Florida

Nelson secures federal funding for Floridians

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U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

 

Washington, DC – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) announced that the $1.3 trillion spending package Congress unveiled last night includes funding for several projects and programs important to Floridians including: increased spending  to fight the opioid epidemic, additional funding for citrus greening research and significant funding for democracy programs in both Venezuela and Cuba, as well as provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence. 

Funding for the following Florida projects and programs sought by Nelson have been included in the federal spending package: 

·         $3.3 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and mental health crises. An estimated 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder. In Florida alone, more than 5,200 people have died from an opioid-related event in 2016 – a 35 percent increase from 2015. Nelson requested additional funding for treatment, prevention and research. 

·         $67.47 million in total funding for citrus greening research and the Citrus Health Research Program. As citrus greening has hurt growers across Florida, Nelson has advocated for increased funding to study and address the problem to help the state’s citrus industry. 

·         $895 million for Kennedy Space Center to modernize launch facilities, more than doubling what the center received last year.  Nelson requested the increased funding to bolster work on launch and processing infrastructure needed for NASA’s initiative to explore deep space. 

·         $121 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet.  Nelson has been pushing for a replacement since 2015. The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two years when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded during hurricane season. 

·         $76.5 million in total funding to protect and restore the Everglades. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing additional funding for Everglades restoration. 

·         $82 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing for additional funding for dike repairs. 

·         $279.6 million, a 14-percent increase, in funding to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The four historically black colleges and universities in Florida—Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville – prepare over 16,000 students for careers in STEM, aviation, law, nursing and other fields. 

·         $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants.  Positive train control technology will help prevent deadly crashes on our railroads. It’s critically important for those railroads that carry passengers, like Sunrail and Tri-Rail.  Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, pressed for the funding to help passenger railroads meet a federal deadline to install the lifesaving technology.  

·         $100 million for research and development program for automated vehicles. The SunTrax facility at Florida Polytechnic University is a qualified proving ground and will have the opportunity to benefit from the program. 

·         Restored and increased funds to $35 million for democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba. Nelson requested Congress “redouble, not eliminate support for democracy and human rights” in Venezuela. The democracy programs support civil society organizations and promote human rights. 

·         Included $60 million for the Nonprofits Security Grant Program. The program helps certain non-profits harden their facilities against attack, such as organization like the Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Orlando and Miami and elsewhere. Nelson requested this funding after JCCs across Florida received a series of telephone bomb threats. 

·         Increased funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program to $5 million. Nelson requested $5 million in funding to provide long-term support and services for Holocaust survivors. 

 

The spending package included several provisions Nelson co-sponsored to address gun violence in Florida and across the country, including: 

·         Fix NICS Act. Nelson cosponsored this bipartisan bill, which requires federal agencies and states to develop implementation plans to upload to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) all information prohibiting a person from purchasing a firearm, rewards states who comply with these plans through federal grant preferences, and reauthorizes and improves programs that help states share information on criminal records with NICS, among other things. 

·         STOP School Violence Act. Nelson co-sponsored this bipartisan bill that would allow schools to access federal funds to invest in programs, training and technology to keep students safe. 

·         CDC Gun Violence Research. The spending package included language to clarify that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can conduct research on gun violence.


Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson’s Statement on the Passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2018

 

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Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson

 

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson issued the following statement on the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2018:

“Although I am extremely disappointed that a DACA fix was not included, I am pleased that Congress has finally passed the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2018 that President Trump signed today. After numerous temporary funding measures and unnecessarily stringent budget caps, this bill, although imperfect, funds several items that are critical to Florida and to the nation.
  

“In addition to rejecting the Trump administration’s cruel anti-immigrant agenda, the omnibus invests heavily in key priorities like child care, education, transportation and infrastructure, national security, affordable housing, public safety, election protection, medical and health care research, our nation’s veterans, and many other line items. These investments are certain to help boost job creation for America’s workers, economic growth, and support badly needed by those living in disadvantaged communities.

 

“Wins for Florida and District 24 include:

 

  • A 14 percent increase in funding for historically black colleges and universities, including Florida A&M, Florida Memorial University, Bethune-Cookman and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville
  • Additional funding for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund spending target established by WRRDA 2014, which will benefit PortMiami

  • $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants to prevent deadly crashes on Florida railroads
  • $416 million for Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants

  • Restored proposed administration cuts to Everglades restoration projects

  • $610 million increase for Head Start, a $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program and a $300 million increase in grants to Title I schools

  • $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants

  • $22 billion for public housing vouchers for needy populations, including the elderly, disabled, and persons living with HIV/AIDS

 

“I also was very pleased that I was able to insert in the legislation $10 million for support of a “multi-partner trust fund or other multi-lateral efforts to assist communities in Haiti affected by cholera resulting from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti.”


There’s Still Time to Stop HB 7055 and Save Public Education

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There are still two weeks left in the 2018 Legislative Session in Florida. Education bill, HB 7055, is still making its way through the process. The Senate Education Committee has proposed tremendous changes but it is still a very bad bill for public education.

The bill is scheduled to go before the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow, February 27. Contact the committee members and tell them to vote no on HB 7055.

2018 Florida Senate Committee on Appropriations

Members
Chair:
Senator Rob Bradley (R)
Vice Chair:
Senator Anitere Flores (R)

* Senator Dennis Baxley (R)
* Senator Aaron Bean (R)
* Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R)
* Senator Lauren Book (D)
* Senator Randolph Bracy (D)
* Senator Jeff Brandes (R)
* Senator Oscar Braynon II (D)
* Senator George B. Gainer (R)
* Senator Bill Galvano (R)
* Senator Audrey Gibson (D)
* Senator Denise Grimsley (R)
* Senator Bill Montford (D)
* Senator Kathleen Passidomo (R)
* Senator Bobby Powell (D)
* Senator David Simmons (R)
* Senator Wilton Simpson (R)
* Senator Kelli Stargel (R)
* Senator Linda Stewart (D)

You may also call your representative using the Florida AFL-CIO hotline: 855-235-2469.

Let your voice be heard. This bill still has to be heard by the entire a Senate and agreed upon by the House before it can become law. Although Republicans control all branches of Florida’s government, we owe it to those who came before us and to our future to say something and do something. 

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Photo:  Bradenton Herald

 

 


CALL TO ACTION! - The Shameless Assault on Public Education in Florida Continues with Dirty HB 7055

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Florida's Republican leaders are at it again. If you are not following the shenanigans in Tallahassee during this Legislative Session, please take a moment to listen to comments by Rep. Shevrin Jones (Dist. 101) and Rep. Kionne McGhee (Dist. 117) regarding the very bad education bill — HB 7055. These are just a few points of which we should be aware. Recognize this for what it is. The continued dismantling of public education, redirecting public dollars to private entities, destruction of public schools in predominantly black neighborhoods, and assault on the middle-class and poor in Florida. Please commit to helping concerned parents and citizens put a stop to this madness.   

 

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CALL TO ACTION from the Florida AFL-CIO (adapted). HB 7055 will go before the Florida House on Wednesday, February 7 for questions and Thursday, February 8 for vote and debate.  HB 7055 is a massive last minute education bill full of poorly vetted policies aimed at defunding public education in our state and busting up teachers unions. 

Call 855.235.2469 and enter your zip code NOW to be connected with your local Florida Representative. Leave them with the message that they need to stand up for our public schools, our students, and our teachers by voting NO on HB 7055.

Hidden in this legislation is the same public union-busting language that House leadership rammed through the process last week. HB 7055 specifically strips our state’s educators and staff from having a voice on the job.

HB 7055 also sets up a system that tells children who have been bullied to simply leave their public school and go somewhere else. Rather than focusing on programs that directly combat the problem of bullying in Florida schools, House leaders are using this issue as another means to please their donors and expand the unaccountable for-profit charter school industry in our state.

At over 200 pages, this bill is so big that it also includes provisions to divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private, for-profit schools, reduces accountability for student performance, and hurts programs for struggling students.

Call 855.235.2469 NOW and leave your local representative with a message to vote NO on HB 7055. This bill would spell disaster for the future of public education in our state. We need the Florida House to say NO to this massive scheme to bully our students, our schools, and our teachers.

Still Not Convinced? - WATCH THIS

 #SayNOtoHB7055   #SaveOurSchools #Dirty7055

 


Thank You Desmond Meade and the FRRC! Almost 2 Million Floridians Are One Step Closer to Having their Rights Restored!

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Congratulations to Desmond Meade and the team of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition for leading the movement that has gotten 1.68 million disenfranchised Floridians one step closer to having their voting rights restored. Shout out to all of the grassroots organizations and dedicated individuals who made a seemingly unreachable goal a reality. Now the amendment needs at least 60% approval from the voters. Start now encouraging your family and friends to vote YES on  Amendment 4 on the November 2018 ballot. 

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 6pm until 10 pm, South Florida will celebrate the Second Chances Voting Restoration Amendment making the November 2018 ballot. RSVP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/148648512464863/.

  

#SayYEStoSecondChances   #Redemption

 


The Flores-Braynon Apology: An Unforgettable Start of the 2018 Legislative Session

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Last Tuesday's opening of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session, the last for Gov. Rick Scott, was overshadowed by the joint public apology of Florida Senators Anitere Flores (R-Dist. 39) and Oscar Braynon (D-Dist. 35) for their extramarital affair. Their relationship had been the subject of rumors but was confirmed via an anonymous website which is now inaccessible. 

During last year's Legislative Session, Braynon discovered a hidden camera in the hallway of the sixth floor of the Tennyson condominium in downtown Tallahassee. The Tennyson is the temporary housing choice of many lawmakers during Legislative Session. Flores and Braynon each lived in a unit on the sixth floor. Their units were practically across the hall from each other. It was later determined that the camera had been placed by a private investigator. There is speculation that the surveillance is retribution by Sen. Frank Artiles who was forced to resign last year because of his use of racial slurs. 

While the Flores-Braynon affair is very different from the sexual harassment incidents that ensnared former Senators Jack Latvala and Jeff Clemens, Flores and Braynon have not indicated they would resign. 

 

Related Links:

Florida politicians become surveillance targets as political payback rumors swirl

Smile! Legislators Caught on Hidden Surveillance Cameras Secretly Placed in Condo Building

 

 


NAACP Releases Report Card: Florida Failing in Key Categories

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The NAACP Florida State Conference releases a statewide Economic Development Report Card upon examining the records of cities, counties, school districts and private sector organizations.

FORT LAUDERDALE— Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and Torey Alston, State Economic Development Chair released a statewide Economic Development Report Card after examining the records of leading public and private organizations over the last several months.

“I am excited to release this year’s Diversity Matters Report Card the records of public agencies from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys,” says Adora Obi Nweze, who also serves as a member of the National Board of the NAACP. “Diversity and inclusion continue to be a challenge in Florida and the NAACP will continue to sound the alarm for equality and fairness for all Floridians.”

The Diversity Matters Initiative examined the records of targeted cities, counties, school districts and private corporations statewide.  The NAACP Florida State Conference examined their records on employment, advertising and spending with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.  The NAACP Florida State Conference conducts this review annually, proposes recommendations and releases its findings to the public. 

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“Our Diversity Matters Report Card is an annual investigation reviewing workforce diversity, local contracting expenditures and advertising budgets in urban, rural and suburban areas,” says Torey Alston, who led this statewide effort on diversity and serves as 3rd Vice-President of the NAACP Florida State Conference. “This year’s report card continues to show cities, counties, school districts, and private companies have diversity and inclusion as the last priority.  While there are some bright spots, there is still much work to be done ensuring diversity and inclusion is reflected in all aspects of government and the private sector.”

Here is the grading scale and methodology used for the report card:

Diversity Metric /Overall Total = Grade

  • A – Excellent (25% and higher): Meets and exceeds diversity and inclusion standards
  • B – Above Average (20% to 24%): Above average performance on diversity and inclusion standards 
  • C – Average (15% to 19%): Average performance on diversity and inclusion standards
  • D – Below Average (14% to 18%): Below average performance on diversity and inclusion standards
  • F – Failing (13% and below): Does not meet diversity and inclusion standards
  • *F – Not Reported

TOTAL

GRADE

#

PERCENTAGE

A

0

0.0%

B

5

12.5%   

C

1

2.5%

D

12

30.0%

F

22

55.0%

Total

40

 

Looking closer at the report card, none of the 40 entities evaluated received a total grade of “A.” Only five entities received a total grade of “B” --- Duval County School District, Hendry County School District, Miami-Dade County School District, City of Fort Walton Beach, and Manatee County Board of Commissioners. One entity, Osceola County Board of Commissioners, received a total grade of “C.” Thirty-four, or 85% of the entities evaluated, received a total grade of “D” or “F.”

There is significant room for improvement in the categories dealing with spending and advertising & marketing. No surprise, is the abysmal failing grade in those areas as several local individuals and organizations have complained of this disparity in contracting with black businesses for many years. All the entities received an “F” in the “Small, Veteran & Minority Business Spending” category except one. Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners received a “D.”

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The NAACP releases report cards every year. Now that this report card has been released, it is crucial that organizations and individuals throughout Florida are relentless in demanding transparency and diversity in how the tax dollars in their respective communities are allocated and spent.

 


Community Leaders on Racist, Sexist Rant by Senator Frank Artiles: Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall

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As a former State Representative of House District 109, it would be impossible for me to sit in a room to create laws that impact our community with someone that has neither regard or respect for those who make those laws with him.

As lawmakers, we make laws for men, women, children, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and others who come from all corners of the world. A person who is not respectful to all is not fit to make laws for them, neither should anyone be subjected to sit on a dais with such an individual.

-Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall

Miami-Dade County Public School Board Member
District 2

 

 

#STAYwoke
#ArtilesMustResign
 

UPDATE: Senator Artiles Apologized for his Racist, Sexist Tirade, Stripped of  Committee Chairmanship — Not Enough!  

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From left, Florida Senate President Joe Negron and Senator Frank Artiles

I watched Florida Senate President Joe Negron field interview questions via The Florida Channel online. His responses were a reminder of just how tone deaf, disrespectful and dismissive our elected leaders are here in Florida. Senator Negron seems to feel his job is complete since Senator Artiles apologized from the Senate floor and he stripped Artiles of his committee chairmanship. Tone deaf. Disrespectful. Dismissive.

Senator Frank Artiles must resign. His racist, sexist comments cannot be tolerated and must not be excused by any self-respecting individual, especially those who took an office to represent the people of Miami-Dade County and/or the people of Florida.

As a Black person and a woman, I will not excuse nor accept the apology of Frank Artiles. I am tired of Black people being insulted an apology is later offered and we are supposed to accept it and go away. NO! As a woman, I am tired of men thinking they can treat us like brainless body parts and receptacles and we are supposed to accept that. NO!

How would you feel if Senator Gibson was your wife, sister, mother, cousin or friend? You should be disgusted by how she was treated just because she is a woman.

I am asking you to continue to contact Senator Artiles and Florida Senate President Joe Negron. I am asking all elected officials, especially black elected officials, and women elected officials, to take a stand and demand the resignation of Senator Artiles. 

This is a matter of RESPECT. No excuses. #ArtilesMustResign

 

In the meantime, continue this CALL TO ACTION.

1.  Contact Senator Frank Artiles and ask him to resign. There is no place for his hateful, racist and sexist thinking in American politics. 

Here are ways to contact Senator Artiles:

District Office

13501 SW 128th Street

Unit 115A

Miami, FL 33186

(305) 252-4300

 

Tallahassee Office

308 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5040

 

Email: artiles.frank@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artiles40

Twitter: @Artiles40 (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

2.  Contact Senator Joe Negron, President of the Florida Senate, and ask him to have Senator Artiles to resign. 

Here are ways to Contact Senator Negron:

District Office 

3500 Southwest Corporate Parkway

Suite 204

Palm City, FL 34990

(772) 219-1665

Toll-Free (888) 759-0791

 

Tallahassee Office

305 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5025

 

Email: negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joenegronfl/

Twitter: @joenegronfl (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

3.  Stay tuned as this is an evolving situation. We are expected to react with anger and then go away. Not this time. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for taking action. 

 

 

Related Post: CALL TO ACTION: Florida Senator Frank Artiles Must Resign After His Racist, Sexist Tirade [WARNING: Profane language] 


CALL TO ACTION: Florida Senator Frank Artiles Must Resign After His Racist, Sexist Tirade [WARNING: Profane language]

 

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From left, Florida Senators Frank Artiles; Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston. Artiles dropped the n-bomb and referred to Gibson as a "fucking asshole," "girl" and "bitch."  He also said six Republican niggas were responsible for Joe Negron becoming Senate President and later referred to Negron as a "pussy." To make matters worse,  Artiles  later tried to justify dropping the n-bomb by saying he's from Hialeah. 

 

 

On Monday evening, Florida Senator Frank Artiles, who represents District 40 here in Miami-Dade County, went on a racist, sexist tirade at the exclusive Governors Club in Tallahassee. Artiles verbally attacked fellow Senator Audrey Gibson from Duval County. Also present was Senator Perry Thurston from Broward County and others. Gibson and Thurston are black.

According to reports from the Miami Herald, Artiles dropped the n-bomb and referred to Senator Gibson as a “fucking asshole” a “girl” and a “bitch.” In this day and time, a male elected official, who is also an ethnic minority, that feels comfortable enough to spew such vile words must not be allowed to represent the people of Florida, especially Miami-Dade County. To make matters worse, Artiles also tried to justify dropping the n-bomb by saying he’s from Hialeah. Really? Hialeah? Hmmm….

As expected, there have been weak condemnations of Artiles’s outburst by his fellow Republicans and an expected announcement of an apology from the Senate floor today. An apology is an insufficient resolution to this situation. Artiles must resign. 

The Florida Democratic Party has called for Artiles to resign. The Black Caucus has called an emergency meeting regarding this matter. 

In the meantime, this CALL TO ACTION is requested.

1.  Contact Senator Frank Artiles and ask him to resign. There is no place for his hateful, racist and sexist thinking in American politics. 

Here are ways to contact Senator Artiles:

District Office

13501 SW 128th Street

Unit 115A

Miami, FL 33186

(305) 252-4300

 

Tallahassee Office

308 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5040

 

Email: artiles.frank@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Artiles40

Twitter: @Artiles40 (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

2.  Contact Senator Joe Negron, President of the Florida Senate, and ask him to have Senator Artiles to resign. 

Here are ways to Contact Senator Negron:

District Office 

3500 Southwest Corporate Parkway

Suite 204

Palm City, FL 34990

(772) 219-1665

Toll-Free (888) 759-0791

 

Tallahassee Office

305 Senate Office Building

404 South Monroe Street

Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100

(850) 487-5025

 

Email: negron.joe@flsenate.gov

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joenegronfl/

Twitter: @joenegronfl (Use hashtag #ArtilesMustResign.)

 

3.  Stay tuned as this is an evolving situation. We are expected to react with anger and then go away. Not this time. Thank you for speaking up. Thank you for taking action. 

 

This is a matter of RESPECT. This is a teachable moment. Our children are watching how we handle this situation. #ArtilesMustResign