Saturday, June 23, 2018
Politics

Domestic registry bill stalls in state Senate, odds look long

TALLAHASSEE — Vowing not to give up, Democratic state Sen. Eleanor Sobel delayed a committee vote of a domestic partnership bill that looked unlikely to pass and still faces long odds.

The bill, which Sobel has been trying to pass for five years, would have extended rights of married couples in areas such as health benefits, hospital visitation and medical decisionmaking to nonmarried couples.

"This is an issue that affects hundreds of thousands of Floridians," said Nadine Smith of Tampa, executive director of the advocacy group Equality Florida.

"Those of us who are in committed relationships are treated as legal strangers at the moment the people who love us need us the most, when tragedy strikes," Smith told lawmakers.

Many of the speakers Tuesday provided emotional testimony about being denied visitation when a partner was dying, being unable to make decisions about a funeral or being denied access to a loved one in an emergency.

Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said it disturbed her when one woman said she didn't feel like a human being. "There was a time when certain individuals were considered three-fifths of a human being," Thompson, who is African-American, said.

While most of the testimony focused on a lack of rights for same-sex couples, Sobel stressed the bill was not just about gay partnerships. "It's for all consenting adults," she said.

Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, recommended the bill as a way to attract and keep businesses.

"This is for me as much about jobs as anything," he said, noting he didn't want to have to tell companies some of their employees would be "legally invisible" when they crossed the state line.

In Florida, 18 jurisdictions — including Pinellas, Orange and Miami-Dade counties — recognize domestic partnerships.

But Sobel's legislation, SB 196, is "too broad" in scope, said Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice.

"It's a walking lawsuit as far as I'm concerned," she said, but added later that she thinks it's "fixable."

Sobel, of Hollywood, said she will rewrite the bill with a more narrow scope and present it again. Democrats, however, think the bill has little chance of passing.

Comments
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18