The Buzz on Florida politics

Rick Scott

Latest Buzz on Florida politics

It's strange. Twitter dot com is normally such a pleasant place.

But in the past week or so, half of the candidates for Florida governor have used the site to launch partisan broadsides against their political opponents.

It all started when Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam posted a message December 7 that said Democrat Andrew Gillum wanted to make Florida a "sanctuary state." PolitiFact rated Putnam's claim Half True.

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Alex Harris of the Miami Herald had a good story about the shortage of affordable housing in the Florida Keys that should get the attention of state lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott:

After Hurricane Irma swept through the Florida Keys, many residents were cautiously optimistic: Key West, the biggest tourist draw and economic engine, had survived with minimal damage.

The hope was for a fast return to normal, and that's largely what has happened in the city at Mile Marker Zero. Cruise ships are back, the annual keystone event, Fantasy Fest, was a hit, and swarms of visitors are gradually returning to critical mass for Mallory Square sunsets.

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Washington tax writers say they have adjusted the sweeping legislation to improve the child tax credit, a demand of Sen. Marco Rubio.

Because of those changes, Rubio says he will support the tax bill — likely giving Republicans enough votes to pass the sweeping measure.

Rubio all but announced his support for the legislation on twitter.

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Senate spokesperson Katie Betta said Friday that the long-awaited report on the investigation of Sen. Jack Latvala is expected to the Senate president “some time next week.” Pending a review by Senate lawyers, namely George Meros of the GrayRobinson law firm retained to advise the Senate, the report will then be made available to the public.

Betta said she could not give a timeline on when the report will be public. Betta said one issue the attorneys are reviewing is what to redact from the report on the names of people who came forward as witnesses in the investigation.

Senate legislative aide Rachel Perrin Rogers filed the formal complaint on Nov. 5 alleging that Latvala groped her, inappropriately touched her in a bar and subjected her to verbal sexual harassment over a period of four years. Her complaint launched the effort by the Senate to hire retired Judge Ronald V. Swanson to serve as the special master, review the allegations, subpoena witnesses to testify under oath and determine if there is probable cause to conclude that the allegations are truthful.

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Many Hurricane Irma evacuees say they're apprehensive of packing up and leaving their homes again because forecast models failed to match the final track of the September storm.

That is worrisome for Craig Fugate, a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, including during the state's devastating 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

Fugate said Thursday that Floridians must brace for storms that will be stronger, have longer periods at top speeds and bring more rain than in the past because of the changing climate.

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Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday he will vote against the tax bill unless the child tax credit is improved, potentially upsetting what had been a fast-moving process.

Rubio sketched out his position to reporters in Washington after weeks of pressing for a more generous credit. He voted for the Senate bill but now differences are being worked out with the House before a final vote.

"If you've found the money to lower the top rate…you can't find at least a little bit to at least somewhat increase the refundable portion of it?" Rubio said Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "I can't in good conscience support it unless we are able to increase the refundable portion of it, and there's ways to do it."

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TALLAHASSEE — Even before Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran came to dominate Tallahassee, he declared himself an archenemy of special interests.

“I will proudly declare war on all the special interests … all the Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests, powers-that-be,” Corcoran told House members, as he thundered against a plan to expand Medicaid coverage to more Floridians. “Come to war with us. I’ll fight. And if it costs me my political career or yours, so be it.”

That was early in 2015, shortly after the career Tallahassee operative effectively took control of the Republican Party of Florida’s finances. Since then, a big part of the cigar-loving House speaker’s war against special interests has involved taking and then spending their money to fly on private planes, dine at pricey restaurants and buy thousands of dollars worth of cigars.

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The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit over whether Gov. Rick Scott or his successor has the power to appoint three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court saying that action is not “ripe” because the appointments have not yet been made.

In a majority opinion, in which Chief Justice Jorge Labarga joined the three conservatives on the court, Justice Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson, the court held that the “writ of quo warranto,” the method used by the litigants, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause of Florida, was inappropriate.

“Until some action is taken by the Governor, the matter the League seeks to have resolved is not ripe, and this Court lacks jurisdiction to determine whether quo warranto relief is warranted,″ the majority ruled.

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Beyond the Buzz

Unlocked And Loaded
More than 80,000 guns have gone missing in Florida over the last decade. Most will never be recovered.
Hurricane Irma
How the slightest shift kept Hurricane Irma from turning into an even worse disaster

As expected, the ideological divides in Florida's crowded Republican primary for attorney general are producing some early negative campaigning.

State Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, one of four candidates, has attacked former Judge Ashley Moody of Plant City, widely considered the early frontrunner, as a "liberal posing as a conservative" and asked the state Republican Party to disavow her candidacy.

Fant's reasons:

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Republicans are growing more worried about the midterms — and the continued controversies of President Donald Trump — and that could be key in Florida's U.S. Senate race, providing more confidence to incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

By contrast there's less confidence emanating from Rick Scott's camp. Tucked inside of a New York Times story about the fallout from Alabama was this nugget:

"And if other potential Republican Senate recruits are daunted by the forbidding political environment, it could hamper their ability to win some of the Democratic-controlled seats they have been eyeing for months. In Florida, for example, advisers to Gov. Rick Scott said he was mindful of the midterm climate and was not yet sold on challenging Senator Bill Nelson."

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In a win for business groups, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday said state law prevents Miami Beach from moving forward with a local minimum wage.

A panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a circuit judge's ruling against the city minimum wage, which was expected to take effect in 2018.

The appeals court said a state "preemption" law bars local governments from establishing minimum wages. The Miami Beach City Commission last year approved an ordinance that set a minimum wage of $10.31 an hour to take effect in 2018, with the wage going up $1 a year to $13.31 on Jan. 1, 2021.

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Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet agreed to spend $1.08 million Wednesday for land that will help link to an ambitious bicycle and pedestrian trail planned to stretch across Central Florida, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

The deal to acquire 35.2 acres to help complete the Shingle Creek Regional Trail — which includes areas in Kissimmee, Osceola County, Orange County, and Orlando — was approved with little comment.

"We have support from local chambers of commerce, local environmental groups, and others," Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein said. "It's exactly the type of stakeholder engagement we want to see in acquisitions, where the community is seeing the value of the acquisition directly to those living there."

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State agencies must adopt uniform policies on sexual harassment and provide worker training for supervisors and new employees, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday.

Scott said he issued an executive order to better protect state employees under his control and because of the cascade of reports of sexual harassment in politics, entertainment, media and business.

"It is absolutely disgusting to hear the numerous accounts of sexual harassment happening across the country," Scott said. "Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is safe and free from any form of harassment."

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