News From Sarasota Stands Together

Norma’s Corner

June 2019

6/6/2019

In another age, exposure of foreign interference in a U.S. election would have brought Republicans and Democrats together to develop a strong response. This President has not only not acknowledged Russian involvement, he is investigating and endangering our intelligence services for investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In 2018, the White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council.  So far there's been little action in Congress to secure the 2020 election. The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed two bills addressing election security but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up for a vote, nor has he allowed consideration of HR 1, For The People Act of 2019, the Democrats' major anti-corruption bill that includes addressing issues of election security, voting rights, money in politics, etc.

More targeting of vulnerable groups: the Denial of Care Rule was finalized by President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services. The Center for Reproductive Rights charged that this discriminatory rule invites health care workers to impose their personal religious or moral beliefs on patients, giving them the unmitigated power to decide who receives care and who doesn't. There are no limits on what constitutes a religious or moral denial, and it does not need to be a doctor who objects - it could be a hospital receptionist or an orderly booking an operating room. Under the guise of “freedom of religion”, this rule allows government-sanctioned discrimination, particularly affecting gay and transgender people, but also women and abortions. Several organizations are bringing suit. “The Denial of Care Rule is only the latest example of the Trump administration’s efforts to sanction discrimination in the name of religion against all of us in every facet of our lives. The list of those now at risk includes women, LGBTQ people, children in foster care and prospective parents, public schoolchildren, any patient, immigrants, religious minorities, the nonreligious – and all of us who cherish our country’s commitment to true religious freedom for all.” (Americans United, May 31)

 

Norma’s Corner

June 2019

6/6/2019

In another age, exposure of foreign interference in a U.S. election would have brought Republicans and Democrats together to develop a strong response. This President has not only not acknowledged Russian involvement, he is investigating and endangering our intelligence services for investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election. In 2018, the White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council.  So far there's been little action in Congress to secure the 2020 election. The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed two bills addressing election security but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring them up for a vote, nor has he allowed consideration of HR 1, For The People Act of 2019, the Democrats' major anti-corruption bill that includes addressing issues of election security, voting rights, money in politics, etc.

 

 

Norma’s Corner

By Norma Schatz

5/15/2019

May, 2019

The Florida Legislature's session ended with little good and lots of not so good done. A bill allowing importing prescription drugs from Canada needs the Governor's signature, approval by Feds and no blocking by Big Pharma lobby. The ban on assault weapons died early (thoughts and prayers will have to do!) and so did the bills banning fracking and off-shore drilling, and on toughening rules for citizen-sponsored amendments. Implementation of Amendment 4 (that added roadblocks to allowing ex-felons to vote), the bill to ban so-called “Sanctuary Cities”, the bill to allow arming teachers, and the bill to build tollroads through rural Florida (opposed by Environmentalists) await the Governor's signature. As does Florida's 5th school voucher program, this one using public dollars for middle-class as well as poor children to attend religious and private schools. If you have thoughts on any of these, the Governor's phone number is 850/717-9337 and his email is <www.firstgov.gov>.                          A grass roots effort is working to put a Ban Assault Weapons Now constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot in 2020, to ban these weapons of war in Florida. To support the effort, if you haven't already signed a petition, go to <https://bawnfl.org/amendment.html> and download, print (double-sided if possible) sign and send the petition to the address listed.                                                                                                                                      Meanwhile in Washington...The (Democrat controlled) House of Representatives took decisiveaction, passing a universal background check bill that would help keep guns out of the wrong hands. The GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked the bill in the Senate, despite the fact that 97% of Americans – Ds and Rs – support universal background checks. The House also passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act with some improvements and stable funding for the next five years. The proposed reauthorization includes a provision to close a loophole in the original act that allowed convicted domestic abusers of dating partners to have access to firearms. Once again, opposition from the NRA is reflected in opposition by Senate Republican leadership to oppose or stall action on this bill. Let Sen. Marco Rubio (202/224-3041) and Sen. Rick Scott (202/224-5274) know what you think.      

Norma’s Corner

Newsletter by Norma Schatz

4/11/2019

April, 2019

If you have a phone or a computer, now is the time to let your legislators hear from you if you are troubled by any of these proposals being considered IN THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE.

Did you vote for Amendment 4 in the last election – to return to ex-felons (with certain exceptions) the right to vote after completing their prison terms? The Republican-controlled legislature is now sabotaging that popular amendment by adding requirements to “completion” such as any fees, court costs, restitution (Money-lender lobbyists support these add-ons and Rs would like less D voters).

Florida has four scholarship programs that provide for more than 140,000 students to attend private and religious schools, funded by tax credits at a cost to the state.  Now the proposed Family Empowerment Scholarship would use general revenue funds directly to add 15,000 students in the first year, eligibility based on income for a family of four ($68k Senate bill, $69k DeSantis, $98k House bill) – no longer based on poverty. In addition to the question of using public funds for private and faith-based education, other objections include that not all private schools meet the same school building codes, that private and religious schools do not have the same teacher certification, student assessment or curriculum requirements.

The sex and science censors ride again. The Florida Citizens Alliance is again trying to tell the schools what novels and text books they can use. The latest effort is House Bill 855 / Senate Bill 1454. Last year the Florida legislature passed a bill that allowed any resident, not just parents, to object to teaching materials. Now, according to The Tampa Bay Times the groups wants to ban nearly 100 books including “Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes to textbooks, including Harcourt Publishing’s Modern World History 9th Grade and Pearson’s Essentials of Oceanography” and further interfere with professional educators' decisions.

Again bills arming classroom teachers are moving toward a vote.