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July 26, 2016

Liberal groups withdraw endorsement of Alan Grayson following domestic violence report

@MichaelAuslen

Two liberal backers of U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson's Senate campaign withdrew their endorsements Tuesday.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America both cut ties with the Orlando Democrat, citing a Politico report claiming Grayson's ex-wife reported domestic violence to police on four occasions.

"After today’s revelations of years of police reports about allegations of domestic abuse involving Alan Grayson, we are no longer willing to support and are formally withdrawing our endorsement of him in the race for U.S. Senate," leaders with PCCC and DFA said in a joint statement.

The groups also called on Grayson to donate their members' campaign contributions to a domestic violence charity in Orlando.

Grayson could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Allegations of domestic violence surrounding Grayson are not new. He and his ex-wife, Lolita Grayson, both claimed to be victims of abuse as part of a bitter divorce proceeding that ended last year in an annullment.

In 2014, the Orange County Sheriff's office declined to pursue domestic violence charges against Grayson, saying there wasn't enough evidence that a crime had even taken place, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

It appears PCCC and DFA will not endorse Grayson's chief opponent in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter. The groups' statement says "progressives have no great options in the Florida race for Senate."

Some Middle East Christians would need church records to get in U.S. under Beruff plan

@JeremySWallace

Christians fleeing Middle East nations with a history of terrorism would need to produce verifiable church records to prove who they are in order to enter the United States, under a new immigration plan U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff unveiled on Tuesday.

Beruff said under his plan, until the U.S. can assure the vetting process for refugees work, the country should temporarily ban all travel from Middle East countries known as a “base for ISIS and other terrorists groups.”

The ban would not apply to people from Israel or Christians with church records, Beruff said.

“Many people from around the world want to come to this country to build better lives for themselves and their children,” Beruff said. “We should embrace America’s place in the world, but we must do so in a strategic, common sense way. ISIS and others intent on doing us harm are looking to use any means possible to get into this country. We need to be vigilant.”

Not surprisingly, Beruff’s plan is similar to what Donald Trump has pitched.Trump announced in June that as president he would "suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe, or our allies."

But Trump has not made any allowances for Christians fleeing those nations.

Beruff’s new immigration plan also takes cues from Trump in other areas as well, notably building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

“Those who mock the idea of building a wall do not want a secure border for our country,” Beruff said.

Beruff’s plan also:

-calls for bails bondsman to be hired to track down immigrants who overstay their travel visas

-increase the prevailing wage for visas for high skilled workers to prevent companies from laying off Americans in favor of hiring cheaper workers for high skilled jobs.

-cut all federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities

-and require all businesses use the E-verify system to assure the people they are hiring are legally in the United States.

PolitiFact: A look at Donald Trump's plan for the wall

The boldest promise of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was also one of his first.

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively," Trump said, announcing his candidacy on June 16, 2015. "I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."

The big question, now that Trump is the Republican nominee, is how he would do it if elected president.  At the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Elizabeth Warren derided the wall promise, saying it’s never going to happen.

PolitiFact examined the logistics of Trump’s signature promise, interviewing immigration experts about the specifics of his proposal and possible challenges.

We reached out to Trump’s campaign for more information on his plans for the wall, including expected total costs and timeframe, but did not hear back.

Trump has said the wall could cost $8 billion to $12 billion, be made of precast concrete, and rise 35 to 40 feet, or 50 feet, or higher. He’s said the wall doesn’t need to run the nearly 2,000 miles of the border, but half of that because of natural barriers.

Keep reading Miriam Valverde's story from PolitiFact and Amy Sherman's fact-check of Trump's claim that Mexico can afford to pay for the wall because of the trade deficit.

'A mistake' not to feature more DNC speakers from Florida, Bill Nelson says

07262016_115927_frankennelson_8col

via @learyreports

PHILADELPHIA -- Sen. Bill Nelson said it was a "mistake" for Democratic convention organizers not to feature more Floridians.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum speaks Wednesday and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will speak Tuesday. But that's it, a thin showing from the biggest swing state in the country.

"They should have had maybe a mayor in South Florida. But you can't be perfect in everything," Nelson said at the Florida delegation breakfast.

Nelson also defended Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "Debbie's my friend and she has worked so hard to have this a successful convention and it is going to be."

UPDATE: We hear Nelson may regret the mistake comment as he's learned of more Florida participation. Rep. Lois Frankel and Val Demings will join Nancy Pelosi for a Democratic women address. And more Florida names will be released soon.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Patrick Murphy delivers toxic algae to Gov. Rick Scott's office

0726 murphy algae

@ByKristenMClark

Upset that Republican Gov. Rick Scott hasn't personally come to the Treasure Coast to view algae blooms that are plaguing area waterways, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy hand-delivered several bottles full of the toxic green water to Scott's Tallahassee office on Tuesday morning.

Scott himself wasn't there, as he was attending a jobs event in Orange County. His spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said "it's disappointing that (Murphy) has spent more time on a stunt than a solution."

Murphy is a congressman from Jupiter, who represents the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County -- areas affected by the algae blooms. He said he doesn't want to "vilify" anyone or lay blame for the algae crisis, but he criticized the governor at length for not doing more.

0726 murphy algae2"We have repeatedly called on the governor to come down and visit our district to see this first hand, and the governor has refused to see it," Murphy said, while standing in the Florida Capitol rotunda following his 30-second visit to the governor's office. "So, I decided that I wanted to come to Tallahassee and deliver this bottle of toxic algae to the governor to make sure he sees exactly what we're dealing with on a day-to-day basis."

Murphy wants Scott to use Amendment 1 environmental funds "to acquire more land for conservation, for preservation, to do more to send this water south."

"There's so much that needs to be done," Murphy said. "And instead of declaring a state of emergency to actually try to solve a problem, the governor tried to point a finger at the federal government and blame other people."

He continued: "This isn't a problem where you should be pointing fingers and blaming folks. ... The local government, the state government, the federal government all have to come together to solve this problem -- not see how you can score some cheap political points."

Murphy was himself criticized earlier this month over the algae crisis. His congressional office attempted to delay the announcement of aid for small businesses so that Murphy could announce it at a press event he'd planned.

"We wish Congressman Murphy would spend more time in Washington getting Congress and the president to approve funding to repair the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike, which has caused the algae problem in the Treasure Coast," said Schutz, the governor's spokeswoman. "Time and time again, the state continues to show up and put up funding to help with the water quality in this area and we wish Congress and the president would do the same."

Schutz added: "While Governor Scott has dedicated full resources to address this problem and recommended funding in next year’s budget, the federal government has failed to fund over $800 million in Everglades restoration which they are responsible for."

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

Primary ballots in mailboxes as requests reach 2.2 million

Five weeks before Florida's statewide primary election, nearly 2.2 million voters have requested ballots.

As of Tuesday morning, requests totaled 2,185,397. Nearly half of the requests (about 978,000) were from Republicans, and 819,000 were from Democrats, with most of the rest from voters with no party affiliation.

HillsMailBallotsElection supervisors took to social media to show huge stacks of ballots headed to mailboxes. Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer posted a photo on Twitter of one of eight pallets (left) and said all voters will get "I Voted!" stickers with their ballots. An 18-wheeler parked outside Broward Supervisor Brenda Snipes' voting equipment center in Lauderhill was ready to truck nearly 144,000 ballots to a post office in Opa-locka, and Snipes posted a video of ballots on the move.

The big pre-primary push is nothing compared to what will happen in advance of the November general election, Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley predicted on Twitter: "I anticipate a huge spike in new requests (after) the 8/30 primary whern focus switches to the general!"

Floridians will nominate candidates for U.S. Senate in three parties (Republican, Democrat and Libertarian) and for Congress in 17 of the state's 27 districts. Republican and Democratic voters also will nominate candidates for state Senate in 15 districts and for the state House in 51 districts.

The 2016 primary ballot will be unusually long for a primary in some areas because of the multitude of contested races and grass-roots elections for state committee members of the two major parties.

All voters, regardless of party, can cast ballots in nonpartisan races such as for school board and judgeships. They also can vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would exempt renewable energy devices on commercial property from property taxes for 20 years. That exemption already exists for residential property.

Voter turnnouts in past statewide primaries have hovered at or slightly above the 20 percent mark. But across the state, elections officials have intensified their outreach efforts to encourage more people to vote by mail. Voters can request a mail ballot until Aug. 24, and the last day to register to vote to be able to cast a primary ballot is next Monday, Aug. 1.

Bernie Sanders crashes Florida delegation breakfast in Philadelphia

Bernieflorida_8col

via @learyreports

PHILADELPHIA -- Bernie Sanders made an unannounced visit to the Florida delegation breakfast, imploring Democrats to come together to defeat Donald Trump.

"Thank you very much for allowing me to barge in," he said, taking the microphone from Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa.

"We did not do particularly well in Florida, but I want to thank all of you who were there with us. Now, whether you supported me or you supported Secretary Clinton, we all know what our task is and that is to make sure Donald Trump is not elected president."

"... This man has a unique feature that not all Republicans share by any means: He is a demagogue, a bully and somebody that does not believe in the Constitution," Sanders said, looking at revved up as he was last night.

Stunned Democrats pressed the stage at the downtown Marriott, some with tears in their eyes. "The political revolution has begun and it will continue," Sanders said before being hustled away.

"Wasn't that awesome?" Florida Democratic Chairwoman Allison Tant exclaimed.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Trump on U.S. without his SCOTUS picks: 'This is Venezuela'

@PatriciaMazzei

Some Venezuelans say Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reminds them of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Trump, however, makes the opposite argument: without him, a future U.S. Supreme Court would turn the country into Venezuela.

Speaking Monday in Roanoke, Virginia, Trump made a seemingly offhand reference to Venezuela's lack of independent public institutions.

"It's so important that on Nov. 8, you have to get out and vote. If for no other reason, remember this, remember this, strong defense, strong borders, but remember, Supreme Court Justices," he said. "We are going to be appointing anywhere from two to five, it could even be. And if you put the wrong people on, you're back to Venezuela. This is Venezuela."

'The choice is not even close,' Sanders says of Clinton

2016 DNC (1)

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- In a rousing speech Monday night, Democratic presidential runner-up Bernie Sanders tried to rally his political party to the progressive agenda that endeared him to millions of primary voters — while also urging the party to unite behind the woman he lost to, Hillary Clinton.

“This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency,” he said. “This election is about — and must be about — the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.”

Sanders was the most anticipated speaker of the first night of the Democratic National Convention — not only because he took the microphone last, but because it came at the end of a day full of discord stirred by some of his supporters, who are still reluctant to accept Clinton’s coming nomination.

“We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger — not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African Americans and veterans — and divides us up,” Sanders said. “By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that — based on her ideas and her leadership — Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.”

Unlike his remarks to supporters earlier in the day — also attempting to smooth hard feelings — this time, on the floor of Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Arena, Sanders didn’t get booed. He did get interrupted, with chants of “We want Bernie!”

“He’s with her!” Clinton fans counter-chanted after Sanders’ speech.

More here.

Fact-checking the first night of Democratic convention

LoveTrumpsHateDNCnightoneAP

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday in Philadelphia, Pa., with boos and shouts from Bernie Sanders supporters disappointed in Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominee.

Saying "no one else is more disappointed than myself" in his second-place finish, Sanders used his primetime DNC address to emphasize unity behind the Democratic ticket and Clinton.

"By these measures, any objective observer will conclude – that based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States," Sanders said.

The convention opened after a contentious weekend following the release of nearly 20,000 emails showing party officials appearing to favor Clinton over Sanders, leading chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to announce she would resign after the convention.

Republican nominee Donald Trump got into the action from afar, tweeting that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for superdelegates (a False claim).

The night also heard speeches from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and First Lady Michelle Obama.

We took a look at what was said, and how it fared on the Truth-O-Meter.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

Photo by the AP

July 25, 2016

Strife threatens to derail first night of Democratic convention

2016 DNC(2)

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Political strife threatened to turn the inaugural night of the Democratic National Convention into an uncontrollable wreck Monday, as fervent Bernie Sanders loyalists repeatedly — and loudly — resisted the impending presidential nomination of Hillary Clinton.

Masses of Sanders delegates booed every time a speaker dared mention Clinton — even during the invocation prayer — and continued after convention chairwoman Marcia Fudge, an Ohio congresswoman, used her opening remarks to beg for civility.

“I’m going to be respectful of you, and I want you to be respectful of me,” she said sternly. “We’re all Democrats, and we need to act like it.”

Sanders supporters proceeded to heckle U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland as he spoke about his father, a poor sharecropper. “Stop TPP!” they yelled, referring to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

To make peace with Sanders’ delegates, convention organizers scheduled speeches from several Sanders backers now campaigning for Clinton. But some of the pro-Sanders delegates didn’t seem to hear the pro-Clinton message.

“This is what democracy looks like!” they chanted. Outside Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, they protested.

This was after Sanders himself, one of Monday night’s keynote speakers, had urged his followers earlier in the day to unite behind Clinton.

“Immediately, right now, we have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” he said.

They booed Sanders, too. Neither his speech, nor his text message to supporters, nor his former spokeswoman’s tweeting “NO ONE STOLE THIS ELECTION!” seemed to quell the unrest.

More here.

Photo credit: John Taggart/Bloomberg

Debbie Wasserman Schultz now faces battle for her South Florida seat

After quitting her national Democratic Party leadership role amid furor over thousands of leaked emails, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz now faces the political battle of her lifetime back home in South Florida.

Wasserman Schultz resigned as Democratic National Committee chairwoman Sunday, strengthening the hand of her primary opponent, Tim Canova — who saw a huge fundraising boost and national media attention following her decision.

While the Weston congresswoman spent Monday morning getting heckled by protesters in Philadelphia at her first public appearance since her resignation, Canova was in the district giving interviews to local TV stations, Univision and The Daily Beast — and meeting with constituents.

“I have not left the district in eight months,” Canova told the Miami Herald on Sunday. “That’s not going to change between now and Aug. 30. I don’t think there’s going to be a great need for me to go up to Philly and chase the spotlight. We’re making friends on the ground every day.”

Read more here from Amy Sherman and Patricia Mazzei.

DEP responds, says federal government has 'confirmed' rules to increase toxins in water

On the eve of a decision by the Environmental Regulation Commission to increase the allowable level of many toxins in Florida's drinking water, Florida's environmental secretary said that the federal government has "confirmed every change is in line with its own recommendations."

“Our number one priority is to continuously protect and preserve the health of Florida’s families, visitors and incredible natural resources,'' wrote Department of Environmental Regulation Secretary Jon Steverson in a statement released late Monday.

"It is with this mission in mind, that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, alongside the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are strengthening Florida's water-quality standards. Moving forward with the proposed criteria will nearly double the number of chemicals that the department will be able to regulate using stringent and protective criteria so we can continue to provide better public health protection for our state."

Meanwhile, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an environmental group, sent a letter urging the panel to reject the new rules. 

"When it comes to the release of dangerous pollutants into our water supply It is important that we proceed with the utmost caution,'' wrote Laura Reynolds, an energy and water speciialist with the group. "Many of these chemicals are highly carcinogenic, and may result in the development of cancer clusters (geographic areas in which a greater-than-expected number of people develop malignant cancers) in some communities."

Here's more of the DEP statement and the Q and A that followed: 

Continue reading "DEP responds, says federal government has 'confirmed' rules to increase toxins in water" »

Bondi: State and feds break up $1B Miami health care fraud ring

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday announced the arrests of three Miami-Dade residents on felony charges of operating a $1 billion fraud scheme involving Medicaid, Medicare and various Miami-based health care providers.

Bondi said her offices' Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, working with federal agencies, charged Odette Barcha, 49; Arnaldo Carmouze, 56; and Philip Esformes, 47, with conspiracy, obstruction, money laundering and health care fraud. Bondi said her agency identified more than $100 million in fraudulent Medicaid charges connected to the scheme.

The indictment alleged that Esformes operated a network of more than 30 skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities with thousands of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, many of whom did not qualify for those benefits. According to Bondi's office, "The defendants also allegedly received kickbacks by steering the beneficiaries to other health care providers, including community mental health centers and home health care providers, who also performed medically unnecessary treatments billed to Medicare and Medicaid."

The probe also involved the FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney in Miami.

Marco Rubio highlights leadership on Venezuela at West Miami event (with video)

@alextdaugherty 

Marco Rubio has the backing of South Florida Republicans in his Senate reelection bid, and their support was on display at the West Miami Community Center on Monday. 

"This race is at the top of the ticket in the August primary," lieutenant governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera said. "We need to make sure that Marco Rubio wins this primary by 90 percent or more. I didn't say 100 percent because 100 percent victories are reserved for those people like the Castros and the Maduros."

U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, state Sen. Frank Artiles, state Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. and Lopez-Cantera spoke on behalf of Rubio's decision to run for Senate on Monday.

Rubio positioned himself as a statesman during his remarks, highlighting his bipartisan leadership to bring awareness to the mess in Venezuela. He said that Democrats ignore the problems in their own backyard and don't take terrorism threats seriously.

"You have basically the cancellation of Democracy and an all-out tyranny emergence in Venezuela," Rubio said. "If it wasn't for me and all credit being due in the Senate, Bob Menendez, a Democrat, no one would even talk about it. We can't even get the White House to say the word Venezuela."

Rubio went after Democrats, arguing that the party is more divided than Republicans in wake of the Democratic National Committee email leak which caused party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down on Sunday.

"I was watching last night on the news, there were Bernie supporters on the street ready to throw down," Rubio said. "Any convention that begins with the resignation of the chair is not off to a good start. We spent a week being lectured about how divided the Republican party is but I think the Democratic Party is more divided."

On Donald Trump, who Rubio disagrees with on immigration, another potential rift came up on Sunday when Trump referred to the World Trade Organization as a "disaster." Rubio took a less decisive stance on free trade, saying that the Colombian and South Korean free trade agreements have "worked out well" but others like the North American Free Trade Agreement "are inconclusive." 

"The World Trade Organization has been useful post-World War II, it has its problems, particularly in enforcement," Rubio said. "Just because it's called free trade doesn't mean it's good for us." 

He mentioned that the organization ignored violations in China and Mexico.

Rubio said he looks forward to serving with Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's bilingual vice presidential pick, in the senate because "Hillary's going to lose."

Rubio is a heavy favorite in the Aug. 30 primary over developer Carlos Beruff

 

 

Tim Kaine will fundraise in Fort Lauderdale Aug. 2

Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine will fundraise in Broward County Aug. 2.

Kaine will appear at an evening fundraiser at the Fort Lauderdale home of lawyer Mitchell Berger.

"It will be his first fundraiser in the nation," Berger said.

The campaign hasn't announced if Kaine will hold any other events while here. Kaine made his first debut at a public rally at Florida International University Saturday.

South Florida Democrats hold thank you event for Wasserman Schultz in Philadelphia

More than 400 people attended a “thank you” event for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at Del Frisco's steakhouse in Philadelphia Mondayafternoon. The event had been planned two weeks ago by South Florida Democratic donors.

Wasserman Schultz made no mention of the WikiLeaks emails and instead gave a few minutes of upbeat comments.

“She came in to a round of applause and everyone chanting ‘Debbie, Debbie,’” said Alex Heckler, a Democratic donor and lawyer from Miami Beach one of the co-hosts. “She went from hug to hug to hug.”

She thanked her husband, children and friends and said she was proud of her work for the party and as a member of Congress. She didn’t mention her primary opponent Tim Canova by name, although she reminded the crowd that she faces reelection on Aug. 30.

“She said she looks forward getting reelected and helping Hillary Clinton,” said Mike Moskowitz, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and co-host.

Developer Stephen Bittel hosted the event, and Mitchell Berger, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, was also a co-host.

The event was a contrast from the Florida delegation breakfast where she was heckled.

PolitiFact Florida looks at Debbie Wasserman Schultz's record on Big Sugar

BoatalgaePBP

A nasty-looking toxic algae bloom on Florida’s coasts has oozed into political races, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary.

Her opponent, Tim Canova, toured the mucky scene in Stuart wearing a surgical mask. He says that Wasserman Schultz shares in the blame for the algae that extends from Lake Okeechobee to Florida coastlines on the Treasure Coast and west coast.

Canova said Wasserman Schultz, who represents South Florida, has sided with the main polluters of the water that flows into the Everglades: the sugar industry.

Wasserman Schultz doesn’t "want us to know that she has voted for huge subsidies for the sugar industry and other agribusinesses, as well as for delays in cleanups, while failing to deliver federal funds for any real solution," he said on Medium July 9.

Wasserman Schultz defended her environmental record to the Sun Sentinel, concluding, "I will continue to walk the walk on fighting to restore our precious River of Grass while my opponent just continues to talk."

Time for PolitiFact Florida to weigh in.

Photo by the Palm Beach Post

Trump's Miami roundtable not happening after all

@PatriciaMazzei

Eager to show Hispanic outreach, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announced over the weekend that he’d be back in Miami this week, holding a roundtable with community leaders.

Turns out, he’s not.

“The participants that were supposed to be part of the original roundtable are not in town,” said Trump national political adviser Karen Giorno told the Miami Herald on Monday. “We’re going to wait until we can get them.”

The original roundtable was supposed to take place before last week’s Republicannominating convention, but it was put off after the Dallas police shootings. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, spoke to Hispanic pastors, activists and politicians on a conference all instead.

The biggest name who had planned to attend Trump’s July 8 roundtable was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio’s schedule has him fundraising in Boca Raton and Chicago on Tuesday.

Trump still plans to be in South Florida for a Tuesday evening fundraiser at his Trump National Doral golf resort. Demonstrators from United Families, a group representing immigrants in the country illegally, intend to protest outside.

Democrats wants state panel to reject plan to allow more toxic chemicals in Florida drinking water

Polluted evergladesAs a state panel prepares to decide Tuesday whether to allow polluters to increase the level of toxic chemicals they dump into Florida rivers and lakes, Democrats in Florida's congressional delegation is urging regulators to reject the rule.

The governor-appointed Environmental Regulatory Commission will vote on a rule proposed by state regulators that would increase the number of regulated chemicals allowed in drinking water from 54 to 92 chemicals. 

The chemicals are among those released by oil and gas drilling companies (including fracking operations), dry cleaning companies, pulp and paper producers, wastewater treatment plants and agriculture doing business in Florida. Many of these industries have come out in support of the new rule.

Environmentalists say the change is illogical and dangerous. The Department of Environmental Regulation, which proposed the rule, says it is a long-overdue update required under the federal Clean Water Act. The agency last updated the list of regulated toxic chemicals in 1992 and began working on the new proposal in 2012, after years of review, said Dee Ann Miller, DEP spokesperson. Story here.

But Florida's Democrats in Congress say the proposal "would threaten Florida’s ecosystems and compromise Floridians’ health and livelihoods."

Here's their statement:

Continue reading "Democrats wants state panel to reject plan to allow more toxic chemicals in Florida drinking water" »