Backers of legislation prohibiting the state and local governments from hiring companies whose affiliates work in Cuba have gone on the offensive to pressure Gov. Rick Scott to sign HB 959 into law.
The renewed effort comes after the influential Florida Chamber of Commerce and business interests in top trading partners Brazil and Canada raised red flags about the legislation, which they say could be unconstitutional -- and drive away investment.
The bill received near-unanimous support in the Legislature, with only one person, Miami Democratic Sen. Larcenia Bullard, voting against. The measure was sponsored by two Miami-Dade Republicans, Sen. René García of Hialeah and Rep. Michael Bileca of Miami.
Garcia sent Scott a letter Tuesday urging him to sign the bill into law. "Many of our constituents have fled communist Cuba, leaving everything behind to find refuge in our great state," he wrote. "By signing this bill, you will be honoring our commitment to them and acknowledging their perilous plight towards freedom."
Garcia's letter comes after several of his colleagues made the rounds on Spanish-language media on Monday and Tuesday saying they hope the governor signs the law.
"He has a tremendous decision to make," Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the delegation's chairman, said on Mega TV Monday night, adding that he had already called the governor's office to request time to speak to Scott.
Lopez-Cantera appeared on the TV show with Sen. Anitere Flores and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. All stressed that companies with ties to Cuba would still be allowed to do business in Florida -- but they would not be eligible for government contracts worth at least $1 million.
"They have to make a decision," Flores said of the companies. "Are they with the Castro government, or with the democratic government of the state of Florida?"
"The governor has always been with the Cuban people in exile," she added.
Scott, however, did veto last week $500,000 in the state budget for a Bay of Pigs Museum -- on the 51st anniversary of the invasion.
Scott has until May 5 to sign or veto the bill, or let it become law without his signature.