Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ law punishing student ‘indoctrination’ is a ‘disgraceful’ assault on academic freedom, free speech experts warn

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a COVID-19 testing site, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. First responders and people over 65 years-old began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday during a trial run of the site which will open to seniors at a later date.

  • DeSantis signed a law mandating public universities survey students and faculty on their political beliefs.
  • Scholars and advocates said the law is “disgraceful” and could lead to bizarre classroom instruction.
  • For instance, “intellectual diversity” could be used to mandate professors teach creationism alongside the science of evolution.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a new bill into law on Tuesday that requires the state’s public universities to survey faculty, students, and staff on their political beliefs to measure “viewpoint diversity” and fight student “indoctrination.”

The Republican-passed law aims to determine “the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented” in classrooms and whether students “feel free to express beliefs and viewpoints on campus and in the classroom,” according to the bill’s text. And it mandates that students “be shown diverse ideas and opinions, including those that they may disagree with or find uncomfortable.”

It remains unclear how the state will use the information it gathers, but free speech scholars and advocates are concerned DeSantis and the legislature will retaliate against universities and their faculty for political reasons. The governor, who’s built a national profile with his Trumpian politics, suggested on Wednesday that the state will cut funding for schools it deems “hotbeds for stale ideology.”

First Amendment experts say the Florida law is unconstitutional and will do the opposite of what it purports to. Instead of promoting free speech, they fear it will both suppress certain viewpoints and undermine academic freedom, as well as force professors to waste time introducing discredited science and theories. And the effort comes amid DeSantis’ broader crackdown on free speech, including Black Lives Matter protests and the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.

Undermining free speech and academic freedom

Critics of Florida’s new law fear DeSantis and the GOP-run state legislature will intimidate universities and chill speech on campus. Micah Kubic, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, said the law is unconstitutional because there is no “overwhelmingly compelling government interest” to warrant suppressing the speech of professors and students.

“This is a really disgraceful move that undermines the First Amendment, that will chill speech on campuses, and I think that trying to brand it as somehow a defense of free speech is an ultimate ‘up is down’ moment,” Kubic told Insider. “Everything about it is designed to chill and intimidate, not to actually cultivate an environment of free speech or dissent.”

He added, “Ron DeSantis disapproving of what you think is not a compelling government interest.”

The ACLU is waiting for more clarity on what the survey will look like and how it will be implemented before making decisions about its legal strategy. Kubic said “all options remain on the table.”

While all public universities are already required to respect the First Amendment, the values of freedom of speech are inconsistent with academic freedom, said Robert Post, a constitutional law professor at Yale and former dean of the school. Professors differentiate between good and bad ideas, and truth and falsehoods, in ways that are inconsistent with promoting “intellectual diversity.” While the government must protect all speech equally, universities regularly grant tenure to faculty, grade students, and award grants – all actions that involve discriminating between ideas.

“We train students to become competent in their disciplines and that, of course, means it’s not a marketplace of ideas, it’s an educational ground for the creation of competence,” Post told Insider. “All ideas are not equal, if you care about competence.”

Requiring “intellectual diversity” in the classroom is akin to mandating a discredited theory like creationism be taught alongside the established science of evolution, Post said. Political science departments shouldn’t hire liberal and conservative professors, they should hire good political scientists, regardless of their personal political beliefs. He fears that the law will empower politicians “who think politics should override truth” and compared the phenomenon to Joseph Stalin’s partnership with the Soviet biologist Trofim Lysenko, who pushed Marxist-approved agricultural pseudoscience that helped drive the country’s deadly famines.

Florida protest
Black Lives Matter protest in Miami, Florida on June 7, 2020.

A broader effort to suppress speech

The new law is one of a series of measures DeSantis and his GOP allies have taken to crack down on free speech and regulate education. This spring, DeSantis signed a law that dramatically heightened criminal punishments for protesters. Last week, he preemptively barred Florida schools from teaching about systemic racism and the history of slavery through the lens of critical race theory and The New York Times Magazine’s “1619 Project.”

There are a slew of reasons why classrooms are increasingly a battleground for political culture wars. Education polarization in electoral politics has deepened in recent years. College-educated voters were key to President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and the gap between how college-educated and non-college-educated Americans vote widened last year and is particularly pronounced among white voters. In the 2020 election, Biden won 54% of college-educated white voters, while former President Donald Trump won 63% of non-college white educated voters, according to an analysis of the election results by the Democratic data firm Catalist.

As the country becomes more educated, this widening polarization could present an ongoing challenge for the Republican party across the country. Asserting more control over what is taught in public schools might be one way for the GOP to reverse this trend.

But Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, said this particular effort may well backfire. He thinks faculty and students alike will largely reject the survey and simply refuse to participate in the state’s efforts. The media headlines are the point, he argued, and the GOP’s effort will fail on a practical level.

“Professors are going to boycott it purely because this is a state messing with the education of young people,” he told Insider. “I just know as a dean, trying to get my faculty to respond to any survey – you know, professors are very busy people and they also do not take to authority well.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

25 GOP-led states and one Democratic state are cutting $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Here are the 26 states making the cut this summer.

GettyImages 1231114054
President Joe Biden.

  • Some Republican governors have decided Americans make too much from expanded unemployment benefits.
  • After a surprisingly dismal April jobs report, they moved to end federal jobless aid early.
  • That also includes eliminating programs benefiting gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alabama

kay ivey
Gov. Kay Ivey.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19. 

Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.

“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.

Alabama is also resuming its work-search requirements for recipients, which had been paused throughout the pandemic.

The average weekly benefit in Alabama amounted to $283 in March. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, higher than the 2.8% it had in February 2020.

Alabama is among the seven states that have not raised the hourly minimum wage for workers since the hike to $7.25 in 2009

Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12. 

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.

Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6. 

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.6% in March 2021, a 0.8% increase from the rate of 5.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $298.

Arizona

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will terminate all federal jobless benefit programs on July 10, per a news release from his office.

Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.

People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.

The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.

Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.

Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26. 

“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.

Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 74.7% of the UI Arkansas disbursed came from federal funds, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. On January 1 of this year, Arkansas’s minimum wage increased to $11 — several dollars above the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”

In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.

Georgia

brian kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.

“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”

The Georgia unemployment rate was 4.5% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 3.5%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $278.95.

Idaho

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little.

Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.

It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.

Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.

Indiana

GettyImages eric holcomb
Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.

Iowa

kim reynolds iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.

“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.

Louisiana

john bel edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Louisiana is the first Democrat-led state to prematurely cut off its participation in $300 weekly benefits. Those benefits will end July 31.

Last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that would increase the state’s regular weekly benefits by $28. One of the bill’s stipulations was that supplemental unemployment benefits had to end on July 31.

Local news outlet WWLTV reported that, prior to the bill’s passage, the governor had already said he planned on ending benefits in early August, when school begins.

Louisiana’s unemployment rate was 7.1% in May 2021, nearly two points higher than 5.2% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $175.57.

Maryland

larry hogan
Gov. Larry Hogan.

Maryland will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective July 3.

Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement that the state has vaccinated 70% of its adults, hitting the goal set by President Joe Biden, and that Maryland’s “health and economic recovery continues to outpace the nation.”

“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” Hogan said. “And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages.”

Maryland’s unemployment rate was 6.2% in April 2021, nearly three points higher than 3.3% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $318.16.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he was pulling out the state from the federal pandemic-aid programs starting June 12.

“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $195, according to the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, a figure still elevated from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.8% in February 2020.

Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Missouri

missouri gov mike parson
Gov. Mike Parson.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12. 

“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” 

The average weekly benefit in Missouri amounted to $258.57 in March. Its unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in March, a drop from 4.3% in February. That’s still 0.5% higher than the March 2020 unemployment rate.

Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.

Montana

greg gianforte
Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.

“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”

Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.

Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers the annual State of the State Address to lawmakers in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the benefits are a “disincentive for some people” in returning to work. The curtailing of benefits come as part of the state’s initiative to reopen and “return to normalcy.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in April 2021, lower than 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $343.25.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.

The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.

North Dakota

doug burgum north dakota trans school sports bill
Gov. Doug Burgum.

Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.

“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.

Ohio

Mike-DeWine-2019
Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.

“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.

“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.

Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”

People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.

The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.

South Carolina

henry mcmaster
Gov. Henry McMaster.

Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.

McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”

The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.

South Dakota

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”

“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.

The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.

Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Gov. Bill Lee.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.

Texas

greg abbott texas
Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.

The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.

Utah

AP spencer cox
Gov. Spencer Cox.

Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.

West Virginia

WV Gov Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.

“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 4.9%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $276.15.

Wyoming

mark gordon
Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the state was scrapping the federal unemployment benefit, along with programs aiding gig workers and those who exhausted traditional state payouts.

“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Gordon said in a statement. “People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

The Wyoming unemployment rate is 5.3%, slightly higher than the 4.8% it once had in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $430.

Are you unemployed and have a story you want to share? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and jzeballos@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Federal judge strikes down CDC’s ‘authoritarian’ COVID-19 cruise ship rules, comparing it to a nationwide ban on sex because STDs exist

Cruise ship docks in Florida
Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has called the federal judge’s ruling a “major victory.”

  • A federal judge has ruled that the CDC’s cruise ship sailing orders can no longer be enforced.
  • In the ruling, he compared the “authoritarian” rules to implementing a nationwide ban on sex because of a fear of STDs.
  • The CDC’s conditional sailing orders will become “non-binding” guidelines from July 18.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge has ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can’t enforce its “authoritarian” pandemic-era sailing orders against Florida cruise ships from mid-July, The Washington Post reported.

US District Judge Steven D. Merryday’s ruling means that the CDC’S conditional sailing orders will become “non-binding” guidelines for Florida ships, instead of stringent requirements, from July 18.

Merryday ruled that the CDC did not satisfactorily justify its cruise safety rules, comparing halting voyages to the hypothetical situation of banning sexual intercourse across the US because of the fear of STDs.

“One is left to wonder, given the persistent risk of transmission of a communicable disease… whether the director of CDC could have – or, perhaps, should have – generally shut down sexual intercourse in the United States,” Merryday wrote.

He added that a ban on sex to reduce “zero” the transmission of “AIDS or syphilis or herpes” would not be politically prudent or enforceable.

Merryday said that the shutdown of Florida’s cruise industry by the CDC was “breathtaking, unprecedented, and acutely and singularly authoritarian.”

The CDC has until July 2 to propose a “narrower” set of guidelines to “safeguard the public’s health,” the ruling added.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis, who has been in a standoff with the CDC over COVID-19 vaccine requirements since last year, has hailed the ruling as a “major victory.”

“The CDC has been wrong all along, and they knew it,” he said in a statement. “Today, we are securing this victory for Florida families, for the cruise industry, and for every state that wants to preserve its rights in the face of unprecedented federal overreach.”

Read more: Baby boomers, desperate to travel, are booking lavish getaways, month-long stays in villas, and exotic cruises

The preliminary injunction against the CDC resulted from a successful lawsuit filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to halt the conditional sailing orders, which Moody argued exceed the public health agency’s authority and would cause “irreparable injury” to Florida’s economy.

No cruises have left US ports with passengers since March 2020. After cruise ships around the world became “superspreaders” at the start of the pandemic, leaving passengers infected, dead, or stranded, the CDC’s no-sail order stopped all voyages nationwide.

This was replaced by the Framework for Conditional Sailing Order (CSO) and the framework for “trial” voyages, Insider’s Brittany Chang reported. According to an updated framework, cruise companies could bypass the simulated voyages if 95 percent of passengers and crew were fully vaccinated.

The first CDC-approved fully-vaccinated cruise is due to set to sail on June 26 from Florida.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida Gov. DeSantis signed a new law mandating a daily moment of silence in schools for students to ‘reflect and be able to pray as they see fit’

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responds to a question from the media at a press conference at the Eau Gallie High School aviation hangar in Melbourne, Florida, on March 22, 2021.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law requiring daily moments in silence in schools.
  • The law will go into effect next school year.
  • It bans teachers from “making suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law this week that requires schools to hold daily moments of silence for students.

“It’s important to be able to provide each student the ability every day to reflect and be able to pray as they see fit,” DeSantis said before signing the bill, according to CNN.

Though the law doesn’t mandate prayer, DeSantis used religious terms at the bill’s signing, railing against “the idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful.”

“I’m sorry, our founding fathers did not believe that,” DeSantis added.

The law states that teachers are banned “from making suggestions as to the nature of any reflection that a student may engage in during the moment of silence.”

The bill was signed into law on Monday, and will go into effect next school year.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Groups representing Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google are suing Florida over Gov. DeSantis’ new bill banning online ‘deplatforming’

Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

  • Two tech industry groups filed a lawsuit against a new bill signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • The lawsuit calls the bill – which bans “deplatforming” – a “smorgasbord of constitutional violations.”
  • The groups that filed the suit count Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon as members.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two industry groups that represent tech companies including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon have filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida, claiming a new law that targets online speech violates the First Amendment.

The lawsuit was filed by Netchoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), and is aimed at a new bill signed last week by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The bill was signed on May 24, and was framed by DeSantis as protecting citizens from online censorship. The bill states it’s designed to prohibit social media platforms from “willfully deplatforming” political candidates, and lets Florida fine a company $250,000 per day if it does “deplatform” someone.

The lawsuit describes DeSantis’ bill as a “smorgasbord of constitutional violations” and argues it would make it impossible for tech companies to exercise their First Amendment rights by moderating their platforms for objectionable and harmful content.

The bill also lets Florida citizens sue tech companies for up to $100,000 if they believe companies are breaking the law.

The bill is set to go into effect on July 1, but the tech groups’ lawsuit was filed on May 27, and seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions that would prevent the bill from coming into force.

“These unprecedented restrictions are a blatant attack on a wide range of content-moderation choices that these private companies have to make on a daily basis to protect their services, users, advertisers, and the public at large from a variety of harmful, offensive, or unlawful material,” the lawsuit argues.

It also pointed to a bizarre loophole Florida included in the new bill, exempting companies that own Florida-based theme parks such as Disney from the law. The suit argued this was evidence that the bill unfairly targets specific companies.

Legal experts have also described the bill as unconstitutional. “This is so obviously unconstitutional, you wouldn’t even put it on an exam,” A. Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami, told Wired.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida governor banned transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports on first day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in December 2020 at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Tuesday banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ sports in high school and college on the first day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

The “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which was introduced by GOP state Sen. Travis Hutson in February, designates teams “on the basis of students’ biological sex at birth,” meaning transgender girls whose birth certificate says “male” as their biological sex are not allowed to participate in girls’ sports teams.

The law also expressly prohibits those whose “biological sex” on their birth certificate denotes male from participating in girls’ sports, but those whose “biological sex” is noted as female can play in boys’ sports.

When asked if there was a meaning behind signing the bill on June 1 ahead of its June 12 deadline, DeSantis said: “It’s not a message to anything other than saying we’re going to protect fairness and women’s sports.” The legislation goes into effect on July 1.

“We believe in the state of Florida protecting the fairness and integrity of women’s athletics,” DeSantis said at an event at the Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville. “I can tell you that in Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports.”

Supporters of the legislation say the act eliminates an unfair biological advantage by prohibiting transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.

“We all know that men are stronger than women,” GOP state Sen. Kelli Stargel said at the Jacksonville event, which also featured a video of a track athlete who sued over transgender girls competing in high school girls’ sports.

Stargel, who championed the sports legislation, said in response: “When you’re looking at that video, it’s evident the woman, the transgender woman who competed, or self-identified woman, ran very differently than the others in the competition. It’s physiologically different. Men are stronger, they have bigger lung capacity, stronger muscles.”

Critics – including Stargel’s daughter Laura – said the legislation discriminates against transgender athletes and could have a negative impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Excluding transgender children from sports will exacerbate feelings of discrimination and severely impact their mental and physical health,” Laura Stargel wrote in an op-ed published in the Orlando Sentinel.

“I played sports all throughout middle, high school and college,” she added. “Not once did I stop to consider what gender my teammates were assigned at birth.”

Democratic lawmakers in the state also condemned DeSantis’ decision to sign the bill.

“This is yet another hate-driven attack from the governor and Republican legislators, and it’s insulting that they’ve staged this morning’s photo-op on the first day of Pride Month,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones said. “At the end of the day, transgender kids are just kids.”

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who became Florida’s first openly gay Latinx legislator, tweeted in response: “Appalling. First day of LGBTQ Pride Month and @GovRonDeSantis signs SB 1028 which bans trans kids from school sports.”

“FHSAA has allowed trans kids to participate in FL since 2013 with ZERO problems,” Smith continued. “This fuels transphobia and puts vulnerable kids at risk for no good reason.”

The Senate passed the anti-transgender sports bill in April, and it initially had a deadline to be signed into law by DeSantis on June 12 – the same day as the five-year anniversary of the shooting at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, that left 49 people dead.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP-led states are cutting $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Here are the 24 states making the cut this summer.

GettyImages 1231114054
President Joe Biden.

  • Some Republican governors have decided Americans make too much from expanded unemployment benefits.
  • After a surprisingly dismal jobs report, they’re moving to end federal jobless aid early.
  • That also includes eliminating programs benefiting gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alabama

kay ivey
Gov. Kay Ivey.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19. 

Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.

“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.

Alabama is also resuming its work-search requirements for recipients, which had been paused throughout the pandemic.

The average weekly benefit in Alabama amounted to $283 in March. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, higher than the 2.8% it had in February 2020.

Alabama is among the seven states that have not raised the hourly minimum wage for workers since the hike to $7.25 in 2009

Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12. 

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.

Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6. 

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.6% in March 2021, a 0.8% increase from the rate of 5.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $298.

Arizona

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will terminate all federal jobless benefit programs on July 10, per a news release from his office.

Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.

People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.

The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.

Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.

Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26. 

“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.

Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 74.7% of the UI Arkansas disbursed came from federal funds, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. On January 1 of this year, Arkansas’s minimum wage increased to $11 — several dollars above the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”

In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.

Georgia

brian kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.

“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”

The Georgia unemployment rate was 4.5% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 3.5%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $278.95.

Idaho

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little.

Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.

It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.

Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.

Indiana

GettyImages eric holcomb
Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.

Iowa

kim reynolds iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.

“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he was pulling out the state from the federal pandemic-aid programs starting June 12.

“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $195, according to the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, a figure still elevated from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.8% in February 2020.

Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Missouri

missouri gov mike parson
Gov. Mike Parson.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12. 

“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” 

The average weekly benefit in Missouri amounted to $258.57 in March. Its unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in March, a drop from 4.3% in February. That’s still 0.5% higher than the March 2020 unemployment rate.

Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.

Montana

greg gianforte
Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.

“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”

Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.

Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivers the annual State of the State Address to lawmakers in Lincoln, Neb., Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021.
Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska will end its participation in all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the benefits are a “disincentive for some people” in returning to work. The curtailing of benefits come as part of the state’s initiative to reopen and “return to normalcy.”

Nebraska’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in April 2021, lower than 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $343.25.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.

The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.

North Dakota

doug burgum north dakota trans school sports bill
Gov. Doug Burgum.

Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.

“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.

Ohio

Mike-DeWine-2019
Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.

“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.

“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.

Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”

People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.

The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.

South Carolina

henry mcmaster
Gov. Henry McMaster.

Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.

McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”

The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.

South Dakota

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”

“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.

The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.

Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Gov. Bill Lee.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.

Texas

greg abbott texas
Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.

The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.

Utah

AP spencer cox
Gov. Spencer Cox.

Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.

West Virginia

WV Gov Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.

“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 4.9%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $276.15.

Wyoming

mark gordon
Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the state was scrapping the federal unemployment benefit, along with programs aiding gig workers and those who exhausted traditional state payouts.

“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Gordon said in a statement. “People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

The Wyoming unemployment rate is 5.3%, slightly higher than the 4.8% it once had in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $430.

Are you unemployed and have a story you want to share? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and jzeballos@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

900 people a day are moving to Florida, many fleeing ‘tax hell’ in New York and New Jersey, the state’s CFO said

Florida and its governor Ron DeSantis
Florida’s population grew by 2.7 million over the last decade, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has heavily promoted the state as pro-business.

  • Around 900 people a day are moving to Florida, Jimmy Patronis, the state’s CFO, told Fox Business.
  • This is partly because of high taxes in states such as New York and New Jersey, he said.
  • He described those two states as “financial train wrecks.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Around 900 people a day are moving to Florida, mainly because of high taxes in other states such as New York and New Jersey, Florida’s CFO Jimmy Patronis told Fox Business on Monday.

Migration to Florida had steadily risen over the past decade, before booming during the pandemic as remote working and the warm climate drew people to the Sunshine State.

Florida also has no personal-income tax. In comparison, New York unveiled proposals in April to bump up its income-tax rates for its wealthiest residents.

Patronis told Fox that states like New York and New Jersey were “financial train wrecks.”

Read more: IBM is hunting for a smaller NYC office now that 80% of its employees won’t come in every day. It’s a sign of the times.

“Let’s just talk about the empty nesters from New York, or the empty nesters from New Jersey,” Patronis said. “They then decide to leave the tax hell that those states are in and move to the state of Florida.”

He said that these people bring money into the state without increasing pressure on the school system.

“It provides more money to our schools, though they’re not using the services,” Patronis said.

“It’s a win-win,” he added.

Both people and businesses flocked to Florida during the pandemic

Florida’s population grew by 2.7 million, or 14.6%, between 2010 and 2020, according to US Census data. This is double the rate of overall US population growth.

As Patronis said, Florida is traditionally associated with retirees, but Troy McLellan, CEO of the Boca Raton Chamber, previously told Insider in May that more and more families and young high-flyers are moving to the area.

Florida has also remained largely open during the pandemic, relative to other states. This led to people choosing to make Florida their primary residence for the pandemic, Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County, told Insider.

Companies have been opening offices in the state, too. Hedge fund Elliott Management is moving its headquarters to West Palm Beach, private-equity firm Blackstone plans to open an office in Miami, and Subway is shifting some business units to Miami.

Read the original article on Business Insider

GOP-led states are cutting $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits. Here are the 23 states making the cut this summer.

GettyImages 1231114054
President Joe Biden.

  • Some Republican governors have decided Americans make too much from expanded unemployment benefits.
  • After a surprisingly dismal jobs report, they’re moving to end federal jobless aid early.
  • That also includes eliminating programs benefiting gig workers, freelancers, and the long-term unemployed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Alabama

kay ivey
Gov. Kay Ivey.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced on Monday that the state was halting its participation in federal unemployment benefits starting June 19. 

Those include the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for gig workers and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation for the long-term unemployed.

“We have announced the end date of our state of emergency, there are no industry shutdowns, and daycares are operating with no restrictions. Vaccinations are available for all adults. Alabama is giving the federal government our 30-day notice that it’s time to get back to work,” Ivey said in a press release.

Alabama is also resuming its work-search requirements for recipients, which had been paused throughout the pandemic.

The average weekly benefit in Alabama amounted to $283 in March. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.8%, higher than the 2.8% it had in February 2020.

Alabama is among the seven states that have not raised the hourly minimum wage for workers since the hike to $7.25 in 2009

Experts say other factors are keeping workers from jumping back into the labor force, such as a lack of childcare access and fear of COVID-19 infection.

Alaska

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Alaska will end its participation in the extra $300 in weekly benefits effective June 12. 

“As Alaska’s economy opens up, employers are posting a wide range of job opportunities and workers are needed,” labor and workforce development commissioner, Dr. Tamika L. Ledbetter, said in a statement.

Extensions for the state benefit will continue through September 6. 

Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.6% in March 2021, a 0.8% increase from the rate of 5.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $298.

Arizona

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gov. Doug Ducey said the state will terminate all federal jobless benefit programs on July 10, per a news release from his office.

Arizona, however, is setting aside some federal funds to provide a one-time $2,000 bonus for people who return to work by Sept. 6. There are some strings attached.

People qualify for the measure if they are already receiving jobless aid — and they must earn less than $25 hourly at their next job. That amounts to a yearly salary of $52,000. Individuals must also work 10 weeks with a new employer to get the cash.

The state last recorded an unemployment rate of 6.7%, higher than the 4.9% it had immediately before the pandemic in February 2020.

Arizona’s average jobless payout is $238.

Arkansas

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on May 7 that the state would no longer participate in federal unemployment after June 26. 

“The $300 federal supplement helped thousands of Arkansans make it through this tough time, so it served a good purpose. Now we need Arkansans back on the job so that we can get our economy back to full speed,” Hutchinson said in a press release, which cited South Carolina’s and Montana’s separate decisions to opt out of the federal assistance program.

Its unemployment rate is 4.4%, slightly higher than the 3.8% level of February 2020. The average weekly benefit in the state is $248.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 74.7% of the UI Arkansas disbursed came from federal funds, according to a report from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. On January 1 of this year, Arkansas’s minimum wage increased to $11 — several dollars above the federal rate of $7.25.

Florida

ron desantis florida vaccine 60 minutes
Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida will end its participation in the $300 in additional weekly benefits effective June 26. However, other federal programs, including PUA, “will continue for the time being as DEO [Department of Economic Opportunity] continues to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends.”

In a press release, DEO Secretary Dane Eagle said “transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.” Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March 2021, 1.9% higher than 2.8% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $235.22.

Georgia

brian kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 26.

“Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong — including an unemployment rate below the national average,” Kemp said in a statement. “To build on our momentum, accelerate a full economic recovery, and get more Georgians back to work in good-paying jobs, our state will end its participation in the federal COVID-19 unemployment programs, effective June 26th.”

The Georgia unemployment rate was 4.5% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 3.5%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $278.95.

Idaho

Gov. Brad Little
Gov. Brad Little.

Gov. Brad Little said Idaho would no longer draw federal money to fund enhanced unemployment insurance, and the state will cancel its program on June 19.

It’s time to get back to work,” Little said in a Tuesday statement. “My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle — we do not want people on unemployment. We want people working.”

The state was among those that recently reimposed a job-seeking requirement for people receiving jobless aid.

Idaho’s unemployment rate stands at 3.2%, a higher level compared to 2.6% in February 2020. The average weekly unemployment benefit in the state is $355, per the Labor Department.

Indiana

GettyImages eric holcomb
Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is terminating all federal unemployment programs effective June 19.

“There are help wanted signs posted all over Indiana, and while our economy took a hit last year, it is roaring like an Indy 500 race car engine now,” Holcomb said in the news release. “I am hearing from multiple sector employers that they want and need to hire more Hoosiers to grow.”

The state is also among those now requiring people to actively seek work while on unemployment.

Indiana’s unemployment rate is 3.9%, higher than the 3.2% it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit is $254.

Iowa

kim reynolds iowa
Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state would cancel federal jobless benefits on June 12.

“Federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs initially provided displaced Iowans with crucial assistance when the pandemic began,” Reynolds said in a statement. “But now that our businesses and schools have reopened, these payments are discouraging people from returning to work.”

The state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, still slightly higher than the 2.9% it recorded in February 2020. Iowa’s average weekly jobless benefit is $430.

Mississippi

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves
Gov. Tate Reeves.

Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he was pulling out the state from the federal pandemic-aid programs starting June 12.

“It has become clear to me that we cannot have a full economic recovery until we get the thousands of available jobs in our state filled,” Reeves wrote on Twitter.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $195, according to the Employment and Training Administration at the Department of Labor.

The state’s unemployment rate is 6.3%, a figure still elevated from its pre-pandemic rate of 5.8% in February 2020.

Mississippi is among the seven states that have not lifted hourly pay for workers since the last increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

Missouri

missouri gov mike parson
Gov. Mike Parson.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on Tuesday that Missouri would be ending its participation in federal unemployment on June 12. 

“While these benefits provided supplementary financial assistance during the height of COVID-19, they were intended to be temporary, and their continuation has instead worsened the workforce issues we are facing,” Parson said in a statement. “It’s time that we end these programs that have ultimately incentivized people to stay out of the workforce.” 

The average weekly benefit in Missouri amounted to $258.57 in March. Its unemployment rate stood at 4.2% in March, a drop from 4.3% in February. That’s still 0.5% higher than the March 2020 unemployment rate.

Missouri raised its minimum wage to $10.30 on January 1, 2021.

Montana

greg gianforte
Gov. Greg Gianforte.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced the state was ending federal benefits on June 27.

“Incentives matter, and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good,” Gianforte said in a statement. “We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce.”

Taking its place will be a $1,200 return-to-work bonus, an amount equivalent to four weeks of receiving federal jobless aid. Workers will be eligible for the cash after a month on the job. The measure enjoys support among some congressional Republicans.

The average weekly benefit in the state is $468 without the federal supplement. The state’s unemployment rate has reached pre-pandemic levels, at 3.8% in April.

New Hampshire

chris sununu
Gov. Chris Sununu.

Gov. Chris Sununu said on Thursday that he was planning on ending the additional $300 weekly benefit before it’s due to expire, NECN reports. However, the date that benefits will be discontinued in the state remains unclear.

The state will also begin work search requirements for those on UI beginning May 23.

The New Hampshire unemployment rate was 3.0% in March 2021, above the February 2020 rate of 2.6%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $277.26.

North Dakota

doug burgum north dakota trans school sports bill
Gov. Doug Burgum.

Gov. Doug Burgum said the state would pull out of federal unemployment benefit programs on June 19.

“Safe, effective vaccines have been available to every adult in North Dakota for months now, and we have an abundance of job openings with employers who are eager to hire,” Burgum said in a news release, noting the state had its highest number of online job postings since July 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate is 4.4%, still almost double its level of 2.3% in February 2020. North Dakota’s average weekly unemployment payment is $480.

Ohio

Mike-DeWine-2019
Gov. Mike DeWine.

Gov. Mike Dewine said the state will scrap the federal unemployment benefit programs on June 26.

“This assistance was always intended to be temporary,” DeWine said in a statement.

The state’s unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, the same level it had in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Ohio is $383.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt
Gov. Kevin Stitt.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is dropping all federal unemployment programs starting on June 26.

“That gives people six weeks to get off the sidelines and get back into the game,” he said in a news release.

Stitt also announced that the first 20,000 laid-off workers now receiving benefits that are rehired will get a $1,200 “incentive using funds from the American Rescue Plan.”

People are eligible if they receive some form of federal unemployment aid between May 2 through 15, and keep their new job for at least six weeks. Individuals must also have a 32-hour workweek.

The Oklahoma unemployment rate stands at 5.2%, higher than the 3.1% it had before the pandemic broke out in February last year. The average weekly benefit is $310.

South Carolina

henry mcmaster
Gov. Henry McMaster.

Even before the jobs report hit, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said the state would stop its participation in federal unemployment effective June 30.

“This labor shortage is being created in large part by the supplemental unemployment payments that the federal government provides claimants on top of their state unemployment benefits,” McMaster wrote in a letter to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.

McMaster spoke with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson about the expanded unemployment program, saying he believed it’s a “counterproductive policy.”

The average weekly benefit in the state stands at $228. South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 5.1%, still nearly double its pre-pandemic rate of 2.8% in February 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, 76.7% of the unemployment insurance that South Carolina disbursed came from federal funds, according to the report from the Economic Policy Institute. The minimum wage in South Carolina was last raised in 2009, when the federal minimum wage as a whole was increased to $7.25.

South Dakota

Kristi Noem
Gov. Kristi Noem.

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Wednesday that the state will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective the week of June 26. In a related statement, the state’s Labor and Regulation Secretary Marcia Hultman noted that “help wanted signs line our streets.”

“South Dakota is, and has been, ‘Open for Business.’ Ending these programs is a necessary step towards recovery, growth, and getting people back to work,” Hultman added.

The South Dakota unemployment rate was 2.9% in March 2021, unchanged from 2.9% in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $369.

Tennessee

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
Gov. Bill Lee.

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tuesday that federal unemployment benefits would end in the state effective July 3.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

The state’s unemployment rate in March 2021 was 5%, a 0.1% increase from the month before and 1% higher than the March 2020 rate. Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment payment is $219.45. Tennessee is one of seven states where the minimum wage remains at the federal level of $7.25.

Texas

greg abbott texas
Gov. Greg Abbott.

Gov. Greg Abbott said he was scrapping all federal unemployment programs on June 26.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Abbott said in a statement.

Nearly 1.3 million people in the state will experience a sharp cut in their unemployment aid, per an estimate from Andrew Stettner at the liberal-leaning Century Foundation. It’s the largest state yet to eliminate the programs, with the eliminated aid coming to an estimated $8.8 billion.

The average weekly benefit in Texas is $405. The state’s current 6.9% unemployment rate is still nearly double what it used to be in February 2020.

Utah

AP spencer cox
Gov. Spencer Cox.

Utah is withdrawing from federal unemployment aid programs effective June 26.

“This is the natural next step in getting the state and people’s lives back to normal,” Gov. Spencer Cox said in a statement. “The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

The state has a 2.9% unemployment rate, slightly higher than the 2.5% pre-pandemic level in February 2020. The average weekly benefit in Utah is $428.

West Virginia

WV Gov Jim Justice
Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia will end its participation in federal unemployment benefit programs effective June 19 at midnight.

“We need everyone back to work,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement. “Our small businesses and West Virginia’s economy depend on it.”

West Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.9% in March 2021, 1% above the February 2020 rate of 4.9%. The state’s average weekly benefit is $276.15.

Wyoming

mark gordon
Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the state was scrapping the federal unemployment benefit, along with programs aiding gig workers and those who exhausted traditional state payouts.

“Wyoming needs workers, our businesses are raring to go,” Gordon said in a statement. “People want to work, and work is available. Incentivizing people not to work is just plain un-American.”

The Wyoming unemployment rate is 5.3%, slightly higher than the 4.8% it once had in February 2020. The state’s average weekly benefit is $430.

Are you unemployed and have a story you want to share? Contact these reporters at jkaplan@insider.com and jzeballos@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Palm Beach County has around 44 billionaires. The super-rich are flocking there for business opportunities, convenient transport links, and a chance to live in ‘paradise.’

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is attractive for both workers and their families.

  • Palm Beach County’s grew twice as fast as the US average over the past decade.
  • This has accelerated during the pandemic as remote workers sought a sunnier climate during lockdown.
  • Three locals explained why both people and businesses are flocking to the county.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Florida has been one of the few states to see real economic progress during the pandemic.

Both businesses and companies have flocked to the US’ third-largest state over the past year because of its pro-business environment, including a lack of personal-income tax, alongside its sunny climate that made it an alluring place to spend lockdown.

And Palm Beach County, located just north of Miami, has stood out. Elliott Management is planning on moving its headquarters there, Citadel Securities based its trading-floor’s COVID-19 bubble at a hotel there, and hundreds of families have relocated to the county.

Read more: IBM is hunting for a smaller NYC office now that 80% of its employees won’t come in every day. It’s a sign of the times.

Insider spoke to parties involved in the local economy, including the mayors of Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach town, to understand what’s driving people to move to the area.

‘We punch above our weight in terms of business strength’

Palm Beach County has been working to drive a migration of businesses for around 10 years, Kelly Smallridge, CEO of the county’s Business Development Board (BDB), told Insider.

West Palm Beach
The county is popular among boaters.

The county realized that executives were buying second houses or coming for vacations in Florida, but owned a large business in another state. So the BDB approached them about bringing their business to Florida, Smallridge said.

“That initiative has turned out to be the most lucrative economic development initiative in the last 40 years,” Smallridge said.

The BDB isn’t the only group actively recruiting businesses to move to the county. West Palm Beach mayor Keith James told Insider that the city had been reaching out to financial-services companies for years – not just in New York but in other Northeast states including Vermont and Connecticut, alongside some companies as far afield as California.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest in companies relocating to Boca Raton,” Scott Singer, the mayor of Boca Raton, told Insider.

He said the city had been fielding “plenty” of inbound calls, but that it had also launched targeted advertising in the New York, Chicago, and San Francisco markets, including promoting its technology business hub.

The three mayors told Insider they had especially noticed increasing levels of interest from venture capital, private equity, hedge fund, and financial-services companies, feeding into a state-wide trend.

360 rosemary related companies office building west palm beach
360 Rosemary, a new West Palm Beach office building under construction, is luring out-of-state financial firms including New Day as tenants.

Hedge fund Elliott Management is in final-stage talks to move its headquarters from Manhattan to West Palm Beach, while Maryland-based mortgage company New Day USA is leasing 50,000 square feet of office space as a second headquarters in the city.

And Ken Griffin’s Citadel Securities chose Palm Beach’s Four Seasons as the location for its trading floor’s COVID-19 bubble in April 2020.

Almost 2,500 financial-service firms have offices in the county, employing 37,000 people in total, according to the BDB.

But other industries are growing, too. West Palm Beach is targeting the marine and medical industries for future growth, while Singer said that Bacon Raton has been a tech hub for decades, noting that IBM developed the first personal computer there in 1981.

Palm Beach's marina
Palm Beach County’s 47 miles of coastline mean that its marine industry is booming.

Singer said Boca Raton had the number of corporate headquarters you’d expect from a city of four or five times its size. These include the headquarters of The Office Depot, ADT, and Bluegreen Vacations.

“We punch above our weight in terms of business strength,” Singer said.

ADT's HQ
ADT’s headquarters are located in Boca Raton.

The county also has a 350,000 square foot convention center with 19 meeting rooms for businesses to hold events, conferences, and trade shows.

Palm Beach County Convention Center
The county even has its own convention center.

Florida doesn’t have a personal-income tax but it has a variety of other business benefits, too, Troy McLellan, CEO of Boca Raton’s Chamber of Commerce, said.

He said Boca Raton has a “rich entrepreneurial environment” and “an ecosystem that supports business and entrepreneurs,” in part thanks to actions of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He also points to the collaboration between groups such as the Palm Beach’s BDB, the regional Chamber, and Enterprise Florida.

Boca Raton alone has three college campus that create a pipeline of intellectual capital for businesses relocating to the area, McLellan said.

Florida Atlantic University campus
Florida Atlantic University’s main campus is based in Boca Raton.

There are a lot of transport developments either in place or in the pipeline for Palm Beach County, too.

The county has an international airport, which more than six million passengers pass through each year. Even the most northern part of the county, Jupiter, is located just 90 minutes’ drive from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports for a wider range of long-haul flights.

Boca Raton also has its own general aviation airport, while West Palm Beach is planning to launch a study into the feasibility of direct flights from the city to the Caribbean to benefit its marine sector.

And traveling from West Palm Beach to the rest of Florida is getting easier after it was connected to Miami through Brightline, a rail system with investments from Richard Branson’s Virgin, John Boyd of the Boyd Company said. The route will be expanded to include Orlando and its airport as well as Tampa, too.

Brightline train
The Brightline connect cities across southern Florida.

This transport network is luring both businesses and people to the county.

Singer said there had been “tremendous interest” from executives with businesses overseas, who wanted to open offices or even locate to Boca Raton because of its transport links. Meanwhile, West Palm Beach says it has “one of Florida’s most walkable central business districts,” reducing the need to commute.

People were already migrating – but the pandemic sped this up

Not only have businesses been moving to the county but people have flocked there, too.

Palm Beach County’s population grew by around 14.2% over the past decade, according to estimates from the US Census Bureau. This is almost double the rate of overall US population growth. Its population sits at around 1.5 million, making it Florida’s third-largest county by population and second-largest by size.

This growth isn’t just because of the natural population increases that you would expect over time. There has also been soaring rates of both domestic and international migration. The county’s net migration was around 11,500 in 2020, according to US Census Bureau estimates – compared to a net migration loss of 23,625 for New York County, which has a similar population.

West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is a hotspot for for businesses and workers.

Florida is traditionally associated with retirees but McLellan said this trend seems to be fading as more and more families and young high-flyers move to the area.

Many of these migrants are coming from the Northeast. Around two in five people moving to Palm Beach County come from the New York City area, per a report by Unacast. But some also come from cities like Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, or even from countries like India and Brazil, Boyd said.

Forbes identifies Palm Beach County as Florida’s billionaire hub. The 2,600-square-mile county has around 44 billionaires, Smallridge said. This is roughly as many as there are in the entirety of Los Angeles, according to Wealth-X’s 2020 Billionaire Census, and includes Interactive Brokers founder Thomas Peterffy, hedge-fund manager David Tepper, and food-and-drink entrepreneur Jude Reyes, per Forbes.

It’s also the home of Mar-a-Lago, the US’s second-largest mansion, owned by former President Donald Trump.

Mar a Lago better
Former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is located in the county.

The county also has around 71,000 millionaire households, Smallridge said. Oracle Founder Larry Ellison recently bought an $80 million house in the county, though he plans to stay living in Hawaii full-time, and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger sold his house in Greenwich, Connecticut to move to Palm Beach.

Danielle Moore, the mayor of the town of Palm Beach, said it had a reputation as “the hometown of ‘captains of industry,'” which she said motivated even more people to move there.

People had already been migrating to the county before the pandemic but COVID-19 forced people to address their work-life balance, alongside the deterioration of office culture, the mayors said.

Alongside companies opening up offices in the city, the rise in remote working during the pandemic has led to digital nomads flocking to the county.

Moore said the town of Palm Beach was experiencing the lowest inventory of available homes “in decades,” and house prices across the county have gone up around 10% over the past year as more and more people relocate.

West Palm Beach housing
Housing in the area is in high demand.

Some of these people are incredibly wealthy. Sales of million-dollar single-family homes in Palm Beach County increased by more than 140% year over year, according to the 2021 Luxury Outlook report by Sotheby’s International Realty.

Florida has remained largely open during the pandemic compared to other states. This led to people choosing to make Florida their primary residence for the pandemic.

“People can work from anywhere, so why not work from paradise?” Singer said.

“That trend is likely to continue because the office environment of New York City is not what it was,” he said. He added that New York State was also hiking its taxes.

“When they were closed down, we had plenty of recreation space and great weather year-round, and people are understanding more and more that this is where they want to be,” he added.

West Palm Beach marina
Palm Beach County’s sunny climate lures people to the area.

Alongside retirees, Florida is also associated with seasonal residents who move to the state for the colder winter months, and Moore said that the town of Palm Beach’s population more than doubles during the peak season.

But when people relocated to Florida, many started enrolling their children at nearby schools, and soon found themselves settled down in the state, Smallridge said.

Palm Beach County’s median age is 43.6, “and that number is probably going to stay steady even as we all age because younger people are being born and coming here every day,” Singer said.

The climate has attracted people, too. The county has an average temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to 53 degrees Fahrenheit for New York State, hasn’t had snow since 1978, and has around 47 miles of coastline.

Palm Beach
Smallridge said that some of the county’s c-suite workers go for a swim before work.

“Most executives will go take a swim in the beach before they even go to work,” Smallridge said. “They never have to shovel snow and they don’t have to ride with the subway.”

But even as more people migrate to the county, some to work remotely while others to work for the companies opening new offices in the area, this trend is ultimately creating more employment opportunities for local residents, James said. He added that West Palm Beach has offered financial incentives to companies moving to the city based on the number of jobs they create, including expedited permit reviews and tax exemptions.

McLellan, meanwhile, said Boca Raton was trying to create a pipeline of future talent for businesses in the area, and that the Chamber was working to discourage residents from migrating away from the city.

Ultimately Palm Beach County is positioning itself as not just a major financial-services hub, but also a destination for families, young graduates, and high-flying execs to move to.

This is perhaps best summed up by West Palm Beach’s tagline: “business, life, balanced.”

Read the original article on Business Insider