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Florida House Bill 1239


Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Florida, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!


House Bill 1239, Increase penalty for illegally passing a school bus: Passed 118 to 0 in the state House on April 28, 2017 and 28 to 6 in the state Senate on May 1, 2017


To authorize enhanced penalties for failing to stop for a school bus if it causes someone to be injured or killed. In addition to existing penalties the bill would authorize a $1,500 fine, one-year driver license suspension, and additional points added to a driver license record. Additional penalties could include community service, participation in victim’s impact panel sessions and attending a driver improvement course.


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U.S. House Bill 1039


Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in D.C., check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!


House Bill 1039: Allow probation officers to make arrests with no warrants: Passed 220 to 177 in the U.S. House on May 19, 2017


To allow a probation officer to arrest someone without a warrant if there is probable cause that the person assaulted or obstructed a probation officer.


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U.S. House Bill 115: Increase penalty for killing police


Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Washington D.C., check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!


House Bill 115, Increase penalty for killing police: Passed 271 to 143 in the U.S. House on May 18, 2017


To make the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder an aggravating factor in death penalty cases. In essence, this bill would increase the chances for people who commit these crimes to receive the death penalty.


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Highlights of the First Presidential Debate


In the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the candidates clashed over a number of issues, including the economy, race relations, policing, and national security.


One of the main themes of the night for Trump was that the U.S. is being held back by bad deals, including trade agreements like NAFTA, defense agreements with nations like Japan, or national security agreements like the one negotiated with Iran over that nation’s nuclear weapons. He said that he would bring his experience as a businessman to the office of president and negotiate better deals for the U.S.


Clinton stressed that she is prepared to be president, bolstering her case by focusing on policy specifics. She also made pointed appeals to minority voters and women voters.


The two candidates did not hesitate to attack one another. Clinton scored against Trump by going into a lengthy discussion of his refusal to release his tax returns and his questioning of whether President Obama was born in the United States. Trump hit Clinton on her e-mail server scandal. He also attempted to use the experience issue against her, saying that Clinton has been in politics for 30 years but has not used that time to address the problems she is discussing during the campaign.


Areas of agreement


While the debate mainly consisted of Trump and Clinton pointing out how they differed, there were some areas of agreement. While Trump strongly attacked free trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Clinton also took a skeptical view of many trade deals.


On gun control, Clinton called for stronger measures to restrict gun sales. One of the proposals she stressed was prohibiting individuals on the no-fly list from being able to purchase firearms. While Trump did not explicitly endorse this idea, he did suggest that he may agree with it.


Both Clinton and Trump agreed that the U.S. should concentrate more on cybersecurity issues.


Areas of disagreement


On the economy, Trump said that he would create jobs in the U.S. by re-negotiating trade agreements, cracking down on companies that invest overseas, lowering taxes so that the wealthy create jobs, and cutting middle class taxes.


Clinton laid out a plan for economic growth that consists of creating new government programs for things like paid family leave and college tuition subsidies. She also repeatedly called for raising taxes on the wealthy. She said that Trump’s tax cuts are “trickle down” and will not work, befitting Trump himself, not the American people.


On crime, Trump said, “We need law and order.” He vigorously defended the controversial stop-and-frisk practice that came under fire and was halted by a judge in New York City. Clinton said there was an epidemic of gun violence and called for more gun control


When it came to national security, Trump blames Obama and Clinton for creating a vacuum that led to ISIS. He said the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil to deprive ISIS of income. Clinton accused Trump of not caring whether other nations obtained nuclear weapons, but Trump countered that he believed nuclear weapons (not global warming) was the single greatest threat to the U.S.


On the nuclear issue, Clinton said, “The man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his finger near the nuclear codes…”


Their best lines?


Clinton: “I have a feeling by the end of this evening I'm going to be blamed for everything that's ever happened.”

Trump: “Why not?”
Clinton: “Why not? Yeah, why not? Just join the debate by saying more crazy things.”


Trump: “I have a much better temperament than she does… my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament.”


Clinton: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.”


Trump (on who may have hacked the DNC e-mails): “It could have been Russia. It could be China. It could be someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”


What do you think?

Do you think Clinton or Trump won the debate? What do you think was their strongest moment against each other?

The Saga of Felon Voting in Virginia

Governor Terry McAuliffe is determined to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Virginians with felony records. It appears he will get his way prior to Election Day.

He first attempted to do so in April, when he announced a blanket order to restore voting rights to over 200,000 felons, saying, “There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans — we should remedy it.”

Republicans said that the governor was overstepping his constitutional powers. Senate Republican Leader Thomas Norment said, “Gov. McAuliffe's flagrant disregard for the Constitution of Virginia and the rule of law must not go unchecked.” By a 4-3 vote, the Virginia Supreme Court sided with the Republicans and invalidated the governor’s action.

That did not deter Governor McAuliffe, however. He vowed to restore voting rights on a case-by-case basis to comply with the court decision. He is in the process of doing that, already restoring rights for 13,000 individuals.

Some Republicans claim the governor is playing politics by focusing efforts on felons who primarily live in Democratic areas of the commonwealth. Supporters of Governor McAuliffe point out that the man who preceded McAuliffe in the governor’s mansion, Republican Bob McDonnell, also restored the voting rights of some felons.

If McAuliffe were governor in most other states, this would not be an issue. Virginia is one of only 9 states that do not grant felons voting rights. Most states restore voting rights to felons after they serve their sentences. Some restore these rights to felons even while they are on probation or parole. Two states, Maine and Vermont, even allow prisoners to vote.

What do you think? Should felons be able to vote?

A New Attorney General for Pennsylvania

The tumultuous tenure of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane came to an end on August 16. She resigned from office following her conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. Governor Tom Wolf has nominated Bruce Beemer to replace her.

Kane was charged in August 2015 with felony perjury and other charges. The charges stemmed from Kane’s leaking of grand jury testimony in an attempt to smear a rival prosecutor. This prosecutor had alleged that Kane shut down an investigation of Democratic elected officials for political reasons. Kane leaked confidential grand jury testimony to embarrass that prosecutor, then lied about the leak under oath and conspired with others to impede the investigation.

Kane’s resignation comes after a long refusal to give up the office. Governor Wolf and others had called upon her to resign, but Kane vowed to stay in office and fight the charges. A state Senate resolution directing the governor to remove her from office failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote, although it did receive support from a majority of senators. The state House voted to open an impeachment investigation in February. Even though Kane has resigned, the impeachment investigation will continue.

The state Senate must confirm Gov. Wolf’s nomination of Bruce Beemer, the current inspector general for the commonwealth. Given Republican leadership’s support for Beemer, it seems that he will obtain the necessary two-thirds supermajority vote to become the state’s next attorney general.

House returns to resume a bitter fight over gun control

Congress will be taking up gun control this week. Do you support banning people placed on certain government lists, but who have not been arrested or even charged with a crime, from being able to purchase firearms?

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