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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

FL GOP bill could ban rainbow flags in schools, government buildings

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Friday, January 19, 2024   

Another GOP proposal is sparking controversy in Florida over freedom of expression, as it aims to ban rainbow flags from being displayed.

House Bill 901 by Rep. David Borrero, R-Sweetwater, would restrict any flags depicting a "racial, sexual orientation and gender, or political ideology viewpoint." LGBTQ+ advocates said they are well aware the goal is to target those who stand behind the "pride" flag.

Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director for Equality Florida, a civil rights organization in support of the LGBTQ+ community said the move is political in nature.

"The pride flag ban bill is unnecessary, unclear and unconstitutional," Maurer asserted. "It does not help everyday Floridians who are struggling with their homeowner's insurance and housing affordability. It is basically a 'cooked-up' solution to a made-up culture war."

Borrero has said the bill is designed to protect children, noting it would ban displays on lapel pins and would also include flags representing the Black Lives Matter movement being flown at any state or local government buildings, including public schools and universities.

Maurer stressed he thinks the proposal is a distraction from real issues and calls attention to bills to support vulnerable communities instead of marginalizing them. He cites bills including the Democrat-backed Freedom to Learn Act and the Health Care Freedom Act.

"It is about restoring Floridians' freedoms to make their own health care decisions, and make the best health care decisions for their families and their children, in consultation with their doctors," Maurer explained. "We've seen extreme government overreach recently and political interference with that sort of personal decision-making."

The Freedom to Learn Act would essentially roll back the GOP-sponsored Parental Rights in Education law, which mandates how sexual education and gender identity are discussed in schools.

Borrero's bill advanced on a party-line 9 to 5 vote by a House subcommittee. With a Republican supermajority in the Legislature, it stands a better chance of success than proposals from Democrats.


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