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    PHOTO BY MICHAEL M. SINCLAIRIn a proposal drawing heavy fire from local governments, a Senate committee Tuesday approved a measure that could lead to cities and counties facing lawsuits because of decisions that lead to reduced revenue or profits for businesses. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to back the proposal (SB 620), which would allow businesses to sue if local ordinances cause at least 15 percent losses of revenue or profits. The bill would apply to businesses that have been operating for at least three years. Sponsor Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, said the requirements of at least 15 percent losses and three years in business create a “pretty high threshold.” He said the bill would give the businesses an avenue to recover revenue. “It’s to give the businesses that may be hard-working and can’t show up at the county council or the county commission that are getting affected what, I think, is severely 15 percent … they’re getting hammered by an ordinance and right now, the government’s just saying, ‘Sorry this is what we’re doing,’” Hutson said. But Seminole...
    The White House clarified Monday that states, cities, and counties that have dropped mask mandates do not necessarily need to reinstate them in response to the newly discovered coronavirus omicron variant. The clarification came from press secretary Jen Psaki shortly after President Joe Biden, following national remarks on the global rise of omicron, encouraged "everyone to wear a mask when they're indoors, in a crowded circumstance like we are right now, and unless you're eating or speaking at a microphone." BIDEN VOWS TO FIGHT OMICRON WITH MASKS AND SHOTS, NOT LOCKDOWNS "If people are vaccinated and wear their masks, there's no need for lockdowns," he added, evading a straight answer when asked by reporters if local jurisdictions, which have dropped restrictions under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, should reimpose mask mandates. "The guidance from the CDC has not changed, right, which the district — which D.C. is abiding by, and other localities are abiding by," Psaki added when asked to clarify the point during Monday's briefing. "Our advice continues to be to follow the advice and counsel...
    A jury's finding this week that three major pharmacy chains are responsible for contributing to the scourge of opioid addiction in two Ohio counties may be just the beginning of a protracted legal battle that ultimately could leave the communities no better off. The reason is the central argument — that pharmacies created a "public nuisance" by dispensing an overwhelming quantity of prescription painkillers into each county. Thousands of state and local governments have sued drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies over a crisis that has contributed to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades. The lawsuits generally center on claims the companies created public nuisances by interfering with the rights of the public through the way they marketed, shipped and sold the drugs — feeding the addictions of some patients and providing pills later diverted to the black market.   (iStock) RECORD-BREAKING DRUG BUST MADE AT MEXICO BORDER IN CALIFORNIA, MEXICAN CITIZEN ARRESTED: ‘STAGGERING’ Similar arguments were used in two other cases — in California and Oklahoma — that went in favor of the...
    CLEVELAND (AP) — A jury’s finding this week that three major pharmacy chains are responsible for contributing to the scourge of opioid addiction in two Ohio counties may be just the beginning of a protracted legal battle that ultimately could leave the communities no better off. The reason is the central argument — that pharmacies created a “public nuisance” by dispensing an overwhelming quantity of prescription painkillers into each county. Thousands of state and local governments have sued drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies over a crisis that has contributed to more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades. The lawsuits generally center on claims the companies created public nuisances by interfering with the rights of the public through the way they marketed, shipped and sold the drugs — feeding the addictions of some patients and providing pills later diverted to the black market. Similar arguments were used in two other cases — in California and Oklahoma — that went in favor of the industry in the weeks before the Ohio jury’s decision. Given those decisions,...
    This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. State and local governments in Maryland distributed $32.3 million in federal emergency rental assistance (ERA1) funding in August, according to newly released data from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development, up from $29 million in July. That means state and local governments distributed a total of $92.1 million in ERA1 funding by the end of August, with another $38.7 million payments in progress at the end of the month. September data is not yet available. State and local governments in Maryland received a total of $401 million in ERA1 funding as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress late last year and, including services and administrative costs, have used about $135 million of that funding so far. At the end of August, the state had spent less than half of its total ERA1 allocation. There was some concern that Maryland could lose its ERA1 funding at the end of September, because U.S. Treasury officials...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed seven new laws on Wednesday aimed at addressing the state’s homelessness crisis, pleading with a skeptical public to have patience as the nation’s most wealthy and populous state struggles to keep people off the streets. Among California’s myriad of problems — including wildfires, historic drought and a changing climate impacting them both — homelessness is perhaps the most visible, with tens of thousands of people living in encampments in cities large and small across the state. California’s homelessness crisis was the top talking point among Newsom’s critics prior to the pandemic, a topic Newsom addressed in a big way when he devoted his entire “ State of the State ” address in 2020 to the issue. In the past three years, California has spent more than $2.4 billion of state and federal money on a handful of major homelessness programs, with most of that money going to local governments for things like leasing hotels and motels for housing the homeless during the pandemic. The programs have had success, but have done...
    State and local governments have shed more than 400,000 jobs since the beginning of 2020, and those jobs have been far slower to return than the private sector positions that have rebounded after the initial shock of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic lockdowns. And there are signs that the exodus of government employees has not reached its nadir: Private sector employment has risen 3.4 percent since December 2020, while state and local governments jobs, exclusive of education positions, are down 0.6 percent, according to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trust’s State Fiscal Health Initiative. Mike Maciag, a coauthor of the Pew study, said many of the jobs that have been lost are temporary layoffs that might come back at some point.  More than 74,000 employees at casino hotels or amusement and gambling businesses run by governments — mostly tribal governments — were let go. So were 7,500 employees of museums, historical sites, zoos and parks, and 15,000 people at libraries and other information-related operations. “The vast majority of these though we don’t have hard figures are not necessarily...
    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday announced that local cities or counties that mandate coronavirus vaccines for their employees will face fines of $5,000 per infraction. “We are here today to make it very clear that we are going to stand for the men and women who are serving. We are going to protect Florida jobs,” DeSantis stated during the news conference in Alachua County. “We are not gonna let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate.” FOX 13 notes: Orange County is an example of a Florida county that requires all current and new employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment. They issued a memo in July stating that all employees must be fully vaccinated by August 31st. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings was asked about DeSantis’ warning during a separate press conference Monday. “At the end of the day, it’s all of our goals to protect the greater collective of the people in our community to keep them safe,” Demings told reporters. “I’m not going to take actions that will adversely impact the safety of our...
    Cities and counties in Florida that require COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment will be fined $5,000 per violation, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe risks of running as Trump-lite Schools start new year in the hole after pandemic drives down test scores GOP seeks Biden referendum over vaccine mandates MORE (R) said Monday. During a press conference, DeSantis said government agency vaccine mandates violate the state's law banning private businesses from requiring "vaccine passports" for customers. "We are gonna stand for the men and women who are serving us. We are gonna protect Florida jobs," DeSantis said. "We are not gonna let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate." DeSantis said any local government that imposes vaccine requirements could risk millions of dollars in fines. He specifically mentioned first responders who refuse to be vaccinated. "You don't just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what's basically a personal choice on their individual health," DeSantis said. "We cannot let these folks be cast aside. We cannot allow their jobs to be destroyed." The press...
                        The Florida Supreme Court is taking up a gun-rights case related to a 2011 state law which implements penalties on local governments if they pass stricter gun-control laws. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and a group of municipal governments brought the case to Florida’s high court. Before Fried was elected in November 2018, a coalition of local officials filed suit against the law after the February 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Florida law has prevented municipal governments from passing gun control stricter than state law, which was codified in 1987. They feel the issue lies with the 2011 penalties portion of Florida law. Local officials had been urged to pass stricter gun control measures, according to a 2019 court document. They refrained to do so knowing penalties would be likely. Earlier this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill amending the 2011 law broadening the punishments directed toward municipal governments, forcing them to pay as much as $100,000 if they impose strict gun...
    NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — During her first COVID-19 briefing as governor, Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced the state will make $65 million available for local governments to prepare the infrastructure to deliver booster shots. She also reiterated, her administration will different than former Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s. “I understand there is a role for state government and there is a roll for local governments. I will not be micromanaging, but I will be giving guidance based on your input,” Hochul said. READ MORE: COVID Booster Shots: When Are They Needed? Are They Effective Against The Delta Variant? COVID VACCINE New York State book online here or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX New York City book online here or call 877-VAX-4NYC Track NYC vaccinations by zip code Nassau County more info here Suffolk County more info here Westchester County more info here New Jersey book online here or call 1-855-568-0545 Connecticut book online here As of Tuesday, Hochul said 76% of New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. READ MORE: More Tri-State Area Businesses Requiring Proof Of Vaccination As Health Officials Release New Guidance About COVID Booster Shots The statewide infection...
    Let's hope that everyone in government has learned a lesson. The next time the nation experiences a pandemic that shuts the entire economy down, they need to just send everybody a check, every month. We didn't to that this time around, which led to all sorts of unnecessary pain and chaos and almost undoubtedly made the pandemic worse. But what it means right now is that even though there's billions of dollars available to help, people are being forced out of their homes because layers of bureaucracy are keeping that money away from them. Despite the expiration and then emergency resurrection of the federal eviction moratorium at the end of July, the emergency aid that has already been provided by Congress for tenants and landlords was barely tapped in July. The Treasury Department released data showing that about out $1.7 billion was spent on rent, utility payments, and owed back-payments. In June it disbursed $1.5 billion. All in all, out of the first $25 billion that the Treasury sent out, state and local governments spent just $5.1 billion. According to an...
    WASHINGTON - The Biden administration on Wednesday announced new steps to help renters and landlords hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including moves by the U.S. Treasury Department to reduce documentation requirements to get emergency rental assistance. Renters can now use self-attestation to demonstrate their need, including with respect to financial hardship, the risk of homelessness or income, Treasury said in a statement. The department said the move should help reduce logjams in processing by state and local governments that have left hundreds of thousands of applications stuck in the pipeline. Treasury said state and local programs had spent just $5.1 billion - or about 20% - of the $25 billion allocated under the first round of the Emergency Rental Assistance program. Payments to households at risk of eviction increased about 15% since June and doubled from May, but too many state and local governments had failed to make sufficient progress in getting aid to struggling tenants and landlords, it said. After September, it said, programs that are "unwilling or unable to deliver assistance quickly will be at risk...
                      by Nyamekye Daniel  Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that blocks local governments from mandating COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. Private sector businesses and sports teams can follow local COVID-19 requirements if they chose, but Kemp’s order stops them from being required to do so. Kemp (pictured above) said the order is aimed at protecting businesses and the state’s economic recovery. “Local governments will not be able to force businesses to be the city’s masks police, the vaccine police or any other burdensome restriction that will only lead to employees being let go, revenue tanking and businesses closing their doors,” Kemp said during Thursday a news briefing at the state Capitol. Kemp, a longtime business owner, has been advocating against business shutdowns and mask mandates over the past several months. Savannah and Atlanta recently reinstated their mask mandates in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Kemp said the ordinances hurt small businesses, and he trusts business owners to implement prevention measures that work best for them. He...
    This content was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today. U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) wants to see the Red Line become a reality, he said at a town hall during the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in Ocean City Friday, but warned that the project’s future is ultimately in the hands of state officials. Cardin, along with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), recently added a provision to infrastructure legislation being debated in Congress that would “ensure considerations of projects previously in the [federal transportation funding] program, such as the Red Line,” but Cardin said Friday that the project’s fate will ultimately come down to state priorities. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) quashed the project in 2015, calling it “a wasteful boondoggle.” Advocates for the Red Line, which qualified for $900 million in federal funding, said it would’ve boosted employment, education and health care for tens of thousands of Baltimore-area residents. At the town hall event Friday, Baltimore County Councilmember Israel “Izzy” Patoka (D) applauded Cardin’s efforts...
    Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order Thursday that blocks local governments from mandating COVID-19 restrictions on businesses. Private sector businesses and sports teams can follow local COVID-19 requirements if they chose, but Kemp's order stops them from being required to do so. Kemp said the order is aimed at protecting businesses and the state's economic recovery. "Local governments will not be able to force businesses to be the city's masks police, the vaccine police or any other burdensome restriction that will only lead to employees being let go, revenue tanking and businesses closing their doors," Kemp said during Thursday a news briefing at the state Capitol. Kemp, a longtime business owner, has been advocating against business shutdowns and mask mandates over the past several months. Savannah and Atlanta recently reinstated their mask mandates in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases. Kemp said the ordinances hurt small businesses, and he trusts business owners to implement prevention measures that work best for them. He gives businesses that flexibility in his current order. The order...
    Local governments in Georgia will be barred from enacting mask or vaccine mandates for businesses under an executive order signed Thursday by Gov. Brian KempBrian KempModeration no virtue in voting rights fight Atlanta-area elementary students move to virtual learning after COVID-19 outbreak FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report MORE (R). Kemp said the order was necessary in order to "protect" private businesses.  It comes as some local officials have taken new steps to try to contain the state's rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, brought on by the delta variant and the large number of people who have not been vaccinated. "There are some across our state who want to go back into lockdown mode," Kemp said during a press conference, specifically mentioning Atlanta and Savannah, which both have indoor mask requirements.  Under the executive order, private businesses will be able to require masks or vaccines if they choose, but local officials will not be able to require it. "Local governments will not be able to force businesses to be the city's mask police,...
    AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – More federal coronavirus relief assistance payments from the American Rescue Plan Act will begin this week for populations under 50,000. Under the rescue plan, the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (CLFRF) provides emergency funding for eligible localities classified as non-entitlement units of local government (NEUs) to support their response efforts, including medical supplies and hospital staffing. NEUs are cities, villages, towns, and townships serving populations of less than 50,000 and will receive funding distributed by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM). “The success and continued growth of Texas starts on Main Street in our local communities,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “I strongly encourage the remaining local officials of NEUs across the state to apply for this additional funding through TDEM so that the millions of Texans living in smaller communities are not forgotten as they continue their COVID recovery efforts.” “The Texas economy is the 9th largest in the world and much of our strength comes from our small towns and rural communities,” said Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. “It is vital that our local governments...
    State Rep. Steve Elkins thinks he might be the person who can cut a deal to address one of Minnesota’s most intractable conflicts — the one between Minnesota cities and homebuilders over planning and zoning regulations. Homebuilders in the state complain that regulations imposed by local governments throughout Minnesota — and that often differ from city to city — have greatly increased the cost of housing. Large lot sizes, exterior materials standards, garage and storage requirements, park set asides all add to the ultimate price of new houses. City governments argue they need those regulations to respond to local concerns — and to keep developers from leaving behind costs that must be borne by current residents. Would cities accept a clear-cut way of recovering costs for roads and other infrastructure in return for state preemption of some local zoning authority?  Article continues after advertisement Elkins is trying to find out. Currently a DFL representative from Bloomington, Elkins is also a former city council member, former planning commissioner and former member of the Metropolitan Council. And in just three years as...
    Another Texas judge on Friday blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's order banning local governments and schools from issuing mask mandates. Travis County Judge Andy Brown, who signed Austin Mayor Steve Adler's mask mandate, on Friday announced that he had blocked the governor's executive order. "Now, district judges in Dallas & Travis Counties have upheld the right of local leaders to protect the safety of our kids & community," he tweeted. "The Governor's order to prevent counties, cities, & schools from protecting our children has been blocked." Brown said in a statement to KEYE, a local CBS station, that Abbott's executive order "is overreaching and limits the ability of local elected officials and health authorities to serve their constituents." JUDGE EXTENDS BY 2 WEEKS ORDER BLOCKING GOV. GREG ABBOTT'S BAN ON MIGRANT TRANSPORTATION This is why I issued additional orders early on protecting our school children and our workforce. It is my hope that the Governor understands that my fight is against COVID-19 and not against him," he said. "As I noted the other day, his threats of legal action are nothing...
     Presented by Facebook  via GIPHY    To view past editions of The Hill's 12:30 Report, click here: http://bit.ly/1M1mIfw  To receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox, please sign up here: http://bit.ly/1Tt4hqN   --> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.* *Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.   The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Officials ramp up calls for COVID-19 mandates | Incoming NY gov indicates potential new masking rules | Census date release teas up redistricting fights | Tensions rise in the DNC over White House involvement   NEWS OF THE MORNING Vaccine and mask mandates grow: The list of local and state governments, government agencies and corporations calling for mask mandates is growing this morning as coronavirus cases surge across the country. This morning, incoming New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) suggested that she would implement a statewide mask mandate in schools once she takes office in just under two weeks.  "My view is that ... people will be, children and everyone in a school environment,...
    Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried speaks at a news conference in Tallahassee, Florida. When thinking about the state government in Florida, it’s hard to see beyond the dark shadow that is Gov. Ron DeSantis. Earlier this week, DeSantis not only stuck by his claim that any school district requiring students to wear masks could be denied funds, but extended it to saying that any school board member or superintendent could be denied their salary. With the backing of Republican state legislators, DeSantis spent Tuesday continuing this threat, including threatening the superintendent of the school district in the state capitol and making an extended false claim that masks are unsafe. With the Department of Health running cover for DeSantis’ acts and the state legislators acting as eager spear-carriers in his war against Florida’s own residents, it may be surprising to learn that there are still Democrats who hold statewide office in Florida. Or … Democrat. As in one.  That one is Nikki Fried, the Florida commissioner of agriculture. If that sounds like an obscure or unimportant position, it’s not. For one thing, Florida—like many states—is...
    ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s newfound status as the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. has thrust the state into crisis mode as officials battle over the best way to curb the outbreak. On Tuesday, Florida hit 11,515 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, marking the third straight day that the state has broken its record. About 2,400 patients are now in intensive care. At the same time, there’s concern among experts that the Sunshine State is still weeks away from hitting its peak. The state now accounts for roughly 1 in 5 new cases nationally. Still, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisMeghan McCain predicts DeSantis would put Harris 'in the ground' in 2024 matchup Republican who went maskless now says coronavirus 'wants to kill us' DeSantis challenger Nikki Fried says she does not support statewide mask mandate in Florida MORE, a rising Republican star who won accolades from conservatives last year for his laissez faire approach to the pandemic, has resisted calls for new mask mandates or lockdowns, arguing that such restrictions had worsened the public health and economic impacts on other...
    Last week, everyone in government dropped the ball on extending the pandemic crisis eviction moratorium. President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were all aware that the moratorium would expire on July 31, 2021. They all knew that the U.S. Supreme Court was not going to allow another extension without legislation. Congress could have taken up a bill at any time in July, but apparently they thought the White House was going to do something. Biden should have told them before last Thursday afternoon while they were all getting ready to leave for recess that the White House wasn't going to do anything about it. Now 15 million people in 6.5 million households—nearly 8 million of them children—are at risk of being kicked out of their homes. Right now. The Aspen Institute calculates that "these households collectively owe more than $20 billion to their landlords. On a per tenant basis, average debt owed to landlords exceeds $3,000, with significant variation based on time away from work, family needs, and other factors." Those who are most at...
                      by Scott McClallen  Local governments are spending more taxpayer money on lobbying year-over-year, according to a report released Thursday by State Auditor Julie Blaha. “Over the past five years, local government expenditures have increased by 11 percent on staff and contract lobbyists,” Blaha said in a statement. “When adjusted for inflation, the increase is approximately 4 percent.” Blaha said remote hearings can reduce government lobbying expenditures. “Part of local government lobbying costs are driven by the logistics of engaging with the legislature. Options to participate in hearings and committee meetings remotely may reduce travel costs, particularly for entities in Greater Minnesota,” Blaha said. Of the $10 million: 115 local governments using their own staff or hired lobbyists spent $5.5 million while local government associations lobbying spent $4.5 million— $409,998, or 8%, more than in 2019. Among the 25 local government associations that lobbied the Legislature for government members, 12 reported expenditures on lobbying over $100,000 in 2020 that accounted for for $3.9 million, or 86% of the total 2020 association lobbying expenditures....
    President BidenJoe BidenFirst lady leaves Walter Reed after foot procedure Biden backs effort to include immigration in budget package MyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News MORE, in a late plea to prevent rental evictions as the federal government's moratorium is set to expire this weekend, urged local governments on Friday to use federal funding to block evictions. "Every state and local government must get these funds out to ensure we prevent every eviction we can," Biden said in a statement released Friday evening. "State and local governments can and should use both the Emergency Rental Assistance and their American Rescue Plan state and local funds to support policies with courts, community groups, and legal aid to ensure no one seeks an eviction when they have not sought out Emergency Rental Assistance funds," he continued." Biden emphasized that "there is no legal barrier to moratorium at the state and local level," while adding that his administration "will not rest – nor should state and local governments – until Emergency Rental Assistance dollars reach Americans in need." Late last month, the Centers for Disease Control and...
    STATES and local government could soon start offering $100 payments to people in order to get the vaccine under direct orders from President Joe Biden in an effort to increase the country's vaccination rates. Biden called on states and local governments to allocate funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payments to people who have still not gotten the vaccine. 2Biden told states and local governments to offer $100 incentives to people to get the jabCredit: AP The Ben Franklins would provide "an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates, protect communities, and save lives," said the Treasury Department on Thursday. "Treasury stands ready to give technical assistance to state and local governments so that they may use the funds effectively," the department's statement read. This will be used "to support increased vaccination in their communities, and Treasury will partner with the Department of Health and Human Services throughout this effort." Biden, who has been receiving flack for ignoring questions regarding mandatory vaccines in the military, made the announcement on Thursday while discussing the coronavirus at the...
    President Joe Biden will ask state and local governments on Thursday to pay Americans $100 to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. The White House released details of the proposal in a fact sheet sent to reporters on Thursday afternoon. “Today, the President will call on states, territories, and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to those who get vaccinated,” the White House release read. The White House cited successful incentive programs in states like New Mexico, Ohio, and Colorado for helping drive up vaccination rates. The White House urged state and local governments to use federal government funding provided to them by the American Rescue Plan to make the payments. “The President will call on every state, territory, and local government to use this ARP funding to provide $100 to anyone who gets vaccinated,” the White House wrote. Biden is also following the lead set by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also announced a plan for a $100 payment for people who got vaccinated. “I personally believe the guarantee that, right then...
    President BidenJoe BidenBriahna Joy Gray: White House thinks extending student loan pause is a 'bad look' Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Former New York state Senate candidate charged in riot MORE on Thursday said he wants to see local governments, private companies and schools move towards vaccine mandates while laying out the administration’s next efforts to get more Americans vaccinated. “I’d like to see them continue to move in that direction,” the president told reporters following a speech on COVID-19 vaccination efforts from the White House. “That’s why I pointed out, I asked the Justice Department to determine whether that is, they’re able to do that legally. And they can. Local communities can do that, local businesses can do that,” he said.  The president directed all federal employees and onsite contractors to show they are vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing on Thursday. He said in his remarks that it’s still unclear if the federal government can mandate that others get vaccinated. “It’s still a question whether the federal government can mandate the whole...
    Drew Angerer/Getty Images The Treasury Department on Thursday announced that President Joe Biden is encouraging municipal and state governments to offer $100 payments for unvaccinated individuals to get vaccinated, a story which the White House later confirmed. Reports from both CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor broke the news, which comes just a day after New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced the payment plan for his city. The offer of payment as incentive is authorized by policy of the Treasury Department, which on Thursday they clarified permits the use of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds disbursed under the American Recovery Act for that purpose. “For these governments and the communities they represent, no task is more urgent than turning the tide on the pandemic, and there is no better tool than vaccination,” the Dept. says. “This is why Treasury is encouraging state, territorial, and local governments to use the funds to enhance their vaccination efforts, including by providing individual vaccine incentives.” A press release from Treasury explains the incentive program in more detail, and includes...
    President Joe Biden is calling on state and local governments to offer $100 payments to residents as an incentive to get vaccinated against COVID-19.  The Hill reported that the Treasury Department made the announcement on Thursday, July 29, as the Biden administration pushes for more Americans to get vaccinated. The news outlet said the payments would be offered to those who have been vaccinated recently. The states and local governments would use funds from the American Rescue Plan for the program. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced on Wednesday that residents who receive their first vaccine dose at a city-run vaccination site will receive a $100 payment. That program is set to begin on Friday, July 30.
    More On: Coronavirus Aid group vaccinates migrants as France expands virus pass Australian man accused of punching police horse at COVID protest refuses virus test Maine church seeks preemptive ban on COVD-19 restrictions Isolated Myanmar calls for international help as COVID cases surge President Biden is urging states and cities to offer $100 to stragglers who haven’t yet gotten a COVID-19 vaccine shot — as the more contagious Delta variant prompts new mask mandates. Biden urged the financial incentive one day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city residents will get $100 if they get vaccinated. Young and low-income people are less likely to be vaccinated, prompting authorities across the country to sweeten the pot with raffles, lotteries and gift cards. The Treasury Department said that Biden wants state and local governments to consider funding $100 payments through $350 billion in federal relief funds included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill that passed in March. “Today, the President is calling on state, territorial, and local governments to provide $100 payments for every newly vaccinated American,...
    GRASS VALLEY (CBS13) – Cybercriminals recently struck the City of Grass Valley with a ransomware attack that has many asking questions. Grass Valley isn’t the first city in the region to become targets, and likely won’t be the last. Though, it came as a surprise to some community members that the city decided to pay the attacker’s ransom. READ MORE: UC Davis Conducting Trial Of Third COVID-19 Vaccine Shot “I think everyone’s a target,” said Matthew Coulter, a Grass Valley local. He wasn’t thrilled to hear the city made the choice to pay up. “We’re not supposed to negotiate with terrorists – it emboldens them.” CBS13 asked city officials why they paid the ransom instead of finding other ways out. “It wasn’t a payment to make our systems operational,” said Grass Valley Police Chief Alex Gammelgard. “It was a payment to keep our victims from experiencing future victimization.” City and emergency services were not impacted much, and some discretionary outages were temporarily put into place. But Gammelgard said the foreign attacks copied city data and put it at risk of...
    WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) –Delaware is calling on its local governments to join a proposed settlement that could bring $100 million to fight opioid addiction. Delaware’s attorney general was joined by families of people affected by substance use disorder. The proposed nationwide $26 billion settlement is with drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, as well as three distributors of opioid painkillers. The money comes at a time when Delaware is seeing a record number of opioid overdose deaths. Local governments have five months to sign on the deal.
    BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland could receive as much as $485 million as part of a $26 billion multi-state settlement in connection with an ongoing investigation of the three largest opioid distributors in the United States – Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson, an opioids manufacturer, state’s Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a statement Wednesday. The settlement will require significant reform of industry practices to prevent this type of crisis from happening again. The proposed agreement is not yet final, according to the statement. READ MORE: ‘Some Measure of Justice’ Baltimore City Pays $525K To Victim Who Says Corrupt GTTF Cops Wrongly Sent Him To Prison, Part of $14 Million In Settlements A team of attorneys met Wednesday via Zoom to discuss the first steps of the process. “Where we are now is step one,” said attorney Joseph Rice, with the firm Motley Rice, which represents dozens of state and local governments that have sued the drug industry. “The settlement agreement is going to go out to the Attorney Generals.” Now, it’s in the hands of...
    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland’s attorney general says a proposed $26 billion settlement with opioid producers could bring as much as $485 million to Maryland. Attorney General Brian Frosh says the proposal announced Wednesday could help address the opioid epidemic in the state and its local subdivisions. The settlement, which isn’t final, also would require reforms of industry practices. The settlement would resolve the claims of participating states and local governments across the country. States will have 30 days to approve the agreements. After that, local governments will have four months to sign on. Last year, opioid overdose deaths rose to a record 93,000 across the country. Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland could receive as much as $485 million as part of a $26 billion multi-state settlement in connection with an ongoing investigation of the three largest opioid distributors in the United States – Cardinal Health, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson, an opioids manufacturer, state’s Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a statement Wednesday. The settlement will require significant reform of industry practices to prevent this type of crisis from happening again. The proposed agreement is not yet final, according to the statement. READ MORE: MTA Officer Indicted On Second-Degree Assault, Misconduct Charges After He Allegedly Punched Man Repeatedly Maryland and the other states were investigating allegations that the companies participated in several illegal promotional activities that helped create the opioid crisis while distributing more drugs than warranted for legitimate medical purposes. The settlement would resolve the claims of participating states and local governments across the country. States now have 30 days to sign onto the deaL and local governments in the participating states will have up to 150 days to join to secure a...
    People lined up to get their COVID shots in Nantong, in China's eastern Jiangsu province. STR/AFP via Getty Images China is imposing new rules in five provinces to restrict the movement of unvaccinated people. The regulations bar those without at least one COVID shot from using a range of public facilities. Without proof of vaccination, one will not be allowed entry to hospitals, supermarkets, and malls. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The vaccine-hesitant population in at least five Chinese provinces won't have much choice but to get their COVID jab soon. The Chinese government announced this week that several provinces will impose a gamut of new guidelines to limit where the unvaccinated can go. Jiangxi and Zhejiang in eastern China, Shandong in the northeast, Shaanxi in the northwest, and Fujian in the south,  will roll out rules within the next month that mandate proof of vaccination to use public facilities, per the South China Morning Post.  According to the SCMP, these tight regulations will not apply to those who are exempted for medical reasons. But if...
    (CNN)The White House is encouraging state and local governments to use funding from the Covid relief package passed earlier this year to address a summer rise in violent crime as pandemic restrictions loosen nationwide.The administration's strategy to combat crime, a White House memo obtained by CNN said, "uses the American Rescue Plan's $350 billion in financial support and clear guidance to provide state, local, territorial, and tribal governments the money they need to put more police officers on the beat -- including hiring above pre-pandemic levels in communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic -- as well as the other resources, training, and accountability they need to engage in effective community policing."The memo comes ahead of a meeting on Monday between President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and local leaders -- including law enforcement, elected officials, and a community violence intervention expert -- that is expected to include representatives of cities using the Covid relief bill's funds. The memo detailed some of the best practices from the cities.The meeting comes as some Democrats seek to...
    A general view as search and rescue teams look for possible survivors and remains in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Michael Reaves/Getty Images Local governments do not evenly enforce high-rise building rules, The New York Times reported. Since the Surfside building collapse, high-rise buildings are being evaluated again for errors.  The condo that collapsed had "structural issues" but it's not clear if that caused the collapse. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The collapse of the Champlain Tower South condo building in Surfside, Florida revealed how the state's strict high-rise building rules were unevenly enforced by different local governments, The New York Times reported.  Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava last week ordered an audit of all buildings that are more than 40 years old following the collapse.  "We want to make sure that every building has completed their re-certification process, and we want to move swiftly to remediate any issues that may have been identified in that process," Cava said during a news conference. At least...
    White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsSunday shows preview: As delta variant spreads, US leaders raise concerns Fauci takes vaccination push to TikTok Overnight Health Care: White House to send 'surge teams' to delta variant hot spots | St. Louis recommends vaccinated wear masks indoors | 120K people in Oklahoma gain Medicaid coverage MORE skirted a question about whether local governments in high-spread, low-vaccinated areas should reimpose mask mandates amid the spread of new, highly contagious coronavirus variants.  During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," anchor Dana BashDana BashSullivan says US preparing more Russia sanctions over Navalny Sullivan: US will not be issuing 'threats or ultimatums' to China in COVID-19 origin investigation Sanders: Biden and I are 'taking a look at reality for working families' for infrastructure plan MORE asked the administration official what his personal recommendation would be to local governments in areas that meet these criteria.  “Well, as we have [said] in the beginning, local governments will make their own local decisions based on their vaccination rates and levels,” Zients said.  "They make their own decisions,...
    Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried claimed Friday that her “greatest weakness” was the fact that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a national platform. Fried made the claim during an interview with CNN anchor Poppy Harlow, who promptly reminded Fried that she herself was using a national platform (CNN) to make that complaint. (RELATED: Official Who Promoted DeSantis Conspiracy Theories Announces Run For Florida Governor) WATCH: Harlow asked Fried to weigh in on DeSantis’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic, of which she had often been critical, as the most recent numbers appeared to indicate that Florida had come through with some of the best possible results. “Florida has a 4.8% unemployment rate, well below the national average, the per capita death rate from COVID-19 is 27th, nowhere near the highest. Do you think he deserves credit for that?” the anchor asked. (RELATED: ‘Florida Chose Freedom Over Fauci-ism’: Gov. DeSantis Gets Huge Applause At Country Music Festival) Fried said she did not believe DeSantis deserved credit. She claimed DeSantis had taken a “hands-off” approach and that officials at...
    TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A coalition of local governments and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried want the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about a 2011 state law that threatens tough penalties if city and county officials approve gun-related regulations. Attorneys for the local governments and Fried filed notices Wednesday that are initial steps in asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. READ MORE: Gov. Ron DeSantis Says Florida Will Help With Border Control As is common, the notices do not provide detailed legal arguments. But they stem, in part, from a decision last month by the 1st District Court of Appeal to deny a request to send the case to the Supreme Court – a request known as certifying “questions of great public importance.” The efforts to get a Supreme Court hearing have come after the Tallahassee-based appeals court in April upheld the constitutionality of the 2011 law. Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, and the penalties in the 2011 law were designed to strengthen that...
    Minnesota cities, townships, and counties are facing a tough balancing act. State Auditor Julie BlahaDay in and day out, the pandemic has forced community leaders to make hundreds of hard choices to keep budgets balanced while still providing the services necessary to keep our communities running. As state auditor, I oversee over $40 billion in local government spending, so I have witnessed the strain the COVID-19 pandemic put on local governments. That strain affects all of us; we rely on our local governments to run our schools and our libraries, to keep us safe and healthy, and so much more. Fortunately, help is here Minnesota. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan is set to deliver $2 billion in economic relief to local governments in every corner of our great state. A need for ongoing stimulus When our office crunched the numbers for our 2021 State of Main Street analysis, one key finding was that local governments have a strong need for ongoing stimulus. The services our towns and cities provide to Minnesotans are primarily financed by property taxes, and there...
                      by Scott McClallen  Legislation in Lansing aims to dictate whether local governments can ban Michiganders from generating income via short-term rentals (STR). The Michigan Municipal League (MML) opposes the bill backed by GOP lawmakers, Senate Bill 446 and House Bill 4722, which aim to stop governments from banning STRs. A vote is expected within two weeks. Each side says the other wants governmental overreach. MML says Lansing outright prohibiting local government from banning STRs statewide is advocating for “big government,” while the GOP says local government telling residents how they can and can’t use their home is also government overreach. Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport, sponsored HB 4722. “People’s private property rights have been threatened by the blanket bans some communities have taken against short-term rentals,” Lightner previously told The Center Square. “Some families make ends meet by renting their homes to others for short periods of time. My goal is to create consistency in the way all short-term rentals are treated across our state – so families can invest confidently in a home without the...
    By: KDKA-TV News Staff PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Local governments will be getting less money this year from gas drilling. READ MORE: Will The Ford Maverick Be A Game-Changer In The Auto Industry? Impact fees on natural gas producers totaled $146 million for 2020. That’s about $54 million dollars less than the previous year. READ MORE: Highly Intoxicated Person Arrested After 2-Year-Old Boy Found Walking Around Duquesne Alone In Only Underwear The biggest reason? The price of natural gas was much lower in 2020. MORE NEWS: City Of Pittsburgh Offices, Facilities Closing Friday In Observance Of Juneteenth Many townships bring in six figures from impact fees — like Forward, Derry, Washington and Sewickley townships in Westmoreland County.
    LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Mayor Eric Garcetti attended a Zoom meeting of California mayors from 12 of the state’s largest cities that focused on a new state program to help local governments cope with the homelessness crisis. The proposed plan would give city governments $1 billion a year for the next four years to combat homelessness  and provide services to those that are unhoused. “If you want to see something happen in the fight against homelessness, make sure local leaders have frictionless fast money that they can put in a flexible way out there,” Garcetti said. The mayor also pointed out that 59% percent of unhoused people in the state of California live in the state’s 13 largest cities.
    (CNN)Republican-controlled states have escalated their offensive against Democratic-controlled cities and counties this year to unprecedented heights, further deepening the trench between red and blue America. From Key West, Florida, to Bozeman, Montana, from Atlanta to Houston, local communities predominantly governed by Democrats have seen more of their policy decisions overridden by Republican legislatures and governors. This surge of state preemption began with aggressive efforts by Republican governors to override local public health rules during the coronavirus pandemic, but in this year's legislative session it has spread to cover a panoramic range of issues. GOP-run states have reversed local decisions on everything from voting rules to police funding levels, from policies on homelessness and energy to zoning and fees on developers. In Key West's case, the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature even overturned a local ballot initiative barring giant cruise ships from docking in the small community. "The level of preemption is only growing," says Brooks Rainwater, director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities. "We are just seeing this happen all throughout the country." The increased frequency...
    TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed 24 bills into law late Friday, including a measure that limits local impact fees imposed on builders and developers to help pay for infrastructure to handle growth. The latest group of bills earning DeSantis’ signature from the 2021 Legislative session were announced in an email with accompanying transmittal letters to Secretary of State Laurel Lee, lacking the fanfare of a trio of bills focused on military families and veterans the governor signed earlier in the day during a ceremony at American Legion Palm Valley Post 233 in St. Johns County. READ MORE: Miami Weather: Mostly Sunny Monday, Highs In The Upper 80s The new laws include the creation of a 10-member task force to study unmarked and abandoned African-American cemeteries (HB 37); an effort to crack down on “swatting” by establishing felony charges for falsely reporting a crime in which a police response results in death or great bodily harm (HB 371); and a requirement that school districts notify parents they can exempt children from lessons on reproductive health or any disease, including...