Bill Nelson

Florida lawmakers seek aid for Puerto Rican refugees facing homelessness

puerto-rico-26990_1280U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, joined by a handful of Florida congressmen, are asking FEMA to extend temporary housing assistance to displaced Puerto Ricans seeking shelter in the Sunshine State.

The Florida lawmakers sent a letter today to FEMA Administrator Brock Long and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, after FEMA officials told federal lawmakers they plan to cut off Transitional Shelter Assistance, or TSA, to more than 1,600 refugees — including 600 in Florida — as soon as Friday.

The Puerto Rican residents, who are U.S. citizens, fled after Hurricane Maria left the island in tatters.

“At a minimum, the deadline for TSA should coincide with the end of the school year for mainland states,” the lawmakers wrote in Wednesday’s letter. “After Hurricane Maria devastated the island, more than 10,000 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in Florida schools. These children have already had their lives and educational experiences disrupted by a devastating storm and deserve the opportunity to complete their school year.”

The letter was sent on the same day power reportedly went down throughout the island, where before the latest outage more than 50,000 people remained without electricity following the storm six months ago.

From the press release:

FEMA’s TSA program pays hotel owners to provide hotel rooms to displaced victims of a storm. Once FEMA decides it will no longer provide a displaced family with TSA benefits, hotel owners will often evict them from their property.

With some parts of Florida already experiencing a shortage of affordable housing due, in part, to a sudden influx of displaced Puerto Ricans living there since the storm, these sudden evictions could leave some families – who are still unable to return home to Puerto Rico – with nowhere to live.

In addition to Nelson and Rubio, the letter sent today urging FEMA to continue providing assistance to these families was signed by Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Darren Soto (D-FL).

 

Dems throw musical shade at Scott

Florida Democrats have served up a musical serving of sarcasm aimed at Gov. Rick Scott, who finally stopped the (non)suspense and announced this week he’s running against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Dems’ “Smooth Criminal for Senate” playlist features hits by Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Kanye West and The Notorious B.I.G.,

Some of the samples are obvious, such as two versions of “Plead the Fifth” (“couldn’t find 75 songs with the title,” the press release accompanying the playlist reads), a reference to the former health care mogul’s repeated use of the Fifth Amendment during a deposition ages ago.

Other selections, like “Robots” by Flight of the Concords, are a tad more subtle.

And of course there’s a reference to onetime First Dog Reagan, a yellow lab who was a brief resident of the governor’s mansion, with “Who Let the Dogs Out.”

We could have lived without “Oil Rigs,” and the G-rated version of “Gold Digger” doesn’t quite cut it, but hey, we get it.

The Fla Dems might be taking a page from President Obama, whose summer (day and night) Spotify playlists — featuring Bob Dylan, The Isley Brothers, Coldplay, Howlin’ Wolf, to name just a few — were a huge hit.

No indication yet if President Trump will carry on the tradition.

Here’s a link to the playlist, and here are the tracks:

  • Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
  • Who Let the Dogs Out by Baha Men – Where’s Reagan?
  • Mo Money Mo Problems by Notorious B.I.G., Mase, Diddy
  • The First Cut is the Deepest by Sheryl Crow -The first cut was just the beginning.
  • Plead the Fifth by Kip Moore
  • Plead the Fifth by Liana Banks – Couldn’t find 75 songs with the title.
  • Me, Myself and I by Beyonce
  • Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh
  • Selfish by Future and Rihanna
  • Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx
  • Criminal by Britney Spears
  • Oil Rigs by Atena
  • Robots by Flight of the Conchords

 

Scott and the U.S. Senate: If history’s the judge…

Need a hint about what Gov. Rick Scott may be up to on April 9?

After Scott tweeted Monday that a big announcement was coming April 9, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a two-time statewide appointee of the governor, tweeted out a “#TriviaTime” comment.

Answer: April 9, 2010 is when Scott filed his initial paperwork to run for the governor’s office. The same day, Scott also dumped $2 million of his own money into the contest. Another $71.2 million of his family money for the campaign would follow.

Scott’s announcement Monday that Brad Piepenbrink was replacing longtime Scott aide Jackie Schutz Zeckman as the governor’s chief of staff sent Capitol insiders into a spin.

Zeckman’s departure unleashed the latest round of speculation (might she join his “Let’s Get to Work” political organization?) about whether Scott’s entrée into the race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is imminent in what, if it happens, would be one of Florida’s Worst-kept Political Secrets of All Time.

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Cory Booker in the house — for Nelson

bookerU.S. Sen. Cory Booker — a Democratic rock star — is headlining a fundraiser for fellow Sen. Bill Nelson in Tallahassee next month.

Booker, who was the mayor of Newark before heading to D.C. in 2013, will be the main draw at an April 14 luncheon at the home of Altha Manning, according to an invite posted on Twitter by Allison Tant, a former head of the Florida Democratic Party.

nelson fundraiser

Nelson, a veteran politico who’s represented Florida in the U.S. Senate for 17 years, could be in a face-off against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Scott, who is forced out of the governor’s office due to term limits, is expected to announce his intentions soon.

 

Nelson to Trump: Don’t outsource space!

iss054e022063Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida who likes to remind you he’s traveled into outer space, is criticizing a proposal by President Donald Trump to privatize the International Space Station after its current U.S. funding expires in 2024.

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter,” Nelson said in a release. “If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense.”

Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 has NASA turning over operations of the station to commercial operators or the other nations partnering on the space platform after 2024. Nelson’s already griped about the president’s position on NASA.

The station costs about $3 billion a year to run.

The station is currently expected to be in use through 2028, the 30th year after its first component was launched into orbit.

President Barack Obama in 2008 extended the U.S. operational portion of the ISS until 2024.

— By Jim Turner.

Scott & Nelson: Is it a tie?

A pair of new polls show U.S. Sen Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott either neck-and-neck or give the long-serving Democratic senator an edge over the Florida guv, who hasn’t officially entered the race yet.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey showed Nelson and Scott virtually tied at 45-44 percent (a result that’s within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error). The match-up hasn’t budged much since October, when likely voters were evenly split, 44 percent, between the pair.

But in a competing poll, the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab shows Nelson with 48 percent, compared to 42 percent of respondents saying they plan to vote for Scott. Seven percent of the registered voters surveyed were undecided.

“Even though it appears Nelson has a reasonable lead in the poll, the election results will ultimately get determined by who shows up in November,”  Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, said in a release. “Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave.”

Read more on the UNF poll here.

NELSON: Trump “going to have a fight” over NASA proposal

iss054e022063U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, lashed out following a report that the Trump administration plans to cut off funding for the International Space Station by 2025.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson, a onetime astronaut from the state’s Space Coast region, said in a press release yesterday. The Commerce Committee oversees the space industry.

“Such a move would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that,” Nelson, who could be facing a match-up against Republican Gov. Rick Scott this year, added.

The Wall Street Journal was among a number of sources on Thursday reporting that the White House’s next NASA budget will feature public-private missions tied to a trip to the moon, while eliminating funding for the International Space Station around 2025.

We love the headline on the WSJ story: “Trump’s NASA Budget: More Moon, Less Space Station.”

By Jim Turner.