Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 28

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

Fraternal Order of Police endorses Javier Enriquez in HD 114

The Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is backing challenger Javier Enriquez in House District 114.

Enriquez, a Miami Republican, is trying to unseat Democrat Javier Fernandez, who won the seat in a special election in May of this year.

Now, Enriquez has earned the support of the FOP, a nationwide organization that advocates on behalf of law enforcement officers. FOP represents more than 325,000 members and is made up of more than 2,100 lodges.

“The outstanding men and women in law enforcement who serve our communities day in and day out deserve our gratitude and support,” said Enriquez.

“I’m honored to have FOP’s support in this race, and I look forward to working with them on measures to improve safety and help them do their jobs even better.”

Enriquez graduated from the University of Miami School of Law and works as an attorney, primarily in the area of family law.

HD 114 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including West Miami and Cutler Bay. Both Enriquez and Fernandez are unchallenged in their respective primaries.

Lauren Baer hits Brian Mast on health care in new ad

Democratic Congressional candidate Lauren Baer is out with her second TV spot, taking aim at incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Mast on his health care record.

The spot’s title, “Ronnie,” refers to Veronica “Ronnie” Ciaramella, a breast cancer survivor from Jupiter who speaks in the ad about her experience with the health care system. In a conversation with Baer, Ciaramella recounts her hearing the news of her diagnosis.

“Routine mammogram, that was it,” Ciaramella says. “Life changed. I went from not having a pre-existing condition to ‘this is gonna be my life now.'”

“You called Brian Mast and you pleaded with him to protect your health care,” says Baer in response. “And then he voted to take it away. How did that make you feel?”

“Like I was sucker-punched,” replies Ciaramella. “I’m not important or not valuable enough.”

Baer concludes with a message to Ciaramella and other voters. “I promise you, when I get to Congress, being a woman won’t be a pre-existing condition.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) added protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, preventing health insurance companies from charging those patients more money.

After repeatedly attempting to repeal the ACA during the Obama presidency, Republicans were given a chance to undo the law following Donald Trump‘s victory in 2016. Mast and other House Republicans successfully passed a repeal bill which allowed insurers to claw back conditions they would cover.

However, repeal efforts were defeated in the Senate, when Republicans were unable to agree on a suitable compromise. That allowed the ACA to remain in place, though Republicans have found other ways to chip away at the law’s structure.

Despite the GOP’s failure to fully repeal the ACA, Baer’s ad is a sign that Democrats won’t let that vote go as they campaign in the 2018 midterms.

Baer, a former Obama administration official, is competing with former Navy JAG Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

Analysts differ on Democrats’ chances in the District. The Cook Political Report says the race “leans Republican,” while Larry Sabato rates the seat as “likely Republican.”

Baer’s new ad is set to air on broadcast and cable TV in the Palm Beach market.

David Richardson continues impeachment talk in new ad

State Rep. David Richardson, a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, keeps pressing for the impeachment of President Donald Trump in a new TV spot.

The ad, titled “Impeachment,” features Richardson in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

“There’s one word official Washington does not want you to hear,” begins Richardson. He then attempts to say the word “impeachment” repeatedly, though it is censored each time.

Finally, he gets the word out, adding, “I’m the only candidate in this race to offer an impeachment bill in the legislature. You don’t hear Donna Shalala talking about impeachment.”

That latter remark is a shot at Shalala, one of his Democratic primary opponents in CD 27. While Shalala has said she would vote to impeach President Trump as well, she also said the focus of Democrats should be on winning as many seats in the House and Senate as possible.

Richardson closes the ad by saying, “If separating families at the border, raising health care costs, siding with Vladimir Putin, and the constant lying is not enough to impeach Donald Trump, what is?”

There has been much debate on whether Democrats should make impeachment a campaign issue in the midterms prior to the conclusion of the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has warned Democrats not to campaign on impeachment, arguing it could be used against them as a way to motivate Republican turnout.

Nevertheless, Richardson is running with it: “At the beginning of my campaign, I promised to be a courageous progressive,” said Richardson, in a statement on his new ad.

“While the Democratic establishment stays quiet on progressive causes like impeaching Donald Trump, I have the courage to speak out and promote all parts of my progressive platform. Voters are sick of establishment Democrats selling out to big corporations and abandoning the issues they care about. That will change with me.”

Richardson had represented House District 113 since 2012. He’s competing with Shalala, former Knight Foundation Program Director Matt Haggman, former University of Miami academic adviser Michael A. Hepburn, and Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez for the CD 27 nomination.

Jason Pizzo

Eileen Higgins gets behind Jason Pizzo in SD 38

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, who won a shock victory in the District 5 special election back in June, says she’s endorsing Jason Pizzo in the Democratic primary for Senate District 38.

Pizzo is facing off against incumbent state Sen. Daphne Campbell in the race. But despite Campbell’s incumbency, Higgins says she’s supporting the challenger in a statement released Friday.

“Our community deserves an honest, dedicated state senator fighting for us and Jason Pizzo will be that state senator,” said Higgins.

“Over the years, I’ve seen Jason’s passion and unwavering commitment to making our neighborhoods safer. I know he won’t stop when he gets to Tallahassee.”

Pizzo works as an attorney in Miami; he graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. He praised Higgins for her efforts in her surprise win, where she defeated Zoraida Barreiro in a runoff election for the District 5 seat.

“Commissioner Higgins reaffirmed that voters want honest, authentic leaders who are accountable to the community they serve,” said Pizzo.

“I share her conviction that public service is bigger than just one person, which is why I’m honored to have her support in the home stretch of our campaign. We can deliver a better future for our children, and it starts on Aug. 28 with our vote.”

Pizzo hasn’t been shy about spending money to take over this seat. He recently added another $125,000 in self-loans to his campaign.

SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour. No Republicans filed to run in the race, leaving Pizzo and Campbell as the only two declared candidates.

Miami-Dade County announces virtual end to veteran homelessness

Miami-Dade County has become the latest community in the United States to effectively end the problem of veteran homelessness.

A ceremony Thursday commemorated the achievement, spearheaded by the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

“After four long years of leaving no stone unturned, I am proud to officially announce that Miami-Dade County has effectively ended homelessness amongst veterans in our community,” said Ron Book, chair of the Trust.

According to data from the organization, the county identified 317 homeless veterans in 2014, 142 of which were unsheltered. By January of this year, that number of unsheltered veterans had been brought down to just nine, a reduction of nearly 94 percent.

“Since December 2014, together with our network of providers and partners, we have housed close to 600 homeless veterans and we prevented homelessness for hundreds more who were at risk,” Book said.

Today, unsheltered veterans represent less than one percent of the homeless population, according to the group’s most recent data.

The Trust was founded in 1993, and is led by a board of 27 volunteers. The trust works to advise the County Commission regarding the implementation of the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan.

The Trust doesn’t provide services to the homeless population directly. Rather, it coordinates available funds and oversees compliance of agencies contracted by the county.

In 2014, the Trust increased its focus on the issue of veterans’ homelessness, after Miami-Dade County joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs‘ 25 cities initiative. That initiative was designed to ramp up local efforts across the country to tackle this issue.

“This is a commitment from our community leaders that no one who has served our country should be forced to sleep on the streets,” said Book.

“We know we cannot say that no veteran will ever become homeless again. But we can say, and we can say with conviction, that we have a system in place now to make certain that veterans’ homelessness will be rare, it will be brief.”

Book also spoke of the county’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an agency led by Secretary Ben Carson that helps address housing issues at a federal level.

“We’ve never had, in 24 years, a stronger relationship with [HUD] than we have had under this administration. And 100 percent of that credit goes to the man that leads that agency.”

Secretary Carson was on hand to deliver remarks, congratulating Miami-Dade County on the importance of this work.

“Those who once wore our nation’s uniform deserve more than a life on the streets and we have no greater responsibility than to make certain they have a home they can call their own,” Carson said.

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents Florida’s 25th Congressional District and chairs the House committee in charge of appropriating funds to HUD, was also on-hand to speak about the government’s efforts.

“Our veterans sacrificed so much to defend our freedom, and we owe it to these brave men and women to help them in their times of need,” Diaz-Balart said.

“As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, I am grateful to be in a position to contribute towards this goal, and will continue to do my part to ensure we put an end to veteran homelessness across the country.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also played a role in tackling this problem, helping to add resources for homeless veterans, including 120 Housing Choice Vouchers.

“Today, we say with certainty that Miami-Dade is treating its veterans with the respect they deserve,” Gimenez said.

“Behind every number and percentage, there’s a person,” Book added. “It is about never giving up on people.”

Lauren Baer launches first TV ad in bid to unseat Brian Mast

Former Obama administration official Lauren Baer is out with her first TV spot in support of her run for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

The ad, titled “Our Home,” attempts to emphasize Baer’s connection with the district, along with her reasons for running in the first place.

“I started off as a lawyer, taking the fight to get money out of politics,” Baer says, while supporters interject with their reasons for backing her campaign.

“Kind of like a little powerhouse in a pint-size,” says one supporter.

“She’s a mother, she’s a daughter. I felt like she was there to connect with people,” adds another woman in praise of Baer.

“Six years working as a senior advisor to two different Secretaries of State,” says Baer of her background.

“We want quality, affordable health care. We want good public schools, a clean environment. This campaign is about families, same people I grew up with here. All they ask for is someone who actually listens.”

The ad is set to air on broadcast and cable TV in the Palm Beach media market. CD 18 covers part of Palm Beach County as well as Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Baer is one of two Democrats attempting to oust incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast. She’s competing with former Navy JAG Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination.

Analysts differ on Democrats’ chances in the District. The Cook Political Report says the race “leans Republican,” while Larry Sabato rates the seat as “likely Republican.”

You can watch Baer’s first ad below.

Jared Moskowitz asks governor to ban 3D-printed guns

State Rep. Jared Moskowitz is out with a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, urging him to sign an Executive Order banning 3D-printed guns in the state.

“The threat posed by the distribution of plans for these weapons, and the possession of the weapons themselves, is a true public emergency,” said Moskowitz.

The “emergency,” as Moskowitz called it, was kicked into full swing after a company called Defense Distributed settled with the federal government to allow the posting of blueprints on how to make the guns online.

A judge has since blocked the release of those plans, but it’s not clear whether that restraining order will hold, or for how long.

Should the plans be available online, that would allow someone with a 3D-printer to create objects based on “plans” contained in a digital file, to create a plastic gun in their own home.

“These homemade 3D firearms can be mass produced and possessed by felons, terrorists, domestic abusers, and children with absolutely no oversight and can easily bypass many of our traditional public safety measures such as metal detectors,” warns Moskowitz.

It’s true these plastic guns could provoke safety concerns, given that they are less detectable and untraceable. However, as the technology stands today, they are also extremely unreliable. The 3D-printed weapons are susceptible to exploding during an attempt to fire, and most only contain one or two shots.

That’s not to say the technology won’t improve, but right now a criminal is likely better off buying a gun illegally or manufacturing a regular, metal gun from home.

That’s right; it is currently legal to manufacture your own working gun from your home. While Moskowitz is concerned about the danger these 3D-printed guns pose, the same risks are arguably already posed by the ability to manufacture an actual, metal weapon that will work even better.

Still, the concern about bypassing metal detectors is a real one. That’s why the manufacturing or possession of undetectable guns is already illegal under federal law, a fact noted and supported by representatives for Gov. Scott.

“Undetectable firearms were outlawed by the federal government in 1988,” said McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott.

“Gov. Scott believes that they should remain illegal.

While the creation of an undetectable 3D-printed gun would be against the law, it could be tough to enforce if the plans become publicly available. Moskowitz argues that fact should prompt action from the governor.

“I implore you to take the reasonable and constitutional step of banning 3D firearms and the plans for their production until the Legislature can consider the appropriate permanent response to this unprecedented threat to public safety.”

Fraternal Order of Police backs Manny Diaz in SD 36

Manny Diaz has pulled in another endorsement from the law enforcement community, as the Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is backing his bid for the Senate District 36 seat.

FOP is a nationwide organization that advocates on behalf of law enforcement officers. Diaz issued a statement thanking the Florida Lodge for its support after he received word of the endorsement.

“I’m very honored to have FOP’s support,” Diaz said.

“Keeping law enforcement strong is vital to every community across Florida, and I will continue to make that a priority. I admire and appreciate the bravery and dedication law enforcement personnel show each and every day, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to make sure residents and tourists alike enjoy peace and safety in our state.”

This is the second pro-law enforcement group to back Diaz in recent weeks, as the Dade County Police Benevolent Association also endorsed Diaz last month.

Diaz has represented House District 103 since 2012 but is attempting to make a move to the Senate to replace term-limited state Sen. Rene Garcia. Garcia has already endorsed Diaz, who is the only Republican in the race.

On the Democratic side, David Perez, former aide to ex-Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas, is running against Julian Santos, a former employee at the Florida Office of Financial Regulation in Miami.

SEIU Florida endorsing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida has thrown its support behind Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has a keen perspective on the needs and challenges of working people, and she has spent her life’s work on expanding access to quality healthcare for Floridians, especially those who need it most,” said SEIU Florida State Council President Monica Russo.

SEIU is a labor union representing workers from multiple sectors. The organization serves “over 55,000 active and retired Floridians including healthcare professionals, public employees, and property service workers,” according to its website.

Russo added: “Debbie is the type of voice we desperately need in Washington to fight to protect our rights and represent our families, and SEIU Florida is pleased to endorse her candidacy.”

Mucarsel-Powell is one of two Democrats vying for the nomination in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Former naval officer Demetries Grimes is also seeking the Democratic nod.

Curbelo has represented CD 26 since he defeated Joe Garcia, the incumbent Democratic representative, in 2014.

The race is one that election watchers are keeping a close eye on. Despite the seat being held by a Republican in Curbelo, Hillary Clinton won the district by more than 16 percentage points in 2016.

That, combined with Democrats leading the generic congressional ballot, has led analysts to rate the race as a toss-up.

Brian Mast, Bill Posey push increased funding to combat algae blooms

U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Bill Posey have co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that seeks to increase federal assistance to deal with toxic algae blooms in Florida and other states.

The pair of Florida Republicans joined with Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon to co-sponsor the “Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2018.”

The bill would seek to extend a program set to expire this year, which serves as the principal federal program to address harmful blooms. Also, the new bill would increase funding for that program from $20.5 million to $22 million.

Mast, who represents Florida’s 18th Congressional District, put partial blame on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the issue in a statement on his support for the bill.

“The federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, has played a huge role in perpetuating the human health crisis caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges and they need to take responsibility for the damage by helping to pay for the cleanup,” said Mast.

“More than that, the government needs to stop prioritizing special interests over human health and put an end to the crisis once and for all. This bipartisan bill will help deliver the federal resources needed to end this environmental disaster.”

The Army Corps has earned criticism from nearby residents as well due to its decisions on where to send discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Representatives say they’re forced to discharge the water somewhere to avoid a risk of deadly flooding in the event of a significant storm.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several counties earlier this month as a result of the blooms.

Posey, who represents Florida’s 8th Congressional District, added his endorsement of the bill.

“Tackling the toxic algal blooms is critical to restoring health to our Indian River Lagoon, and I congratulate Congressman Brian Mast on his creative approach to fighting this issue,” Rep. Posey said.

“I’m pleased that our estuary caucus co-chair, Suzanne Bonamici, remains committed to helping in this uphill battle. Together we will find solutions that will benefit all of our estuaries and communities.”

Bonamici represents, the state of Oregon, which has had to deal with its own recent problems with algae blooms.

“Harmful algal bloom and hypoxia events threaten the health of our oceans, lakes, rivers, and waterways in Oregon and across the country,” Rep. Bonamici said.

“Our bipartisan legislation will help communities better protect against and respond quickly to harmful algal bloom and hypoxia events.”

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