Social Media Privacy Bill Making Its Way Through Florida Senate

The type of activity we have on social media will either keep us in the bread line or take us out of it. In essence, companies vet our social media activity when we apply for most jobs.

So that vulgar MEME you posted or that song on YouTube that you wanted everyone of your followers to hear may be the reason why your phone never rang after you had such an awesome interview.

To many, your personal and private time should remain as such, private. Unfortunately, its not, which is why companies judge your character based off of your social media footprint.

That’s why Senator Jeff Clemens is trying to give you a piece of your privacy back. SB 198 would prohibit “an employer from requesting access to a social media account of an employee or prospective employee.”

It would also disavow employers from “taking retaliatory personnel action” if an employee does not give access to his or her social media account.

While this bill will have its fair share of supporters, I’m also sure it will have a grand number of detractors.

The language embedded in the bill banning employers from taking retaliatory personnel action will be debated. Many organizations require their employees to refrain from posting inflammatory things about the company via social media. Costco Wholesale has this type of social media policy.

“Employees should be aware that statements posted electronically (such as online message boards or discussion groups) that damage the Company, defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation, or violate the policies outlines in the Costco Employee Agreement, may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination of employment.”

Is that too broad of a policy and does it encroach upon an employee’s right to privacy? Venting on Facebook or Twitter after a rather stressful day at work may be cathartic for some, but what if the comments skew too negative or paint an organization in a bad light?

Will the company have no ability to discipline for a potential inflammatory act?

SB 198 is on the committee agenda for Commerce and Tourism for February 17th at 4pm.

The full text of the Social Media Privacy bill is located here.

-JH

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Florida Senator Jeff Clemens Wants to End Discrimination in Employment Screening

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Photo courtesy of http://www.MyFloridaHouse.gov / Sen. Jeff Clemens

For those with a criminal background, you may want to sit up and pay attention to a new bill being pushed by Sen. Jeff Clemens.

SB 234 aims to “prohibit an employer from inquiring into or considering an applicant’s criminal record on an initial employment application…”

If passed, this bill should give more job opportunities for those who have records. Organizations may still inquire about an applicant’s criminal past, but only after they’ve moved through the initial screening process.

For those skeptical of this type of legislation, it may prove beneficial to Florida companies. This would give those with a criminal past an opportunity to at least have their credentials and experience vetted before being judged for past discretions.

Getting in the door for an interview is half the battle; SB 234 would remove at least one barrier for some.

In addition to this bill, Clemens is a co-sponsor of “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act,” a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. In response to this bill, and others that aim to legalize at least some form of marijuana for medicinal purposes in Florida, Orlando attorney John Morgan called them “a stunt.”

In an interview with Fox 35, Morgan said that Democrat Joe Saunders is “grandstanding” and has “zero juice to get anything done” in the Florida House.

Sen. Clemens employment screening bill is currently in the commerce and tourism committee, and if passed, would take effect July 1st, 2014.

-JH

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While Attention Is Cast on Race For District 5, Trouble Abounds at the Top

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum

Orlando isn’t necessarily considered a hot bed for political stories, so anytime something alters the status quo in the city, it makes headlines.

Last week, Orlando City Commissioner Daisy Lynum abruptly retired from the seat that she’s held for the last 16 years. She was fighting for her political life as two opponents, Regina Hill and Cynthia Harris, were contesting to take over the role of commissioner for District Five.

In an effort to “continue the legacy of leadership” that Ms. Lynum has constructed over the last decade and a half, her son Juan entered the race this past Friday to try to take her place.

Mr. Lynum noted that he’s running “to sustain the programs and initiatives that Commissioner Daisy Lynum established and for us to build on that foundation.”

While some may disagree with his reasoning for wanting to run, his challengers included, there are issues facing the district that aren’t necessarily the fault of Commissioner Lynum.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was elected back in 2003 and said in his inaugural address that he wants his success as mayor to be measured by his ability to rebuild the community of Parramore; a community represented on the city commission by Ms. Lynum.

Since that speech, Dyer has intently worked to transform Parramore into a contemporary utopia. From the destruction of the old Amway Arena to the recent soccer stadium deal, Parramore is being reconstructed through Dyers vision.

It may not be the Parramore that many who value the history and legacy of the community want, but it surely fits the eye of Mayor Dyer. There hasn’t been a concerted effort put forth by the mayor to preserve Parramore’s history, or the city of Orlando’s history for that matter.

Dyers vision is fixated toward growth without regard to the tattered trail he leaves behind.

In his inaugural speech, Dyer talked about the working poor and a robust living wage. In his latest State of the City speech from February 2013, Dyer didn’t mention the poor. He didn’t talk about attempting to fix Orlando’s ranking as the lowest-paying major metropolitan area in the nation.

Instead he mentioned Sun Rail, building a new soccer stadium, renovating the Citrus Bowl and lowering property crime. Dyer seemed progressive in his first speech, since then, he hasn’t shown much progress toward improving the lives of the working class and working poor.

Commissioner Lynum has been criticized for not voicing enough of an opposition to Dyer’s agenda , failing to create more employment and economic opportunities for the residents of Parramore and not offering respect to her constituents.

That may all be up for debate, but what Dyer has done to the community of Parramore and the city of Orlando seems to be much worse.

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel / Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

According to a recent column by Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel, Dyer wants to give the Orlando Solar Bears, the city’s minor league hockey team, almost $400,000 in fees and revenues; all money the city currently receives.

The team will also receive a $100,000 “advertising payment” from Orlando for at least the next two years.

Maxwell also notes that these deals weren’t confirmed by the city commission.

The latest round of bad news for Mayor Dyer is that he wants to tear down historic Tinker Field to make way for the reconstruction of the Citrus Bowl. The only problem with that is he didn’t warn or tell the commission that he planned to tear it down. In talking about the expected demolition of the field, Commissioner Sam Ings called Dyer’s blatant disregard for the field as “malfeasance.”

Where is the outrage over Dyer’s behavior compared to that of Commissioner Lynum?

Understandably, there is anger at Commissioner Lynum. She’s the proxy for the voters of district five and many believe that the voters of that district deserve someone better. Parramore seems to be dying a slow death and many of the residents are considered working poor or just poor.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Parramore won’t be fixed in one. While Commissioner Lynum shoulders some of the blame for what’s happened in her district, Dyers takes the king’s ransom.

Orlando may look good on the outside because of its tall buildings, new venues, shiny sports teams and progressive tint. On the inside it has a deep void; a legacy of gating residents off from city commissioned events, a sinking working class, a rising rate of disgruntled voters, and a mayor with a history of being politically nonchalant to the voters who matter the least.

For the voters of District Five, choose the candidate who will best represent the interests of the community at City Hall. Once that is done, turn your ire toward the politician who is tearing a part the community and changing it into something unrecognizable.

Until some of the anger and outrage is focused and pointed, everything that’s being fought over right now is for naught.

-JH

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Rep. Joe Saunders and Sen. Jeff Clemons Divulge Medical Marijuana Legislation

Representative Joe Saunders and Senator Jeff Clemons have filed legislation to legalize the use of medical cannabis in the state of Florida called “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act.”

The act is named after Cathy Jordan, a Florida resident currently suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease

Information released to the media by Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons outline what’s included in the bill and how it will benefit the public.

The act is geared toward “Floridians with chronic health conditions and disabilities that use or can benefit from the use of marijuana for medical treatment without further suffering from out state’s antiquated drug laws.”

Florida is one of 30 states that outlaw the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but this isn’t the first, or only bill, that will come up for debate in the legislature this year.

Representative Matt Gaetz has filed legislation called “Charlotte’s Web,” a bill that would legalize cannabis with .5 percent and resin from the plant. Gaetz and others who are not in favor of the total legalization of medical marijuana state that “Charlotte’s Web” does not provide a high, only relief from pain.

In addition to the two medical marijuana bills being floated, Orlando attorney John Morgan poured almost $2 million into an initiative to have a constitutional amendment for the legalization of medical marijuana placed on the November ballot.

Regarding Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons, their bill promises to save tax dollars for Floridians, but according to the Florida Times-Union, any economic impact from the approval of medical marijuana in Florida is indistinct.

For more information on “The Cathy Jordan Act” and “Charlotte’s Web,” please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

-JH

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Florida Representative Bruce Antone Files Self-Defense Bill

Changes to Florida’s much maligned stand your ground law may be on the way.

Florida Representative Bruce Antone filed HB 33, a bill that “requires county sheriff or municipal police to issue reasonable guidelines for operation of crime watch program; authorizes person to use force, except deadly force in defense of property.” The synopsis of the bill may be found here.

Last year House Speaker Will Weatherford and his Republicans colleagues didn’t have much of an appetite for a change to the state’s current self-defense doctrine. Weatherford participated in a hearing on stand your ground, but there was no additional movement on repealing or changing the law.

In addition to Weatherford, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said that he wouldn’t change “one damn comma” of SYG, so a change to the current law isn’t trending positive.

For Antone, he has been in favor of at least revisiting the law since SYG was thrust into the national spotlight after the death of Trayvon Martin. The dogma attached to Florida’s self-defense law isn’t ambulatory, something that Antone wants to rectify.

The changes that Atone wants seem reasonable and may have a chance of making it out of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

The Florida Legislature convenes for regular session on Tuesday, March 4th. For more information on session and Rep. Antone’s bill, please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

-JH

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5 Things to Know About the Farm Bill

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Photo courtesy of http://www.foodandwatch.org

Don’t let the name fool you, the much talked about farm bill will impact you whether you live on a farm or not.

On Tuesday evening, the Senate passed a $1 trillion farm bill that’s been debated on for over three years. The bill includes cuts to the food stamp program, expanded crop insurance, and has $956 billion in tax dollars over the next decade.

The bill will be sent to President Obama where he is expected to sign it on Friday during a visit to East Lansing, Michigan.

But what’s included in the bill, and how it affects you, is most important.

Here are five things you should know about the farm bill, or more importantly, the food bill.

1. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Cut by $8 Billion – One of the more controversial portions of the bill includes cuts to the food stamp program. Language in the farm bill states that about 1.7 million Americans will feel the impact of the cut.

Additionally, these cuts will be spread out over 10 years, so while the number may seem small, many low-income Americans will take a hit.

2. A New Crackdown on Food Stamp Fraud – Many on the left and right have chided those who abuse the food stamp program. In an effort to regulate the federal program, the Agriculture Department will have the ability to track so-called SNAP trafficking and stamp out fraud by businesses who sell food stamps.

But fraud sounds sexier when salacious activity is involved. No longer will lottery winners, convicted murderers or sex offenders have the ability to receive SNAP benefits.

3. Most Dollars From the Farm Bill Will be Spent on SNAP Benefits – The yearly cost of the farm bill is about $100 billion, and the federal government spends about $80 billion on food stamps.

The cuts will hurt many poor and working class Americans, but the government is still spending a grand amount of money to aid Americans who need food assistance.

4. The new farm bill has almost $600 million to be spent on crop insurance – This type of insurance shields farmers if a major loss happens to their property.

The major change in this insurance policy is that farmers will no longer receive direct payments. Formerly, farmers would receive money from the federal government whether they farmed or not. The new policy states that farmers may only collect if there is a loss.

5. While the Food Stamp Program Was Cut, the Crop Insurance Program Was Not – According to the New York Times, the 18 companies who pay 62 percent of farmers’ premiums will not receive a hit.

These companies are paid almost $1.5 billion each year and will still receive every penny. The bill also forbids the Agriculture Department from “renegotiating lesser payments to those companies over the five-year life of the bill.”

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ICYMI: Val Demings Interview on Flashpoint

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Photo courtesy of Saintpetersblog.com

I’m pretty late on this one but former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings appeared on the political talk show “Flashpoint” with Tony Pipitone last weekend.

The interview yielded nothing earth shattering as Demings spoke of her reasoning for running for mayor. She was asked about the venues project, the “textgate” scandal, and more.

What I found interesting about her time with Mr. Pipitone is that she never really diverted from her talking points. When Demings was asked about textgate, she castigated Jacobs for her role in the ethics scandal and continued to pound away at her opponent when given the chance.

“When you run on transparency, ethics reform, and greater citizen participation; textgate is the worst, or best example, however you want to look at it, of violating the very principles that she ran on,” said Demings.

Demings didn’t just take off after Jacobs, she jabbed former State Representative Steve Precourt as well. Recently Precourt was picked to head the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, but that appointment fell apart when Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashton told the board that they should hold off on hiring him until he completes an investigation into the board’s practices.

Precourt got so mad that he ultimately turned their offer of a month-to-month contract down. That didn’t go unnoticed by Demings.

“The very person, who a few months ago said that they were considering running for Orange County mayor because there was a crisis of leadership in the county, suddenly decides that he’s not going to run, then becomes the frontrunner for the position with the expressway authority. I just think that all of that is very, very interesting.”

For the blue voters of Orange County, the hope is that Demings continues to drop that type of red meat before the election.

Click to view Val Demings on ‘Flashpoint.’

Hat tip to Frank Torres of Orlando-Politics.com for the find.

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