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Briefs | The Phoenix Flyer

FL’s Val Demings places President Trump ‘at the center of this scheme’

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Orlando Democrat serving as a House manager in the U.S. Senate impeachment trial against President Trump, focused on evidence regarding the Oval Office meeting that Ukraine never received from the White House.During day three of the trial on Wednesday, she cited text messages and previous testimony from key witnesses including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland to advance the House’s case that Trump abused his office for personal benefit."The president was the center of this scheme," Demings told the Senate.Demings, a former police chief who’s been included among seven House managers building the...

FL House speaker says gun-control legislation not likely to win favor in his chamber

An effort to close the so-called “gun-show loophole” that now allows the sale of firearms without background checks is not likely to win support in the Florida House.A Senate committee has backed legislation that would require someone purchasing a weapon at a gun show involving a non-licensed dealer to undergo a background check. The bill (SB 7028) would also require more documentation of private gun sales not made at a gun show.The National Rifle Association has condemned the proposal, with the NRA’s top lobbyist in Tallahassee, Marion Hammer, calling it “nothing less than gun control on steroids.”The measure has...

FL Senate panel backs new abortion restrictions on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 47th anniversary of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing a woman’s right to an abortion, a divided Florida Senate committee on Tuesday advanced legislation that would create new legal barriers for young women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.In a 9-7 vote, with Democrats in opposition, the Senate Rules Committee voted for a measure (SB 404) that requires women under the age of 18 to have the consent of a parent or legal guardian before ending a pregnancy. The bill is now ready for a floor vote.Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who supports the legislation,...

Dignity for incarcerated pregnant women: Lawmakers push for reforms

Advocates for pregnant women inmates came to the state Capitol Tuesday to retell the traumatic story of Tammy Jackson, an inmate at the Broward County jail who was forced to give birth in an isolation cell.Jackson miraculously performed a seven-hour labor by herself without medical assistance or medication.Another horrific tale comes from an Osceola County Jail cell, where Kenzi Dunn was left to miscarry her pregnancy from her cell, after being denied medical attention for days.Their stories, plus many others, sparked Florida lawmakers to sponsor legislation to ensure proper medical care of incarcerated pregnant women. The bills also aim...
ERA Florida 1982

Marches will celebrate passage of ERA, as fight looms with GOP leaders

Equal Rights Amendment activists will celebrate this weekend after lawmakers in Virginia on Wednesday made that state the pivotal 38th one to ratify the ERA, an achievement nearly 50 years in the making.Casting a cloud on the parade is notice that the federal office that archives important records will not accept Virginia’s ratification, having been instructed by the Trump administration’s Department of Justice that it is overdue and invalid.“As expected,” said Kim Porteous, Florida president of the National Organization for Women, unfazed by confirmation of the blockade at the Archives office.The National Archives and Records Administration said it will...
One Year Anniversary Parkland tragedy

Lawsuit alleges Marjory Stoneman Douglas commission violated open meeting laws

In what began as criticisms of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission – set up to review school safety following the 2018 Parkland mass shooting-- has now led to a lawsuit.The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit this week, on behalf of groups and individuals, including students, claiming that the commission prevented Florida students from speaking -- violating Florida’s open meetings laws.The incident occurred at the commission’s public meeting October 15-16, 2019, at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, described in the lawsuit as a secluded “Four Diamond” resort and golf destination.“These advocates wanted to...

FL Senate ready to act on a bill that would block local governments from...

The Florida Senate is poised to block cities, like Key West, from banning the sale of sunscreen.When the Senate holds its first floor session of the 2020 session on Wednesday, the first bill on the agenda is a measure (SB 172), sponsored by Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, that would preempt local regulation of over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, including all sunscreens. Regulation of those products would be left up to the state.Key West officials and environmental groups support allowing local governments to enact the bans, arguing that chemicals contained in some sunscreens are damaging to coral reefs. In the case...

Preliminary FL House budget plan falls short of DeSantis’ proposal for raising teacher pay

The Florida House has come up well short of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to boost starting teacher pay to $47,500 a year and to offer a revamped bonus program for educators.In a preliminary budget proposal, which is likely to be modified before the House advances its proposed state budget in a few weeks, House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Chris Latvala, a Clearwater Republican, said Thursday that the plan includes $462.6 million for teacher pay raises.It’s more than $400 million less than what the Republican governor proposed in his budget for the 2020-21 budget year, which begins July 1. DeSantis...

PAC report: December saw DeSantis committee’s strongest fundraising haul of 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political committee closed 2019 by collecting more than $1.2 million, including two gifts of $100,000, according to data compiled by the Florida Division of Elections.Those big contributions came from Rahul Patel, a corporate transactions and finance partner with King & Spalding’s Atlanta office, and Anita Zucker, a billionaire philanthropist who lives in Charleston, S.C. Patel gave an additional contribution of $5,000.The Friends of Ron DeSantis committee collected four gifts of $50,000, from the South Florida Automobile Dealers Association; UnitedHealth Group; James Heavener, CEO of Full Sail University; and Roy Hinman II, a doctor who runs a...

Parental consent bill for teens seeking abortions now moving in the FL Senate

A bill requiring teenagers to have parental consent before obtaining an abortion moved ahead in the Florida Senate on Wednesday.In a 3-2 vote, with Democrats in opposition, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill (SB 404) that would require women under the age of 18 to have the consent of a parent or legal guardian before ending a pregnancy. The bill next moves to the Senate Rules Committee, its last stop before the Senate floor.In his opening day speech for the 2020 session, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he supports the legislation.“I also hope that the parental consent bill...

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