News Briefs 

According to an investigation published by The Guardian Wednesday, Florida blocked or returned more than $70 million in federal grants to fight HIV during a three-year span of Gov. Rick Scott’s administration.

During that 2015 to 2017 period, after five years of declines, HIV diagnoses soared in Florida, increasing by nearly 11 percent as the state recorded the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the country with 4,783 cases in 2017 – 13 percent of all cases nationwide – according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“I think Rick Scott fueled the epidemic in Florida,” Marlene LaLota, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) HIV/Aids section administrator from 2014 to 2016, told The Guardian. “How many infections could have been prevented with that money? How many lives could have been saved? Shame on them.”

2019-2020 Miami-Dade County budget

Miami-Dade County commissioners are set to vote on Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s 8.9 million 2019-2020 proposed budget.The final budget hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Stephen Clark Center. Gimenez’s proposed 2020 budget would take effect Oct. 1.

It includes higher water rates, and more money for expanded library hours, seaweed cleanup, parks managers and police hiring. However, affordable housing continues to be one of the biggest issues afflicting residents of Miami-Dade County. 

Earlier this month, residents aired frustrations and demanded action in regards to the county’s affordable housing problems during previously scheduled budget hearings.  The 2019-20 Proposed Budget includes $263.3 million in total for affordable housing, which includes $194 million in carryover. Residents expressed concerns with the county’s allocation of funds for affordable housing that went largely unspent. 

“I will be initiating to activate the ever-increasing carryover funding for affordable housing that has been allocated, but unspent,” Gimenez wrote in his mayor’s message. “I will be convening a working group to develop proposals to get the projects moving or reallocate the funds to projects that will deliver much-needed workforce and affordable housing units for our community.”

Climate Ready Miami

The city of Miami will host a neighborhood workshop set to address hurricane preparatory, flooding and impacts of climate change to the Liberty City community. The city’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability is sponsoring a Climate Ready Miami neighborhood workshop set to inform residents about the specific climate vulnerabilities of the Liberty City and Model City neighborhoods. 

The workshop is happening Thursday, Sept. 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., Miami. Food and childcare will be provided.

Case against state on Amendment 4 to proceed

A federal judge has turned down Florida’s request to suspend proceedings in legal challenges to a 2019 state law that requires felons pay all fines, fees and restitution before being eligible to vote.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee on Tuesday asked U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to delay hearings – under way since August – until the Florida Supreme Court issues an advisory opinion on the law that implemented Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment approved by 64.5 percent of voters in November that restored voting rights for as many as 1.4 million felons.

But in a brief order issued last Wednesday and posted Thursday, Hinkle denied the request.

Information from the Associated Press and center Square was used in this report.

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