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This Week in Politics: Week Ending May 18, 2024

We know you're busy, so we've highlighted some of the most important political stories from this week. From controversial Supreme Court decisions to new legislation impacting your rights, here's a quick roundup to keep you informed and engaged. Dive in to stay up-to-date on the latest developments shaping our nation's political landscape.

This Week In Politics

This Week In Ohio...


A New Ohio Bill Would Require Public Schools to Adopt Policies Allowing Religious Classes


House Bill 445, recently introduced in Ohio, mandates public schools to adopt a policy allowing students to attend religious classes during the school day. The bill changes the current law from "permit" to "require," thus enforcing schools to authorize religious instruction, provided it adheres to existing regulations such as voluntary participation with parental permission, and no use of school funds. Critics, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation, argue that religious instruction can lead to peer pressure and disrupt educational priorities. This bill is problematic as it potentially undermines the separation of church and state and imposes undue religious influence in public education. Public hearings on the bill will continue.



Lower Income Ohioans Can Now Get Vouchers to Help Cover Kids' Meals While Out of School For The Summer


A new federal program, the Summer EBT, aims to ensure continuous access to breakfast and lunch for Ohio students from low-income families during summer break. Launching this year, the program provides a one-time payment of $120 to families with children aged 6 to 18 who are enrolled in or eligible for Medicaid, SNAP, welfare benefits, or free/reduced-price school meals. The funds can be used for groceries but not for hot food or non-food items. This initiative, funded federally but requiring state administrative cost-sharing, builds on pandemic-era food benefits. While the $120 may not cover all needs, it offers crucial support amid rising living costs and helps families allocate resources towards other essentials and activities. Notably, the program is accessible to all eligible families regardless of citizenship status, though annual reapplication is required. This program is a significant step in addressing food insecurity during summer months.



Republicans Decline Simple Biden Ballot Solution to Get Biden on Ohio's Ballot


Ohio's Republican supermajorities in the Statehouse have caused another national embarrassment by failing to pass a bipartisan fix to a ballot scheduling issue, potentially preventing President Joe Biden from appearing on Ohio's general election ballot. Historically, such adjustments have been non-controversial, but this year, GOP lawmakers inserted a partisan proposal to block foreign money from state ballot campaigns, knowing it would derail the bill. This obstructionist tactic contrasts sharply with Alabama's Republican legislature, which passed similar adjustments without dissent. This petty partisanship undermines democratic processes and disenfranchises Ohio voters, highlighting a troubling trend of prioritizing political gain over public service.



Senator Brown Introduces Bill to Protect Call Center Workers


Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has introduced a bill to protect U.S. call center jobs from being outsourced to other countries, especially targeting companies benefiting from government tax breaks. Brown argues that it is unfair for U.S. tax dollars to support firms that move operations overseas while downsizing their American workforce. He is seeking bipartisan support for this measure, emphasizing that government funds should not facilitate the offshoring of jobs. This bill is a critical step in safeguarding American workers and ensuring that taxpayer money supports domestic employment.



This Week Nationwide...


Trump May Be Trying to Back Down from Biden Debate


After agreeing to two debates with President Joe Biden in June and September, former President Donald Trump unilaterally proposed a third debate on October 2nd, hosted by Fox News. Trump's campaign initially accepted debate invitations from CNN for June 27 and ABC for September 10, which Biden also agreed to. However, Trump's new proposal prompted Biden's campaign to accuse him of "playing games," referencing his history of manipulating debate rules and participation. Biden's campaign emphasized their commitment to the agreed debates and criticized Trump's tactics as chaotic and evasive. With Trump's past avoidance of debates and his recent behavior, there are concerns he may be setting the stage to back out of these crucial encounters.



Justice Alito Having a Stop the Steal Symbol is a Huge Red Flag


Legal experts are expressing concern over the lack of an enforceable judicial ethics code following a New York Times report about a symbol of the “Stop the Steal” movement being flown outside Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's home after the January 6 insurrection. This incident, involving an upside-down flag, appears to violate the Supreme Court's own ethics code by creating an appearance of bias. Critics argue that Supreme Court justices should adhere to the highest ethical standards, with some calling for Alito's recusal from cases related to January 6, questioning his impartiality. Justice Alito attributed the flag's display to his wife, but experts remain skeptical, emphasizing the need for an enforceable ethics mechanism within the Supreme Court.



The Supreme Court Rules Civil Forfeiture (Cops Stealing Your Things) is Legal


"Civil asset forfeiture" allows police to seize personal property from individuals without a warrant, conviction, or even a charge, often leading to lengthy and costly legal battles for the return of seized items. This practice has generated $68.8 billion for federal, state, and local governments between 2000 and 2019, despite widespread criticism for violating due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The recent Supreme Court decision in Culley v. Marshall upheld civil forfeiture, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh asserting that as long as a hearing is eventually provided, the practice remains constitutional. Critics argue this decision disregards the fundamental right to due process and perpetuates an unjust system where innocent individuals are left without recourse. Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissent highlighted the devastating impact on low-income communities, who often cannot afford the legal costs to reclaim their property. The ruling underscores the need for legislative reform to protect citizens from this form of legalized theft.


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