Georgians are expected to gain access to high-speed internet under a private-sector partnership announced this week by Conexon Connect.

Conexon Connect is collaborating with Middle Georgia EMC to provide broadband access to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses in Dooly, Houston, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox and Ben Hill counties.

“Our members have waited long enough for high-speed access to make telemedicine, remote learning, working from home and videoconferencing with loved ones a reality on a daily basis,” Middle Georgia EMC President and CEO Randy Crenshaw said. “Connect is making it possible for our cooperative to deliver this vital service at last. We are ready to show them all the opportunities that open up in a more connected community.”

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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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Georgia AG: Biden’s Climate Change Working Group Could Cost Georgia Jobs

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said President Joe Biden’s executive order addressing climate change is an authoritative overreach that could kill a selection of Georgia jobs and impose more burdens on Americans.

Georgia has joined nine other states in suing the Biden administration over the order, which creates the Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases. The working group is required to publish estimations on the social costs of carbon, nitrous oxide and methane, then make recommendations to the administration on how federal agencies should incorporate the social costs into their regulatory decision-making processes.

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Gov. Kemp Signs Georgia Lodging Tax, Income Tax Credit for Teachers Bills

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Hotels, motels, short-term rentals and most lodging facilities in Georgia will be required to pay a $5-a-night excise tax as of July 1.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 317 into law. It imposes the fee on all lodging facilities and rooms except those that do not provide shelter and extended-stay rentals. Extended-stay rentals allow guests to occupy a room or facility for at least 30 consecutive days.

HB 317, which Kemp signed Wednesday, also requires online short-term rental companies such as Airbnb to collect hotel and motel excise taxes and pay them to local governments.

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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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Feds Cancel Second Quarter Oil and Gas Lease Sales

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said Wednesday the agency is canceling oil and gas lease sales for the second quarter, drawing criticism from Wyoming’s governor.

The announcement marks the second quarter in a row that the agency, which manages energy development, recreation, grazing and conservation on 245 million federal acres, halted lease sales after President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that included a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands. 

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House Democrats Pass Legislation That Would Make Washington, D.C., Nation’s 51st State

Washington DC

Democrats in the House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would make Washington, D.C. the 51st state in the union, a move that would almost certainly strengthen the Democrats’ Senate majority and bolster their ranks in the House.

The bill passed, 216-208, without any Republican support.

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