Southwest CEO exams optimistic for Covid days after unmasked Senate listening to with different airline chiefs

Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, and Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, say during a Senate hearing on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on December 15 2021.

Chip Somodevilla | Swimming pool | Reuters

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly tested positive for Covid-19 after a Senate hearing with other airline chiefs earlier this week, the airline said on Friday.

Kelly, along with the CEOs of United Airlines and American Airlines, Delta Airlines” Chief of Operations and President of the largest flight attendant union in the country, testified personally for more than three hours At the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday afternoon over $ 54 billion in federal payroll slips the airlines spent trying to get out of the pandemic. Witnesses and lawmakers did not wear masks during the hearing. Most of the other participants wore face masks.

“Although Gary tested negative several times before the Senate Commerce Committee hearing, he tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home, showing mild symptoms and a PCR test,” a Southwest spokeswoman said in a statement. “Gary is fine and is currently resting at home. He was fully vaccinated and received the booster earlier this year. Gary’s symptoms remain mild and he is getting closer to a full recovery each day.”

United boss Scott Kirby, who was Kelly’s left in the hearing, tested negative for Covid on Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter. American boss Doug Parker tested negative on Friday, a spokeswoman said.

Delta’s chief of operations, John Laughter, who testified at the hearing on Wednesday and sat two seats away from Kelly, tested negative on Thursday and Friday.

“He will continue to carry out tests and take other precautions if necessary,” the airline said in a statement.

To Laughter’s left sat Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants.

“I was advised by Gary Kelly shortly after he tested positive and, ironically, just as I was getting back to work after the booster,” she said in a statement. “I follow CDC protocols and will test multiple times within the recommended period of 5-7 days and before I go on vacation with my family.”

Senators questioned witnesses about recent flight disruptions, airline hiring issues, 5G, as well as vaccination and mask requirements.

When Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) Asked airline CEOs during the hearing whether they assumed that passengers would not have to wear masks on board, Kelly promoted the effectiveness of the air filtration and circulation systems on board and said, “Me think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much to the air cabin environment. “

The Biden government has been requiring bus passengers to wear face masks since February, although airlines requested them in spring 2020 with the start of the pandemic. Earlier this month, the Biden government extended the mandate until March 18.

On Friday, Kelly softened his tone and said he supported the federal mandate.

During the hearing, “I mistook some for a short answer to a question about masks,” he wrote in a staff note in which he also disclosed his positive Covid result. “So, to be clear, me and Southwest and together with [U.S. airline lobbying group] Airlines for America are all coordinated and support the current federal mask mandate at airports and in airplanes.

“The majority of our employees and customers feel that it’s an important layer of protection, and I definitely agree,” he continued. “So we continue to rely on the advice of our medical experts about the need for masks. And I apologize for the confusion!”

Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, John Laughter, executive vice president of Delta Air Lines, and Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, say before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 15, 2021.

Chip Somodevilla | Swimming pool | Reuters

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “I agree,” immediately following Kelly’s response at the hearing, but the company issued a statement Thursday saying it would “approve of the comments made by other witnesses about the high quality of the Aircraft Cabin Air “agree and did not question the need for face masks on airplanes.”

Parker later posted a lengthy statement on his Instagram account saying the airline supported the mask mandate and that he “should have been more explicit in my answer to a question that misrepresented American’s position on the mask mandate has”.

Air travel is one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. In the meantime, demand has recovered, primarily thanks to domestic leisure travel. Delta and United executives announced this week that they are preparing Busy end of the year holiday season, despite the prevalence of the Omicron variant.

Cryptocurrencies are ‘humorous cash,’ that ‘mirrors’ Wall Road abuses, says Senate Banking Chairman

Senior Democrats in Congress again cabled their skepticism about cryptocurrencies and digital asset technology on Tuesday when Ohio chairman Sherrod Brown said the growing digital asset economy told a Senate banking committee that “Americans’ hard-earned money is at risk “. Tuesday listen.

“Alongside these alternative financial products, a home industry with decentralized financial systems has emerged in the hope of creating a parallel financial system with no rules, no supervision, and no borders,” said Brown. ”They claim to enable ‘transparency’. Your supporters speak of the ‘democratization of banking’, but there is nothing ‘democratic’ or ‘transparent’ about a seedy, diffuse web of funny online money.

Brown also attacked the notion that the growing crypto economy would prove to be an alternative for Americans who are skeptical of the power and practices of Wall Street financial institutions.

“People don’t trust banks, and they don’t trust the biggest banks especially,” Brown said. “But as these technologies evolve, most seem to reflect the Wall Street model – rather than question it.”

The Senate Banking Committee hearing coincided with a House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing on central bank digital currencies, underscoring Congress’s commitment to research and potential regulation of digital assets in general.

Also on Tuesday morning, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts sent a letter To Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in her capacity as Chair of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, calling on the FSOC to rapidly develop a “comprehensive regulatory system for cryptocurrencies”.

PASSHE chancellor floats $75 million plan for one-time cash at state Senate panel

  • Sam Darklau

    Sam Dunklau is the head of the Capitol Bureau for WITF. He previously reported on the Illinois government for NPR member station WUIS in Springfield, IL.

    Sam has been floating through the radio waves as a reporter, disc jockey and station manager since 2015. He grew up in the small town of Paw Paw, Illinois, in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of Augustana College.

July 21, 2021 | 4:09 pm

(Harrisburg) –– The group leader of 14 Pennsylvania state universities details how he plans to spend $ 75 million, primarily federal, on pandemic aid over the next year.

About two-thirds of this is federal funds intended to help the group of 14 universities recover from the coronavirus pandemic. The remainder are savings recently realized by the system by refinancing the pension debt it owes to the state employee pension system.

Chancellor of the state higher education system, Daniel Greenstein, shared a draft of the plan with a state Senate committee Tuesday when he answered Senators’ questions about the upcoming merger of Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield Universities into a rooftop school and California, Clarion and Edinboro Universities in another.

The system’s board of governors voted unanimously last week to continue these mergers and plans to introduce the new “integrated” Western film and northeast Higher education systems next July.

“This was really the beginning of a journey, not the end of one, and it will take continued commitment … as we build two regional education centers,” Greenstein said in his opening comments to Senators.

Greenstein’s ideas about spending the one-time cash seemed to reflect that reality. He suggests spending $ 15 million of the money on doing the integrations, but also wants to spend other portions of it to make PASSHE schools more attractive in a post-pandemic world.

PASSHE / via Pa. State Senate Livestream Video

A screenshot from a presentation by PASSHE Chancellor Dan Greenstein to the Pennsylvania Senate on July 20, 2021 showing a proposed spending plan for a cash inflow of $ 75 million, the majority of which is to help the university system get out of the pandemic to recover.

“The students returning from the pandemic will be different from those before her in terms of their expectations and the type of learning experience,” Greenstein said. “Universities and colleges in general will do well to watch out for these changing patterns of behavior.”

Greenstein also wants to use part of the money to help schools pay off their debts in building and renovating less-used dormitories. Enrollment in PASSHE schools across the board has declined 20 percent since its peak in 2011which means fewer students will need on-campus accommodation.

He pointed out to state senators that while schools are exploring new ways to use these buildings, the system may need to sell them to save money. It looks like PASSHE’s three soon-to-be-merged universities in the west will collectively lose millions of dollars over the next few years as consolidation efforts continue.

“There are many uses [for] Dormitories, ”said Greenstein. “But this alternative takes a while to establish itself. It’s not a slam dunk, let’s put it that way. “

PASSHE’s Board of Governors is expected to consider a more detailed spending plan for the extra money in October.

Ohio Senate management desires no extra cash for broadband growth

Legislators from both parties had hoped Ohio would take a big step forward this year to invest in broadband Internet rollout across the state.

Ohio Senate leaders think differently. While their Ohio House counterparts are looking to allocate millions of dollars to Internet expansion projects, state Senators from the state want to cut those funds to pay for several proposed tax cuts.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and CFO Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, unveiled their chamber’s proposed state budget for the next two fiscal years on Tuesday. Highlights of this proposed budget include changes to Ohio’s school funding model and more than $ 1 billion in new tax cuts.

That includes a 5% income tax cut for Ohio workers, as well as other tax cuts related to business development that Huffman said are intended to boost employment growth. The Ohio House of Representatives budget, which was passed in April, proposed a 2% cut in income tax.

To pay for these tax cuts, the Senate presidents want to cut funding for the Department of Job and Family Services and the Department of Medicaid. Dolan referred to these as administrative cuts that will have no impact on public services.

Another way to pay for the tax cuts is by eliminating the funding of internet expansion projects.

Internet access has been a priority for both Democratic and Republican officials in recent years. Governor Mike DeWine proposed grant funding of $ 250 million in his own budget proposal in early 2021.

The House of Representatives’ draft budget earmarked $ 190 million for this.

Outside of the budget negotiations, both chambers recently gave their approval House bill 2 to create the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program. DeWine signed the law in May; It provides initial funding of $ 20 million.

It was hoped that the state budget would be able to pump more money into this funding program. The Senate is not proposing any additional money for broadband expansion and is completely canceling the US $ 190 million of the House of Representatives.

Huffman acknowledged that there are rural and urban areas of the state without reliable internet access, but continued to express hesitation about increasing spending to address the problem. Experts estimate that an estimated 1 million Ohioans do not have access to high-speed internet at home.

“I think people are eager to spend money on something that everyone thinks is a good idea,” Huffman told reporters on Tuesday. “I think it’s a bad idea to just spend money without a plan.”

The Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, initiated by HB 2, sets out a detailed way of using government funds for infrastructure projects.

Certain areas of the state – such as the hilly areas of Appalachian Ohio – do not have internet access because the difficult terrain prevents private companies from pursuing projects there.

The aim of the funding program is to close this “cost gap”. State funding is intended to encourage companies to invest in expansion projects in otherwise difficult-to-access areas.

State Reps. Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Twp., And Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, were the two main sponsors of HB 2 and spent the first few months of 2021 highlighting the benefits of internet access for business, health and educational purposes.

“High-speed Internet is the great social balance of our time”, Carfagna has often said.

In a statement provided, the two lawmakers expressed the hope that their Republicans in the other chamber would reconsider.

“Ohio now has a bipartisan strategy in state law to address this issue,” noted Carfagna and Stewart, referring to HB 2. “It is imperative that we fund it sensibly to get real results.”

They continued, “The lack of broadband access is currently denying at least one million Ohio residents employment, education, health care and commerce, and the broadband expansion grants proposed by the House of Representatives and the Governor’s Office are designed to unleash hundreds of millions of private investments to aggressively combat these inequalities … (we) look forward to hearing how you pursue House Bill 2’s vision to facilitate the expansion of high-speed Internet to unserved households across Ohio. “

Huffman said that providing Internet access for all Ohioans doesn’t necessarily mean they have the opportunity to use it.

He suggested that this extension would not be helpful for residents who are not tech savvy.

“(S) the provision of broadband services does not mean that people who may have access to them will or will be able to access them,” said Huffman. “You still need to have some kind of equipment – a computer, an iPad, whatever it is – you need to know how to use it. You need to know what happens when it doesn’t work. And for people like me, I don’t know what happens if that thing doesn’t work, I have to ask someone, and I suppose a lot of other Ohioans are like that. “

The US rescue plan, signed by President Joe Biden in March, provides states and other territories with $ 10 billion for broadband infrastructure. Huffman said those potential US dollars did not affect his decision to raise Ohio funding from the proposed Senate budget.

“I’m always a little suspicious that the federal government is doing what it promises,” said Huffman. “These dollars appear to be real. We’ll see. But we can’t pass a budget until June 30th in the hope that the federal government will do what it has announced. “

As soon as the Ohio Senate has passed its version of the budget, the legislators of the two houses meet in a so-called conference committee to negotiate the differences between the respective budget proposals. The legislature has until June 30th to finalize an agreed budget before it is submitted to the governor for signature.

This story was republished by the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

Florida Senate Proposes Cash For Everglades, Sea Degree Rise – CBS Miami

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Governor Ron DeSantis would get more than he asked for Everglades restoration and water projects next year as part of an initial Senate budget proposal that also includes a grant program to combat sea level rise .

In addition, the Senate is proposing an increase in money for the state’s sources, a reduction in the Florida Forever conservation program, and efforts to help the citrus industry market orange juice.

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The Senate’s Agriculture, Environment and General Funds Subcommittee on Wednesday tabled a $ 6.1 billion spending plan that includes $ 786 million for Everglades restoration and water projects, which is an additional $ 161 million would be when DeSantis had requested.

The proposal would allocate $ 29 million to launch a local government funding program to combat the effects of sea level rise and flooding.

DeSantis has also suggested that the state could use the money it expects from the American Rescue Plan Act’s new stimulus package to aid sea-level resilience efforts.

However, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee, Ben Albritton, said the Senate’s proposal did not take into account the one-time infusion of federal funds.

The Senate released a series of initial budget proposals on Wednesday as the first step in a process that will ultimately result in House and Senate leaders negotiating a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget panels are expected to release initial budgets on Thursday.

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The Senate proposal puts $ 17.7 million in citrus fruit protection and research. Another $ 12.5 million is set to help the citrus industry capitalize on the surge in people buying orange juice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a bump in orange juice consumption because of COVID,” Albritton said. “But the way the industry sees it is that it doesn’t stay that way forever. So we need to invest resources and funds to ensure that orange juice and citrus products, with their vitamin C and disease-fighting abilities, are at the fore for the consumer. “

The Senate’s proposal also budgeted $ 75 million to restore the state’s natural resources, up $ 25 million from the current year. $ 70 million for water storage before entering Lake Okeechobee from the north; $ 50 million for beach restoration work; $ 30 million for state park improvements; $ 21.7 million to continue the fight against harmful blue-green algae and red tides; and $ 348 million in potable and wastewater loan programs.

Another $ 56.6 million would be used for land acquisition programs, including $ 50 million for the Florida Forever program, which received $ 100 million in the current fiscal year.

Another $ 1.2 million would go towards restoration work on oysters in Apalachicola Bay.

MORE NEWS: Missing Florida woman Lyndsey Kennedy found naked, lost in Delray Beach Storm Drain

(© 2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. Do not publish, broadcast, rewrite, or redistribute this material. Jim Turner, Florida News Service contributed to this report.)

Bipartisan Senate Invoice Would Improve Fines For Spoofing – Media, Telecoms, IT, Leisure

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Bipartisan Senate bill would increase fines for spoofing

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A non-partisan group of four senators led by Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced a bill that would increase fines for callers who illegally “forge” their caller ID information. Spoofing is a technique commonly used by callers making illegal robocalls to trick recipients into answering their call. Spoofers mask their caller ID information as if they were being called by a government agency, a well-known company, or someone in the receiving area to build trust and convince the recipient of the call to provide financial and other personal information. The Anti-Spoofing Penalty Modernization Act of 2021 would double the fines currently allowed under the Communications Act. The current civil forfeiture penalty for any violation would increase from $ 10,000 to $ 20,000, or three times that amount for each day of ongoing violation. The current maximum penalty of $ 1,000,000 for a continued violation would increase to $ 2,000,000.

The Anti-Spoofing Penalty Modernization Act of 2021, p. 594, was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which was sponsored by two of the law’s co-sponsors, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Kyrsten Sinema ( D-AZ) are members.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.

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Senate committee helps extra money for most cancers middle

A Florida Senate bill that would send additional state cigarette tax dollars to the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa was approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee today. Senate Bill (SB) 866 now goes to the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.

Senate officials estimate that SB 866 will raise funds raised to Moffitt from $ 15.6 million annually to $ 26.9 million (an increase of $ 11.4 million over the current year) from fiscal 2021-2022 through to the fiscal year 2023-2024. For fiscal 2024-2025, Moffitt’s funding is estimated at $ 38.4 million annually (an increase of $ 22.9 million from applicable law). If the bill fails, this money goes to the state general income fund.

According to the sponsor of the bill, Senator Ed Hooper (R-Pasco County), Moffitt will use part of the additional money to build a new “Comprehensive Cancer Research and Treatment Center” on 500 acres in Pasco County

The location is off Suncoast Parkway south of State Road 52.

Hooper told the committee that Moffit is the third largest cancer center in the country and is growing rapidly. It serves patients from across Florida, the US, and internationally.

He said, “Florida has the second highest cancer burden in the country and no place reacts like the Moffitt Cancer Center.”

SB 866 passed the vote of the Health Policy Committee unanimously.

senator Janet Cruz (D-Hillsborough County) said there are few fights she wants to participate in but this was one of them.

“We need to show more love to the Moffitt Cancer Center,” she told the committee.

An identical bill, House Bill 789, is in the Florida House, and both bills are expected to be considered during the Florida legislature beginning March 2nd.

NC Senate OK’s invoice distributing federal COVID reduction cash – Salisbury Publish

By Bryan Anderson
Associated Press / Report for America

RALEIGH – North Carolina state senators on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill to distribute funds that the state secured through the federal government’s December stimulus package.

If the schools were approved by the House of Representatives and then signed by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, they would receive $ 1.6 billion to reopen classrooms with face-to-face tuition, purchase educational technology, and reduce those exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic Support learning gaps.

Over $ 546 million in federal funding would be used to help North Carolinians in need of emergency rent, while nearly $ 95 million would be given to the State Department of Health to help local health officials spread the Pfizer and Moderna -Coronavirus to support vaccinations.

The state is well on its way to receiving more than 145,000 new initial doses from the federal government in the next three weeks.

The Coronavirus Relief Act, approved by the Senate on Wednesday, also supports direct payments to more parents.

Parents who missed the opportunity to receive checks for $ 335 in the past year to offset distance learning and childcare expenses would have until May 31 to claim the so-called additional loan grants to take. The bill extends the program that expired in the fall and paves the way for thousands of families who are still eligible for direct checks in order to receive them.

Many parents who want to get their children back into physical classrooms currently have no way of doing so. A separate bill, backed by Republican lawmakers, would force districts to provide at least partial in-person tuition to all 1.5 million students in the state, although parents must still be given the opportunity to continue learning their children remotely to let.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday urged school authorities to deviate from offers for remote controls only, but declined to request. He opposes the Republican bill that has drawn the ire of teacher advocates who are concerned about the safety and lack of prioritization of vaccines. While members of the House of Representatives ponder the Coronavirus Relief Act Thursday, the Senators will vote on the proposal to reopen the school.

Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation nomination hearings to review his awaited nomination for Secretary of Transportation in Washington.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

The US Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation on Tuesday and presented the former presidential candidate with a host of challenges – from the President Joe BidenEnvironmental priorities of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got approval last week following largely approval from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation friendly listening. He was asked about issues related to Covid-19, the much-needed improvement in infrastructure, and strengthening the powers of the Federal Aviation Administration if he were to lead the DOT, which has 55,000 employees.

In the first two weeks, Biden’s government has already taken strict measures regarding transportation measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Biden extended an entry ban for most non-US citizens who have recently been to Brazil, the UK and much of Europe. On Tuesday, the US government asked passengers to wear masks on planes, trains, buses, ferries and other means of transport.

Buttigieg’s DOT could become a driving or limiting force in the adoption of new technologies, especially autonomous and electric vehicles.

Biden has already directed federal agencies to consider revising the Trump administration’s lowered fuel emissions standards. He also said he plans to replace the government’s fleet of cars and trucks with U.S.-assembled electric vehicles

The 39-year-old will be the first openly gay person to hold a cabinet position and one of the youngest ever.

– CNBC’s Michael Wayland contributed to this article.

Senate invoice seeks to permit Virginia faculty boards to make use of state cash for broadband growth | Information

(The Center Square) – Legislation that would allow school authorities to raise funds to fund broadband Internet rollouts in non-serviced areas got past a second Senate committee in Virginia.

Senate Act 1225, sponsored by Senator Jennifer Boysko, D-Herndon, advanced 12-0 through the Education and Health Committee Thursday, with unanimous support from both parties. It previously passed the Committee on Trade and Labor 15-0.

There would be no tax impact on the Commonwealth as the bill does not allocate additional funding to school authorities, but rather gives them additional flexibility with the government funds already received.

With some school districts in the state using distance learning only and other counties using a mix of distance learning and face-to-face learning, the bill would allow school authorities to allocate these funds to expanding broadband for educational purposes only. It empowers the Boards to work with private broadband service providers to promote, implement and subsidize this broadband expansion in their area of ​​responsibility.

To qualify for broadband expansion, students in the home would need to qualify for a nutrition program or other school board-approved program to determine which students are at risk.

The committee also passed laws requiring the Virginia Department of Education and the Board of Education to develop new policies and procedures to improve special education in the Commonwealth.