Facing the end of his tenure and weighing a U.S. Senate bid, Gov. Rick Scott delivered a farewell State of the State address to a joint session of the Florida Legislature Tuesday.
“The results speak for themselves,” Scott said, touting his achievements at creating jobs and lowering state debt and unemployment.
He made a pitch for his legislative priorities, including more money to fight opioid abuse and reductions in driver’s license fees. He urged legislators to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot to require a two-thirds “super-majority” vote by the Legislature to raise state taxes.
Scott praised the work of first responders and law enforcement officers who helped Floridians recover from Hurricane Irma.
He personally took credit for a 2017 law that keeps confidential the name of a state employee who files a sexual harassment complaint.
“Things have got to change, and it starts right here in this building,” Scott’s prepared text said. In an apparent reference to former Sen. Jack Latvala, who resigned last month after a highly-publicized and scathing report of sexual misconduct toward a Senate employee, Scott said: “The people of Florida deserve better than what they are reading about in the news.”
The governor’s annual address traditionally marks the start of the annual 60-day lawmaking session at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.
Scott’s eighth address had a sentimental tone as he paid tribute to a series of statewide officials, all fellow Republicans. Recalling his first race for governor, he said to his wife Ann: “When no one else thought I had a shot, you stood by me. I love you.”
Scott, 65, was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and must leave office next January due to term limits. He’s widely considered to be planning a challenge to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
The session began with the House pausing in memory of Rep. Don Hahnfeldt, R-The Villages, who died last month. The House also swore in three new members who were recently chosen by voters in special elections: Republicans Lawrence McClure of Plant City, Robert “Bobby O” Olszewski of Orlando and Daniel Perez of Miami.