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Acoalition of 16 states is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to not reinstate a waiver allowing California to implement its own carbon emissions standards that essentially regulate the automotive industry for the rest of the U.S.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined a coalition led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, which also includes attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

Under the Clean Air Act, the Trump administration created national standards for vehicle carbon emissions for model years 2021 through 2026. The policy revoked a waiver previously granted to California in order to treat all states as equal sovereigns subject to one federal rule, the attorneys general explain in their 12-page letter.

The waiver falls under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act first enacted in 1967. It preempts states from setting emissions standards for new cars and new engines, with two exceptions. It allows California – and only California – to set emissions standards that are more stringent than those adopted by the federal government, and it allows states with air quality below federal standards to adopt an emissions standard “identical to the California standards.”

As a result, 49 states may depart from the federal standard if and only if they adopt “a standard identical to an existing California standard.”

The Biden administration has proposed that California’s waiver be reinstated. It was initially created decades ago to allow California to manage its severe smog problem. Instead, the attorneys general argue, the waiver has been “abused by California to target fuel efficiency and global warming” regulations.

In the letter, they argue, “By allowing California and only California to retain a portion of its sovereign authority that the Clean Air Act takes from other States, [the waiver] is unconstitutional and thus unenforceable. Any waiver granted to California is thus ‘repugnant to the constitution’ and ‘void.’ In our union of equally sovereign States, the Golden State is not a golden child.”

Texas Attorney General Paxton asked, “Under the U.S. Constitution, it clearly explains that all States are created equal, so why does ‘the Golden State’ get the unconstitutional authority to change how vehicle manufacturers set standards for their vehicles?

“A federal law giving one state special power to regulate a major national industry contradicts the notion of a union of sovereign states,” he argues.

Yost notes that giving California special treatment “will have concrete negative effects in other States, especially Ohioans. Allowing California to set carbon-emission standards requires vehicle manufacturers to make changes to the entire vehicle.”

Given the choice between creating two separate vehicle fleets, one to comply with California, and another for 49 states, manufacturers “have no real choice at all,” he argues. Opting out of the California automobile market and losing significant income, or manufacturing vehicles that aren’t governed by Ohio’s standards or the federal government’s standards but rather by California’s standards, appear to be car manufacturers’ only options, the states argue.

The consequence of the waiver “not only offends the Constitution,” Yost argues, but “makes bad policy. The annual household income for a family in Ohio is almost $19,000 less than the annual income for a family in California. Ohioans may not be able to afford drastic changes mandated by California, leading Ohioans to drive older vehicles for longer and exacerbating the problem California believes it is solving.

“Ohio and California have different key industries, different commuting patterns, and different access to alternative fuel stations,” he adds. “It makes no sense to let California regulate Ohio’s vehicles. While Ohio ceded some of its sovereignty to the Federal government in joining the Union, at no point has Ohio ceded its sovereignty to California, which is precisely what granting California a waiver would amount to.”

The California Air Resources Board states that the EPA has granted California waivers for decades because “California’s standards are at least as protective as federal standards, and that the state’s determination of that fact was not arbitrary and capricious; are needed to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions; and are not inconsistent with certain Clean Air Act provisions related to technical feasibility and lead time to manufacturers.”

According to the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, from 1967 to 2018, the EPA granted more than 50 waivers for California alone, fully denied one in 1980, which was subsequently reversed, and revoked zero.

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Maine law prohibits employers from inquiring about criminal history of job applicants

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Employers in Maine will be prohibited from asking prospective job candidates about their previous criminal histories under a new law signed by Gov. Janet Mills.

The new law, which was approved by the Legislature in the final days of its session, will ban companies from screening people with criminal backgrounds before those applicants have an opportunity to go through the preliminary hiring process.

Under the new rules, which take effect in October, employers must delay questions about a criminal history until after they’ve made a conditional offer of employment.

After that, they can ask about criminal convictions, but not about previous arrests or charges.

There are also exemptions in the new law for situations where a previous felony conviction prohibits a prospective employee from being considered for the opening.

Employers that violate the new rules, which will be enforced by the Maine Department of Labor, could face penalties of up to $500 for each violation.

Supporters of the changes say they will illuminate barriers to employment for many workers and help companies hire more people.

“Mainers’ past mistakes should not continue to damage their chances of employment and economic prosperity for the rest of their lives,” James Myall, a policy director at the Maine Center for Economic Policy, said in recent testimony on the bill. “These inquiries create new barriers to opportunity for Mainers who have served their time and are trying to re-enter society in one of the most central ways: by getting a job and earning an income.”

Mydall cited state data showing more than one in six Mainers – 139,000 people between 18 and 64 years old – have been arrested at least once in their life.

“Because Maine does not have an organized process for sealing or expunging criminal histories, records of these arrests follow Mainers for their entire lives,” he said.

Labor unions also backed the proposal, saying it will help more qualified job candidates get hired. Adam Goode, political director for the AFL-CIO of Maine, told lawmakers in recent testimony on the bill that asking prospective employees about previous criminal convictions is “a barrier to working people, is bad for business and prevents people from working.”

“Qualifications of job applicants should be considered first, without an immediate conviction inquiry that serves to discourage people from apply to jobs and functions as a screen that artificially weeds out qualified workers,” Goode said.

Several business groups, including the Maine chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, opposed the changes, arguing that it would hamstring smaller employers from properly vetting prospective workers.

At least 14 states and Washington, DC, have approved “ban the box” policies, according to the National Employment Law Project.

In 2019, Congress passed the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, banning “the box” on job applications for positions with federal agencies and private employers that contract with the federal government.

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Larry Elder added to CA recall ballot after judge rules he was improperly disqualified

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Conservative radio host Larry Elder has been added to the gubernatorial recall ballot after a judge ruled Wednesday that he had been improperly disqualified over a paperwork error.

Harmeet Dhillon wrote “Judge orders California to include Larry Elder on the ballot in California recall election. Says tax returns were never required in the first place for a recall as opposed to a primary election.”

JUDGE ORDERS CALIFORNIA TO INCLUDE LARRY ELDER ON THE BALLOT IN CALIFORNIA RECALL ELECTION. SAYS TAX RETURNS WERE NEVER REQUIRED IN THE FIRST PLACE FOR A RECALL AS OPPOSED TO A PRIMARY ELECTION.

— HARMEET K. DHILLON (@PNJABAN) JULY 21, 2021

Elder declared “we won” and released a new video.

WE WON!!!HTTPS://T.CO/MNVU6ROKTD#RECALLGAVINNEWSOM#WEVEGOTASTATETOSAVE PIC.TWITTER.COM/WCDZ1WJ4WX

— LARRY ELDER (@LARRYELDER) JULY 21, 2021

Elder also tweeted after the ruling “This isn’t just a victory for me, but a victory for the people of California and not just those who favor the recall and support me, but all voters, including many who will come to know me. I am thankful for a fair judge.”

A new Inside California Politics / Emerson College poll poll shows Elder in the lead of candidates to replace Newsom.

LARRY ELDER LEADS RACE TO REPLACE NEWSOM IN RECALL ELECTION, NEW POLL REVEALSHTTPS://T.CO/EG4WW0W0EU#RECALLGAVINNEWSOM #WEVEGOTASTATETOSAVE

— LARRY ELDER (@LARRYELDER) JULY 22, 2021

CALIFORNIA JUDGE RULES THAT THE ELECTION LAW ELDER ALLEGEDLY VIOLATED DID NOT EVEN APPLY TO A RECALL ELECTION AND EVEN IF IT DID, ELDER “SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLIED.” I WILL BE ON THE BALLOT.

TOTAL VICTORY!!HTTPS://T.CO/F5WBWARETM#RECALLGAVINNEWSOM #WEVEGOTASTATETOSAVE

— LARRY ELDER (@LARRYELDER) JULY 21, 2021

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Pennsylvania punishes county that allowed audit of vote counting machines

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The Pennsylvania Department of State decertified Fulton County’s voting machines on Wednesday after officials there participated in a third-party audit.

The voluntary probe came at the request of Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) who’s currently spearheading a larger effort to audit machines in Tioga, York and Philadelphia counties amid his ongoing campaign to ferret out fraudulent activity during the past two elections.

At least two of the counties confirmed they wouldn’t comply with Mastriano’s request because they can’t afford to replace their machines if the state decertifies them for participating, too.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said Wednesday she has “no other choice” after Fulton County officials confirmed that Wake Technology Services Inc. accessed its Dominion voting machines earlier this year, violating the state’s chain of custody provisions and other “strict limitations” designed to prevent tampering.

Degraffenreid said Wake TSI lacks any knowledge or expertise in election technology and was still given access to “key components” of the machine, including the county’s election database, its results files and Windows system logs. The company also preserved hard drive images onto USB devices.

“These actions were taken in a manner that was not transparent or bipartisan,” she claimed. “As a result of the access granted to Wake TSI, Fulton County’s certified system has been compromised and neither Fulton County; the vendor, Dominion Voting Systems; nor the Department of State can verify that the impacted components of Fulton County’s leased voting system are safe to use in future elections.”

Wake TSI served on the audit team involved in Arizona’s recount of more than 2.3 million ballots in Maricopa County. Mastriano and two other Republican lawmakers visited the Phoenix site last month before meeting with Arizona legislators to discuss the team’s findings.

Wake TSI reportedly left the audit team after its contract ended on May 14, according to a report from the Fulton County News.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Stuart Ulsh said during a Feb. 9 public meeting that he didn’t know who paid for the audit, but that the board agreed to do it to prove the county “didn’t do anything wrong,” according to a report from the Arizona Mirror.

The Center Square reached out to the commissioners for comment on Wednesday, but did not receive an immediate response.

Mastriano said in a news release last week that Degraffenreid lacked the authority to decertify counties’ machines. He said the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, of which he is chairman, “will press forward in the pursuit of a forensic investigation.”

“What we are seeing is a convergence of scare tactics from Wolf Administration and the Attorney General to intimidate county officials and obstruct a forensic investigation,” he said.

“Governor Wolf and AG Shapiro are standing in the way of the constitutional authority of the General Assembly,” he added. “For people who once lectured the state about transparency and accountability, we all ask, what do they have to hide?”

Democrats insist they have nothing to hide and view the audit as just the latest in a string of stunts from Mastriano to curry favor with former President Donald Trump and earn his endorsement in a potential gubernatorial run next year.

“Continuing to indulge Donald Trump’s #BigLie could lead to more activity like what we saw on January 6th,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Pittsburgh) said on Twitter. “It betrays trust in our electoral system without cause and can reduce participation in that important process.”

Biden won Pennsylvania by about 81,000 votes in November. The Trump campaign fired off a series of lawsuits alleging mail-in voter fraud that were later dismissed for lack of evidence. Several Republican lawmakers supported the effort, Mastriano chief among them.

Soon after, Mastriano faced national scrutiny for chartering buses to the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C. He was photographed near Capitol Hill, but said he left before rioters stormed the building.

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