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College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

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Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Here's how to endorse a political candidate on Facebook

For those who use Facebook as an outlet to voice their political opinions, one feature makes the boldest statement: officially endorsing the candidate of your choice on the social media platform.

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To endorse a candidate, users only have to complete five steps: 

  1. Click the Endorsement tab on the political figure's Facebook page
  2. Click Endorse
  3. Choose the audience you want to see your endorsement post
  4. Write something to go along with your post
  5. Click Post

According to Facebook, users who post their endorsements to a public audience can be featured on candidates' pages if the candidates decide to repost any specific endorsement status.

Only pages that mark a figure as a politician, political candidate or government official can have the endorsement option.

Among those who can be endorsed are presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Duke, a Great Pyrenees that won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in August, and Mayor Stubbs, a cat that has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since the 1990s.

Photos: Democratic National Convention Day 3

Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion regulations

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday tossed out Texas abortion restrictions that would have closed more than half of the clinics in the state.

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The ruling overturned the heart of the law known as House Bill 2, passed during the second of two tense special legislative sessions in 2013, leaving 19 abortion clinics operating in the state, with the possibility that more could open in the coming months or years.

Ten of those clinics would have closed if the court had upheld the Texas law, including the Austin Women’s Health Center.

The Supreme Court said the Texas rules -- requiring abortions to be performed in hospital-like settings and doctors to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals -- combined to erect an improper barrier for women seeking abortions.

The ruling, 4½ months before the presidential election, is sure to have an impact on the race for the White House, with the winner being able to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the court’s leading conservative voice.

SEE: An interactive timeline of the Texas abortion law’s twists and turns

Abortion providers sued to overturn two parts of HB 2, arguing that the rules were medically unnecessary and were instead intended to close clinics in an unconstitutional attempt to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for many women to get abortions.

Many doctors had difficulty gaining admitting privileges, abortion providers testified, because nearby hospitals opposed abortion, did not want to get involved in a controversial issue or required a certain number of annual admissions that abortion doctors could not meet.

Providers also said abortion, a relatively safe procedure, was not made safer by the surgical-center rules, adding that it was prohibitively expensive, in some cases several million dollars, to renovate existing clinics or build new facilities to create hospital-like settings that call for fully equipped operating rooms, sterile ventilation systems, wide hallways, emergency power and other requirements found in 117 pages of state regulations.

Led by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, state officials argued that HB 2 was intended to protect the health and safety of women.

Paxton told the court that requiring all abortions to be performed in accredited surgical centers, would guarantee that women received high-quality treatment while ensuring that Texas would not see a repeat of Kermit Gosnell, a Pennsylvania abortion doctor who is serving life in prison in the murder of three infants born alive after late-term abortions and in the death of a patient. Investigators found bloodstained furniture, unsterilized instruments and bags of remains stored in Gosnell’s clinic.

Paxton also said the admitting privileges rule ensured that abortion doctors would continue caring for patients who experience complications after an abortion -- a claim that professional groups disputed, saying that most complications occur hours or days after the procedure, and women typically seek help from a hospital closest to their home, not the clinic.

The Texas case set the stage for the most significant decision on abortion rights since the 1990s by offering better direction to lower courts as well as state legislators on the increasingly thorny question of how much regulation is too much when it comes to laws that could shut down clinics.

The high court has said since 1992 that state regulations cannot pose an “undue burden,” a nebulous standard that left a lot of room for interpretation on which laws placed a substantial obstacle in the paths of women seeking abortions.

Ten states have enacted admitting privileges rules, for example, but courts have blocked enforcement in six of those states.

 

People post political comments on Facebook for 'self-affirmation,' study says

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Growing tired of the endless Bernie memes or Trump posts on your Facebook feed?

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A set of studies have found the reason why your social media connections feel the need to post their views.

The Huffington Post reports that a Harvard study found that sharing personal beliefs or feelings on social media works as a release for people because it rewards them for letting something out rather than keeping it in. “Expressing beliefs that are important to you functions as a self-affirmation,” psychology professor Joshua Hart of Union College told The Huffington Post. “It reminds you of the values that are central to your identity, and this gives you a psychological boost.”

A study by the Pew Research Center found that the people posting their opinions on social media are “less likely to share their opinions in face-to-face settings” because people are more likely to feel safer giving out their retorts when behind a computer screen rather than in person. “They’re expressing themselves in a forum where they’re likely to get a reaction, whether it’s the one they want or not,” Hart told The Huffington Post.

Hart said most people who post are also looking for the approval of others and “become more confident in their beliefs” when more people like, retweet or comment on the post. The Huffington Post said that there is not very much difference between Republicans, Democrats and independents regarding the number of posts with the leading posts on your own feed most likely factoring in based on your location.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

Selma to Montgomery: John Lewis live-tweets his memories

Civil rights icon John Lewis took to Twitter Monday to remember the historic Selma to Montgomery marches.

March 7 marked the 51st anniversary of the marches, which the congressman remembers as the “highest point” in the civil rights movement.

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In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution ahead of the 50th anniversary of Selma, Lewis recalled filling his backpack that day with an apple, an orange, two books, a toothbrush and toothpaste. It was preparation for a cell, not a fractured skull.

Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, tweeted a series of photos and personal memories from the march.

“I was hit in the head by a State Trooper. I thought I saw death. I thought I was going to die,” Lewis tweeted with the hashtag #Selma51.

<iframe src="//storify.com/ajc/rep-john-lewis-remembers-selma/embed?border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/ajc/rep-john-lewis-remembers-selma.js?border=false"></script>[View the story "Rep. John Lewis remembers Selma" on Storify]

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