Thursday, May 6, 2021

Last Call For Laboring Under A Misconception

The Trump states would rather punish workers for not working than help raise people out of poverty, starting with Montana's GOP government planning on rejecting all federal COVID-19 relief bill unemployment funds because Biden was the person who signed the bill into law.

Montana plans to stop some of its federally-funded unemployment benefits to address “the state’s severe workforce shortage,” according to its labor department, which will leave many out-of-work residents without any support at all.

“Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage,” Governor Greg Gianforte said in a statement on Tuesday. “The vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good.”

Instead, the state will begin to offer return-to-work bonuses to help employers looking to hire.

Starting June 27, Montanans will lose access to the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits, but maintain their regular benefits. Contractors, gig workers, and others will also lose access to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, meaning those workers won’t get any benefits.

Those relying on the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which gives additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers, will stop receiving benefits. The state also plans to reinstate the requirement that stipulates workers must be actively searching for a job to qualify for unemployment benefits.

“Montana’s move to end these fully federally-funded UI programs, along with their COVID-19 exceptions, is cruel, ill-informed, and disproportionately harms Black and Indigenous People of Color and women,” Alexa Tapia, unemployment insurance campaign coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, told Yahoo Money. “Ending these programs would leave 22,459 people unable to support their families and hurt thousands more.”

Montana's unemployment rate was 3.8% in March, down from its 11.9% pandemic peak in April 2020, according to data by the Labor Department.

The federally-funded unemployment programs run through September 6 nationwide. Montana’s cancellation would cost workers at least $3,000 per worker in supplement benefits if they couldn’t find work through the program expiration. Workers on PUA and PEUC would lose at least $4,500 in benefits because they no longer will be eligible for the base unemployment benefit.

Different papers have established that the extra $600 in benefits distributed earlier in the pandemic had limited labor supply effects and likely didn’t disincentivize work, including one by the National Bureau of Economic Research and another by Yale University. The current supplemental benefit is worth half of what those papers reviewed.

“The 100% federally-paid unemployment benefits have boosted spending and contributed to the strong economic recovery,” Andrew Stettner, an unemployment insurance expert and senior fellow at the Century Foundation, told Yahoo Money. “It's shortsighted for the state to sacrifice that economic stimulus based on the anecdotal labor shortages concerns of a few employers, especially given the limited evidence of work disincentives from unemployment pay during the pandemic."
Of course, being shortsighted and disproportionately hurting Black, brown, and Indigenous folks in Montana is the entire point of the "labor shortage" lie. Montana's minimum wage is just now getting to $8.75 an hour, and people don't want to work for peanuts even in states with low costs of living. The answer is to make more high-paying jobs available and to raise wages to attract more workers, but that side of economics doesn't exist for the GOP.

Unemployment benefits don't keep workers from working, but if you think $300 a week is too much, maybe pay workers more to work?

Naah, let's just hurt those people some more.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

As more and more Americans live in states that no longer allow the death penalty, the remaining states are going for MAXIMUM OVERDEATH.

The South Carolina House voted Wednesday to add a firing squad to the state’s execution methods amid a lack of lethal-injection drugs — a measure meant to jump-start executions in a state that once had one of the busiest death chambers in the nation.

The bill, approved by a 66-43 vote, will require condemned inmates to choose either being shot or electrocuted if lethal injection drugs aren’t available. The state is one of only nine to still use the electric chair and will become only the fourth to allow a firing squad.

South Carolina last executed a death row inmate 10 years ago Thursday.

The Senate already had approved the bill in March, by a vote of 32-11. The House only made minor technical changes to that version, meaning that after a routine final vote in the House and a signoff by the Senate, it will go to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it.

There are several prisoners in line to be executed. Corrections officials said three of South Carolina’s 37 death row inmates are out of appeals. But lawsuits against the new death penalty rules are also likely.

“Three living, breathing human beings with a heartbeat that this bill is aimed at killing,” said Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg, rhythmically thumping the microphone in front of him. “If you push the green button at the end of the day and vote to pass this bill out of this body, you may as well be throwing the switch yourself.”

South Carolina first began using the electric chair in 1912 after taking over the death penalty from individual counties, which usually hanged prisoners. The other three states that allow a firing squad are Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Three inmates, all in Utah, have been killed by firing squad since the U.S. reinstated the death penalty in 1977. Nineteen inmates have died in the electric chair this century.

South Carolina can’t put anyone to death now because its supply of lethal-injection drugs expired and it has not been able to buy any more. Currently, inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection. Since the drugs are not available, they choose injection.

The bill retains lethal injection as the primary method of execution if the state has the drugs, but requires prison officials to use the electric chair or firing squad if it doesn’t.

“Those families of victims to these capital crimes are unable to get any closure because we are caught in this limbo stage where every potential appeal has been exhausted and the legally imposed sentences cannot be carried out,” said Republican Rep. Weston Newton.

The lack of drugs, and decisions by prosecutors to seek guilty pleas with guaranteed life sentences over death penalty trials, have cut the state’s death row population nearly in half — from 60 to 37 inmates — since the last execution was carried out in 2011. From 2000 to 2010, the state averaged just under two executions a year.

The reduction also has come from natural deaths, and prisoners winning appeals and being resentenced to life without parole. Prosecutors have sent just three new inmates to death row in the past decade.

Democrats in the House offered several amendments, including not applying the new execution rules to current death row inmates; livestreaming executions on the internet; outlawing the death penalty outright; and requiring lawmakers to watch executions. All failed.

Seven Republicans voted against the bill, while one Democrat voted for it.

Opponents of the bill brought up George Stinney, the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century. He was 14 when he was sent to South Carolina’s electric chair after a one-day trial in 1944 for killing two white girls. A judge threw out the Black teen’s conviction in 2014. Newspaper stories reported that witnesses said the straps to keep him in the electric chair didn’t fit around his small frame.

“So not only did South Carolina give the electric chair to the youngest person ever in America, but the boy was innocent,” Bamberg said.
To sum up, the party that considers the possibility of fraudulent voting enough to overturn a presidential election and resort to armed insurrection has no problem murdering people who may be wrongfully convicted, and wants to murder them more quickly

With guns!

Because guns are always the answer here in Gunmerica.

The Next Housing Crisis, Con't

Republicans got their federal judge to overturn the CDC's moratorium on evictions as a public health measure, this time in the DC Circuit, which almost certainly means this will be fast tracked to the Supreme Court.

Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich struck down on Wednesday the national eviction moratorium, potentially leaving millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes two months earlier than expected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has banned most evictions across the country since September. The protection was slated to expire at the end of January, but President Joe Biden has extended it, first until April, and later through June.

Some 1 in 5 renters across the U.S. are struggling to keep up with their payments amid the coronavirus pandemic, and states are scrambling to disburse more than $45 billion in rental assistance allocated by Congress.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said it planned to appeal the ruling. It also seeks a stay of the decision, meaning the ban would remain in effect throughout the court battle.

Speaking at her daily briefing, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the Biden administration recognized the importance of the eviction moratorium for Americans who’ve fallen behind on rent during the pandemic.

“A recent study estimates that there were 1.55 million fewer evictions filed during 2020 than would be expected due to the eviction moratorium, so it clearly has had a huge benefit,” Psaki said.

Housing advocates have said that the national ban is necessary to stave off an unprecedented displacement of Americans, which could worsen the pandemic just as the country is turning a corner.

Researchers have found that allowing evictions to continue in certain states caused as many as 433,700 excess cases of Covid-19 and 10,700 additional deaths in the U.S. between March and September, before the CDC ban went into effect nationwide.

At least two other federal judges have questioned the CDC’s power to ban evictions. And landlords have criticized the policy, saying they can’t afford to continue housing people for free.

The city of Cincinnati will not have to find $50 million to fund a new affordable housing trust fund.

Voters on Tuesday rejected Issue 3, a charter amendment designed to force city leaders to provide additional housing for Cincinnati’s low-income residents, according to unofficial results from the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

With all precincts reporting, 73% of voters had said no, while only 27% approved of the measure.

“We knew that the voters would come through for us,” said Matt Alter, president of the Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local 48. “We knew that they would see through this.”

The union leaders and politicians who fought against Issue 3 agree the city needs more affordable housing, he said, and now must work to find other, better ways to create that.

“I know the Cincinnati Labor Council and some of the other stakeholders, including some of the political parties, are interested in also sitting down and being a part of that,” Alter said. “The voters voted ‘no’ on this. But how do we make sure that this doesn’t just fall to the back burner, and we continue on this pace to ensure that we can bring affordable housing to Cincinnati in a responsible manner that doesn’t damage and doesn’t hurt current services?”
City police and firefighter unions made sure the vote died screaming, warning that they would all but go on strike if Issue 3 passed, and they got what they wanted. Aftab Pureval, the Hamilton County Clerk running for Mayor, also opposed the bill. Issue 3 essentially had no chance.

Pureval is the favorite for replacing outgoing Mayor John Cranley, which is all you need to know about where Cincy's affordable housing situation is going.

It's worse here on the Kentucky side of the river, believe me.
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