Trump Touts Success of 450 Miles of Border Wall

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

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

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Minnesota Adapts California Vehicle Emission Standards

The Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday aiming to stop Gov. Tim Walz’s administration from adopting California’s vehicle emission standards.

MADA, which represents 350 franchised new car dealers with more than 20,000 employees, alleges Minnesota lacks the authority under the Federal Clean Air Act to regulate motor vehicle emissions.

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Minnesota Gov. Walz Asks Legislature to Enact COVID-19 Orders to Prepare for End of Emergency Powers

On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz asked the legislature to enact into law some of his executive orders to prepare for the end of his 11-month reign in a declared COVID-19 state of emergency.

Walz said they needed to work together to keep Minnesotans safe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Minnesota Gov. Walz to Loosen COVID-19 Restrictions; Gazelka Previews 2021 Session Priorities

Lawmakers kicked off the 2021 legislative session at noon on Tuesday, one day before Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce loosening restrictions on indoor dining and other settings after an improvement in the state’s number of COVID-19 cases.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, told The Center Square in a phone interview one priority is to craft a new two-year state budget without raising taxes on gas, sales, or income. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

business meeting

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

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

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Treasury Sending Out $600 Stimulus Checks This Week

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

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

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Analysis: Federal Tax Overhaul Increased Taxes on Wealthy in Many Blue States

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, harpooned by progressive Democrats as a handout to wealthy corporations, turned out to be more progressive in practice, new data from the federal government revealed. 

The federal tax reform measure supported by President Donald Trump increased taxes on some wealthy property owners in high-tax jurisdictions such as Illinois and New Jersey and decreased tax burdens on the middle class. 

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Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to California Farmers’ Case Against Government-Sanctioned Invasion of Private Property

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company asking it to invalidate a California regulation requiring union employees to enter private property for roughly 360 hours a year.

The plaintiffs are suing the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (CALRB), its chairman, two board members and executive secretary, arguing a state regulation allowing union organizers to access private property for the purposes of soliciting support violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. When doing so, the unions are authorizing “a seizure and taking of possessory interests in private property, including the right to exclude others,” the plaintiffs argue.

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In Another Effort to Challenge Electoral College Votes, Rep. Gohmert Sues Vice President Mike Pence

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, sued Vice President Mike Pence in an attempt to challenge the results of some states’ Electoral College votes.

Another attempt is being made by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, who says he and “dozens” of House members plan to challenge some of the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6 when the Joint Session of Congress meets to certify the votes and ratify the president-elect.

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Minimum Wage Hikes Set for 2021 Imperil Businesses Struggling Amid COVID Shutdowns

More than 80 states and local municipalities are slated to see minimum wage hikes in 2021, even as business owners continue to struggle during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Employment Policies Institute, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that studies how public policy impacts employment growth, released a comprehensive list of the minimum wage increases that will go into effect next year and in subsequent years.

“Minimum wage increases are demonstrated to cause job losses even in times of economic health,” said Michael Saltsman, EPI’s managing director. “These states and local areas are increasing the cost of labor as businesses are dealing with forced closures or a drastic drop in revenue. Employers and employees will pay the price for these misguided good intentions.”

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Minnesota Supreme Court Easing Continuing Education Requirements for Attorneys

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday granted a petition that will ease regulatory burdens on lawyers by doubling the amount of on-demand continuing legal education (CLE) credits that are accepted.

Every three years, attorneys in Minnesota need to finish 45 credit hours of CLE courses to maintain their licenses but previously capped on-demand credit hours at 15, although some lawyers argue they are more convenient, relevant, affordable and numerous than in-person CLEs.

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Eastern States Inching Toward New Regional Climate Pact That Could Cut Carbon Emissions, Raise Gas Prices

A group of Northeast and mid-Atlantic states are inching toward a regional climate pact that’s aimed at reducing emissions and easing traffic congestion, but could ultimately increase prices at the gas pumps.

Modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has reduced emissions from power plants, the Transportation and Climate Initiative would create a cap-and-invest program to drive down emissions from cars and trucks, which contribute to about 40% of regional greenhouse gas emissions scientists say contribute to a warmer planet.

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Minnesota Unemployment Claims Continue to Decline Despite Lockdown Measures

Minnesota’s new unemployment claims last week dropped by 9,254 from the week ending Dec. 5, according to Department of Labor statistics released Thursday morning.

Unemployment claims in the state continue to drop despite the ongoing prohibitions of indoor gatherings imposed by Gov. Tim Walz to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On Wednesday, Walz announced he was extending his lockdown orders through the holiday season.

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Texas Electors Pass Resolution Condemning Supreme Court Ruling as GOP Electors Cast Votes for Trump in Five Swing States

Presidential electors met across the U.S. Monday to cast their vote for president and vice president. In Austin, while Texas electors cast their vote for President Donald Trump, they also approved a resolution to “condemn the lack of action by the United State Supreme Court” for refusing to hear a lawsuit brought against four states by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

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Minneapolis City Council Votes to Raise Property Taxes, Cut $8 million from Police Budget But Aims for Higher Police Staffing Target

The Minneapolis City Council voted to cut $8 million from the Police Department (MPD) in their 2021 budget. However, the Council also also added a caveat to allow for additional future police recruitment, likely dodging a veto from Mayor Jacob Frey.

In a 7-6 vote Wednesday night, the council’s decision doesn’t change the number of officers in 2021, but sets a higher target number for replacing officers who are currently out on leave for post-traumatic stress disorders or other reasons with the council’s authorization.

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Arizona GOP Appeals Election Overturn Attempt to U.S. Supreme Court

The state chapter of the Republican Party is asking the nation’s highest court to consider its challenge to Arizona’s election results that was summarily rejected by other judges.

In the case, Kelli Ward, Arizona GOP chairwoman and plaintiff, posted a video Friday to Twitter announcing the appeal. 

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Pennsylvania House GOP Circulates Memo for Appointing New Pennsylvania Electors

House Republican lawmakers circulated a cosponsorship memo Friday that would appoint new electors if a pending Supreme Court legal challenge requires them to do so. 

The move comes after GOP leaders in both chambers insisted the state constitution prevents them from choosing electors that defy the certified popular vote. 

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No Trial, No Jail for Man Who Destroyed Columbus Statue

Michael Anthony Forcia, the man who organized the destruction of Minnesota’s Christopher Columbus statue, never faced trial and will not go to jail.

Forcia once faced a first-degree criminal property damage charge, which has now been suspended, and his trial was replaced with a virtual Zoom-based hearing. Instead of going to jail, he will have to perform 100 hours of community service and write a letter acknowledging that he destroyed the statue, according to Fox 9.

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Hospitality Industry Plea with Legislature for ‘Fighting Chance’

It’s been 19 days after the second forced closure of many businesses of 2020, and hospitality businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy if aid doesn’t come soon.

For JD Fratzke of Purpose Driven Restaurant Group in St. Paul, it’s the second time he’s been laid off this year.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Texas’ Lawsuit Seeking to Block Four Swing State Electors from Voting for President

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected the state of Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn presidential election results in four key swing states.

“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the nation’s highest court ruled in a decision released Friday eveninf. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

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Facebook Sued by 48 States, Federal Trade Commission Over Allegations of Monopolistic Practices

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that she is leading a coalition of dozens of states to file a lawsuit against social media giant Facebook.

James, along with the attorneys general of 47 other states and the Federal Trade Commission, accuse Facebook of using its dominant market position to acquire and otherwise crush competitors, tactics that amount to monopolistic abuse that harm users.

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Reports: Twenty Federal Agencies Have Wasted $2.3 Trillion in Taxpayer Money Since 2004

US Capitol

Improper payments made by federal government agencies totaled $175 billion last year, or $15 billion per month, according to PaymentAccuracy.gov, a website of the U.S. government.

This is in addition to $2.25 trillion worth of taxpayer money spent on improper payments from 2004 to 2018, according to a Congressional Research Service brief on the Improper Payments Act.

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Rubio Calls for More Small Business Loan Money in Compromise COVID-19 Relief Bill

The $908 billion pandemic stimulus compromise package being discussed in the U.S. Senate is a hopeful sign of progress, Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said, but it won’t garner his support until more assistance is tabbed for small businesses.

The four-month emergency package introduced Tuesday by a bipartisan coalition of senators and House representatives on Capitol Hill would fund transportation, food assistance, coronavirus testing centers and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) crafted by Rubio’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Senate Committee to help businesses pay their employees during shutdowns rather than lay them off.

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U.S. Supreme Court Sides with California Churches in Challenge to Gov. Newsom’s Ban on Indoor Services

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with two California church groups that are challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on indoor religious services during the latest COVID-19 surge.

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides great relief for churches and places of worship,” Liberty Counsel founder and Chairman Mat Staver said of the ruling.

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Drug Overdose Deaths Increased 31 Percent Year-to-Date in First Six Months of 2020

Previously unseen costs of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdowns are coming to light.

Drug overdose deaths increased 31% during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019, according to new data released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

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Minnesota Gyms Say Science, Data Don’t Justify Shutting Them Down

Gyms and fitness centers shuttered through Dec. 18 by Gov. Tim Walz claim the state’s own data doesn’t justify the mandate.

From June through Nov. 14, state data reported gyms accounted for 47 COVID-19 outbreaks, making up roughly 7.7% of the states’ 603 total outbreaks during that time.

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Food Insecurity Doubles in U.S. During Coronavirus Shutdowns

As 2020 winds down, roughly 23 percent of households in the U.S. are struggling with food insecurity, a number that has doubled since last year.

Experts project over 50 million Americans will be food insecure in 2020, including roughly 17 million children, Craig Gundersen, a Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics professor at the University of Illinois, says.

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CDC Committee to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Next Week

The group of medical and public health experts that develops recommendations for vaccine use for the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) will meet Tuesday.

CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) posted a notice for a meeting scheduled for Dec. 1 without any details, but officials confirmed Friday that COVID-19 vaccination would be on the agenda.

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Supreme Court Battle Looming After Pennsylvania Judge Dismisses Election Fraud Lawsuit

A federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed the president’s “meritless” election fraud lawsuit on Friday, leaving the door open for an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephanos Bibas said arguments made by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, that fraudulent mail-in ballots in Philadelphia tipped the scales for former Vice President Joe Biden were unsubstantiated.

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U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Grants Enbridge Final Permit for Line 3

The U.S Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) on Monday issued Enbridge its final federal construction permit for its $2.6 billion Line 3 oil pipeline.

Calgary-based Enbridge could begin construction as early as next month, a project expected to create 4,200 construction jobs and inject millions of dollars into Northern Minnesota.

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Judge Rules Minneapolis Residents Have Standing to Sue Over Police Reduction

Minneapolis residents have standing to sue the city over an alleged police staffing violation, Hennepin County District Court Judge Jamie Anderson has ruled. 

Anderson’s order rejected the city of Minneapolis’ attempt to throw out the lawsuit because the city said residents lacked standing to sue.

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COVID-19 Vaccine Temperature Requirements Could Create Logistics Challenge

Many states in the U.S. are hinging their COVID-19 mitigation strategies on the availability of a widely available vaccine. An issue bound to arise is the extremely cold temperatures the most promising experimental vaccines need to be kept at and the logistics of delivering them across the country. 

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is estimated to remain stable at standard refrigerator temperatures of 36° to 46°F for 30 days. Longer storage means a required temperature of mRNA-1273 needs -4°F for up to six months. 

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Michigan Board of Canvassers Certify Statewide Election Results

The Michigan State Board of Canvassers on Monday voted to certify the Nov. 3 election results on a 3-0 vote with one member abstaining.

Republican board member Aaron Van Langevelde voted with Democrats.

“I’ve reviewed every section. I haven’t found anything about an audit,” Van Langevelde said. “I found nothing about authority for us to delay certification because we’re waiting for more accurate results. I found nothing about making certification contingent on an audit. I found nothing that gives us the authority to review complaints for fraud.”

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Kemp Calls for Audit of Georgia’s Absentee Ballot Signatures

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday to complete a sample audit of the signatures on the absentee ballots cast in the general election.

Kemp’s recommendation came two days after the state completed a full hand recount and audit of the election results in the presidential election.

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Republican Congressmen Introduce Bill to Combat Voter Fraud

Two Republican congressmen from North Carolina, U.S. Reps. Ted Budd and Dan Bishop, introduced the Combat Voter Fraud Act in the wake of multiple lawsuits in several states in which the plaintiffs claim election irregularities and voter fraud occurred on Nov. 3 and following days.

The bill would direct the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to create a national strategy to combat and prevent voter fraud nationwide.

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Gov. Walz’s Announces Four-Week Lockdown; Republicans and Restaurants Groups Warn of Economic Fallout

On Wednesday night, Gov. Tim Walz introduced sweeping four-week restrictions to combat COVID-19, sparking outcry from restaurant groups and Republicans warning of the inevitable economic fallout.

The restrictions start on 11:59 p.m. Friday and stretch until Dec. 18. Among the restrictions are prohibitions on in-person social gatherings with anyone of another household; limiting restaurants and bars to offer take-out and delivery only; and shuttering gyms, fitness studios and event spaces.

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Gov. Walz Deems Thanksgiving Dinner a ‘Mini-Spreader Event’, Warns Minnesotans to Stay Home

In a Tuesday media call, Gov. Tim Walz designated extended family Thanksgivings as “mini-spreader events.”

“That Thanksgiving dinner or watching that football game, or movie … is a riskier proposition than getting your hair cut at a salon where everyone is masked, distanced,” Walz said.

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Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine 94.5 Percent Effective in Phase Three Study

Biotech company Moderna announced Monday that its new COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be 94.5 % effective.

The company said it intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks and expects the EUA to be based on the final analysis of 151 cases and a median follow-up of more than two months.

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Michigan Republicans Call to Impeach Gov. Whitmer Over Latest Shutdown Order

Hours after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer used her health department to shut down some businesses statewide for three weeks, State Representative Matt Maddock, (R-Milford), and roughly nine other Republican lawmakers called for impeachment hearings for the first-term Democrat.

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While Unions Demand More Money, Unemployment Data Shows Increasing Layoffs in Education Sector

In April, several education groups, including two national teachers’ unions, urged Congressional leaders to allocate more than $200 billion to education in addition to the CARES Act and federal relief through which Congress had just allocated nearly $31 billion in March.

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Hispanics Helped Trump Win in Florida, Texas, Analysis of Election Data Shows

The Republican Party has become a more multiethnic, multiracial, and working-class party, politicians said after viewing election data and precinct-level exit polls.

More Hispanics voted for President Donald Trump on Election Day, helping him secure wins in Texas and Florida, the second and third-largest states by population, respectively.

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