After hearing strong comments describing the bill as the preemption to end all preemptions, local government guardrails for business ordinances, a trial-lawyer’s dream, and an extreme overreach of state government, a Senate committee approved Senate Bill 280 Wednesday.
The Senate Committee on Community Affairs voted along party lines to forward SB 280 after the bill was bombarded by opposition from advocates of local government. Those in opposition are upset the bill would give local businesses the ability to delay new ordinances simply by suing and arguing the measure is preempted by state law or the state Constitution. That would trigger an automatic court stay which would block the ordinance from taking effect.
The bill, from Republican Sen. Travis Hutson of Palm Coast, also has provisions that would require local governments to write business environment impact statements on all proposed local statutes to evaluate whether they could have negative effects on local businesses; and provide that businesses could be compensated — made whole — for business losses under some new local ordinances.
Hutson suggested, as an example, that if a city were to ban sales of white cars on Sundays, then car dealers could sue the city for however much money they had expected to make if they could sell white cars on Sundays.
But giving individual businesses the power to stop any ordinance — at least long enough for court litigation to reach a conclusion — split the room. Lawmakers tussled over whether that would give local businesses veto power over any local law a business might not like, or whether businesses could finally receive protections from overzealous local officials who care too little about how local laws can hurt businesses.
Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale called the bill an “extreme overreach” of state government and suggested it was a point of irony that SB 280 would get its first committee hearing one day after Sen. President Wilton Simpson suggested it was time for the Florida Legislature to stop preempting local government powers.
Farmer argued that SB 280 would give any business that feels affected opportunities to stifle local laws that might deal with everything from alcohol sales hours to puppy mills; adult entertainment to food truck restrictions; human rights requirements to wage ordinances.
“I’ve heard it said this is a trial lawyer’s dream. This is more of an actualization of a nightmare,” Farmer charged.
Hutson replied that in order for lawmakers to consider ending preemption of local government actions, they must first provide one last, overriding protection for businesses. Hutson noted that Simpson made that clear in his Session opening address Tuesday when he said, “At the same time, we are going to make sure that local citizens and businesses understand the impacts of your regulations by requiring you to provide fiscal impact statements for ordinances and referendums. We will also ensure that you pay legitimate businesses that are impacted by your takings.”
That could make SB 280 the preemption that could end all preemptions, Hutson argued.
“We’ve come up here year after year after year preempting local governments from various ordinances from a gauntlet… So how do you stop these preemption bills? Because we are the last line of defense,” Hutson said.
After a long list of local advocates argued against SB 280, while the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity waived in support without speaking, Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley of Lady Lake declared he had heard enough. He characterized the anti-SB 280 positions as statements describing businesses as the enemy.
“If you listen to most of the debate comments today from the audience, businesses are evil,” Baxley said. “And yet they’re asked to pay the bills. They’re paying the majority of the property taxes. Businesses are your friends. They’re the people who give your community life. But for them to have no recourse, no way to go, to demonstrate they’re being harmed in some way, I think is just unconscionable.”
Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky of Boca Raton argued that business owners and their representatives have the same recourse as any citizen of the community, throughout local law making; in the courts, as businesses can currently sue over local ordinances, but cannot get automatic stays or assurances of “make whole” restitution; and, as a final option, in local elections.
“Local government is not the enemy, just like business is not the enemy,” she said. “I just don’t understand why, year after year after year we are making local government the enemy. These people are elected just like us.”
On Wednesday, SB 280 was overhauled with a 19-page strike-all that Hutson said was the result of most recent talks with affected parties. He said he would continue those talks and expects continued revisions.
Joe Biden Website Promises to Ship Four Free Coronavirus Tests to Residents Within 7-12 Days
The White House announced Tuesday President Joe Biden’s website for Americans to request free coronavirus tests was now live.
Officials said the website, covidtests.gov, was live but still remained in the beta phase of the programming and testing process.
The president expects to officially launch the website on Wednesday as he also plans to hold an official press conference at the White House to mark his upcoming one-year anniversary as president.
Families can request four free coronavirus tests on the website after putting in their name and address.
The government will begin shipping the test within 7-12 days, according to a notice on the website.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged during the daily briefing that the website was live, but only operating in a limited capacity.
“We can’t guarantee there won’t be a bug or two,” she said.
Biden is struggling to catch up on testing, despite being in charge of the pandemic for a year as president.
Joe Biden replaces the mask he wears. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Many Americans trying to travel and gather with family over the Christmas holiday were unable to get access to tests or faced long waits in line for several hours at testing centers.
Biden was initially defensive about his administration’s performance, scoffing at questions from reporters during a December event on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“What took so long is it didn’t take long at all,” he said, complaining the omicron variant of the virus caught everyone off guard.
Despite Biden’s efforts to ramp up and increase testing capacity, state governors have called out the federal government for making it harder to get tests for their residents.
“You know, so now it’s sort of hijacking the tests that we already had plans for, and we’re now getting some of those providers to tell us they no longer have the rapid tests,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said in an interview on CBS on Sunday.
Survey: Global Majority Feel Misled by Media, Business, Political Leaders
The majority of people across the globe feel that are being misled by journalists, government leaders, and business executives, according to Edelman’s 2022 global “Trust Barometer.”
The survey found that 67 percent of people globally are “convinced” they are being “purposely” misled by journalists and reporters, which is up eight percent from 2021.
Additionally, 66 percent think their country’s government leaders “purposely” mislead them, which has risen nine percent from 2021, while 63 percent said business leaders “purposely” mislead them, which has increased seven percent from 2021.
When respondents were asked about trust, 46 percent said they do not trust journalists, which has risen one percent from last year.
Additionally, 42 percent said they do not trust the county’s government leaders, which has risen one percent from last year. 49 percent said they do not trust CEOs, which has grown one percent from last year.
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 08: U.S. President Joe Biden stops to talk to reporters. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
However, 66 percent of the respondents said they trust their own CEO, which has risen three percent since 2021.
The survey also found that 76 percent “worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon,” which has risen four percent since last year.
Edelman’s survey had 31,050 respondents globally, spanning 27 countries. The survey was taken between November 1 and 24 of last year and had a margin of error plus or minus 0.6 percent points.
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.
Israeli Vaccine Advisor Says Vax Passports Should End, Government ‘Made Mistakes’ During COVID
A top Israeli vaccine advisor argued their vaccine passport scheme should be ended, and that the government made serious mistakes with lockdown policies.
Professor Cyrille Cohen, the head of Immunology at Bar Ilan University and a senior vaccine advisor to the Israeli government, spoke to Unherd’s Freddie Sayers in a long form interview about his country’s response to the virus, and what the future was likely to hold.
Despite being a proponent of the COVID-19 vaccines, Cohen noted that “their effectiveness against contamination is reduced” from their original release, adding that he and his fellow scientists were “surprised to discover at the end of the day that the vaccines are not protecting us, are not causing what we call sterilising immunity.”
Recent studies in Israel have confirmed that even a fourth COVID shot is nowhere near as effective against the Omicron variant. “We see many infected with Omicron who received the fourth dose. Granted, a bit less than in the control group, but still a lot of infections,” said Professor Gili Regev-Yochay, a lead researcher in the experiment at Sheba Medical Centre, on Monday.
With Cohen highlighting that natural immunity gives people much better protection “than the vaccine,” and because “there is a very narrow gap between people vaccinated and non-vaccinated, both can get infected with a virus, more or less at the same pace,” the Israeli government’s vaccine passport plan, known as the Green Pass, should be phased out.
Cohen told Sayers that while a Green Pass is not the best way to prevent transmissions, the “political aspects” were clear to begin with, in that it would “encourage” people to get the vaccine. The comments from vaccine advisor echoed that of Israeli ministers caught on a hot mic in September last year, admitting the scheme was not “epidemiologically justified.”
“If you mix politics and immunology or health sciences, at the end of the day you get politics,” Cohen continued, arguing that when discussing and applying policies from the government, “you need to have as many possible voices around you and then make the right decision.”
Reflecting on his role in the Israeli government’s response as one of a number of vaccine advisors, Cohen said that the government made a “few mistakes,” but that the most crucial one was closing down the schools, to which he said he was “extremely” sorry. “Education was the thing we shouldn’t have touched. Never, never,” he added, saying the decision to shut down schools will likely have “some repercussions in the future.”
Looking to the future, Cohen predicted that with the spread of the Omicron variant, COVID-19 would not be eliminated from society, but would become more of a flu-like disease in terms of commonality and spread.
“I think there is going to be bad waves and better waves, with a better immunity at the level of the population, with better vaccines with better treatment,” he said. “In that sense, and I’m extremely cautious, there is a possibility that Omicron will accelerate that transition.”
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