September 16, 2015

Democrats go after attorney general on minimum wage enforcement


The odds are slim that Democratic lawmakers’ push for a higher minimum wage in Florida will be successful this legislative session — they haven’t been in the past.

But two members of the minority party said on Wednesday that Attorney General Pam Bondi ought to do more to ensure minimum wage earners at least earn as much as they’ve been promised.

“The attorney general’s office is simply not enforcing the minimum wage in the way that other states do,” said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami. “We essentially have it in the constitution, we have it on the books, but as far as enforcement, that’s it.”

The problem arises when employers pay people for few hours than they actually worked or pay out a daily or weekly salary that equates to less than the minimum wage. That can be a huge deal for a family with low earnings, said Rodriguez and Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay.

Bondi says her office fights to ensure people do get paid a fair wage, although it's rarely through litigation. Often, they fix the problem by reaching out to employers and ensuring they pay what they're supposed to.

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September 09, 2015

AG Bondi issues concern over untested rape kits in Florida


Florida has potentially thousands of rape kits in evidence rooms that have never been analyzed, preventing law enforcement from collecting valuable DNA that can help them solve and prevent future sexual assaults and other crimes.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, speaking at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay on Wednesday, said many law enforcement agencies don’t send in rape kits, partly because a suspect will plead guilty before the kits need to be analyzed.

But Bondi said if they can collect that DNA, they can use it to see if it becomes a match for other sexual assaults or other crimes where DNA evidence has been left behind. That Bondi said could solve cold cases and identify serial rapists.

“Hidden in the estimated thousands of untested kits is the potential to solve cold cases, lock up sexual predators and make Florida a safer place to live and raise a family,” Bondi said.

Bondi said she’s going to advocate more funding for processing sexual assault kits in the next state budget. Already the state has committed over $300,000 to study how many kits are not being tested around the state and what it will cost to get though the backlog of evidence. 

July 16, 2015

Pam Bondi takes sides in Florida Senate primary, backs Carlos Lopez-Cantera


Florida Gov. Rick Scott may be staying out of the 2016 Republican primary for U.S. Senate in his state. But that doesn't mean other statewide elected officials are.

Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is part of Scott's Cabinet, has endorsed Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, according to a statement released Thursday by Lopez-Cantera's fledgling campaign. He made his candidacy official Tuesday.

In the statement, Bondi called Lopez-Cantera a "friend and fellow conservative."

"Carlos has a proven record of success on behalf of Floridians who seek less taxes, less government and more job creation and I have full confidence that if given the opportunity, he will continue this work as a critical voice in the U.S. Senate," she said.

"I know Pam's help in this campaign will make a real difference in getting our message out to the voters of Florida," Lopez-Cantera said.

July 15, 2015

Adam Putnam fundraising numbers add to 2018 governor race speculation


Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam has ramped up his fundraising activities, amassing nearly $2 million for a political committee he controls just since March.

Putnam, frequently mentioned as a likely candidate for governor in 2018, reported raising more than $460,000 just in June alone. He now has raised $1.8 million total for a political action committee called Florida Grown.

His biggest donors since March have included Jupiter beer distributor J.J. Taylor Companies, Manatee County insurance company FCCI and Little River Plantation Holdings, a company with ties to Mike Fernandez, a major GOP fundraiser in Florida. Each gave Florida Grown $100,000 each since April. Another $100,000 combined came on the last day in May from U.S. Sugar Corporation and South Central Florida Express Inc, a rail line owned by U.S. Sugar.

Putnam’s largest contribution came from another political action committee he previously ran called the Sunshine State Leadership Project. That fund transferred nearly $400,000 to Putnam’s new committee on April 30.

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July 08, 2015

Florida drops appeal of Miami-Dade, Keys same-sex marriage cases

via @SteveRothaus

Eleven days after the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in America, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Tuesday officially dropped her appeal of the state’s first two gay marriage victories, in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

One year after Bondi became a national symbol in the conservative fight against gay marriage, she submitted one sentence just before 5 p.m. to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal: “Pursuant to Rule 9.350(b) of the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Appellant State of Florida hereby voluntarily dismisses these appeals.”

Said Miami Beach attorney Elizabeth Schwartz, who helped represented six same-sex couples in the Miami-Dade case: “We are grateful that this misguided attempt at defending an indefensibly bigoted law has at long-last been abandoned.”

More here.

June 29, 2015

Pam Bondi asks court to move forward with execution after Supreme Court ruling

via @MichaelAuslen

Florida’s rapid pace of executions — derailed in February because of a pending U.S. Supreme Court Case — is cleared to start up again. And the state isn’t wasting any time.

Just hours after the high court ruled that a drug used for lethal injections in Florida is allowed under the Constitution, Attorney General Pam Bondi filed to lift a state court order blocking executions.

Specifically, Bondi is asking the Florida Supreme Court to move forward with the execution of convicted quadruple-murderer Jerry Correll, who would be the 22nd person put to death since Rick Scott became governor in 2011.

He would also be the first person executed since January. The six-month break is unusual for Scott, who has signed death warrants at a faster pace than any governor in recent memory. Former Gov. Jeb Bush ordered 21 executions in his eight years in office, and Charlie Crist waited a full year and a half before issuing his first death warrant.

In Florida, executions take the form of lethal injection. The process requires a series of three drugs: one to knock out and numb the inmate, followed by one that causes paralysis and a third to induce cardiac arrest.

More here

June 26, 2015

Florida politicians react to SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage


The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states Friday. Here's how Florida politicians reacted to the 5-4 ruling, updated as they come in:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and 2016 Republican presidential candidate

I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion. Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience.

I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate

Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage.  I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision.  I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.  In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.  It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

Today's ruling reaffirms one of the paramount principles of America that we're all created equal and have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

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June 25, 2015

Scott and Bondi react to Burwell ruling: Obamacare is still a bad law

Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi did not have much to say about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today upholding the Affordable Care Act subsidies to states that rely on the federal exchange but instead steered their focus to the continued opposition to the underlying law. 

 "The Affordable Care Act continues to be the most heavy handed federal health care law in our nation’s history, and today’s decision in the King v. Burwell case does nothing to alleviate the harms the law will continue to cause,'' Bondi said in a statement.

Asked to comment at a veterans event in St. Augustine Scott responded, "It's a bad law. It was supposed to reduce health care costs and health care costs have gone up,'' he said, according to his spokeswoman Geri Bustamante.

He also noted that state-run exchanges "are collapsing across the country because it’s costing more than people thought." He continues to hope for the law's repeal, she said. 

June 12, 2015

Jeb Bush secures endorsements from top Florida Republicans ahead of campaign kickoff

@PatriciaMazzei @learyreports

Jeb Bush will gain endorsements Friday from a host of top Florida Republicans, including Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater.

Bush will also be endorsed by 11 of the state’s 17 Republican members of the U.S. House.

The endorsements, obtained first by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times, come as Bush prepares for his official announcement on Monday in Miami, home also to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has emerged as a strong candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

With people beginning to talk up Sunshine State showdown between Bush and Rubio, the list is a way for Bush to show off the depth and geographical range of his support.

Bondi, Putnam and Atwater plan to attend the event as do some of the congressional members, subject to duties in Washington.

They are: Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor; Vern Buchanan of Sarasota; Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville; Carlos Curbelo of Miami, Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami; David Jolly of Indian Shores; Jeff Miller of Chumuckla; John Mica of Winter Park; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Dennis Ross of Lakeland; and Daniel Webster of Winter Garden.

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April 08, 2015

No Pam Bondi for Senate campaign in 2016

via @learyreports

There wasn't much chance Attorney General Pam Bondi would run for U.S. Senate in 2016, and now there is none.

"I don't believe I should be out running for another office instead of running my office," the Republican told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

A recent poll showed Bondi, who has boosted her profile with appearances on Fox News, doing well. But she hasn't been angling like CFO Jeff Atwater. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera could also seek the nomination.

The seat is likely to open with Sen. Marco Rubio running for president.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times