Senators back solar tariffs, oppose prairie bird safeguards
The Senate has approved a measure that would reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from several Southeast Asian countries after President Joe Biden paused them in a bid to boost solar installations in the U.S. Lawmakers also approved a separate plan late Wednesday to undo federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a rare grouse that’s found in parts of the Midwest and Southwest, including one of the country’s most prolific oil and gas fields.
Texas bill proposes up to $25K for armed school 'sentinels'
Texas schools could offer up to $25,000 stipends to teachers and staff who accept the dual role of being armed campus “sentinels” with specialized mental health training under a proposal that state lawmakers advanced Tuesday in response to the Uvalde classroom shooting.
By boat and jet ski, volunteers assist in Ian rescue efforts
As authorities in Florida try to reach people who have been trapped by floodwaters or isolated on barrier islands since Hurricane Ian came ashore last week, concerned members of the public have been springing into action to aid the official rescue efforts.
Nazi protesters show up outside young conservatives meeting in Florida
A Holocaust center in Florida and others condemned the presence of protesters holding Nazi flags and posters with antisemitic imagery outside a convention of young conservative activists that drew as speakers President Donald Trump, Florida Gov, Ron DeSantis and several Republican U.S. senators.
Sen. Scott defends vote against bipartisan gun bill after signing similar policy as Florida’s governor
The first major legislation on gun safety sailed through congress and was sent to President Joe Biden on the day marking one month since the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
TWIJ: Doctor on coronavirus spike; lawmakers on crisis in Cuba
Dr. Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation, discusses the rise in coronavirus cases and the increase in hospitalizations. We also discuss the crisis in Cuba with Congressman Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, offer their analysis on Cuba as well as the American Rescue Plan and new child tax credits.
Health care in Florida; Sen. Rick Scott; State’s legislative session
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” state Rep. Angie Nixon and Dr. Nancy Staats, both of whom have called for Florida to expand Medicaid, talk about how it could help people in need of health care and the money that would be involved in making it happen. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, of Florida, calls for states to send back federal relief money if they aren’t spending it on COVID-19 expenses. And state Sen. Travis Hutson talks about his energy bills and how he feels about proposed changes to the Bright Futures scholarship program.
Gov. DeSantis pushes back after Rick Scott asks states to return some COVID relief money
Let’s make sure we help our businesses get going again,” Scott told host Kent Justice. “If Florida were to send the money back, [Treasury Secretary Janet] Yellen is going to send it to Illinois, California, New York or New Jersey. DeSantis said the package penalizes states such as Florida that have lower unemployment rates than other states. The package includes $350 billion for states and the District of Columbia and would divvy up the money based on unemployment rates. Scott was asked if it was realistic to expect state governments will send federal money back.
Senators make another run at making daylight saving time permanent
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s two U.S. senators joined others across the country in another attempt to make daylight saving time permanent across the country, reintroducing the Sunshine Protection Act. AdIf the bill passes it would apply to the states who currently participate in daylight saving time, which most states observe for eight months out of the year. “Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is why the Florida legislature voted to make it permanent in 2018. Rubio and Scott introduced legislation last year citing the coronavirus pandemic as one reason why daylight saving time would be beneficial. In March 2019, Rubio re-introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent across the country.
What Florida, Georgia senators said about their party-line votes on $1.9T relief bill
The U.S. senators from Florida and Georgia voted along party lines, like all of their fellow senators, for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that was approved by a 50-49 margin Saturday. Here’s what the senators from Georgia and Florida had to say Saturday about their party-line votes:Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-GeorgiaThanks to Georgia voters, the United States Senate just passed the most generous economic relief package for working and middle class families in American history. — Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) March 6, 2021Thank you to all who wrote postcards, made calls, knocked doors, texted friends, and chipped in a few bucks to deliver victory in Georgia and COVID relief for the country. — Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) March 6, 2021Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-GeorgiaThis historic COVID-19 relief bill will bring billions of dollars in aid to Georgia, help our economy recover and give families the support they need to get through this pandemic. I’ve said all along that I want targeted relief for families and businesses suffering from the pandemic.
Report details troubles of Florida’s unemployment system
The initial report of Florida's inspector general detailed enormous cost overruns when the system was developed under then-Republican Gov. Rick Scott and problems that were exposed when unemployment skyrocketed during an increase in unemployment when Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a business shutdown a year ago. As hundreds of thousand of Floridians sought unemployment compensation after losing their jobs, DeSantis called the online claim system a jalopy trying to compete in the Daytona 500 and ordered a review of why the system failed. In May, DeSantis ordered the state inspector general to investigate the contract awarded to Deloitte in 2011 to create the unemployment filing system.
States pass their own virus aid, not waiting on Washington
– Not waiting for more federal help, states have been approving their own coronavirus aid packages, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help residents and business owners devastated by the the pandemic's economic fallout. North Carolina's governor wants additional state aid for such things as bonus pay for teachers and boosting rural internet speeds. The spending also provides fuel for critics who say states don’t need another massive infusion of cash from Congress. “The cascading effect, it’s actually a problem that most states are grappling with ... waiting for the relief money out of the feds,” she said. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, unveiled a $695 million emergency budget proposal that would use state money to address needs related to the coronavirus.
Sen. Scott calls for study on use of canines to screen airport travelers for COVID-19
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – COVID-19 detecting dogs are being trained in North Florida, and they may have a future with the Transportation Security Administration. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is one of the lawmakers asking for more information about using canines in airports to detect COVID-19. Scott and U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on Monday announced the Fly Safe Canine COVID Detection Act. It directs the TSA to conduct a feasibility study on the use of canines to screen travelers at airports for COVID-19. We asked him what he thinks about the Senate bill on using canines in airports and how it could work.
How senators from Florida & Georgia voted in Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial
The U.S. senators from Florida and Georgia voted along party lines in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. Here’s how each senator from Florida and Georgia voted and their statements:Sen. Marco RubioSen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., voted to acquit Trump. “In the 244 year history of our Republic we have never convicted and disqualified a former official in an impeachment trial. I’ll continue fighting to make Washington work and get things done for Florida families.”Sen. Jon OssoffSen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., voted to convict Trump. — Jon Ossoff (@ossoff) February 13, 2021Sen. Raphael WarnockSen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., also voted to convict Trump.
New report on JEA investigation; Sen. Rick Scott on upcoming impeachment trial; toxic political conversations
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond discusses the recent report on the JEA investigation. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, talks about the upcoming impeachment trial and holding people accountable for the Capitol siege. And Writer CEO May Habib explains how the ugliness in political conversations online has gotten toxic.
Donor backlash fuels GOP alarm about Senate fundraising
The GOP already faces a difficult Senate map in 2022, when 14 Democratic-held seats and 20 Republican ones will be on the ballot. That includes at least two open seats that Republicans will be defending because of the retirements of GOP Sens. One of those lawmakers, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, is the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a post that makes him the public face of the Senate Republican fundraising efforts. But two senior Republican strategists involved in Senate races say the cumulative effect of the companies' decisions could have a bigger impact. That puts more pressure on the NRSC and the leading Senate Republican outside group, Senate Leadership Fund, to cover the difference.
Florida has nearly half of known US cases of COVID variant
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – New data from the Centers for Disease Control shows Florida has nearly half the known cases in the United States of a mutated and likely more contagious strain of the coronavirus. The development came Friday as Florida reported nearly 20,000 more cases in a single day. A CDC map shows that Florida had 22 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant that emerged in Britain. It showed other cases in California, which has reported 26 cases, Colorado with two, and New York and Georgia each with one reported case. Statistics from the Florida Department of Health showed Friday's total of new coronavirus cases — 19,530 — almost reached the previous day's record of 19,816 new daily cases.
Which Florida, Georgia lawmakers voted to overturn Biden’s electors?
Lawmakers were resolved to complete their constitutional duty despite frayed nerves, high tensions and the nation’s capital on alert. The only other challenge was to the Pennsylvania electors, but that was also debated and denied. Florida Sen. Rick Scott was one of only eight in the nation who voted to sustain one or both objections. Florida’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, voted with the majority to accept the Electoral College vote and called on Trump to do more to help restore order. In the House, 12 Florida congressmen and six from Georgia voted to object to either the Arizona or Pennsylvania slate of Biden electors.
Florida Sens. Rubio, Scott split on votes to certify Biden’s election win
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)The Senate overwhelmingly turned aside challenges to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, guaranteeing the result will stand. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. The Republicans -- both allies of outgoing President Donald Trump, split, however, on a later vote over a legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s election. Rubio and Scott were among a myriad of Florida Republicans who rushed to condemn Wednesday’s violence in the halls of Congress. Florida Democrats blamed Wednesday’s violence on Republican lawmakers who supported Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Sen. Rick Scott votes against $900B COVID-19 relief package
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)There was minimal opposition when the U.S. Senate passed a $900 billion economic relief package Monday night, but one of six senators to vote against the spending bill was Florida Sen. Rick Scott. “I supported and fought for many of the Covid provisions in last night’s bill,” Scott tweeted Tuesday. “Unfortunately they were attached to an omnibus spending bill that was thousands of pages long and chock full of handouts to special interests and wasteful spending. Unfortunately they were attached to an omnibus spending bill that was thousands of pages long and chock full of handouts to special interests and wasteful spending. Scott expressed support for provisions intended to help buoy small businesses, ward off layoffs and give more help to the unemployed.
US gives Florida wider authority over wetland development
Florida accounts for about a fifth of the country’s wetlands and includes the Everglades, among the state’s most important environmental jewels. “The fact is that Florida’s proposed program to take over wetlands permitting doesn’t comply with federal environmental laws,” she said. Florida becomes the third state to gain broader permitting authority of wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. Florida's request to gain sole permitting authority was launched under the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, took on that mantle and earlier this year formally petitioned the federal government to transfer that authority.
I-TEAM: Big businesses benefit more from PPP loans than small ‘mom and pops’
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With business down almost across the board because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, local companies are relying on government PPP loans to keep them going. “Help the people that lost their jobs, help our small businesses, make sure our schools get open.”Scott complained that the majority of the money is bailing out huge corporations instead of supporting small businesses. He’s pushing an amendment that would only help companies that can prove a substantial reduction in revenue from COVID-19. The I-TEAM has analyzed government documents showing that more than 32,000 businesses have gotten federal help in Northeast Florida; 14,000 in the city of Jacksonville alone. However, the median loan amount in Northeast Florida is $21,207, a much smaller piece of the pie.
Tuition hikes back on table for Florida universities
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s been more than seven years since Florida Universities raised tuition. And this year lawmakers face a pandemic induced $2.7 billion decline in revenue, which has them putting tuition hikes back on the table. At $6,370, university tuition in Florida, before fees, is the second lowest in the nation. In the end, any tuition hike would have to get the OK from the governor, and Gov. So far, United Faculty of Florida, the union representing professors, hasn’t taken a position on supporting a tuition hike.
Sen. Scott presses for COVID-19 vaccine information
The CDC required all states to submit vaccine distribution plans. But Scott said in the letter that the CDC has only made executive summaries -- and not the full state plans -- available on its website. “Transparent and detailed information should be available to Americans on their state’s plans for vaccine distribution. Does the CDC plan to make the states’ full vaccine distribution plans publicly available?” Scott wrote in the letter. The Florida Department of Health last month proposed a three-phase vaccine distribution plan that would ensure front-line health care workers, long-term care staff and long-term care residents are the first to receive the shots.
Jacksonville has reported over 40,000 COVID-19 cases in 8 months
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville surpassed a milestone Saturday in its reported COVID-19 cases. Duval County added 371 newly confirmed coronavirus cases to push the county to 40,369 cases since the pandemic began. In data from the Florida Department of Health, another 8,410 cases were reported statewide, bringing Florida’s total to 931,828 cases. In Northeast Florida, Alachua County added 96 cases to reach 12,272; Clay County added 78 cases (7,356) and St. Johns County added 71 (7,952). Over the past week, Florida averaged more than 7,390 newly reported cases per day, an increase from about 2,250 at the start of October, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Florida's Sen. Scott has coronavirus, 'very mild symptoms'
Scott, 67, has been quarantining at home all week after coming into contact in Florida on Nov. 13 with someone who subsequently tested positive. Scott, a Republican, said he was “feeling good” despite the mild symptoms and would be working at his home in Naples. “I want to remind everyone to be careful and do the right things to protect yourselves and others,” Scott said in a statement. House members could be regularly tested in the Capitol starting this week, but there is still no testing protocol for senators. Ashley Hinson, 37, said she would participate in this week's House orientation virtually as she quarantined with her family in Iowa.
Sen. Rick Scott tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., announced Friday morning on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this week, Scott said he was in self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. After several negative tests, I learned I was positive for COVID-19 this AM. — Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) November 20, 2020In Friday’s update, he said his positive test followed several negative tests. Quarantine if you come in contact with someone positive like I did,” Scott said in a statement released by his office.
Too soon? Georgia draws next class of White House hopefuls
Georgia would like a few moments of presidential campaign time. The state has fast become a stage for the cast of possible Republican presidential candidates after President Donald Trump's defeat. Meanwhile, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has sent a flurry of fundraising emails coaxing rank-and-file Republicans to bankroll the Georgia runoff campaigns. “Until there is a cure for Trumpism, the 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls will remain as frozen as a COVID vaccine,” Tyler quipped. For Democrats, there’s less future presidential intrigue to blend into the Georgia campaign.
Sen. Scott quarantines out of ‘abundance of caution’
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said this weekend he was in a self-quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. “After arriving in Florida last night, I came into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for COVID,” Scott said in a Twitter post Saturday. I have no symptoms, but out of an abundance of caution, I will be immediately quarantining.”As of Monday morning, Scott had not provided updates on his status. Scott entered a similar self-quarantine in March after having contact in Miami with a member of a Brazilian delegation who tested positive for the coronavirus. As in the current case, Scott reported no symptoms and was back on the Senate floor within 13 days to vote on a federal stimulus package.
Sen. Scott seeks information on rapid tests
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent a letter Thursday to federal Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and governors throughout the country asking for detailed information about the distribution of rapid “antigen” tests for COVID-19. The request included information about how many tests have been distributed to each state and how the states subsequently are parceling out the tests. In his letter, Scott asked Azar whether the Department of Health and Human Services has distribution information from the states. Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus and come back within 15 minutes. However, antigen tests can have false negatives, and results may need to be confirmed with molecular tests.