Rep. Demings Helps Pass Historic Infrastructure Investments for Florida
ORLANDO, FL – Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) today voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework – America’s most significant infrastructure and economic competitiveness investment in a century, including massive wins for Florida. Rep. Demings will also vote yes tonight on a procedural move forward on the Build Back Better plan – one of the largest middle class tax cuts in U.S. history, along with investments in Florida’s working families.
Said Rep. Demings, “Today’s vote was about jobs and America’s future. When we invest in middle class America, when we invest in people who have to go to work every day, America does better. Our communities need this funding now. Democratic and Republican mayors who are clear-eyed know that investing in our supply chain infrastructure can’t wait, jobs can’t wait, repairs can’t wait, fighting climate change can’t wait, and protecting our health and safety can’t wait.
“As Florida’s families worry about our decaying infrastructure and inflation driven by an inadequate supply chain, this is a significant victory for Florida, and will help build the kind of 21st century infrastructure that we need to clean up our economic blockages and get the economy moving smoothly for working families across our state.
“Our plans will create millions of jobs in new and future industries, restore our global competitiveness, rebuild Florida’s crumbing roads and bridges, expand broadband and reduce the cost of internet across our state, keep our children safe from unclean water, protect our air and climate, and support U.S. manufacturing.
“At the same time, I’ve voted to move forward with the Build Back Better plan, a fiscally responsible and fully paid for plan to invest in Florida’s working families with one of the largest middle class tax cuts in history, and reduce the outrageous costs of health care, child care, and more. I will keep fighting for final passage on this plan because fiscal responsibility means investing in the future of Florida’s working families while reducing the deficit, and that’s what the Build Back Better plan does.
“During the debate over this legislation, I thought of my parents, who played by the rules and worked hard as a maid, janitor, and in other odd jobs nearly every day of their lives. Today’s Floridians deserve an economy where hard work actually gets you ahead, not one where health care, child care, senior care and housing take every dollar you make.”
In addition to meetings and advocacy with colleagues in Congress, Rep. Demings led and joined numerous letters, press conferences, events, social media, and op-eds (Medicaid, immigration) calling for the inclusion of Medicaid coverage, immigration reform, and affordable housing support, and prescription drug price negotiation, all of are currently included in the Build Back Better plan.
The legislation also includes several provisions from legislation the Congresswoman introduced this week that will help stabilize the National Flood Insurance Program and make insurance more affordable for Florida homeowners.
Open letter from Nobel Laureates in support of economic recovery agenda: “Because [The Build Back Better Agenda] invests in long-term economic capacity and will enhance the ability of more Americans to participate productively in the economy, it will ease longer-term inflationary pressures.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
In Florida, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Florida a C grade on its infrastructure report card. This legislation includes around $550 billion in new federal investment in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, resilience, internet, and more. These investments will add, on average, around 2 million jobs per year over the course of the decade. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:
- Investments in U.S. supply chain infrastructure, including $17 billion for U.S. ports.
- Prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyberattacks, and extreme weather events.
- From 2010 to 2020, Florida experienced 22 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $100 billion in damages.
- Florida will receive $26 million over five years to protect against natural disasters and $29 million to protect against cyberattacks.
- $3.5 billion will be available nationally for weatherization which will protect homes and reduce energy costs for families.
- Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever.
- Floridians who take public transportation spend an extra 77.9% of their time commuting and non-White households are 3.5 times more likely to commute via public transportation. Based on formula funding alone, Florida would expect to receive $2.6 billion over five years
- Improves our nation’s airports.
- Florida would receive approximately $1.2 billion for infrastructure development for airports over five years
- Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system.
- In Florida there are 408 bridges and over 3,564 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 11.6% in Florida and on average, each driver pays $425 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. Florida will receive more than $13.1 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $245 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.
- Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
- Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water
- Florida will expect to receive $1.6 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state
- Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
- 13% of Florida households do not have an internet subscription.
- Florida will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million for broadband coverage, including providing access to the at least 707,000 Floridians who currently lack it.
- 30% of people in Florida will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit to lower the cost of their internet service.
- Makes a national investment in passenger rail – the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.
- Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a resilient, clean, 21st century electric grid
- Florida would expect to receive $198 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state3. Florida will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging.
Build Back Better
- Cut Taxes: Democrats have already made sure 40 million American families received a tax cut through the Biden Child Tax Credit and is helping cut child poverty in half. The Build Back Better Agenda doubles down on those investments:
- One of the largest tax cuts for middle class Americans ever
- Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 17 million workers
- Extends the American Rescue Plan’s expanded Child Tax Credit, providing monthly payments to the parents of nearly 90 percent of American children for 2022 – $250-$300 per month per child.
- Lower Costs: The Build Back Better Plan will cut costs for the things that keep Americans up at night. It includes:
- Significantly reduces prescription drug prices
- Gives Medicare the power to negotiate down prescription drug prices
- Bans big pharma from outrageous prescription drug price hikes above the rate of inflation
- New $2,000 cap on prescription drug out-of-pocket costs for seniors, and $35 monthly cap on insulin for all Americans.
- Significantly reduces the cost of health care
- Expanded access and lower costs for to high-quality home care for older Americans and people with disabilities.
- Hearing coverage through Medicare for the first time
- $0 premium health insurance for hundreds of thousands of Floridians and millions of Americans.
- Expands the Affordable Care Act and reduces health insurance premium
- Permanently authorizes The Children’s Health Insurance Program (which Congressional Republicans allowed to lapse for nearly 4 months)
- Replenishes the September 11th World Trade Center Health Program
- Significantly reduce the cost of long-term care for seniors and Americans with disabilities
- Significantly reduce the cost of child care
- Establishes a universal and permanent family and medical leave program for the first time in U.S. history, making it easier for people to keep their jobs and get back to work.
- Affordable housing investments and rental assistance
- Green tax credits will save the average American family hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs
- Port and supply chain investments to address supply chain issues
- The bill will ensure that the same Social Security benefits are provided in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and territories as in all 50 states
- Significantly reduces prescription drug prices
- More Jobs: This is the largest effort to combat climate change in American history and will give our kids cleaner air and water while creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs. Meanwhile, its transformative investments in children and families – in particular universal free pre-K and coverage of child care costs – will unlock the full economic potential of our workforce. In addition, the plan includes:
- Investments in Clean Energy Technology, Manufacturing, and Supply Chains
- Clean Energy Tax Credits
- Investments to create resiliency for extreme weather events
- Improving the quality of caregiving jobs
- Expanded job training
- Reducing the cost of college and workforce training programs
- Stops rewarding corporations for shipping jobs overseas
- Wealthy & Big Corporations Pay Fair Share: The Build Back Better Plan will deliver this progress for families and the middle class while being fully paid for and reducing the deficit. No one making under $400,000 will see an increase in their taxes from this bill. Instead, families will see massive tax cuts. Our action to advance tax fairness and enforcement is widely popular: 72 percent of Americans support crackdowns on tax evasion by corporations and the wealthy.
- Stop large, profitable corporations from paying zero in tax and tax corporations that buyback stock rather than invest in the company.
- Stop rewarding corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas.
- Small new surtax on the income of multi-millionaires and billionaires.
- Catch tax cheats with incomes over $400,000.
In addition, the legislation provides important temporary status to millions of immigrants who arrived prior to January 1, 2011, allowing them to legally get back to work.
Other investments include cybersecurity and homeland security, reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (cosponsored by Rep. Demings), scientific research, Coast Guard infrastructure, and more.
Magic Beat Raptors for Second Win in a Row
ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Orlando Magic (7-20) continued their winning ways against the Toronto Raptors (13-13), defeating them 113-109 , just two days after a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. This two game winning streak puts an end to the Magic’s previous nine game losing streak.
The Magic started strong, taking a 37-25 lead into the second quarter, led by 10 first quarter points from Franz Wagner. But the Raptors caught up to the Magic midway through the second quarter led by Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. But at halftime, the Magic held a slight lead, 67-63.
The Magic extended their lead to 94-87 with remarkably impressive scoring from Franz Wagner who added 14 points in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors tied it up 108-108 with about two minutes remaining after two free throws by OG Anunoby. Paolo Banchero made one of two subsequent free throws, and Moe Wagner drew the charge from Gary Trent Jr. to negate his two point basket. Fred Van Vleet later added a free throw to tie the game at 109-109. A Franz Wagner tip layup put the Magic up 111-109. A missed shot by Fred Van Vleet sealed the Raptors loss. Banchero’s two free throws put the Magic ahead 113-109 at the end of the game.
Franz Wagner led the scoring for the Magic with 34 points, while Paolo Banchero scored 23. Mo Bamba finished with 13 rebounds. Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz ended with 5 assists.
Several Magic players remain injured and were unable to play, including Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee recovery). Isaac has started his rehab program, playing in full contact 5 on 5 practice games with the Lakeland G League affiliate, and hopes to return to the court soon for Orlando.
The Magic face the Raptors at Amway once again on Sunday, 12/11 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.
Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes.
Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County, had pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, also including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men.
“Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said in court Thursday.
Greenberg’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments, and that he believed additional ones were expected in the coming month.
Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into his friend Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against the Republican congressman, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing during a court hearing on Wednesday to a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. Presnell ended up imposing the upper limit of that range.
The minor in the sex crimes case was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller wrote in court papers.
The defense attorney also said that Greenberg “has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”
Scheller also had asked the judge to take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he had bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.
Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation.
Some documents related to Greenberg’s cooperation were filed under seal and out of the public eye, with prosecutors and the defense attorney saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.
“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.
Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.
“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”
“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.
For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.