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Republican governors sign letter opposing WHO treaty | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By T.A. DeFeo | contributor – 2024-05-22 15:00:00

(The Center Square) — The Republican governors of two dozen states, including Georgia and South Carolina, penned a letter to opposing the World Organization's proposed “Pandemic Agreement,” which they said could “undermine national sovereignty” and states' rights.

The executives argue the treaty “would seek to elevate the WHO from an advisory body to a global authority in public health.” They contend the proposed accord could also allow the WHO to establish “a global surveillance infrastructure” and force participants to censor speech.

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On Tuesday, 93.3% of voters in Georgia's Republican primary said “unelected and unaccountable international bureaucrats,” such as those at the WHO, should not have “complete control over management of future pandemics in the United States and authority to regulate your and personal health choices.” The vote is nonbinding, but it could guide legislative action when Peach State lawmakers meet again next year.

In their letter, the governors said that “if adopted, these agreements would seek to elevate the WHO from an advisory body to a global authority in public health.

“Under the proposed amendments and treaty, the WHO's Director-General would supposedly gain unilateral power to declare a ‘public health emergency of international concern' (PHEIC) in member nations, extending beyond pandemics to include a range of perceived emergencies,” the governors added. The “proposals could erode state sovereignty by granting the WHO's Director-General the authority to dictate responses to a declared PHEIC, stripping elected representatives of their role in setting public health policies and compelling citizens to comply with WHO directives, potentially including mandates regarding medical treatments.”

Govs. Kay of Alabama, Mike Dunleavy of Alaska, Sarah Sanders of Arkansas, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Jeff Landry of , Tate Reeves of Mississippi, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Jim Pillen of Nebraska, Joe Lombardo of Nevada, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Henry McMaster of South Carolina, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Greg Abbott of , Spencer Cox of Utah, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Jim Justice of Virginia and Mark Gordon of Wyoming signed the letter.

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The Center Square

Federal judge issues temporary injunction stopping Biden’s Title IX rules | National

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | – 2024-06-13 17:00:00

(The Center Square) — A federal judge issued an injunction on Thursday that put a temporary hold on new Title IX rules issued by the Biden administration.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty issued the order in a lawsuit brought by the states of , Mississippi, Montana and Idaho. The injunction keeps the final rules from going into effect pending a by the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana. 

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The new rules finalized by the Department of Education and which are supposed to go into effect Aug. 1 expand the definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity and pregnancy, but the agency didn't issue any rules relating to transgender athletes. Among the changes include a prohibition on single-sex bathroom and locker rooms and requirements that a school use pronouns based on a student's preferred gender identity.

Doughty said in the order that the new rule violated the speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment along with the spending clause and “is arbitrary and capricious.”

The judge also said in his ruling that for one of these injunctions to be issued, the plaintiffs must show a substantial of on the merits of their case, a threat of irreparable harm that must outweigh any that would result if the injunction weren't issued and it must be in the public interest. Doughty said the plaintiffs did so successfully. 

Doughty also said that the plaintiffs were able to prove that the harassment standard created by the rule is contrary to Title IX and he said they “made compelling arguments for how it can violate the free speech right of the First Amendment.”

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Louisiana Liz Murrill, who brought the Title IX lawsuit, praised the ruling. 

“This a victory for women and girls,” Murrill said in a statement. “When Joe Biden forced his illegal and radical gender ideology on America, Louisiana said NO! Along with Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana, states are fighting back in defense of the , the safety and prosperity of women and girls, and basic American values.”

Title IX prohibits educational institutions that federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex in both educational programs and activities.

Federal courts have already acted against the Biden administration's rules. 

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On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor granted the state's motion for summary judgement in a case over a mandate issued by two federal agencies before the administration amended Title IX to redefine biological sex to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” 

He also denied the Biden administration's request to dismiss and vacated the guidance nationwide and issued a permanent injunction against its enforcement in .

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Injunction granted against ATF’s ‘firearms dealer’ rule for 4 states, 4 groups | Texas

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Jon Styf | – 2024-06-12 09:00:00

(The Center Square) – A federal judge in granted an injunction against the of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from enforcing its new rule that changes the definition of a firearms dealer in four states and for members of four .

The rule defines firearms dealers requiring a license as anyone who engages in “a single firearm transaction or offer to engage in a transaction.”

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The injunction applies to of Texas, , Mississippi and Utah along with members of Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, Tennessee Firearms Association and Virginia Citizens Defense League.

The ATF explained in its final rule the goal was to “ clarity to persons who remain unsure of whether they are engaged in the business as a dealer in firearms with the predominate intent of pecuniary gain.”

The was filed May 1 and the preliminary injunction extends a temporary restraining order that was set to through Sunday.

“Other Plaintiffs face both civil and criminal enforcement actions for engaging in conduct that the BSCA (Bipartisan Safer Communities Act) permits but the Final Rule impermissibly forbids,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk wrote. “They cannot engage in lawful, noncommercial conduct without fear of prosecution. They cannot collect firearms for personal defense while enjoying statutory protection. Nor can they dispose of firearms from their personal collections for fear of being presumed ‘engaged in the business.' “

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The ruling doesn't impact other residents of Tennessee, Virginia or states not involved in the lawsuit.

“This is a substantial victory for residents of these four states, Mr. Tormey and members of these four organizations,” the Tennessee Firearms Association wrote. “At this time, members of Tennessee Firearms Association are protected but only because Tennessee Firearms Association made the choice to invest in this litigation and to accept the to be a party plaintiff on behalf of its members.”

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Report gives Mississippi historic ranking on education | Mississippi

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www.thecentersquare.com – By Steve Wilson | The Center Square – 2024-06-11 15:23:00

(The Center Square) – A new gave Mississippi its best education ranking, but the state continues to struggle in other areas regarding child welfare.

The nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book ranked the state 30th in education, 49th in overall child well-being, and last in economic well-being, health and and community categories. 

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a statement praising the state's historic ranking.

“This is another history-making moment for Mississippi,” Reeves said. “We have more work to do, but the fact that we're 30th in the entire nation for education proves how much momentum we have in the classroom.

“Mississippi will continue doing everything we can to with the tools they need to fulfilling lives and secure high-paying careers in our state. Congratulations to Mississippi's , teachers, and students for once again making history.”

The report uses statewide data to compile its rankings and states from the Southeast didn't fare well in the overall rankings, which are calculated using the other categories. 

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Overall, only New Mexico was worse than Mississippi, with the other bottom five states being Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma.

The top five states overall were New Hampshire in first, , Utah, Vermont and Minnesota. 

The economic rankings had Louisiana, New Mexico, Virginia and Arkansas in the bottom five. North Dakota was in the lead, followed by New Hampshire, Iowa, Utah and Nebraska. 

In education, Georgia was 31st, Tennessee 32nd, Kentucky 33rd and Alabama 34th. The worst five states were New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Alaska and Nevada. 

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The top state for education was Massachusetts, trailed by New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Florida. 

In the bottom five for health ahead of Mississippi were Louisiana, , Arkansas and South Carolina. The best states in this measure were New Hampshire in first, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington and Vermont. 

Just ahead of Mississippi in the bottom five for the family and community category were New Mexico, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas. Top states were led by Utah, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho and Maine. 

Nationally, the report authors found the COVID-19 pandemic hit proficiency hard in both math and reading. 

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Only 26% of eighth graders nationally were at or above proficient in math in 2022, worse than 2019 (33%). 

Less than a third of fourth-grade students (32%) reached or were better than proficient in reading, 2 percentage points lower than right before the pandemic.

The report also found that 30% of students (14.7 million students) were chronically absent, nearly double than before the pandemic. 

Forty percent of students were also found to endured an adverse experience, such as an economic hardship or their parents divorce, separate or one parent go to prison. 

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