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State Rep. Daisy Morales Meets with Lawmakers During Puerto Rico Visit

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Rep. Morales meets with Puerto Rico's Senator Carmelo Javier Ríos ahead of Florida's 2022 Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Daisy Morales visited Puerto Rico this week in an effort to learn firsthand what the needs of the Puerto Rican people are.

Rep. Morales told Florida National News this two-week visit is intended to strengthen the alliance between the Puerto Rican government and Florida’s government, as well as communicate the people’s needs to their family members here on the mainland, inspiring them to use their right to vote.

Rep. Morales met with Puerto Rican lawmakers to learn what policies are important to them so that she can bring those ideas back to Florida and garner state and federal support for them. She spoke with Puerto Rican Senators Carmelo Javier Rios and Jose Luis Dalmau Santiago, along with their colleagues.

State Representative Daisy Morales meets with Senator Carmelo Javier Rios and his colleagues in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Senator Carmelo Javier Rios (Facebook).

State Representative Daisy Morales meets with Senator Carmelo Javier Rios and his colleagues in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Senator Carmelo Javier Rios (Facebook).

Rep. Morales meets with Puerto Rico's Senator Jose Luis Dalmau Santiago ahead of Florida's 2022 Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

Rep. Morales meets with Puerto Rico’s Senator Jose Luis Dalmau Santiago ahead of Florida’s 2022 Legislative Session. Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

State Representative Daisy Morales poses for a photo in Puerto Rico's Capitol. Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

State Representative Daisy Morales poses for a photo in Puerto Rico’s Capitol. Photo courtesy of State Representative Daisy Morales (Facebook).

 

After being elected November 2020 as a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Rep. Morales became the highest ranking Puerto Rican woman elected official in Florida, representing Florida House District 48 in Orange County.

Orange County ranks second nationally with an estimated 209,151 Puerto Ricans, behind The Bronx, which has 268,556 residents of Puerto Rican origin in 2018, according to the census. “Within Orange County, District 48 has a large Puerto Rican population, so it’s important to strengthen my office’s relationship with the governing bodies in Puerto Rico, its businesses, organizations and families,” Rep. Morales told Florida National News during a phone interview.

Rep. Morales took action when the influx first began in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. She travelled to Tallahassee to push for disaster relief from then governor Rick Scott’s administration.

Since Hurricane Maria, more than 400,000 people have relocated to Florida, many who have family members back home in Puerto Rico who need assistance.

Rep Morales shared that Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Regional Office is located in District 48. “I’ve worked closely with the Regional Director Anthony Carrillo to create a resource pipeline between Central Florida and Puerto Rico.”

 

Deeply Rooted in Puerto Rico

Rep. Morales has deep roots in Puerto Rico. Though she was born in the Bronx, Rep. Morales’s parents took her back to the island when she was a child and raised her there. She also attended college on the island, receiving an associates degree. Much of her family lives there.

One of Puerto Rico’s most recent shining moments came during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Jasmin Camacho-Quinn making history as Puerto Rico’s first-ever gold medalist in athletics after winning the women’s 100-meter hurdles finals. Even a week after the Olympics are over, Puerto Ricans continue to celebrate, and eagerly await her arrival. “I felt such a sense of pride when she won,” said Rep. Morales. “She’s a great example of perseverance, especially after her heartbreak in Rio. She’s a true comeback kid.

“What makes it so surreal is that she chose to train for the Tokyo Olympics here in the Orlando area,” Rep. Morales added.

 

Puerto Rico: The Aftermath

Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the entire island of Puerto Rico over three years ago. Unfortunately, the hurricanes’ effects were worsened with the earthquakes that followed, which caused even greater damage to the island’s land and energy infrastructure. Now the island is also battling the COVID-19 pandemic, which has put a huge strain on its health care system. This week, Rep. Morales got to witness those struggles with her own eyes.

After Hurricane Maria, Congress had allocated approximately $42.5 billion in federal funds for the island´s recovery. Three years later, much of the funds have been delayed, including Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) that were made available.

Three Congressional members represent parts of Rep. Morales’ district: U.S. Representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto.

“Our fellow American citizens need help, and I’m here to help amplify their voice in any way I can,” Rep. Morales told Florida National News. “I’ll continue fighting for all Puerto Ricans on the island and the constituents who now call Central Florida home.”

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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Dems reshuffle primaries to stress diversity over tradition

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Democratic Party on Saturday approved reordering its 2024 presidential primary, replacing Iowa with South Carolina in the leadoff spot as part of a major shake-up meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to its base of support.

Although more changes are possible later this year, the formal endorsement by the Democratic National Committee during its meeting in Philadelphia is an acknowledgement that the start of the 2024 primary will look very different from the one in 2020. Hundreds of party stalwarts climbed to their feet and cheered after the easy passage by voice vote.

States with early contests play a major role in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five. Media attention and policy debates concentrate in those areas, too.

The new plan was championed by President Joe Biden, who is expected to formally announce his reelection campaign in the coming months. The reconfiguring would have South Carolina hold its primary on Feb. 3, followed three days later by New Hampshire and Nevada, which is swapping the caucus it used to hold in favor of a primary.

Georgia would vote fourth on Feb. 13, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27, with much of the rest of the nation set to vote on Super Tuesday in early March.

“The Democratic Party looks like America and so does this proposal,” said DNC chair Jaime Harrison, a South Carolinian. The change “continues to make us stronger and elevates the backbone of our party,” he said.

Biden wrote the DNC rules committee in December, saying, “We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window.” That committee approved the new lineup, setting up Saturday’s vote.

The move remakes the current calendar, which saw Iowa start with its caucus, followed by New Hampshire and then Nevada and South Carolina. The Republican Party has voted not to change its 2024 primary order, meaning the campaign has already began in Iowa.

“The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and cause chaos by altering their primary process, and ultimately abandoning millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Saturday.

Four of the first five new states under Democrats’ new plan are battlegrounds, meaning the eventual party winner would be able to lay groundwork in important general election spots. That’s especially true for Michigan and Georgia, both of which voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016 before flipping to Biden in 2020.

The exception is South Carolina, which hasn’t backed a Democrat in a presidential race since 1976, leading some to argue that the party shouldn’t be concentrating so many early primary resources there. But the state’s population is nearly 27% Black, and African American voters represent Democrats’ most consistent base of support. Iowa and New Hampshire are each more than 90% white.

The revamped calendar could be largely meaningless for 2024 because Biden is expected to run for a second term without a major primary challenge. Also, the DNC has already pledged to revisit the voting calendar before the 2028 presidential election.

Still, this year’s changes could establish precedent, just as a new lineup that moved Nevada and South Carolina into the first states to vote did when the DNC approved a new primary calendar before the 2008 presidential election.

“These things may be symbolic, but they’re realistic,” South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, assistant Democratic leader in the House and a close Biden ally, told The Associated Press.

The new order follows technical glitches that caused Iowa’s 2020 caucus to meltdown. It also gives Biden the chance to repay South Carolina, where he scored a decisive 2020 primary win that revived his presidential campaign after losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

Democrats have worked on overhauling their primary lineup for months. On Saturday, nearly an hour of final debate turned raw at times.

Some Black members of the DNC said those arguing to abide by tradition could be seen as implying that states with larger African American populations were incapable of handling the responsibility of going early in the primary.

“If we’re really a family, it means some of y’all got to shift to make room at the table for others,” said Leah Daughtry, a DNC rules committee member from New York.

Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart argued that Republicans in her state were already accusing Democrats of “have turned their back on Iowa and on rural America.” But Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, to sustained applause, countered: “No one state should have a lock on going first.”

Despite the approval, the final slate is not yet set. South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan have met party requirements to join the party’s new top five. But in Georgia may not change its Democratic primary calendar date without the Republicans also doing so.

Iowa argued that continued uncertainty could cause other states to try and jump ahead of the new DNC calendar, as happened before the 2008 presidential race. The new rules include penalties for states trying to move up without permission, including possibly losing delegates to the party’s national convention.

New Hampshire has a state law mandating that it hold the nation’s first presidential primary, which Iowa circumvented since 1972 by holding a caucus. New Hampshire Democrats have joined with top state Republicans in pledging to go forward with the nation’s first presidential primary next year regardless of the DNC calendar.

No major challenger has yet emerged from his own party to run against Biden for president next year. Still, top New Hampshire Democrats have warned that another Democrat could run in an unsanctioned primary the state stages and, if Biden skips it in accordance with party rules, could win and embarrass the president — prolonging a primary process that wasn’t supposed to be competitive.

“Respecting our state law and lifting up diverse voices need not be mutually exclusive,” said Joanne Dowdell, a DNC rules committee member from New Hampshire.

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Trump impeachment leader Schiff joins California Senate race

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to national prominence as the lead prosecutor in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said Thursday he is running for the Senate seat held by long-serving Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

The 2024 race is quickly emerging as a marquee Senate contest, even though the 89-year-old Feinstein, the oldest member of Congress, has yet to announce if she will seek another term, though her retirement is widely expected. Schiff is jumping in two weeks after Rep. Katie Porter became the first candidate to declare her campaign for the safe Democratic seat.

Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, made clear he intends to anchor his candidacy to his role as Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress. In his campaign kickoff video, he said the “biggest job of his life” was serving as impeachment manager, and he promised to continue to be a “fighter” for democracy.

“If our democracy isn’t delivering for Americans, they’ll look for alternatives, like a dangerous demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it,” Schiff said of Trump, who has announced his 2024 campaign for the presidency.

Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor who joined the Senate in 1992, told reporters in Washington this week that she will make a decision about 2024 in the “next couple of months.”

The jockeying for the seat has created a politically awkward dynamic for Feinstein, who has broken gender barriers throughout her decadeslong career in local and national politics. In recent years, questions have arisen about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness in representing a state that is home to nearly 40 million people.

Schiff, 62, said in an interview Thursday that he had spoken to Feinstein a day earlier to inform her about his plans.

“I want to make sure that everything I did was respectful of her and that I did so with her knowledge and her blessing,” Schiff told The Associated Press.

Asked if he was aware of the senator’s plans, Schiff said, “I don’t want to presume to speak for Sen. Feinstein, and I think she’s earned the right to announce her decision when she’s ready to make that announcement.”

Schiff was first elected to Congress in 2000 and represents parts of Hollywood. He has been a frequent target of conservatives — Trump in particular — since the then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee he served on started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election. Schiff appeared frequently on television to question Trump’s actions.

That criticism intensified when Democrats took the House majority in early 2019 and he became the committee chair, and it reached a full-on roar with his role in the impeachment investigation of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges he abused the power of the presidency to investigate rival Joe Biden and obstructed Congress’ investigation.

In an impassioned plea to the Senate in early 2020, Schiff urged Trump’s removal from office and framed the choice in moral terms. “If right doesn’t matter, we’re lost,” he said at the time.

“You know you can’t trust this president do what’s right for this country,” Schiff said. “You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months, he’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to. This is why if you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters.”

The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump of both charges. In 2021, he became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, this time for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after he lost the 2020 election. He was again acquitted by the Senate.

Republicans are still angry about Schiff’s starring role at the impeachment trial, with new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accusing him of using his leadership position to “lie to the American public again and again.” McCarthy, R-Calif., said this week that he intended to block Schiff from continuing his service on the House Intelligence Committee.

With the centrist Feinstein in the twilight of her career, the race in the heavily Democratic state already is shaping up as a showcase for an ambitious, younger generation on the party’s left wing.

Both Schiff and Porter are nationally recognized — Schiff through his leading impeachment role and Porter, a favorite of the party’s progressive wing, through her tough questioning of CEOs and other witnesses at congressional hearings. Each is also a formidable small-dollar fundraiser.

Neither has run statewide before, and each would face the challenge of becoming better known beyond their Southern California districts. Democrats are expected to dominate the contest — a Republican hasn’t won a statewide race in California since 2006, and the past two Senate elections had only Democrats on the November ballot.

The field is expected to grow, with other possible contenders including Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Asked how he would stand out in what is expected to be a crowded field, Schiff said he would emphasize his central role of national struggles over democracy and the economy.

“I think that record of leadership, that record of staunch defense of our democracy, and the way that I’ve championed an economy that works for everyone, I think are a powerful record to run on,” he said.

In his announcement video, Schiff mixed shots of his family and highlights from his courtroom work with video from the impeachment proceedings and clips of Trump and other Republicans.

He warns that the threat of extremism is not over.

“Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy” Schiff says. “They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.”

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Florida House Democrats React to House Bill 1 Passing its First Committee

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In response to the committee vote referring House Bill 1 to its next House committee, Florida House Democrats provided the following statements.

“While I am disappointed my third amendment was not accepted to give Florida’s families the accountability and transparency they deserve so they make the right choice for their children, we will continue working with our Republican counterparts to ensure no student gets left behind,” said Choice and Innovation Subcommittee Democratic Ranking Member Representative Susan L. Valdés (D-Tampa).

“Today’s committee hearing hosted a robust discussion about policy and finance, but we need to realize that is ultimately about the children,” said Representative Kevin Chambliss (D-Homestead). “Each child is different and unique, especially those with disabilities. Every child deserves quality education, and I sincerely hope we can work together to put our children before the politics of the bill.”

“Today’s vote is disappointing. While there is definitely room for innovation in the public-school system, the negative fiscal impact on public schools will be felt on the back of public school students,” said Representative Katherine Waldron (D-Wellington).

This morning’s Choice and Innovation Subcommittee hearing can be replayed any time via The Florida Channel’s archive.

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