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Columbia County Observer

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US Senator Bill NelsonU.S. Senator Bill Nelson - Update
March 21, 2012

Senate Passes Highway Bill

On March 14, Senator Nelson joined the majority to pass a two-year, $109 billion surface transportation reauthorization, or highway bill, by a vote of 74 – 22. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP 21, reauthorizes important highway, safety, transit, rail, and research programs through FY 2013 and invests billions in national, regional, and local transportation infrastructure projects.

In addition to successfully amending the legislation to include the RESTORE Act, Senator Nelson won approval for two other amendments: one that would require states to develop strategies to promote older driver and pedestrian safety, if data shows increasing fatality and injury rates, and another to ensure consideration of evacuation routes when states allocate highway funding. The House has not passed similar legislation.

Prescription Drug Shortage 

In response to recent prescription drug shortages, Senator Nelson signed on as a cosponsor to S.296, the Preserving Access to Life-saving Medication Act. This bill would require drug manufacturers to give early notification of shortages, as well as direct the FDA to provide up-to-date public notification of shortages and the actions the agency would take to address them.

Support for CDBG Funding 

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

Senator Nelson cosigned a letter in support of funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

CDBG funds vital housing rehabilitation, supportive services, public improvements, and economic development projects in communities across the nation. It serves more than 1,100 entitlement communities, urban counties, and states, and more than 3,000 rural communities. Currently,

Funding for CDBG is at its lowest level since 1992. Two of the top five cities who suffered the greatest percentage of lost CDBG funding in 2012 were in Florida: Hialeah and Miami Beach. The letter requests $3.3 billion for FY 2013.

Earlier in the 112th Congress, Senator Nelson introduced S. 887, the CDBG Public Services Flexibility Act, which increases the limitation on the amount of CDBG assistance that may be used to provide public services from 15 percent to 25 percent.

Saving Funds for Beach Water Quality Testing 

Senator Nelson wrote a letter to President Obama last week objecting to the administration’s plan to eliminate EPA’s beach water testing quality program in the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.

The BEACH Act, as it is formally known, provides grant money to states, territories, and tribes to develop and implement beach monitoring and notification programs.

Florida relies heavily on federal funding to detect elevated levels of bacteria in beach sand. Last year the Florida Department of Health used $552,000 in federal grants--out of a total $740,000--on water quality testing. Reduced funding of this program could increase the public’s health risk of contracting gastrointestinal illnesses linked to contaminated beaches.

Medal of Honor for Jewish War Veteran

Senator Nelson sent a letter to President Obama supporting the Medal of Honor nomination for Korean War veteran, Private First Class Leonard F. Kravtiz.

PFC Kravitz was killed in action March 6, 1951, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. In 2001 Congress passed legislation prompting the review of 138 Jewish war veterans who may have been overlooked for the Medal of Honor due to anti-Semitism.

 After a review of Kravitz’s actions, late last year the Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense recommended awarding the Medal of Honor to PFC Kravitz.

Greek Independence

 Senator Nelson cosponsored a bipartisan resolution recognizing the 191st anniversary of the independence of Greece and celebrating Greek and American democracy. The resolution also supports the principles of democratic governance to which the people of Greece are committed and notes the important role that Greece has played in the European region and in the community of nations since gaining its independence 191 years ago.

The Case of Alan Gross

Senator Nelson wrote His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, in advance of the pontiff’s historic trip to Cuba later this month, to request help in a humanitarian matter involving Alan Gross.

Gross is the American who was imprisoned in Cuba over two years ago while working on a USAID contract to help bring Internet access to the Jewish community. Senator Nelson asked the pope to consider requesting a humanitarian release for Mr. Gross, who is reportedly in poor health.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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