GOP Attorneys General Pressing NAAG to Return $280 Million

A dozen Republican state attorneys general are fed up with what they view as the leftward drift and self-dealing of their nonpartisan national association and are asking the organization to change its ways and return roughly $280 million in assets to the states.

The National Association of Attorneys General was created in 1907 as a bipartisan forum for all state and territory attorneys general. Over the last year, several of the group’s Republican members have asserted that NAAG has become a partisan litigation machine that improperly benefits from the many tort settlements it helps to engineer.

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West Virginia Legislature Sends Sweeping Pro-Life Bill to Governor’s Desk

The West Virginia legislature approved a sweeping measure Tuesday that would allow abortion only in cases of medical emergencies, rape, and incest.

The bill (HB 302) passed in the state Senate, 22-7 and the state House, 77-17, and has been sent to the desk of Governor Jim Justice (R-WV).

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30 Months into the COVID-19 Pandemic, at Least a Dozen States Are Under ‘Emergency’ Orders

In October 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court stripped Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of the unilateral powers she was using when she declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whitmer had been using a 1945 law – which was prompted by a three-day race riot in Detroit three years earlier – that had no sunset provision in it and didn’t require approval by the state legislature.

In May 2021, Whitmer told a news agency that if she still had that 1945 state-of-emergency law, she would use those powers, but not for anything related to a pandemic.

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West Virginia’s Republican Senator Saves Its Coal Industry

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia may be saving her state’s coal industry after the Senate Democrats’ climate bill, backed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, threatened to place new regulations on coal.

Manchin’s agreement included a provision that explicitly authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to further regulate coal production under a variety of legal provisions that could have rendered the recent Supreme Court rulings, which stated that Congress must clearly authorize the agency’s actions, irrelevant. However, Capito asserted that the authorization did not comply with budget reconciliation rules on the Senate floor on Sunday, leading the Senate parliamentarian to eliminate the provision, according to a press release.

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Commentary: One State Went from Bottom to Top in Education Choice and Innovation

West Virginia has experienced a dramatic expansion of educational freedom over the past year, from the state legislature passing a near-universal Education Savings Account (ESA) program, called the Hope Scholarship, to loosening state compulsory school attendance laws for participants of learning pods and microschools.

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Arizona Among the 20 States Freed from Federal Transgender Sports, Bathroom Guidance

A federal judge in Tennessee ruled in favor of Tennessee, Arizona, and 18 other states in their effort to block federal guidelines on transgender athletes and school locker rooms.

The lawsuit, brought by Tennessee, challenged guidance from the United States Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that would allow athletes who were marked as males on their birth certificates to compete in girls and women’s sports. The federal guidance also would have prohibited student shower and locker room access from being determined by birth gender and provided guidance on required pronoun use.

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21 States Join Lawsuit to End Federal Mask Mandate on Airplanes, Public Transportation

Twenty-one states have filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s continued mask mandate on public transportation, including on airplanes.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody are leading the effort. Moody filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida along with 20 other attorneys general. DeSantis said the mask mandate was misguided and heavy-handed.

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Commentary: In West Virginia, Carpetbagger Alex Mooney Meets His Match

When we last checked in with U.S. Representative Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.), evidence of his misuse of campaign funds had been referred to the House Ethics Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

As American Greatness has reported, Mooney’s congressional campaign used campaign money to pay for the congressman’s personal expenses, including $3,475 in meals from Chick-fil-A and other fast-food restaurants, two vacation trips to resorts in West Virginia, and $17,250 in gift card purchases from a Catholic Church gift shop. He has repaid more than $12,000 of a disputed $40,115 as a result of the OCE investigation.

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Sixteen States File New Lawsuit Against Federal COVID Vaccination Mandate

Sixteen states again are challenging a federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers who work at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Friday’s filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana comes after the issuance of final guidance on the mandate from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), arguing the guidance is an action that is reviewable.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 vote Jan. 13 against the original Louisiana challenge to the mandate and a similar Missouri filing.

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In West Virginia, the Enhanced Child Tax Credit’s Lapse Cuts Deep

As millions of families across the country grapple with the fact that the expanded child tax credit could lapse for months, if not permanently, those in few states stand to hurt more than those in West Virginia.

The monthly credit, amounting to as much as $300 per child, has been a lifeline to many across the state, which ranks 49th out of 50 in average income. The expansion, adopted in March as part of the coronavirus relief package, has especially helped those earning the lowest, many of whom were once partially or completely excluded from receiving it because their incomes were too low to qualify.

West Virginia had already struggled as coal mining declined and drug overdose deaths rose, but after being decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, economic recession that resulted and subsequent inflation as the state recovered, residents said that the expanded payments provided a sense of financial security when so much seemed uncertain.

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Scientists Believe Meteor Exploded over Pittsburgh

aerial view of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Scientists believe a meteor exploded early New Year’s Day over Pittsburgh, causing mysterious loud noises and vibrations that shook the city.

“The loud explosion heard over SW PA earlier may have been a meteor explosion,” the U.S. National Weather Service tweeted Saturday, posting an image showing a flash of light it claimed was “not associated with lightning.”

“No confirmation, but this is the most likely explanation at this time,” the agency said.

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Manchin Reportedly Told the White House He Supports a Billionaire Tax

Joe Biden and Joe Manchin

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told the White House last week that he was willing to endorse some type of billionaire tax in President Joe Biden’s domestic spending package before coming out against it days later, The Washington Post reported.

Manchin said that a tax on billionaires’ wealth could be a means to pay for the package, according to the Post, citing three people familiar with his offer to the White House. The outlet reported that it was unclear whether Manchin provided an estimate of how much money the provision would raise.

Programs in Manchin’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer included universal pre-K for ten years, expansions to the Affordable Care Act and billions of dollars for climate change mitigation measures, according to the Post, but it did not include the child tax credit, which many Democrats have touted as one of the single biggest policy achievements of the year.

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Top Republicans Pressure Manchin to Switch Parties

Republicans are upping their calls for West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin to switch parties after he said he would not vote for President Joe Biden’s domestic spending bill.

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told Nexstar that he texted Manchin to encourage him to switch after he came out as a “no,” telling him, “Joe, if [Democrats] don’t want you we do.”

While Cornyn said he did not get a response, he said that Manchin switching would be “the greatest Christmas present I can think of.”

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Manchin Says He Won’t Vote for Mass Spending, Climate Bill, Dealing Blow to Biden

Senator Joe Manchin speaking

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., declared Sunday he won’t vote for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, saying he feared the bill’s mass spending and climate provisions may worsen inflation.

“This is a no,” Manchin told Fox News Sunday, “I have tried everything I know to do.”

The West Virginia Democrat’s decision all but dooms Biden’s signature legislation in an evenly divided Senate.

Manchin said he was concerned about the continuing effects of the pandemic, inflation, and geopolitical unrest. His decision came after an intense lobbying campaign by the president and fellow Democrats failed to change his mind.

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Manchin Objects to Dems’ Billionaire Tax, Saying They ‘Create a Lot of Jobs’

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin came out against his party’s plan to tax billionaires in order to finance their social-spending package just hours after it was first released.

“I don’t like it. I don’t like the connotation that we’re targeting different people,” Manchin told reporters Tuesday morning, describing billionaires as people who “contributed to society and create a lot of jobs and a lot of money and give a lot to philanthropic pursuits.”

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Manchin Reportedly Outlines Demands for Democrats’ Climate Change, Child Tax Credit Plan

Senator Joe Manchin III

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia reportedly opposed two pieces of his party’s spending package as negotiations over its price tag and reach continue to stall.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia’s opposition reportedly relates to the Democrats’ climate change and child tax credit provisions of the budget proposal. While the majority of his party lauded both programs, the 50-50 Senate means that any one Democratic senator could tank the bill, giving Manchin veto-like power while representing a rural, coal-producing state that voted for former President Donald Trump by almost 40 points in 2020.

Multiple reports surfaced Friday suggesting that the Clean Electricity Payment Program would likely be scrapped from the bill due to Manchin’s objections, part of Democrats’ attempt to fight climate change. Those backing the program, which would provide incentives for clean energy use while implementing fines and penalties for organizations continuing to rely on fossil fuels, see it as a fundamental piece of the Democrats’ agenda and key to reaching President Joe Biden’s goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 50% of what they were in 2005 by 2030.

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Flooding Could Wipe Out 25 Percent of Critical Infrastructure: Report

About 25% of critical infrastructure in the U.S., or 36,000 facilities, is at serious risk of being rendered inoperable as a result of flooding over the next three decades, according to an industry report released Monday.

American infrastructure such as police stations, airports, hospitals, wastewater treatment facilities, churches and schools were all considered in the analysis, according to First Street Foundation, the group that published the first-of-its-kind report. The U.S. is “ill-prepared” for a scenario where major flooding events become more commonplace, the report concluded.

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Navy Engineer, Wife Charged with Trying to Pass Nuclear Submarine Secrets to Foreign Power

The U.S. Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint Sunday alleging that a Navy engineer and his wife repeatedly tried to pass secrets about U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign power in a plot thwarted by an undercover FBI agent.

Jonathan Toebbe, 42, and his wife Diana, 45, both of Annapolis, Md,. were arrested Saturday in West Virginia by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service on espionage-related charges of violating the Atomic Energy Act, officials said.

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Manchin Condemns Schumer’s GOP Bash After Parties Compromise on Debt Limit, Says ‘Civility Is Gone’

Joe Manchin

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was once again at odd with his party Thursday evening, as fellow Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer laid into his GOP colleagues during a floor speech following a vote to approve legislation that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling.

“Republicans played a dangerous and risky partisan game, and I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” said Schumer, beginning a series of remarks that would target his colleagues across the aisle, including 11 of whom voted to end debate on the debt ceiling measure, allowing for the full vote to happen.

Manchin, who could be seen seated direct behind Schumer, as the New York lawmaker made his remarks, appeared at first to be shaking his head disapprovingly before placing his head in his hands.

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Commentary: Hyde Amendment Is New Obstacle to Biden Spending Plan

The White House is once again at odds with the senior senator from West Virginia.

Joe Manchin has made clear for months that the administration’s sprawling $3.5 trillion social spending package is too large, and just as progressives seemed to agree that the top-line number could be whittled down somewhat, the moderate Democrat drew another line in the sand, this one underscoring the Hyde Amendment.

The amendment represents a decades-long agreement by both parties that prohibits federal dollars from funding abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. Manchin wants it included in the spending bill. The White House does not. Thus has emerged another obstacle to passing the president’s legislative agenda.

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Commentary: Reject Federal Takeover of Elections – Again

Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

That is exactly how Americans must feel as they learn that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is trying to ram through another bill orchestrating a federal takeover of elections, despite the previous failed attempt in the Senate.

The bill, H.R. 4, is expected to come up in the House of Representatives this week, and it is stunning in its breadth. In short, Pelosi would give broad, sweeping powers to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to rewrite every state and local election law in the country.

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Biologically Male Middle School Student Can Run on Girls’ Cross Country Team, Judge Rules

Man running on a gravel road during the day with a blue shirt on

A biologically male middle school student may run on a girl’s cross country team this fall in spite of West Virginia’s new law banning biological males from women’s sports, U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph R. Goodwin ruled Wednesday.

Lawyers from the ACLU-West Virginia had argued that HB 3293 would unfairly prevent the 11-year-old student, Becky Pepper-Jackson, from participating on a girls cross country team.

Goodwin issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday allowing Pepper-Jackson to “sign up for and participate in school athletics in the same way as her girl classmates.”

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Biden’s DOJ Comes Out Swinging Against West Virginia, Arkansas Trans Laws

The Department of Justice argued in court filings Thursday that transgender legislation passed in West Virginia and Arkansas is unconstitutional.

The DOJ filed statements of interest supporting lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against West Virginia’s House Bill 3293 and Arkansas’ “Save Adolescents From Experimentation Act,” otherwise known as the SAFE Act.

The West Virginia bill bans biological males at public schools from participating in women’s sports in middle school, high school, and college. The SAFE Act prohibits physicians from performing gender transition procedures, such as puberty blockers or “top” and “bottom” surgeries, on minors.

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McConnell Says He Supports $800 Billion Package Focusing on ‘Traditional’ Infrastructure

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested that Republicans could back an infrastructure package costing up to $800 billion, a higher total than a plan Senate Republicans put forward in April.

Speaking with Kentucky Educational Television Sunday, McConnell reaffirmed Republicans’ opposition to President Joe Biden’s sweeping $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which covers both traditional infrastructure and Democratic priorities like child care, affordable housing and climate change. McConnell said that any package must be limited to “traditional” infrastructure items like roads, bridges and ports to gain GOP support.

“The proper price tag for what most of us think of as infrastructure is about $600-800 billion,” McConnell said.

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Census Bureau Announces Florida Will Gain a Congressional Seat as Michigan and Ohio Each Lose One

Texas and Florida are slated to gain congressional seats during the decennial redistricting process, while California and New York are set to each lose one, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the decennial state population and congressional apportionment totals Monday, outlining how many districts each state will have for the next decade. The data also determines how many Electoral College votes each state will have through 2032, and allocates how federal money is distributed to each state for schools, roads and other public projects.

The release was originally scheduled for December, but faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to exclude non-citizens from the count.

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West Virginia Governor Will Not Veto Bill Banning Biological Males from Women’s Sports

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice

The governor of West Virginia signaled that he will not veto a bill banning biological males from women’s sports.

Republican West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice discussed HB 3293 during a coronavirus briefing Wednesday saying that he would either “let it become law or sign it,” according to The Hill. The governor also said that he would “absolutely not” veto the bill, the publication reported.

“From the standpoint of how I feel about it personally… I just can’t possibly get through my head that it is the right thing for us at a middle school level or a high school level in our state for me not to support the bill,” Justice said, according to the Hill. “So, I do support the bill.”

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