President Obama, GOP strike hopeful tone on budget, Zika

Comments Off on President Obama, GOP strike hopeful tone on budget, Zika

Striking a conciliatory tone after an Oval Office sitdown, President Barack Obama and the top Senate Republican declared themselves hopeful Monday that an agreement can be reached to keep the government running and to provide money to take care of the worsening Zika crisis.

  • President Obama, Senate Republicans meet on Zika
  • GOP leaders seem ready to drop provisions blocking $ 1.9 billion in Zika funding
  • ZIKA: What you need to know

"I was encouraged by some of the constructive work that’s being done right now," Obama said after his meeting with the top four congressional leaders, two from each party.

Long-sought provisions to provide money to deal with Zika look likely to be added to a must-pass spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 9.

Entering the Capitol after the meeting, Senate Majority Leader McConnell told reporters that the group "talked about wrapping up the funding issue and I think we’re all in a very good place to do that on a bipartisan basis pretty quickly."

Obama, for his part, said his "hope is that by the time Congress adjourns, before the election, that we will have an agreement in place to fund the government and that Zika funding will be taken care of."

His remarks in the Oval Office, with congressional leaders looking on, represented a marked shift in tone from a preview of the meeting provided by his spokesman just hours earlier.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest had said reasonable people could probably figure out a solution to the issues "in a couple of hours," but added that "unfortunately, they’re stuck with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan being responsible for this," referring to the Republican leaders in the Senate and House.

Conservative opposition to the emerging deal remains, but negotiators worked through the weekend on the details. The Zika money has stalled since Obama first requested $ 1.9 billion in February, but congressional Republican leaders seem likely to jettison provisions opposed by Democrats restricting any of the money from going to affiliates of Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico.

Speaking on the Senate floor in advance of the White House meeting, McConnell confirmed that he expected action by week’s end on a funding bill including Zika money.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said his staff was working "diligently" toward a solution, and he called on Republicans to "get away from their vendetta against Planned Parenthood … Planned Parenthood should not be part of Zika funding."

It comes as government scientists step up their warnings about the spread of the virus, which can cause devastating birth defects. More than 670 pregnant women in the states and Washington, D.C., have the virus, leading to the birth of at least 17 babies with microcephaly so far.

On Friday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Thomas Frieden said that "we are now essentially out of money" and warned that the country is "about to see a bunch of kids born with microcephaly" in the coming months.

Obama, just back from a trip to Asia, invited the GOP leaders, Ryan and McConnell, and their counterparts, Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The lawmakers have been back from a seven-week summer recess for only a week but already are eager to depart again so that vulnerable lawmakers of both parties can campaign for re-election. The government funding bill is the only must-pass piece of legislation ahead of the election and thus has become the vehicle for the Zika provisions.

Also on the agenda for the president and legislators: a request from Louisiana’s governor for $ 2.8 billion in federal assistance to help the state recover from devastating flooding. Gov. John Bel Edwards last week had requested $ 2 billion, but upped the amount on Monday. Louisiana’s GOP-dominated congressional delegation sent Obama a letter Monday urging him to submit a disaster aid request so that Congress can act on it this year, though it fell short of indicating that the funding should be added to the stopgap spending bill.

Obama said they discussed the need for disaster relief in Louisiana and elsewhere, but gave no specifics on the conversation.

Obama’s priorities for a lame-duck postelection session of Congress also were on the table, including Obama’s one major remaining foreign policy priority, the 12-nation Asia free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership. During his recent trip to Asia, Obama repeatedly called on Congress to pass what the White House considers a legacy-burnishing deal.

The president said he was hopeful about being able to "get things done" with Congress on issues including criminal justice reform when legislators meet again after the elections.

Bay News 9 – news

September 13, 2016 |

School choice, budget, tax cuts among new Florida laws

Comments Off on School choice, budget, tax cuts among new Florida laws

Florida legislators passed 279 bills during this year’s session three months ago, and 161 of them take effect on Friday with the start of the state’s fiscal year, affecting school choice, rape kit testing, tax cuts and many more aspects of life in the Sunshine State.

  • 161 new laws take effect Friday in Florida
  • Tax cuts, gay marriage and school choice among the measures
  • Rape kit testing must be done within 30 days of start of investigation

A law redefining when abortions can be performed and preventing state funds from going to an organization that also provides abortions will not take effect as scheduled, after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction late Thursday. The move comes after a Texas law restricting abortions was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday.

Here’s a roundup of some of the measures taking effect:

BUDGET: The $ 82.3 billion budget was passed by a combined vote of 159-1. It includes more than $ 700 million for school construction and $ 203.8 million for Everglades restoration.

TAX CUTS: Two will benefit most Floridians. Property taxes should drop along with a reduction in in local millage rates, and a three-day sales tax holiday Aug. 5-7 should help back-to-school shoppers. Other highlights include a permanent sales tax exemption for manufacturing equipment and machinery, beverage tax-reductions on pear cider, and a drop in the tax rate on aviation fuel.

MARRIAGE: Clergy with religious objections don’t have to marry same-sex couples.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Children can transfer to any state school with available space, and student athletes are immediately eligible to play if they haven’t joined practices in the same sport at their previous school. Children of military parents or those who transfer due to economic or legal reasons are immediately eligible in season if they haven’t been suspended or expelled from their prior school.

BULLYING: School districts must review their anti-bullying and harassment policies every three years, and integrate rules on dating violence and abuse into discipline policies.

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Persons convicted of aggravated assault or attempted aggravated assault are no longer subject to "10-20-Life" mandatory minimum sentences.

DIGITAL ASSETS: Guardians or trustees of estates gain legal authority to manage digital assets and electronic communications as they would tangible assets and financial accounts. Digital companies are provided legal authority to interact with these representatives, revealing such things as passwords to accounts.

FESTIVALS: Any food contests or cook-offs lasting no more than three days and hosted by a school, church, religious organization or nonprofit will not be defined as "public food service establishments." That means they don’t have to pay licensing fees or are subject to an inspection by the Division of Hotels and Restaurants.

JURY DUTY: Individuals permanently incapable of caring for themselves may request a permanent exemption from jury duty by submitting a written statement from a doctor verifying the disability.

OUTDOORS: Fines for illegally killing, taking or selling game or fur-bearing animals while committing burglary or trespass increase from $ 250 to $ 500. It becomes a third-degree felony to knowingly possess marine turtles or their eggs or nests.

PUBLIC RECORDS: Recorded matches regulated by the Florida Boxing Commission may be kept private until they are aired in an exemption requested by Ultimate Fighting Championship for its "Ultimate Fighter" reality show when it is taped in South Florida.

RAPE KITS: Law enforcement agencies must submit rape kits within 30 days of the start of their investigations to a state crime lab, which must test them within 120 days.

SAFETY: Elevators installed in private residences must have clearing requirements and be equipped with a sensor device that prevents their operation if certain objects are detected.

Bay News 9 – local-news

July 1, 2016 |
Vantage Theme – Powered by WordPress.
Skip to toolbar