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Idea that could limit college religious freedom attacked by attorneys general | Ohio


on – By J.D. Davidson | – 2023-03-28 11:09:00

(The Center Square) – Republican attorneys general from around the country want the Biden administration to continue to protect college ' First Amendment and student religious rights.

Twenty attorneys general signed on to a letter written by Ohio Dave Yost spurred by what he called the Biden administration's threat to end an existing rule that requires public universities to comply with the First Amendment or lose grant .


“Day after day, we see school administrators across the country targeting student religious groups as unworthy of existence,” Yost said. “Our county was founded on an entirely different principle – that Americans can practice their religion without fear of reprisal.”

The rule, established in 2020 to implement a Supreme Court precedent, prohibits public universities from denying religious student groups “any right, benefit or privilege that is otherwise afforded to other student at the public institution” because of a group's “beliefs, practices, policies, speech, membership standards or leadership standards, which are informed by sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The Biden administration has said it thinks the existing policy is too confusing and burdensome.

The coalition believes student religious organizations are being singled out.


“The religious practice of student groups and individuals is under immense fire at universities,” the letter reads. “Religious students have greatly enriched campus communities, through , service, temperance, and commitment to learning. They are owed the right to freely exercise their religion, however out of fashion with an increasingly anti-religious bureaucratic regime that might be.”

The letter also says removing the rule would conflict with Supreme Court rulings and allows the government to attack religious groups.

“The department is blessing the targeting of religious groups. That is wrong,” the letter reads.

The coalition includes the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, , Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, , Utah, Virginia and Virginia.


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This Is the Most Unique Job in Mississippi | Mississippi


on – Samuel Stebbins, 24/7 Wall St. via The Center Square – 2023-05-26 17:33:06

The United States has the most dynamic in the world. Where it once was symbolized by the automotive and steel industries, the American economy is now the world's technology colossus. But the U.S. economy is more than that. It is a unique sum of the parts of 50 states whose identities are often tied to a particular job or industry. (And domestic workers hold the most jobs in these 12 states.)

Using data on employment by for all detailed occupations from the of Labor Statistics Occupational Wage and Employment Statistics survey for May 2022, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most unique job in every state.

Based on location quotient – the ratio of the concentration of an occupation's employment in a state relative to its concentration nationwide – upholsterers ranks as the most unique occupation in Mississippi. With 3,500 jobs in the field out of 1,131,550 jobs in the state, the occupation is 17.0 times more concentrated in Mississippi than it is nationwide.


The average annual wage for workers in the occupation across the state is $37,280, to $41,900 nationwide.


State Most unique job Occupation's location quotient Occupation employment in state Occupation's avg. annual wage in state ($)
Alabama Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders 6.2 1,990 37,270
Alaska Zoologists and wildlife biologists 20.7 740 81,320
Arizona Continuous mining machine operators 6.8 1,880 51,800
Arkansas Agricultural product graders and sorters 7.6 1,470 33,470
California Crop, nursery, and greenhouse farmworkers and laborers 5.6 188,580 34,790
Colorado Atmospheric and space scientists 5.7 1,050 107,220
Connecticut Methal and plastic lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders 5.4 1,160 48,140
Delaware Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers 8.3 3,400 31,190
Florida Bridge and lock tenders 3.6 820 32,040
Georgia Textile winding, twisting, and drawing out machine setters, operators, and tenders 11.5 8,570 34,890
Hawaii Motorboat operators 45.4 570 52,930
Idaho Nuclear engineers 9.0 590 149,100
Illinois Misc. mathematical science occupations 6.3 960 79,540
Indiana Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders 10.6 4,290 67,860
Iowa Agricultural technicians 9.2 1,250 49,630
Kansas Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and assemblers 19.2 5,760 56,560
Kentucky Metal and plastic forging machine setters, operators, and tenders 7.3 1,000 52,490
Sailors and marine oilers 19.1 6,790 52,910
Maine Logging equipment operators 7.4 760 43,240
Maryland Astronomers 18.0 690 141,880
Biochemists and biophysicists 10.5 8,250 117,830
Michigan Metal and plastic patternmakers 9.3 590 64,050
Minnesota Misc. gambling service workers 13.2 3,090 30,520
Mississippi Upholsterers 17.0 3,500 37,280
Missouri Cooling and freezing equipment operators and tenders 6.8 830 48,000
Montana Gambling and sports book writers and runners 21.7 570 20,020
Nebraska Transportation equipment electrical and electronics installers and repairers 8.9 500 73,550
Nevada Gambling managers 31.8 1,460 90,350
New Hampshire Misc. metal and plastic workers 6.5 610 40,520
New Jersey Shampooers 7.8 1,620 29,190
New Mexico Extraction worker helpers 17.5 670 43,760
New York Transit and railroad 7.0 1,460 76,290
North Carolina Textile bleaching and dyeing machine operators and tenders 7.4 1,550 30,030
North Dakota Wellhead pumpers 30.6 1,220 64,350
Ohio Engine and other machine assemblers 4.2 7,660 56,370
Oklahoma Gambling surveillance and investigators 14.9 1,700 31,310
Oregon Misc. personal care and service workers 24.2 18,430 34,900
Pennsylvania Metal pourers and casters 4.5 1,070 42,690
Rhode Island Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers 7.5 640 45,750
South Carolina Tire builders 15.4 4,120 52,610
South Dakota Forest and conservation workers 34.4 610 33,250
Tennessee Statistical assistants 12.0 1,690 51,840
Texas Oil and gas derrick operators 7.2 6,930 51,570
Utah Continuous mining machine operators 7.2 1,070 63,690
Vermont Misc. community and social service specialists 5.0 940 48,080
Virginia Metal and plastic layout workers 12.6 2,260 57,530
Washington Tapers 7.4 2,420 75,320
Virginia Mining roof bolters 87.5 680 66,080
Wisconsin Foundry mold and coremakers 5.3 1,150 43,410
Wyoming Oil and gas roustabouts 28.5 2,020 48,120



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19 attorneys general urge Biden not to bypass Congress to raise debt ceiling | National


on – By Joe Mueller | – 2023-05-25 12:50:00

(The Center Square) – A coalition of 19 attorneys general signed a letter urging not to expand his executive powers to raise or ignore the debt ceiling without congressional approval.

Tennessee Jonathan Skrmetti led the group and was prompted by Biden's statements on his assertion the executive branch has authority under the 14th Amendment to bypass .


“Our constitutional system may be frustrating at times, but it is the fundamental guarantor of American liberty, and we must all abide by the oaths we swore to defend it,” the letter states. “The Constitution very deliberately invests the power of the purse in Congress. That power includes the authority to tax, the authority to spend, and, explicitly, the authority to borrow money on the credit of the United States.”

Biden and Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy and their staffs have been in negotiations to reach an agreement to raise the nation's debt ceiling and prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt obligations. Earlier this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to McCarthy and warned that the Treasury may be unable to pay its bills as early as June 1. Business and consumer confidence would also be influenced by not increasing the debt limit.

“The Constitution is clear that only Congress has the power to authorize an increase in the national debt,” Skrmetti said in a statement. “The separation of powers in our constitutional system may be frustrating sometimes, but the checks and balances it creates are the heart of American liberty. If we start taking illegal shortcuts, no matter how compelling the justification, we put our whole system at risk.”

Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey was one of the attorneys general who signed the letter and called Biden's possible actions political.


is yet again ignoring the blatant framework of our Constitution, which is the very bedrock of our nation, to satisfy his political agenda,” Bailey said in a statement. “If not for the states, the federal government would roughshod over our nation's system of checks and balances. I will not stand by and allow the integrity of our nation to be eroded by a President who has no respect for the Constitution.”

The letter expressed a belief that Biden and legislators will reach a solution but warned of legal ramifications if Congress is bypassed.

“We have faith that you and our federal legislators will find a solution and resolve the immediate problem,” the letter stated. “But should your administration attempt an authoritarian end-run around the separation of powers, we will not hesitate to use the legal tools at our disposal to defend the integrity of our constitutional system.”

In addition to Tennessee and Missouri, the letter was signed by the top enforcement from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, , Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.


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Report: Mississippi’s pension system faces serious financial headwinds | Mississippi


on – By Steve Wilson | – 2023-05-24 11:09:00

(The Center Square) — An annual by the 's legislative watchdog committee warns that Mississippi's public defined benefit pension system is facing serious financial and demographic challenges.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure , better known as the PEER Committee, released its annual review of the Public Employee's Retirement System of Mississippi, which is the pension fund for the vast majority of state, county and municipal employees.


According to the report, the plan is expected to be only 48.6% fully funded by 2047, a significant drop from the optimistic 93.5% predicted by the 2021 projections. The plan's ratio, which is defined as the share of future obligations covered by current assets, has been 61.3% for the last two years.

In fiscal 2022, the plan's investments lost 8.45% after amassing a near-record 32.71% in 2021.

The report echoed the data released in the fund's comprehensive annual report, which is usually released in December.

One issue is flagging investment returns. The retirement system's board of directors voted in 2021 to decrease the expected rate of return from 7.75% to 7%, which staff uses for planning purposes. It's the second time in the past decade the governing board has acted after lowering the expectation from an unrealistic 8% in 2015.


The plan's funding policy, which requires enough excess returns above expectations to lower the assumed rate of return, has only the rate to be reduced to 7.55%, which PEER says is problematic.

“The PERS Board's choice to utilize this methodology could continue to be a cause of concern,” the report says. “Selection of this methodology has delayed implementation of the assumption reduction and exacerbated the plan's lower-than-projected investment returns.”

The report also says the plan's demographics are also an issue as a decreasing number of contributing employees an ever-growing number of retirees. The plan's ratio of active members to retirees declined from 1.81:1 in FY 2012 to 1.24:1 in FY 2022, or approximately 31.49%.

The report also said the plan's assumptions on pay increases for contributing employees, which affects the amount of they'll in retirement, are overly optimistic, which can affect the plan's bottom line. The projected annual rate of wage increase is 2.65% and while increases from fiscal 2022 were above that figure, the annual payroll increase in the last decade was 0.98%.


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