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Florida Restores Voting Rights For 1.5 Million Former Felons

Amendment 4 passed with 64 percent of the vote.

Florida officially voted to pass Amendment 4 on Tuesday (Nov. 4), restoring the voting rights of 1.5 million people who have been convicted of felonies.

Amendment 4 earned 64 percent of the vote, the Pensacola News Journal reports.  The amendment, which needed at least 60 percent to pass, applies to ex-felons who have completed their sentence in full (including probation and restitution). Convicted murderers and sex offenders are excluded from the list.

Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, led the initiative that landed Amendment 4 on the ballot. FRRC celebrated on Twitter, thanking Floridians for voting to pass the amendment.

The organization's next goal will be to "end the discrimination of Floridians with convictions."

Florida is one of four states that permanently strips felons of their voting rights. This particular method of disenfranchisement dates back to the Jim Crow era and and hit a peak during the 1970s. According to Business Insider, nearly one in four black Floridians are prohibited from voting due to a previous felony conviction. Under the previous system, a convicted felon would have to wait five years after completing their sentence before requesting clemency.

The sluggish process goes through Florida's Gov. Rick Scott and a clemency board, which meets four times a year.

READ MORE: Florida's Voter Registration Process Rules Unconstitutional

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Twitter Couldn't Believe Trump Fed The Clemson Tigers Fast Food

The Internet was beside itself Monday night (Jan. 14) when it was reported Donald Trump invited the Clemson University football team to the White House to celebrate their national championship, only to feed them McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King.

Imagine going to the White House for a special dinner in your honor and learning you’ll be eating McDonalds. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 https://t.co/lXxvMzNPdS

— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) January 15, 2019

Visitors are normally treated to a dinner by the White House kitchen staff, however, with the partial government shutdown menu options weren't as grand.

“Because the Democrats refuse to negotiate on border security, much of the residence staff at the White House is furloughed — so the president is personally paying for the event to be catered with some of everyone’s favorite fast foods,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The president, who has long been vocal about his love for fast food, thought the meal was "good stuff."

“I like it all,” he told reporters before the players arrived. “It’s all good stuff. Great American food.”

Most of Twitter did not share the same sentiments.

EXCLUSIVE Photo from yesterday’s dinner that Donald Trump and the White House hosted for the National Champions #Clemson pic.twitter.com/bftATVjkgr

— Ryan Jamison (@RDJ_215) January 15, 2019

The saavy Clemson players got the fries first. McDonalds fries go from amazing to trash if they drop below room temperature.

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) January 15, 2019

lol the Wendy’s, McDonalds, and Burger King social teams ain’t touching this one

— the hamberderler (@adamjmoussa) January 15, 2019

And then photoshop Twitter got wind of what was happening.

He is a disgrace to fast food #mcdonalds #wendys #burgerking #dominospizza #disgraceful @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/umxb1DwTzN

— Arica Love Royal Creator of What’s the T Network (@AricaLoveRoyal) January 15, 2019

Who did this? 😂

#McDonalds pic.twitter.com/FKAnw3izcL

— Cameron Grant (@coolcam101) January 15, 2019

elect a clown, expect mcdonalds https://t.co/Xwusda8dxt

— m i t h (@ManInTheHoody) January 15, 2019

Tuesday (Jan. 15) marks 25 days since the government's partial shutdown, which has left more than 800,000 Federal employees without a paycheck. The impasse is due to Trump's unwillingness to back down from the billions needed to fund the U.S.-Mexico wall, and the newly elected Democratic Congress not budging on their refusal to assist in the construction of the wall.

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The Government Shutdown And What You Should Know About It

Shortly before 2019 began, Donald Trump shuttered the U.S. federal government (Dec. 22) as a tactic to receive funding for building a border wall along Mexico and the States. The request was made within a proposal by the GOP which also called for "other border protection measures," CNN reports.

Although Republicans and Democrats are working on a resolution to revamp border security protocol and revisit the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the latter remains opposed to granting Trump's $5 billion request. He's also thinking about declaring a national emergency to receive monetary assistance. The contention in Congress has led the federal sector to close its operations until a resolution can be made.

Here, we break down what you should know about the shutdown and how it may affect you.


Concern Grows Over Food Stamp Distribution

According to Politico, over 38 million people receiving government assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be affected by the shutdown if Congress is unable to reach a resolution.

How This Affects You: Officials within the Department of Agriculture note its funds can sustain those enrolled within the program for the remainder of January, but it's not guaranteed that it'll be able to maintain past this month. If you're one of the 38.6 million Americans dependent on SNAP, you could be greatly affected if mid-February proves to be more of the same. CNN reports new people looking to apply for SNAP might not be able to do so since reserve funds must benefit those already on the program. This might affect food services within schools, The New York Times reports, which will still last into February. On the upside, there's a possibility that "reserve funds" can help keep the food stamps program temporarily running in case the shutdown extends into next month. There's currently $3 billion in reserve funds.


The Shutdown Was Followed By The Freeze Of An Increased Federal Budget

Trump signed an executive order earlier this month that placed a halt on a 2.1 percent increase to the federal budget. When Trump first announced his plan in August 2018, he said the country's federal fabric wouldn't be able to support this swell. "We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases," he said. As a solution to hopefully alleviate bills, outlets like FedChoice Federal Credit Union have offered public workers methods to balance their accounts without missing a payment.


Agencies Including The I.R.S., Homeland Security, T.S.A., N.A.S.A., And More Are Also Affected

Nearly 800,000 federal workers have been impacted by the shutdown, meaning a select number of employees are not receiving pay or working for free, as is the case for F.B.I. and D.E.A. workers. NBC News reports that 380,000 people will be "furloughed" without receiving pay, while 420,000 are legally mandated to continue working despite not being paid. For the I.R.S., there's a likelihood that income tax refund checks will not be distributed in a timely manner. However, the Social Security Administration will still manage to mail its recipients' checks via the U.S. Postal Service which remains open.

How This Affects You: As taxpayers await the I.R.S.' plan for making tax season as non-disruptive as possible, reports still encourage Americans to prepare their taxes as business as usual. The company, which is currently being run by 12 percent of its staff, will still issue refunds, Bloomberg reports. Additionally, CNBC notes that services like TurboTax will still "securely store" users' completed forms until the I.R.S. returns to normal operation.

On the subject of travel, passports will still be processed, but visas that are issued abroad for people looking to enter the States will be delayed. You can still travel as freely as you'd like with the proper documentation, but there's a possibility that due to a number of of T.S.A. workers calling out from work, your wait time on security lines might be extended. January 11 will also mark the first week that T.S.A. agents will miss a paycheck if the shutdown persists.

TSA Council's head of American Federation of Government Employees, Hydrick Thomas, warned that TSA employees that are quitting or working without pay can prove to have dire consequences. “The loss of officers, while we're already shorthanded, will create a massive security risk for American travelers since we don't have enough trainees in the pipeline or the ability to process new hires," Thomas said per The Daily Beast. "Our TSOs already do an amazing job without the proper staffing levels, but if this keeps up there are problems that will arise—least of which would be increased wait times for travelers.”

Statement on nationwide “sick out” as reported by CNN’s Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace. #News pic.twitter.com/RK0wiFLRJt

— TSA (@TSA) January 4, 2019


The Small Business Administration (SBA) Will Not Process Loans At This Moment

If you planned on stepping into the world of sole-proprietorship by opening up a business in the near future, you might have to halt your plans if you need a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Unfortunately, this news arrives after the SBA exceeded 50 percent in approval of loans since November 2018, Forbes reports. It's also noted by the site that the shutdown might affect current small business owners that rely on tax refunds to settle debts. Some of these owners, specifically those located in Washington, D.C., might feel the brunt of the shutdown since its income is partly based on federal workers' consumerism, and those workers are at home saving up what they previously earned.

How This Affects You: As highlighted by The Washington Post, even I.R.S. workers based in rural areas of Utah have felt the brunt of the shutdown. Not just in Utah, but other areas of the U.S.' federal workers live on a paycheck-to-paycheck basis. Towns across the country that thrive off of a small business economy might also experience less foot traffic since federal workers are keeping their wallets closed.

READ: Chairman Thompson writes @TSA today on the security and workforce effects the #TrumpShutdown is having on the agency. pic.twitter.com/48GQEyvgMf

— Committee on Homeland Security (@HomelandDems) January 7, 2019

Trump Might Find Another Way To Fund The Wall By Declaring A National Emergency

Despite Congress' deliberation, Trump believes that enacting a national emergency will grant him funding for building the wall. "We're looking at a national emergency because we have a national emergency — just read the papers," Trump said. According to CNN, he mentioned the shutdown could come to a halt as soon as "tomorrow" but if the Democrats don't agree with his proposal, "it could also go on for a long time." Trump is expected to visit the border on Thursday (Jan. 10).

The Democrats OBSTRUCTION of the desperately needed Wall, where they almost all recently agreed it should be built, is exceeded only by their OBSTRUCTION of 350 great people wanting & expecting to come into Government after being delayed for more than two years, a U.S. record!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018

There's A Plan Of Action To Cease The Government's Closure

Republican senators are slowly bending to a compromise to end the shutdown without agreed-upon funding for the wall. The Hill also reports that House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) publicized four bills that'll assist in opening certain sectors of the federal government. The bills seek to get workers back into action within the Food and Drug Administration, Housing and Urban Development, Financial Services, and the Department of the Interior.

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Congressional Black Caucus Sees Historic Increase In Newly Sworn In Members

There are more and more brown faces balancing out the lack of diversity and representation within the political realm, and the recent swearing-in ceremony of the Congressional Black Caucus is the proof in the pudding. On Thursday (Jan. 3), the political organization broke their own history record by swearing in 55 people, making it the highest amount of people sworn in at one time since its inception in 1971.

According to Diverse Education, Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the CBC, noted how pivotal this induction cycle is to the current political climate. “[This] marks the beginning of a course correction [needed to] correct the daily trauma we have suffered over the last two years,” she said.

This occurred at the same time the 116th Congress swore in their newest members to their new roles, some of whom include Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Marcia L. Fudge, Sharice Davids, Deb Haaland and more.

It was an honor to be sworn in with members of the Congressional Black Caucus this morning and to take the official oath of office in the House of Representatives moments ago. I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of OH-11 in the 116th Congress. pic.twitter.com/dnPLaL2PpN

— Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (@RepMarciaFudge) January 3, 2019

Time to do the work.

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