Florida Five: 2 Fla. GOP reps. vote with Dems on immigration bill, Police body camera bill filed

Five of today’s top Florida political stories at your fingertips:

Orion Launch
Photo credit: Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel

Orion launch scrubbed, reset for Friday – NASA plans to try again Friday to launch its next-generation space capsule Orion after a wayward ship, wind gusts and fuel valve problems scrubbed Thursday’s launch. The next launch time from Cape Canaveral Air Station was set for 7:05 a.m. Friday. If it doesn’t launch, NASA will try again Saturday.  The space agency got within 3 minutes and 9 seconds of liftoff when wind gusts led to a delay Thursday. During that delay, engineers were unable to properly close fuel valves on two rocket boosters. As they fought to fix that problem, the launch window closed. Yet neither NASA nor the Lockheed-Martin engineers gave any indication the problem was insurmountable. All sounded optimistic that the Delta IV Heavy rocket would blast Orion into space this week for its maiden mission. Read more

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart vote with Democrats to oppose GOP-led immigration bill – Two Miami congressional representatives were among only seven Republicans to vote against a GOP-led immigration bill designed to show disapproval of President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on the issue. U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both Miami Republicans, joined Republicans from California, Colorado, Indiana and Texas in opposing the vote to pass a resolution disapproving the president’s immigration action taken last month. The bill is considered the first phase of a Republican plan to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown while still punishing the White House for its executive action on immigration. The final vote was 219-197. Three Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it, and seven Republicans voted with Democrats against it. In a joint statement after the vote, Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen stressed the need for comprehensive immigration change. Read more

Florida lawmaker files police body cameras bill, says ‘It’s not anti-police’ – A Florida lawmaker has filed a bill requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras while out on patrol. It’s not a coincidence Rep. Shevrin Jones’ (D-West Park) bill was filed after the nationwide debate began over police officers’ use of force, sparked by the fatal incidents in New York and Missouri. “I know there’s a lot going on as it pertains to Eric Garner, I know the Ferguson situation is going on, a lot is going on, but those incidents’ were not the entire impetus behind the filing of the bill,” said Jones. Jones, who also works for the Broward County Sheriff’s office, has already received complaints from people who call it an “anti-police” bill. But, he says he really filed the “Police and Citizen Protection Act” to protect both residents and law enforcement. Read more

FL teachers union calls tax credit scholarship ‘replacement’ for vouchers – In the latest filing in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s tax credit scholarship program, lawyers for the statewide teachers union double down on their assertion that the scholarship is no different than a voucher program the Florida Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in 2006. The document, filed just before the Thanksgiving holiday, comes in response to the state’s argument that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have not demonstrated harm and therefore lack standing to sue. The first four paragraphs of the response draw connections between the new lawsuit and the 2006 Bush v. Holmes case. Similar plaintiffs are making arguments similar to the earlier case, they write, and tax credit scholarships are “the state’s replacement for the OSP” – referring to the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which the high court struck down. Read more

Florida State to offer drone training program in spring 2015 – Drones, originally developed for the military, have caught the imagination of America — and now they have their own specialty training course at Florida State University. They are now popular with everyone from weekend hobbyists to Amazon, which has taken the initial steps with the Federal Aviation Administration for using the airborne vehicles for deliveries. To fill a need for trained drone operators, the FSU College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, has developed a new program for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In spring 2015,the FSU Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program will begin offering the first course in a new program called Application of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “Small” refers to UAS less than 55 pounds. Read more

Bonus: Wahlburgers plotting Central Florida location

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