Biden: Enough COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Available for All American Adults by End of May

Enough COVID-19 doses will be available by the end of May that every American adult who wants one can receive it, President Joe Biden said Tuesday, though it might take more time to administer all of the doses.

The news came the same day that drugmaker Merck announced it would help Johnson & Johnson produce millions of doses of its recently approved vaccine.

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Report: Nursing Homes See Sharp Drop in COVID Cases Since Vaccines Started

Nursing homes in the U.S. are seeing the lowest number of new COVID cases since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began tracking the data in May 2020,according to a new report from the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

The health care groups, which represent 14,000 nursing homes and long term care facilities in the U.S. that provide care to about five million people annually, say ythe study shows that the COVID-19 vaccines are working.

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Abbott to End Texas Shutdown and Mask Mandate Next Week

Nearly one year after first shutting down the state last March, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday announced Texas would reopen 100% beginning March 10. The statewide mask mandate is also terminated effective next Wednesday.

Abbott rescinded previous executive orders (GA-17, GA-25, GA-29, and GA-31) in a new order issued Tuesday, Executive Order (GA-34), because of the progress Texas has made in reducing the spread of the coronavirus, along with new treatments and greater availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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National Association Optimistic on Sales Growth for 2021

Retail sales in the U.S. could rise between 6.5% and 8.2% to more than $4.3 trillion this year as more people get the COVID-19 vaccine and the economy reopens, according to the National Retail Federation.

NRF president Matthew Shay said the economy is expected to see its fastest growth in over two decades.

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Measure Blocking Local Efforts to Defund Police Clears Georgia House

The Georgia House has approved a bill that would block local governments from cutting local police funding.

House Bill 286 bans counties and municipalities from reducing their police department budgets by more than 5% unless they are facing revenue shortages or other budget strains.

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Georgia Senate Approves Election Reform Package, Including Absentee Ballot Signature-Match Overhaul

The Georgia Senate approved four measures Tuesday that make changes to the election process as a response to November’s presidential election.

Georgia gained national attention after a close presidential election prompted three recounts and lawsuits and threats from former President Donald Trump’s campaign and supporters. Several questions and allegations arose from Georgia’s absentee-ballot process.

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Feds Threaten to Remove Work Requirement from Georgia’s Partial Medicaid Expansion

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could decide in a matter of weeks whether it will remove the work or activity requirement in Georgia’s partial Medicaid expansion plan.

The CMS said the plan, which was approved by former President Donald Trump’s administration in October, does not “promote the objectives of the Medicaid program” and would be impossible to accomplish because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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‘Comprehensive’ Methane Rule in Sight Under Biden Administration, Experts Say

Environmental experts said Thursday momentum behind the new presidential administration brings the promise of a comprehensive methane rule in sight – a move that would have a significant impact on Pennsylvania, one of the top natural gas-producing states.

Dan Grossman, senior director of advocacy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said controlling methane emissions from the oil and gas sector remains an important component of lowering greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which contribute to one quarter of the climate effects witnessed across the globe over the last decade, he said.

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Georgia to Provide More Than $550M in Rental, Utility Assistance

Georgia will provide $552 million in rent and utility assistance to landlords and tenants, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Friday.

The federal government provided the COVID-19-related aid through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, and it will be paid directly to landlords and utility companies.

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Gun Control Bills Quick to Pop up in Congress

Democratic congresswomen from New York and Texas each introduced several pieces of legislation that they say are aimed at curbing gun violence.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional District, introduced a package of five bills, three of which she also tried to get passed two years ago, shortly before the third anniversary of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida where 17 people were killed and another 17 injured by a former student.

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Economic Toll of Multiple Winter Storms Could Result in Billions of Dollars in Property, Agricultural Damage

The area currently covered by winter storm warnings over the continental U.S. is larger than the land area of Alaska.

Multiple winter storms are bringing snow, ice and dangerously cold temperatures as more than 100 million Americans are under a winter weather advisory, according to the National Weather Service.

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Georgia Legislature Approves $650M Spending Increase in Amended State Budget

The Georgia General Assembly approved a more than $650 million increase in spending for fiscal year 2021 on Thursday after lawmakers in the Senate and House came to agreement on an amended budget.

Lawmakers approved a plan that restores 60% of K-12 school funding and adds spending for public health, state employee raises, broadband internet expansion, higher education and state vehicles. The bill now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp for final approval.

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CBO: $15 Minimum Wage Would Lead to 1.4 Million Lost Jobs, Impacting Young, Less Educated the Most

Unemployment line

A $15 minimum wage would result in 1.4 million jobs lost and disproportionately hurt younger workers and those with less education, a new Congressional Budget Office report says.

President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

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$210M Broadband Internet Partnership to Connect 80K Georgians

Tens of thousands of rural Georgians are expected to gain access to high-speed internet under a private-sector partnership announced Monday by Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders.

The partnership between the Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (CGEMC), Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) and Conexon will serve 18 counties and provide broadband internet access to 80,000 homes and businesses, Kemp said.

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Commentary: States Taxing PPP Loans to Cover for Bad Decisions is Bad Business

The biggest gap in understanding how business truly works exists between two distinct groups of people: Those who have made a payroll and those who haven’t. 

Anyone who has run a business – small or large – would only be glad to tell you that it is equal parts fulfilling and terrifying. 

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National Mental Health Crisis Emerges Among Youth During Pandemic Lockdowns: Reports

Children and young adults are experiencing increased mental health issues, and suicide also is on the rise within the age group at least in part because of ongoing state shutdowns, according to several reports.

Within months of governors and local authorities shuttering schools, children were increasingly brought to emergency room doctors and specialists, according to a by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Report: Atlanta’s Debt Burden at $1,900 Per Resident

A recent report found Atlanta’s budget deficit would cost each of the city’s 500,000 residents $1,900 to balance, representing the 26th-lowest tax burden among the 75 most-populous cities in the U.S.

Truth in Accounting (TIA) released its fifth annual Financial State of the Cities analysis last week, examining the financial health of 75 of America’s most-populous cities and calculating how much each resident would have to pay to cover all of their city’s bills.

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Democrat-Sponsored PRO Act Would Invalidate Right-to-Work Laws in 27 States

U.S. House and Senate Democrats have reintroduced the PRO ACT, a sweeping pro-union bill that would wipe out right-to-work labor laws in 27 states.

Democrats argue the PRO Act will create safer workplaces and increase employee benefits by expanding union organizing. Those opposed to it argue it will force small businesses to close, cost an untold number of jobs and worsen the economy, and “impose a laundry list of other union boss power grabs.”

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Georgia Department of Labor Refutes Claim It Jeopardized State’s Financial Rating

Georgia Department of Labor officials said claims the agency caused a delay that could harm the state’s financial rating are inaccurate.

Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, said the state could be at risk of losing its AAA rating if the state auditor doesn’t receive additional documents from the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) to complete the state’s end-of-year comprehensive financial report.

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New Federal Rule: No More Surprise Hospital Bills and More Options for Consumers

Hospitals have begun publishing their actual costs of services, including discounted cash and negotiated rates as a result of a rule change implemented by former President Donald Trump. The rule was challenged by the American Hospital Association and others, who lost in federal district court.

An appeal to the court ruling has not yet been filed. While the association says it is calling on the new administration to adjust the rule, hospitals in the meantime must publish prices for the majority of the services and medications they provide.

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With New Administration, Record Number of People Bought Guns in January

Concerns about President Joe Biden’s potential restrictions on firearm purchases sent sales soaring in January, industry insiders said. More than 4.3 million people purchased guns in the first month of 2021, the highest number on record.

The 4.3 million purchases represent legal applications through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS); it excludes illegally purchased firearms.

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California Gas Prices Reach High of $3.27 a Gallon, 66 Cents More Than National Average

California gasoline prices reached the highest they’ve been since March 9, 2020, hitting $3.27 a gallon, according to a new gasoline benchmark published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

California gas prices are roughly 66 cents more than average price paid by consumers nationwide.

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National Park Service Requiring All Employees, Visitors to Wear Masks, in Line with Biden’s Federal Mask Mandate

The National Park Service (NPS) has implemented the federal mask mandate for all employees and visitors of national parks and facilities on Tuesday, the agency announced.

The NPS, which manages 423 properties across the country, is now in line with President Joe Biden’s executive order mandating masks on federal properties that he signed on Jan. 20, his first day in office. 

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Sen. Rand Paul, 24 Senators Introduce REIN Act to Curtail Federal Spending

Rand Paul

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, introduced a bill that would require any new regulation proposed by an executive branch department or agency to be approved by Congress if it is projected to cost $100 million or more to implement.

The bill, “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2021” (REIN), with 24 Republican cosponsors, was introduced after President Joe Biden on his first day in office signed an executive order to repeal deregulation efforts implemented by the previous administration.

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Report: Majority of U.S. Cities Unprepared for Financial Fallout from Statewide Shutdowns

The majority of U.S. cities were ill-prepared for any financial crisis last year, let alone the one brought about by their respective state shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report published by the nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA) concludes.

The annual assessment surveys the fiscal health of the 75 largest municipalities in the U.S. based on fiscal year 2019 data. TIA reviewed audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports filed by city halls across the country and concluded that even the fiscally healthiest cities are projected to lose millions of dollars in revenue as a result of state shutdowns on top of their previously existing poor fiscal health.

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Labor Experts: Biden’s Unusual Firing of NLRB General Counsel Possibly ‘Unlawful’

Just minutes after taking office on Jan. 20, President Joe Biden’s Office of Presidential Personnel demanded that Senate-confirmed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb resign. Robb refused, citing the unprecedented nature of the demand, and was fired.

His deputy, Alice Stock, also was asked to resign, refuses, and was fired the next day.

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Cuomo Administration Pushes Back Against Accusations It Withheld Data on COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

Hours after New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report over how the state reported deaths at nursing homes due to COVID-19, state Heath Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker went on the offensive.

Zucker claimed the attorney general’s report affirmed the total number of deaths overall and that the state has repeatedly said its policy is to count deaths by where they occurred.

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Six Attorneys General Warn Biden Administration of Lawsuits over Executive Orders

Six attorneys general sent a letter to President Joe Biden warning him that many of the executive orders he issued in his first week in office will be challenged on constitutional grounds.

Any actions he takes that might exceed statutory authority, are inconsistent with constitutional law or risk civil liberties could result in legal action brought by states, attorneys general from West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana and Texas warned in the letter.

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U.S. Senate Escapes Gridlock After Two Democrats Promise to Protect Filibuster

After receiving commitments from two Democratic colleagues that they wouldn’t abolish the filibuster, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’ll hand over the chamber’s legislative gavels to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

The U.S. Senate is actually split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, but Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

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Georgia Lawmakers Say Tax-Credit Audit, Tobacco Tax Hike Could Deepen State Coffers

State leaders and economists believe Georgia’s fiscal outlook is promising despite the economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, but some lawmakers say the state can do more to secure additional revenue.

Sens. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta; and House Minority Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, said the state needs to re-evaluate its tax incentive programs to eliminate waste and ensure tax equity.

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Georgia Democrats to Push for More Funding for County Jails

A group of Democratic lawmakers in Georgia wants more state funding for local jails to improve mental health services and accountability.

Reps. Sandra Scott, D-Rex; Kim Schofield, D-Atlanta; and David Wilkerson, D-Powder Springs, held Monday the first of a series of town hall meetings focused on jail reform.

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Biden Plans to Reverse Abortion Policies of Previous Administration

Just days after former President Donald Trump declared Jan. 22 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day, newly sworn-in President Joe Biden disregarded the designation and pledged to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law to prevent any changes that might occur if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

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Georgia Department of Economic Development Seeks State Funding to Restore Tourism Industry

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is asking for an additional $1 million to stimulate the state’s hard-hit tourism industry.

GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson told lawmakers Friday the state has lost billions of tourism dollars and has seen massive industry job loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Texas Governor, Attorney General to Sue Biden over Immigration

Texas plans to sue the Biden administration over several executive orders recently issued, and immigration policy is front and center.

“A new crop of Texas-led lawsuits awaits Joe Biden’s White House,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “Texas will take action whenever the federal government encroaches on state’s rights, or interferes with constitutional rights, or private property rights or the right to earn a living.”

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State Economist: Georgia Business Owners Deserve Credit for Keeping State’s Economy Afloat

Georgia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should be strong and swift, the state’s fiscal economist said Tuesday.

Georgia’s economy has been supported by federal aid, a recovering job market and business owners’ improvisation, state economist Jeffrey Dorfman told the House and Senate appropriations committees during a joint meeting Tuesday.

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Missouri Becomes First State in U.S. to No Longer Perform Abortions

Missouri has become the first state in the U.S. where abortions are no longer performed.

A total of 45 abortion facilities closed or halted abortions nationwide in 2020, including in Missouri, which is now the only state without an active abortion facility, according to a survey conducted by Operation Rescue, a pro-life activist organization.

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U.S. Deficit 60.7 Percent Higher Than This Time Last Year

The federal deficit in the first three months of the budget year is 60.7 percent higher than over the same time period as last year, a record-breaking $572.9 billion.

The deficit surged as a result of Congressional spending of $3.5 trillion in 2020 in response to the coronavirus, although critics note that spending on pork barrel programs that had nothing to do with the virus increased and also drove the deficit. At the same time, revenue declined because of ongoing state lockdowns.

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Trump Touts Success of 450 Miles of Border Wall

President Donald Trump on Tuesday hailed the completion of 450 miles of border wall completed long the U.S.-Mexican border and praised the men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

At a news conference held at the Mexico–U.S. border in Reynosa–McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, Trump said the border is more secure than it’s ever been.

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Unemployed Workers Sue Georgia Department of Labor over Unprocessed Jobless Claims

Six unemployed Georgians are suing the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) for its failure to process their unemployment claims.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Georgia, Lisa English was a contracted bookkeeper for a retail company in Fulton County. She was laid off for eight weeks because of the public health shutdowns and applied for unemployment benefits.

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Georgia Lawmaker Seeks More Transparency in Developing Tax-Incentive Proposals

A Georgia lawmaker is pushing for more transparency in tax-incentive proposals for developers ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, has pre-filed a legislative package that would allow local governments and school systems to be involved in the development of annexation and tax-abatement plans.

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Ralston: Georgia Lawmakers to Address Election Reform, COVID-19 Relief in Legislative Session

Election policy reform will be a top priority for Georgia lawmakers when the General Assembly convenes next week, House Speaker David Ralston said Thursday.

Ralston said he plans to appoint a special committee on election integrity to increase confidence in the state’s voting process.

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Paul’s Annual Report Details More Than $54B in Wasteful Federal Government Spending

Congress “spent as never before, doing so ostensibly without a care” in 2020, greatly contributing to what is now a $3.1 trillion deficit, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, argues in his annual wasteful spending report.

At the same time, initial 15-day lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus turned into nearly year-long lockdowns, Paul said, “wreaking havoc on Americans’ health, sanity, and economy, while also empowering petty tyrants across the country.”

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Congress Affirms Biden Electoral College Votes; Trump Agrees to ‘Orderly Transition’

A joint session of Congress, completing its work in the early morning hours of Thursday after lawmakers had been forced to flee their chambers by a violent invasion of the Capitol, affirmed that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.

The proceedings concluded shortly after 3:30 a.m. EST, drawing to a close an chaotic day in the nation’s house of laws that saw one person shot dead inside the building after some rioters breached its security during a massive rally to support President Trump.

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Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Halting Ratification of Electoral College Vote by Congress

Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday afternoon, interrupting the congressional session that was meeting to confirm the Electoral College votes.

Hundreds of protesters were shown on television news coverage walking through Statuary Hall without having gone through any security checkpoints. Debate was halted, and lawmakers were ordered to return to their offices and shelter in place. Legislators were told they may need to hide under their chairs and to be quiet and not draw attention to themselves.

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New House Rules to Eliminate Gendered Terms Like ‘Father, Mother, Son, Daughter’

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern announced new rules for the 117th Congress, which will be introduced and voted on after the new Congress convenes.

The rules include “sweeping ethics reforms, increases accountability for the American people, and makes this House of Representatives the most inclusive in history” – including eliminating the words, “father, mother, son, and daughter,” from federal code.

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Almost 100 Million Americans Plan to Make Finances a New Year’s Resolution in 2021

business meeting

About 97 million Americans say they plan to make a New Year’s resolution for 2021 that involves their financial situation, compared to 66 million who said they’ve done so in the past, according to a new survey by WalletHub.

Of those who responded to the survey, more than a third say their top financial resolution will be to save more money. With that in mind, WalletHub came up with suggestions that can help you save more and spend less.

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Treasury Sending Out $600 Stimulus Checks This Week

A second round of stimulus checks, this time in the amount of $600, is being sent out this week, the U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday.

Referred to as economic impact payments, the $600 check individuals will receive is part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, a bill President Donald Trump signed Sunday.

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