Gas Prices Hit Record High Every Day for Past Two Weeks

Gas prices have soared to new heights this month with the price of unleaded regular gas hitting a record high every day for the past two weeks. With Memorial Day weekend approaching, motorists face steep costs if they plan to travel.

According to AAA, the national average regular unleaded gas price Tuesday came in at $4.60, a record high. Diesel gasoline is at $5.55 per gallon, just below the record set last week.

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Pennsylvania Has One of the Lowest Worker Quit Rates in America

Job quit rates have been up since the pandemic, but Pennsylvania lags behind the national average. While that may look like stability and satisfaction with one’s job, it’s a sign of a lack of opportunity for workers in the commonwealth.

An analysis by WalletHub found that Pennsylvania had one of the lowest quit rates in the nation – it ranked 47th. In the last month, Pennsylvania’s resignation rate was 2.1%, with an average rate of 2.24% in the last year.

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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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Pennsylvania Public School Finance Director Gets 14 Months for Stealing $100,000

A Philadelphia-area public school finance director was sentenced to more than a year in prison after he embezzled $100,000 from a school district over a seven-year period.

Christopher Gehris, an employee in the Phoenixville Area School District and its finance director since 2018, stole $94,613 from the district, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

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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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‘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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Pittsburgh Metro Area Down 54,000 Jobs Since the Pandemic

The Pittsburgh metro area’s economy has yet to recover from the pandemic, its effects still hurting job numbers. 

The Pittsburgh area, which includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties, is still missing 53,800 jobs that it had in March 2019, a 5.1% decline, according to an analysis from the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.

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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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One Year from Full Implementation, Nearly 7 Million Pennsylvanians Without REAL ID

With a year before the federal government enforces its REAL ID requirements, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is encouraging state residents to update their driver’s licenses and photo ID.

When federal enforcement starts on May 3, 2023, only REAL ID-compliant documents will be accepted at airports, federal buildings, and for other federal purposes. If someone doesn’t update their driver’s license, they would need to use a passport, for example, to take a domestic flight.

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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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Pennsylvania Moratorium Loophole Nets $45 Million in Oil and Gas Revenue

Since 2015, when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf issued a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on state forest and state park lands, the administration argued it was “striking the right balance” between economic and environmental concerns.

However, Wolf’s executive order didn’t stop all new leases on publicly owned acreage. 

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Governor Election Will Decide Pennsylvania’s Membership in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Action in the General Assembly was not enough to stop the publication of regulations to enter Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but legal action could stop it in the future. 

If legal action doesn’t halt Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI, the outcome of the gubernatorial election could determine whether the Commonwealth stays in the multi-state compact or leaves it by executive order.

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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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Bill to Expand Education Choice Passes in the Pennsylvania House

A bill with some momentum in the General Assembly would expand school choice with public funding, but may struggle to become law despite public opinion that supports it.

The Pennsylvania House passed an education bill to give students in low-performing schools a scholarship to move districts. The bill, HB2169, was introduced by Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Wellsboro, to establish a Lifeline Scholarship for students to leave an underperforming local school and enroll elsewhere. It narrowly passed 104-98.

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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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Surprise Home Reassessments Create a Tax Burden in Pennsylvania for New Owners

Spot assessments can be used across Pennsylvania to reassess a property’s value, resulting in higher tax bills for homeowners. According to a new report, Allegheny County’s school districts have driven an increase in spot appeals, increasing assessed values by almost $462 million.

The result is that homeowners must pay more in taxes, incentivizing school districts to request a spot assessment.

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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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On Crime, Drugs, Mental Illness, Pennsylvania Local Authorities See a Resource Problem

A Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing on crime and public safety dwelled on two issues: the need for more funding and officers to address crime, and the lack of mental health support for struggling people.

Two panels spoke to a number of Republican senators; one comprised local law enforcement officers and the other a state judge, public defender, and district attorney.

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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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Majority of Pennsylvania Voters Support Liberalizing Liquor Laws

A push from the liquor lobby to end Pennsylvania’s monopoly on wine and spirits looks like it has majority support from the public, though the timeline of any deregulation is unclear.

A new poll released by the Distilled Spirits Council, conducted by the Tarrance Group, found that 64% of Pennsylvanians support a constitutional amendment to end the government retail sale of wine and spirits, allowing private businesses to sell them. The model of nearby states like Ohio and West Virginia, where the state still distributes wine and spirits but private businesses sell them, garnered the support of 61% of Pennsylvanians in the poll.

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Pennsylvania Still Restricts Nurses’ Scope of Practice, Health Care Options

Though a majority of states allow nurse practitioners full authority to deliver care, Pennsylvania still requires oversight from a physician. A bill in the legislature could change it though, but it’s unclear if it will advance through the General Assembly soon.

The legislation, SB25, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, would update state requirements for nurses and would remove a requirement for nurse practitioners to have a collaborative agreement with a physician for them to practice and write prescriptions.

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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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Pennsylvania Has Lost 30,000 Nursing Home Workers Since Start of Pandemic

Staff member at nursing home showing smartphone to elderly woman

Jobs in nursing and residential care facilities fell dramatically during the pandemic and have yet to recover. Due to economic factors and long-term aging trends in Pennsylvania, bouncing back won’t be easy.

About 202,000 workers were in long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania in March 2020 before the pandemic hit, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since then, the numbers have fallen to 172,300 as of February. The worker loss may have finally ended, as preliminary figures for March show 172,700 workers.

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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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Pennsylvania University Looks to Sell Dorms to Lessen ‘Financial Strain’

As the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education adjusts to the merging of some of its colleges, selling dorms could be on the table.

At the latest PASSHE Board of Governors meeting, officials discussed the selling off of two Edinboro University dorm buildings built in 2011. The university only had a 57.8 percent occupancy rate during the fall semester.

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Poll: Voters Skeptical of Effectiveness of Gun Control Laws

Americans are skeptical about gun control measures, according to a new poll.

Rasmussen reports released new polling showing that the majority of Americans do not think criminals will obey federal gun control laws. The poll comes on the heels of a mass shooting in Brooklyn and President Joe Biden’s speech on gun control earlier this week.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Tax Reform May Be Needed to Reverse Pennsylvania Population Decline

Before the pandemic hit, Pennsylvania’s economy had been steadily growing for a decade – but not its population. The population loss has both political and economic consequences.

Federally, Pennsylvania’s influence will lag. The state lost a Congressional district thanks to net emigration from the state. The future of economic growth, too, may fall off as natives and would-be migrants from other states look to growing areas of the South and West.

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