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234 posts from February 2017

February 28, 2017

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to announce for Florida governor



Andrew Gillum, the young African-American Democratic Tallahassee mayor who took on the gun lobby, will formally announce his 2018 bid for Florida governor on Wednesday.

Gillum, 37, has been viewed as a rising star in a party that is clamoring for relevance after Donald Trump’s win in November.

Gillum, who was born in Miami, plans to announce in a biographical video, which he released early to the Miami Herald. The video focuses on Gillum’s hardscrabble upbringing — he was one of seven children raised by a mother who was a city bus driver.

Keep reading here.

At least one Miami Republican is 'ready' to work with Trump on immigration reform


When news broke Tuesday that President Trump had told television news anchors he might be open to comprehensive immigration reform legislation -- including granting legal status to some of the unauthorized immigrants already in the country -- one Miami Republican steeped in the issue quickly praised the president and offered to help.

"I am very encouraged by President Trump's recent comments on immigration reform," Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

In 2013, Diaz-Balart helped lead the effort to pass immigration reform in the House, but the legislation was never taken up for a vote.

"It is no secret our country has a broken immigration system," Diaz-Balart continued. "I have said many times that we must come together from both sides of the aisle to find a commonsense solution on immigration reform. It is extremely disappointing that many from both the left and right extremes are quick to criticize the President's willingness to work with Congress to fix our immigration system. This kind of political gimmickry is unnecessary and unhelpful to a bipartisan, legislative solution.

"I continue to believe this legislation must strengthen our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a permanent and humane solution to those living in the shadows, bolster our economy, and modernize our antiquated visa system. I remain committed and ready to work with the White House and congressional colleagues from both sides of the aisle."

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald

Trump will visit Orlando on Friday to talk school choice

Trump (12)

President Trump will visit Orlando on Friday to hold a "listening session" at St. Andrews Catholic School, the White House said Tuesday.

The event will center on giving parents school choice -- in Florida, by providing them with public vouchers to pay for private-school education. Trump plans to get out of Washington to push the agenda he will lay out Tuesday night at a joint session of Congress.

After Orlando, the president is expected to spend the weekend at his Palm Beach estate of Mar-a-Lago.

--with Franco Ordoñez in Washington

Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

Bondi joins Trump and other AGs at White House

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Pam Bondi was at the White House on Tuesday and got face time with President Trump.

Trump met with about 25 members of the National Association of Attorneys General. "Some great people, some great people," he said. "And up here," he added, according to a pool report, looking around next to him.

Bondi, standing to his left, responded: "Thank you, Mr. President."

It's still unclear whether Bondi will take a job in the administration, as had been widely assumed.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Rubio says Social Security, Medicaid should be part of budget talks


via @learyreports

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's proposed defense spending increase doesn't go far enough but he expressed concern about cuts to other areas of the budget and said changes to Social Security and Medicare should be on the table.

"I don't expect you're going to hear that tonight," the Florida Republican said hours before Trump's speech to Congress, "but I think in the months to come as the reality sets in, we'll have to accept that."

Rubio has long called for changes to Social Security and Medicaid, but not for current recipients.

"I'm against anything that is bad for my mom," he told reporters. "I'm talking about me … our generation. It's either going to be bankrupt or it's going to work differently. What are we talking about in some cases? I'm going to have to retire at 68½ instead of at 68. These are not unreasonable requests to add some longevity and stability to these programs."

Rubio also discussed Obamacare and the Russian probe.

More here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Fact-checking the war between Rick Scott and Richard Corcoran over Enterprise Florida



Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran are locked in battle over the future of Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida ahead of the legislative session.

Scott sees the agencies for tourism and business development as essential to his jobs agenda, but Corcoran says they're a waste of money. The House plan would abolish Enterprise Florida and dramatically reduce Visit Florida's spending.

Is the state wasting money? The truth is somewhere in between.

Both leaders have released videos to make their case. Each side misses context and misrepresents the facts.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Gov. Scott to attend Trump's speech to Congress


Continuing his Washington swing, Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday is scheduled to attend President Trump's prime time speech to a joint session of Congress.

Scott will spend most of the day in meetings, including with Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Argentina Ambassador to the U.S. Martin Lousteau. He will also give interviews to Fox News and the Washington Examiner.

Jeb Bush ally among Trump's guests for speech to Congress


via @learyreports

A Florida woman who became an ally of Jeb Bush on school reform will be a guest of President Donald Trump's for the Tuesday night address to a joint session of Congress.

Denisha Merriweather of Jacksonville was named in a White House news release. "After struggling with coursework as a child and switching schools often, Denisha moved in with her godmother and enrolled in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program," the description reads. "She began going to a private school, Esprit de Corps Center for Learning, and would go on to be the first member of her family to graduate from high school and college."

Merriweather's success was championed by Bush, and he frequently invoked her on the campaign trail.

Keep reading here for the rest of Trump's guests.

Rubio to meet with Florida lawmakers


via @learyreports

WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive day, top members of the Florida Legislature will meet behind closed doors Tuesday with Sen. Marco Rubio.

An itinerary obtained by the Tampa Bay Times shows topics Monday included flood insurance, the Affordable Care Act then a “social hour” and dinner with Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Tuesday brings a “working breakfast” at Rubio’s office to discuss water issues, including the Everglades, followed by tax reform. Then state lawmakers will have individual meetings with congressional members and staff.

Rubio’s office would not say why the meetings, being attended by House Speaker Richard Corcoran and other lawmakers, are closed. Reporters this morning have been offered the opportunity to briefly see the group but not listen in.

Roads named for celebrities are OK, but not laws named to honor the people who inspired them

Picture00 CommemorationNW13


Mayra Capote was a 15-year-old freshman at Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School when she and two other students were killed in a car accident in September 1999 as they rushed back to school from an open-campus lunch break.

In the weeks afterward, Miami-Dade public schools changed district policy to prevent students from leaving school grounds during the lunch hour. And in the nearly 18 years since, Hialeah Republican Sen. René García has tried several times to prevent future tragedies statewide by seeking a Florida law affecting all public high schools.

With his most recent attempt this year, García sought to name the proposed law directly in honor of Mayra.

But her name was abruptly deleted from the bill last week — at the request of Senate President Joe Negron.

Full story here.

Photo credit: Mayra Capote, 15, and two high school students died in a car accident in 1999 while coming back to school from an open-lunch break. Hialeah Republican Sen. René García this year wanted to name a proposed state law after the younger Mayra, but the 15-year-old’s name was taken out of his bill at Senate President Joe Negron’s request. (Herald file photo)