Florida Legislative Session in Home Stretch
It’s the final week of the 2021 legislative session in Florida and would you believe me if I told you that the week is starting off in an uneventful way?
No, AG Commissioner Nikki Fried has not announced her gubernatorial bid to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis. That announcement is expected to take place sometime after Gov. Ron DeSantis signs off on the state budget.
The ‘Snip-and-Tuck’ movement and its supporting Democratic state legislators in Florida are up in arms over a letter (6) Republican Florida legislators sent to the Lee County School Board asking the group to repeal their transgender policies.
Southwest Florida State Senators Ben Albritton and Ray Rodrigues, and State Reps. Mike Giallombardo, Spencer Roach, Adam Botano, and Jenna Persons-Mulicka, demanded that the policies be scrapped with Rep. Roach calling this move part of an “unholy alliance” to “sexually indoctrinate” school children. READ MORE
Staying on the LGBTQ issue, the same Republican legislator —Spencer Roach— who railed against the Lee County School Board’s new restroom policies, came out in defense of an outed Democratic transgender staffer.
The staffer works for Rep. Kristen Arrington (D), who inexplicably outed her own employee. So far, Roach is the only one to openly come out and support the staffer. The likes of Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Anna Eskamani, two of the most ardent LGBTQ advocates in the Florida Legislature, follow Roach’s lead. READ MORE
Rick Scott @SenRickScott–Joe Biden has never met a tax increase he didn’t like. His tax and spend agenda is bad for families, bad for business and bad for America. I will never support these attacks on American prosperity.
President Biden @POTUS– truth is I’m a union president, and I make no bones about that. I’m committed to strengthening our unions and rebuilding the backbone of this country — the middle class. I sat down to talk with Louis about my plans to make it happen.
Rep. Carlos G Smith @CarlosGSmith -HB 1537 is a nakedly political power grab designed to silence the voice of Agriculture Commissioner @nikkifried and diminish her authority to approve @GovRonDeSantis‘s state agency and Department appointments. I voted NO and led the charged by House dems against it!
Congressman Carlos A. Gimenez @RepCarlos-On my visit to the border, I witnessed the environmental implications of halting construction of the wall. The levee wall along the Rio Grande is needed to protect flood-prone communities.
“Murphy Hopes For Bipartisan Congressional Infrastructure Agreement” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Appearing on MSNBC’s “Live with Alex Witt” this past Sunday, Florida Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D) addressed the recent $2 trillion “infrastructure” proposal President Joe Biden has put forward, as well as the Senate Republican counterproposal that falls far short of the amount Democrats have recently been pushing for. Rep. Murphy, chairwoman of the House Blue Dog Coalition, doesn’t go as far as to dismiss the Republican proposal of $568 billion, however, she does say that the country is “way behind on infrastructure investments” and that the GOP measure “may not go far enough for the needs that exists in all of our communities.”“Look, I welcome Republican willingness to engage in negotiations. I, like many others, want to do this in a bipartisan way because I believe bipartisan legislation is more durable and provides stability and predictability for the American people.
“Rick Scott Demands Biden Visit the ‘Border Crisis’” by The Floridan’s Javier Manjarres – Senator Rick Scott (R) and congressional Republicans continue to criticize President Joe Biden over his perceived failure to act on the growing illegal immigration “border crisis” that the president himself has now acknowledged as being “a border crisis. “While Biden ignores this horrific humanitarian and national security crisis that he has created, Americans are taking notice of the consequences of his failed policies of open borders and amnesty,” stated Sen. Scott this past weekend. “How can Biden deliver an Address to Congress next week and talk about this when he hasn’t even seen the border yet? We won’t let Biden’s promise go. Keep your word,
“Rep. Roach Defends Transgender House Aide Outed by Blogger Jacob Ogles” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Freshman Democratic lawmaker Kristen Arrington (D) may have violated both HIPAA policy as well as House HR rules by publicly outing her transgender House aide as transgender via Twitter. In an exchange on April 19, Rep Arrington noted “my staff member that is transgender has also received threats for speaking out against this legislation,” which was apparently in reference to her opposition to House Bill 1475 to ban transgender athletes from girls’ high school athletic programs. The staffer’s exposure was magnified when the left-leaning Florida Politics blog Jacob Ogles retweeted Arrington’s message and tried to relate it to a controversial transgender policy being hotly debated in the Lee County, FL, school district. Ironically, the transgender House aide was defended by Rep. Spencer Roach, a co-sponsor of HB 1475 and a fierce opponent of the newly implemented policy in Lee County authorizing boys and male faculty member access to girls’ restrooms and locker rooms.
“Republicans Warn of “Unholy Alliance” to “Sexually Indoctrinate” School Kids in Florida” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – After the Florida House of Representatives passed HB 1475, the measure prohibiting transgender “biological males” from competing in women’s sports, and after the same measure stalled in the Florida Senate, the Lee County School District has quietly approved “radical” transgender policies without allowing for public debate or consultation. The move is widely seen by Republicans as a Democratic Party move to “sexually indoctrinate” children. In response to the school board’s (6) legislators from Southwest Florida, State Senators Ben Albritton and Ray Rodrigues, and State Reps. Mike Giallombardo, Spencer Roach, Adam Botano, and Jenna Persons-Mulicka, all Republicans, penned a letter urging the board to “repeal the Equality Florida gender policies” they have implemented.
“DeSantis Signs Historic Gambling Deal in Florida” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The worst kept secret in Tallahassee this legislative cycle was that Gov. Ron DeSantis was negotiated a gambling deal with stakeholders behind closed doors in hopes to strike a deal between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The rumors of secret meetings were confirmed and now with the signing of the deal that would generate no less than $2.5 billion in revenue the next five years and another $3.5 billion through 2030, Gov. DeSantis and legislators can now do a victory rain dance around the deal. “This historic compact expands economic opportunity, tourism, and recreation, and bolsters the fiscal success of our state in one fell swoop for the benefit of all Floridians and Seminoles alike,” said Governor DeSantis. “Our agreement establishes the framework to generate billions in new revenue and untold waves of positive economic impact. I would like to thank Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., Senate President Wilton Simpson, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls for their collective commitment to modernizing the gaming industry in the state of Florida and setting the bar for the rest of the nation.”
“Donalds Calls Washington Post ‘Bigoted & Ignorant’ Over ‘Unreliable’ Fact-Checker’ Story” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Congressman Byron Donalds (R) is a little peeved over a recent Washington Post “Fact-checker” analysis story that appears to miss the mark in “fact-checking” what they were actually analyzing: Senator Tim Scott’s story of his grandfather’s land ownership. “The “I’m not racist, I voted for Obama” liberals that work at the WaPo are showing their true colors, again,” stated Rep. Donalds. “Calling into question & diminishing @votetimscott‘s family story of perseverance from picking cotton to becoming a US Senator isn’t journalism, it’s bigoted & ignorant.” Sen. Scott likes to reference the plight of this families southern farm ownership before, during, and after shortly after the turn of the 20th century, and because Scott is going to give the rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, it appears that this was enough reason for the Washington Post to dig into Scott’s claims about his grandfather. Sen. Scott likes to reference the plight of this families southern farm ownership before, during, and after shortly after the turn of the 20th century, and because Scott is going to give the rebuttal to President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress,
“Firebrand Val Demings’ 2022 Election Year Challenge Could be Herself” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – After months of keeping silent since speculation first arose that she could be leaving her congressional seat to run for statewide office, Rep. Val Demings (D) has told POLITICO, echoing Rep. Stephanie Murphy that she is “seriously considering” a run for governor against Gov. Ron DeSantis, or against Senator Marco Rubio for the Senate in the 2022 election year cycle. Demings’ 2022 challenge could turn out to be her voting record and self. “I’ve received so many calls and texts and emails, and have been stopped when I’m out and about by people who are asking me that very same question. Matter of fact, they think I should run for statewide office and maybe challenge the governor, or challenge Sen. Rubio next year,” she told POLITICO Thursday. “I’m seriously considering a statewide run. And we’ll see what happens.” Rep. Demings, like Rep. Murphy, may not have a choice but to run statewide considering that Republicans are going to redraw congressional districts later this year. Couple the redrawing of district boundaries with a new congressional seat that is expected to be drawn in the Orlando area, the stars are primed to align and possibly push out both Democratic legislators.
“University of Florida Professor Resigns Amid Investigations Into Student’s Suicide” by WUFT’s Alex DeLuca – A tenured computer engineering professor at the University of Florida is resigning amid a lengthy investigation into his graduate student’s suicide. Tao Li, 49, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2004, submitted a resignation letter April 10, according to his personnel file obtained this week under Florida’s public records law. His last day at the university was expected to be May 15. There was no public announcement of his decision. In his four-sentence resignation letter, Li did not offer any reason for his abrupt departure and did not mention the death of his graduate student, Huixiang Chen, or the university’s investigations into his actions. He wished the College of Engineering and the department where he worked “all the best.” Li was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 15 as part of the university’s investigation into allegations by Chen that Li had encouraged him to commit academic misconduct and treated him abusively as a graduate student. Li did not immediately respond to a phone call, two emails and two text messages asking to discuss his resignation. In December, Li asked this reporter, who was following the status of the investigations, to stop contacting him: “Please do not send more emails or call my or my family member’s cell phones,” he wrote in an email. The university previously told Li he was not allowed to have any contact or communications with any faculty, students or staff without permission. That would preclude Li even from protesting his innocence in interviews with news organizations that have most closely been following his case, including WUFT, because they are operated by faculty, staff and student journalists.
“Florida ranks third for states with highest share of renters with debt” by WFTS’s Staff – Florida is ranked third when it comes to states who have the highest shares of renters with debt, according to data from PolicyLink. PolicyLink, a national research and action institute, says across the country the share of renters with debt is trending downward from a high of 19% in January. While most states are following that pattern, PolicyLink says Florida is among a handful of states where the rate of renters with debt has been increasing since late February. The other states include Alaska, California, Nevada, Vermont and Wisconsin. PolicyLink in partnership with the Right to the City Alliance created a rent debt dashboard that shows nationwide, state and county data. In the Tampa Bay area, Sarasota County has the highest rent debt with an estimated debt of $4,096 per household.
“Florida waits to see if Governor Ron DeSantis extends emergency order declaring state of emergency” by WFTS’s Lauren Rozyla – Florida is standing by and waiting to see if Governor Ron DeSantis will extend his original COVID-19 emergency order another 60 days. DeSantis has until the end of Monday, April 26 to sign an extension. The decision on whether to extend the order impacts how the state will deal with the pandemic moving forward and could have a major impact on students. If DeSantis fails to extend the emergency order for another 60 days, Pasco County Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said he will have no choice but to make mask-wearing optional district-wide. Browning says it’s his wish to keep the mask requirement in place for the remainder of the school year, but he told the school board earlier this month that his authority to enforce it depends on whether the governor’s office extends it beyond today. Right now, masks are required for all Pasco County students, staff and visitors, both on campus and in district offices. Since March of last year, DeSantis has been extending his original emergency order in 60-day increments.
“Florida Dem says Columbus officer seems to have ‘responded as he was trained to do’” by Fox News – Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., said in an interview Sunday that the Columbus police officer who fatally shot a 16-year-old last week seemed to respond the way he was trained. Demings, who is a former police chief in Orlando, told CBS’ “Face the Nation,” that she formed her opinion with the “limited information” that she weighed after viewing bodycam footage of the incident. She said officers on patrol don’t have the benefit of watching a scene unfold in slow motion and are tasked with making “split-second decisions and they’re tough.” But she said it seems the officer in the Columbus case “responded as he was trained to do with the main thought of preventing a tragedy and a loss of life of the person who was about to be assaulted.” Officer Nicholas Reardon fired four shots at Ma’Khia Bryant last Tuesday as she swung an apparent knife at another young woman during a scuffle. Reardon faced recrimination at the scene and by those who say he should have tried to de-escalate the situation, but he was commended by the national Fraternal Order of Police, which called it “an act of heroism, but one with tragic results.”
“FDLE: Florida man says he tampered with mail-in ballot in 2020 election” by WSVN – A Florida man has been accused of voter fraud after, authorities said, he tampered with a mail-in ballot. According to Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Chris Anderson, it was the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that first contacted them about 68-year-old Roland Bauer after the November 2020 elections. “Allegedly, the father voted the son’s mail ballot,” he said. Investigators said a man who moved out of the state seven years ago reported that someone posing as him requested, received and submitted a ballot. FDLE officials said the ballot was requested on the same computer, that Bauer request a ballot for himself, and that it was sent to the home where Bauer lives in Winter Springs. Bauer initially denied everything, but investigators said he eventually told them, “Yes, I basically got the thing, and I voted, but it didn’t make a difference.” Officials said the suspect went on to say, “I got the ballot and filled it out. I think I did it a week or two after I voted.” “I’m very confident in mail ballot systems,” said Anderson. The election supervisor said a case like this is extremely rare because, other than family, few would have access to enough personal information to get a fraudulent ballot. “It was a very, very low percentage that actually happens, but again, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen,” he said, “and, as you can see, it is tracked down, and it is prosecuted.”
“Pentagon hands IP addresses to Florida company as part of a security pilot program” by Silicon Angle’s Duncan Riley – The U.S. Department of Defense has given a Florida company control over about 175 million of its IP addresses as part of a security pilot program. The IP address range, registered as GRS-DoD, AS8003 became active Jan. 20 in the last minutes of the Trump administration, with several pundits suggesting that the timing may be conspiratorial in nature. The company handed the IP addresses is called Global Resource Systems LLC, a previously unknown company which the Associated Press described Saturday as “shadowy.” The IP addresses were noticed as becoming active at the time and there’s not a shortage of them — about 6% of all IPv4 addresses on the internet. That the Defense Department owns the IP addresses has long been known — it created the internet and has held the IP addresses for decades — but for much of that time, the majority had remained dormant. The Pentagon has now given an official explanation for the surprise return of the IP addresses to the internet, saying that it handed them over to Global Resource Systems as a pilot to evaluate its IP address space and to ensure there are no vulnerabilities. The program is being coordinated through a section of the department called Defense Digital Services. DDS Director Brett Goldstein said in a statement Friday that the pilot also may identify potential vulnerabilities. The unauthorized use of IP addresses refers to the risk of IP squatting. The Pentagon periodically contends with unauthorized squatting on its space because of the shortage of IPv4 addresses.
“VIDEO: Rep. Val Demings confirms she’s considering U.S. Senate or Florida governor run” by MSNBC – Rep. Val Demings confirms that she is ‘seriously considering’ a run for governor of Florida, or to be a U.S. senator from Florida, after she discusses the guilty verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. VIDEO.
“Florida gambling deal could bring in $2.5 billion” by News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam – Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe finalized a 30-year gambling agreement on Friday, inking a deal that would deliver at least $2.5 billion to Florida over the next five years in exchange for giving the tribe control over statewide sports betting. Tribal leaders, including Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr., joined DeSantis in his Tallahassee office for a ceremonial signing of the deal, known as a “compact.” “We truly believe that this is the best deal for everybody. It’s not in favor of the tribe or the state. It’s in favor of both parties, because this is a long-lasting team,” Osceola said. While talks between the state and the tribe had been ongoing for months, DeSantis over the last few weeks played a personal role in cementing what has been a perennially elusive deal. DeSantis noted Friday that the agreement, which requires approval by the Legislature, would allow the state to capitalize on online sport betting. “Sports betting really is going on already. Why don’t we come together, put some structure to this, and let it be done in a way where the tribe is in control of the sports, and the state is able to share with some generous revenue payments,” DeSantis said. The governor said he hopes sports betting will go live before professional football games kick off this fall. “We are looking at this thing being hopefully operational by the summer. I think everyone wants it before football season, so that is going to be the goal,” he said. “The tribe can monetize that. The state will be able to monetize part of that. We also just trust the tribe to be the ones doing this, rather than stuff that is offshore and all these other things. So, we think it brings a level of protection to the consumer.” Shortly after the deal was signed, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, announced that lawmakers will hold a special session during the week of May 17 to consider the proposed compact. This year’s regular session is scheduled to end April 30, and the legislative leaders said holding a special session will provide more time to study the deal.
“Florida House passes fetal disability abortion ban” by Spectrum News’ Troy Kinsey – The Florida House passed legislation Friday to ban abortions in cases where testing finds the presence of a fetal disability and a woman seeks to terminate her pregnancy for that reason. The vote, however, may prove to be largely symbolic, as the proposal hasn’t received a hearing in the Senate. What inspired the legislation? The Republican authors of HB 1221 believe abortions due to fetal disabilities have become far too common and should be off-limits. Children born with disabilities, they argue, are able to lead meaningful lives with help from a myriad of federal, state and local programs that provide everything from therapy to job placement services. What fetal disabilities are covered by the proposed ban? Scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome, albinism, amelia, physical disfigurement and physical and mental disabilities are all conditions the legislation declares can’t be used as reasons for terminating a pregnancy. What do Democrats say? Members of the House’s minority party argue that abortions in cases of fetal disabilities are an especially personal matter for a woman and her family to grapple with and that government should play no role in dictating whether she can seek to terminate her pregnancy.
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