Plugging Budgetary Holes in Florida
Florida’s red-hot real estate market and the spike in the volume of real estate transactions over the past year have directly led to an increase in funds available to finance affordable housing construction
Will the Florida Legislature succeed in balancing the state budget using funds allocated to affordable housing? READ MORE
This is mere speculation, but could Floridian’s in the 20th congressional district vote in their very own AOC-style candidate, race-baiting, and Black Lives Matters supporter?
Maybe, but first State Rep. Omari Hardy needs to announce that he is running to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings. READ MORE
The Border Crisis and Biden’s Trump 2.0 Immigration Solution
Florida Rep. Kat Cammack (R) recently dropped in on the “Biden Border Crisis” occurring along the U.S. southern border, and like many other representatives before her, Cammack railed against the administration over the immigration calamity that it has caused. I, your loveable little American passport-toting Journo, was also at the border last weekend to see the sh*t show that is transpiring down in ole Mejico.
Now the Biden administration is saying that it will restarted construction of the Trump border wall they halted earlier this year. In addition, Biden is going to crack down on Sanctuary Cities. What!? Que!? MUST-READ
Chris Latvala @ChrisLatvala-The NCAA needs to worry about their house and not the FL House. Until they treat men and women’s sports equally they can frankly shut up
Debbie Wasserman Schultz @DWStweets–The FL GOP’s student athlete bills would do nothing but further endanger kids who are already more likely to be bullied, attacked or be the victim of self-harm. We need to uplift trans youth, not institutionally misgender them.
Shevrin “Shev” Jones @ShevrinJones-Write yourself a letter about everything you made it through and read it every time you think you just can’t make it through.
Commissioner Nikki Fried @NikkiFriedFL-Thanks to @EPAMichaelRegan for offering support for response efforts at #PineyPoint. I urge @GovRonDeSantis to work with @EPA to allow both state & federal agencies to conduct water quality sampling to keep the public informed of potential risks being posed by these discharges.
“Could a ‘Troublemaker Extraordinaire’ Democrat Replace Rep. Hastings?” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – When the mild-mannered and ever-likable Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, Florida’s 20th congressional district came into play as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is now tasked to call for a special election to fill the vacant seat. The congressional special election will cause a mini political vacuum within Democratic-controlled Broward County, as this seat will safely stay in Democratic hands, Republicans would be ill-advised to spend any money or effort to win this seat. Biden won this overwhelmingly Democratic congressional district in 2020 by garnering almost 80 percent over President Donald Trump. So, what is the breakdown of voters in minority-driven (53% Black, 23% Hispanic) FL CD 20? According to the latest voter registration data, Republican voters are swamped by Democrats by a 62-13% registration margin. Yeah, if you are Republican and you are thinking about running in this seat, don’t. This will be one of those hotly contested primary/ general election special elections. Whoever wins the primary will be the next member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Keys Fishermen Push Back Against HB 267” by The Floridian’s Jim McCool – With the proposal of HB 267 on the House floor, we could possibly see cruise lines coming back to Key West, FL. HB 267 intends to seize control of city ports in Key West by the state of Florida and allow cruise liners to resume docking, contrary to how voters in the area wished on multiple occasions. The Floridian already spoke with bill sponsor Rep. Spencer Roach (R-79), however, Key West natives who have experienced the channel traffic will tell you a different story than the people in Tallahassee would. For Captain Will Benson, this issue is his livelihood, and the hundreds of other fishermen he represents. The Floridian spoke with Benson, a longtime resident of Key West, and fisherman who has reportedly been trying to bypass legislators and take up his grievance with Florida governor, Ron DeSantis (R-FL). So far, Benson has attempted on “multiple occasions” to contact the governor’s office, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has not yet responded. Benson claims to have sent DeSantis a letter on behalf of over 170 charter fishermen in the Florida Keys to enlist his help. Benson then explained the toll big ship cruise liners have taken on the environment and economy of Key West: “In the past the port of Key West was some of the most fertile grounds for us fishermen. And as we watched big ships continue to get bigger and come more frequently to Key West, we saw the environmental damage and the decline in our fishing.”
“Miami GOP’s Garcia Urges Marlins, Jeter to Stand With Fan Base, Not Communist Cuba” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – When Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to relocate the All-Star game away from Atlanta because of the recently-signed election integrity law in Georgia, an avalanche of opposition came down against the boycott at the local, state, and federal levels across the country. In Florida, Senator Marco Rubio questioned MLB Commissioner Manfred’s decision that appears to be causing an adverse economic effect on “countless small and minority-owned business in and around Atlanta.” Now, Republican Party of Miami Chairman Rene Garcia has piled on the in opposition, denouncing the Miami Marlins, particularly CEO Derek Jeter for coming out in support of the boycott of Georgia. Garcia called MLB’s decision to move the All-Star game “shameful, inappropriate and hypocritical” and went after Jeter, demanding that he withdraw his support for the boycott. While we want to support our home team, we cannot support efforts that undermine election integrity and wrongfully punish others for fortifying it, particularly those based on hypocrisy,” stated Garcia. ” Again, we ask Mr. Jeter and the Miami Marlins to stand with their fan base and our community; be consistent with your very own identification policies instead of demonizing the simple and sensible voter ID requirements that will ensure free and fair elections by protecting every voter’s right to cast their own ballot.”
“Florida Lawmakers Remember Alcee Hastings” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – After a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) has passed away. A special election will decide who will assume office in District 20, and Florida lawmakers are sharing their thoughts on what Rep. Hastings meant to Florida politics and the political arena as a whole. On social media, Florida Rep. Val Demings (D) expressed her condolences, saying that he “served his constituents as a civil rights attorney, judge, and as the Dean of our Congressional delegation.” Adding that Hastings “changed the face of politics in Florida,” she noted that he “brought passion and unwavering dedication to the fight for justice.” Because of that, Floridians should be “forever grateful for a life well lived.” Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) also shared her thoughts on Hastings’ character, noting that his “life was devoted to righting wrongs and he wasn’t afraid to use a little shame to press for change.” “Florida has lost a brilliant, fearless, giant-hearted advocate for this state that he dearly loved, and Congress has lost a wise, patient and compassionate statesman.” Calling him a “treasured friend and true mentor,” she also expressed that Hastings was an individual she “constantly leaned on for sage counsel.” As a member of the Florida House, Hastings won reelection 14 times, he was a senior Democrat on the House Rules Committee, and he was also elected president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2004.
“Trump Issues Statement on Georgia’s new “Watered-Down” Voting Laws” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – In recent weeks, Georgia has caused an uproar by implementing a slew of new voter laws in response to the 2020 presidential election. Florida has shown interest in following suit, which has led to heavy criticism from across the country. As companies like Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, and the MLB continue to pull business from Georgia, President Donald J. Trump (R) has released a statement, slamming Georgia leadership for signing a “watered-down” law in his effort to replace some GOP lawmakers with Republicans that support his “America First” agenda. In the statement, President Trump called the decision to enact the voting laws “too little, too late,” saying “too bad the desperately needed election reforms in Georgia didn’t go further, as they originally approved Bill did, but the Governor and Lt. Governor would not go for it.” Calling it a “watered-down version,” the former president criticized it for missing “Signature Matching and many other safety measures.” “This Bill should have been passed before the 2020 Presidential Election, not after,” he added, noting that “it is now reported that chain of custody records for over 400,000 Absentee Ballots are missing or not being shown.” Trump then criticized Democratic leadership in the state, saying that they “really push the Republicans around, like the so-called Consent Decree, which was illegally signed by the Secretary of State without Legislative Approval – a Democrat Dream.”
“Congressman Alcee Hastings has Passed Away at Age 84” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The Manjarres family would like to extend its condolences to the Hastings family after learning that Congressman Alcee Hastings passed away. Rep. Hastings, regardless of his past shortcomings (we all have them), was a stand-up and respectable man. Alcee and I did not agree much politically or ideologically, but what we did have was a mutual respect for one another. With his treatment firmly clutched in one hand, Alcee kept his head up through it all, and always sounded optimistic of his chances of beating the pancreatic cancer he was fighting. I will never forget Alcee complaining to me on the Capitol steps about us not covering him as much as he would like. Or, the one time I boarded a plane to DC with him, where I couldn’t resist giving him grief over his hideous multi-colored leather Miami Dolphin jacket. He loved his Dolphins and that jacket, regardless of how bad they played, or how ugly that jacket was. RIP Alcee. You will be missed. Rep. Lauren Book, I believed summed up Alcee the best: “Leading a life of public service, Congressman Alcee Hastings has left his beloved state of Florida better than he found it. Congressman Hastings broke barriers as he fought to advance civil rights as the first Black Federal Judge in the State of Florida and first Black Congressperson to represent Florida since the Civil War. I am grateful for the decades of advocacy Congressman Hastings provided for Floridians and offer my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.”
“Consumer privacy push in Florida limps forward” by AP – Big Data has won a key concession from Florida lawmakers after persuading a committee to defang a proposal against what Republicans portray as tech giants’ unfettered powers to share and sell users’ personal information. Intense lobbying from business advocates prompted lawmakers to strip away a provision that would have allowed consumers to sue for unauthorized use of their data. Lobbyists for the business community then attempted to kill the bill in its entirety, arguing that it remains too burdensome. Nevertheless, the weakened measure limped out of committee and could soon be headed to the full Senate for consideration.
“AG Commissioner Fried calling on Gov. DeSantis to lower Florida flags to honor life of Rep. Hastings” by WCTV – Following the passing of Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings at the age of 84 on Tuesday, Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried, has requested for Ron DeSantis to order Florida flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the life of Rep. Hastings. Hastings death was confirmed by his chief of staff, Lale M. Morrison. Hastings announced two years ago that he had pancreatic cancer. In a letter sent to the governor, Com. Fried said that Rep. Hasting’s death is “a loss that will be felt heavily across our state after a lifetime of serving his fellow Floridians.” Because of Rep. Hasting’s impact on the state and his career in public service, Com. Fried asked that we “all come together to show our respect and gratitude for his unwavering service to our state” and lower flags to half-staff to commemorate “the passing of Florida’s native son, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings.” You can read Com. Fried’s full letter below: Governor DeSantis, It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Congressman Alcee L. Hastings this morning, a loss that will be felt heavily across our state after a lifetime of serving his fellow Floridians. Congressman Hastings led a career of public service that many of us could only hope to mirror, dedicating his life to fighting for fairness as an advocate for those who are too often overlooked or left behind. Starting his career as an attorney in South Florida in the 1960s, he was a tireless advocate for civil rights, going on to be appointed as Florida’s first Black federal judge by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In 1992, he was first elected to Congress in an historic election that saw Florida send three Black representatives to Washington for the first time in over 100 years. Over his more than two decades in Congress, he served as the Dean of Florida’s Congressional Delegation, as Vice Chair of the prestigious House Rules Committee, and as Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission.
“Urban Meyer honors Duval County superintendent for being named Florida’s Superintendent of the Year” by News 4 Jax’s Joe McLean – Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer dropped by the Duval County School Board meeting Tuesday to honor Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene for being named the 2021 Superintendent of the Year by the Florida Association of District School Superintendents. Greene, the second Black woman to win the honor since the award began in 1988, received a pair of custom cleats. The Jaguars were also recognized for their Duval County Public Schools partnership.
“Owner, provider at North Florida Mental Health convicted for health care fraud” by WCTV – Tuesday, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Jason R. Coody, announced in a press release that two people, the owner at North Florida Mental Health and one of its providers, have been convicted for Medicaid fraud. 42-year-old Stephanie Lynn Fleming and 37-year-old Helen Elizabeth Storey, both of Waldorf, Maryland, and both formerly of Tallahassee, were found guilty of health care fraud conspiracy, health care fraud and aggravated identity theft. Fleming was also found guilty of making false statements in connection to health care matters. The convictions came Monday after a three day federal bench trial that involved testimony from more than 15 witnesses and over 125 exhibits introduced into evidence, the press release said. Storey owned and operated the Tallahassee-based counseling center, and employed Fleming as a licensed mental health counselor. Evidence presented in court showed that between April 15, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2017, Storey and Fleming improperly obtained, or attempted to obtain, more than $250,000 from Florida Medicaid by submitting fraudulent claims through NFMH. Fleming, who provided psychotherapy, psychiatric diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic behavioral services to patients of NFMH, agreed to a five-year debarment from participating in any state Medicaid program as a result of a 2016 felony conviction involving Medicaid fraud in the state of New Jersey. Per the press release, evidence presented in court proved that Fleming falsely claimed on an application to become a Florida Medicaid provider that she had not been convicted of, or pled guilty or no contest to, a felony. Additional evidence demonstrated that Storey knew of Fleming’s conviction and debarment, and that Fleming was therefore ineligible to participate as a Florida Medicaid provider.
“Breach continues but evacuation orders lifted near Florida reservoir” by Nick Valencia, Kay Jones and Konstantin Toropin – Evacuation orders near a Tampa-area reservoir where there still is a breach have been lifted, officials said Tuesday. Acting Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes said the situation at the former Piney Point phosphate plant is “very much under control now.” Water from the breach has been routed to an unused retention pond on site that has a liner in it, according to Hopes. And around 34 million gallons a day are being moved as part of the controlled release through pumps, vacuum trucks and other methods, officials said. Hopes said they have successfully released approximately 180 million gallons of water. A leak in a containment wall was discovered about a week ago, and residents in the area were evacuated Thursday, officials said. Officials were concerned the leak could cause a collapse of phosphogypsum stacks, waste that is created during fertilizer production and phosphate rock mining. At least 137 people and 36 pets were impacted by the evacuation orders, but as of Tuesday afternoon they could return safely, Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur said at a news conference. There is “diminished risk” to outlying areas, which is allowing the evacuation orders to be lifted, he said. There are still some road closures in place in the area, Saur said, but US Highway 41 was opened Tuesday. Officials have said they are sending wastewater into Port Manatee and Tampa Bay, where it will ultimately flow into the Gulf of Mexico and be pushed southward by the Gulf Stream. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Tuesday the state had “averted a huge, catastrophic event.”
“The Fate Of Florida’s Bright Futures, For-Profit Colleges, And Ransomware Attack On Schools” by WLRN – Florida lawmakers have backed down from a controversial plan to reduce Bright Futures scholarships for students whose majors don’t “directly lead to employment.” But, that doesn’t mean the scholarship is safe from pandemic-induced budget cuts. Florida has a history of increasing the requirements to receive Bright Futures when there’s a budget shortfall — impacting Black and Latino students the most. “Lawmakers will say that this has nothing to do with race. But the data is the data. When the changes that the Legislature put into place after the Great Recession took full force for the class of 2014 and in 2016, the Sun Sentinel reported that it disproportionately impacted Black and Latino students. The number of Black students who qualified dropped by three quarters, and the number of Hispanic students dropped by two thirds,” said Jessica Bakeman, WLRN’s education reporter. Bakeman was also the the editor and project manager of the Class of COVID-19 series, which looked into how the pandemic has impacted Florida’s most vulnerable students. You can read more of her reporting on this topic here. For-profit colleges have long been operating in Florida. These institutions can offer their own loans, often at high interest rates, and can hold that debt over the student and even withhold diplomas and certifications. “You often see for-profit colleges get this boost of enrollment during an economic downturn that happened in 2008. Obviously, we’re seeing a lot of economic issues across the country right now with COVID-19 and we are seeing for-profit enrollment start to go up again,” said Sarah Butrymowicz, senior editor for investigations at The Hechinger Report.
“Black Florida legislators call on corporations to denounce proposed voting restrictions” by The Hill’s John Bowden – A coalition of Black state legislators in Florida is calling on corporations there to signal opposition to a pair of voting reform bills currently being considered. The nearly two dozen state House and Senate members, including the chair of Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus, state Sen. Bobby Powell (D), wrote in a news release Monday that corporations based in Florida should “stand up for democracy” in a manner similar to the CEOs of Coca-Cola and other corporations that oppose a new law in neighboring Georgia that limits voting by mail and imposes other restrictions. “Many of our country’s largest corporations have been outspoken on the issue of protecting our right to vote,” said Powell. “Unfortunately, many of these same corporate interests are helping to fund the crackdown on those rights by Republicans in statehouses across the nation, including Florida’s. We are calling on them to examine their rolls in bankrolling these oppressive measures, and we are calling on them to stand up for democracy.” “Corporations are an integral part of the community in Florida,” added state Sen. Perry E. Thurston Jr. (D). “They should not and cannot be on the sidelines. As others are doing across the nation, Florida’s top executives need to speak out and let Floridians know where they stand on these suppressive laws.” Though the press release did not name any corporations specifically, Florida is home to the headquarters of several major cruise lines, including Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Cruises, as well as other corporations including Spirit Airlines, Office Depot and CSX.
“Largest container ship to ever call at a Florida port arrives at PortMiami” by Local 10’s Trent Kelly and Amanda Batchelor – PortMiami set a new record Tuesday as the largest container ship to ever call at a Florida port arrived. The CMA CGM Argentina, a 15,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) vessel, arrived around 9 a.m. The container ship was built in 2019 and is currently sailing under the flag of Malta. The massive ship can hold roughly 15,000 20-foot cargo containers and is nearly three football fields long. “It really is amazing,” said Mark Baker, president of the South Florida Container Terminal. “I never thought I’d see a ship like this come in here.” Baker has been working at PortMiami for the past 40 years. “Four or five years ago, we couldn’t handle these ships,” Baker said. “They would stop at Savannah, which is the closest deep port to port, or go to New York.” Because of the expansion projects, these mega-ships will no longer have to bypass PortMiami – a move that means more jobs and more resources for local consumers. “It means more jobs for truck drivers, more hours for the longshoreman that discharge and load the ship. So it’s a combination, and it also helps the community,” Baker said.
Florida political news. Florida news.