February 20, 2017

Senate Democratic leader to Gov. Rick Scott: Treat opioid crisis as a public health emergency

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Florida Senate Democrats are urging Gov. Rick Scott to declare a public health emergency over the growing opioid epidemic in the state.

“No longer confined to small urban enclaves, heroin and fentanyl have become the scourge of communities throughout Florida, wreaking widespread devastation not only from the ravages of addiction, but the resurgence of deadly diseases associated with drug abuse,” Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, of Miami Gardens, wrote in a letter to Scott on Monday.

“There is no family, no race, no ethnicity, no income level this epidemic cannot touch — and no effective state bulwark in place to stop it,” Braynon added.

More here.

Photo credit: Steve Cannon / AP

Gov. Rick Scott portrays legislator as job-killer in Enterprise Florida fight



Gov. Rick Scott is painting fellow Republicans as job-killers for their support of a bill that would decimate the state’s agencies for tourism promotion and business incentives.

Scott has escalated his feud with House Speaker Richard Corcoran by calling out legislators on their own turf for votes in committee to dismantle Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida. Scott credits these two groups for helping usher 1.2 million private-sector jobs into the state since he was elected.

In his view, a vote to eliminate the agencies is a vote against jobs.

At a stop of the "Fighting for Florida’s Jobs" tour in Flagler Beach, Scott targeted the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast.

"Your politicians in Tallahassee today are saying, in your area, that they don't need any more jobs," Scott said Feb. 13 to business leaders and constituents at Vessel Sandwich Co. "That is exactly what Rep. Paul Renner said."

Scott continued, "He said, 'I will sponsor the bill to eliminate marketing for tourists.' He sponsored the bill to do that and to get rid of Visit Florida."

Keep reading Allison Graves' fact-check from PolitiFact Florida and Scott's Truth-O-Meter record.

February 14, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott getting help from Democratic mayors on job incentives


Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn met with Gov. Rick Scott in Tallahassee on Tuesday to strategize over how he can help save Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida from Republican critics in the Florida House. (Jeremy Wallace/Tampa Bay Times)


A day after attending a rally with Gov. Rick Scott, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was in Tallahassee on Tuesday meeting with the governor yet again.

Buckhorn and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, both Democrats, said they met with the governor to offer their help in protecting Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida - two agencies that some state lawmakers have vowed to eliminate.

“I’d be more than happy to go anywhere and speak to anyone about the importance of these incentives for us to be able to grow our economy,” Buckhorn said after his meeting with Scott.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has called the incentive programs forms of corporate welfare that put too much government influence in the marketplace. Last week a House subcommittee voted to kill both agencies. The bill still has a long way to go, but supporters of the two agencies are pulling out all the stops to protect both.

Buckhorn said on Tuesday that if Florida doesn’t have job incentive money to offer companies, other cities and states will have a competitive advantage in convincing them to go elsewhere.

Buckhorn acknowledged he’ll take some heat from Democrats who question him being on the same side as the Republican governor and even sounding a little like him in defending the programs.

“There will be people who are mad at me because I stand up there with the governor, but ultimately it’s to the benefit of my city and it’s what I was hired to do - what I was elected to do,” Buckhorn said.

On Monday, Buckhorn attended a meeting with Scott in Tampa that had all the feel of a pep rally for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. At that event, Buckhorn told the crowd the incentives have benefited Tampa and need to continue.

Gov. Rick Scott targets House members who voted to kill job incentive agency


Gov. Rick Scott was in Tampa on Monday where he singled out State Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, as one of nine Republicans who voted for a bill that would kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida (Photo courtesy of Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa)


Call it the Rick Scott retribution tour.

Sure, the Republican Governor’s office called his stops in Cape Coral, Tampa, Panama City, and Jacksonville this week the “Fighting for Florida’s Jobs” tour. But they all coincidentally have one big thing in common.

All four stops have been in the districts of four of the nine House Republicans who last week voted to killed two of his most cherished agencies: Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. And in each stop Scott was sure to remind business leaders that their locally elected representative was part of the group of 9 Republicans defied him and voted to completely eliminate those two agencies, which Scott says have been keys to Florida creating 1.2 million private sector jobs since he was elected.

House Republicans have moved to kill the agencies, saying both are a forms of “corporate welfare” that put the government in the role of picking some companies over others to get funding.

In Tampa on Monday, Scott responded by literally standing in Rep. Shawn Harrison’s district at Tampa when he went off on the Republican for backing the plan.

“I am shocked, right here locally Shawn Harrison voted against Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida,” Scott told reporters after repeatedly telling business leaders at the Museum of Science and Industry that Harrison voted for the bill to kill the agencies.

Harrison responded on Twitter, telling supporters that as a small business owner he's never taken incentive dollars and that "taxpayer funded job creators should prove themselves!"

Later it was off to Flagler Beach, where Scott launched into Rep. Paul Renner, whose district include Flagler Beach.

“I was shocked last week your local state Rep. Paul Renner presented a bill in a House committee to completely eliminate Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida,” Scott told dozens of local business owners.

In case anyone didn't catch the name, Scott went after Renner two more times during the roundtable and singled him out again when speaking to the media later. At one point he accused Renner of essentially saying he thinks Flagler Beach has enough jobs and doesn’t need any more.

Continue reading "Gov. Rick Scott targets House members who voted to kill job incentive agency" »

February 09, 2017

Gov. Scott's job incentive programs get yet more scrutiny today



For the second straight day, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s biggest priorities will be under scrutiny at the hands of the Legislature today but with a big difference.

When Enterprise Florida goes before the before the Senate Appropriations Committee later today, it will be doing so in a committee that is lead by Sen. Jack Latvala, who has called the House Republican’s idea of killing that agency and Visit Florida the “dumbest idea.”

Cissy Proctor, the director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is expected to testify that economic incentive programs under Enterprise Florida can “tip the scales” in the state’s favor when it comes to convincing companies to move to Florida.

Scott has argued that the incentive programs have been critical to the state adding more than 1.2 million private sector jobs since 2010.

Still, House Republicans yesterday took their first step toward killing Enterprise Florida. The House Careers & Competition Subcommittee voted 10-5 in favor of a bill pushed by Rep. Paul Renner, R-Jacksonville, which would eliminate Enterprise Florida completely and put all other economic development programs under the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“The problem with economic incentives is that they are selective and they absolutely pick winners and losers,” Renner told the committee yesterday.

Renner said the government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers in a free market.

Renner’s legislation comes as House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, has called the idea of giving tax credits to businesses to relocate or grow their operations in Florida a form of “corporate welfare.” He said other factors like improving education and infrastructure has the potential of attracting businesses more than tax credits.

Scott has warned Legislators that killing Enterprise Florida will damage the state’s economic momentum over the last 6 years.

Latvala’s Senate Appropriations Committee meets at 1 p.m. today.

February 08, 2017

Florida declines to send infrastructure wish-list to Trump administration


Forty-nine states and U.S. territories submitted a wish list of road, transportation and pipe projects to the Trump administration Wednesday. One of the few holdouts? Florida.

The National Governors Association said it sent governors' list of 428 "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects to the Executive Office of the President and the White House National Trade Council. The submission, which the NGA says it won't make public, comes after the administration asked for help after offering its own list of projects to the association. Some projects on that initial list, such as the I-395 highway interchange in Miami, had already been funded. The initial list was compiled by a consultant.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn't contribute to the NGA's additions. Spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said Wednesday that, instead, Scott "will be working directly with the administration."

McClatchy Washington correspondent Lindsay Wise contributed.

Gov. Scott: Confirm Gorsuch to Supreme Court

From a letter to the Miami Herald editor sent by Florida Gov. Rick Scott:

In business, people come together, certainly with their own objectives in mind, to make a deal. The goal is to arrive at a win-win where everyone leaves happy. Politics, on the other hand, too often is a game to make the other side lose at any cost.

We should demand better. The men and women who were elected to represent their districts and states have a duty to actually represent them. Working to obstruct progress at any price is why people hate politics and a large part of why voters elected President Trump to make major changes.

He has made some great appointments, and one of the greatest is his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. I believe this appointment follows my own standard for appointing judges here in Florida: Choose someone who wants to interpret the law, not write it.

More here.

February 07, 2017

Rick Scott lashes out at Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran



Gov. Rick Scott lashed out at fellow Republicans in the Florida House on Tuesday, accusing them of not caring about jobs and of trying to kill his beloved job incentives and tourism marketing programs just to help House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s political future.

During a nearly 15 minute venting with reporters in Tallahassee, Scott ripped House Republicans for “lecturing” him about job incentives and for proposing legislation that would kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, two quasi-governmental agencies that are essential to Scott’s political agenda.

“When the House wants to stop Enterprise Florida, they are hurting our poorest communities. They’re hurting our rural communities,” Scott said. “When they want to say we don’t want to do any more marketing for Visit Florida what they are saying is that we don’t need any more jobs in tourism. Now what we’re seeing is, we’re seeing people that just want to run for higher office. They’re not concerned about what happens to other people.”

Scott was asked directly if he was saying the House was going after the programs because Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, might run for governor in 2018.

“It’s pretty clear, if you're not caring about people’s jobs you must be caring about something else,” he said. “I care about people’s jobs. What else can it be? How can anybody say they don’t want to help a poor family get a job. The only thing that would be is politics. You would never think this way in business.”

And there was more.

Continue reading "Rick Scott lashes out at Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran" »

February 06, 2017

Post-mass shootings, little changes in Florida on mental illness and access to guns

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@michaelauslen @ByKristenMClark

In the days after five people were shot and killed in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, some elected officials adopted a familiar routine.

As news spread that the suspected gunman told FBI agents in Alaska that he was hearing voices, Florida officials called for improvements to mental health care and tougher measures to keep guns away from people with severe psychological disorders.

The Jan. 6 mass shooting was just the latest to be followed by hand-wringing from politicians, particularly gun-rights supporters, who blamed shortcomings in the mental health system for the tragedy.

Despite years connecting mental illness and mass shootings, lawmakers in both parties have been reluctant to pass major legislation taking firearms out of the hands of people diagnosed with severe disorders.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott showed how quickly politicians can retreat after a call to action.

“One thing we have to think about is if someone is adjudicated mentally ill, it just doesn’t make any sense that they should have access to a gun,” he told reporters a week after the Fort Lauderdale shooting.

Scott and his spokespeople refused several requests by the Herald/Times to elaborate on what type of fix this would require. When pressed, he finally begged off further involvement.

“I support the Second Amendment, but I want to make sure that families in our state are safe,” Scott said when asked for details late last month in Tampa. “Whatever the Legislature wants to do — I’m not part of the legislative branch — I’ll review.”

Scott, who often lobbies the Legislature on priorities like tax cuts, could weigh in on guns if he wants, but he’s right that it’s ultimately up to lawmakers to act. And there’s much they can do.

More here.

Photo credit: Steve Cannon / AP