Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Florida News

US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
February 22, 2011

FAA Bill Passes Senate

The Senate passed S. 223, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act last Thursday. This bill will help the FAA upgrade its technology to reduce delays and improve safety and efficiency.

Among Senator Nelson’s priorities were language that allows more general aviation airports to finance construction projects through the Military Airport Program and making it a crime to distribute or otherwise misuse any image collected from an airport body scanner.

The bill must now be debated and voted on in the House.

Protecting Florida’s Coast

For more information
Lynn Bannister: Director of Outreach
111 North Adams St
Tallahassee, FL  32301
850-942-8415 / 850-942-8450 (fax)

Senator Nelson introduced the Gulf Stream Protection Act of 2011 to protect Florida’s coast in the case of a devastating oil spill from offshore oil exploration operations in Cuba.

S. 405 would require the Department of Interior to form an oil spill response plan to deal with a disaster from anticipated drilling off Cuba’s north coast.

The bill stipulates that if an oil company drilling in Cuba also wants to lease drilling rights in the United States, the company must first prove that they have a sufficient oil spill response plan and the resources to address a spill in both Cuban and U.S. waters. Additionally, this legislation would require the Department of Interior, in consultation with the Department of State, to provide recommendations to Congress on a multinational agreement for spill response, as suggested by the Spill Commission chaired by Senator Bob Graham and Bill Reilly

Helping Homeless Veterans Act

Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of the Helping Homeless Veterans Act, S. 411.

There is an existing HUD-VA program that provides housing vouchers and case management services to homeless veterans with chronic mental illnesses or substance use disorders.

S. 411 authorizes and encourages the VA to partner with community and local government entities to provide these housing vouchers and services to homeless veterans. The purpose of the partnerships is to extend care to homeless veterans in rural and underserved metro areas, who are currently slipping through the cracks.

Concurrent Receipt

Senator Nelson cosponsored the Retired Pay Restoration Act, S. 344.

This legislation would permit retired members of the Armed Forces who have a service-connected disability to receive their full military retired pay and full disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently only retirees with that are over 50% disabled receive both retirement pay and disability compensation; those rated under 50% disabled have their retirement pay and disability compensation offset.

Drywall Hearing

Senators Nelson and Warner sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee requesting a follow-up hearing on Chinese drywall. Florida has significant problems with drywall and there are still no answers on health effects or clear standards for remediation. Though many agencies have taken steps to remedy the problem those actions have been insufficient. Homeowners continue to struggle with the financial and health consequences of contaminated drywall.

Black History Month

Senator Nelson is an original cosponsor of a resolution celebrating Black History Month as an important opportunity to recognize the tremendous contributions of African Americans to the Nation's history. The resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent on February 14, 2011.

Condemning Violence in Iran

Senator Nelson cosponsored a bipartisan resolution that condemns the violence against demonstrators by the government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cell phones.

S.Res.73 reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the universal rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, and supports the people of Iran in their peaceful calls for a representative democratic government.

The resolution also calls on the government of Iran to release all Iranians detained or imprisoned solely because of their religion, faith, ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or political belief, and calls on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to establish an independent human rights monitor for Iran.

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