IRS Under Fire over Wasted Billions of Dollars and Millions in Backlogs

Lawmakers continued to raise concerns about the Internal Revenue Service at a Congressional hearing this week as the agency deals with billions in misspent dollars, hefty processing backlogs, and complaints over poor customer service.

Lawmakers lobbed questions at the tax-collecting agency during the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing.

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Justice Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying the Institutions Required for a Free Society’

It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

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Majority of Americans Say They Are ‘Falling Behind’ Rising Cost of Living

The majority of Americans feel they cannot keep up with the cost of living as inflation and the price of goods continue to rise, according to new polling data.

A poll from NBC News asked Americans, “Do you think that your family’s income is … going up faster than the cost of living, staying about even with the cost of living, or falling behind the cost of living?”

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Buyers Need 40 Percent More Income to Buy a Home in Top Metro Areas: Report

Demand for homes in certain areas of the country has caused supply to dwindle, prices to skyrocket and buyers needing nearly 50% more income than they would have last year to even enter top markets, according to a report by the real estate brokerage firm, Redfin.

“Housing is significantly less affordable than it was a year ago because the surge in housing costs has far outpaced the increase in wages, meaning many Americans are now priced out of homeownership,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said.

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CBP’s Air and Marine Operations Interdicted 62 Tons of Drugs in First Three Months of Year

Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations interdicted 62 tons (124,000 pounds) of illicit drugs in the first three months of this year, CBP reports, working with international, federal, state and local partners.

“Collaboration keeps us all safer,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said of their efforts. “CBP AMO works with U.S. and international partners to stem the flow of illicit narcotics. Through the end of March, AMO has contributed to the seizure of over 124,000 lbs of narcotics by partner agencies.”

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Midwestern States Endure Steep Rise in Drug Overdose Deaths in 2021

U.S. drug overdoses increased 15% between December 2020 and December 2021, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The two-year jump established new records for overdose deaths over previous years.

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‘Shocking Discovery:’ Biden Knows Drug Cartels Control, Profit from Illegal Immigration, DHS Memo Shows

Crowd of immigrants

Border patrol agents are preparing for “a possible increase in migrant activity due to an increase in large group activity” as a result of Biden administration immigration policies, an internal Department of Homeland Security document released by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody says.

It specifically sites suspending the Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the Remain in Mexico Policy, and terminating the public health authority, Title 42, as contributing to an influx of people coming to the U.S. southern border from Central and South America through Mexico.

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Businesses Fail to Find Workers, and Experts Say Federal Policies Have Made It Worse

A new labor market survey found that a majority of employers, particularly restaurants, still cannot find enough workers.

The new report from Alignable said that 83% of restaurants can’t find enough workers. Overall, the report found that “63% of all small business employers can’t find the help they need, after a year of an ongoing labor shortage.”

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Biden Administration Cancels New Oil Leases as Gas Prices Hit Record Highs

President Joe Biden canceled three pending oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico this week as gas prices hit record highs.

Biden has taken heavy fire for blocking new leases and pipelines as energy costs have surged but has defended his record. This latest development intensified that criticism.

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Inflation Slowed in April, but Prices Continued Their Steady Increase

Inflation continued its steady rise in April, when the Consumer Price Index increased 8.3% over last year, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For the month, the CPI rose 0.3%. That’s down from the 1.2% spike in March, but higher than analysts expected. The 8.3% increase over last year remains near 40-year highs, the bureau reported.

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States That Legalized Marijuana Are Bringing in More Tax Revenue on Marijuana Sales than Alcohol

A majority of the states that legalized recreational marijuana for recreational use are collecting more tax revenue from pot sales than alcohol sales.

The first two states to legalize pot are profiting the most, Colorado and Washington. Across the country, the total revenue for taxes on weed amounted to nearly $3 billion, according to a report on “sin taxes” by The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP).

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Democratic State Attorneys General Ask Biden to Fully Forgive All Student Loan Debt

Joe Biden

Seven state attorneys general, and an eighth from Puerto Rico, have called upon President Joe Biden to fully cancel federal student debt estimated at more than $1.6 trillion.

The U.S. Education Department reports more than 43 million borrowers on average owe $37,000 in student loan debt. The USED already has forgiven $17 billion in student loan debt held by 725,000 borrowers since the beginning of the Biden administration.

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Democratic Governor’s Group Pledges $75 Million to Reelect Seven Governors

The Democratic Governors Association on Wednesday pledged $75 million for ad buys on behalf of reelection efforts for seven Democrat incumbent governors.

Tony Evers’ reelection campaign gained $21 million in Wisconsin. The group is also promising to spend $2.5 million to reelect New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham; $4.5 million to reelect Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz; $5 million to reelect Colorado Gov. Jared Polis; $5 million to reelect Maine Gov. Janet Mills; $10 million to reelect Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak; and $23 million to reelect Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

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Federal Judge Will Sentence Chauvin to 20 to 25 Years in Prison

Derek Chauvin

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson has accepted Derek Chauvin’s plea agreement and will sentence him to 20 to 25 years in prison, according to a one-page order issued Wednesday.

“At the change-of-plea hearing, the Court deferred accepting Defendant’s plea pending issuance of the preliminary presentence investigation report,” Magnuson said. “That report has now issued, and acceptance of the plea is appropriate.”

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Biden: Women Have a ‘Fundamental’ Right to an Abortion

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called a woman’s right to abortion “fundamental” after a draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion leaked to Politico indicates a majority of justices will rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental,” Biden said in a statement. “Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”

The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right.

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Florida U.S. Rep. Gaetz Blasts DHS Sec. Mayorkas at Congressional Hearing

Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz blasted Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing on border security.

In his line of questioning, Gaetz asked Mayorkas about the removal process of 1.2 million people who are in the U.S. illegally who’ve been given deportation orders by judges and haven’t been removed.

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Minnesota House and Senate Pass $25 Million Broadband Expansion Bill

It will cost Minnesota taxpayers $25 million in fiscal year 2023 to expand high-speed broadband access across the state if the governor signs a bill both legislative houses passed this week.

HF 4366, an omnibus agriculture and housing bill, includes increasing availability of grant funding for broadband from 50% to 75% of the total cost of a project, or up to $10 million, rather than a $5 million limit. Under the bill, the Office of Broadband Development must report to broadband policy and finance committees’ leaders by the end of 2022 how the bill changes the number and amounts of grants awarded.

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Six Governors Hit Taxpayers with $90,000 Bill for U.N. Climate Conference Travel

Gov. Jay Inslee brought his wife to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, sticking Washington taxpayers with the bill, which included more than $12,510.08 for business class airfare for the couple, something no other governor did at taxpayer expense.

Inslee led a delegation of subnational governments to the conference. The total travel tab for Washington taxpayers cost $25,955.32, more than any other U.S. state examined by The Center Square. The higher cost was due in part to the governor’s decision to fly with his wife in business class while other governors who attended at taxpayer expense flew in less expensive seats.

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Law Enforcement: Border Patrol Agents Have Lost Operational Control, Awareness at Border

While Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claims the southern border is secure and he has a plan in place for increased surges, those in law enforcement say the opposite is true. Not only have Border Patrol agents lost operational control of the border, they’ve also lost operational awareness and have no idea who is coming through, current and former Border Patrol agents told The Center Square.

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Wisconsin 2020 Election Investigation to Continue

Robin Vos

The investigation into Wisconsin’s 2020 election won’t end until lawmakers are certain about the legal authority to issue subpoenas by the state’s special investigator.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Tuesday issued a statement explaining why he is extending former Supreme Court Justice Mike Gableman’s special investigation once again.

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in ‘Remain in Mexico’ Lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a major immigration case, one of several key legal battles working their way through the federal judicial system as illegal immigration soars.

In Biden v. Texas, the attorneys general of Missouri and Texas sued after the Biden administration ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

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First Arrest Occurs in ‘Feeding Our Future’ Food Scam

Federal authorities nabbed a man allegedly trying to flee the country after helping steal millions of dollars meant for child hunger programs.

Court documents say Mohamed Jama Ismail, 49, tried to flee the country after authorities revoked his passport in January after authorities raided more than 24 properties and seized more than $6 million from a business he co-founded named Empire Cuisine.

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Record Number of Hispanic Republicans Are Running for State House in Border State

A record number of Hispanics in New Mexico are running for state House seats as members of the Republican Party, Axios reported Tuesday.

The state, which has the highest percentage of Hispanics in the country, has 18 Hispanic Republicans campaigning to be elected to the Democrat-controlled state House of Representatives, Axios reported. The candidates are largely running competitive districts, both urban and rural.

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‘Detransitioners’ Come Out Against Sex Change Procedures and Gender Ideology

Young women who regretted undergoing sex changes in their adolescent years spoke about their experiences and the adults who allowed them to transition in a Tuesday Substack article by Suzy Weiss.

The women, sometimes referred to as “detransitioners,” were given extreme biomedical interventions ranging from hormones and puberty blockers to double mastectomies in adolescence to relieve their gender dysphoria, according to the article. Several blamed the adults in their lives for failing them.

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Fed Report: Inflation Passed on to Consumers, Will Continue for Months

Newly compiled data from the Federal Reserve shows that inflation is hurting businesses, costing consumers, and likely not going away anytime soon.

The Federal Reserve released its “Beige Book,” a report that compiles reports from “Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources” from the 12 Fed districts around the country.

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Feds Offering 80 Percent Less in Oil and Natural Gas Lease Sales, Increasing Royalty Rate

The U.S. Department of Interior announced it is making only 20% of eligible acreage for oil and natural gas production available for leasing on federal lands to comply with a federal court order.

In his first week in office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters to be halted by the Interior Department. The agency was also tasked to review existing permits for fossil fuel development.

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Biden Administration Will Fight to Keep Mask Mandate for Planes, Trains and Airports

The U.S. Department of Justice has appealed a federal judge’s ruling overturning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) mask mandate on planes, trains and in airports.

In her ruling to overturn the mandate, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle called the CDC mandate “unlawful,” saying the Biden administration did not follow proper procedures and went beyond its authority in making the rule.

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States Launch ‘Border Strike Force’ to Challenge Biden on Lack of Enforcement

President Joe Biden has faced heavy criticism over the surge in illegal immigration since he took office, and now a coalition of states has formed to challenge the president on the issue.

So far, 26 governors have signed on to the creation of the “Border Strike Force,” a coalition of state leaders working together to fight Mexican cartels and to slow the massive spike in illegal immigration since early last year.

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CDC Study: Remote Learning Hurt Kids’ Mental Health

When schools pivoted to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the first casualty was kids’ mental health.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed teenagers’ mental health from January 2021 to June 2021. Compared with 2019, the study found that the proportion of mental health–related emergency department visits in 2020 increased by about 31% among kids aged 12–17 years.

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Goliad Sheriff: Cartels Are Preparing for Influx of People Never Seen Before in U.S. History

Border Patrol agents and Texas law enforcement officers are bracing for as many as 500,000 illegal immigrants waiting in Mexico to enter Texas in the Rio Grande Valley Sector once Title 42 is lifted, Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd told The Center Square in an exclusive interview.

The Rio Grande Valley Sector, one of 20 U.S. Customs and Border Protection sectors, stretches from the Gulf of Mexico south of Brownsville west to the eastern tip of Falcon Lake in Starr County. RGV Sector Border Patrol agents are tasked with patrolling over 320 river miles, 250 coastal miles and 19 counties equating to more than 17,000 square miles in the busiest sector along the southern border.

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Minnesota Has the Most Long-Term Care Facilities with Staffing Shortages, National Report Says

Minnesota’s share of long-term care facilities reporting staffing shortages is the largest in the country, Seniorly reports.

Seniorly’s April 8 report indicated about two of every five long-term care facilities in the North Star State are experiencing staffing shortages this year, up 18.4% since 2020.

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Consumer Prices Rise 8.5 Percent, the Highest in 40 Years

Newly released federal inflation data show that prices continue to rise at the fastest rate in four decades, continuing the trend of soaring inflation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation, which showed prices rose an additional 1.2% in March, part of an 8.5 percent spike in the past 12 months.

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Analysis: Famed Bangladesh Mask Study Excluded Crucial Data

With one exception, every gold standard study of masks in community settings has failed to find that they slow the spread of contagious respiratory diseases. The outlier is a widely cited study run in Bangladesh during the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of its authors claim it proves that mask mandates “or strategies like handing out masks at churches and other public events—could save thousands of lives each day globally and hundreds each day in the United States.”

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Alabama Sues Biden Administration for Not Deporting Illegal Immigrants

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is suing the Biden administration over claims it is ignoring immigration law that requires the federal government to arrest, detain and deport foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally.

The lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration’s immigration policy exceeds the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, is arbitrary and capricious, illegally bypassed notice and public commenting, and is unconstitutional.

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Reports: As Inflation Rose in 2021, So Did Americans’ Credit Card Debt

As inflation rose last year to a 40-year high, Americans’ credit card debt also soared, according to analyses published by the personal-finance website WalletHub.

In its Credit Card Debt study, Wallethub found that consumers racked up $87.3 billion in new debt in 2021. During the fourth quarter of 2021, debt increased by $74.1 billion, the largest increase ever reported, Wallethub notes. It was also a 63% larger increase than the post-Great Recession average for a fourth quarter.

By the end of 2021, the average household credit card balance was $8,590. “That’s $2,642 below WalletHub’s projected breaking point,” the report states.

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Minnesota Among the Hardest Hit as Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads to 25 States

The number of commercial and backyard flocks with confirmed avian flu increased by 36% in the past week, according to data on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

Three of the 57 new cases reported were in Missouri, bringing the state total to nine cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu Influenza (HPAI) in seven counties—Bates, Dade, Gentry, Jasper, Lawrence, Ralls and Stoddard. Approximately 421,000 birds were in those flocks.

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15 Attorneys General Call on Department of Education to Halt Revising Title IX Regulations

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, leading a coalition of 15 Republican attorneys general, has called on the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to cancel its plan to revise Title IX.

The DOE’s plan to do so, they argue, appears to be an attempt by the federal government to infringe on parental rights in education, erode the rights of women’s and girls’ sports, and reverse existing guarantees for victims of sexual harassment and assault.

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Florida Congressman Files Bill to Give States Ability to Enforce Immigration Laws When Federal Government Won’t

U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., has filed a bill that would give states a greater ability to enforce immigration laws when the federal government won’t.

Posey and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced his bill, the Immigration and Enforcement Partnership Act of 2022, after the Biden administration decided to terminate Title 42, a federal public health rule used during national public health emergencies. Moody has sued the administration several times for violating immigration law.

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Minnesota Attorney General Warns NFL It Could Face Investigation of Treatment of Women and Minority Groups

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison warned National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell that he shares “grave concerns” with five other state attorneys general about the league’s treatment of women.

The attorneys general also said in their Wednesday letter to Goodell they may open an investigation. Along with Ellison, the attorneys general of Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and New York signed the letter in response to the New York Times’ February report that more than 30 former employees of the NFL said the league’s culture was demoralizing.

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Feds: Retail Food Prices to Increase by an Additional Five Percent

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects U.S. food prices to increase by at least another 5% on average this year as the majority of Americans surveyed in a new poll cite cost of living increases as a top concern and lack of confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to do anything about it.

Rising prices are due to inflation, the Federal Reserve increasing interest rates, and consequences of Russia invading Ukraine, the USDA states in its most recent monthly Food Price Outlook, which forecasts retail food inflation.

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Border Patrol: Biden Policy Will Increase Already ‘High Levels’ of Illegal Immigration

President Joe Biden’s latest immigration policy change has taken heavy fire from a range of critics, but now even his own administration is raising concerns.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement Monday saying that Biden’s latest immigration policy change will lead to illegal immigration “above the current high levels.”

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House Passes Minnesota Renter’s Credit, but Future in Senate Remains in Doubt

Beginning next year, more than 156,000 new tax filers would become eligible for the Minnesota Renter’s Credit under a bill passed by the Minnesota House of Representatives Property Tax Division. 

The House voted 10-3 in favor of the bill, HF 4064, which moved the credit to the income tax forms and streamlined income calculation, according to a House news release. The bill also revamps the Local Government Aid formula and increases local government aid by $68.4 million and county program aid by $26 million in the 2024-2025 biennium, the release said. The bill appropriates $22 million annually from the General Fund to the Soil and Water Conservation District Aid and raises the School Building Bond Agriculture Credit to 85%.

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Majority of Americans Report ‘Falling Behind’ Rising Cost of Living

The majority of Americans feel they are “falling behind” as the cost of living continues to rise, according to newly released polling.

The poll from NBC News asked, “Do you think that your family’s income is … going up faster than the cost of living, staying about even with the cost of living, or falling behind the cost of living?”

In response, 62% of those polled said “falling behind” while only 6% said their income is “going up faster” than the cost of living.

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Report Highlights ‘Compounding Effect’ of Pandemic on Student Performance

A new national report highlights the “compounding effect” the pandemic and remote learning have had on student performance, especially for the youngest learners. 

The report from Renaissance Learning Inc., a Minnesota-based education technology company, found students have made modest gains since returning to the classroom, but have yet to catch up all the way.

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2020 Alcohol-Attributable Deaths in Minnesota Surpassed Previous Years’

Minnesota saw more deaths that were wholly attributable to alcohol in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic than in the previous three years, Minnesota Department of Public Health data show.

“The majority of alcohol-attributable deaths are related to chronic conditions that develop after many years of excessive drinking,” MDH Public Information Officer Erin McHenry told The Center Square in an emailed statement Wednesday.

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