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The Sunday Read: Pushback on Biden administration begins in the states

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Don’t believe that? Well, start stretching your brain because the mental hot yoga has commenced and you’re at least one sunrise salutation behind.

Elections have consequences.

In his first two days in office, Biden issued 17 executive orders, and he hasn’t slowed down just yet.

After a completely overblown military display that led President Joe Biden through his inauguration on Wednesday, our 46th president went right to work on undoing as much of the past four years as he could with the precision of a jackhammer.

In the private sector, businesses pressured – internally or externally – to change direction often succumb to a practice of hiring an opposite in roles of authority and leadership. Subconsciously or consciously, these companies hire people whose talents, attitudes, and personalities are precisely the opposite of the person who previously held the position.

In almost every case, the order sought to specifically undo something that had been done during the tenure of his predecessor, 45th President Donald Trump.

Elections – specifically the actions of those elected – have ramifications.

We may have done precisely this as a nation. How do these hires ultimately work out? Not well, because there is so much energy spent reversing course in the water that the tide itself pushes the department or division off of its intended course.

Maybe take a snap of your current state property tax bill, 401k statement and bank account this morning, print them out and then stuff it all in a filing cabinet that you’ll be able to access four years from now.

Don’t believe that? Well, let’s check in again in January 2025.

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Welcome to The Sunday Read.

Biden revoked the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which led Canadian company TC Energy to halt construction. The pipeline, if finished, would carry approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. Passing through six U.S. states, the project has faced multiple legal challenges. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was “deeply concerned” about Biden’s repeal. “Doing so would kill jobs on both sides of the border, weaken the critically important Canada-U.S. relationship, and undermine U.S. national security,” Kenney said.

As mainstream media outlets mostly fawned over Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, The Center Square reported on how the new administration’s policy decisions would have real-life impacts on jobs and the economy. Biden last week ordered a temporary halt to new leases and permits for oil and gas development on federal land, something critics said would cost thousands of jobs and lead to a renewed reliance on foreign energy providers. Our reporting also noted that a federal lease moratorium would result in a $639.7 billion hit to gross domestic product (GDP) in Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, California and Alaska by 2040.

In Ohio, Biden’s Keystone XL action drew concerns from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who said it will cost jobs and hurt the economy. On Wednesday, Biden signed an order rescinding the presidential permit that allowed for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Before the order, TC Energy announced it had suspended work on the 1,700-mile pipeline. Portman, an Ohio Republican, said he wants to work with the new administration and called the order unfortunate.

In Texas, the governor and attorney general announced plans to sue the Biden administration over several executive orders recently issued – and immigration policy is front and center. “A new crop of Texas-led lawsuits awaits Joe Biden’s White House,” Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “Texas will take action whenever the federal government encroaches on state’s rights, or interferes with constitutional rights, or private property rights or the right to earn a living.” Texas, along with California, leads the states in the number of times it has sued the federal government. Arguing against federal government overreach and in favor of the Tenth Amendment, Texas’ legal actions have ranged from suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), the Clean Power Plan, and many other issues. Now immigration is policy is the target.

In Kentucky, a Republican Party county chapter voted unanimously to censure U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell for comments he made on the Senate floor. McConnell said President Trump “provoked” the group that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and interrupted the counting of the Electoral College votes to confirm Biden as the new President. It was broadly reported Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, will transmit the article of impeachment to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday. A trial could begin as soon as February 1.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis does not want more help from the federal government in administering COVID-19 vaccinations. Instead, he just wants more doses sent to Florida. DeSantis called Biden’s plan “a big mistake.” “I saw some of this stuff Biden’s putting out, that he’s going to create these FEMA camps. I can tell you, that’s not necessary in Florida,” DeSantis said. “All we need is more vaccine. Just get us more vaccine.”

Elsewhere in America…

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In what may be the first attempt at reforming state-level election laws in the U.S. since the November 2020 election, Indiana legislators introduced a bill calling for the formation of a Commission on Election Integrity that would review the security of all voting machines used in the state and consider whether election laws should be changed to increase confidence in the vote. The commission would be tasked with finding outside experts to assess the security of all voting machines and also look at whether absentee voting laws should be tightened, with fewer reasons for voting absentee allowed and early voting possibly curbed.

INDIANA

For the past 83 years, Peter Tomassoni’s family has run Recreation Lanes and the Antoin Room Banquet and Convention Center in Iron Mountain. Less than one year under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, however, it could close, through no fault of the family. On Wednesday, the Michigan Independent Bowling & Entertainment Centers Association (IBECA) filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan, claiming the state owes five businesses compensation for the takings of their respective businesses for public use without just compensation since March of 2020.

MICHIGAN

ILLINOIS

Staring down the barrel of a projected $1.2 billion tax revenue shortfall, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked the state legislature to approve $5.6 billion in COVID-19 relief programs. The programs will flood federal stimulus money to education and businesses sectors. In the meantime, the state’s bars and restaurants have remained closed to in-person patrons since mid-November, although the governor has stated the industry may open at 25% capacity up to a limit of 100 customers and must observe a 10 p.m. curfew on Monday, Feb. 1. Data from the industry reports 5% of bars and restaurants have been forced to close permanently because of state-imposed shutdown orders. A total of 27% of the state’s bars and restaurants may be forced to close permanently by the end of February, industry analysts project.

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 rules, the state’s 11 regions were under four different classes of mitigations, leading to confusion among lawmakers and local officials. State Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said restaurants are ready to do it right, but the governor isn’t listening to the industry, or to state lawmakers. “I think if the administration were to listen to those restaurants, there might be a happy medium, somewhere where they can meet and the restaurants can somehow stay afloat,” Crespo said.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has approved a $2.1 billion budget request, a 4.5 percent increase over the prior year at a time when enrollment is nearly flat and the state faces a multi-billion dollar budget gap. The 2022 fiscal year budget proposal is $2.1 billion dollars and would reflect a 4