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  • Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 2.32.06 PM
    FeaturedFloridaFlorida Politics
    Rep. Fine Calls for Lorde Concert Cancellations After Israel Boycott
    Daniel Molina
    3 hours ago
    0

    Florida Republican rep. Randy Fine is calling for Miami and Tampa venues to not host Lorde as she prepares to perform in April. The reason for the call is because, in December of last year, Lorde cancelled a scheduled performance in Tel Aviv, Israel, in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

    Citing a 2016 law that prohibits Florida from doing business with organizations that boycott Israel, rep. Fine argued that “Florida has no tolerance for anti-Semitism and boycotts intended to destroy the state of Israel” in a statement released on Facebook.

    Fine further commented that “When Lorde joined the boycott in December, she and her companies became subject to that statute. The taxpayers of Miami and Tampa should not have to facilitate bigotry and anti-Semitism, and I look forward to the Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority and the Tampa Sports Authority complying with the law and cancelling these concerts.”

    CAIR, the Counsel on American-Islamic Relations has launched a petition in response to the call to have the concerts cancelled, stating that “CAIR-Florida strongly believes that cancelling Lorde’s performances would violate the constitutionally-guaranteed free speech rights of business owners and individuals who participate in the international boycott of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.”

    This comes at a time when several political figures are receiving sharp criticism for expressing anti-Semitic views. Minnesota rep. Ilhan Omar has been involved in controversy over past tweets and several leaders of the Women’s March movement have also made statements that are considered controversial. Florida rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz even penned an article distancing herself from the Women’s March but not the cause the movement is fighting for.

    Although Lorde has not responded to the call of cancelling her concerts in the sunshine state, she has received backlash from fans heckling her at concerts for deciding to cancel her performance in Tel Aviv.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on supporting veterans and their families Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
    FeaturedFloridaFlorida Politics
    FL Reps Call for U.S. Space Command Headquarters in Sunshine State
    Daniel Molina
    4 hours ago
    0

    Republican Representatives Michael Waltz and Bill Posey have introduced a request to have the U.S. Space Command headquartered in Florida.

     

    Both are members of the House Armed Services Committee, and they joined a group of bipartisan Florida Representatives to urge the Acting Secretary of Defense to locate the headquarters of a future U.S. Space Command in the sunshine state.

    Directing a letter to the SOD, the members explained that “Florida is the epicenter for America’s space program. Our Space Coast launched the first American suborbital flight and the first American to orbit Earth. From Cape Canaveral, rockets propelled the astronauts that left their footprints on the face of the moon and ferried the space shuttle astronauts into the stratosphere for 30 years.”

     

    The members also championed that “Florida universities lead the world in training premier aviation and aerospace talent, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.”

     

    In addition, the members also expressed that “Florida has a strong defense and aerospace industry base and also has a long history of supporting America’s military community. Florida offers an unrivaled quality of life for personnel and their families. Our state is committed to assisting our brave servicemembers who go into harm’s way overseas, and now into the frontiers of space.”

     

    During President Trump’s term, he has already highlighted certain space-related objectives he would like to achieve while in office. One specific objective is the creation of a space force, which is reported to be created as a part of the Air Force as opposed to being a separate military branch.

     

    And, in the conclusion to the letter, the reps reiterated that the “U.S. Space Command will be essential to American national security through the acceleration of space capabilities to defend our national interests and deter our adversaries. We hope these important factors are considered when your department makes recommendations as to where to locate the USSPACECOM headquarters.”

  • debbie wasserman Schultz
    FeaturedFlorida Politics
    Wasserman Schultz says gun violence a “public health epidemic”
    Javier Manjarres
    1 day ago
    0

    This past weekend’s deadly workplace shooting in Aurora, Illinois, where 5 were killed and 7 others injured, helped fuel the “gun violence” debate that has been raging since the 2018 Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

    The country was only a couple days removed from the one year anniversary of the shooting that killed 17 students and teachers, when 45-year-old Gary Martin open fired on his former coworkers after being fire.

    Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) who believes that this and all other shootings are a “public health epidemic,” who along with Rep. Ted Deutch (D) have been spearheading new gun control legislation.

    With Wasserman Schultz and Deutch now part of the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, there is a very good chance any legislation that comes up for vote, will have support of the Democratic majority.

    Deutch and fellow Democrats are in favor of banning “assault weapons” but still have not specifically stated their definition of an “assault weapon.”

    The gun lobby argues that any firearm, revolver or semi-automatic, can be categorized as an assault weapon, if the weapon is used in an assaulting fashion.

  • Matt Gaetz
    Email FeaturedU.S. Congress
    Gaetz, Conservatives blame GOP Leadership for 2018 loss
    Javier Manjarres
    1 day ago
    0

    When Democrats took over the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans from all walks of life and ideologies, starting pointed the finger at who or what was responsible for their  loss of power.

    Some blame veteran Republican congressman that left because their cushy committee chairmanships were up, others blame the Conservative Freedom Caucus for not playing nice with leadership, and others just put it all on  then-presidential candidate Donald Trump for causing legislators to want to leave.

    Florida Congressman and one of President Trump’s closest allies in the House, Matt Gaetz, says that Republican leadership allowed “big insurance” to take over the healthcare debate instead of just repealing the controversial law like most Republican legislators promised to do.

    Obamacare was the top issue during the 2018 mid-term election and Republicans failed miserably to counter any and all of the Democratic arguments.

    While Gaetz’s is partly right, in speaking to other members of congress and Hill staffers, the swing of power to Democrats occurred when 30+ lawmakers decided to not seek re-election, helping prime their seats for Democratic “Blue Wave” of 2018.

    The power of incumbency is real. Incumbent legislators wield significant status and usually have a pile of money ready to use for re-election. This is a given.

  • Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 12.24.25 AM
    FeaturedFlorida Politics
    Appeals court hammers state on ballot signatures
    News Service of Florida
    1 day ago
    0

    TALLAHASSEE — Upholding a judge’s decision that sided with former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and national Democrats, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled that a Florida law requiring voters’ signatures on mail-in ballots to match the signatures on file with elections officials imposes “a serious burden on the right to vote.”

    Friday’s 2-1 opinion came more than three months after the November election in which former Republican Gov. Rick Scott narrowly edged out Nelson in one of the country’s most closely watched Senate campaigns.

    Under state law, voters whose mail-in ballots are received by 5 p.m. the day before the election have an opportunity to “cure” rejected ballots by providing documentation to elections supervisors to show that they are who they claim to be. But people whose mail-in ballots are received after that, or voters who cast provisional ballots on Election Day, do not.

    County canvassing boards make decisions about whether signatures match, and thus whether ballots should be counted. But counties don’t have uniform regulations to govern the decisions, Democrats argued.

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee, former Attorney General Pam Bondi and Scott’s administration appealed a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, who sided with Democrats in a case focused on how much time voters should have to “cure” mismatched signatures.

    Walker in November gave an extra 48 hours to voters who were “belatedly notified” that their signatures did not match.

    In Friday’s split ruling, appellate judges Robin Rosenbaum and Beverly Martin agreed with Walker and Democrats that the Florida process places undue burdens on the right to vote, while Judge Gerald Tjoflat dissented.

    “Florida’s signature-match scheme subjects vote-by-mail and provisional electors to the risk of disenfranchisement in two ways,” Rosenbaum wrote in the majority opinion.

    The way the state implements the law and “the very nature of matching signatures” caused the problems, the majority found. The state lacks uniform standards and does not require training or qualifications for those who do the job, Rosenbaum wrote.

    “Florida allows each county to apply its own standards and procedures for executing the signature-match requirement, virtually guaranteeing a crazy quilt of enforcement of the requirement from county to county,” she wrote.

    But in a 42-page dissent, Tjoflat railed at the majority for upholding Walker’s opinion, which he said was “inconsistent” with what Nelson and the Democrats requested. The Democrats had asked the federal court to force county supervisors to count all mail-in and provisional ballots that had been rejected due to signature mismatch, Tjoflat noted.

    And, Tjoflat argued, a voter who waited “until the eleventh hour to submit his ballot ran the risk that his ballot might be rejected.”

    It’s not the first time the courts have intervened in the state’s signature-matching requirement.

    Shortly before the 2016 election, Walker ordered the state to come up with a way to allow voters to “cure” ballots that were rejected. Walker called state law “indefensible” and said it threatened to disenfranchise voters.

    The inclusion of the “cure” provision in the state’s election code established “a fair expectation going into the 2018 election” that voters who used mail-in ballots “would no longer be subjected to a situation where they would be deprived of their right to vote,” Rosenbaum wrote.

    “But the code’s remedy to make that expectation a reality turned out, in practice, to be illusory in some instances,” she found.

    The deadline for county supervisors of elections to receive mail-in ballots was 7 p.m. on Election Day. While the “opportunity to cure signature mismatch should have been part and parcel of any constitutional use of the signature-match protection after the district court’s 2016 opinion,” the judge wrote, the “cure” had to submitted by 5 p.m. on the day before the election.

    That meant “the deadline to cure a rejected ballot came before the deadline for the supervisor to receive the ballot in the first place,” Rosenbaum wrote.

    Even more troubling, the federal judge said, county canvassing boards were not required to start counting mail-in ballots until a day after the election, which fell two days after the cure deadline.

    Voters would have to anticipate that ballots would be rejected and take “affirmative steps like submitting a ballot well in advance of the published deadline,” which still would not guarantee that they would be notified of the signature mismatch “until it was too late to remedy the problem,” Rosenbaum wrote.

    “Not only is this unrealistic and unreasonable, but as the voters’ declarations in this case show, it renders the opportunity to cure illusory in some circumstances,” the judge found, and “defeats the purpose of requiring Florida to add a cure provision,” as Walker instructed the state to do in 2016.

    The signature-mismatch lawsuit was one of myriad election challenges related to Florida’s November election.

    During a lengthy hearing held by Walker about a week after the November election, Florida Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews testified that 45 counties tossed a total of 3,668 mail-in ballots and 93 provisional ballots due to mismatched signatures. Two large counties — Duval and Miami-Dade — had not reported their results, and Walker estimated about 5,000 ballots statewide would have been rejected, far fewer than would have made a difference in the final election results in the U.S. Senate race.

    Rosenbaum and Martin rejected Republicans’ arguments that allowing voters to cure mismatched signatures “diluted” the votes of those who followed the rules and undermined people’s faith in elections.

    “In our view, doubling down on the disenfranchisement of vote-by-mail voters who complied with Florida’s published deadline is not the way to promote faith in elections,” Rosenbaum wrote.

    Former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy was among the voters who learned their ballots had been rejected too late for them to do anything about it.

    In a sworn declaration submitted to Walker, Murphy said he voted by mail in the November general election using the same signature he had used in the primary election earlier in the year.

    “Because the cure deadline had already passed, Murphy could do nothing to have his ballot counted. And Murphy was not alone: the record contains other sworn declarations with stories of eligible voters who were similarly disenfranchised,” Rosenbaum wrote in Friday’s order denying the Republicans’ request to put Walker’s injunction on hold.

    “On these facts alone, we have no trouble finding that Florida’s scheme imposes a serious burden on the right to vote,” she wrote.

    In his dissent, Tjoflat wrote that vote by mail, or “VBM,” voters were aware that “a chain of events” had to happen before they successfully cured a rejected ballot. Voters had to receive a rejection notice in the mail, prepare a cure affidavit, and present the affidavit to the supervisor of elections by 5 p.m. the day before the election.

    “Obviously, these things would take some time, so a VBM voter knew that it was risky to submit a VBM ballot near the deadline. A VBM voter thus had no one to blame but himself if the time ran out for curing a rejected ballot,” the judge wrote.

    Tjoflat criticized Walker, who he said “abused his discretion,” for “changing the rules of an election after the voting is over and the ballots are being counted.”

    The “new provision” Walker added to the state’s election code “was not needed,” the dissenting judge wrote.

    “The statutory provisions the court overlooked informed VBM voters of everything they needed to know to cast a ballot and have it counted,” Tjoflat wrote. “If the provisions are inadequate, it is the responsibility of the Florida Legislature to refine them.”

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks on supporting veterans and their families Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
    Featured
    Democrats Co-Opt Trump’s “Fake” National Emergency
    Daniel Molina
    3 days ago
    0

    President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border was sure to meet its opposition, and now Congressman Ruben Gallego, who represents Arizona’s 7thDistrict, is maintaining that he’s been answering that call since being elected. 

     

    In a statement, Rep. Gallego responded to President Trump’s action to declare a national emergency to build a border wall.

     

    Gallego explained that he “took an oath to defend the Constitution when I joined the military. I took an oath to defend the Constitution when I became a Member of Congress. As a veteran, an elected representative, and an American citizen, I will continue to honor my oaths and fight unconstitutional power grabs by President Trump to build a useless wall.”

     

    Rep. Gallego further explained that “Trump’s decision to declare a fake national emergency and illegally use taxpayer dollars intended to support our servicemembers is an attack on our nation’s most sacred traditions and institutions. The real national emergency is Donald Trump’s presidency.”

     

    Gallego has been involved in the fight to prevent President Trump from redirecting military funds to build a wall along the souther border. Most recently, Gallego reintroduced an amendment that would prevent the President from using NDAA military funds to pay for the wall, but it was defeated by Republicans on the Armed Services Committee.

     

    The declaration has been met with heavy criticism from Democrats, and the ACLU announced shortly after the declaration was made that they would be suing the President because “there is no emergency.” They echoed in Gallego’s remarks, saying that the declarations “is an unconstitutional power grab that hurts American communities.”

     

    However, freshman Senator Kyrsten Sinema has not been vocal about the President’s declaration. Instead, her response to the President signing the government funding bill on the same day the declaration was made only suggested that there’s more work to be done.

     

    Sinema commented that “Congress just did its job, approving more resources for border security. Congress has more work to do on immigration and border security, and I will keep working with my colleagues to get it done.”

  • Trump
    FeaturedFloridaFlorida Politics
    Democrats Respond to Trump Declaring a National Emergency
    Daniel Molina
    4 days ago
    0

    As a bipartisan negotiation was reached to avert a second government shutdown, news of President Trump declaring a national emergency to secure further funding was also announced. And, the President ended up doing so.

     

    In response, Democrats are criticizing the President for the move, and they’re arguing that they will do whatever it takes to fight the executive order that was signed.

     

    In a statement, Rep Lois Frankel, a member of the Appropriations Committee, had praised the deal to avoid the government shutdown, saying that “this deal marks a bipartisan compromise to responsibly keep our government open and avert another reckless Trump shutdown that affected hundreds of thousands of American families. It also funds smart, effective border security in a way that stays true to our American ideals.”

     

    She added, urging the President to “sign this legislation and immediately drop his fake national emergency declaration to build an immoral and ineffective wall, a power grab that would be frightening to all Americans.”

     

    In addition, Stephanie Murphy, released a statement on twitter, commenting that “the compromise deal offered by bipartisan negotiators balances the urgent need to avert another government shutdown with reasonable steps to secure our border. I voted for it because I know this is a good compromise and one that should serve as an example for future negotiations.”

     

    President Trump made a television announcement in the Rose Garden, explaining that he would sign the declaration because “we’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other. It’s an invasion. We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”

     

    In response to the President’s announcement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that “this is plainly a power grab by a disappointed President, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process.”

  • Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 5.52.39 AM
    Email FeatureEmail Featured
    Trump ally Brian Ballard denounces “phony” letter
    Javier Manjarres
    5 days ago
    0

    Outside of the nation of Nigeria, there hasn’t been much reporting about the forgery accusation launched by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) against the current Buhari presidency.

    According to the PDP, Buhari’s government trying to discredit that party’s presidential candidate by forging a document.

    The document in quest was said to have been signed by Brian Ballard of Ballard Partners, the firm that PDP recently paid $1.1 million to represent their interests.

    If  Ballard’s name doesn’t sound family to you, it should. Ballard was a key figure in President Donald Trump’s 2016 election efforts in Florida.

    PDP’s release this statement regarding the forging and their presidential candidate, Atiku Abubaker.

    “The attention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been drawn to a forged document, sponsored and being circulated by the Buhari Presidency in its last minute effort to drag down and discredit the popularity of the people’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, having realized that Atiku is already coasting to victory ahead of February 16 Presidential election.

     “The PDP describes as appalling that the Buhari Presidency could descend as low as forging a letter and purport same to have emanated from Brian Ballard and directed to the Director General of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization, Senator Bukola Saraki, claiming a negative outcome of an opinion poll on the coming elections.

    “This latest shenanigan by the Buhari Presidency, just few days before the Presidential election is completely preposterous, as Nigerians can easily identify the vicious paw prints and lies of the Buhari presidency.

    “Nigerians know the Buhari Presidency as master forgers, as manifested in Mr. President’s forged WAEC Certificate saga, which casts a dark shadow on his self-acclaimed integrity.

    “Now that the Ballard Partners has confirmed that the said document is false; that Brian Ballard’s signature was forged and that the Ballard Partners has not conducted any survey research on behalf of our party, the Buhari Presidency should forever hide its face in shame.

     “In any case, the PDP and indeed all Nigerians, do not need any academic survey to see the popularity of Atiku Abubakar and the fact that Nigerians have reached a consensus to elect him as the next President of our country.

    “We know that President Buhari has been envious of Atiku Abubakar and seeks all ways to pull him down; a scheme that has continued to fail.”-Pulse.Ng

    Brian Ballard, considered one of the most ethical, respected and influential government affairs point men in Florida, took to social media to condemn the forged document, calling it “phony” and stating that no one from his firm has “conducted any survey research on behalf of the People’s Democratic Party of Nigeria.”

    This story is developing..

  • jimmy patronis
    FeaturedFlorida Politics
    Patronis fights lawsuit over employee ouster
    News Service of Florida
    5 days ago
    0

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is asking a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit alleging that an employee lost her job because she refused to back Patronis’ election campaign last year.

    Patronis’ attorney, Brian Keri, argued in a 21-page document filed last week that the lawsuit should be dismissed and that the Republican Cabinet member disputes allegations that longtime state employee Christine Taul was forced out of her job because she did not attend a fundraising event and write a campaign check.

    “CFO Patronis adamantly denies Taul’s allegations that she was dismissed because she did not attend a fundraiser or contribute to his successful 2018 campaign to remain Florida’s CFO,” the document, a motion to dismiss, said. “Rather, Taul’s employer, DFS (the Department of Financial Services), dismissed her for ongoing performance deficiencies, despite attempts to correct the deficiencies over several months with training opportunities and counseling. This dismissal had nothing to do with CFO Patronis’ campaign.”

    Taul, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit Oct. 31 in federal court in Tallahassee, less than a week before Patronis was elected to a four-year term. Taul, who had served as a risk management program administrator since 1994, said in the lawsuit that she refused to attend a Patronis fundraising event in August and was subsequently told she would be terminated if she did not resign. The lawsuit said she “resigned under duress.”

    “Defendant Patronis has violated plaintiff Taul’s constitutional rights by retaliating against plaintiff Taul for her speech and right to not associate with defendant Patronis and to not make (a) campaign contribution to his campaign,” Taul’s attorneys, Ryan Andrews and Steve Andrews, wrote in the lawsuit. “Plaintiff Taul associates with a different political party and does not share the same beliefs as defendant Patronis. As a result of associating with a political party different than that which defendant Patronis is a member and not associating with defendant Patronis, defendant Patronis retaliated against plaintiff Taul by constructively discharging her from her employment with DFS as the risk management program administrator.”

    Patronis’ motion to dismiss the case centers on an argument that he is entitled to “qualified immunity,” a legal concept that helps protect public officials from lawsuits for actions they take in their jobs. The document said Taul “cannot provide any precedent establishing the unlawfulness of the dismissal of DFS’s risk management program administrator.”

    “There is no case precedent addressing Florida’s CFO and the allegation that dismissals were based upon failing to attend a fundraiser or failing to contribute to a campaign,” the motion said. “There is no case precedent addressing the termination of DFS’s risk management program administrator, a position that Taul asserts is one of the most important at DFS. Given the particular circumstances of this case, and the uniqueness of the DFS position involved here, there is no precedent that is similar enough to this case to establish clearly the applicable law.”

    But in the lawsuit, Taul’s attorneys argued that her First Amendment rights were violated and that she is entitled to damages.

    “Political beliefs and association constitute the core of those activities protected by the First Amendment,” the lawsuit said. “Defendant Patronis had fair notice of the case law prohibiting the actions taken by him against plaintiff. It is well settled that neither a state nor its employees can condition employment on a basis that infringes the employee’s constitutionally protected interest in freedom of expression.”

  • Marco Rubio
    FeaturedFlorida
    Here’s how Florida’s U.S. Senators’ voted on the govt shutdown
    Javier Manjarres
    5 days ago
    0

    The second government shutdown has been averted after both chambers of the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly voted to fund the controversial border security proposal.

    The Senate voted 83-16, and the House voted 300-128.

    But while some of the most conservative and progressive members of congress voted in favor of the deal that partially funded President Trump’s border wall, many didn’t.

    Here is how your Florida senators and representatives voted.

    U.S. Senate

    Yes
    Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)

    No
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

    Note that all but one of the declared Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate voted for the bill. Sens. Booker, Harris, Warren, and Gillibrand voted ‘No,’ while Klobuchar voted ‘Yes.’

    We know that most members in the House voted ‘Yes,” so we will just list those that voted “No.”

    Reps, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Posey, Francis Rooney, Greg Steube, Daniel Webster, and Ted Yoho–All Republicans

  • Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 12.24.25 AM
    FeaturedFlorida Politics
    Lawmakers grapple with Felons’ voting rights
    News Service of Florida
    5 days ago
    0

    TALLAHASSEE — With an eye on averting a “nightmare scenario” on Election Day, state House members Thursday began delving into what many state officials are calling ambiguities in a constitutional amendment that restores the right to vote for most felons who have completed their sentences.

    The amendment, approved by 64 percent of Florida voters in November, exempts murderers and people who have committed “felony sex offenses” from automatic voting-rights restoration.

    “Returning citizens,” as felons are called by backers of the amendment, began registering to vote throughout the state when the measure took effect last month.

    But, because the amendment doesn’t define what exactly constitutes “murder” or which specific sex crimes make someone ineligible for voting-rights restoration, state and local elections officials, clerks of court and prosecutors are relying on the Legislature to give them guidance in interpreting the new law.

    Officials are also seeking clarification about how to determine whether felons have completed the terms of their sentences.

    Some proponents believe the amendment does not require full payment of restitution, because such a requirement is not specifically mentioned in the amendment. Other officials maintain restitution and issues such as mandatory drug testing or school attendance should be considered components of sentences if they are included in judges’ sentencing orders.

    House Judiciary Chairman Paul Renner said lawmakers’ first job is to identify the sources of confusion before they can begin to craft solutions to address what could become a contentious issue during the legislative session that begins March 5.

    “The job of the committee is to remove subjectivity and to create objectivity, so nobody has to guess. There’s no doubts, there are no speed bumps, and nobody’s personal opinion is trumping the will of the voters as expressed in the constitutional amendment. That is where we are aiming,” Renner, R-Palm Coast, said during a joint meeting Thursday of his committee and the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

    But even if uncertainty surrounding the definitions is cleared up, elections officials could face a Herculean task trying to verify whether people who’ve registered to vote have met all the conditions required to make them eligible to cast ballots.

    That’s because no single database shows whether felons have completed all terms of their sentences, and forms don’t exist to show whether felons have met all the conditions imposed by judges.

    Clerks of court have billions of records detailing court fees, fines and costs, but many of those documents exist only on paper or are archived on microfilm or microfiche, Martin County Clerk of Courts Carolyn Timmann told lawmakers.

    “It’s those old records that become the challenge,” Timmann said on behalf of the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers association.

    And clerks have no way of verifying whether people have paid restitution if they have been released from state supervision, such as parole, without paying off their debt, she said.

    Judges don’t always have that information, either, according to Frederick Lauten, chief judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit.

    “There needs to be some central repository of information,” Lauten said. “Right now, it’s sort of scattered.”

    Renner acknowledged that accessing the records is an issue.

    “That information is in a lot of different places, and we need to bring it together. Once we do that, this process will be much simpler,” he said.

    House Criminal Justice Chairman James Grant, R-Tampa, raised the specter of a “nightmare scenario” in which a losing candidate in a close election could submit a series of public-records requests to determine whether felons who voted had fulfilled the terms of their sentences. A panel Thursday representing prosecutors, elections officials, the court system and clerks seemed doubtful that such records now are available.

    “It’s going to be incredibly exhaustive to be able to do that,” said Jack Campbell, the state attorney in the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Tallahassee and surrounding areas.

    According to one state analysis of the amendment, the constitutional change could open the door to voting for more than 730,000 felons in Florida.

    “We are witnessing the largest expansion of democracy in 50 years. This sits on the Emancipation Proclamation, this sits with the women’s suffrage movement. This is sacred, sacred stuff that we are talking about,” Neil Volz, the political director of a committee that backed the amendment, told lawmakers Thursday.

    Rep. James Bush III, D-Miami, expressed concern that felons who believe they are eligible but who are disqualified might be committing a crime if they register to vote.

    But Campbell assured lawmakers that those voters won’t get in trouble, at least while the Legislature grapples with the issue.

    “Every state attorney elected, we have no stomach or interest in trying to prosecute these cases until you all settle the issue,” he said.

  • Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 12.13.43 AM
    FeaturedFlorida Politics
    Bill would require baby changing tables
    News Service of Florida
    5 days ago
    0

    A Senate Democrat filed a proposal Thursday that would lead to a requirement in the Florida Building Code that baby-changing tables be included in many buildings that are newly constructed or undergo “substantial” renovations. Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, filed the proposal (SB 1082) for consideration during the legislative session that starts March 5.

    The bill spells out various types of buildings where baby changing tables would be required, including shopping centers or malls larger than 25,000 square feet, retail stores larger than 5,000 square feet and restaurants that seat at least 50 people, unless a baby changing table is located within 300 feet of the restaurant’s entrance. The requirement also would apply to theaters, sports arenas, convention centers, public libraries, passenger terminals and amusement parks.

  • Ted Deutch
    FeaturedU.S. Congress
    Deutch only Florida congressman to skip shutdown vote
    Javier Manjarres
    5 days ago
    0

    The controversial government shutdown vote in both the Senate and House came to pass on Valentine’s Day, and both chambers voted overwhelming to pass bills that partially funded President Trump’s border wall.

    There were only (4) members of the U.S. House of Representatives that did not vote, one of them was Democrat Congressman Ted Deutch.

    Deutch, who like most House Democrats, has been very vocal in called on President Trump to end the government shutdown they claim he owns.

    But when the time came to vote on a bipartisan bill to end the “Trump shutdown,” Deutch failed to cast his vote.

    According to his social media platforms, Deutch was in Parkland, Florida for the 1-year anniversary of the tragic school shooting that has changed the the gun violence debate.

    On February 13, Deutch, who was flanked on the House floor by the Florida congressional delegation, called for a moment of silence on the House floor for the victims of the school shooting.

  • Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 10.03.30 PM
    Email FeaturedFeaturedTexasU.S. Congress
    Congress passes shutdown bill, Democrats say Trump stealing funds
    Javier Manjarres
    5 days ago
    0

    With a bipartisan deal being in favor of in the U.S. Congress ( 83-16 in the Senate, and 300-128 in the House to avoid a second government shutdown, and with President Trump already signaling that he would reluctantly sign the agreement because many of the border security measures he wants aren’t being addressed, congressional Democrats continue to pounce the president’s claims that he could sign a national emergency edict to fund a border wall.

    The bipartisan border security deal wound fund $1.4 billion of the $5 billion Trump had originally asked for. This concession is a big political victory for Trump over Democrats, as Speaker of the Houser Nancy Pelosi (D) and Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) have vowed that they would not fund any portion of the border wall.

    Democrats lost that battle, but will Trump get his entire wall funded?

    The answer is maybe.

    Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) has proposed that U.S. government seize the billions of dollars of convicted Drug lord and murderer, “El Chapo” Guzman to fund the balance of the border wall.

    Chances are that the move to use confiscated dollars to pay for a wall will receive bipartisan support, but there will most-likely be some Democratic hold outs that will not want to hand Trump a complete border wall win.

    Texas Rep. Chip Roy (R) followed up on his previously stated position that he would not support the border security compromise, and vote ‘No.’

    A couple of Trump’s many “national emergency” detractors are Florida Rep. Darren Soto (D) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and unlike Rep. Roy, they both voted in favor of bill.

    Soto and Schultz have railed against the president’s talk of building his wall by way of declaring the issue a national emergency, saying that he would be stealing funds by doing so.

    “President Trump’s intention to declare a ‘national emergency’ to steal funds for his ineffective border wall is unconstitutional and destined to fail. A political disagreement does not constitute an “emergency.” If it were, he would have declared this on day one of his presidency. The fact is that illegal immigration is at historically low levels. This nonexistent emergency is simply President Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress. The House Democratic Majority will now have another opportunity to provide President Trump with a constitutional lesson on checks and balances.”-Rep. Darren Soto (D)

    While Soto says Trump wants to “steal funds” to build the wall, Wasserman Schultz says the move would be “unprecedented and lawless” and would “serve no national security purpose.”

     “The President is planning to declare a national emergency to fund a totem to his vanity and xenophobia. His wall would serve no national security purpose, make us less safe, and could take funding from critical military readiness projects.”- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D)

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    McClain Receives AFP Economic Award
    Daniel Molina
    5 days ago
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    Stan McClain, state representative from Florida’s 23rdDistrict, has received the AFP economic award for being a champion of economic freedom in the sunshine state.

    Today, McClain was awarded the Americans for Prosperity-Florida’s Champion of Economic Freedom Award for supporting policies that not only limit government overreach but that also advance free market principles.

    On AFP-Florida’s 2018 Legislative Scorecard, McClain scored an A+.

    In a statement responding to the recognition, McClain detailed that he appreciated the honor “and the good work AFP-Florida does.” McClain added that “there’s no question that prosperity and economic opportunity could quickly be short-circuited with the wrong policies in place. It’s an honor for me to support legislation that keeps government in check and allows the free market to flourish, and I look forward to continuing to work with AFP-Florida and other like-minded folks as we head into the 2019 session.”

    Several members of AFP-Florida visited McClain in his Tallahassee office to congratulate and praise him, his accomplishments and his commitment to economic freedom in Florida.

    The Republican state representative has been serving Florida’s 23rd District since being elected in 2016.

  • Rep. Ron DeSantis -The Floridian
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    DeSantis calls for grand jury to investigate school safety in FL
    Daniel Molina
    6 days ago
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    Governor Ron DeSantis is calling for a Statewide Grand Jury on School Safety.

    The Governor filed a petition today with the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury that would examine and review school safety measures through the sunshine state, as well as the responses of public entities to laws that are designed to protect schools such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.

    If the investigation were to go through, then the grand jury would investigate districts across the state of Florida.

    Specifically, the grand jury would investigate any crime or wrongdoing with the Florida Statute that relates to whether or not there was refusal or failure to follow the mandates of school-related safety laws, which resulted in unnecessary and avoidable risk to students across Florida;

    whether or not public entities committed and continued to commit fraud and deceit by accepting state funds conditioned on implementation of certain safety measures while knowingly failing to act; whether school officials committed and continue to commit fraud and deceit in the state by mismanaging, failing to use, and diverting funds from multi-million-dollar bonds specifically solicited for school safety initiatives and whether or not school officials violated and continue to violate state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education.

    In a statement, Governor DeSantis shared his thoughts on the petition filed, saying that “As the one-year anniversary of one of the darkest days in Florida history approaches, it’s clear more needs to be done. What’s truly devastating is that the tragedy in Parkland was avoidable.

    As Governor, I have a moral obligation to protect the children in our state, which is why I have requested a statewide grand jury to investigate school safety practices and failures occurring around the state and to identify measures to improve the safety of our students.”

  • Marco Rubio
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    Senator Rubio Highlights Need for U.S. to Support Colombia’s Drug War
    Daniel Molina
    6 days ago
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    Senator Marco Rubio is calling for the United States to support Colombia’s war on drugs to ensure regional peace and stability.

    This week, Colombian President Iván Duque is scheduled to make his first official visit to Washington, D.C. since being inaugurated last year.

    In an op-ed written for the Miami-Herald, Senator Rubio explained that, with President Duque’s trip, both countries will face an opportunity to renew and strengthen their strategic alliance, saying that it “has become all-the-more important as both nations work with the international community to resolve the crisis in Venezuela.”

    The Florida Senator further explained that both the United States and Colombia “partnered together to create Plan Colombia, a bilateral initative to strengthen the Colombian government’s institutions and military capabilities.”

    Rubio then added that “out of the violence and insurgency that plagued Colombia rose an economic and security partnership unlike anything else in Latin America.” And, this was “largely because of the total commitment of the Colombian government and society.” In turn, “Plan Colombia became a model for the strategic partnership that further seeks to consolidate the country’s gains in security, stability and prosperity.”

    In making sure that the United States stands alongside Colombia in their efforts, the Senator detailed that “it is in the U.S. national security interests to work with Colombia to keep drugs off our streets that kill Americans and to reduce the illicit flows that lead to violence and instability in Central America and Mexico. President Duque and his administration are committed to dismantling the drug trade, and understand the dangers posed by the cartels not only to their country but also to the region. The United States must make clear we stand with the Colombian people as they reverse recent trends of the previous government and build a safer country under new leadership.”

  • Donald Trump/ SHARK TANK MEDIA
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    Support for the Wall Significantly Rises Among FL Voters
    Daniel Molina
    6 days ago
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    Friday marks the day that a new government shutdown would take place should lawmakers not reach an agreement that secures funding for a border wall.

    With the last government shutdown spanning 35 days, lawmakers are quickly looking to avert a similar or even longer shutdown taking place.

    In turn, it appears that President Trump and lawmakers have reached a deal that would not only secure funding for the wall but that would also avoid a government shutdown, and a recent Florida poll shows that constituents of the sunshine state are largely behind the President when it comes to his signature issue.

    The President still maintains that he’s weighing all his options.

    In a poll released by Florida Atlantic University, 55 percent of Florida voters support a wall being built at the border compared to 37 percent that disagree with the measure. In 2018, the same poll indicated that 43 percent supported the wall and 45 percent disagreed with building it.

    As expected, Republican support largely grew this year, showing that 84 percent of Republicans support the measure compared to the 73 percent in 2018 that supported it.

    And, among Democrats, the opposition is still largely present, but it’s slightly less than a year ago. In the new poll, 23 percent of Democrats support building the wall.

    In addition, among independents, support for building the wall surged. In the FAU poll conducted this year, 59 percent support the wall and 29 percent oppose it while 37 percent supported it last year and 43 percent were opposed to building it.

    Congress is currently facing a deadline to reach a deal and have it signed by President Trump before Friday.

    Also, with the change in support of the wall comes a rise in President Trump’s approval rating.

    As indicated by the poll, FAU pollsters found that 41 percent of Florida voters approve of the President while 46 percent disapprove of his performance.