May 12, 2017

Gov. Scott asks Trump administration to extend protections for Haitians

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON – Gov. Rick Scott has pressed the Trump administration to back off on timeline that could result in the deportation of thousands of Haitians, many living in Florida.

Scott raised the issue in a meeting Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. “Temporary protected status” for Haitians expires in July and they could be expelled in January.

"The secretary has not made a decision on TPS for Haiti,” spokesman David Lapan told the Tampa Bay Times. “He and Gov. Scott did have a conversation about the program and the secretary listened to the Governor’s points about his desire for DHS to extend TPS.”

About 50,000 Haitians have been allowed to live in the U.S. following the 2010 earthquake. The TPS program has been extended several times but now faces another deadline. The Trump administration has been examining the criminal backgrounds, but Lapan says that won’t be used to make a final decision about TPS.

Late last month, Sen. Bill Nelson and 14 other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging them to extend the protection.

“Haiti is ill-equipped to handle the return of the roughly 50,000 Haitian nationals currently receiving TPS,” the senators wrote. “We welcomed the previous extension of TPS for Haitian nationals, and we believe the reports of widespread damage and destruction in Haiti make an extended TPS designation appropriate.”

President Trump courted the Haitian community during a visit to Miami in September. “Whether you vote for me or not, I really want to be your biggest champion,” Trump said.

Scott has successfully used his Trump connections before. Last month, he announced the state would get $1.5 billion to cover health care for the poor.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

May 11, 2017

Ahead of expected Senate run, Gov. Scott unveils new super PAC

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott will chair a national Super PAC aiming to “change and rebrand the way the Republican Party approaches the challenges of the future.”

Hitching itself to President Donald Trump, New Republican will “get rid of all our tired old political jargon and cliches,” Scott said in a release that echoed a presentation he gave in Washington Wednesday night.

The PAC was founded by Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and he will serve as senior advisor. Melissa Stone will serve as the executive director; Taylor Teepell, finance director. 

Scott played up his connection to Trump. “Donald Trump’s election was a complete shock to the system in Washington,” said Scott, who is readying to run for U.S. Senate against Bill Nelson.

“This is the perfect opportunity to do things differently. The president is a friend of mine. I’ve known him for about 20 years. I am committed to helping him as he fights against the political machine and attempts to force real change upon a political system and a city that hates change.”

A professed outsider, Scott announced the PAC in a most insider way: during an invite-only dinner with Beltway reporters.

According to the PAC website, New Republican will focus on three specific areas:

Continue reading "Ahead of expected Senate run, Gov. Scott unveils new super PAC" »

May 10, 2017

Gov. Scott undecided on budget but criticizes legislative secrecy

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday provided little insight into his thinking on the budget but took a shot at how it was crafted behind closed doors.

"I haven’t decided," he said of his range of options, which include a total veto or striking things by line. "I’m going through the budget now. As you know, this budget was done at the last (minute) by a few people. We’re learning what’s in the budget right now. I’m getting briefed on a daily basis what’s in the budget and I’ll make the right decision."

Scott is in Washington and met with EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, which he described as part of his goal of partnering with the Trump administration. Earlier he did an event with the RGA.

Asked how seriously he was considering a veto, Scott said: “I’ll do what I’ve done the last six years. I’ll look at what’s good for the state and I’ll make the decisions. You have to remember I’m a business guy that ran to run around the state. So this political process is not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about the people I represent. I represent 21 million people almost and they care about jobs, they care about a good education systems, things like that."

Will he sign the charter school bill? "I’m going to review it."

On Trump's firing of James Comey: "He clearly became a lightning rod, to both the right and the left. It gives President Trump the opportunity for a fresh start." Scott noted that he's had good relations with the FBI, citing the Pulse nightclub massacre.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

May 09, 2017

Doral Venezuelans call for Maduro’s ouster

101 Scott Venezuela JAI


In between the jeers and chants, the tri-colored flags and the somber singing of a national anthem, it was silence that overcame a crowd of about 300 Venezuelan supporters on Monday afternoon.

They were silent for the imprisoned, for the hungry, the dead.

Then they erupted in solidarity with their compatriots in South America: “Libertad!” they yelled.

In the midst of increasingly violent tensions between the Venezuelan government and protesters, which have left at least 35 people dead in the past few weeks, a swarm of supporters flocked to the Venezuelan eatery, El Arepazo 2, in Doral to call for an end to violence and the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott hosted the rally, which featured a recorded audio message from Lilian Tintori, the wife of the imprisoned Venezuelan activist Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez was honored with a medal of freedom at Monday’s rally in abstentia.

“Our morals are still intact, our strength is still intact and awards like this make us fight harder,” she told the crowd in Spanish.

More here.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

May 04, 2017

In South Florida, Gov. Scott calls out lawmakers who disagree with him

Florida Governor Scott

via @martindvassolo

With the exact details of the state budget still under wraps, Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he would consider vetoing the entire thing if legislators don’t include “full funding” to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, while also funding a repair of Lake Okeechobee’s dike.

“I have the right to veto the entire budget,” he said during a press conference in Sunrise, part of a three-day trip that will take him across the state over the next two days. “I’ll look at all my options.”

Ahead of next week’s vote in Tallahassee — which will determine how the budget’s $83 billion dollars are spent — Scott made a final push for his budget priorities during a statewide trip that included a stop at the Rick Case Kia dealership on Wednesday and will continue through Friday.

He was flanked at the dealership by smiling Kia employees, many of whom beamed when he arrived and offered handshakes, along with the CEO of Visit Florida, Ken Lawson, and the executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Cissy Proctor.

Scott called out the names of 15 state legislators who have disagreed with his proposals, including four who represent districts in Miami-Dade County. The names were scrawled on an index card. 

Among the legislators, both Republican and Democrat, were Manny Diaz, a Republican representing House District 103; Carlos Trujillo, a Republican representing House District 105; Jose Feliz Diaz, a Republican representing House District 116; and David Richardson, a Democrat representing House District 113.

“Here’s who you need to call,” Scott said.

More here.

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

May 03, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott tours state to rally support for endangered budget priorities

via @Danielson_Times

Just as top legislators reached a budget deal Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott launched a three-day tour to rally support for Enterprise Florida’s business recruitment efforts, Visit Florida’s tourism promotion and other budget priorities.

“We have a job to do the next three days,” Scott said at CWU, a Tampa federal contracting company, as part of his 10-city “Fighting for Florida’s Future” tour. The tour was meant to encourage Floridians to pressure their state legislators to reverse votes to cut funding to Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. “You can make it happen. … You’ve got to call your House members, you’ve got to call your senators and let them know.”

Scott said he can veto individual line items in the budget or the budget as a whole, but he noted that he can’t add anything to the budget. Only legislators can do that, he said, and they should appropriate money for both Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.

While Scott is expected to sign a bill to create a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, he also said the Legislature needed to appropriate $200 million to help fix the Herbert Hoover Dike at the lake.

In addition to Tampa, Scott’s schedule for Wednesday called on him to visit a power grid engineering company in Lake Mary, an environmental consulting firm in Riviera Beach and a Kia dealership in Sunrise.

Scott’s appearance in Tampa came about an hour after House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron announced they had reached an agreement on an $83 billion state budget.

But Scott the Legislature’s process left him with “no earthly idea” what was in the proposed budget and criticized negotiations that had been “done in the dark.”

“That’s not the way your tax dollars ought to be spent,” Scott said. “That’s not right. We should know what’s going on.”

"I don't know how much money is in, if any, for Enterprise Florida, for Visit Florida, for the environment, for education,” Scott said. “I have no idea. There's no disclosure of this. I can't imagine. We have sunshine laws in this state. All of us are supposed to know what's going on."

Asked whether he would consider vetoing the budget if legislators did not include any of his priorities, Scott said,  "I'm going to look at my options. That’s an option I have. But what I do every year is I go through  (the budget) and say what's good for our Florida families? I represent everybody in the state, so I'm going to do what's best for every family in the state."

May 02, 2017

Trump names Scott to governor's council


via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump this evening named Gov. Rick Scott to the Council of Governors, the latest overture to a political ally.

Also named today Mary Fallin of Oklahoma; Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Steve Bullock of Montana; Mark Dayton of Minnesota; Bill Walker of Alaska; and Eric Greitens of Missouri.

From the National Governors Association:

The Council of Governors (Council) was created by the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008 and formally established by Executive Order 13528, issued on January 11, 2010. The Council is intended to serve as a mechanism for governors and key federal officials to address matters pertaining to the National Guard, homeland defense and defense support to civil authorities.

The Council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President – five from each party – with two governors serving as co-chairs. The Executive Order specifically names a number of federal participants in the Council, including the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, the President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, the Commander of U.S. Northern Command and the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, among others.

To ensure that the Council appropriately represents all governors, the Council co-chairs, through the National Governors Association, share documents for review and discussion with all governors’ offices prior to their approval by the Council.

May 01, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott miffed about budget but doesn't use 'veto' word



Gov. Rick Scott is clearly miffed that the state Legislature doesn’t see eye-to-eye with him on tax cuts and the amount of money for Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida, but he wouldn’t use the “veto” word in an interview in Broward Monday.

Scott briefly spoke with reporters while visiting Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale for Fleet Week. Scott gave no indication about his timeline for setting a special election to fill the seat of Sen. Frank Artiles and called the retirement of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen a loss for the state.

Here is a partial transcript:

Q: It looks like tax cuts are far smaller than you had hoped for. How do you feel about that?

“We walked in with almost $3 billion surplus. We have some extra general revenue, the president gave us the low-income pool that President Obama had cut so we have ability to do tax cuts. The right thing to do is give citizens some of their money back. Our economy is booming right now, we ought to give people their money back.

I am very concerned about making sure the Legislature finds$ 200 million to jump start the Lake Okeechobee dike project. I am very focused on making sure they give us $100 million to continue the success we’ve had with tourism in this state. If we want to continue to diversify this economy we've got to continue to fund Enterprise Florida.”

Q: How likely is it you will veto the budget if it doesn’t give as much in tax cuts or Visit Florida or Enterprise Florida funding as you think Florida needs?

“I’m going review the budget like I've done every year make sure it's good for citizens of our state.”

Q: What do you think about the Latest GOP health care plan -- the MacCarthur amendment that would give waivers states. Do you think Congress should pass that and would you want a waiver or Florida?

“I clearly want as much flexibility as possible. We've got to figure out how to reduce costs. The way you reduce costs is you create more competition, you would allow people to buy the insurance they want to can buy, you sell insurance across state lines....”

Q: Would you want them to vote yes on the (health care) amendment?

“I haven’t seen all of it but I know we have to repeal and replace Obamacare. We’ve got to make sure citizens can afford their health care.”

Q: what do you think about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retiring?

“She is wonderful person. I spoke to her on Saturday. She and her husband Dexter are wonderful people. She clearly cares about her state, she clearly cares about freedom and liberty in Cuba. It will be very difficult to replace her.

Q: What do you think the chances are that Republicans can win that seat. It's now a left leaning seat with tons of Democrats lining up."

“This election going to be about who can do the best thing for the state.”

File photo of Gov. Rick Scott

April 29, 2017

Corcoran: Gov. Rick Scott is 'the problem with recess,' not Legislature

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran offered a curious statement shortly after midnight Saturday: It’s not lawmakers who have a “problem with recess” — it’s Gov. Rick Scott.

Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, made the remark in a tweet with no additional explanation. The Herald/Times has requested clarification from Corcoran’s office and also sought comment from Scott’s spokeswoman. (This story will be updated when they respond.)

“Recess moms” were immediately perplexed by Corcoran’s mystery tweet, which was in direct response to a question from an advocate for daily school recess.

More here.

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau