Parkland victim’s dad seen pinned by Capitol Police, arrested after interrupting House hearing

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(WASHINGTON) — The father of a student killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting was pinned to the ground and briefly arrested at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon after he loudly protested during a House hearing on what Republicans called federal government “overreach” regarding gun ownership.

Manuel Oliver and his wife, Patricia Oliver, were removed from the House oversight subcommittee hearing by Capitol Police officers at the direction of Chairman Pat Fallon.

The Olivers’ 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was murdered along with 16 other students, faculty and staff in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

The Olivers have become advocates against gun violence in the years since. Manuel Oliver was previously removed from the White House last year after shouting at President Joe Biden for, he said, not doing enough on the issue.

Patricia Oliver spoke first during Thursday’s proceeding, interrupting Fallon, R-Texas. Manuel Oliver also shouted out, using an expletive as he criticized Republicans on the panel about halfway through the hearing.

Moments after police were directed to remove the Olivers, yelling and a loud thud were heard just outside the hearing room and Manuel Oliver was pinned to the ground by multiple officers, as seen in video captured by ABC News.

It wasn’t immediately clear what happened prior to Manuel Oliver being taken to the ground. One officer told ABC News that he was “resisting” and “moving around.” But his wife told ABC News that he “kept saying the truth” and that officers “didn’t like the way he speaks out.”

Freshman Democratic Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost of Florida — formerly of the group March For Our Lives, founded in the wake of the Parkland shooting — asked the officers what they were doing as they pinned Manuel Oliver and informed them that his son was killed in Parkland.

Capitol Police confirmed to ABC News that Manuel Oliver was arrested, and Patricia Oliver told ABC News within hours that he had been released.

She said that her husband did not lunge or get physical with officers before they took him down. But Capitol Police said in a statement that Manuel Oliver was detained for allegedly crowding, obstructing or incommoding “after he disrupted a hearing, refused to stop shouting, and then attempted to go back inside the hearing room.”

Patricia Oliver denied to ABC News that her husband tried to go back into the hearing.

Manuel Oliver was issued a citation as part of his arrest and wasn’t booked into jail, police said. They noted that his wife wasn’t detained because she “followed the lawful directions of our officers.”

The altercation appears to have begun after Patricia Oliver yelled during the hearing, leading Fallon to call for officers. Frost tweeted afterward that while “Patricia said one thing,” Fallon “escalated the entire situation.”

“You’re breaching protocol and distributing the committee room,” Fallon said at the hearing.

Fallon also scolded his critics in the gallery: “See, this is exactly what we have to avoid, which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn’t be kryptonite.”

Soon after, he cracked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same– I don’t want another Jan. 6, do we?”

As the disruptions continued, Fallon said, “Does the Capitol Police not do their jobs? What in the hell’s going on?”

He then sent the hearing into recess, during which Manuel Oliver was taken into custody, he said. When the proceeding resumed, he addressed the incident.

“Unfortunately, we had some folks that were disruptive during the hearing,” he said. “We asked Capitol Police to remove them, they were then removed and then one decided to come back in while we were still gaveled in … Capitol Police were overwhelmed outside in the hallway and now we’re back in session.”

Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who also sits on the subcommittee, told ABC News afterward, “We had people in the room who had become had become activists because they were personally touched by gun violence, and for them to hear elected officials that our answer to gun violence is to get rid of the ATF — I think it was difficult for member of the public to hear.”

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Judge temporarily blocks Wyoming abortion ban, allowing abortions to resume

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(CHEYENNE, Wyo.) — A Wyoming judge temporarily blocked a state abortion ban, prohibiting the state and its employees from enforcing the ban. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect unless it is dissolved or modified by a court order, according to court documents.

The ban prohibits nearly all abortions, with exceptions for rape, incest and to save a woman’s life or prevent irreversible bodily harm, according to the law. The law makes violating the ban a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Under the ban, abortions would be permitted for ectopic pregnancies, fetuses with fatal anomalies and women who need cancer treatment, among other exceptions.

Wyoming also became the first state to ban abortion pills, separate from all abortion services, last week in a bill signed into law by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.

In her decision, Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens said the temporary injunction will “preserve the status until the merits of an action can be determined,” court documents show.

Gov. Gordon allowed the ban to become law last week without his signature.

In a statement last week, Gordon said he believes that if the state legislature seeks to settle the issue of abortion, it may have to come through a constitutional amendment.

“If the legislature wants to expressly address how the Wyoming Constitution treats abortion and defines healthcare, then those issues should be vetted through the amendment process laid out in Article 20 of the Wyoming Constitution and voted on directly by the people,” Gordon said.

Wyoming was one of 13 states that had enacted trigger bans on abortion that were set to go into effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The trigger ban, which prohibits abortions in all circumstances except rape, incest or if the mother is at serious risk of death or injury, was blocked by a court as litigation to determine its legality under the state constitution continues.

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House panel to focus not on Mexico border — but rising immigration at sea

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(WASHINGTON) — The fraught politics of immigration have largely focused on the land border between the U.S. and Mexico, but on Thursday afternoon a panel of lawmakers will turn to Florida’s maritime border and what government data shows is a sharply rising wave of migration from the Caribbean.

The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security is hearing from U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as U.S. Coast Guard officials to learn about resource and policy needs to better secure the Florida coast.

Republican lawmakers are expected to press the officials on ways the Biden administration could strengthen policy and deter migrants. Democrats are likely to point to recent declines in migrants from certain countries recently included in the dual-track strategy of the administration cracking down on unlawful claims while opening narrow avenues for relief.

But conservatives aren’t swayed.

“I think they’re both out of control,” Subcommittee Chairman Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., told ABC News. “I wouldn’t say that the southern border is more in control.”

Gimenez cited the recent acknowledgement from Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz that the U.S. was not currently maintaining “operational control” of the border — defined under federal law as the complete prevention of unlawful entries, a feat no administration has ever achieved.

“Regardless of the technical terms, and whether you think that any president can actually meet that or not, this president has failed miserably,” Gimenez said, echoing broad Republican criticism of the Biden administration. “A greater failure than any other president in history.”

Experts say a number of factors have contributed to the protracted diaspora of populations across the Western Hemisphere, including the build-up of migration demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread instability in Haiti and deteriorating authoritarian regimes in South America.

In response to concerns about the border, President Joe Biden last year requested the largest-ever increase in Border Patrol personnel, with lawmakers ultimately approving funding for 300 additional agents.

Another 350 would be added under the president’s latest budget proposal, which is likely to be ignored by the divided Congress.

Most Republicans have opposed Biden’s funding proposals, saying solutions should start with apprehension and removal policies. While the White House has maintained some strict Trump-era measures, drawing the ire of immigration advocates, they have rolled others back and argued they want to be more humane.

Republicans have pointed to the reversal of restrictions including international agreements that facilitated the return of some asylum-seekers as well as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which made asylum-seekers wait outside the U.S. between immigration appointments. Mexico has since opposed such policies after the Biden administration showed a willingness to pull them back.

Gimenez, who said Biden is not being tough enough on Mexico, represents southern Florida and the Keys, a region that has seen an overall spike this year in unauthorized migrant dockings and other migrant apprehensions despite recent declines.

Border Patrol agents in the Miami region apprehended migrants 328 times last month, down from 1,357 apprehensions in January, according to CBP data.

So far this fiscal year, total Miami-area apprehensions have topped 5,000 for the first time since the Bush administration, with more than half the fiscal year to go.

Meanwhile, people without official travel documents have attempted to make legal entry more than 43,000 times this fiscal year at Miami ports, according to CBP data which includes Miami International Airport.

The U.S. Coast Guard has also found elevated numbers of migrants — mainly Cubans and Haitians — often on rafts and small boats not outfitted to handle the Atlantic Ocean. Such crossings can be deadly.

Coast Guard teams off the Florida coast have disrupted unauthorized Haitian maritime travel 3,567 times so far this budget year, far beyond the 419 encounters recorded in all of budget year 2017, the oldest year immediately available, or any year since except 2022.

Unauthorized migration from Cuba has also hit the highest levels seen in recent years. The vast majority of migrants found at sea are swiftly returned to their home countries by the Coast Guard.

“They come across on very flimsy boats and rafts and inner tubes — any way they can to seek freedom and seek a better opportunity here in the United States,” Gimenez said. “I don’t blame the folks trying to reach the United States. I’m a migrant myself. What I do blame — it needs to be done in a legal manner and it needs to be done in a safe manner.”

Outside experts have said broader forces are pushing people toward these journeys, regardless of the risk.

“Cuba is not far from the United States. The inability to migrate by land, the difficulty of accessing humanitarian parole for those lacking passports or sponsors, and historic levels of economic misery in Cuba have combined to cause an immediate spike in maritime migration across the Florida Straits,” analyst Adam Isaacson wrote last month.

South Florida has also long been a hub for international drug trafficking, and while the steady pace of CBP seizures continues, it appears uncorrelated to recent spikes in migration, based on a review of publicly accessible data.

Additionally, the vast majority of drugs seized by CBP are found at federal ports of entry.

ABC News’ Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.

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White House COVID team to wind down as public health emergency expires in May: Officials

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(WASHINGTON) — The White House COVID-19 team will wind down as the country moves out of the emergency phase of the pandemic, multiple administration officials confirmed to ABC News.

The public health emergency is set to expire on May 11 after being in place since early 2020. The end will impact public health measures afforded by the pandemic, like expanded Medicaid enrollment, subsidized costs of COVID tests, and data gathering on cases and deaths across the country.

It will also mark a “new phase” of COVID response, an administration official said, which will be mirrored by a restructuring within the White House.

“The COVID team size will reflect the new phase that we’re in as the public health emergency ends,” an administration official said.

And Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID coordinator, is also likely to leave, according to another administration official.

His departure is expected around the time the emergency ends, a member of the White House COVID team said. Many members of the current response team have already returned to their original agencies or other jobs, the team member added.

The Washington Post was the first to report the news on the team winding down.

In a statement, a senior administration official told ABC News that “COVID no longer disrupts our lives because of investments and our efforts to mitigate its worst impacts.”

“COVID is not over, fighting it remains an administration priority, and transitioning out of the emergency phase is the natural evolution of the COVID response,” the official said.

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Supreme Court hears arguments on whiskey bottles, dog toys, pornography and poop

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(WASHINGTON) — A Supreme Court debate Wednesday over parody and popular commercial brands was dominated by talk of whiskey bottles, dog toys, pornography and poop.

For nearly two hours, in an argument punctuated by laughter, the justices wrestled with the intersection of freedom of speech and protection for trademarks in a case pitting a humorous dog toy maker against American whiskey producer Jack Daniel’s.

The case, Jack Daniel’s Properties Inc., v. VIP Products, centers on a chew toy that resembles a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey but is spoofed as “Bad Spaniels” with the suggestion that its contents are pet waste.

“This case involves a dog toy that copies Jack Daniel’s trademark and trade dress and associates its whiskey with dog poop,” the whiskey maker’s attorney Lisa Blatt told the court on Wednesday.

The liquor company claims the toy’s design causes confusion and dilutes the quality of its brand. VIP Products insists the spoof is obvious and protected by the First Amendment.

“They’re complaining about the speech, the parody, the comparison to dog poop and a Bad Spaniel, not the mark,” VIP Products attorney Bennett Cooper said Wednesday. “Parodies on noncompetitive goods like Bad Spaniels aren’t likely to cause confusion.”

A district court sided with Jack Daniel’s but an appeals court reversed, upholding the toy. The justices considered what legal test should decide when a trademark has been infringed and whether VIP Products’ toy had done so.

“Could any reasonable person think that Jack Daniel’s had approved this use of the mark?” Justice Samuel Alito asked Blatt, representing the whiskey maker.

“Absolutely,” Blatt replied. “That’s why we won [in the district court].”

“I’m concerned about the First Amendment implications of your position,” Alito said.

Blatt, backed by dozens of U.S. brands like American Apparel, Campbell Soup Company and Nike, warned that allowing imitations like “Bad Spaniels” would open the floodgates to harmful trademark infringement — under the justification of “parody” — including in pornography.

Blatt told the justices that trademark owners could be victims of “something that approaches compelled speech if their mark has been used in porn films and porn toys and sex toys, and people are profiting off of that.”

She raised the ’70s pornographic film “Debbie Does Dallas,” which an appeals court in a separate case found had infringed the trademark of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Meanwhile, VIP Products argued that a dog toy is a “noncommercial” form of protected speech — a distinctive parody, said Cooper, one of their attorneys, because it does not explicitly say “Jack Daniel’s.”

“There’s no doubt that Jack Daniel’s takes itself very seriously,” Cooper quipped.

Some on the court did not appear convinced.

“Maybe I just have no sense of humor — but what’s the parody?” asked Justice Elena Kagan. She went on to suggest the chew toy is just an “ordinary commercial product” profiting from the likeness of a whiskey brand.

“You make fun of a lot of marks: Doggie Walker, Dos Perros, Smella R Paw, Canine Cola, Mountain Drool. Are all of these companies taking themselves too seriously?” she asked dryly.

Chief Justice John Roberts guided the morning’s arguments but did not ask any questions himself. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett did not speak at all throughout the proceedings.

There was no apparent consensus among the justices on which company should prevail or whether the matter should be sent back to a lower court for further consideration.

The court is expected to release a decision by the end of June.

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DeSantis downplays Trump’s nickname, ‘just as long as you also call me a winner’

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(NEW YORK) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis likened former President Donald Trump’s jabs against him to so much “background noise,” according to excerpts from an upcoming interview with Piers Morgan.

“To me, it’s just background noise,” DeSantis is quoted saying in an account of the sit-down Morgan wrote for The New York Post. “It’s not important for me to be fighting with people on social media.”

DeSantis, a hugely popular and controversial GOP governor considered to be Trump’s closest competitor if he enters the race for president, also took an apparent swipe at Trump’s character.

Speaking with Morgan, DeSantis said politicians should aspire to fewer moral failings.

“You really want to look to people like our Founding Fathers, like what type of character. It’s not saying that you don’t ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing?” DeSantis said to Morgan, according to the excerpts in the Post.

“Somebody who really set the standard is George Washington because he always put the republic over his own personal interest. When we won the American Revolution, Washington surrendered his sword. [King] George III said, ‘He’s the greatest man in the world if he gives up power.’ I think the person is more about how you handle your public duties and the kind of character you bring to that endeavor,” DeSantis added.

Quotes from the interview, which will air Thursday night on Fox Nation, were published in the Post and via several clips from Fox News.

As polls place DeSantis as Trump’s biggest challenger for the Republican nomination, should DeSantis announce a 2024 campaign as expected, the former president has grown increasingly critical of DeSantis and DeSantis’ record.

And while DeSantis had largely been ignoring the attacks — saying last month that “I don’t spend my time trying to smear other Republicans” — he’s become more vocal in directly responding as Trump’s criticisms ramp up.

On Monday, the Florida governor distanced himself from Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels when asked at a press conference about Trump potentially being indicted in New York City.

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just can’t speak to that,” DeSantis told reporters.

Trump is being investigated there over money he paid to Daniels before the 2016 election to stop her from discussing an alleged affair with Trump.

Trump denies wrongdoing and Daniels’ claim of an affair; his attorney has called the money extortion.

At Monday’s press conference, DeSantis went on to criticize the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who is leading the probe. DeSantis accused Bragg of “pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office.” (A spokeswoman for Bragg said in response to DeSantis that “we will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law.”)

DeSantis echoed his view of the investigation when talking with Morgan but said of Trump’s alleged conduct: “The reality is that’s just outside my wheelhouse. I mean, that’s just not something that I can speak to.”

Trump seemingly reacted to DeSantis’ remark on Monday referencing the Daniels controversy with a post on his Truth Social platform, writing that “Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known.”

During his sit-down interview with Morgan at the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee, when asked about Trump’s escalating criticism of him, someone Trump previously endorsed, DeSantis “chuckled,” Morgan wrote in the Post.

“Things have changed a little bit, I guess. It is what it is,” DeSantis said, noting the shift came after his double-digit reelection last year.

He sought to draw sharp distinctions between him and Trump as leaders, particularly on what he called his “drama-free” executive style.

“The way we run the government, I think, is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board,” he said. “And I think that’s something that’s very important.”

He also brushed off the nicknames from Trump, who favors insulting his rivals.

“I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one,” DeSantis said. “I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it. It’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels.”

“I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this state to the next level,” he said.

The response to COVID-19 was another thing that separated him and Trump, DeSantis said: “I would have fired somebody like [Dr. Anthony] Fauci. I think that he got way too big for his britches.”

In another excerpt, DeSantis projected confidence that he could take on President Joe Biden in a general matchup next year, though neither of them is officially in the race yet.

“If I were to run,” DeSantis said, “I’m running against Biden. Like we [him and Trump] are competing for the Republican, potentially, I get that, but ultimately, you know, the guy I’m gonna focus on is Biden because I think he’s failed the country. I think the country wants a change. I think they want a fresh start and a new direction, and so we’ll be very vocal about that.”

On Wednesday, Trump responded to DeSantis’ interview with Morgan with a post on Truth Social, claiming that he is an “average” governor and “is not working for the people of Florida as he should be, he is too busy chatting with a Ratings Challenged TV Host.”

Despite recent tours of pivotal early-voting states like Iowa and Nevada, DeSantis maintained to Morgan that he’s not made a “final decision” on whether he’ll run in 2024.

However, he has privately indicated to allies that he expects to jump in the race around May or June, sources familiar with the matter previously told ABC News.

“I’ve told people that I’ve got a lot to do over the next few months in Florida,” DeSantis told Morgan. “We’re gonna put a lot of points on the board. And then we’ll see how the dust settles after that, but I can tell you a lot of people realize the country is not going in the right direction and believe that what we’ve been able to do in Florida, if we can apply that nationally, we can get America back on track and back on our foundations.”

DeSantis is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in New Hampshire next month.

ABC News’ Katherine Faulders, Isabella Murray and Will Steakin contributed to this report.

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East Palestine mother to Senate: ‘My seven-year-old has asked me if he is going to die’

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(WASHINGTON) — Some East Palestine, Ohio, residents are still grappling with the aftershock of last month’s train derailment, with one mother offering compelling testimony about how the incident traumatized her young child.

The night of the incident, a “huge fireball” was visible from East Palestine resident Misti Allison’s driveway, she testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, vowing, “We will never forget the night the train derailed.”

“My seven-year-old has asked me if he is going to die from living in his own home. What do I tell him?” she asked lawmakers Wednesday.

Allison said the accident “put a scarlet letter on our town” that has resulted in tumbling home values and financial strain for the village.

“I’m here to put a face on this disaster,” said Misti Allison, a mother of two who lives in East Palestine. “This isn’t just a political issue. It is a people issue.”

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw has repeatedly refused to commit to certain points on rail and worker safety and commitments to the East Palestine community. During the same hearing at which Allison spoke, Shaw refused to commit fully to backing the RAIL Act, proposed by Reps. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Emilia Strong-Sykes, D-Ohio, and the Railway Safety Act, proposed by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, — saying the bills contained “potential for meaningful improvement,” going just slightly further than prior remarks in which he refused to commit to backing the bipartisan Railway Safety Act amid intense political fallout.

Though Shaw offered his “full-throated endorsement” for “many provisions” in the Railway Safety Act, which was proposed by Ohio’s two senators in the wake of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month, he still dodged when asked whether he’d support the legislation and did not offer a specific long-term safety plan. Shaw testified earlier this month he’d commit to “the legislative intent to make rail safer” without citing specific elements of the legislation he would support.

“We are committed to getting better,” Shaw said Wednesday when asked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whether he supported the bill, citing Norfolk Southern’s support for the acceleration of the phase-in of the DT-117s, funding first responder hazmat training, and expanding advanced notification.

Asked by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., whether he would support legislation requiring at least a two-person crew on all freight trains — which will become a requirement if the RSA is enacted — Shaw sidestepped, saying he was “not aware” of data supporting the notion that having more than a one-person crew aboard all trains would improve safety.

“Mr. Shaw, will you commit to supporting legislation requiring at least two-person crews on all freight trains?” Markey asked.

“Senator, we’ll commit to using research and technology to ensure the railroad operates safely,” Shaw said.

When Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., pressed Shaw on who was responsible for preventing the derailment, which Shaw said in prior testimony was preventable, the CEO responded, “We are responsible for safety on our network and working within the entire industry to enhance safety.”

“Okay, let me understand this. You’ve just reluctantly acknowledged A) it’s preventable, and B) it was your responsibility to prevent it. Am I incorrect?” Welch asked.

“Senator, I’m taking responsibility to enhance safety throughout the entire industry,” Shaw said — a reply Welch said “sounds like a lobbyist response.”

“Small communities have something that’s really very, very special,” Welch said of the derailment. “It’s trust. You trust one another. And there’s been a breach of trust here.”

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Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ policy could be expanded into high school

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — A proposed Florida Board of Education rule could expand restrictions on classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“For grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend,” according to the proposed rule.

This rule would build up on the Parental Rights in Education law Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March 2022. The law bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It states that any instruction on those topics cannot occur “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” according to the legislation.

The law was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, who said it aimed to shun LGBTQ identities from classroom content and discussion.

This rule, voted on by the seven-member board, coincides with other legislation being considered in the state legislature. HB 1223 would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in pre-kindergarten through grade 8, and would not require any employee or student to refer to a another person using their “preferred personal title or pronouns” if it does not correspond to that person’s sex. The proposed legislation would also make it a statewide public school policy that “it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”

A hearing on the proposed board policy will be held on April 19 at the Florida State Capitol Complex.

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Kansas House of Representatives passes bill requiring care for infants ‘born alive’ after abortion

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(TOPEKA, Kan.) — Months after Kansas voters decided to uphold protections for abortion rights, the state’s House of Representatives approved a bill based on the disputed idea that providers leave newborns to die after unsuccessful abortions. The bill passed with a 88-34 vote.

If approved, the bill would provide legal protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion, requiring healthcare providers to provide them with care. The bill would create criminal penalties and civil liability for violations of the act.

The bill now heads to the Republican-majority state Senate for approval. Kansas voters decided to protect abortion rights in a high-turnout primary vote, striking down a proposal to remove abortion protections from the state’s constitution.

The vast majority of abortions are performed before the point in pregnancy when a fetus would theoretically survive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020, only 0.9% of abortion procedures occurred after 21 weeks gestation, the CDC reports. Failed abortions where infants are born alive are extremely rare. 

Providers who fail to provide care to infants born alive will face felony charges. The father of the fetus, the mother of the fetus and family including parents or guardians are allowed to bring civil lawsuits against providers who fail to follow the law.

If the pregnancy results from any criminal conduct, the person guilty is barred from bringing such lawsuits.

The bill defines an infant as “born alive” if it “breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles,” according to the bill.

Under the bill, health care centers will be required to report to the secretary of health and environment how many abortions result in infants being born alive. Facilities who fail to submit the report could face a fine of up to $500.

The measure is similar to a proposed Montana law that voters rejected in November.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a similar bill in January, but it is unlikely the bill will become law.

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Patients, health care providers face shortages of critical drugs, Senate report finds

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(WASHINGTON) — Patients and medical providers who rely on pharmaceutical medications to treat everything from asthma to ADHD to cancer may have had a harder time finding those medications last year than in years past, a new Senate report released Wednesday finds.

The report, issued by Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Gary Peters, finds many drug shortages were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2021 and 2022, the report says, drug shortages increased by nearly 30%, creating challenges for health care providers and ailing patients, and, Peters says, possibly exposing the country to national security threats.

At the end of 2022, a five-year record was set with 295 active drug shortages. But while the COVID-19 pandemic may have heightened drug-access challenges, the report says the problem is not new: 15 essential drugs have been in short supply for over a decade.

One expert testifying to lawmakers Wednesday, Erin Fox, a pharmacist and professor at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, has been tracking drug shortages since 2001.

Her team has found an abundance of drugs in short supply, most notably generic injectable drugs used at hospitals, such as anesthetics, some steroids and older chemotherapy agents. While the Senate report highlights a variety of shortages, it points specifically to shortages of Vincristine, a critical adult and pediatric chemotherapy drug used to treat various types of cancer with no alternative treatment, and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), an immunotherapy biologic drug used to treat bladder cancer.

“Because of shortages, patients and hospitals routinely cannot access the most basic and essential prescription medications,” Fox plans to tell the Senate Homeland Committee.

She told ABC News she plans to describe the challenges of providing medical care in an environment where shortages are commonplace, citing studies that show adverse patient outcomes when providers are faced with shortages.

“Shortages adversely impact patients, health care professionals, and health systems. An entire generation of clinicians has never practiced during a time without shortages,” Fox will tell the committee.

Peters, the committee chairman, began examining drug shortages in 2019, before COVID-19 increased scrutiny of the problem. Since his 2019 report, shortages have increased, in part due to U.S. reliance on foreign providers for some active pharmaceutical ingredients necessary to give medications their desired effect. That reliance became a critical weakness for the United States during the pandemic when some foreign countries placed limits on exports of pharmaceuticals.

“Our continued over-reliance on foreign suppliers for the key materials needed to make critical drugs, primarily those in China, remains an unacceptable national security risk,” the Illinois Democrat will argue.

The new report finds that nearly 80% of manufacturing facilities that produce active pharmaceutical ingredients — the key ingredients that give a drug its intended effect — are located outside of the U.S., with the number of China-based manufacturers registered with the Food and Drug Administration more than doubling from 2010 to 2015.

Outsourcing production to India and China means the U.S. is vulnerable to global catastrophes and at the whim of market forces. If the U.S. faces another pandemic or global crisis, it could experience even more serious supply chain issues with key pharmaceuticals.

The report also identifies what it says are blind spots in the ability of the FDA and other U.S. regulators to monitor or address shortages.

Under current law, manufacturers aren’t required to report increased demand or export restrictions for drug products to the FDA, making it challenging for the regulating agency to anticipate shortages coming down the pike. In the report, the Senate Homeland Committee recommends Congress implement changes to these rules.

The FDA also doesn’t have a list of life-supporting and life-sustaining drugs, leaving it unable to assess the number of drugs that have a limited number of manufacturers or that rely on only one supplier for production.

“The federal government’s inability to comprehensively assess U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain vulnerabilities and address known causes of shortages for critical drugs continues to frustrate efforts to predict drug shortages and effectively mitigate their impact on patient care,” the report finds.

It’s not yet clear what, if any, action Congress can take to try to shore up supply chains for key pharmaceuticals.

The committee report recommends new federal investment in domestic manufacturing of key drug products that are regularly in short supply. Congress took similar action in a separate sphere last year after determining that reliance on foreign-produced microchips used to power cars, computers and other technology posed a national security risk, by passing the CHIPs and Science Act which provided billions to incentivize onshore production of computer chips.

It’s not clear if a similar effort geared toward pharmaceuticals could gain traction in Congress.

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