Funds in Connecticut Will Assist Sexual Assault Probes

Helping Connecticut process sexual assault evidence kits in a more timely manner is the focus of new federal funding.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced it will award $1.2 million to Connecticut that will be used at the state’s Forensic Laboratory for adding personnel, supplies, and equipment to aid ongoing efforts in sexual assault investigations, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Read More

Proposed Federal Legislation Would Establish Independent Oversight over Federal Prisons

Proposed bipartisan federal legislation would establish independent oversight of the nation’s 122 federal prisons and require the Department of Justice’s inspector general to report its findings and recommendations publicly.

The move follows a U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations probe that found the DOJ’s tally of how many people died while in custody missed hundreds of deaths over the past couple of years. The investigation found that the problems spanned many years over multiple administrations, and committee staffers said there is widespread blame for the oversight.

Read More

Poll: Americans Say Grocery Prices Will Affect Their Vote in November

High grocery prices are top-of-mind for voters with a little over a month until the midterm elections, according to a new poll. 

Convention of States Action, along with Trafalgar Group, released the poll, which found that 68.3% of surveyed voters say that the “increase in the price of groceries is impacting their motivation to vote in the 2022 election.”

Read More

Eastern Washington Legislators Urge Biden to Lift Vaccine Mandate for Border Travel

Two U.S. Representatives from Eastern Washington have signed onto a letter that urges the Biden Administration to drop all vaccine requirements for people entering the United States from Canada.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, and Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, say the decision to send the letter follows Canada lifting vaccine mandates for international travelers entering the country despite Biden’s refusal to follow suit.

Read More

Researchers Say Better Data Is Needed to Verify Claims, Extent of Teacher Shortages

New research on the demand for teachers highlights the lack of information about teacher shortages at all levels of government.

A working paper from Brown University found that “teacher shortages are still poorly understood, and it remains unclear whether there is a shortfall of teachers on the national scale or if shortages are localized – a key component of the current debate around teacher shortages.”

Read More

Three More Counties Want Texas to Declare Invasion at Southern Border; Total at 32

Three more counties are the latest to express support for Texas declaring an invasion at the southern border, bringing the total to 32.

The judge and county commissioners of Ector County, in the Permian Basin, signed a Declaration of Local State of Disaster on Sept. 27 stating the “health, safety, and welfare of Ector County residents are under an imminent threat of disaster from the unprecedented levels of illegal immigration, human trafficking, and drug smuggling coming across the U.S. border from Mexico.”

Read More

Major Government Unions Lose over 200K Members

The top four public labor unions in the U.S. lost hundreds of thousands of members since a 2018 Supreme Court case that ruled government employees could not be forced to pay a union to keep their job, a new report shows that.

The Commonwealth Foundation released the report, which found that the top four public labor unions – AFT, AFSCME, NEA, and SEIU – lost nearly 219,000 members altogether since the Janus v. AFSCME ruling.

Read More

No Chance of Winning’: Four Female Athletes Challenge Connecticut High School Transgender Policy

Four female athletes are locked in a legal battle over transgender athletes that could set major precedent for the same fight playing out in schools around the country.

The four female athletes appealed to a federal court over a Connecticut policy allowing high school males identifying as females to compete against girls. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit heard Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools this week, where the girls’ legal team argued the policy is unfair to girls and hands female sports victories over to transgender athletes.

Read More

Attorney General William Tong and 20 Other Attorneys General Want U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Immigration Law

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is leading a group of 21 attorneys general in an amicus brief regarding federal immigration law.

The attorneys general are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold a federal statute to enforce federal immigration law in United States v. Hansen.  

Read More

Inflation Rose More than Expected in August, Federal Data Shows

Inflation rose more than expected in August, leaving Americans facing even higher prices on a range of everyday purchases, according to newly released federal inflation data.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the pricing data, which showed the Personal Consumption Expenditure excluding food and energy, a key marker of inflation, rose 0.6%, higher than expected by Dow Jones.

Read More

Poll: 79 Percent of Americans Are Dissatisfied with America’s Direction

Only a fraction of Americans is satisfied “with the way things are going in the U.S.,” according to a new poll.

Gallup released the survey data, which showed that 79% of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction the country is headed, compared to only 21% of Americans who say the opposite.

Read More

Government Agencies Buying Cellphone, Internet Data to Track Americans

In a little noted trend, law enforcement agencies at every level of government are increasingly buying data from private, third-party data brokers on Americans’ phone and internet activities in order to track them, often without a warrant.

While proponents say this practice provides critical help for investigations, critics argue it poses a serious violation of civil liberties that needs to be addressed through legislation.

Read More

New England Governors Push for Home Heating Assistance

New England governors are pressing the federal government for a supplement aid package supporting home heating assistance to residents this winter.

Led by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, the governors penned a letter to congressional leaders expressing their desire to see approval of President Joe Biden’s request for the emergency supplemental funding package that would assist residents with home heating assistance.

Read More

Group Sues U.S. Department of Education over Biden’s Student Loan Cancellation Plan

A nonprofit legal group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Department of Education to block its move to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for some borrowers.

“Congress did not authorize the executive branch to unilaterally cancel student debt,” Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Kruckenberg said. “It’s flagrantly illegal for the executive branch to create a $500 billion program by press release, and without statutory authority or even the basic notice and comment procedure for new regulations.”

Read More

Republican Leadership Pledges to ‘Repeal’ IRS Auditor Expansion if GOP Wins Majority

President Joe Biden sparked controversy for pushing through Congress increased federal funding for 87,000 new IRS employees to audit Americans, but Republican leadership has pledged to overturn that expansion if they win the majority.

House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pledged at a Pennsylvania event to “repeal” the IRS expansion.

Read More

Federal Judge Strikes Down Vaccine Mandates from Biden

Sandy Brick felt her freedom was on the line. The Head Start teacher taught through the pandemic and opposed a federal “jab-or-job” mandate from the president.

Judge Terry A. Doughty, on the bench of a U.S. District Court in Louisiana, on Wednesday agreed. He ruled the federal government cannot require Head Start program teachers, staff and volunteers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, nor can it require adults or students to wear masks. His order “permanently enjoins the vaccine and mask mandate in 24 states,” a release from the Liberty Justice Center says, and impacts 280,000 teachers, staff and volunteers.

Read More

Democrats Block Release of Hunter Biden Financial Documents in Probe

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to block a resolution proposed by Republicans to coax out documents related to the investigation of Hunter Biden’s financial affairs.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the ranking member of the committee, spearheaded the resolution, saying he has tried multiple times to get the relevant Suspicious Activity Reports on the Biden family’s financial dealings from the U.S. Treasury Department but has been unable to obtain the documents.

Read More

Gov. Abbott Declares Mexican Drug Cartels Terrorists, Calls on Biden to Do the Same

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday issued an executive order officially designating certain Mexican drug cartels as foreign smuggled into the U.S. to kill Americans at an alarming rate.

In one year’s time, fentanyl killed nearly 20 times more people than those killed in terrorist attacks over decades.

Read More

Inspector General: Denying Religious Exemptions to Service Members Who Refuse COVID-19 Vaccines Violates Federal Law

A Department of Defense Office of Inspector General report has found that officials in the U.S. military who issued widespread denials of religious exemption requests by service members who refused to take the COVID-19 shots violated federal law.

Read More

Connecticut Pension Funds to Benefit from $2.8 Billion Transfer

A historical payment is headed to Connecticut’s pension plan.

State Comptroller Natalie Braswell is in the process of transferring $3.1 billion from the state’s operating surplus into the rainy day fund, triggering a one-time, special payment of $2.8 billion into the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Read More

Report Reveals ‘Shocking Long-Term Gaps in Federal Oversight’ over Prison Deaths

The Department of Justice’s tally of how many people died while in custody missed hundreds of deaths over the past couple of years, a 10-month U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations probe revealed.

The problems spanned many years over multiple administrations, and committee staffers said there is widespread blame for the oversight. The investigation found that changes to the methods for collecting the data and a transition of the agency within the Justice Department responsible for carrying out the act’s requirements led to the problems.

Read More

Connecticut Communities to Receive Grant Money for Infrastructure Projects

Improving infrastructure is the focus of new grant awards in Connecticut.

More than $31.3 million will be distributed to 77 towns across the state, Gov. Ned Lamont said, that will be used for a road safety reconstruction project, sewer and drainage upgrades, sidewalk and pedestrian safety enhancements, and various capital improvement projects.

Read More

Clinton, Obama Economist Says U.S. ‘Has a Serious Inflation Problem’

Two top economists from Democratic presidential administrations are raising the alarm about inflation this week even as the Biden administration touts its progress on the issue.

Lawrence Summers, who served as Secretary of the Treasury for President Bill Clinton and Director of National Economic Council for President Obama, pointed to the latest consumer price inflation data, saying the U.S. “has a serious inflation problem.”

Read More

Connecticut Residents Push Back Against Move to Expand ‘Section 8’ Affordable Housing

As Connecticut has the sixth-highest median monthly housing costs, some residents and lawmakers are fiercely pursuing measures to prevent developers from building affordable housing units in their towns.

Renee Dobos, chief executive officer of Connecticut Housing Partners, told The Center Square that more than 30 years ago the General Assembly recognized steps should be taken to lead towns to recognize they have a responsibility to make housing affordable to essential workers, senior citizens, and a wide variety of others with diverse incomes.

Read More

Report: Transit Agencies May Turn to Taxpayers for More Money When COVID-19 Funds Dry Up

Transit agencies could turn to taxpayers for more money when federal COVID-19 money runs out.

With federal money dwindling, some mass transit agencies are preparing to seek more tax dollars at a time when fewer people are riding, according to a report from a credit rating agency.

Some workers never plan to return to the office, creating uncertainties for mass transit agencies and the taxpayers who fund them, especially those more dependent on riders for fare revenue. A new report from S&P Global Ratings said transit systems could seek additional tax dollars when federal COVID-19 money runs dry in 2025.

Read More

Biden: Republican Officials Shouldn’t Interfere with His Immigration Policies

President Joe Biden doesn’t want Republican officials interfering with his immigration policies, saying their initiative to send people north from the border is “playing politics” and “un-American.”

Speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala in Washington, D.C., Thursday night, he said, “Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings using them as props. What they are doing is simply wrong. It’s un-American. It’s reckless.”

Read More

Republican U.S. Reps Urge Defense Department to End Military Vaccine Mandate

A group of 47 members of Congress are urging the Secretary of the Department of Defense to “immediately revoke” the COVID-19 vaccine mandate he issued last August for all service members, civilian personnel, and contractors. They’ve also asked him to re-instate those who’ve already been discharged for noncompliance.

In a Sept. 15 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, they wrote “to express our grave concern over the effect of the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on the readiness of our Armed Forces, particularly the U.S. Army.

Read More

Connecticut and Florida Attorneys General Lead Bipartisan Effort to Classify Illicit Fentanyl as Weapon of Mass Destruction

fentanyl pills on the hood of a vehicle

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong are leading a multistate, bipartisan effort urging President Joe Biden to classify illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).

“I first called for President Biden to take swift action in July and call fentanyl what it is – a weapon of mass destruction,” Moody said. “Now, I am leading a bipartisan coalition of 18 attorneys general demanding the president take action now, declare fentanyl a WMD and join us in our fight to prevent the death and destruction caused by this highly-lethal substance from getting even worse.”

Read More

Poll: Voters Say Biden Has Further ‘Divided’ Country

The majority of Americans say President Joe Biden has further divided the country, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar Group, released the polling data, which showed that 58.7% of surveyed voters say that “Biden has divided the country during his time as president.”

Read More

Tentative Deal Reached to Avoid National Rail Strike

The freight railroad industry reached a tentative deal with rail worker unions Thursday morning to avoid a national rail strike that threatened to cripple the nation’s already stressed supply chain.

The tentative agreement still must be ratified in a vote of the unions’ workers.

Read More

Two More Texas Counties Declare Invasion at Southern Border, Bringing Total to 29

Two more Texas counties have declared an invasion at the southern border, bringing to 29 the total that have done so so far, with more expected to follow.

The judges and county commissioners of Wharton and Burnet counties this week signed resolutions calling for “additional measures to secure the border, stop the invasion at the border, and protect our communities.”

Read More

Connecticut Farmers Seek More Aid

If approved on the federal level, more Connecticut farmers could gain assistance for the harsh realities dealt them by the ongoing drought.

A natural disaster request was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Gov. Ned Lamont said, for Litchfield and New Haven counties where drought conditions have caused damage to farms.

Read More

Four More Texas Counties Declare Invasion at Southern Border, Bringing Total to 22

The judges and commissioners of four more Texas counties have declared an invasion at the southern border, bringing to 22 the number of counties that have done so.

Jasper, Madison, Throckmorton and Wichita counties are the latest to declare an invasion.

Read More

Connecticut Renters Struggle to Find Affordable Housing

Renters in Connecticut are short on options with prices soaring.

“Currently, Connecticut has a shortage of 85,000 units of affordable housing for those families that earn an income of 80% or below the AMI,” Renée Dobos, CEO of Connecticut Housing Partners, told The Center Square. AMI is an acronym for area medium income.

Read More

Appeals Court Hands Air Force Class Action Plaintiffs a Win in Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit

A panel of three Sixth Circuit judges have denied the Air Force’s attempt to overturn class certification granted to all members of the Air Force by a federal district court judge in July. In doing so, they handed another win to roughly 10,000 airmen and women fighting against the Department of Defense’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The appeals court judges denied an emergency motion made by the Air Force requesting it stay the class certification and injunction granted in Hunter Doster, et al. v. Hon Frank Kendall, et al., by U.S. District Judge Matthew W. McFarland of the Southern District of Ohio. In July, McFarland granted class status and issued a preliminary injunction preventing retaliation against those in the Air Force who don’t comply with the mandate as the lawsuit continues. His order remains in effect.

Read More

Report: Record 63 Percent of Small Businesses Freeze Hiring

Small businesses are increasingly unwilling to hire because they can’t afford to take on new costs, according to a newly released survey.

The small business network company Alignable released the survey Wednesday. It found that 63% report putting hiring on hold “because they can’t afford to add staff, and 10% of that group is laying off workers.”

Read More

GOP Governors to Biden: Student Loan Plan Will Be Costly for American Taxpayers

President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will be costly for American taxpayers, a coalition of GOP governors said in a letter sent Monday to the White House.

The letter, signed by 22 GOP governors, tells Biden to “withdraw” the plan, citing cost estimates of up to $600 billion, or $2,000 per American taxpayer.

“As governors, we support making higher education more affordable and accessible for students in our states, but we fundamentally oppose your plan to force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of an elite few,” the coalition wrote.

Read More

Chipmakers Receiving Taxpayer Subsidies Under New Law Can Resume Business in China After 10 Years

Chipmaking companies that receive U.S. taxpayer funding under the $280 billion CHIPS Act of 2022 will be able to do business with foreign countries like China after a 10-year waiting period, according to guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday.

The legislation that President Biden signed last month was designed to build a domestic supply chain for computer chips, used for electronic devices and vehicle technology, as a way to reduce reliance on other countries like China and Taiwan.

Read More

Merchant Banking Organization: Gun, Ammunition Purchases by Credit Card Will be Coded

An unloaded handgun sitting on the center console of a vehicle with the magazine clip next to it

The international organization responsible for creating merchant category codes for credit card purchases has given its approval to establish one for transactions made at gun stores.

The International Organization for Standardization’s Registration and Maintenance Management Group met on Wednesday to discuss a request made by Amalgamated Bank to set up such a code.

An ISO spokesperson told The Center Square that RMMG members could not decide whether to approve the application. That elevated the discussion to the ISO leadership that oversees standards for retail financial services.

Read More

Number of Americans Citing ‘Hardship’ from Inflation Rises

The majority of Americans say inflation is causing them financial hardship, according to a new poll.

While the Biden administration heralded a pause in the rise of inflation for the month of July, a new Gallup poll indicates that Americans are feeling the pain more now than at the beginning of this year.

Read More

Connecticut Program Up for National Award

A Connecticut family-based program has been nominated for a national award.

Care 4 Kids Parent Portal has been named for the National Association of State Chief Information Officers as a finalist in the 2022 State IT Recognition Awards, Gov. Ned Lamont said. The program, run through the office of Early Childhood, was created in 2021 to give low- to -moderate-income families a subsidy to pay for child care.

Read More

Connecticut Task Force Begins Examining Early Childhood Workforce Concerns

Licensure requirements, professional development opportunities and employment compensation are among some of the weighty issues a new Connecticut task force will delve into in the coming months.

The state’s Early Childhood Workforce Development Task Force held its first monthly meeting recently and began laying the groundwork for its deep-dive conversations in the coming months.

Read More

Independent Voters Say Biden’s Attacks on ‘MAGA Republicans’ Went Too Far

President Joe Biden has turned up the rhetoric against Trump supporters and what he calls the “ultra MAGA” wing of the Republican party, but new polling shows most Americans fear his comments are too divisive.

Biden’s rhetoric, and the concern that he has gone too far, ratcheted up when the president gave a primetime speech last week blasting the “ MAGA Republicans” as a “threat to Democracy” and “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.”

Read More