AND YOU GET A BEER, AND YOU GET A BEER, AND YOU GET A BEER! EVERYONE WINS: "A long-brewing lager feud in the Florida Legislature was flattened Monday when House lawmakers amended a beer ‘growler’ bill to allow craft brewers more latitude to have unlimited guest taps in their pubs. The bill, HB 1329, authorizes the 64-ounce beer growlers already legal in some 47 other states, but also delves into Florida's complicated ‘three-tier’ system of beer brewers, distributors and retailers by allowing some manufacturers to sell their beer at their breweries. That fight between Florida's burgeoning brew-pub industry and traditional giants like Anheuser-Busch Cos., helped kill a growler bill last year, but the changes approved by the House Business and Professional Regulation Subcommittee would allow manufacturers to sell their beers at taprooms without a vendor license under specific conditions. Craft brewers, though, would be allowed to have unlimited guest taps -- which they frequently use to showcase other locally or Florida- brewed beers. The changes mean Florida lawmakers are likely this year to successfully pass a reform of the state’s Prohibition-era ban on half-gallon beer “growlers” and beer-tastings." (via Orlando Sentinel)
TURNS OUT ORLANDO IS PRETTY GOOD AT MIXING ITS POOR AND RICH POPULATIONS. WE WIN AT SOMETHING! "Poverty in America is an enormous problem. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans, or 46.5 million people, lived below the poverty line in 2012. And the poor are increasingly isolated across America. As Sean Reardon and Kendra Bischoff have documented, between 1970 and 2009 the proportion of poor families living in poor neighborhoods more than doubled, from 8 to 18 percent. And the trend shows no signs of abating. This increasing concentration of poverty poses a host of problems to communities. Less advantaged communities suffer not just from a lack of economic resources but from everything from higher crime and drop-out rates to higher rates of infant mortality and chronic disease. In his classic The Truly Disadvantaged, William Julius Wilson called attention to the deleterious social effects that go along with the spatial concentration of poverty, which 'include the kinds of ecological niches that the residents of these neighborhoods occupy in terms of access to jobs and job networks, availability of marriageable partners, involvement in quality schools, and exposure to conventional role models.'" (via Atlantic Cities)
DON’T WANT TO LOOK LIKE YOU CARE TOO MUCH DURING AN ELECTION YEAR, APPARENTLY: "The debate that dominated last year’s legislative session hasn’t gone away. Hospitals, powerful business alliances and grassroots advocacy groups still believe Florida should access the billions of federal dollars available for Medicaid expansion. The difference between this year and last: Nobody wants to talk about it. House Republicans, who blocked a similar move in 2013, say there is no point in having the contentious conversation again. ‘The federal government has parameters that are too constrictive,’ said Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, of the guidelines for accepting the money. ‘Until the feds say they will give us flexibility, there is no reason to move forward.’ But critics say election-year politics are at play. Polls show that some registered Republicans in Florida oppose Medicaid expansion. And in an election year, Republican lawmakers are particularly wary of supporting policies associated with Obamacare. ‘Ideology is the only thing stopping House Republicans from moving forward on this issue,’ House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston said. ‘Not expanding healthcare is the wrong thing for Florida.’ Last year, the Senate unanimously approved a bill that would allow the use of federal Medicaid expansion dollars to buy private insurance policies for poor Floridians. But the bill went nowhere in the House, which instead approved a proposal to reject $51 billion in federal Medicaid funding. This year, Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, of Hialeah, has introduced a plan for Medicaid expansion in the upper chamber (SB 710). Freshman Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, is carrying an identical bill in the House (HB 869). Neither has been scheduled for a hearing." (via Miami Herald)
TURNS OUT THAT WARNING SHOT PROVISION ALSO TARGETS INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS: "Florida journalists are speaking out after their state's legislature passed a proposal making it far more difficult to report on cases involving the controversial Stand Your Ground law. Florida's Stand Your Ground law has repeatedly made national headlines because of its role in the deaths of teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. On Thursday, the Florida House passed an NRA-backed proposal that includes an amendment which would expand the Stand Your Ground defense to those who fire warning shots to deter potential attacks. The bill also allows for the expunging of records in Stand Your Ground cases where charges were eventually dropped. The bill is now headed to the Florida Senate. As the bill makes its way through the legislative process, top Sunshine State journalists are worried that making these records unavailable to the public will damage their ability to do proper journalism. Among those speaking out are top reporters and editors at the Tampa Bay Times, which conducted a lengthy 2012 investigation into Stand Your Ground that won industry praise and raised concerns about the applications of the law, including the fact that in nearly four out of every five cases involving a Stand Your Ground defense, homicides were deemed justified if the victim was black. "Closing records and putting controversial cases that involve violence into the dark is a bad idea, it is against democracy,' said Neil Brown, Times editor and vice president. 'This would have inhibited our work further. Our work was done based on court records as well as the stories of the incidents when they occurred.'" (via MediaMatters)
AN ELOQUENT EULOGY FOR AN INELEGANT MAN: “On behalf of Nathan Phelps, son of former Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, Recovering From Religion issues the following official statement: ‘Fred Phelps is now the past. The present and the future are for the living. Unfortunately, Fred’s ideas have not died with him, but live on, not just among the members of Westboro Baptist Church, but among the many communities and small minds that refuse to recognize the equality and humanity of our brothers and sisters on this small planet we share. I will mourn his passing, not for the man he was, but for the man he could have been. I deeply mourn the grief and pain felt by my family members denied their right to visit him in his final days. They deserved the right to finally have closure to decades of rejection, and that was stolen from them. Even more, I mourn the ongoing injustices against the LGBT community, the unfortunate target of his 23 year campaign of hate. His life impacted many outside the walls of the WBC compound, uniting us across all spectrums of orientation and belief as we realized our strength lies in our commonalities, and not our differences. How many times have communities risen up together in a united wall against the harassment of my family? Differences have been set aside for that cause, tremendous and loving joint efforts mobilized within hours
and because of that, I ask this of everyone – let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities.’” (via Daily Kos)
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