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March 24, 2017

Florida House committee proposes changes to school recess bill

RECESS 0212 d epf

@ByKristenMClark

Next week would have been make-or-break for this year’s efforts by the Florida Legislature to implement mandatory daily recess in public elementary schools.

While the Senate bill (SB 78) sailed through committees and awaits a floor vote, the House bill had yet to move — and next week is the last week policy subcommittees are expected to meet.

But “recess moms” are in luck.

Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, has scheduled the recess bill (HB 67) to be heard Tuesday morning in his House Pre-K-12 Innovation Subcommittee.

However, Latvala’s committee is proposing some hefty changes, which might not leave all “recess moms” happy.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Rep. Cary Pigman facing DUI charge after late-night Turnpike stop

PigmanState Rep. Cary Pigman, R-Avon Park, was charged with driving under the influence early Friday after a state trooper stopped his Jeep on Florida's Turnpike in St. Lucie County and a Breathalyzer test showed that his blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the legal limit.

A Florida Highway Patrol arrest affidavit said Pigman's vehicle, with the Florida license tag H55, was weaving in and out of its southbound lane as the lawmaker headed home to Okeechobee County after the third week of the legislative session in Tallahassee.

"Once I got to the front passenger window, I could immediately smell an odor of alcoholic beverage coming from within the vehicle,"  Trooper Abe Dacosta wrote in his arrest report. "That was confirmed when I saw an open wine bottle in the front passenger seat."

The trooper's report said: "I noticed that his pupils were constricted, his eyes were bloodshot and watery while the defendant was standing in front of me. I asked the defendant if he had anything to drink tonight. He stated, 'No.' I then placed the defendant in the rear of my patrol car for his safety." The trooper said Pigman was so off balance that he "almost fell" while being given a field sobriety test. He was booked into the St. Lucie County jail in Fort Pierce and his Jeep was towed away.

Pigman, 58, is an emergency medicine physician and is chairman of the Health Quality Subcommittee in the House. Married with five children, he's a veteran of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army reserves who saw duty in Iraq, Guatemala and Kuwait from 2011-2013.

Pigman has engaged in spirited debate on Twitter because of his skepticism about the effectiveness of medical marijuana. "There's an old adage," Pigman tweeted last Tuesday. "Any substance which is claimed to cure everything rarely cures anything." 

 

HUD Secretary Ben Carson visits a Broward Habitat for Humanity site

CarsonAP

@amysherman1

President Donald Trump’s housing chief, Ben Carson, visited the future site of a Habitat for Humanity site in Broward County on Friday — as the administration is proposing to slashing billions for affordable housing.

Housing experts say the cuts, should they occur, will hurt South Florida, one of the most unaffordable metro areas in the nation.

Speaking at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, Carson praised the Habitat development that will include 77 homes.

“This project right here is one of the things that works because of public-private partnerships and how incredible they are at leveraging dollars,” he told the audience of local government officials and housing activists. “That’s how we become a success as a nation. The government can’t do everything, but the government can do things to get things started and then the private sector and faith community comes in and leverages that.”

Carson was confirmed by the Senate earlier this month as the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Carson’s visit comes as Trump has proposed slashing about $6 billion from HUD, a cut of about 13 percent. That includes eliminating funding for programs that help people buy or rent homes. Among them: Community Development Block Grant and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

Keep reading here about Carson and the "Rick Case Habitat Community" named for the automotive dealership owner who gave $500,000 for the project.

Another non-answer from Gov. Rick Scott about GOP health care plan

via @adamsmithtimes

The question from the Miami Herald's Amy Sherman this afternoon was concise and clear: "Should the House approve the Affordable Health Care Act as it is written?

The answer from Gov. Rick Scott was not: "Here's the way I look at it. It's...I'm...I'm encouraged the conversations that are going on. I know there's things we have to continue to improve. 

"I know I grew up in a family that struggled to pay for health care. I remember my mom crying when she couldn't pay for health care for my brother. I worked in the hospital industry. I ran the biggest company in that industry. 

"We've got to figure out how to get this, how to make healthcare more affordable. That's what I focused on when I was in business. So I'm going to continue to work to make sure that happens. 

"I think Trump inherited an absolute mess. Barack Obama left in the nick of time. Prices were going up. My biggest concern is we've got to keep focusing on how to get costs down, because if we can't get costs down, you as an individual can't pay for it, or your employer can't pay for health care, or the government can't. 

"So I'm encouraged but I know there's more work that needs to be done."

Scott spoke with reporters briefly after he attended an event in Pompano Beach with Ben Carson, Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Will state apologize to children tortured at state reform school for decades?

DozierGraves

@JeremySWallace

The children killed and tortured at the hands of the state at a reform school in north Florida just might get an apology after all.

Although a pair of bills apologizing to hundreds of then-children sent to the Dozier School for Boys for decades has yet to move in either of the House or Senate, one of the top leaders in the Florida Legislature said it is one of his priorities.

“We know those children were abused and tortured,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran said. “And the question is, how do you try to find some way to close that door in a healthy way that allows people to move on and recognizes the gross injustice that was done.”

Corcoran said he wants to move forward with a bill on both Dozier and another to address the “Groveland Four," a quartet of African-American men accused of raping a white woman in 1949.

"To the extent that we can move forward on both would be great," Corcoran said

Stories had swirled for decades about harsh conditions at Dozier, open from 1900 to 2011 in Marianna in the Florida Panhandle. In 2012, University of South Florida anthropologists began investigating burial grounds on the campus, where pipe crosses marked what was said to be the final resting place for 31 boys who died there. Using ground penetrating radar and excavation techniques, they found 55 graves, many in the woods outside the marked cemetery. Remains were found buried under trees and brush and under an old road.

USF anthropologists last year presented a report to the Florida Cabinet that showed most of the deaths were caused by illness, but others involved shootings, drownings and beatings.

After USF presented their findings last year, members of the Cabinet issued their own apologies to men who survived beatings at the school when they were children. Now. State Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, wants a formal apology from the state of Florida. In Senate Bill 1440 he calls for the apology “to the boys sent to the Dozier School for Boys and their family members for the wrongs committed against them during the 111-year operation of the school.”

The Senate bill has not been heard by any of three committees it has to get through to even make it to the floor of the Senate. A House version of the same bill, sponsored by Jacksonville Rep. Tracie Davis, a Democrat, similarly hasn’t been heard in any committees yet.

PHOTO: A University of South Florida assistant professor steps among the more than 50 grave sites that were found at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. Tampa Bay Times files (2013)

Tallahassee's youngest lobbyist is a Miami teen who wants to ban texting while driving

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING a epf
via @KyraGurney

At 17, Mark Merwitzer might be Florida’s youngest lobbyist.

The Miami high school junior is on a mission to keep drivers from texting behind the wheel and he says he won’t stop until it’s a state law.

Over the past year, the teen has met with youth councils, county officials and state legislators to argue that texting behind the wheel should be a primary offense — meaning police can pull drivers over just for using their phones, instead of issuing a ticket only if they are stopped for another infraction. With the help of Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, Merwitzer has championed a bill that has so far cleared several hurdles. Similar efforts in past years have struggled to advance, but on Wednesday the bill got unanimous support from the Senate transportation committee.

“I’m personally very tired of seeing people’s lives thrown away because of texting while driving,” said Merwitzer, who does not yet have his driver’s license, but said he sees motorists on their phones all the time on Miami highways.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

Here's where divided Florida Republicans stand ahead of healthcare vote

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Hours before a dramatic vote on the GOP Obamacare replacement plan, Florida Republicans are a window into the divided party.

Here is where thing stand.

Matt Gaetz: Yes

Neal Dunn: Yes

Ted Yoho: No

John Rutherford: Will not say

DeSantis: No

Bill Posey: No

Daniel Webster: No

Gus Bilirakis: Yes

Dennis Ross: Yes

Vern Buchanan: Yes

Tom Rooney: Yes

Brian Mast: Yes

Francis Rooney: Yes

Mario Diaz-Balart: Yes

Carlos Curbelo: Will not say

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: No

--with Patricia Mazzei

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Will Nelson join Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch?

03242017_111800_gorsuch_8col
via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Democrats are lining up to oppose Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, but Florida Sen. Bill Nelson isn't saying where he stands.

"Still undecided on both," Nelson's spokesman tells The Tampa Bay Times on whether how he will vote or whether he supports growing Democratic calls for a filibuster.

A filibuster, which New York Sen. Charles Schumer called for yesterday, would force Republicans to upend Senate rules to allow for a simple majority.

Nelson oppossed a filibuster for Sameul Alito in 2006, though voted against him. Yet Nelson previously told us he supports 60-vote threshold for a Supreme Court nominee.

"You bet I do. The filibuster has always forced the political extremes to come of the middle to build consensus," Nelson said in February, adding it was a "mistake" for former Democratic leader Harry Reid to lower the threshold on other nominees that were stymied by Republicans.

The NRSC says Nelson should tell voters where he stands.

"Floridians made it clear when they hit the polls in November that they trusted President Trump to appoint the next Supreme Court Justice. Bill Nelson needs to tell his constituents whether he will side with them and vote to confirm President Trump’s nominee, or join Chuck Schumer and Washington liberals and filibuster Judge Gorsuch."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Associated Press

Diaz-Balart, previously a 'lean no,' says he'll vote yes on health care

2 Mario Diaz Balart
via @lesleyclark

WASHINGTON -- Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said Friday he will vote for the American Health Care Act, after saying for a week that he was leaning against it.

The congressman said the bill isn't perfect.

"There are still some issues," he said. But he credited the centrist House GOP "Tuesday Group" with making some modifications, such as adding $15 billion for certain healthcare services. That was "a really big improvement," according to Diaz-Balart.

"I've been focused on trying to get changes," he said. "We had some success. Did I get everything I wanted? No, by any stretch of the imagination."

Diaz-Balart was among the lawmakers who met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday.

"It's pretty clear that this president is very serious about fulfilling what he said he was going to do," Diaz-Balart said, and the AHCA's failure would put a "big damper" on tax reform.

"If this fails, it's a big hit," he said. "It makes it very difficult to do the tax reform that a lot of us think that we need to do."

One of the issues Diaz-Balart previously raised with White House officials during the healthcare debate was the administration's inaction on Cuba policy.

Though Diaz-Balart insisted his vote isn't about politics, he said sinking health care would be "a big blow to the agenda -- and that means everything."

"In the legislative process, every day there is a tough issue, and the reality is that once this is done, we go on to the next issue," he said. "The repeal and replace is dead if it dies today... This is the one shot to deal with health care."

--with Patricia Mazzei

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

Conservative groups urge House and Senate to pass sentencing reform bills

Sentencing reform supportersMore than a dozen conservative groups sent an appeal to House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Senate President Joe Negron and the chairs of several legislative committees Friday, urging them to get behind legislation reforming the state's minimum mandatory sentencing law, which they have concluded are "costly to taxpayers" and "harm families and communities."

"In the last 15 years, more than 30 states around the country – Florida among them – have reconsidered the wisdom of disproportional mandatory minimum sentencing laws.'' the coalition wrote. "These centralized, one-size-fits-all laws undermine individualized consideration in the American justice system. They also waste taxpayer dollars locking up for far too long some people who pose little to no threat to public safety."  Download 2017 Florida Sentencing Reform Support Letter (Corcoran)

The letter was signed by presidents and officers of FreedomWorks, the American Conservative Union, the James Madison Institute, Florida TaxWatch, Prison Fellowship, Right on Crime, Reason Foundation, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration and R Street Institute, Deason Foundation, Coalition for Public Safety and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

"These excessive punishments fill prisons, are costly to taxpayers, and divert scarce resources away from investigating more serious crimes, supporting local law enforcement, and compensating victims. Disproportional mandatory minimum sentences also harm families and communities by depriving children of their parents for far longer than public safety demands."

The letter does not mention the pending bills they support but, according to Greg Newburn, state policy director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM,) the proposals that most align with their goals are HB 731 by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, and Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. The legislation would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug trafficking offenses. Neither bill has been given a hearing and there is no staff analysis developed for them. 

The group notes "Florida’s neighbors and other conservative states have already adopted substantive drug sentencing reforms" and names Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Iowa.

"The result has been uniform: smaller prison populations, smaller corrections budgets, and lower crime. Florida’s families and taxpayers deserve the benefits of this proportional and restorative approach,'' they said. 

Newburn said they are supportive of other legislation that has gotten a hearing in the Senate, such as SB 458 by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would create a criminal-justice reform task force to make recommendations about sentencing and corrections policy.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to visit Broward while housing activists decry slated HUD cuts

BenCarsonRNCnighttwoAP

@amysherman1

President Donald Trump's housing chief comes to Broward today to promote a future affordable housing development while Trump has proposed slashing $6 billion from housing programs.

Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, will speak at the Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach. The church is located near a future 77-home Habitat for Humanity development, the largest Habitat project ever in Broward.

Trump's budget proposal calls for getting rid of decades-long housing programs, including Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Program. Those cuts would be "devastating" to low- and moderate-income families in Broward, said the county's housing chief Ralph Stone.

"The Broward metro area is one of the least affordable housing markets in the nation," Stone told the Herald in a statement. "Only one in five moderate and below income families can afford to buy the median priced home. Also Broward is one of the worst markets for affordable and avaiabjr rental units. There is a defiency of over 70,000 low income rental units." 

The national Habitat for Humanity program sent the Miami Herald a statement criticizing the proposed cut:

"Federal housing programs currently reach about 1 in 4 income eligible households. With the proposed budget, many fewer would receive assistance, leading to even more families to choose paying housing costs over purchasing food, health care, and meeting other basic needs. ... Eliminating or reducing funding for these housing programs would exacerbate local housing shortages and increase the burden of housing costs on families in need of housing stability." 

South Florida lags behind other major metro areas in wages, making affordable housing out of reach to many residents.

See Carson's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

 

Roger Stone: 'Don't confuse me with the character I sometimes play'

Stone for glenn
via @glenngarvin

Roger Stone, the legendarily hardball Republican operative who for years has lustily embraced such media epithets as the dapper don of dirty deeds and the undisputed master of the black arts of electioneering, now finds himself on the receiving end of what he calls a political dirty trick –– allegations that he helped mastermind Russian leaks of hacked Democratic Party emails –– and he’s not liking it much.

“You just wake up one day and a bunch of congressmen are kicking your balls across the field,” Stone said reflectively. “Based on nothing more than a Hillary Clinton campaign meme.... I understand. It’s politics. It’s the democratic process. All I want is the same open forum to respond.”

A steady drumbeat of accusations against Stone that had been building for months –– since a Jan. 19 story in The New York Times identified him as one of three associates of President Donald Trump under FBI investigation for links between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia –– reached a crescendo this week, when Stone’s name was mentioned 19 times during a hearing of the House Intelligence Committee.

None of the references to Stone were flattering. And most ran along the lines of an attack by Rep. Denny Heck, D-Washington, who included Stone among a “rogues’ gallery” of Trump operatives “who fall somewhere on that spectrum from mere naivete ... to unwitting Russian dupes, to willing blindness, to active coordination.”

Since then, the Senate Intelligence Committee has warned Stone not to destroy any written records that could pertain to the investigation. And it’s scarcely been possible to turn on a TV set without hearing calls for Stone to be politically tarred and feathered, or at least subpoenaed.

The latter would be fine with Stone, who would love a nationally televised forum to counterattack accusations that he labels acts of fact-free political vengeance by enemies he helped whip in the election. The only thing he’s guilty of, he says, is “political showmanship.”

“Don’t confuse me with the character I sometimes play, Roger Stone,” he said. “Millions of people buy my books and watch me on [right-wing radio and streaming-video show] Info Wars. They like my style, and yeah, there’s a certain element of over-the-top to my style. But in today’s rapid-cycle media universe, if you don’t have some political flamboyance, you’re nowhere, you’re left behind.”

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald staff

With popularity high, Miami-Dade mayor polls voters on a higher tax to fix transit

@doug_hanks

Miami-Dade voters are narrowly divided on a higher sales tax to improve transit, according to a poll commissioned by Miami-Dade’s mayor as he pursues a historic, costly expansion of rail.

The survey by Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s political committee marks the second time in recent weeks that he has floated the idea of increasing the county’s half-percent transportation sales tax to a full percent in order to fund a rail expansion expected to cost about $6 billion.

And while the recently re-elected leader has said he does not favor raising the tax, his chief pollster said the results show the option as politically viable. With 600 likely voters polled countywide last week, 48 percent of the respondents supported a higher tax and 50 percent opposed it.
 
“It’s encouraging,” said Dario Moreno, a Florida International University politics professor. “I was shocked by the numbers. I thought it would be at least 55 to 58 percent opposed.”
 

March 23, 2017

Inmate who exposed prison scalding death feared investigation would be whitewashed

 


Over the past four years, there is probably no one who fought harder for justice for Darren Rainey than Harold Hempstead.

Hempstead was shipped to a prison in Tennessee abruptly last Friday, guaranteeing that he would not be able to respond to the Miami-Dade state attorney’s decision — released later that same day — clearing corrections officers in Rainey’s June 23, 2012, death at Dade Correctional Institution.

The state attorney’s close-out memo took direct aim at Hempstead’s credibility, devoting eight pages to debunking his allegation that Rainey, who suffered from mental illness, had been forced into a specially rigged shower by corrections officers who had been using scalding showers to punish inmates for bad behavior. Story here. 

Airbnb hosts who spoke to Miami Commission may have outed themselves

Airbnb+three+mhd+cmg

@NewsbySmiley

Dozens of Miami property owners who rent their homes and duplexes to visitors through home-sharing platform Airbnb spent all day at City Hall on Thursday pleading with city officials to buck a legal opinion declaring their business an illegal nuisance.

Instead, Miami commissioners reaffirmed that position in a 3-2 vote, threatened to sue Airbnb for promoting clandestine activity, and then told the hosts who placed their names and addresses on the record that they had outed themselves to code compliance.

“We are now on notice for people who did come here and notify us in public and challenge us in public,” said City Manager Daniel Alfonso. “I will be duly bound to request our personnel to enforce the city code.”

Read more here.

Foster child who killed herself on Facebook Live was given medicine with suicide warning

Naika Venant and Gina AlexisBy Carol Marbin Miller, David Neal and Alex Harris

When a Miami psychologist examined Naika Venant in June 2015, she found a “depressed, angry and fearful young girl” who thought often about death and dying. “She expects people to abandon and betray her,” the psychologist wrote.

Terilee Wunderman diagnosed Naika with “significant depression,” and post-traumatic stress disorder, and recommended that she see a specially trained therapist to mend her broken psyche. Wunderman also warned against filling the 12-year-old with pills, because the medication she was taking “sometimes can cause the side-effect of depression.”

During the next 18 months, however, Naika’s doctors reached for the prescription pad again and again, increasing the dose of an ADHD medication, and adding another drug, Zoloft, records indicate. The anti-depressant comes with a critical warning: an increased risk of suicide in children. Story here. 

Photo: Naika Venant and and her mother, Gina Alexis, smile in a photo posted on Facebook. Facebooky

 

Is Rick Scott focusing on the wrong job creation issue? House Speaker says so

Scottroundtableseminole

@JeremySWallace

If Governor Rick Scott really wants to save jobs, he’s focusing on the wrong issues while he travels the state bashing Republicans, House Speaker Richard Corcoran told reporters Thursday.

Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said too much energy is being paid to saving Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida under the guise of saving jobs when the real crisis for Florida businesses is the threat of dramatically higher workers compensation insurance rates and increasing rates on property insurance because of lawsuits related to water losses under a program called Assignment of Benefits.

“If I were to give encouragement to the governor I’d say: ‘go keep traveling. Start talking about workers comp and assignment of benefits which have far more effect than Enterprise and Visit Florida on jobs,’” Corcoran said as part of wide ranging press conference in Tallahassee.

Corcoran said if the House succeeds and kills Enterprise Florida and scales back Visit Florida it will be about $100 million in savings to taxpayers. But if unchanged, the two insurance issues could cost businesses and homeowners hundreds of millions of dollars he said. On both issues he said there doesn’t seem to be “tremendous” movement” in the Senate. He said the governor needs to start working the senate to get those bills moving.

“How can you just be silent on what really will hit jobs,” Corcoran said.

Scott has been touring the state going to the districts of Florida House members who voted to kill Enterprise Florida accusing them of hurting the state’s economic momentum. He’s also funded robo-calls and television ads arguing against the cuts. He’s also funded videos that mock Corcoran for trying to kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. Corcoran for his part has been unapologetic in taking on the governor’s top priority, calling Enterprise Florida a “cesspool” that cannot be reformed.

Continue reading "Is Rick Scott focusing on the wrong job creation issue? House Speaker says so" »

Gov. Scott still won't give GOP healthcare bill his backing

Scott
via @KyraGurney

Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday said he is "encouraged" by House Republicans' bill to replace the Affordable Care Act but still wouldn't endorse it, saying he wants to "keep working to improve it."

Speaking at Coral Way K-8 Center in Miami, where he was touting his education budget, Scott told reporters the state needs more flexibility to improve Medicaid and that lawmakers in Congress should focus on driving down healthcare costs.

"We need to let people buy the insurance they want," he said. "We need to reward people for taking care of themselves."

Eight Republican governors -- but notably not Scott, a big Obamacare critic -- sent Congress a letter Thursday supporting the House GOP's American Health Care Act. A vote planned for Thursday night was postponed until Friday.

Accompanied by Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and two local school board members, Scott promoted his education proposals — almost $21 billion in combined state and local funding for schools, of which he hopes to spend $58 million on teacher recruitment and retention.

Asked if he was concerned about Florida House Speaker Corcoran's opposition to his education budget, Scott said he was confident the state had enough revenue to invest more in schools. "We have the money to do this," Scott said. "There's nothing more important."

--KYRA GURNEY

Richardson asks Scott to use emergency power to take control of women's prison in Gadsden County

Richardson at GadsdenWarning that inmate health and safety is at risk at the state’s largest privately run women’s prison, Rep. David Richardson on Thursday asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his emergency powers to replace the top officers and take state control of Gadsden Correctional Facility.

In a letter delivered late Thursday, Richardson asked Scott “to direct the Florida Department of Corrections to install a temporary warden, chief of security, and other resources you deem necessary to restore order and reverse what I can only describe as a loss of institutional control.” Story here. 

Photo: Rep. David Richardson at Gadsden Correctional, Courtesy of David Richardson

 

How Nelson and Rubio voted on internet privacy rules

via @learyreports

The Senate voted today to kill regulations that would prevent Internet providers from tracking and sharing personal data without consent, and Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio were on opposite sides.

Nelson voted against the measure; Rubio voted for it.

The Associated Press explains:

The regulations would have required a company like Verizon to get approval before telling an advertiser what websites customers visited, what apps they used, their health and financial information, or their physical location. Under the regulations, many more people likely would have chosen not to allow their data to be shared than if they had to take an extra step of asking a company to stop sharing or selling their information.

Industry groups and Republicans protested the regulations. They said broadband providers would have to operate under tougher privacy requirements than digital-advertising behemoths like Google and Facebook.

Nelson blasted the move. “We are talking about taking privacy rights away from individuals if we suddenly eliminate this rule,” the Democrat said in a statement after the vote. “This is a gold mine of data, the Holy Grail, so to speak.”

“It is no wonder that broadband providers want to be able to sell this information to the highest bidder without the consumer's knowledge or consent,” Nelson continued. “And they want to collect and use this information without providing transparency or being held accountable. Is this what you want to inflict upon your constituents in your state by changing this rule about their personal, sensitive privacy?”

Rubio: "The FCC’s last-minute regulation was poorly conceived and held internet service providers to a different standard than other companies handling the same information, all while doing nothing to protect consumers’ privacy. It was important to overturn this burdensome rule so that we encourage innovation and investment instead of adding another complex layer of bureaucracy to the internet.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times