U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation Thursday that would allow some Canadian citizens to spend up to eight months a year vacationing in the U.S., two months longer than they are allowed to stay now. [Read more…] about Nelson, Rubio file bill to allow Canadian snowbirds to visit U.S. for longer
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and others introduced legislation today to lower the costs of prescription drugs for individuals and families across the country by placing a monthly cap on their out-of-pocket drug costs. [Read more…] about Nelson introduces legislation to cap prescription drug costs
Files new amendment to defense bill that would
maintain current moratorium for five additional years
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to maintain the current moratorium on oil and gas activities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico – and prevent the administration from opening up any new areas closer to Florida’s coast to offshore drilling – until, at least, 2027.
The move comes amid reports that the oil industry – despite the Trump administration’s pledge that Florida would be “off the table” to new drilling – has launched a new campaign to try to open up additional areas in the eastern Gulf to offshore drilling.
“Here we go,” Nelson tweeted in response to the reports Wednesday. “Like us, Big Oil doesn’t believe Florida is really “off the table” to new drilling – despite what Scott and the Trump administration keep saying – and now they are making a new push to drill closer to Florida’s shores. We can’t let that happen!”
Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, filed the measure to maintain the current moratorium in the eastern gulf for an additional five years – until 2027, instead of 2022 – as an amendment to the annual defense bill that’s currently being considered in the Senate.
By filing the measure as an amendment to the defense bill – instead of as a standalone piece of legislation – it could need only 50 votes to be approved and added into the broader bill, instead of the 60 votes it typically takes to get a bill through the chamber.
Now filed, a decision on whether to allow a vote on Nelson’s amendment will be up to Senate leaders – while a decision on whether the amendment would need only 50 votes, instead of 60, will be up to the Senate Parliamentarian.
Nelson says, however, if they are successful in getting Senate leaders to allow a vote on the measure, the fact that it may only need 50 votes to pass as an amendment would drastically increase its chances of becoming law.
Full text of the amendment can be found here.
Image source: nelsonforsenate.com
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced legislation today to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic by increasing the number of doctors who treat those with an opioid addiction.
The legislation – known as the Opioid Workforce Act – would create 1,000 new Medicare-supported medical residency positions at hospitals throughout the country to train new doctors in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry or pain management.
“Too many Floridians don’t have access to critical treatments for opioid addiction,” Nelson said. “We need to make sure we have the doctors and resources necessary to help fight this public health crisis.”
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will have a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030.
In 2016, there were over 5,200 opioid-related deaths reported in Florida – a 35 percent increase from the year before. Florida ranks 45th for the number of available behavioral health professionals to treat Floridians with an opioid addiction, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. There are about 20 behavioral health providers available for every 1,000 Florida adults with a substance use disorder.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, only about one in 10 people in the U.S. over the age of 12 who needed substance abuse treatment received treatment at a specialty facility. That same report found that 1.168 million Floridians over the age of 12 needed but did not receive treatment for substance abuse.
If approved, Nelson’s bill would allow eligible hospitals to add up to 25 full-time residency positions in their opioid-related medical residency programs, including three in Florida: the University of Florida School of Medicine in Gainesville, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville and the University of Miami in Miami.
The bipartisan bill (S. 2843) now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
The text of the bill can be found here.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to help millions of American workers who could soon find themselves out of job as our economy continues to shift towards more automation thanks to continuous advances in new technology.
According to McKinsey Global Institute, up to one third of the American workforce could be replaced by automation by 2030. As more and more businesses choose to employ new technologies – such as driverless cars, warehouse robotics and self-checkout kiosks – instead of traditional American workers, tens of millions of jobs could soon be obsolete.
To help ensure American workers are not left behind, Nelson’s legislation would create a tax incentive for companies that hire workers from fields most impacted by the shift to automation. It would also provide additional tax savings to help lower the cost of education for workers who choose to learn new skills and pursue jobs in fields with a short supply of skilled labor.
“The world is changing and we need to change with it,” Nelson said. “We need to do everything we can to create additional jobs and opportunities for the millions of hardworking people who could wake up one day and suddenly find their job obsolete.”
A copy of the bill (S.2648) is available here. It now heads to the Senate Finance committee for consideration.
A section-by-section breakdown of the legislation can be found here.
The president today signed a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing online sex trafficking by cracking down on websites that knowingly host ads posted by sex traffickers.
The legislation, cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), increases penalties for traffickers and gives law enforcement new tools to prosecute the websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking online.
“This should serve as a wake-up call for anyone operating one of these websites,” Nelson said after today’s bill signing. “We’re coming for you.”
The bill signing comes just days after federal authorities shut down a website known as Backpage.com and charged its executives with facilitating prostitution.
According to the human trafficking hotline, Florida ranked third in the country for the highest number of sex trafficking cases reported in 2016 and 2017.
Governor Rick Scott today signed HB 359, which advances the Governor’s proposal to strictly prohibit the State of Florida, including all state agencies, from investing in any company that is doing business with Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s oppressive government. Read more HERE.
Governor Rick Scott today visited USAA in Tampa to highlight $180 million in total funding in his Securing Florida’s Future Budget to support active military, veterans, and their families. He also signed HB 29, which will increase opportunities and reduce fees for Florida military, veterans and their families. HB 29, known as the “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act,” expands legislation signed into law by Governor Scott in 2014 (more HERE) by reducing professional licensing fees and requirements for certain military members, veterans, and their spouses.
This bill also designates March 25th of every year as “Medal of Honor Day” to honor the individuals recognized with the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force in the Armed Services of the United States. The “Don Hahnfeldt Veteran and Family Opportunity Act” was named after State Representative Don Hahnfeldt, a veteran and a member of the Florida House of Representatives who passed away last year.
Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis and Gov. Rick Scott today honored first responders in Tampa as the governor signed Senate Bill 376 surrounded by hundreds of first responders and their families. The bill allows first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to access mental health benefits through Florida’s workers’ compensation system.
Governor Rick Scott said, “I’m proud to sign SB 376 today to help our first responders receive the help that they deserve. Florida is home to the best first responders in the nation and we will continue to provide them support. I want to thank Jimmy and the Florida Legislature for their work on this important bill.”
CFO Patronis said, “From day one, this has been a life or death issue. Our first responders are attempting suicide at a rate that is exponentially higher than the general population. We know that with the right treatment our first responders who suffer from PTSD can get the help they need. Before this bill, Florida’s workers’ compensation system failed too many of our brave heroes. Signing this bill into law tells every first responder that Florida has your back. That it’s okay to get help and treatment. That you are not alone. Thank you to Gov. Rick Scott for his continued support of our first responders.”
Mast Opened First-Ever Office Inside VA Facility
U.S. Congressman Brian Mast today introduced new legislation to streamline the opening of Congressional offices inside Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the nation. The introduction of the bill, called the Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act, follows Rep. Mast’s opening of the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA this past January.
“Serving veterans in our community is not only deeply personal to me, it’s also the most frequent request that I get as a Member of Congress,” Rep. Mast said. “Opening the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA hospital has allowed us to help veterans on the spot: when and where they’re having an issue. Every single Member of Congress should do the same at their local VA and this bill will pave the way to make that high level of service a reality for our veterans.”
Since the opening of the VA office in January, many other Members of Congress have asked Rep. Mast about the process to open his office so that they can replicate the service for veterans at their local VA facilities. Unfortunately, opening the office took more than a year of navigating bureaucratic red tape.
The Improving Veterans Access to Congressional Services Act would cut down on this bureaucracy by requiring the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to permit a Member of Congress to use a facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purpose of meeting with constituents of the Member. Moreover, the bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop regulations regarding the use of VA office space by Members of Congress, mandating that the space be made available during normal business hours and in a location that is easily accessible to the Member’s constituents.
Read the text of the bill here.
Rep. Mast opened the first-ever Congressional office inside a VA facility in January. Through this office, veterans from around the area have improved access for assistance with any VA-related issues. The office is located in room 1A-366 of the West Palm Beach VA.
The office is staffed jointly by the West Palm Beach area Congressional delegation on the following schedule:
Rep. Brian Mast – Mondays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rep. Lois Frankel – Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rep. Ted Deutch – First Wednesday of the Month: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings – Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Veterans may call ahead to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are taken on a first come, first serve basis. Veterans may also receive assistance at any of our other offices at any time.