Arizona State Representative Opposes Mesa Hotel Purchase for Homeless

Arizona state Rep. Barbara Parker, R-Mesa, is opposing the city of Mesa’s plan to buy a hotel and use it for the homeless, a growing trend in the state.

Mesa is eyeing the purchase of the Grand Hotel on 6733 E. Main Street, in order to use the 70-room building for it’s “temporary housing program” known as Off the Streets, according to the city website.

Read More

AGs Ask Supreme Court to Overrule Restrictions on Enforcing Homeless Camping Bans

A group of 20 attorneys general want the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule a lower court’s restrictions on local governments enforcing homeless camping bans.

In their petition regarding Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, the attorneys general wrote that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was wrong to prohibit state and local governments from enforcing laws that bar public spaces from being used as homeless encampments.

Read More

Shipping Container Wall Lawsuit Dropped, Locals Justify Blocking Flood of Illegal Immigrants

As the shipping containers along the southern border in Yuma, Arizona, came down months ago, the two federal cases against the state have been dismissed.

The Ducey administration placed the containers at the gaps last year and agreed with the federal government to take them down under the condition that a replacement barrier was created, The Center Square reported in December. However, the federal government took months to make progress on its own barrier, KYMA reported. 

Read More

Biden Approves $1 Billion in Grants to Combat ‘Environmental Injustice’ with Shade

To combat what is referred to as “environmental injustice,” the Biden Administration is giving out $1 billion in grants to put up trees in areas of cities that serve mostly minorities that have been robbed of the environmental benefits of shade due to alleged racism.

The funding is part of a $1.5 billion investment from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act focusing on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Read More

2023 Could See Highest Number of People on Food Stamps Since 2016

The 2023 fiscal year is on track to average the highest number of individuals on food stamps in the U.S. since 2016.

There were 42,329,101 on food assistance on average each month on through the first nine months of the fiscal year, as of June 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The fiscal year is completed at the end of September.

Read More

U.S. Is Top Exporter of Liquified Natural Gas in First Half of 2023

The U.S. exported more natural gas in the first six months of 2023 than in any other previous six-month period, the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported. 

U.S. companies averaged 12.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in the first six months of this year, an 11% increase from their average over the same period last year. This is after in May of this year, the U.S.’s “net natural gas exports as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and by pipeline averaged a monthly record high of 13.6 Bcf/d.” 

Read More

Hobbs Doubles Down on Biden’s Border Problem, Sends $10 Million to Nogales

Arizona taxpayers are giving $10 million to the Nogales Police Department as concerns about ports of entry mount.

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced the decision Friday to help the border community buy “communications technology” to bolster its border efforts following changes in the federal port of entry policies.

Read More

Mayes Determines Phoenix’s Ukraine Firearm Transfer Is Unlawful

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes determined that a Phoenix city ordinance allowing the transfer of guns to Ukraine is unlawful.

Republican state Reps. Quang Nguyen and Selina Bliss filed a complaint in July, asking the office to look at the legality of the ordinance.

Read More

Arizona Ports Fear Federal Border Policies Could Lead to ‘Another 9/11 Tragedy’

Arizona’s border port authorities issued a joint resolution Monday emphasizing the need for border security to sustain economic growth in the region. 

The resolution came from the Douglas International Port Authority, the Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority, and the Greater Yuma Port Authority, with specific ideas during their Board of Directors joint session in Tucson.

Read More

Lawmakers Blast Chinese Communist Party’s Influence on American Classrooms

House lawmakers held a hearing to investigate the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged efforts to influence American classrooms.

The Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee held the hearing, led by Chair Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla. The lawmakers brought scrutiny against Confucius Classrooms, a program with ties to the CCP, which promote teaching things like the Chinese language and culture, among other things, in hundreds of classrooms around the country.

Read More

Arizona State University Releases Report over Conservative Event Backlash

After Arizona State University released a report suggesting there was “no evidence” of a campaign to smear an event featuring conservative speakers, one Republican state senator is not satisfied with the outcome.

The T.W. Lewis Center at the school hosted an event in February with conservative media personalities Dennis Prager and Charlie Kirk, as well as financial author Robert Kiyosaki. The event sparked backlash from some faculty at Barrett, the Honors College, and some students. Following the intense backlash, Tom Lewis pulled funding for the center and its executive director, Ann Atkinson, lost her job, alleging she was fired.

Read More

Government Estimates Unemployment Fraud During Pandemic Cost Up to $135 Billion

The U.S. government estimated unemployment fraud during the pandemic cost taxpayers up to $135 billion or about 11% to 15% of the total amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid during the pandemic.

That’s according to the latest report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which the U.S. Department of Labor disputes. 

Read More

Lithium Mine Reopening on Strength of $239.7 Million in Federal Grants

A Kings Mountain lithium mine shuttered since 1988, estimated capable of supporting the production of 1.2 million electric vehicles annually for 30 years, will reopen.

Charlotte-based Albemarle, the world’s largest producer of lithium, received a $90 million grant from the Department of Defense this week to expand domestic production of the raw mineral used to manufacture electric vehicle batteries. The grant follows a $149.7 million grant Albemarle received from the Biden administration last year for a North Carolina processing facility.

Read More

Texas State House Members Call for Phelan Resignation after Senate Acquits Paxton

After the Senate voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all charges levied against him by the House General Investigating Committee on Saturday, several members of the House who voted against impeaching Paxton called on House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, to resign.

Read More

Report: COVID Learning Loss Could Cost Arizona 18,000 High School Grads by 2032

Arizona students have been majorly impacted long-term by virtual learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report from the Common Sense Institute Arizona estimates a possible 18,419 fewer high school graduates by 2032 and 26,281 fewer college graduates in 2026 in Arizona stemming from poor standardized testing scores in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Read More

American Income Falls as Inflation Increases, U.S. Census Bureau Says

Americans are bringing home less money as inflation squeezes family budgets, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Tuesday that real median household income fell in 2022 compared with 2021. Real median household income fell by 2.3% from $76,330 in 2021 to $74,580 in 2022.

Read More

Producer Prices Spike in August

Newly released federal inflation data shows that producer prices spiked in August, undoing a steady downward inflationary trend.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Producer Price Index Thursday, a key marker of inflation, which showed producer prices rose 0.7% in August alone. Much of that increase came because of an rise in the cost of gasoline.

Read More

Arizona Officials Share Outcry in Mass Release of Migrants

Counties in Southern Arizona have seen a sudden influx of busloads filled with processed asylum-seeking immigrants released into towns, and local officials are calling for answers.

County sheriffs began alerting the public this week to the increased number of migrant releases, which indicate a surge of immigrants seeking entry into the U.S. larger than federal facilities and local nonprofits can contain.

Read More

Pipeline Problems Could Cut Off Nation’s 100-Year Gas Supply

 A recent analysis determined the United States sits on a century’s worth of gas supply, but industry experts warn there aren’t enough pipelines to access it.

The report from the Potential Gas Committee, part of the Colorado School of Mines, found that the country had technically recoverable gas resources of 3,353 trillion cubic feet, a 0.5% decrease from its 2020 estimate.

Read More

New Mexico Governor Responds to Judge Blocking Controversial Gun Control Order

A federal judge blocked parts of a controversial gun measure from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham Wednesday, but she is not backing down.

U.S. District Judge David Urias temporarily blocked the law, arguing that the executive order runs contrary to recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gun rights and violates people’s abilities to defend themselves.

Read More

Border Patrol Email: Plan to Mass Release Illegal Border Crossers from Crowded Facilities

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday published an internal Border Patrol email her office obtained that provides guidelines to release foreign nationals being held at Customs and Border Patrol processing centers because they are at near full capacity, at full capacity or are already over capacity.

President Joe Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “have become so brazen that they are now implementing mass-release quotas for immigrants surging into our country,” Moody said. “As a federal judge already recognized, these releases are unlawful, yet the Biden administration is ordering Border Patrol to release even more immigrants into the interior.” Moody is referring to a lawsuit Florida brought against the administration and won.

Read More

Arizona County Pressured to Return $80 Million in Ill-Gotten Revenue to Taxpayers

After years of inaction, taxpayers are asking a judge to force a southern Arizona county to return millions of dollars in transportation tax revenue ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.

Harold Vangilder – a former candidate for state Senate – along with Dan Neidig and the Arizona Restaurant Association have asked the state’s Superior Tax Court for an injunction forcing Pinal County and the Arizona Department of Revenue to rebate taxpayers the $80 million in infrastructure excise taxes collected on transactions below $10,000.

Read More

Arizona GOP Signals They’ll Sue Biden Administration over Grand Canyon Monument

The Arizona Senate is inching closer to a lawsuit with the federal government after a national monument was declared in northern Arizona last month to limit mining in the area.

President Joe Biden visited the state in August to speak about the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, which is nearly 1 million acres.

Read More

Republicans Blast National Archives’ Taxpayer-Funded Equity Policies, Trainings

The federal archive agency that helped spark former President Donald Trump’s first federal indictment has come under fire from Republicans after reporting showed the agency has embraced far-left diversity, equity and inclusion policies.

Republicans blasted the National Archives and Records Administration after The Center Square reported that the agency’s latest 2022 DEI plan pledges to double down on equity training for employees.

Read More

Potential UAW Strike Looms in Michigan

Up to 146,000 United Auto Workers could strike starting this week if the Big Three auto companies don’t reach a new union contract agreement by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. 

UAW Union President Shawn Fain has repeated his mantra “record profits mean record contracts.” He says Big Three executives at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis have received hefty pay raises while inflation has eaten away at UAW workers’ paychecks.

Read More

U.S. Preschool Enrollment Hits Lowest Level Since 2005

Fewer parents sent children to preschool in 2021 in a decline that corresponded with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The percentage of 3-to-6-year-olds enrolled in preschool in the United States dropped by 9.3 percentage points from 2019 to 2021, from 51.1% to 41.8%, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.

Read More

Commentary: Is Former Vice President Mike Pence’s View on Conservatism Correct?

Former Vice President Mike Pence in a speech before the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College and in an article in The Wall Street Journal warned Republicans and conservatives about the danger of populism. The former Vice President argues, in echoing Ronald Reagan’s 1964 address, that it is “a time for choosing” for Republicans whether to continue to follow the “siren song” of populism or return to true conservatism. It is clear that Pence is not only drawing a line in the sand and forcing a debate over conservatism, but also distancing himself from former President Donald Trump and those who support his policies. Nevertheless, Pence fails to understand that the conservative populism he is denouncing is actually rooted within the American conservative tradition.

Read More

IRS Set to Use AI to Target Tax Cheats, Say They Will Limit to ‘High Income Earners’ and ‘Large Corporations’

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced new enforcement initiatives Friday to crack down on 1,600 millionaires and 75 large companies it said owe hundreds of millions in unpaid taxes.  

IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said the agency will use Inflation Reduction Act funding to focus on high-income earners, partnerships, large corporations and promoters. He said the IRS won’t increase audit rates for those earning less than $400,000 a year.

Read More

Over 215,000 Apprehended by Border Patrol Agents at Southern Border in August Alone

At least 215,908 foreign nationals were apprehended or reported evading capture after illegally entering the southwest border in August, according to preliminary Border Patrol data obtained by The Center Square.

This includes at least 187,553 apprehensions and 28,355 gotaways. “Gotaways” is the official U.S. Customs and Border Protection term that refers to the number of people known and reported to illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry who intentionally try to evade capture and don’t return to Mexico. In August, the most gotaways were reported in the Tucson and Rio Grande Valle sectors. Notably, with most Yuma agents pulled out of the field to deal with an influx of people arriving at open areas of the border wall, gotaway numbers reported by agents last month were extremely low, which is out of the ordinary.

Read More

Arizona Supreme Court Petitioned to Change Who Can Vote on Certain Judges

Even though appellate court judges deal out precedent-setting rulings statewide, those judges are elected only by those in their areas.

With the aid of former Supreme Court Justice Andrew Gould, the Goldwater Institute is representing four Arizonans in Knight, et al. v. Fontes. The case, brought directly to the state Supreme Court, seeks to make appellate court judicial retention elections a statewide matter instead of split into divisions.

Read More

Google Breaks Ground on New Data Center in Arizona

Google broke ground on its new data center in Mesa on Wednesday, as Arizona continues to bring in businesses to the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The $600 million facility will create an estimated 1,200 construction jobs, but it’s unknown how many jobs it will have once the facility is up and running.

Read More

Federal Judge Orders Texas to Move Back – Not Remove – Marine Barriers

A federal judge ruled Wednesday in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott installing marine barriers in the Rio Grande River is illegal. After the ruling, Abbott said Texas was appealing.

Two lawsuits were filed over the marine barriers: one by the federal government and one by a Texas-based kayaking company seeking to end Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star. The ruling issued on Wednesday relates to the federal case only.

Read More

Arizona to Spend $40 Million on Tutoring to Combat COVID-Era Learning Loss

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced a tutoring program with hopes to combat the negative consequences of learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $40 million program intended to pay public school teachers an additional $30 an hour if they take part in the program starting Oct. 2. According to a news release, private tutoring companies will also be allowed to take part.

Read More

366 Illegal Foreign Nationals Targeted for Removal Arrested in ICE Operation

A national operation led to 366 criminal illegal foreign nationals being arrested and targeted for removal by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) agents. The operation targeted criminals who were determined “to be a threat to national security, public safety or border security.”

The operation took place from August 4 to August 25 during which agents prioritized finding and arresting fugitive criminal aliens, including those who’d been previously removed from the U.S. and illegally reentered. Arrests occurred nationwide.

Read More

Little Support Among Voters for Transgender Medical Procedures on Children

Few voters think children should undergo transgender interventions even with parental permission.

That’s according to The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll of 2,500 registered voters across the U.S., conducted by Noble Predictive Insights. The poll found that 58% of those surveyed are against medical interventions such as gender-changing surgery or puberty blockers for children younger than 18 years old.

Read More

States with Weaker Marijuana Laws See More Impaired Driving, Report Finds

A new report found that states with less restrictive marijuana policies have higher incidents of residents driving while high.

The Drug Free America Foundation released a new report showing that states that have legalized or weakened restrictions around high-THC marijuana, either for medical or recreational use, saw 32% more marijuana-impaired driving than states that have not adopted the same policies.

Read More

Scottsdale Short-Term Rental Restriction Proposals Gain Powerful Ally

Scottsdale, Arizona, officials have enlisted one of the state’s most powerful advocacy organizations in proposing numerous changes to crack down on short term rental properties.

Scottsdale, which is popular for tourism, is pushing for three changes at the state level backed by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns 2024 Legislative Agenda. The organization, headed by Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls, represents the state’s municipalities in lobbying for changes at the state level.

Read More

U.S. Labor Department Proposing Rule to Boost Overtime Pay Eligibility for Salaried Workers

The U.S. Department of Labor issued notice Wednesday of a proposal to increase the threshold for required overtime payments to salaried workers whose weekly or annual wages are considered low income.

If enacted, the proposed rule would guarantee overtime pay for most salaried employees earning less than $1,059 per week, or about $55,000 per year. It also calls for an “escalator” that automatically updates the salary threshold every three years to reflect current earnings data. The Labor Department estimates the rule could apply to about 3.6 million workers nationwide.

Read More

Fox News Announces New Moderators for GOP Second Debate

The moderators for the second Republican presidential primary debate have been set, but the candidate leading in the polls has yet to show any interest in attending. 

Fox News announced Wednesday that Stuart Varney, Dana Perino and UNIVISION’s Ilia Calderón will co-moderate the debate from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Varney, one of Fox Business News’s original anchors, is the host of “Varney & Co.” Perino co-anchors “America’s Newsroom” and serves as co-host of “The Five.” She is also a former White House press secretary under George W. Bush. Calderón is co-anchor of UNIVISION’s weekday evening newscast “NOTICIERO UNIVISION” and its newsmagazine “AQUÍ Y AHORA.” She co-moderated the final debate between Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in March 2020.

Read More

Governments Across America Spend Millions to Put Homeless in Hotels

In states like California, Colorado, Washington and Arizona, cities this summer are spending millions buying hotels and converting them to shelters for the homeless.

In Los Angeles, there is a ballot initiative in 2024 to require hotels to use vacant rooms to house homeless people besides paying customers. The American Hotel & Lodging Association has objected to the proposal.

Read More

Hobbs Rolls Back Ducey-Era Orders, Allows for Public Employee Vaccine Requirement

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs is cleaning up old executive orders from the COVID-19 pandemic under former Gov. Doug Ducey. 

The governor announced Tuesday afternoon that she’d rescinded 14 orders that were largely moot because of subsequent legislation or measures her administration had taken. 

Read More

Researchers Warn About Synthetic Opioids More Powerful than Fentanyl

Synthetic opioids estimated to be 10 times more potent than fentanyl are creeping into the illicit drug market in the U.S., according to new research. 

“Synthetic opioids, such as the fentanyl analog and nitazene drug class, are among the fastest growing types of opioids being detected in patients in the emergency department with illicit opioid overdose,” researchers warned in a paper published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open.

Read More

Food Prices Expected to Continue Rising Through 2024

Recently released federal pricing analysis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that food prices will continue to rise through 2024.

The USDA pointed to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index released earlier this month, which showed consumer prices overall rose 3.2 percent in the previous twelve months. Food prices, though rose more quickly at 4.9 percent during the same time.

Read More

IRS Lost Millions of Taxpayer Records That Could be Used for Identity Theft

The Internal Revenue Service lost millions of taxpayer records and federal employees don’t know where they have gone.

Lawmakers want answers and accountability for the IRS over those documents, which could be used by nefarious actors to steal Americans’ identity.

Read More

Multiple Analyses: The California ‘Single-Use Plastic Bag’ Ban Is a Flop

According to a new analysis from the Los Angeles Times, California’s ban on thin plastic bags is a failure, as thicker, “recyclable” replacement bags are largely unable to be recycled in California, and the majority of consumers still opt not to bring their own bags to reuse for shopping.

Additional analyses have also found increases in purchases of plastic trash bags chip away at the plastics savings from single-use plastic bag bans, the pounds of plastic bags per-capita placed in landfills has increased since the ban, and many of the alternatives to single-use plastic bags typically end up being worse for the environment. Nonetheless, a major decrease in grocery bag litter suggests at least a partial success.

Read More

Florida Congressman Files Article of Impeachment Against U.S. Defense Secretary

U.S. Rep. Cory Mills, R-Florida, made good on his promise earlier this year to file articles of impeachment against Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. On Friday, he filed one article of impeachment against Austin alleging high crimes and misdemeanors.

Mills appears to be the first to file an article of impeachment against a Defense secretary in U.S. history.

Read More

Poll: Nine in 10 Americans Worried About Fentanyl Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl

Nearly 90% of U.S. voters are concerned about fentanyl trafficking as drug overdose deaths continue to mount in the U.S. ahead of the 2024 election, according to a new poll. 

The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, conducted by Noble Predictive Insights, found that 57% of those surveyed are very concerned about fentanyl overdose deaths. An additional 32% are somewhat worried, or 89% overall indicating some level of concern.

Read More

Small Businesses Feel the Pain of Inflation-Driven Interest Rates

Small business owners are feeling the pain of inflation-driven interest rate hikes, another difficulty for those owners to overcome as they continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic-era shutdowns.

A rash of federal spending and an increase in the money supply in recent years have fueled inflationary pressures. Prices soared during the beginning of the Biden administration, making it hard for Americans to make ends meet.

Read More