Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 - 08:05:56
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House and Senate lawmakers:

    At first, in a vote that caused moments of confusion in the Upper House, the 50 Democratic senators and five Republicans, of the 100 seats in all, voted in favor of the motion to allow the calling of witnesses. The change came after news that Trump told a Republican leader in Congress during the deadly assault by his supporters last month that the mob was “more upset” by his electoral defeat than lawmakers. Before the vote, closing arguments by House lawmakers, who serve as prosecutors, and Trump’s defense attorneys were expected to end on Saturday, after a week-long trial. A longer trial could slow down Democratic President Joe Biden’s efforts to put the controversies surrounding his predecessor behind him and push his own legislative agenda on COVID-19 relief and economic revival. Much of this week’s trial has focused on how much Trump knew about the insurgents’...
    By JEFF AMY, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — An amended state budget that increases spending on K-12 schools and public health passed the Georgia state Senate on Tuesday with a 52-0 vote, racing one step closer to passage. With Senate changes, House Bill 80 returns to the House, where representatives could agree to Senate changes or demand a conference to work out differences. Legislative leaders have said it's a priority for the budget to move quickly in case a COVID-19 outbreak forces lawmakers to stop meeting. The measure spends $26.6 billion in state funds and $15.6 billion more in federal money in the current year ending June 30. Lawmakers agreed with Gov. Brian Kemp's plan to add back $567 million to the state's K-12 school funding formula, which was cut by $950 million last year when lawmakers feared a steeper drop in revenue. “It’s certainly a lot better position than...
    After a fall and summer of increasing acrimony and heightened rhetoric — including seven attempts to rescind Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers — the 2021 Minnesota Legislature convened with a somewhat softer tone early last week. Might it lead to a compromise between the governor, his DFL allies and the GOP? Probably not, especially after a superheated media forum Monday featuring the governor and the four legislative leaders. Most of the back and forth was about the invasion of the U.S. Capitol and whether GOP lawmakers took part in the rhetoric that contributed to it.  But it was sometimes hard to distinguish between anger over that attack and the months-long debate over the state response to COVID-19. “How do we find common ground when we have people who will not say the election was fair?” Walz said Monday. “How do we find common ground when basic medical facts are disregarded?...
    A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images A joint session of Congress to count the 2020 presidential race's Electoral College votes descended into chaos as violent pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building.  Lawmakers were evacuated as the rioters invaded the House and Senate Chambers and vandalized congressional offices. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories. The Capitol Building came under siege from pro-Trump rioters on Wednesday during a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential race.  The rioters, fresh from a "March for Trump" rally to protest the certification of Joe Biden's victory, stormed the building, sending the House and Senate into recess and forcing lawmakers, Hill staffers, and reporters to shelter in their offices before being evacuated. Protesters sat in Vice President Mike Pence's...
    President Donald Trump’s supporters breached the United States Capitol on Wednesday, forcing members of the House and Senate to lockdown or evacuate.  Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the Capitol as his own supporters breached the building, delaying the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory . Several Trump supporters have already made their way into the Senate and House chambers, while others continue to violently clash with the police outside. Watch live, via PBS News. Have a tip we should know? [email protected]
    President Donald Trump attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and sought to take credit for his reelection after plotting with House Republicans Monday on finding a way to overturn the election. An aide to the president sent House Republicans a graph showing a series of polls conducted on McConnell's race against Democrat Amy McGrath – and presented just two events on the timeline, both involving Trump.  The graph suggests Trump's June 19 tweet touting McConnell was determinative, and also shows an Oct. 31 Trump robocall that directly preceded an uptick in McConnell's support.  'From POTUS,' it said, using an acronym for the president.  A Trump assistant emailed House Republicans with a graph where he took credit for reelected Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ''SADLY, MITCH FORGOT. HE WAS THE FIRST ONE OFF THE SHIP!' said a headline on the top of the graph.  Trump assistant Molly Michael sent the...
    House and Senate lawmakers in both parties escalated pressure on leadership to reach a deal on coronavirus aid by year’s end, triggering a flurry of last-ditch talks and proposals. “I think there's pressure on all of us, because of what's happening out in the field, to get something done,” Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, told the Washington Examiner. “It's not a matter of political pressure coming from Democrats or Republicans. It's people who are desperate out there, just desperate.” Leaders in both parties are now aiming for a deal this month. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, sent GOP lawmakers a new proposal on Tuesday that would redirect unspent federal dollars for a new round of small business loans, unemployment insurance, and other aid. Across the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi restarted talks Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, announcing afterward that Congress “must pass” a new...
    “Bit by bit. Putting it together. Piece by piece. Only way to make a work of art. Every moment makes a contribution. Every detail plays a part. Having just a vision’s no solution. Everything depends on execution.”  - “Putting it Together” from “Sunday In the Park With George” by Stephen Sondheim VideoPELOSI SLAMS TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ACTIONS AS AN 'ILLUSION' IN 'FOX NEWS SUNDAY' INTERVIEW It probably won’t be a “work of art” if and when….if and when…negotiators ever finalize a coronavirus bill. Those talks seem permanently stalled now after Friday’s meeting on Capitol Hill and President Trump taking executive action in lieu of a legislative agreement on Saturday. But the words from Sondheim on Broadway echo even in the marble halls of Congress. Any coronavirus bill this big, this complex, covering almost unprecedented scope, is a monster lift. “Every detail plays a part,” as they say in the song. “Bit...
    Nearly two months after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, the Minnesota Legislature approved a bill Tuesday to restrict police use of chokeholds and neck restraints, ban departments from offering “warrior”-style officer training and change a state arbitration process that officers use to contest discipline. State Rep. Carlos MarianiThe measures, passed in the early morning hours following lengthy closed-door negotiations between House Democrats and Senate Republicans, were hailed by supporters as a step toward curbing police killings and other violence that disproportionately affects Black Minnesotans and people of color. “It creates a modern accountability framework of laws that will help to end the type of police brutality that killed George Floyd in May of this year,” Rep. Carlos Mariani, a St. Paul DFLer who chairs the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Division, said in a speech during floor debate. Even as lawmakers celebrated new changes to...
    By SARA CLINE, Associated Press/Report For America SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With the end in sight, lawmakers in face covers returned to the Capitol Friday for the special legislative session to consider more than 20 bills, most dealing with police accountability and the COVID-19 pandemic. By early evening, the Legislature passed five police reform bills, including measures that limit the use of chokeholds, require officers to intervene if their colleague is being unjust or unethical and creating a statewide police discipline database as they hoped to be able to adjourn. “I want to be clear, we still have much work to do,” said Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Eugene. “Much work to do to get to a place where our communities can genuinely feel safe around those who were sworn to serve and protect them.” The police reform bills passed overwhelmingly, two passed unanimously in Senate. In addition, the Senate unanimously passed...
    By JEFF AMY, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — A bill is advancing in the Georgia House of Representatives to tax vaping products, but a key committee chairman is ruling out any increase in taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The House Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance Senate Bill 375, regulating and tax vaping products in the same way that tobacco products are taxed and regulated. It moves to the House for more debate. But Committee Chairman Brett Harrell, a Snellville Republican, said he's not interested in a Senate proposal in another bill that would more than tripled Georgia's tax on cigarettes. After the meeting, Harrell repeated his position that he's willing to consider a tax increase, but wants a mathematical formula determining taxes to make sure Georgia doesn't get out of line with neighboring states, instead of just to pick a number. “I'm open to...
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A special session of the Minnesota Legislature appeared to be in a stalemate Friday with both parties deeply divided on how far lawmakers should go toward remaking policing in the state where George Floyd was killed. The Democratic-controlled House early Friday passed an extensive package of police accountability measures wrapped into one bill. It includes elements of five more modest policing bills that the Republican-controlled Senate passed earlier in the week but would make bigger changes than what Senate Republicans have said they’ll accept. As lawmakers huddled behind closed doors, or met on the floors to pass less-contentious legislation, around 400 demonstrators held a Juneteenth rally outside the Capitol, where they chanted Floyd’s name and called for lawmakers to pass the House bill. GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, of East Gull Lake, repeatedly has said that Friday was his deadline for adjournment, and that lawmakers should...
    U.S. President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order Tuesday on some police reforms, the goal of which a senior administration official said is “to invest more and incentivize best practices.”  Briefing reporters Monday ahead of the signing, a senior administration official said the main piece will be creating certification bodies to train officers on de-escalation techniques and use of force standards.  “We’re leveraging our ability to execute discretionary grants and prioritizing those police departments that take the time to get that credentialing,” the official said.  Another part would push for creating so-called co-respondent services, a system in which officers would pair with social workers when responding to nonviolent calls, especially those involving mental health concerns and drug addiction issues.  More sweeping overhauls to the nation’s policing are under consideration in Congress.  The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the issue Tuesday with testimony from law enforcement and civil rights officials.  The...
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Democrats who control the Minnesota House announced a $300 million economic aid proposal Monday for businesses that were damaged or destroyed during the civil unrest over the death of George Floyd. The legislation is aimed at commercial corridors in lower income neighborhoods that were hardest hit as protests over Floyd’s May 25 death while in Minneapolis police custody turned violent. Many of the affected small businesses along Lake Street and Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis, and University Avenue in St. Paul, are owned by people of color and immigrants. State Rep. Hodan Hassan, a Minneapolis Democrat who represents part of the damaged area, said the community is still “in a lot of pain,” and that buyers are already offering cash to people whose buildings were burned if they’ll just go away. “That’s not the rebuilding we want,” she said during a news conference. “We want to make...
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