Commentary: The Plague That Besets Our Schools Is Extensive

Students in classroom

The year, now a quarter old, reveals that the country’s rapid slide into educational purgatory is moving apace. Leading off the grossness parade is a school in Oklahoma where students lick and suck the armpits and toes of their fellow students in the name of charity. (This may garner a shrug in San Francisco, but Oklahoma?!)

While no district personnel were directly involved, video footage from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, OK, showed mid-teens participating in and watching the disgusting events unfold.

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Super Tuesday Election Problems: Ballot Scanners, Voter Check-Ins, Wrong Redistricting Information

Vote Line

Numerous election issues occurred in multiple counties throughout the U.S. on Super Tuesday – from malfunctioning ballot scanners to voters having problems checking in at polling stations and being directed to the wrong station.

Counties in Alabama, California, Texas and Utah all experienced problems, resulting in some voters leaving polling sites without casting a ballot.

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Utah Governor Signs Bill Barring Men from Using Women’s Restrooms

Spencer Cox

Republican Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah signed a bill on Tuesday that bans men from using women’s restrooms and locker rooms and creates a legal definition for male and female.

The bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Kera Birkeland, would designate restrooms in schools and public spaces as only “designated for the exclusive use” of females and males, according to the text. The bill was passed by the state House of Representatives on Friday before being signed by Cox this week, according to the press release.

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Utah Gives Taxpayer-Funded Health Care to Illegal Immigrant Children

Utah Bill

Utah is giving taxpayer-funded health insurance to illegal immigrant children, according to a law that went into effect Jan. 1.

Roughly 6,500 illegal immigrant children in Utah will qualify for care under the program, Thaiss Del Rio, a health policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, told Axios of the new law. Utah’s move follows a decision by the state of California to provide health care for illegal immigrants up to the age of 49.

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Report: Mountain States Among ‘Most Free’ in North America

Mountain states rank among the “most free” in North America, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute.

The Canadian think tank employs 10 variables for its Economic Freedom of North America 2023 reports and scores states based on categories such as government spending, taxes, labor market freedom, legal system and property rights, sound money, and freedom to trade internationally.

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Commentary: The Insatiable, Unaccountable, and Unsatisfied Bloodlust of the DOJ

Nejourde Thomas “Jord” Meacham was the sort of person the elites in Washington despise.

One of ten children in what appears to be a tight-knit family, Jord lived in rural Utah near the Nevada border working on his family’s ranch; he enjoyed fishing, hunting, and riding horses. “He was a big history buff. Listening to music was a big part of his life and young kids were drawn to him,” his obituary read. Jord is survived by his parents, siblings, grandparents, and “many aunts, uncles, and cousins.”

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Judge Allows Utah Law Requiring Age Verification for Porn Sites to Remain in Effect

A U.S. District Court judge allowed a Utah law requiring age verification for porn websites to remain in effect, dismissing a lawsuit that argued the legislation infringed on the First Amendment and individual privacy, according to a press release.

The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) filed a lawsuit on May 3 after a law went into effect in the state of Utah that required porn websites to use age verification screening or face potential civil suits from Utah citizens. Judge Ted Stewart dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday, allowing the law to remain in place, but FSC announced that they plan to appeal the decision, according to a press release.

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Commentary: Tax Relief Is Coming to Millions of Red-State Residents in Ohio, Connecticut, and More

July marked the beginning of Fiscal Year 2024 for 46 of the 50 states. It also closes the books on most state legislative sessions in what was an incredible 2023 for hard-working taxpayers.

In recent years, we’ve seen significant income tax relief in the states. Notably, 10 states – Kentucky, West Virginia, Montana, Utah, Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Ohio – have cut personal income taxes (PIT) in 2023. With the new addition of West Virginia, North Dakota, and Connecticut, 22 states have cut personal income taxes since 2021, with several of these states cutting taxes multiple times during that period.

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Chinese Intelligence Arm Quietly Operates ‘Service Centers’ in Seven U.S. Cities

by Philip Lenczycki   A Chinese intelligence agency quietly operates “service centers” in seven American cities, all of which have had contact with Beijing’s national police authority, according to state media reports and government records reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) United Front Work…

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Nearly Half of U.S. States Now Have Measures Limiting Transgender Surgery for Minors, but Lawsuits Abound

At least 20 states have either restricted or banned transgender procedures for minors, with many of them facing lawsuits and temporary blocks by courts as a result, while future litigation is possible in states considering adopting such laws. 

The states that have enacted legislation against such procedures are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia – essentially all conservative-leaning.

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Florida Among the Handful of States Enacting New, Sweeping School Choice Legislation

So far in 2023, six states signed school choice legislation into law, giving millions of families and their children education options, including access to taxpayer-funded vouchers.

Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Utah, South Carolina and Oklahoma all signed legislation into law that makes at least some, if not all students within the states, eligible for taxpayer funded vouchers or a tax credit that can be used on education expenses such as private school tuition, textbooks and transportation. Under the legislation enacted in 2023, millions of students across the country are now able to attend schools outside their designated zip code or apply to receive funding in order to seek a private or a homeschool education.

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Utah Senator Mitt Romney to Likely Face a Primary Challenge

Utah Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson announced Thursday he has formed an exploratory committee to run for Senate – the first sign that he will challenge Republican Sen. Mitt Romney in 2024.

Wilson is weighing a senatorial bid because he is concerned with the “out of control spending” in Washington, and wouldn’t say whether a Romney run would dictate his plans, according to Deseret News. Romney has yet to announce a reelection run, but filed a “statement of candidacy” with the Federal Elections Commission Tuesday.

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17 State Attorneys General Declare Support for Florida Trans Guidance

by Eric Lendrum   On April 7th, an amicus brief was filed in favor of Florida’s current ban on using state funds to support “transgender” treatments, with 17 state attorneys general voicing their support for the law. According to the Daily Caller, the brief’s filing was part of an ongoing legal…

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Utah Becomes First to Limit Teens’ Social Media Use with New Law

Utah passed legislation Thursday to require parental consent for children to use certain social media apps, becoming the first state in the country to limit teenagers’ social media usage.

Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed two bills into law that limits minors from using social media apps like TikTok, requiring parental consent for those under 18. Minors are prohibited from using these platforms between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., and are subjected to age verification prior to social media use.

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Commentary: Mayor Derides Ranked-Choice Voting Pilot Program Failure as Know-it-All Legislators Seek to Expand the Program

A “guinea pig.” That is what Sandy, Utah Mayor Monica Zoltanski said that “ranked-choice voting” (RCV) made of her hometown. The town opted into Utah’s controversial RCV pilot program, but the experiment has not gone well. The cost-saving promised by proponents never materialized, but the real alarm bells should have sounded when the experiment produced voter confusion and voter disengagement.

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Review of 2020 Election Continues as Texas, Pennsylvania Counties Find Ballot Total Discrepancies

An audit of the 2020 election found a discrepancy of nearly 600 absentee votes in a Texas county, while a hand recount in a Pennsylvania county found a far smaller disparity, as more states seek to implement election reviews.

In Smith County, Texas, an audit of the 2020 election showed 584 more absentee voters than absentee ballots, according to KLTV, a local ABC News affiliate. Seven county races were within the 584-vote margin of error, including council races and propositional elections. The audit also found five different totals for absentee ballots.

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Half of the US No Longer Requires a Permit for Concealed Carry

Half of the states in the U.S. no longer require residents to hold a concealed carry permit to carry firearms in public after Alabama, Indiana, Georgia and Ohio passed laws in 2022 removing permit requirements.

On Monday, Alabama began enforcing its permitless carry law, becoming the 25th state to do so, while Indiana, Georgia and Ohio also passed laws this year allowing residents to concealed carry firearms without a permit. Over the last two years 10 states have moved to permitless carry, including Utah, Montana, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.

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Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia Among 18 States Banning Social Media App TikTok from State Devices

Following South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem’s lead, nearly half of U.S. states have put restrictions on or banned the use of Chinese-based social media app TikTok.

At least 19 states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utha, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Senate Fiscal Hawks Scott, Johnson, Lee, and Paul Call for an End to Pandemic Spending

While hagglers appeared to have reached a bipartisan framework agreement on a full-year omnibus spending plan, fiscal hawks like Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are asking an important question: Why haven’t we gone back to normal spending now that the pandemic is over?

On Thursday, the Senate easily passed a a one-week continuing resolution, keeping the government funded through December 23. A worked-over spending plan is expected to be unveiled Monday, as negotiations continue in the shadow of another government shutdown threat in the days before the Christmas break.

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Commentary: Republicans Can Thank the Federal Government’s Bungled 2020 Census for Their Razor-Thin House Majority

Republicans will soon take control of the House of Representatives, but with a margin so narrow it may prove difficult to achieve their legislative and oversight objectives. That margin might have been larger, were it not for egregious errors made by the U.S. Census Bureau in the 2020 census.

Come January, House membership will consist of 213 Democrats and 222 Republicans. A party must hold 218 of those seats to control the House. Thus, Republicans will have only a four-seat majority. That extremely narrow majority means that GOP leadership can lose any vote on any issue if only four Republicans defect and the Democrats stay united in opposition.

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Utah to Emphasize LGBTQ and Minority Communities in Middle School Social Studies Classes

The Utah Board of Education passed social studies standards on Thursday for middle schoolers, emphasizing LGBTQ and minority communities, according to Fox 13 News.

The standards for fifth and sixth graders reflect an emphasis on diversity with a focus on minority and LGBTQ communities, John Arthur, a Utah middle school teacher who helped craft the standards said, according to Fox 13 News. The revisions, the first in more than a decade, faced backlash from parental rights in education groups such as Utah Parents United, who said the standards are “indoctrinating” students and promoting “social justice.”

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Florida Set to Receive Part of a Nearly $400 Million Settlement from Google over Location-Tracking Probe

Google agreed to a $391.5 million settlement with 40 states after an investigation found that the tech giant participated in questionable location-tracking practices, state attorneys general announced Monday.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong called it a “historic win for consumers.”

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Republican Treasurers Pull $1 Billion from BlackRock over Alleged Anti-Fossil Fuel Policies

exterior of BlackRock

Republican state treasurers are withdrawing $1 billion in assets from BlackRock’s control due to the asset manager’s alleged boycott of the fossil fuel industry, according to the Financial Times.

Republican South Carolina State Treasurer Curtis Loftus is pulling $200 million from BlackRock by the end of 2022, and Louisiana treasurer John Schroder said on Oct. 5 that he is divesting $794 million from the company, according to the FT. Utah treasurer Marlo Oaks said he removed $100 million in funds from BlackRock’s control, and Arkansas treasurer Dennis Milligan pulled $125 million from the company in March.

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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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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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‘Devastating’: Biden Ignores Lawmakers’ Pleas, Orders Massive Expansion of Utah Monuments

President Joe Biden will order the Department of the Interior Friday to vastly expand two Utah monuments which the Trump administration reduced in size.

The president will restore protections for both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments located in Utah, the White House announced. Biden’s order will re-expand the monuments from their reduced size of slightly more than 1 million acres to 3.2 million acres.

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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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Biden Gears Up for Renewed Fight Against Oil and Gas

A federal judge has ruled the Biden administration must resume allowing oil and gas leasing on federal land and waters, but the administration is saying it will not go down without a fight.

The Biden administration said it will appeal a court ruling allowing the leases, the latest development in a months-long battle between President Joe Biden and the oil and gas industry, even as gas prices continue to rise.

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Utah School Board Member Arrested for Soliciting Child Pornography

Joel-Lehi Organista

On Wednesday, a Utah school board member was arrested on charges of using social media to solicit child pornography from students, the Daily Caller reports.

The suspect is 29-year-old Joel-Lehi Organista, who had recently been elected to the Salt Lake City School Board after having previously taught at Horizonte High School. He faces eight felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. The authorities were led to him by a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which alleged that Organista had child pornography downloaded onto his Dropbox account. A subsequent search of his computer confirmed this, and Organista was arrested.

Following his arrest, he “admitted to having downloaded, viewed, and kept the images and videos containing child pornography.” One of his chief tactics was to use the social media app SnapChat to message children between the ages of 12 and 17, asking them for nude photos and other inappropriate material. He first started sending such messages and downloading such content in January, shortly after he became the youngest board member in the board’s history upon his election in January.

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New Utah Law Requires Biological Fathers to Pay 50 Percent of Mother’s Pregnancy Costs

pregnancy

A new Utah law will require the father of an unborn baby to pay half of the costs of the pregnancy.

HB 113 requires that the father of the unborn baby pay 50% of the mother’s insurance premiums during the pregnancy, as well as “pregnancy-related medical costs, including the hospital birth of the child, that are not paid by another person.”

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13 States Sue Biden Administration, Demand Ability to Cut Taxes

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Thirteen states sued President Joe Biden’s administration over an American Rescue Plan provision prohibiting states from cutting taxes after accepting coronavirus relief funds.

The 13-state coalition argued that the provision included in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package preventing states from cutting taxes if they accept relief from the federal government is unconstitutional. The coalition, led by Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday evening in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

“Never before has the federal government attempted such a complete takeover of state finances,” Morrisey said in a Wednesday statement. “We cannot stand for such overreach.”

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21 States Sue Biden Admin for Revoking Keystone XL Permit

A group of red states sued President Biden and members of his administration on Wednesday over his decision to revoke a key permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, The Hill reported.

The lawsuit is led by Montana and Texas, and backed by 19 other states, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

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