Federal employees working without pay during shutdown won’t get NC unemployment benefits

RALEIGH — The state’s Department of Employment Security confirmed Friday that the federal workers who have been working throughout the government shutdown without pay are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance from the state. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor had issued guidance on the issue — determining that furloughed government employees working without pay would not be eligible for unemployment insurance because they would eventually be paid for the time worked, according to the Wall Street Journal. But DES, the state agency that manages unemployment insurance in North Carolina, did not confirm it had received those instructions until Friday. Raleigh News & Observer

Mayor Fischer: Louisville is strong, well-positioned for the future; and we need to brag!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Delivering his ninth annual State of the City address from the Muhammad Ali Center on The Champ’s birthday, Mayor Greg Fischer today challenged the community to have the same courage, vision and determination that made Ali one of the most beloved, respected and well-known people the world has ever seen. The Mayor noted that Ali came of age at a time of great change and “refused to let the world dictate what his life could be,” making him a great role model today, “because this is another moment of great change: in society, in technology, and in our economy.” It’s time, he said, “to embrace Ali’s spirit and boldly make our own future.” Lane Report

Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis to hire ‘chief science officer’ to deal with algae, red tide

SARASOTA — Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled an executive order Thursday aimed at boosting natural resource protection and staged a series of events across Florida in which he promised to continue making the environment a top priority. Just 48 hours after being sworn in as Florida’s 46th governor, DeSantis traveled to Stuart, Sarasota and two other communities hit hard by toxic algae to talk up the executive order and reiterate his commitment to cleaning up the environment, a key campaign promise. “I just got into office and here I am so I think that shows people that this is not just going to be an issue that I am gonna put out there but it’s going to be one of our priorities,” DeSantis said during an event at Mote Marine Laboratory. Mote has been deeply involved in studying and monitoring red tide, a harmful algae that has primarily fouled waterways in Southwest Florida. But Palm Beach County, and South Florida, also saw a bout with the toxic bloom last fall. Palm Beach Post

A Connection Between State Income Taxes And Public School Enrollment Growth?

There are seven states with no tax on any personal income: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

According to a recently updated National Center for Education Statistics projection, the eight states expected to see the highest growth in public and charter school enrollment in the 12 years from 2015 through 2027 are: North Dakota (27%); Florida (17%); Washington (17%); Texas (15%); Nevada (14%); Alaska (13%), Utah (13%) and South Dakota (12%). That means that six of the top eight states for public school growth don’t levy an income tax.


Here’s How U.S. Businesses Actually Used Their Tax Cuts

On Jan. 1, 2018, the biggest, most sweeping U.S. corporate tax cut ever enacted went into effect. A year later, we’re able to see how businesses used all that extra cash.

The short answer: to buy back shares. The long answer is slightly more nuanced, but not by much.

Corporations had been lobbying lawmakers for years to reduce the corporate income tax rate—which, at 35 percent, was the highest among the U.S.’s major trading partners. Republicans in Congress and the White House framed 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a means to boost employment, enhance wages, and encourage companies to invest and manufacture in the U.S. Among other things, the law reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, at a cost of as much as $1.5 trillion in lost government revenue over 10 years.


Coal Ash Is Contaminating Groundwater in at least 22 States, Utility Reports Show

The clearest picture yet of coal ash contamination in the United States is emerging, with utilities reporting serious groundwater contamination in at least 22 states.

At dozens of power plants across the country, including many in the Southeast, utilities have found coal-ash pollution severe enough to force them to propose cleanup plans. Those plans will likely become the next front in a decades-long battle over how to manage one of the nation’s largest industrial waste streams—one tainted by toxic heavy metals.


Lead in School Water: Less Than Half the States Test for It, and Fewer Require It

Five years after the Flint water crisis reminded Americans about the danger of lead in drinking water, nearly half of U.S. students are attending schools in states that don’t have programs or requirements to test tap water in schools, according to a new report.

And the 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, that do require testing for lead or have programs to conduct that testing lack uniformity in how they go about it, researchers from Harvard University and the University of California pointed out in the report, released Wednesday. Only seven states and D.C. require water tests in schools; in the other 17 states with programs, participation is voluntary.


In Trump country, Republicans cheer on shutdown: The ‘government is our biggest enemy’

Ten words in faded red ink adorn the glass door of the federal building: “Please hold mail for duration of government shutdown. Thank you.”

Here in this northern Colorado coal town, those 10 words, and the unplowed parking lot of that Bureau of Land Management facility, are among the few obvious signs that the nation’s federal government is partially closed, resulting in nearly 1 million American workers not getting their taxpayer-paid paychecks.

Many of Craig’s 9,000 residents are just fine with that.

In this low-slung Western town that still celebrates cowboys and cattle rustlers, Christmas and Christ, and where the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants bracket the broad valley, residents wonder aloud: Doesn’t the shutdown prove their long-held argument that the federal government is too big, too powerful and too expensive?

USA Today

Trump’s proposal to end shutdown hasn’t picked up traction

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s proposal to break through the budget deadlock appeared to be gaining little traction Monday, as another missed paycheck loomed for hundreds of thousands of workers and the partial federal shutdown stretched into its fifth week.

Despite the fanfare of the president’s announcement, voting in Congress was not expected to unfold until later in the week. Even then it seemed doubtful that legislation based on Trump’s plan had any chance of swiftly passing the Senate. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority but would need Democrats to reach the usual 60-vote threshold for bills to advance.

Not a single Democrat publicly expressed support for the deal in the 48 hours since Trump announced it. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer’s office reiterated Monday they that are unwilling to negotiate any border security funding until Trump re-opens the government.


In Texas, It’s Not Just Federal Workers Who Are Affected By The Government Shutdown

On Tuesday, it will be one month since the start of what is already the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, albeit a partial one. It’s certainly taking its toll on federal employees having to work without pay, including those here in Texas.

Brian Kirkpatrick of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Richard Pineda of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas El Paso and Kevin Diaz of the Houston Chronicle’s Washington bureau are all exploring the shutdown’s effect in the Lone Star State, and they say that it’s having ripple effects beyond just government workers.