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Parkland father, Winter Park student, federal workers to attend SOTU

President Trump to give address at 9 p.m. Tuesday

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(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The recent federal government shutdown, Florida school safety and America's youth are topics Florida representatives and senators plan to highlight with their 2019 State of the Union guests.

President Donald Trump will deliver his address Tuesday at 9 p.m. from the U.S. House of Representatives chamber. The annual address to the American people, during which the president can lay out their goals for the year, was delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address.

Republican Sen. Rick Scott said Monday he will bring Andy Pollack, the father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School almost one year ago on Feb, 14, 2018.

Meadow Pollack and 16 others were killed at the Parkland school when authorities said a former student opened fire.

Andy Pollack, and other Parkland parents, worked with Florida lawmakers last year to pass the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act that led to security and mental health reforms at all Florida schools.

“My daughter gives me the strength to keep fighting every day for what is right – and that’s protecting our kids and teachers in school," Pollack said in a news release. "Sen. Rick Scott truly puts people above politics, and I’m thrilled to have a partner in Washington that gets what’s important. I’m proud to join Senator Scott at the State of the Union, and I look forward to working with him to secure every school in America so no family has to experience the same tragedy as mine.”

Scott said he continues to work with Pollack, now in Washington, to improve school safety.

Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, 18, will also attend the address. Kasky, played a key role in organizing the March for Our Lives protest last year, will attend the address as the guest of  Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, of California.

After winning an essay contest Winter Park High School student Uma Menon and her father, Ramkumar Menon,  will attend the president's annual address as guests of Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida).

Murphy launched a contest last month open to students in Florida's Seventh Congressional District to win a chance to attend the State of the Union by submitting an essay explaining the importance of youth civic engagement.

Murphy was recently elected chair of the Future Forum, the group advocates for opportunities for America's youth.

“Uma’s essay showed a deep understanding of the impact young voices like hers can have in our political discourse. As she joins me next week to be a part of this annual ceremony, I hope she has the chance to share with other leaders her generation’s vision for building a better and more prosperous future,” Murphy said in a news release.

Rep. Val Demings will bring her husband, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Ralph Velez, a federal employee who works at the Orlando International Airport.

"I’m a federal worker who was personally affected by the shutdown," Velez said. "Its impacts were not just financial but also emotional, having to watch what my fellow federal workers had to go through."

Velez said federal workers are "the backbone of this country" and "no political agenda or party affiliation should ever put the livelihood of anyone in an American Service uniform in jeopardy."

Rep. Darran Soto will also bring a federal aviation worker. His guest, Doug Lowe, is an airways transportation systems specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration and the president of Chapter FL1 in Florida of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists.

"Doug represents the urgent message from federal employees’ families in Central Florida to President Trump demanding to avert another shutdown at all costs," Soto said.


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