Sunshine State News Blogs
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday a rule that could mean passengers soon will not have to put down their riveting kindle books as they wait for takeoff and landing.
FAA administrator Michael Huerta said that airlines can safely allow the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in "airplane mode" during all phases of air travel. The decision came in response to a September report from a group assembled to study the request that came from consumer demand. The Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which began investigating the issue in January, determined:
- Most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from PEDs.
- The FAA should provide airlines with new procedures to assess if their airplanes can tolerate radio interference from PEDs.
- Once an airline verifies their fleet is PED tolerant, it may allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones, at all altitudes.
- In some instances of severe weather with low-visibility, the crew should continue to instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing.
“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on airplanes,” said Huerta.
The new recommendation, which will be music to most passengers' ears, stops short of allowing travelers to make voice phone calls in flight, because the action is prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission.
A new poll of Florida voters shows nearly two-thirds support the Florida Legislature establishing a limited number of "high-quality destination resort casinos" in the state to create new jobs and boost economic development.
The survey of 601 likely Florida voters, conducted by The Tarrance Group, also found that respondents have a negative view (67 percent) of Internet gambling in the state.
"The opinion of Florida voters is clear. When it comes to destination resorts, the answer is an overwhelming yes. But voters know what they like and what they don’t, and they overwhelmingly reject Internet gaming," said Dave Sackett, founding partner of The Tarrance Group. "It would be reasonable to conclude that Florida voters recognize the economic benefits of destination resorts, but also see the pitfalls posed by unregulated online gambling."
More than three in five Florida voters – 61 percent – said they would favor the Florida Legislature approving a limited number of new gaming operations in the state as a way to create new jobs and boost economic development. Only 35 percent of Florida voters would be opposed to this. Three percent said they were unsure.
The Tarrance Group, based in Washington, D.C., conducted this poll of 601 likely Florida voters Oct. 20-22. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
A day after former state CFO Alex Sink announced she was running for the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Bill Young, liberal group Emily’s List announced they were backing her, withdrawing their support from Jessica Ehrlich.
“Alex Sink has an outstanding record of public service and business leadership, and she’ll be ready to use her experience to fight for Florida in Congress from the day she takes office,” said Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, on Thursday. Schriock insisted that Sink, who lives outside the district in Hillsborough County, has ties to the Pinellas County district. “Alex has a long history of doing business in Pinellas County and working to improve the community for women and working families, which is probably why voters are already so excited about her leadership. Alex won Pinellas County in her campaigns for both chief financial officer and governor. The Emily’s List community – now more than 2 million members strong – is excited to have the opportunity to help Alex Sink become the first Democratic woman to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District.”
No mention was made in Emily List’s release about their past support of Ehrlich.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took to the airwaves after the Senate shot down his call for unanimous consent to approve his bill to delay the individual mandate included in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law due to the continued problems with Healthcare.gov.
Rubio appeared on Greta Van Sustren’s program on Fox News on Wednesday night to weigh in on the health care law.
“I want to fully repeal Obamacare,” Rubio said. “I think we’re going to have to. As this thing rolls out, we are going to continue to see the disaster that it is and the impact that it’s having on people. But in the interim, we’re having real people call us every day about how concerned they are about the impact that it’s having on them. Here is why: Next year if they don’t have health insurance that complies with Obamacare, the IRS is going to fine them, but the website they’re supposed to go on to buy that insurance doesn’t work. And so my bill is pretty straightforward. It’s kind of a common-sense thing. It just says that you can’t start enforcing those fines on people until the website is fully functional, and I don’t understand why, but the Democrats have opposed it. I guess I do understand why and that is at this point, they are against any changes to the law even if the law is hurting people.”
The Hess Corp. unanimously selected the Florida Lottery as one of five supplier partners to receive the 2013 Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award for supporting their business initiatives and long-term growth strategies, making the Florida Lottery the first lottery nationwide to be nominated for the award.
“It is an honor to be the first Lottery nationwide to be nominated and to receive this exemplary award,” said Florida Lottery Secretary Cynthia O’Connell. “The Hess Corporation is a fantastic Lottery retailer and constantly works to increase sales and provide excellent customer service to our players.”
Hess selected the Florida Lottery to receive this award for several reasons, including the delivery of incentive programs that rewarded Hess for achieving superior sales results, driving sales with various promotions throughout the year, great alignment with the Lottery executive team and sales representatives. Additionally, through support from the Lottery team at all levels, Hess was able to "jump past other major C-store chains in terms of sales and percentages of sales increases," according to a press release from the Florida Lottery.
The Hess Corp. began selling Lottery tickets on Jan.12, 1988. According to the Florida Lottery, to-date Lottery ticket sales at Florida Hess locations have amounted to more than $1.1 billion, generating more than $349 million for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.
“The Suncoast Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union voted unanimously to endorse Jessica Ehrlich for Congress in Florida’s 13th District,” said Suncoast Area President Don Delgman in a statement released Wednesday. “We will be proud to support Jessica in her quest to provide solid solutions for the everyday problems of Floridians.”
“Our postal workers are an important part of one of our greatest American institutions,” Ehrlich said of the union. “I am proud to stand with them as we continue to fight for the hard-working men and women of Pinellas County."
APWU represents more than 220,000 U.S. Postal Service employees and retirees, as well as nearly 2,000 mail workers working in the private sector, making it the world's largest postal union.
Gov. Rick Scott has not yet set a date for a special election to replace the late Rep. Bill Young, who passed away almost two weeks ago after being hospitalized with back problems. At the time of his death, Young was the longest serving Republican member of Congress.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ken., announced on Wednesday that he has issued a warning to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that he could place a hold on Janet Yellen’s nomination to be chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.
“Yesterday, I notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid I am placing a hold on Janet Yellen's nomination to be chair of the Federal Reserve - unless Senator Reid agrees to first debate and have an up-or-down, roll call vote on my Audit the Fed legislation,” Paul informed supporters on Wednesday. “Before I even made my hold official, the Fed's allies in the D.C. establishment had begun plotting against us.
“In fact, when asked if Harry Reid would allow a vote, a top Democrat aide stated, ‘I kind of doubt it.'" Reid added before promising to “turn up the grassroots pressure on each and every senator to stand with the almost 75 percent of Americans who support auditing the Federal Reserve.”
A new Rasmussen Reports poll found 33 percent of American adults believe the U.S. economy will be stronger in a year, but 41 percent believe it will be weaker a year from now. Only 19 percent expect the economy to be the same.
When it comes to the economy five years from now, more Americans are optimistic. Thirty-nine percent say the U.S. economy will be stronger five years from today, while 29 percent say the economy will be weaker in the future.
Americans are more closely divided on whether the country is heading towards another Great Depression. Forty-four percent feel one is at least somewhat likely, while 46 percent disagree.
The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on October 25-26, 2013. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
Only hours after she said she would leave Hillsborough County and move to Pinellas County to run for the open congressional seat formerly held by the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., former Florida CFO Alex Sink continues to draw fire from Republicans.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) launched a website on Wednesday attacking Sink, hitting her record as state CFO.
“How can Florida families trust Alex Sink in Washington when she wasted their money at home with no remorse?” asked Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC. “ After wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars as the Chief Financial Officer for Florida through risky investments and losing billions through Florida’s state pension fund, it’s clear that Sink has no problem hurting Florida seniors and families. The truth of the matter is, Floridians can’t trust Alex Sink’s poor judgment in Congress.”
A poll of likely voters released on Wednesday finds Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has closed the gap against former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe in next week’s Virginia gubernatorial election. Quinnipiac University finds McAuliffe in the lead with 45 percent with Cuccinelli right behind him with 41 percent. Libertarian Robert Sarvis continues to poll strong, taking 9 percent.
Polls released last week showed McAuliffe starting to pull away from the Republican.
"State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is nipping at Terry McAuliffe's heels as the race to be Virginia's next governor enters the final week of the campaign," said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "It goes without saying that turnout is the key to this race and the harshly negative tone of the campaign is the kind that often turns off voters."
Brown said Sarvis could lose support in the final week which could prove decisive.
"With the race this close, the final decision by the roughly one in 10 voters who are supporting Libertarian Robert Sarvis has become even more critical,” Brown said. “Nationally, third-party candidates often lose support in the end as voters enter the voting booth and back someone they consider the lesser of two evils. Only six in 10 Sarvis supporters say they definitely will vote for him. Almost nine in 10 McAuliffe and Cuccinelli backers are committed.
"Cuccinelli seems to be benefitting from Republicans coming home, but McAuliffe still does a little better among Democrats than Cuccinelli does among GOPers,” Brown added. “And, McAuliffe leads among independents, perhaps the key voting group. It is difficult to see Cuccinelli winning if he can't run at least even or slightly ahead among independents. Here, too, Sarvis' voters matter greatly since the Libertarian is getting 16 percent of independents, but only 9 percent overall."
The poll of 1,182 likely voters was taken from Oct. 22-Oct. 28 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percent.
State Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, is co-sponsoring Sen. Jeremy Ring’s, D-Margate, bill reforming local government pensions.
“There are four hundred, ninety two police and fire pension plans in the state of Florida. Sixty-one percent of these plans are underfunded,” Bradley said on Wednesday. “When you combine the poor funding ratios with an increasing population of retirees, you have a ticking time bomb on your hands.”
Ring’s bill would ensure local governments with long-term funded ratios below 80 percent use 50 percent of tax revenues to fill the gaps.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is encouraging Floridians to share their frustrations with President Barack Obama’s federal health care law at his official website.
“Behind Obamacare’s numbers and statistics are real people that are being hurt by this law’s early failures and broken promises, and we need to tell their stories,” said Rubio on Wednesday. “While I continue to pursue common sense relief for the people being impacted by Obamacare’s website failures, rising costs and loss of health plans, their real world accounts must be shared far and wide because they remind us of the urgency to help people right away.
“I urge Floridians to share their stories with me and make crystal clear that Obamacare’s problems aren’t talking points cooked up by political parties or in some think tank,” added Rubio. “They are real, they are hurting people and they are breaking all kinds of promises that were made to get Obamacare passed.”
Former state CFO Alex Sink told the Tampa Bay Times that she plans to run for the congressional seat formerly held by the late U.S. Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla.--and she is already drawing Republican fire.
The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) noted that, when she said she would not seek a rematch with Gov. Rick Scott, Sink said, “I have decided that the best way for me to make a positive and lasting impact on our state is to continue the work we’ve started together. I plan to continue my involvement with the Florida Next Foundation, working to build a state of innovation and inspiring the next generation of young Florida leaders.”
The RPOF also insisted that Sink was afraid of taking on Scott again and opted for a much easier contest even though she does not live in the Pinellas County district Young represented.
"The last time Alex Sink ran for office, she failed to live up to the public's trust by cheating at a debate with Governor Rick Scott,” said RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry. “But that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her record of failure in the private sector and in government. As a bank president, she allowed deceptive sales and predatory lending practices under her watch. As Charlie Crist's first mate in state government, the Crist-Sink team saddled Florida with $5.2 billion in debt. Why would we trust her with taxpayer dollars in Congress?"
Volusia County fern grower John Hoblick has been re-elected to a two-year term as president of the Florida Farm Bureau.
Voting delegates selected Hoblick unanimously at the organization’s annual meeting last week in Ponte Vedra Beach.
“I am honored to have been selected again for this position by our Farm Bureau members,” Hoblick said. “I look forward to another period of great success for the largest agricultural organization in our state.”
Hoblick has served in the post since 2006.
Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State's largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing farm bureaus in 60 counties.
More evidence of a loosey-goosey environment at taxpayers' expense.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics -- yes, a federal agency -- has just produced data showing a government worker is 38 percent more likely to be absent from work for personal reasons or illnesses than a private-sector worker.
Not only that, government workers miss 50 percent more of their usual work hours as a result of those absences than private-sector workers do.
Could this have anything to do with EHJS -- Extremely High Job Security, as described in Monday's "Washington Fat Cats Still Aren't Learning from Private Employers" in Sunshine State News? The bureau doesn't say, of course. It sticks with the facts.
The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey rounds up the worker data every month from 60,000 households. It always includes information on employment status, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses all of it to publish employment statistics.
It's all very prescriptive. The survey is conducted during the week that includes the 19th day of the month and any questions asked that reference a particular week apply to the week that includes the 12th day of the month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains it this way, according to CNSnews.com: “When an employed wage and salary worker who usually works 35 hours per week is reported as having worked fewer than 35 hours during the survey reference week (including those with jobs who worked zero hours), a question is asked as to why he or she worked fewer than 35 hours.
“Workers whose reasons for missing work include their own illness or other personal reasons (such as family responsibilities or transportation problems) are counted as having had an absence. Those who are reported as having worked fewer than 35 hours because of vacation, holiday, labor-management dispute, or bad weather which results in an employer temporarily curtailing business activities are not counted as having an absence.”
The data taken wasn't an outlier. The bureau says it produced virtually the same results during the prior year -- 4 percent of government workers absent from work in the typical reference week compared to 2.9 percent of private-sector workers.
That means a government worker was 38 percent more likely to be absent than a private-sector worker.
The point here is, government workers also missed more of their usual work hours as a result of these absences than private-sector workers did. The bureau claims in 2012, workers missed 1.4 percent of their usual work hours as a result of absences and government workers missed 2.1 percent of their usual work hours because of absences.
It doesn't take a genius to see government workers missed 50 percent more of their usual work hours as a result of absences than private-sector workers did.
Doesn't it sound to anyone else that about now, government could use a more Houston-we've-got-a-problem attitude?
Norm Singleton, the vice president of policy for the Campaign for Liberty, sounded the alarm on Tuesday afternoon. Paul is the chairman of the Campaign for Liberty.
“I'm furious,” Singleton wrote supporters. “Yesterday at a meeting on Capitol Hill, a Senate staffer informed me that powerful Wall Street lobbyists were generating calls opposing Senator Rand Paul's plan to use Janet Yellen's nomination to be the new Fed chair to push for a vote on Audit the Fed.
Bashing “Wall Street bankers and their well-funded lobbying machine,” Singleton claimed “one weapon the bankers don't have -- and that's the support of nearly 75 percent of the American people.”
Singleton promised to “mobilize millions of Americans to turn up the heat on the Senate to force a vote on Audit the Fed.”
Economist and business owner Farid Khavari is making a second gubernatorial bid, this time as a Democrat.
Khavari ran with no party affiliation in 2010 with Darcy Richardson as his running mate for lieutenant governor. Richardson, who lives in Jacksonville, may have been more familiar to many political activists and junkies in the state than Khavari was. Besides serving as the campaign manager for former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s independent presidential campaign, Richardson is an expert on third-party politics, having written a multi-volume history on them and he also writes in various media outlets. When the dust settled, Khavari had just less than 7,500 votes, taking 0.15 percent of the total vote.
Filing this week to run for governor, Khavari is now running for the Democratic nomination. The centerpiece of Khavari’s campaign back in 2010 was creating a state bank -- an issue that was also at the core of Brian Moore’s bid against state CFO Alex Sink in the Democratic primary that year.
The senior Obama official closest to the administration's glitchy health-care website apologized Tuesday for problems that have caused issues for Americans trying to sign up for health care.
"I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should," Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner said as she began her testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. Tavenner is the first senior official to publicly answer questions from lawmakers about the problematic website.
She refused to provide current enrollment numbers, saying repeatedly they will not be available until mid-November.
"We expect the initial numbers to be small," said Tavenner of the enrollment numbers.
The website has drawn considerable criticism as a result of numerous glitches when the site froze up the day it was launched, Oct. 1.
As a result of widespread sign-up problems, some lawmakers are calling for a one-year postponement of the law's tax penalties for the remaining uninsured. The insurance industry warns that would saddle the new system with too many high-cost patients.
President Obama himself acknowledged the website was riddled with problems last week and vowed to fix the website issues.
Florida's District 27 Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has become the second Republican co-sponsor of HR 15, the bipartisan immigration reform bill proponents hope will win over Speak John Boehner in the House. And PICO Florida came forward Tuesday to thank her publicly for it.
The bill draws on ideas from both sides of the aisle, and PICO believes it's gaining momentum as a legitimate vehicle for a path to citizenship with a growing list of co-sponsors.
Eddie Carmona, PICO National Networks campaign manager for the Campaign for Citizenship, issued a statement to salute Ros-Lehtinen:
"Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has demonstrated that she is a champion of the 11 million aspiring Americans by taking a bold, first step toward achieving reform of our broken immigration system. This move shows us that she is willing not only to speak up for the immigrant community, but will act to find a real legislative solution to the devastating problem facing our communities."
Said Carmona, "HR 15 is a serious vehicle for achieving consensus on reform. Nearly everyone agrees that the current system is broken, and now Republicans in the House like Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., are helping to build the pressure on Speaker Boehner to schedule a vote. Majority support for reform with a path to citizenship exists in the House, and we hope more Republicans step forward to build the momentum for action on reform."
PICO United Florida is a network of federations of congregations in Orange, Alachua, Seminole, Escambia, Miami-Dade, St. Lucie, and Osceola counties. Its 90 congregations represent more than 60,000 families and "unite low- to moderate-income communities in Florida to work for systemic change."
The Florida Highway Patrol announced on Tuesday they will be ramping up operations against drunk drivers just in time for Halloween -- not to mention the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville and the showdown of two undefeated teams -- Miami and Florida State -- in Tallahassee which could have national title implications.
The Florida Highway Patrol will be taking part in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 as they look to crack down against impaired drivers.
"Florida has the best principals in the nation, displaying the kind of leadership their schools and communities consistently need," wrote Stewart. "It’s no secret that the past few years have been challenging as our state has raised its standards and expected more from its students. However, I know from my own experience as an elementary and high school principal that a productive, positive culture starts at the top."
Stewart herself was, at one time, a principal of Reddick-Collier Elementary in Marion County. The school, which was an "F" school when the first-year grades were released, jumped two letter grades in a year as a result of what Stewart refers to as "pushing through" and establishing school-wide expectations to attain student success.
Principals, according to Stewart, are key to excellence in education.
"Principals set the tone for the school," she said. "In addition to leading their staff, it is crucial that they establish a school culture where academics come first and where involvement and accessibility are key. As many of you know, students and teachers perform best when they feel supported by their principal."
Stewart had high words of praise for principals in the Sunshine State.
"Their support of classroom instruction continues to move our state forward and better prepares students for successful paths to college and careers," said Stewart. "I truly appreciate all they do each day to empower their staff, inform parents and inspire students to work toward a brighter tomorrow."
Poor families across the country will have smaller food budgets beginning Friday, as stimulus funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) automatically expires. The 13.6 percent boost in SNAP benefits the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act instituted in April 2009 ends Nov. 1.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities discovered that the cut will amount to $29 per month less for an average family of three. They will be left with $319 per year or $1.40 per person per meal, based on cost estimates from the Department of Agriculture's "Thrifty Food Plan."
Every SNAP recipient will experience reduced benefits because the funding increase came from federal dollars. The CBPP says ending the additional funding will ultimately save the government $5 billion in 2014.
The 41 members of the Senate and House Farm Bill conference committee will meet Wednesday to discuss future cuts to SNAP.
Christmas has arrived for the Florida Lottery as it debuted its six new holiday-themed scratch-off games on Tuesday. These games include: $1 million SEASON’S GREETINGS, HOLIDAY GIFT, SEASON’S GOLD, HO HO HO LOTTA CASH; and HOLIDAY DELIGHT, and range in price from $1 to $10, featuring more than $100 million in prizes combined.
Another game, the $2 scratch-off game, CHOCOLATE COVERED 7’S, is scheduled to launch on Dec. 3.
For $10, lottery players have the chance to win up to $1 million with the $1 million SEASON’S GREETINGS scratch-off game. The game features more than $30 million in total cash prizes, and has overall odds of winning of 1-in-3.41.
The $5 scratch-off game, HOLIDAY GIFT, offers players the chance to win up to $250,000. With four colorful scenes, this game offers more than 1.4 million winning tickets and the game’s overall odds of winning are 1-in-4.05.
The $2 scratch-off game, SEASON’S GOLD, features more than $12.5 million in cash prizes with eight top prizes of $25,000. The overall odds of winning are 1-in-4.36.
Players can also play the $2 scratch-off game, HO HO HO LOTTA CASH, which features more than 2 million winning tickets, including 12 top prizes of $25,000. The overall odds of winning are 1-in-4.38.
For $1, players have the chance to win up to $5,000 with HOLIDAY DELIGHT. The overall odds of winning are 1-in-4.87.
Scratch-off games are an important part of the Lottery’s portfolio of games, comprising approximately 60 percent of ticket sales and generating more than $575 million for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund (EETF) in fiscal year 2012-13.
On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott named Brian Hamman to the Lee County Commission. Hamman takes over from Tamara Hall who resigned her seat. Currently the manager of market development for CenturyLink, Hamman used to work for Fox 4 and WINK News. Hamman’s term starts on Tuesday and ends Nov. 25, 2014.
“Brian will serve the families of Lee County with honesty and integrity,” Scott said. "As a lifelong resident of Lee County, I am confident that he will make a great commissioner and will help create jobs and opportunities for the families of the area.”
After getting 1 percent in the 2012 presidential election as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico is remaining active, calling for an end to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs. Johnson spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C., on the NSA this weekend, made a host of media appearances and sent out an email late Monday on the issue.
“I find it more than a little amusing that German Chancellor [Angela] Merkel, the Spanish government, and our friends in France and Mexico are demanding explanations for NSA’s spying on them,” Johnson wrote supporters. “We Americans can sympathize. But we don’t need explanations. We need the NSA surveillance on innocent Americans to stop. Nations spy on each other; there’s nothing shocking about that. But when our government turns its massive surveillance machine on its own citizens, that’s another matter entirely.”
Johnson called for supporters “to turn up the heat on the politicians who, frankly, don’t get it. They don’t understand that, as I told the crowd in Washington Saturday, we are ‘mad as hell.’"
On Monday, Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s legislation cracking down on scams targeting veterans and streamlining the VA claims process passed the U.S. House after being included in a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. Rooney’s bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Oreg.
“As a veteran myself, I am outraged by the actions of those who would prey on America’s elderly and disabled veterans,” Rooney said. “These financial predators are scamming elderly veterans out of their life savings, while undermining the VA pension program for the veterans who rely on it. By creating a three-year look-back period, we can put an end to this fraud against our nation’s heroes while strengthening the VA pension program.”
Voters show strong support for increasing the use of unmanned drone aircraft to kill terrorists overseas, but when it comes to using such drones in the skies in the U.S., voters don't tend to feel the same way.
According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 69 percent of likely U.S. voters favor the use of unmanned drone aircraft to kill al-Qaida and Taliban terrorists overseas while 20 percent oppose the use of drones to kill terrorists overseas.
General support for drone killings is unchanged from May but down from 76 percent in February 2012, just after President Obama acknowledged the program’s existence. Opposition to drone use is up from 14 percent in May.
Sixty-four percent believe it’s at least somewhat likely that drone strikes overseas have killed more innocent civilians than the U.S. government is officially reporting, but just 21 percent consider that unlikely.
When it comes to drone usage on American soil, likely voters are less comfortable about using drones on U.S. citizens abroad and at home. Only 38 percent favor the government’s use of drones to kill U.S. citizens overseas who pose a terrorist threat, while nearly the same number -- 39 percent -- are opposed.
More than half of likely voters -- 66 percent -- oppose the use of unmanned drones by police agencies in the United States. Only 18 percent said they favor such usage of drones.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Oct. 24-25. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.
Two Florida Republicans -- U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Trey Radel -- teamed up on Monday to introduce a bill delaying the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law until six months after the exchange website gets the approval of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Last week, Rubio said he would introduce a bill to help Americans who continue to have problems accessing the website.
“It is unacceptable that Americans will soon be forced to pay a fine for not purchasing insurance when the very websites they are supposed to use for purchasing it have been rendered useless from numerous glitches and technical errors,” said Rubio. “Americans already have too many financial burdens for Washington to go adding another useless and unjust tax, especially when that tax punishes the American people for the government’s own errors. I believe Obamacare must eventually be entirely repealed and replaced, but until that becomes possible we must continue to focus on protecting Americans from the law’s ongoing problems.”
“The president has given big business and corporations an exemption from his signature law, it only seems fair to give you and your family a break from the fine as well,” said Radel. “The Rubio-Radel bill ensures the Obamacare fine will be delayed until the administration can show Healthcare.gov and all other sign-up options are fully functional.”
Speaking at the Florida Democratic Party’s convention in Orlando over the weekend, former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich directed most of her fire at Gov. Rick Scott, but she also threw a few jabs at looming primary rival former Gov. Charlie Crist.
“I remain the only serious Democratic candidate in the governor’s race,” Rich said. “But I have a sneaking suspicion that’s going to change soon. Rumor has it that Charlie Crist will soon announce he’s running again.
“Now, I know that being a woman, a mom, and a grandmother probably gives me an unfair advantage over Charlie – but he does have a lot of experience running for statewide offices – he’s run five times, you know – so I’m not taking his candidacy lightly,” Rich added. “Seriously, there’s no denying that Charlie Crist has a lot of style. But with so many Floridians still out of work, with so many seniors on waiting lists for care, with so many children’s lives negligently lost by a broken social services system, with so much at stake in how we manage our environmental resources – I truly believe this election will be more about substance than style, and I believe it must be if we are to get Florida back on the right track.”
Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., weighed in on Monday on what President Barack Obama should do regarding the National Security Agency (NSA) after revelations it was spying on foreign leaders. LeMieux, who served briefly in the Senate but has remained active in public affairs since leaving it, took to Twitter and suggested Obama should come clean on whether the NSA has been spying on prominent Americans.
“With revelations of NSA spying on world leaders, Barack Obama should confirm NSA not spying on America's leaders,” LeMieux posted on Twitter on Monday.
LeMieux is clearly trying to get his message out, asking for followers to retweet it.