<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Miami Political News and South Florida Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:58:24 -0400 Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:58:24 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Impact with Jackie Nespral - March 29, 2015]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 17:28:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000017515396_1200x675_419833923909.jpg On the show: Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley on the fallout of the racist video that led to four officers losing their jobs, plus a debate on whether guns should be allowed on college campuses.]]> <![CDATA[Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz Speaks in NH]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:22:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cruz-AP938170470053.jpg

Just days after making his presidential candidacy official, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is in New Hampshire for a two-day swing.

Cruz was the first major candidate to announce a run for president. He made the announcement on Monday at Liberty University in Virginia.

On Friday, he attended a rally in Merrimack, New Hampshire, at 3 p.m.

He's also scheduled to speak later in the day at the "New England Freedom Conference" in Nashua, being held by the Young Americas Foundation. On Saturday, he is scheduled to speak at a brunch being hosted by the Rockingham County Republican Committee and the Seacoast Republican Women.

Cruz has made four previous visits to the Granite State with more than a dozen individual stops dating back to 2014. See those visits and more in NECN's New Hampshire Candidate Tracker. 



Photo Credit: FILE - AP Photo/Andrew Harnik]]>
<![CDATA[CA Attorney General Moves to End Anti-Gay Initiative]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:44:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/file-kamala-harris-ca-ag.jpg

California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method." The distribution of gay "propaganda" would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin's actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California's initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California's initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin's proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

"The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate," he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called "Sodomite Suppression Act" with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Variety]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Gov.: Cruz Unfit for WH]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 15:02:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/brown-cruz.jpg

Calfiornia Gov. Jerry Brown tore into climate change skeptics on Sunday, saying one major presidential hopeful's position on climate change should disqualify him from the highest office in the nation.

Brown warned that climate change would be a major issue for America's next president in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," days after announcing a roughly $1 billion plan to combat California's drought.

"That man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office," Brown said, when asked about Texas Senator Ted Cruz's claim that there isn't a scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.

Cruz made his remarks on "Late Night With Seth Meyers" this week, saying that "climate alarmists" have a problem because scientific data doesn't back up their claims.

"My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data," Cruz said.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Cruz was preparing to formally announce on Monday that he will run for president in 2016.

Brown, who has sought the White House three times, said more than 90 percent of climate scientists "are absolutely convinced" that human and industrial activity are leading to heat-trapping greenhouse gasses that caused both California's drought and severe cold and storms on the Eastern seaboard.

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming trends in the last 100 years are "very likely due to human activities."

When pressed by NBC's Chuck Todd, Brown didn't directly link his state's drought crisis to climate change, but said more droughts are inevitable in the coming decades. Two-thirds of California are in an extreme drought after more than three years of low water levels, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Brown also called the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) letter to convince states to block or ignore the EPA's proposed carbon pollution regulations "a disgrace."

"Here's the point, that the buildup of carbon coming from coal and petroleum and other sources, that this is going to create these droughts and much, much worse. And that's why to have the leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell representing his coal constituents, are putting it at risk, the health and well being of America, is a disgrace," Brown said.

Calling the drought California's new normal, Brown wants a presidential campaign "almost at the level of a crusade" to make the public aware that man-made carbon dioxide emissions can have an affect on the climate. He implied that politicians who dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change are doing the bidding of profit-hungry constituents and corporate donors.

"The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world," Brown said.

Climate change, balancing the country's budget and investing in science and technology are the three issues presidential candidates should be talking about, Brown said.

Asked if he would consider running if he was 10 years younger, the 76-year-old Brown said, "Yes, I would."

"If I could go back in a time machine and be 66, I might jump in. But that's a counterfactual, so you don't need to speculate on that," he added.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lewinsky Talks Cyberbullying, Affair on TED Stage]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:39:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/TED2015_031915_2DD7163.jpg

Monica Lewinsky spoke bluntly about cyberbullying and her own experience in the public spotlight Thursday, as the she took the stage for one of her most prominent appearances since her affair with President Bill Clinton as a White House intern.

Lewinsky, now 41, said during a TED talk that her own scandal was “brought to you by the digital revolution," according to TED.com. When the news of the tryst broke online, she told the audience that she transformed from being a “completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide.”

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” the website cited her saying. “At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences."

The Internet, she said, had created a culture where people enjoy viewing others' downfall online, a dynamic that made her situation worse at the time it was made public in the 1990s.

“It was one of the first time that the traditional news was usurped by the Internet, a click that reverberated around the whole world,” she added. “When this happened to me, 17 years ago, there was no name for it. Now we call it cyberbullying.”

She later referenced cyberbullying cases in recent years that have made national headlines, including that of an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly watched him having a sexual encounter with a man using a webcam and posted about it online. 

In her 18-minute talk, Lewinsky urged people to be more compassionate and mindful when communicating online.

"Showing empathy to others benefits us. Imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline," she said. 



Photo Credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Probe Ex-Rep. Schock: AP]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 19:13:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP326057663792_RepSchock.jpg

Friday was the day things went from bad to worse for Congressman Aaron Schock.

The Congressman, already under fire for globe-trotting vacations, documented on Instagram and often billed at taxpayer or campaign expense, abruptly resigned on Tuesday. And on Friday, federal subpoenas began going out, in what would appear to be a wide-ranging investigation of the Peoria Republican’s finances.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned that even former Schock staffers began receiving subpoenas to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in Springfield in April. And separately, the Federal Election Commission confirms it has received a complaint, asking for an investigation of the congressman’s campaign accounts.

Schock’s resignation blunted a pending inquiry by the House Ethics Committee, but his upcoming departure does not quell a potential criminal investigation. And a spokesman for the F.E.C. confirmed that enforcement matters there can continue even if a candidate or officeholder is no longer active, since political committees often continue in existence long after an official has left office.

Neither the congressman’s spokesman or his attorneys returned calls seeking comment.

Investigators are reportedly focusing on Schock’s House office expenditures and expenses, his campaign, and personal investments. The FBI would not formally comment on the investsigation. But the agency’s Springfield chief made clear that a probe is underway.

“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox. “When there are allegations of public corruption, it is our responsibility to look into those allegations.”

In resigning Tuesday, Schock cited a “heavy heart”, but that the constant questions about his spending and business dealings had become too much of a distraction. His departure was so sudden, the congressman did not even give the customary (and expected) notice to House leadership. Speaker John Boehner made no effort to rise to his defense.

“If somebody’s going to violate the rules, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Launches 2016 Exploratory Committee Ahead of NH Visit]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 12:29:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP333051909036.jpg

Business mogul Donald Trump is considering throwing his hat in the 2016 ring, announcing the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.

"We have lost the respect of the entire world," Trump said in a message from the committee. "Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians, who are all talk and no action!"

Trump went on to tout his success as a businessman and added he will push to control the nation's borders, education system and military.

Trump will also head to New Hampshire Thursday night, bringing his total number of trips to the home of the nation's first primary to at least five since early 2014, according to NECN's 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker.

He is expected to address the media following a reception at the home of State Rep. Steve Stepanek. Trump was invited back in January when Stepanek was at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

"It sounds like he's serious," Stepanek said of Trump. "He's gonna get a taste for what it's like to campaign in New Hampshire. We're going to have him wade into the crowd, doing what you have to do to be a candidate in New Hampshire."

Stepanek, who said he's hosted similar events for Rudy Giuliani and others in the past, is expecting about 200 people on Thursday. It's the first in a series of house parties featuring GOP presidential candidates being hosted by the House Republican Caucus. Ted Cruz is expected to speak in April, and Ben Carson in May.

Trump recently wrapped up hosting the seventh season of reality show "Celebrity Apprentice," in which television personality Leeza Gibbons won $250,000 for a charity of her choice.

Trump, whose presidential aspirations have generated buzz for years, recently said he would not renew his contract for the show, according to the Associated Press, a sign that he could be more serious this time around. The show airs on NBC, which is owned by the same parent company as this site.



Photo Credit: File - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ill. Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 20:18:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Aaron-Schock-blurb1.jpg

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock announced his resignation from Congress Tuesday following questions surrounding misuse of funds in his campaign and congressional spending accounts, including reports that he redecorated his office with lavish decor inspired by "Downton Abbey."

"Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31st," Schock said in a statement. "I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington.

The Republican congressman said he has given the people of his Peoria-area district his all since his election in 2008, "but the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself."

The move, first reported by Politico, comes after numerous reports alleging questionable expenses by the congressman. Sen. Dick Durbin said the resignation "came as a surprise."

"With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first," U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "I appreciate Aaron's years of service, and I wish him well in the future." 

Last week, NBC5 Investigates reported that Schock had billed his office account and leadership PAC for over $16,000 in mileage for his personal car, last year alone. On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that Schock had billed various entities for over 170,000 miles over for years, for a personal car he sold with only about 80,000 miles on the odometer.

“It’s a sad day for the people of the 18th District,” said Kankakee Congressman Adam Kinzinger. “He was a friend of mine, and I just wish him luck in the future.”

In Chicago, the chief of the Illinois Republican Party seemed to put some distance between the party and a congressman.

“Honesty and integrity are of utmost importance when serving the public,” said Chairman Tim Schneider. “Today is an unfortunate day for the people of the 18th Congressional District, the State of Illinois, and the Illinois Republican Party.

A special election will be held to replace Schock, a four-term congressman who was the Congress’ youngest member when he was elected at age 27. The election must be held within 120 days of the seat becoming vacant.

Among those considered contenders for the job, State Senator Darin LaHood, whose father Ray LaHood preceded Schock, before leaving Congress to become Secretary of Transportation.

“It is clear to me Congressman Schock believes he is doing what is best for the people of the 18th District at this time,” LaHood said Tuesday. “I will be evaluating the full impact of this decision in the next few days.”

In a separate report Monday, the website Buzzfeed reported that Schock spent more than $5,000 from his House account for a portable podium that looks a lot like a presidential podium used by President Barack Obama. A public watchdog group has filed a federal ethics complaint against the lawmaker for using congressional money to redesign his office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey" and for billing taxpayers or his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars in private air travel on donor-owned planes.

“This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

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<![CDATA[Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey" Office]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:38:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/schock-th-462707536.jpg Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-IL) new office in the Rayburn Office Building, which was designed to resemble the dining room of the PBS show 'Downton Abbey,' on January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. The interior decorator owns a company called Euro Trash LLC.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best Political Mustaches]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:46:59 -0400 since he was age 14 and a sophomore at St. Rita High School.]]> since he was age 14 and a sophomore at St. Rita High School.]]> http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/215*120/tlmd-jesus-chuy-garcia.jpg Chicago mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia isn't the only politician sporting the 'stache. ]]> <![CDATA[TX Pol Backs Legal Pot, Citing God]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:15:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/marijuana-plants-generic.jpg

A state lawmaker from East Texas says God didn't create marijuana by mistake and is pushing to remove all offenses related to the plant from Texas statutes.

Texas State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) filed a bill Monday that would repeal the state's ban on growing, possessing and selling marijuana.

"I don't believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix," Simpson wrote in an editorial on Trib Talk. "Civil government should value everything God made and leave people alone unless they meddle with their neighbor."

Under Simpson's bill, the government would not regulate the drug and all penalties currently in place would be removed beginning Sept. 1.

In addition to religion, Simpson said the "well-intended" war on drugs has only created a culture of "no-knock warrants," "stop-and-frisk" and "billionaire drug lords" and that existing drug laws are as big a failure as prohibition.

"You would think that our country's history with alcohol prohibition — an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general — would have prevented us from making the same mistake again," Simpson wrote. "The time has come for a thoughtful discussion on the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse."

Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington; 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form, medical or otherwise.

Full House Bill No. 2165:



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Impact with Jackie Nespral - March 1, 2015]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 16:03:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000017103679_1200x675_406144579989.jpg Author Dave Barry, Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestine appear.]]> <![CDATA[NJ Officer Meets President Obama]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:39:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/216*120/Officer+Obama+Camden.jpg

Although cops are used to being called to important gatherings, a New Jersey officer was shocked to discover who she would be meeting at an upcoming event.

Officer Virginia Matias of the Camden County Police was told by Chief Scott Thompson that she would be meeting President Barack Obama.

“He called me and told me I would have the honor of meeting the president,” the 28-year-old said. “It was unreal, I thought ‘is this a joke?’”

Matias went to the White House and met Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in at the White House on Feb. 24 along with five other officers across the U.S. who were nominated by the heads of their respective departments.

“As soon as they opened the door to the Oval Office he was right there with a smile on his face,” Matias said. “He was very welcoming, I felt like I was at home.”

Obama met with the officers to thank them for their service and discuss how law enforcement can work with communities to ensure public safety.

“We’re a model of community policing, so he wanted to get our feedback on what’s working,” Matias said.

Matias was motivated by a tragic event in her teens to become an officer.

“When I was around 17, I had an uncle who was murdered in North Camden while he was operating his bodega in 2003,” Matias said. "At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a part of a change in my city."


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<![CDATA[Runoff for Rahm: Mayor Falls Short]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:22:19 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/rahm+and+chuy.jpg

Rahm Emanuel failed to clinch another term as Chicago's mayor on Tuesday, setting the stage for an unprecedented runoff election against challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

Results showed the incumbent mayor with about 46 percent of the vote, short of the 50 percent-plus-one support he needs to win another term outright. Garcia, a Cook County commissioner, came in second place with 34 percent. 

The results mean the two will face off April 7, a potentially embarrassing result for a high-profile politician who has already spent millions in his re-election bid. It is the first time since the city changed its election system in the 1990s that an incumbent mayor is forced into a runoff. 

"We have come a long way and we have a little bit farther to go," Emanuel told supporters. "This is the first step in a real important journey for our city. To those who voted for me in this election, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. For those who voted for someone else, I hope to earn your confidence and your support in the weeks to come." 

A boisterous Garcia celebrated the outcome as a win over moneyed interests and other powerful forces supporting the incumbent, saying the results show "the people have spoken."

"Nobody thought we’d be here tonight," Garcia said. "They wrote us off; they said we didn’t have a chance. They said we didn’t have any money while they spent millions attacking us. Well, we’re still standing! We’re still running! And we’re gonna win!" 

Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff, struggled to rise above 50 support throughout the campaign, even as he outpolled his four lesser-funded and known challengers. A late campaign blitz that blanketed the airwaves and a public appearance last week with President Barack Obama — a move seen as an effort to appeal to undecided African-American voters — couldn’t propel the 55-year-old mayor to victory.

The 55-year-old Democrat anchored his re-election bid on first-term efforts to better the lives of Chicagoans, highlighting pushes to expand access to early childhood education, raise the minimum wage and improve the city’s business climate and infrastructure. But he faced criticism for other major policies pursued during his first term, including his decision to close dozens of schools.

The school closures fueled a tumultuous relationship with the Chicago’s Teachers Union, which went on strike in 2012. The union, which also clashed with Emanuel over other changes to the city’s education system, endorsed Garcia after a brain cancer diagnosis sidelined its own president, Karen Lewis.

Political expert John P. Frendreis said while Garcia is “funny, he’s got a good speaking presence, he’s been around long enough, he’s got this colorful nickname so people kind of know him,” it was the support of the teachers that made the race competitive. 

“It’s really the school controversy, the closure of schools, the continued opening of charter schools and then the ... battle with the CTU and Rahm that has generated any kind of heat in this and has made him even remotely vulnerable,” the political science professor at Loyola University in Chicago, said ahead of Tuesday’s race.

Emanuel's “bare-knuckles” approach to running the city, despite yielding results in some areas, also hurt his standing with some voters, analysts say.

“He’s reasonably good at his job,” Freindreis said. “Now where he has stumbled is that he is a tough guy and he is a bully and sometimes he is just too smart for his own good and so he’s rubbed people the wrong way because he’s not nice.”

Emanuel’s challengers criticized him throughout the campaign for not doing enough to help bring jobs, safer streets and other opportunities to all Chicagoans. Garcia told NBC Chicago he would, to hire a thousand more police officers, reduce class sizes and standardized tests and “invest in neighborhoods to attract manufacturing or industrial-creation jobs.” In addition to the backing from the teachers, he also gained headlines for winning the endorsement of the liberal political group MoveOn.org. The group applauded Tuesday's results as a "huge win for progressives and working families across Chicago." 

Even if Emanuel succeeds in winning a second term in April, some observers say the education initiatives he pushed in his first four years could take a hit in Chicago and beyond.

“Over the next few years you could have mayors, some Democrats and some Republicans, in cities across the nation saying I’m going to pick the kids over the unions,” said Keith Koeneman, author of “First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daly.”

Check back with NBCChicago.com for more on this developing story. For complete election night coverage, visit the Ward Room blog. 

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<![CDATA[Impact with Jackie Nespral - Feb. 15, 2015]]> Sun, 15 Feb 2015 19:03:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000016898633_1200x675_399594563926.jpg Impact with Jackie Nespral - Feb. 15, 2015]]> <![CDATA[Philly Chosen as 2016 DNC Host]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 20:51:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/philly+skyline+generic+camden+waterfront+sunset+comcast+liberty+place.jpg

The 2016 Democratic National Convention will be held in Philadelphia, party leaders announced Thursday.

Philadelphia beat out two rival cities for the chance to host the party’s nominating convention in July 2016. Both Brooklyn and Columbus, Ohio, were in the running through the final round of the bidding process.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the city’s “deep rooted place in American history provides a perfect setting for this special gathering.”

“I cannot wait to join Democrats across the country to celebrate our shared values, lay out a Democratic vision for the future, and support our nominee,” she said.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter said the city's "proven track record of hosting big events safely and efficiently with a dynamic team of top-tier professionals to organize and manage a conference of this magnitude, paired with our City's tremendous amenities, its accessible location and historical significance" made it an ideal pick.

"We're all delighted to make history again, here in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection," he said.

The final contract between the DNC and Philadelphia was signed Thursday, Wasserman Schultz said. The convention will take place the week of July 25, 2016. The decision was made following a meeting between Wasserman Schultz and President Barack Obama Wednesday night in the Oval Office, a source involved in the selection process confirmed to NBC10.

"The president enthusiastically signed off," said the source.

The meeting of Democratic politicians and delegates will be the second major event for the city in less than a year's time. In September, millions are expected to flock to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis during the 2015 World Meeting of Families.

Philadelphia last hosted a national convention in 2000, when Republicans gathered there. Republicans have already announced plans to hold their 2016 nominating convention in Cleveland.


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<![CDATA[Bill Could Criminalize Bathroom Use for Some]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 23:37:03 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/bathroom+generic.jpg

A new bill put forward by a Florida state lawmaker from Miami could make it a crime to use the restroom that doesn't correspond to your sex at birth, a proposal that could particularly impact transgender Floridians.

Rep. Frank Artiles’ bill would make it a first-degree misdemeanor for anyone who, in the bill's language, isn’t a “biological female” to use “single-sex public facilities designated for girls, women, ladies, or persons of the female sex.” The law would also limit men’s public restrooms to “biological males.”

The bill’s language was first reported by Salon.com, which noted that the bill would bar transgender people from using the restrooms that match their gender identities.

Artiles’ bill defined single-sex public facilities as “bathrooms, dressing rooms, fitting rooms, locker rooms, showers, and other similar facilities where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy” and that are maintained by “an owner of public accomodations, a school, or a place of employment; that conspicuously designated with appropriate signage for use by persons of only one sex; and that are designed or designated to be used by more than one person at a time.”

The proposed bill from Artiles also said that in the case of this law, “biological female” or “biological male” means the person’s sex “at birth.”

Artiles’ described the need for the protections in the bill saying, “Single-sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals using those facilities, including, but not limited 30 to, assault, battery, molestation, rape, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.”

The bill also opens up people who use the restroom that doesn't correspond to their sex at birth to civil penalties and allows civil action against operators of public facilities that violate the law.

The bill would also preempt any city or county “law, regulation, policy, or decree.”

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<![CDATA[WATCH: Fla. Rep. Hastings Calls Texas a "Crazy State"]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 19:26:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/hastings020215.jpg

Florida Representative Alcee Hastings left no doubt this week about the way he felt reagrding the state of Texas when he called it a “crazy state” during a meeting of the House Rules Committee.

“I don’t know about in your state, which I think is a crazy state to begin with — and I mean that just as I said it,” Hastings said when his time started to question Representative Michael Burgess of Texas about a state choosing not to implement parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Representative Burgess immediately fired back at Hastings telling the chair that “He (Hastings) made a defamatory statement about my state and I will not stand here and listen to it.”

(Watch the exchange which begins at 1:31:43 in the video below)

Hastings refused to back down from Burgess saying, “Well fine, you don’t have to listen. You can leave if you choose. I told you what I think about Texas. I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in China. And that’s how I feel. For all intents and purposes I know what my state did, which in many respects is close to being just as crazy, and that is they did not expand Medicaid.”

The hearing in the rules committee was marking up a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was approximately the 56th vote taken by the Republican-led House to repeal the bill. The discussion got heated as the parties talked about states implementing parts of the law including Medicaid expansion.

Burgess later asked that Hastings apologize for what he said about his home state. Hastings was unequivocal in his refusal to back off his earlier statement.

“You will wait until hell freezes over (in response to being told they would wait for an apology) for me to say anything in an apology,” Hastings said. “I would apologize to you if I was directing my comments at you. I was commenting about the state you happened to be a resident of. I will not apologize.”

Tuesday all 25 Texas House Republicans demanded Hastings apologize to the citizens of Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle. Hastings has not issued an apology and has not indicated he will do so.

"I'm regretting that certain of their citizenry was offended, but what I would ask them to do is to take a line from the movie "Frozen" and let it go," Hastings told NBC 6.

The exchange was covered on "The Daily Show" in which host Jon Stewart pointed out to Hastings, “You’re from Florida and you’re calling Texas crazy?"



Photo Credit: NBC 6
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<![CDATA[Wilson Wants Vaccines Mandated for Students]]> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 11:17:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/106887013.jpg

Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida's 24th district said Tuesday that she is preparing to file legislation that will mandate certain vaccinations, with minimal exceptions, for all students who attend public schools.

Wilson’s legislation comes as a measles outbreak has started to make its way across the nation. The outbreak started at Disneyland in California and has since spread to 14 states and approximately 100 people have been diagnosed with the disease.

There have been four recorded cases of measles in Florida, but each case was of tourists coming into the state.

“As a former elementary school principal, I know the importance of childhood vaccinations. Research has shown that vaccinations are effective; they keep children healthy, save lives, and protect future generations of Americans,” Wilson said. “The health and safety of children should be our top priority. Children who are not vaccinated put themselves and others in danger of acquiring and spreading preventable diseases, particularly to those individuals who cannot receive vaccinations, such as infants, pregnant women, and individuals with compromised immune systems, including the elderly and those with diseases like HIV/AIDS and leukemia.”

The outbreak has generated discussion on all levels about the need for vaccinations and the science behind vaccinations. Scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the National Institutes for Health support vaccines as does a broad spectrum of politicians from both sides of the aisle.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[County Encourages Beckham to Use FIU Temporarily]]> Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:31:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/466949757.jpg

It’s been almost a year since international soccer icon David Beckham announced his plans for a Major League Soccer team in Miami. Since then, two different sites for a soccer stadium have been rejected and now, the Miami-Dade County commission wants Beckham’s team to temporarily use FIU’s stadium for the new franchise.

The Miami-Dade County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez to propose using FIU’s stadium as the team’s temporary home, according to the Miami Herald. Whether or not Miami Beckham United, the group behind the MLS team, is willing to have a temporary home remains to be seen.

The move comes more than a month after Beckham was warned by MLS Commissioner Don Garber that some concrete progress with the franchise needs to happen soon, according to the BBC.

“This can’t go on forever,” Garber told the BBC of the delays getting the franchise rolling.

According to the Miami Herald, Beckham’s lead negotiator said the group’s focus in finding a permanent home for the unnamed franchise. Previously, Beckham and MLS have said they want a stadium to be built downtown. MLS made the construction of a new stadium a requirement for the new franchise.

According to the Herald, Beckham’s group hasn’t committed to FIU or any other temporary site like Sun Life Stadium or Marlins Park.

Beckham’s team will enter the MLS at a time where the league’s revenue is struggling. According to the BBC, MLS Commissioner Garber said the league’s existing franchises are combining to lose more than $100 million per year.

Plugging in the following Beckham has in the United States and around the world could be a much-needed shot in the arm for the league. If Beckham decided to play for his Miami franchise, as he hinted to the BBC he might, it would be a big public relations boost for the team and league.

Beckham told E! earlier this year that the franchise is “pretty close” to revealing certain items, possibly including logos, team colors, and other items; and that a stadium “will come after that.” According to the Herald, no deadline has been given by Beckham’s group or MLS for a stadium decision.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Floridians Don't Want Rubio to Run for Prez: Poll]]> Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:06:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/121714+marco+rubio+discusses+developments+in+cuba.jpg

Senator Marco Rubio appears to be gearing up for a run for the presidency in 2016, but a new poll of voters in the Sunshine State showed he may want to focus on his re-election rather than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

According to the new Mason-Dixon poll released Monday, 57 percent of those polled want Rubio to seek a second term in the Senate rather than going to for the White House. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said Rubio should run for president. Twenty-five percent of the respondents were unsure of what they want Rubio to do.

The poll found just more than 40 percent of voters in Florida supported a presidential campaign from former Governor Jeb Bush. Forty-two percent of voters said Bush should run, while 43 percent said he should not and another 15 percent weren’t sure.

The broadest support for Bush came from North Florida where 49 percent said he should run and 38 percent said he should not. Bush’s numbers struggled in the heavily populated southeast part of the state where 37 percent said he should run and 50 percent said he shouldn’t run.

The Mason-Dixon poll had a margin of error of +/- four points.

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<![CDATA[Donors at Koch Brothers Conference Like Rubio: Report]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:27:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/121714+marco+rubio+discusses+developments+in+cuba.jpg

As Sen. Marco Rubio continues to take more steps towards making a run at the White House, he may is the early choice of several of the large donors to one of the biggest conservative organizations in the nation, the Koch Brothers network.

According to Politico, Senator Rubio was chosen in an informal straw poll of some donors as the top GOP presidential candidate. Politico reported the poll was conducted by veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz.

If Rubio is the early choice of the many of the large donors to the Koch Brothers political action groups; he will be at a major advantage in the early presidential primaries in 2016. The Koch Brothers groups have said it hopes to raise $889 million to push a conservative agenda over the next two years.

The Koch Brothers and their network of donor money is highly sought after by Rubio, Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with Governor Scott Walker and just about any Republican ready to make a run at the White House.

The presidential election in 2016 is likely going to be a billion dollar campaign from both the Republican and Democratic nominees.

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<![CDATA[Despite Costs, House Voting Again to Overturn ACA]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:19:53 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/obamacare+site+screengrab.jpg

Republicans in Congress are planning to vote for approximately the 60th time to overturn all or parts of the Affordable Care Act, according to TheHill.com. The vote will come at a high price to taxpayers and on the heels of a new, much lower cost estimate on the ACA from the Congressional Budget Office.

For taxpayers, the previously calculated cost for each vote to overturn all or some of the ACA was set at approximately $1.45 million per vote, according to numbers from the Congressional Research Service and CBSNews.com.

Based on those numbers, Congress will have spent approximately $87 million in symbolic votes that either die in the U.S. Senate or will not be signed by President Barack Obama since 2010. The upcoming bill is also likely to either be filibustered in the Senate or get vetoed by President Obama.

At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Affordable Care Act will cost 20 percent less than originally projected over the next decade. The CBO said that part of the reason the costs are declining is the slowdown in the growth of health care costs overall, according to the Washington Post.

All of the fighting over the Affordable Care Act may be a moot point by June depending on how the Supreme Court rules in the case of King vs. Burwell. If the court rules against the law, it would strike down federal subsidies offered under the ACA which could cripple the law and take away health insurance from millions of Americans who received subsidies to help pay for coverage.

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