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Briefs | The Phoenix Flyer

GOP voting reforms add grandkids to short list of who can help handle mail-in...

GOP-sponsored election reforms advancing in the Florida Legislature are growing closer in their details, including who can handle mail-in-ballots for members of a voter’s “immediate family.” That now includes grandchildren. In versions awaiting votes in the Senate and House, grandkids were recently added to the limited list of relatives who may pick up and deliver a voter’s mail-in ballot on his or her behalf. Currently, voters may allow anyone of their choosing to pick up and drop off their mail-in ballots, including neighbors and friends. In prior versions of the bills, immediate family was defined as the voter’s spouse, parent, child, grandparent, or...
One Year Anniversary Parkland tragedy

Federal background checks on ammunition sales pushed by Democrats

WASHINGTON—Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require instant background checks to prevent individuals with a criminal record from illegally purchasing ammunition. The measure backed by the Democrats, known as Jaime’s Law, is named in honor of Jaime Guttenberg, a student who died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. She was 14. Fourteen students and three staff members were killed in the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Jaime’s father, Fred Guttenberg, has worked as an advocate against gun violence since her death. “I should be watching Jaime live out her...

On the vaccination front: FL lags behind most states in getting shots in the...

Two weeks after Florida opened the door to allow vaccines for residents 16 and older, CDC data show that the state has a ways to go in boosting the number of residents vaccinated. Florida has vaccinated 5.2 million residents, a number that looks high but percentage wise, is relatively low, with 24.3 percent of residents vaccinated in the state, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That percentage ranks Florida 36th of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. — the bottom third of states. States in the bottom third include Louisiana, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and...

Gov. DeSantis returns to Fox News to lob fresh bombs at the Biden administration

Gov. Ron DeSantis went on Fox News again Sunday to criticize the Biden administration over its immigration policy and promote his own initiatives against Big Tech, vaccine passports, unruly demonstrations and more. On “Sunday Morning Futures,” the governor cited President Joe Biden’s executive orders dismantling former President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies, including separating migrant children from their parents. The governor, who raised his national profile on Fox while still in Congress, has returned to the platform repeatedly since Trump’s defeat. On Sunday, he said Biden’s policy would return criminal aliens to the nation’s streets and waved aside arguments that Biden...

State House tax holidays: Clothing, shoes, tents, snorkels, fishing rods and insect repellant, but...

A multi-million-dollar tax package approved by the House Ways & Means Committee on Friday includes everything from a "Freedom Week" sales tax holiday and a big batch of sales tax exemptions -- but no exemption for diapers. What's considered the family-friendly state House didn't want to include  diapers in the mix of items that exempt state sales taxes in certain periods in Florida. (The exemptions also can include county discretionary sales surtaxes.) For the proposed 2021-22 sales tax exemptions, diapers became a discussion when Orlando State Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, tried to include the baby item into the major tax...

Feds recommend pause on J&J vaccines; People shouldn’t be ‘freaking out,’ DeSantis says

For those people who have already gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and those who were in line to get the shot — there's some news Tuesday: Federal health officials are recommending a pause on administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, after six reported cases of a rare blood clot in individuals receiving the shot. The six cases involved women between 18 and 48, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One woman died and another has been hospitalized in critical condition, according to The New York Times. Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday...

Tampa Bay senator calls on Attorney General to hold Piney Point owner liable for...

Following a nerve-racking weekend of rainy weather, Tampa Bay-area Sen. Janet Cruz called on Attorney General Ashley Moody Monday to take legal action against the owner of the leaky Piney Point Plant reservoirs threatening to spill millions of gallons of polluted water in waterways and communities. In an update Sunday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported that 0.6 inches of local rainfall over the weekend added 4 million gallons to the volume within the southern reservoir, now holding 221 million gallons of tainted water. Another 215 million gallons were discharged to Port Manatee to reduce pressure on a failing...

Biden pitches big boosts in education and health spending in budget request

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration released a key portion of its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Friday, calling for increasing money for schools, public health programs, cancer research and other discretionary programs that it says have been underfunding for too long. The president’s $1.5 trillion request seeks to spend $769 billion on discretionary programs not related to defense — a 16% increase over the current fiscal year. The proposal is in sharp contrast to Trump administration budget requests during the past four years that sought to scale back the size of most domestic programs. Administration officials say their proposed boost would...
labor union photo

House moves $1B online sales tax giveaway for business owners a step closer to...

Legislation extending collection of the state sales tax on online purchases — and using the $1 billion it would raise to spare businesses an increase in the tax they pay to support the unemployment compensation system — cleared the House Thursday. The 93-24 vote sent the legislation (SB 50) to the Senate, which must accept a House floor amendment that, in addition to the unemployment tax break, would cut the tax businesses pay to rent commercial space. House Democrats broke rank on the vote, with several members of the legislative Black Caucus voting yes on the legislation. Two other members of...

Gov. DeSantis got his COVID shot, but behind closed doors

Gov. Ron DeSantis has quietly been vaccinated against COVID-19, foregoing the opportunity to promote vaccine acceptance by receiving his shot in public. The governor indicated law week that he intended to take the vaccine, although he wasn’t sure whether he would invite TV cameras to that event. On Wednesday, a spokeswoman said in reply to a reporter’s questions that DeSantis had not taken that messaging opportunity. “The governor received the vaccine,” communications aide Meredith Beatrice said. Asked where and when, she said, “I can work to find more details, but I know he received it.” Later, Beatrice clarified: "Last week, the governor became eligible and...

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