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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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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Connecticut Leaders React to LEGO’s Decision to Move Headquarters

Connecticut leaders are lamenting LEGO Group’s decision to move its corporate headquarters to neighboring Massachusetts, but argue the state will bounce back. 

The company announced it will be relocating from its office in Enfield to Boston by the end of 2026, as part of a strategy to “support the business’s long-term growth ambitions.” The office, which opened in 1975, has roughly 740 employees, who will be given the option to work at the new Boston office.

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Report: Connecticut Home Visit Program Curbs Absenteeism

A federally funded Connecticut program that pays for “home visits” to check on chronically absent students has reduced truancy, according to a new report. 

The report by the Center for Connecticut Education Research Collaboration said the state’s Learner Engagement and Attendance Program found student attendance rates increased by approximately 4% in the month following an initial visit. 

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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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Lamont Pitches Plan to Overhaul Connecticut’s Pass-Through Tax Credit

Gov. Ned Lamont wants to update Connecticut’s pass-through entity tax credit, which he says will save business owners, and the state more money.

The plan, a key component of Lamont’s yet-to-be-unveiled budget proposal, calls for restoring Connecticut’s pass-through entity tax credit back to its original level of 93.01%, allowing certain business owners to claim a larger credit on personal income tax returns.

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Connecticut Lawmakers Want Answers for Rejected Army Contract

Connecticut’s congressional delegation is calling on the Army to provide more details about its decision to reject a local company’s bid for a multimillion dollar defense contract to build long-range helicopters. In a letter to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes and Jahana Hayes request a “detailed briefing” by the Army about why Sikorsky’s bid to build long-range assault aircraft was rejected.

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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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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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Connecticut Gov. Lamont Unveils $20 Million Energy Relief Plan

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has unveiled a new energy plan that pumps more money into fuel assistance to provide short-term relief for consumers, while taking steps to wean the state off fossil fuels.

Under a plan unveiled this week, Lamont has directed the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program to increase fuel assistance payments to qualifying residents by another $430 this season to help with home heating costs, and unpaid utility bills through the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

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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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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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Report: Connecticut Legal Aid Saved State Millions

Connecticut saved taxpayers millions of dollars through a pandemic-related program that provided legal representation to low-income tenants facing eviction, according to a new report.

The report on the state’s right-to-counsel program, prepared by the independent consulting firm Stout, found that by preventing evictions or helping tenants find new housing before they’re evicted likely saved Connecticut taxpayers between $5.8 and $6.3 million from the end of January to the end of November 2022. 

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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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Washington Lawmaker Introduces Proposal to Pay Prisoners Minimum Wage

A Washington legislator who served time behind bars contends it is time for the state to stop saving millions on the backs of inmates who are paid pennies for work in prison jobs.

“This is an evolution of slavery,” Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Bremerton, told reporters. She is proposing that inmates be paid minimum wage when they work in the kitchen or produce furniture or other goods.

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Federal Border Wall Replacing Arizona Container Wall Goes Up Next Week

United States Customs and Border Protection announced Friday that construction on a barrier at the Yuma sector of the southern border would start next week.

A press release explained that the federal government would “close gaps” near the Morelos Dam, a primary location for illegal crossings in Arizona.

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Critics Blast Biden After Federal Report Shows Killing Keystone Pipeline Cost Thousands of Jobs

The Biden administration has drawn fire for admitting that killing the Keystone Pipeline cost the U.S. economy thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.

A report from the Department of Energy showed the pipeline would have supported tens of thousands of jobs, though the number is hard to nail down.

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Connecticut Towns Seeking Tax Relief, More Education

Connecticut cities and towns are seeking tax relief and more money for education from the state as a new legislative session gets underway. 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has released a list of legislative priorities that its 168 municipal members believe “merit priority action” by Gov. Ned Lamont and the General Assembly before the regular session ends in June. 

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Another Record: Nearly 314,000 Apprehensions, Gotaways at Southern Border in December

December was another record month for Border Patrol agents tasked with apprehending foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S. through the southwest border.

Agents apprehended at least 226,050 people and reported at least 87,631 who evaded capture by law enforcement last month. Combined, they total at least 313,681 – an increase from November’s record breaking number of 306,069.

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Truckers Weigh Options on New Connecticut Highway Tax

Truckers are criticizing a new Connecticut law charging them a tax for driving on the state’s roadways, with a trade group weighing a legal challenge. 

The new law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, requires commercial truckers to pay rates ranging from 2.5 cents per mile for trucks with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds to 10 cents per mile for trucks weighing 80,000 pounds. Trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds are slated to pay 17.5 cents per mile under the new regulations. 

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U.S. House Adjourns Without Electing New Speaker

California Republican Kevin McCarthy failed Tuesday to get enough support in the first three votes as his bid for Speaker of the House struggles to cross the finish line.

The U.S. House adjourned with no debate after the third vote and is scheduled to reconvene at noon Wednesday. Until a new speaker is elected, the House cannot conduct other business.

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The Number of Medicaid Recipients Will Soon Top 100 Million U.S Residents: Report

The United States will have 100 million residents on Medicaid in the next 72 days, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability, meaning that nearly one-third of all Americans will be on the program for health care.

Over the past three years, states have been prevented from removing recipients from the program through a federal COVID-19 emergency. Now, the date when states can begin to re-registering recipients when that emergency ends on April 1.

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More than Two-Thirds of Voters Believe America is Heading in the Wrong Direction

More than two-thirds of voters now say the United States is headed in the wrong direction, according to a new poll from the State Policy Network. Voter satisfaction with the country’s direction has continued to plummet since July.

SPN’s State’s Voices opinion poll surveyed nearly 2,000 registered voters and was conducted in partnership with Morning Consult through online interviews.

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Economists: Guaranteed Income Programs Should Replace, Not Supplement, Other Welfare Subsidies

In Hudson, New York, participants in the city’s guaranteed income program that started in 2020 were counseled on how the $500 a month they were set to receive over a 5-year-period would impact other government subsidies for which they are eligible.

“Will participants lose other public benefits that they might currently be receiving?” the program’s website asked on the Frequently Asked Question section. “This question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. Prior to committing to participating, all recipients will be offered benefits’ counseling to decide if participation is best for their specific situation.”

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Connecticut-Based Helicopter Firm Appeals Army Contract Rejection

With backing from Gov. Ned Lamont, a Connecticut-based company is appealing the U.S. Army’s rejection of its multimillion dollar bid for a defense contract to build long-range helicopters.

Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the iconic Blackhawk helicopters, had submitted a proposal to the U.S. Army to produce its Defiant-X helicopter as part of the next generation of long-range helicopters. But the Army announced earlier this month that it was awarding the $1.3 billion contract to Bell Textron, a Texas-based company.

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Washington State Senators File Constitutional Amendment to Double-Down on Abortion Rights

Two Washington state senators have proposed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the rights to obtain an abortion and to use contraception in the state, both of which are already codified in state law. 

The proposed amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 8202, was filed Dec. 21 by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, and Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, at the request of Gov. Jay Inslee according to a joint statement from the lawmakers.

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U.S. House Committee Releases Trump’s Tax Returns

The House Ways and Means Committee that is controlled by Democrats released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday.

The New York Post reported the returns cover the years 2015 to 2020. The Trumps reported positive income of $24.3 million in 2018 and $4.4 million in 2019 and had negative income in four of the six years in which tax returns were released.

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Connecticut Lawmakers to Get Huge Pay Boost in New Year

Connecticut lawmakers will see fatter paychecks in the new year with a law that bumps their base pay by upwards of $12,000, once it goes into effect.

Legislation approved earlier this year, signed by Gov. Ned Lamont, increases rank-and-file lawmakers’ pay from $28,000 to $40,000, with future raises pegged to the cost of living in every two-year legislative cycle. Compensation for the House speaker and Senate president will increase from $38,689 to $50,000 next year under the law.

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Connecticut Diverts More Federal Funds for Fuel Assistance

Connecticut is pumping more federal funds into its fuel assistance program to provide the state’s low income energy consumers with more relief this winter.

The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program says it will be increasing fuel assistance payments to qualifying residents by another $430 this season, to help with home heating costs and unpaid utility bills through the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

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Minnesota, Wisconsin, Connecticut Rank in the Top 10 Most Prosperous States as Michigan and Iowa Lag

Minnesota and Wisconsin placed in the top 10 of a recent nationwide prosperity index while Iowa and Michigan trailed behind, at 12th and 29th, respectively. 

Wisconsin placed third and Minnesota placed eighth in the American Dream Prosperity Index that the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream produced with Legatum Institute. The index measures prosperity through three domains: Inclusive Societies, Open Economies and Empowered People. The domains contain 11 pillars of prosperity that are built on 49 actionable policy areas and more than 200 indicators.

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Kari Lake Loses Lawsuit to Hobbs, Maricopa County in Election Challenge

The Maricopa County Superior Court reaffirmed Democrat Gov.-Elect Katie Hobbs’s gubernatorial election win in a Saturday ruling in Republican Kari Lake’s election lawsuit.

The ruling said that “the court DOES NOT find clear and convincing evidence” that “misconduct” altered the election results.

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Record Number of Apprehensions, Gotaways in Fiscal 2022 Surpass 3.3 Million

A record number of illegal foreign nationals were apprehended or recorded evading capture by Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2022, surpassing 3 million, according to data obtained by The Center Square.

In October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 2.7 million encounters and apprehensions of foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S., which included data from Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations and excluded known and reported gotaways.

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New England Lawmakers Seek More Federal Drought Relief for Farmers

Congressional lawmakers in Connecticut and Rhode Island have teamed up to seek more federal relief funding to help New England livestock feed producers, and other farmers impacted by severe drought conditions. 

In a letter to House and Senate budget leaders, members of congressional delegations from both states urged them to pump more money into relief programs, and expand eligibility to drought-wary forge farmers in the region, who they said are being left out of federal assistance programs. 

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Oklahoma Bill Proposes Forcing Drunk Drivers Who Kill Parents to Pay Child Support

Oklahoma could become the latest state to saddle a drunk driver who kills a child’s parents with the financial responsibility for the orphaned youth.

Rep Jim Olsen, R-Roland, says that House Bill 1003 could create a harsher reality for those who chose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated and cause the death of a parent in a DUI-related crash in the Sooner State.

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Connecticut Police Union OKs Contract with Pay Raises, Other Perks

Connecticut state troopers will be the highest paid law enforcement officials in the state under a newly approved contract, which includes pay raises and other perks.

The Connecticut State Police Union, which represents about 840 rank and file troopers and sergeants, said it has ratified a four-year contract negotiated with Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration that includes a 2.5% pay raise, a double-digit increase in starting pay, and annual lump sum payments of 2% for senior troopers. 

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State of Emergency in El Paso as Border Patrol Reports Record Illegal Entries

Blanketed babies in car seats on the sidewalk. People laying in blankets and sleeping bags on the ground. Hundreds pouring into downtown El Paso at a time. In November alone, more than 53,500 illegal foreign nationals were apprehended, and an additional 24,000 who evaded capture by law enforcement  in the Customs and Border Patrol sector that includes El Paso.

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Court Demands Southwest Airlines Reinstate Flight Attendant Fired over Religious Beliefs

A federal judge has awarded a former Southwest Airlines flight attendant the maximum amount in damages allowed under federal law and issued an injunction against the airline and its union from discriminating against flight attendants because of their religious beliefs.

Judge Brantley Starr, ruling for the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, last week ordered Southwest to pay Carter back pay and other forms of relief that the jury awarded when she won her lawsuit in July.

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