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Briefs | The Phoenix Flyer

Senators urge federal funding for state distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

WASHINGTON — More than a dozen U.S. Senate Democrats are urging congressional leaders to include “robust” funding in any coronavirus relief package for states to prepare for vaccine distribution.“Dedicated funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution is especially critical now as jurisdictions are facing historic budget shortfalls amid the pandemic and funding for health departments had been inadequate even before the COVID-19 pandemic began,” according to Monday’s letter.The letter’s 17 signers include Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Tina Smith and...

President of FL defense attorneys says in-person jury trials are not safe enough

Coronavirus is disrupting jury trials as defendants, court personnel, and even the accused contract the virus during proceedings.After two defendants and a bailiff tested positive for COVID-19 during trials last week in Jacksonville, the president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers warned that it’s proving nearly impossible to prevent the virus from spreading during in-person hearings.That president, Mitch Stone, said some of his members prefer to press on with trials in hopes of getting their clients out of jails as soon as possible, before they contract COVID behind bars.But others, including Stone, want to postpone at least...

DeSantis says FL submitted ‘Canadian’ plan to reduce drug prices but didn’t provide details

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that his administration filed a formal proposal with federal health regulators to allow the state to import low-cost prescription drugs from Canada.However, the news release published Monday did not provide the proposal itself, so no details were available except for statements in the news release.Neither DeSantis’ office nor Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration provided the Phoenix with a requested copy of the filing late Monday afternoon.The submission went to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the news release."Approval of this program positions our state to realize Governor DeSantis’ vision of...
Florida Capitol

Three female senators will be in major roles in the Florida Senate in 2020-2022

While males still make up the majority of the Florida Senate and the Senate's president is a man, three Republican women will have top leadership roles in the 2020-2022 legislative term.Senate President Wilton Simpson announced Monday that State Sen. Debbie Mayfield will be Senate Majority Leader, or Republican Leader. She represents Indian County and part of Brevard County, in Central Florida on the Atlantic Coast.She's served in both the House and Senate during her political career and Simpson described her as a "skilled and seasoned member of the Republican Caucus" as well as " a strong, conservative leader."State Sen....

Michigan Gov. Whitmer warns about ‘serious legal and ethical questions’ of GOP leaders’ White...

State House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) are supposed to be headed to the White House Friday for a chat with President Donald Trump, who’s been eager to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden. (Politco reports that the GOP lawmakers have arrived in Washington.)Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appeared Thursday night on both CNN and MSNBC, with the GOP leaders’ meeting as the primary topic of discussion.CNN host Erin Burnett asked Whitmer about Trump’s contention that he should win Michigan, despite losing by about 155,000 votes, and what...

Controversy in Michigan. There is ‘no legal mechanism to rescind’ Wayne Co. election certification...

Two Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers are trying to rescind their vote to certify the county’s presidential election results, but a spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told the Michigan Advance on Thursday that cannot happen.“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Benson, the state’s chief elections officer.Detroit, which is 80% Black, is Wayne County’s largest city. President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, won Michigan...

Seven members of Congress test positive for COVID-19 in one week, as U.S. cases...

WASHINGTON — Seven members of the U.S. House and Senate announced during the past week that they have tested positive for COVID-19, marking a burst of infections on Capitol Hill as cases have surged across the country.At least 29 members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year, according to tracking data by GovTrack and statements from those lawmakers. That tally includes seven legislators who announced infections in just the past week, plus one incoming lawmaker: Rep.-elect Ashley Hinson, an Iowa Republican.Those recent infections hit two of the oldest members in Congress: 87-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa,...

Florida now has more than 900,000 COVID-19 infections; Death toll nearing 18,000 for FL...

For the first time, Florida reached the 900,000 mark for COVID-19 infections, nearly nine months after two coronavirus cases emerged on March 1.The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday reported a total of 905,248 infections, up from 897,323 the day before -- an increase of 7,925 cases. (An analysis of Florida residents only shows an increase of 7,783.)Over a two-week period, the average increase in infections is about 5,900 cases.If that trend continues, Florida could hit the million mark in a few weeks, based on the health department data.Florida has the third highest number of COVID-19 infections of all...
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Palm Beach County schools settle national-origin discrimination complaint with U.S. DOJ

The Palm Beach County School District will pay a $90,000 civil fine and up to $100,000 in back pay to resolve a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging discrimination against immigrant employees and job seekers.The district’s media office has not yet responded to an emailed request for details about how many people might be entitled to compensation.According to the government, the district required people to provide specific but unnecessary documentation of their right to work in the United States on account of their immigration status.Federal law allows new hires to present a range of documents attesting...

State offers $57 million from VW “Dieselgate” settlement for clean, electric school buses

School districts in Florida’s most polluted and populous regions are eligible to share $57 million to replace diesel-fueled school buses with clean-running electric ones, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced Monday.The "Air Quality Priority Areas" that are eligible to apply for the money are urbanized parts of Miami-Broward-Palm Beach, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Pensacola.Unlike in some states, DEP says specifically that Florida's funds are "intended" to pay 75 percent of the cost of Type C and Type D electric school buses to replace comparable diesel buses.The U.S. Public Interest Research Group said last spring many states had...

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