Dana Young Archives - Page 2 of 25 - SaintPetersBlog

Impressive roster of GOP leaders line up for Ed Hooper fundraiser

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper is assembling an impressive number of high-profile state lawmakers for a Tallahassee reception next month. Hooper, a former state representative, is seeking the open Senate District 16 seat currently held by Jack Latvala.

Hooper’s campaign fundraiser will be Monday, March 6, from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Governors Club, 202 South Adams Street.

The host committee reads like a Who’s Who of GOP state leaders, including Senate President Joe Negron and nearly all the Pinellas County/Hillsborough delegation: Sens. Latvala, Bill Galvano, Wilton Simpson, Dana Young and Jeff Brandes.

Republican senators from beyond the Tampa Bay area will be there, too: Lizbeth Benacquisto, George Gainer, Denise Grimsley, Frank Artiles, Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Travis Hutson, Debbie Mayfield, Kathleen Passidomo, Keith Perry, Robert Bradley, Doug Broxson, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel and Greg Steube.

The House will also be well represented, with Larry Ahern, Ben Albritton, Chris Latvala and Kathleen Peters.

A former Clearwater firefighter who served four terms in the House before term limits forced him out, Hooper ran for Pinellas County Commission in 2014, losing to Democrat Pat Gerard after a contentious campaign.

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At Tampa rally for Enterprise Florida funding, Rick Scott repeatedly calls out Shawn Harrison

Saying that he is “shocked” that a committee in the Florida House voted to kill funding for Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida last week, Governor Rick Scott came to Tampa on Monday to urge the public to urge their state legislators to maintain the funding for those two besieged  agencies.

“This is an important issue to me personally,” Scott said in his comments to reporters after concluding the second of three scheduled appearances around the state in what his staff is calling a “Fighting for Florida Jobs Roundtable.”

Now in his sixth year as chief executive, the “jobs governor” has taken it as a personal rebuke that lawmakers aren’t on the same page with him when it comes to fully funding the public-private agencies. His arguments for maintaining the funding are wide and varied, including his statement on Monday that a flourishing economy could enable the state to put more money into education and the developmentally disabled, but only if the Legislature comes through to support the agencies.

“Our economy is on a roll. This is crazy to stop this!” he said after hosting the roundtable at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in North Tampa.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Visit Hillsborough CEO Santiago Corrada, Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson, Plant City Mayor Rick Lott and dozens of other members from the business community sat in chairs three rows deep in a semi-circle in what was a virtual half-hour informercial for the two programs, under fire in the House as being an example of “corporate welfare” in a campaign led by Speaker Richard Corcoran.

“I am shocked that members of the Florida House of Representatives, politicians in Tallahassee, are turning their back on job creation,” Scott said, specifically calling out New Tampa House District 63 Republican Shawn Harrison for his vote in the House Career and Competition Subcommittee last week that would eliminate the Enterprise Florida economic development organization, and VISIT Florida, the tourism marketing agency, as well as a host of economic incentive programs.

Harrison narrowly won re-election last November over Democrat Lisa Montelione in HD 63, considered one of the most extreme “swing” districts in the state. The former Tampa City Council initially won the seat in 2010 but lost it in 2012 before returning back to the House in 2014.

“I’m still shocked that Shawn Harrison voted the way he did,” Scott repeated several times during the half-hour roundtable, and later when speaking with reporters afterwards. He repeatedly issued out positive statistics about the state’s economy, saying Florida’s job growth was double the national average, and that there was $771 million that came from tourists last year. Time and again, he went after the critics of the two agencies.

“What Shawn Harrison and other House members are saying – ‘oh we’re not worried about jobs anymore’ – that’s wrong!” he exclaimed. “That’s somebody’s life!”

During his presentation, he mocked anybody who voted against the programs. “How could anybody? I can’t imagine anybody who runs for office saying, ‘I’m for getting rid of jobs.’ Absolutely not.”

Scott’s pleas to maintain full funding for EF and VF sometimes reached new lengths.

“I’ve watched my mom cry because she couldn’t pay for health care. I don’t want that ever to happen to a family in our state,” he said. The sentiment might surprise the majority of Floridians who are still upset about the fact that Scott rejected expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act four years ago, denying health coverage to an estimated 850,000 people.

Scott did repeatedly shower his affection for Jack Latvala and Dana Young, two GOP state Senators from the Tampa Bay area who support continued funding of the agencies.

Buckhorn, a Democrat who has on occasion blasted Scott, emphasized the bipartisan nature of support for funding EF and VF. And he oozed contempt for lawmakers who want to kill the agencies. “What is happening in Tallahassee is ideology is getting in the way of the practical application of what these incentives are all about,” he said, denying that it’s a “giveaway program.”

“This would be patently absurd to cut off our nose, to spite our face, just because somebody is reading off a playbook provided to them by the Koch Brothers,” Buckhorn said.

Americans for Prosperity Florida, which receives funding from the Koch Family Foundation, is a leading state agency fighting against what they describe as corporate welfare run amok. The organization tweeted out on Monday, “Rep Harrison voted against rigged system! Why should taxpayers pay to pad special interest pockets.”

Craig Richard, the new CEO of the TampaHillsborough Economic Development Corporation, has worked in economic development for the past 20 years in six different states. “I’ve never heard anyone interested in doing away with the goose laying the golden egg,” he said.

“It’s kind of silly that we’re having this type of conversation,” Bobby Harris ,the founder and CEO of freight and logistics provider Blue Grace Logistics. He said that the incentives that helped him hire more than 100 employees in his Tampa offices would have gone to Chicago instead.  He said the House vote is “not a good vote of confidence for business leaders.”

Harrison did not return a call for comment.

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Dana Young joins push for new greyhound bill, banning steroids

Decrying that racing dog owners are “doping greyhounds,” state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith joined state Rep. Alexandra Miller and Dana Young Friday in another effort to tighten regulation of dog racing in Florida, with a bill explicitly banning the use of steroids.

Smith, the Orlando Democrat, and Miller, the Sarasota Republican, introduced House Bill 743 Thursday, replacing an earlier version Miller had introduced. Young, the Tampa Republican introduced Senate Bill 512 last month. On Thursday, it was referred to the Senate Committees on Regulated Industries, Rules, and Appropriations.

The two bills were unveiled Friday as a bipartisan effort banning anabolic steroids on greyhound racing dogs.

The trio asserted that female racing greyhounds are routinely given injections of anabolic steroids, or testosterone, to prevent the loss of race days and push their bodies beyond natural limits.

“We know they are using steroids,” Smith said. “They are doping greyhounds. It’s inhumane.”

A release issued by Smith’s office contended that the practice is outlawed in several countries but allowed in Florida. It sites the industry handbook Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound as a warning of serious side effects including virilization and aggression, and that steroid use has been shown to have a negative effect on dogs’ heart function, and is linked to liver, kidney and cartilage damage, gastrointestinal problems and shock.

It’s not the first time for the effort. It and other greyhound reform bills have stalled in recent sessions as the Legislature has struggled with issues of “decoupling” greyhound racing from other forms of gambling allowed at tracks, notably card games.

Smith predicted this would be the year lawmakers seriously address decoupling, freeing track owners from having to offer dog racing if they want to offer more lucrative forms of gaming.

He said there are 19 racetracks in the United States and 12 are in Florida, and described wider abuses he’d like to see addressed, ultimately including the end of greyhound racing.

“Most track owners don’t want to race greyhounds anymore. The only reason they are doing it is because they are required to by law in order to run their card tables,” Smith said.

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Darryl Rouson, Jeff Brandes driver’s license suspension bill advances in Senate

On Tuesday, the Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation to reduce the number of driver’s licenses suspended annually in Florida.

The bipartisan bill (SB 302), sponsored by St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes and Democrat Darryl Rouson, would end the suspension of licenses for non-driving-related offenses.

If passed, it could dramatically reduce a large number of suspensions taking place statewide each year.

Right now, one can lose driving privileges in Florida over a number of nondriving offenses: truancy, writing graffiti, theft, vandalism, writing worthless checks and a minor’s possession of tobacco.

“It has a huge impact on public safety,” Rouson told his colleagues on the committee. “It’s costly and we know that three-fourths of the suspended, revoked drivers still drive. So it’s a public safety matter.”

“We don’t want to continue the self-perpetuating cycles of financial hardship that lead to revocations and other things,” he added.

The bill also modifies current law relating to debt collection for unpaid fees or fines, and clearly establishes the right of a defendant in financial hardship to use community service as an alternative method of payment. It also eliminates the felony criminal charge for a third or subsequent offense for driving on a license suspended because of a defendant’s financial hardship.

Brandes sponsored a similar bill in the Senate last year, as did Rouson in the House, along with Tampa’s Dana Young and Sarasota’s Greg Steube.

Like Rouson, Young and Steube each advanced to the Senate after last November’s election.

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Cindy Gruden at Capitol to support boosting cigarette tax for Moffitt Cancer funding

With former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden sick at home, wife Cindy Gruden stepped in to stump for Moffitt Cancer Center‘s request for increased funding at the Capitol.

Gruden was one of more than 75 representatives of the Moffitt Cancer Center, who came by bus and bicycle — doctors, patients, caregivers, community leaders, and researchers — Tuesday to ask the Legislature to support identical bills (SB 662 and HB 651) filed by Sen. Dana Young and Rep. James Grant. The bills would increase annual funding from the state’s cigarette tax by $8 million to help fund an ambitious plan of expansion for the nation’s No. 6-rated cancer research and treatment center.

“If he were here, (Jon) would tell you Moffitt is all about teamwork,” Cindy Gruden said. The couple live in Tampa.

“They come together, day after day, helping their patients have a winning game plan,” she said. “We’re going to kick cancer to the curb.”

Grant and Young also appeared to support the funding request.

The cause is personal for Grant. “I almost grew up without a mom who beat breast cancer twice,” he said. “The amount of research, the economic impact statewide, the type of care that any family dealing with a diagnosis as devastating as cancer, can happen here in a world-class fashion without having to leave the state of Florida.

“Being No. 6 in the country is not good enough for me; it’s going to cost some money but I think we need to set our sights on becoming No. 1 … cancer center in the United States,” said Young during a press conference in the Capitol rotunda.

“M.D. Anderson in Texas gets $250 million annually from the Legislature,” she said of the nation’s top-rated cancer center. “We aren’t even close to that, but hopefully with this $8 million increase, we will allow Moffitt to build the state-of-the-art facilities they need … to attract the best and the brightest minds to continue the fight against cancer.”

Young is ready to advocate for continued increased funding for the cancer center.

“In this budget, it will be hard to tell what kind of nonrecurring funds will be available, but we absolutely like to see this repeat each year if possible,” she said. “It may be a heavy lift, but it’s a lift worth trying because Moffitt is so important to the state of Florida.”

Last November, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Moffitt Center announced a 10-year, $800 million expansion that will include a new hospital wing, two research buildings, a clinical support building, and additional outpatient facilities.

Dedicated to the prevention and cure of cancer, the Tampa-based facility is one of 47 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction recognizing Moffitt’s excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention, and cancer control. In addition to being the No. 6 cancer hospital in the nation, Moffitt is No. 1 in Florida and throughout the southeast. It has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the “Best Hospitals” for cancer care since 1999.

Recently celebrating its 30th anniversary, Moffitt has more than 5,200 employees and boasts an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. It is participating in more than 450 active clinical trials and treated more than 56,000 outpatients last year.

The facility is named in honor of former House Speaker F. Lee Moffitt, who first suggested a cancer center for Tampa in the late 1970s. During his tenure in the House, he shepherded through a $600,000 appropriation for planning and then $3.5 million in start-up funds in 1981. As Speaker, he drafted a bill earmarking $70 million from a state cigarette tax for construction. The cancer center opened to patients in October 1986.

FloridaPolics.com reporter Jim Rosica contributed to this report.

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Dana Young decries the ‘shrill tone’ coming out of Tallahassee this winter

The clash between Rick Scott and the leaders of the Florida House and Senate have dominated the front pages of several Florida newspapers this week.

Dana Young doesn’t like it one bit.

“There is this angry, shrill tone coming out of Tallahassee, and I truly don’t understand why,” the GOP District 18 state Senator told a crowd of over 50 people at the Oxford Exchange in Tampa Friday morning.

“I kind of feel that we’re on the same team and we should be working together to get a budget passed, but this shrill screaming is discouraging,” she continued. “So it could take awhile.”

The biggest public clash has been the different budget proposals unveiled from the governor and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The House plan would eliminate the state’s economic development agency Enterprise Florida, and the state’s tourism marketing arm Visit Florida, angering Scott.

The House would also eliminate any public subsidies for film incentives and sports stadiums. When asked where she came down regarding the issue of giving incentives to recruit businesses to Florida, Young said she saw validity to both arguments, but said she didn’t believe it is necessary to get rid of state agencies.

“It’s an interesting argument,” she said, adding that there was no right answer about whether economic incentives are good or bad. But she did come out strongly in support of Visit Florida, saying their advertising efforts have been the fuel that has led to record tourism numbers in the state the past couple of years.

“Why completely do away with an agency that by all appearances is doing a decent job of bringing people here?”

Young represented South Tampa and western Hillsborough County in the Florida House for the past six years before graduating to the Senate representing roughly the same geography last fall. That’s when she defeated Democrat Bob Buesing and independent candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove in a bruising campaign that led to bitter feelings on all sides.

Third-party environmental groups also ganged up on trying to bring Young down, attacking her specifically for her vote in the House on a controversial bill regarding fracking. Young denied the claims that her support for the bill in the 2016 legislative session was a vote of support for fracking, and she’s delighted many of those same groups by introducing a bill (SB 442) that would eliminate fracking in Florida with bipartisan support.

She isn’t ready to say that it will get clear sailing this year, contending that there will be fierce opposition to the bill, and asked that her constituents have her back when the bill gets debated this spring in Tallahassee.

Young did support Amendment 2, the medical marijuana constitutional amendment that was overwhelmingly supported by the public last fall. However, she’s urging a cautious approach to implementing it, co-sponsoring a bill with Orange Park Republican Rob Bradley (SB 406) that limits the number of marijuana producers to seven, though it could expand to as many as 20 or more medical marijuana producers once the number of patients registered for that treatment reaches 500,000.

A competing bill by St. Petersburg’s Jeff Brandes (SB 614) eliminates the cap on how many marijuana producers there can be in the state and sets up four new types of licenses so companies can be licensed to grow, process, transport or dispense.

Bradley and Young’s proposed legislation would also eliminate the current requirement that doctors treat patients for at least 90 days before being allowed to order marijuana for them. It also would expand to 90 days from 45 days, the amount of marijuana supplies patients can purchase.

Young says she prefers to maintain the concept of vertical integration, which keeps the same company that grows the plant also processes it and dispenses it.

The Senator also discussed her just-introduced bill that would allow small craft breweries the opportunity to self-distribute their product to other establishments, saying it demonstrated her support for “the little guy.”

A member of the audience questioned her on why she didn’t embrace that same concept when it came to medical marijuana?

“If we let this genie out of the bottle, there is no putting it back in,” Young responded, acknowledging that there was an inconsistency in her philosophy regarding the two issues.

Like several of her GOP colleagues in the Tampa Bay Area, Young has been a big supporter of ride-sharing companies, and a huge critic of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which the local delegation has already voted to eliminate later this year. But Young did take up for the taxicab industry on Friday, saying it is unfair that they have to pay a premium fee to be legally allowed to pick up fares at Tampa International Airport, while Uber and Lyft are doing so without paying anything.

Regarding the upcoming gun debate in the Legislature, Young declined to speak specifically about pending legislation, and instead posited the question as being simply whether more guns or fewer guns make the public safer.

Referring to the fall of 2015 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, she decried the fact that school was a gun-free zone.

“How would you feel if you were that Chancellor and you opted not to allow students who were adults with guns, to carry guns on campus when that shooter came in, and they could have killed him,” she said. “But there was nobody there to respond.”

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Dana Young files bill allowing craft breweries to distribute limited amounts of their own product

Dana Young is introducing new legislation to give small craft breweries the ability to move product through other craft breweries.

But the “Big Beer” industry in Tallahassee is already expressing concerns about SB 554, the Senate proposal filed Thursday by the Republican from Tampa.

The bill allows craft breweries producing under 7,000 kegs a year, and does not currently have agreements with distributors, to move its product to other Florida craft breweries.

“I am proud to sponsor SB 554 and continue to be an advocate for our state’s craft brewers,” Young said. “We want to see the craft beer industry continue their trend of record growth and this bill will help new brewers get their beer to market faster. I look forward to working with the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Jack Latvala, my colleagues in the Senate, and members of the Florida House to provide a regulatory structure that encourages craft brewers to grow.”

In the summer of 2015, Gov. Rick Scott signed a law allowing craft breweries to finally sell beer in 64-ounce containers known as “growlers.” Until then, Florida (bizarrely) was one of the few states in the nation that didn’t legally sanction such growlers.

But a key part of that legislation allowed craft breweries to ship its product to affiliated locations, up to eight in the state.

That represented a small chip in the “three-tier” alcohol beverage regulation system, which has historically given distributors exclusive power to move beer from manufacturers to the retailer. Passage of the 2015 bill lifted a requirement that those breweries operate as tourist attractions — otherwise known as the “Busch Gardens” exception, named after the Tampa amusement park (then owned by Anheuser-Busch). It allowed them to serve beer at its theme park’s hospitality centers.

That bill maintained that all other alcoholic beverage products (beer, wine and cider) had to go through a distributor.

Young’s new legislation would permit craft breweries (currently without distribution agreements) to send its product to unaffiliated brewers, as well as restaurants and other retail outlets, another potential crack in the three-tier system.

While most craft breweries in Florida generally have distribution agreements, Young’s bill would allow new breweries to have an ability to move product without having to go through a distributor.

“It’s troubling,” says Florida Beer Wholesaler Association executive director Mitch Rubin, “because it upset the balance of the 2015 law.”

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Janet Cruz says Florida Dems won’t ‘mainstream hate speech’ in 2017

While some Republicans in Tallahassee were startled last week when Democrats walked out of a committee hearing in reaction to a speaker who made controversial comments, Janet Cruz says her caucus won’t be “mainstreaming hate speech as a legitimate part of political debate” anytime soon.

The Democrat House Minority Leader was referring to Thursday, when five Democrats in the House’s Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee panel stood up and walked out in reaction to chair Gayle Harrell giving Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, the platform (via Skype) to testify during a discussion of resettling refugees.

One of the more provocative comments Krikorian made that irked the Democrats was when he wrote “my guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough” in the National Review in 2010.

Although her caucus respects any member of the public who speaks at a committee hearing, Cruz said they specifically objected to Harrell inviting a “white nationalist.”

“This is what’s happening with the Trump election,” Cruz said, addressing an audience at Ybor City’s Robert W. Saunders Library Tuesday night. “I feel they like ripped a lid off a bubbling cauldron of hate, prejudice and bigotry and gave them permission to express it aloud. And we won’t be part of it. “

During her appearance, which lasted more than a half-hour, Cruz weighed in on several subjects. The speech came after Cruz made the four-hour drive each way to and from the state capitol that day for The Associated Press Legislative Planning Session.

Regarding education, Cruz decried saying teachers and unions have been “villainized” in Tallahassee. Efforts will continue to privatize the school system and public hospitals, which she predicts will be Republican’s new “villain” in Tallahassee, she said.

Cruz also talked about the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission, whose membership has yet to be announced. The group will have the power to put proposals directly on the 2018 ballot to amend the state’s constitution.

“There could be an amendment to legalize vouchers, an amendment to repeals the Fair Districts amendment,” she warned.

Introducing Cruz was former Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, who lost a close race last fall to Republican Shawn Harrison in House District 63. Also in the crowd was Democrat Bob Buesing, who lost to Dana Young in the Senate District 18 race. Cruz says the GOP machine destroyed both candidates with direct mail campaigns.

“They took this kind Bob Buesing, whose done nothing but served this community, and they made a monster out of him,” she said, surmising that Democrats “have to get better at being ugly.”

Cruz spoke of her own humble beginnings, which led to her becoming the first Hispanic female leader of the House Democrats. As for her current gig, she said it wasn’t easy being the leader of men and women who are, in turn, leaders in their own respective communities.

“It’s like herding alpha dogs sometimes,” she joked. “Everybody is a leader and they’re used to leading and you’re trying to tunnel everybody in one direction, but it works, and I think we have a more cohesive caucus than we’ve had in a very long time.”

Cruz also discussed some of the legislation she has proposed this year, including another proposal for equal pay for women.

“I do not understand why if you have a different appendage you should be entitled to a different paycheck,” she asserted.

And her take on how state government is run? Tallahassee doesn’t have a spending problem or a revenue problem, she said.

No, she says the Legislature has a “priorities problem.”

She also recognized some realities. After all, there are only 41 House Democrats in a 120-person chamber.

“Keep complaining,” she advised the mostly female audience. “It’s egregious (in Tallahassee). And I need all of your help.”

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Dana Young files fantasy sports bill

State Sen. Dana Young on Monday filed her own version of a bill that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports play.

The Tampa Republican’s “Fantasy Contest Amusement Act” (SB 592) declares such games to “involve the skill of contest participants and do not constitute gambling, gaming, or games of chance.”

And it would prohibit the playing of fantasy sports on any “live pari-mutuel event” that could include dog and horse racing or on any amateur sports, such as college athletics.

“Today, more than 3 million Floridians participate in fantasy sports,” Young said in an email. “This bill ensures the games they love will continue to be legal in the State of Florida, while adding several consumer protection measures.

“The relevant laws on the books were written a long, long time ago in a different era, and they need to be updated to reflect current technology and to ensure that our friends and neighbors who enjoy fantasy sports can do so without any legal ambiguity.”

Young’s bill also comes after the filing of the Senate’s omnibus gambling overhaul for 2017 that already includes a provision to legalize and regulate fantasy sports through an “Office of Amusements.”

That legislation (SB 8), carried by state Sen. Bill Galvano, was cleared unanimously last week by its first review panel, the Regulated Industries committee.

But signs of future trouble in the House began when Speaker Richard Corcoran derided the 112-page measure. It would expand lottery ticket sales at gas pumps, authorize more slot machines, and approve the long-delayed gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

“I’ve seen the bill, and look, it’s not where we’re at,” Corcoran said last week. “(I)t has to be a contraction (of gambling).”

A similar fantasy sports bill (HB 149) has already been filed in the House by state Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Sanford Republican.

It would exempt “fantasy contests” from regulation by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which oversees gambling in the state.

Young’s bill, like Galvano’s, creates a separate “Office of Amusements” within DBPR. It requires an “initial license application fee (of) $500,000, and (an) annual license renewal fee (of) $100,000” and makes applicants submit fingerprints for vetting.

The bill requires fantasy sports operators to “yerify that contest participants are 18 years of age or older,” submit to independent audits and maintain records of daily operations for at least three years.

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Capitol Reax: Tax cuts, certificates of need, whiskey and Wheaties, fracking

Gov. Rick Scott proposed $618 million in tax cuts this week, which included four back to school holidays and reducing the commercial lease tax.

“Governor Scott’s ‘Fighting for Florida’s Future’ tax package includes a number of cuts which will significantly support Florida’s retailers, including a reduction in the business rent tax, cutting the business tax and including an expanded back-to-school sales tax holiday among others. FRF is excited about what the Governor’s tax cut package will mean for growing Sunshine State businesses, creating new jobs for Florida families and ensuring our state remains competitive.” – Randy Miller, president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation.

 “We know from talking to job creators across the state and the nation that the tax on commercial leases puts Florida at a competitive disadvantage. Governor Scott has demonstrated an incredible commitment to doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to succeed, and these recommended tax cuts are critical to ensuring continued economic growth. NFIB is proud to fully support this proposal and we look forward to the Legislature cutting $618 million in taxes this year.” – Bill Herrle, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“Every step we take to make Florida more business-friendly means more job creators choosing to move to and reinvest in our state. Governor Scott’s recommended $618 million tax cut package will help businesses large and small invest more in creating jobs for our families and will help ensure Florida’s economy will continue to grow well into the future. We are fighting to make our state the best place for job creators and families to succeed and the Florida Chamber of Commerce will continue to work with Governor Scott and the Legislature this year to support this tax cut package.” – David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce

“Governor Scott’s proposed $618 million tax cut package truly fights for both job creators and families across the state. Over the past few years, we have seen the exciting impact tax cuts have had on helping businesses move to and grow in our state, as well as the importance of helping Floridians keep more of their hard-earned money. In order to continue to help our economy grow, we must remain committed to lowering the cost of doing business, and reducing the business rent tax will surely help us meet that goal. AIF is proud to join Governor Scott in fighting for Florida’s future by supporting the passage of $618 million in tax cuts.” – Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida.

Republican Sen. Dana Young filed legislation aimed to ban hydraulic fracking in Florida this week. The bill comes after years of failed attempts to ban the controversial technique by Florida Democrats.

“Our industry has a long history of providing environmental and economic benefits. The United States is the leading producer of oil, natural gas and refined product in the world, and the decades-old technique of hydraulic fracturing has led to lower energy costs for consumers and improvements in the environment. Senator Dana Young’s proposed ban could undermine the benefits that Florida families and consumers are seeing today. “The technology has been proven safe, and Florida is realizing the economic and environmental benefits of its use. Thanks in part to the increased use of domestic natural gas, ozone concentrations in the air have dropped by 17 percent since 2000, all of which makes the United States not just an energy superpower, but also a leader in reducing global emissions. Let’s not move backwards when the gains of energy security are important for Florida families.” – David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council.

“Florida Conservation Voters applauds Senator Dana Young for sponsoring a ban on the dangerous process of fracking for oil and gas (SB 442). Fracking poses too big a risk for the millions of Florida families and visitors who rely on our groundwater for safe, clean drinking water. We’re pleased to see that Senator Young’s bill addresses both hydraulic fracturing, which breaks rock formations to extract fossil fuels and acidizing, which dissolves them. We look forward to working with Sen. Young throughout the 2017 Legislative Session as we work to ban fracking in Florida once and for all.” – Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters

Gov. Scott this week called on state officials to repeal the state’s certificate of need program.

“Repealing certificate of need laws is long overdue. Floridians’ access to quality care has been hampered by this burdensome restriction that has remained in place due to special interests’ focus on profits over patient outcomes. Repealing CON laws will lead to lowering health care costs and expending access to the care our Floridians deserve.” – Chris Hudson, state director, Americans for Prosperity-Florida

The Florida House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee used its meeting this week to hold a panel discussion on workers’ compensation.

“Insurers appreciate the subcommittee panel discussion on the current state of the Florida workers’ compensation system. PCI and our members believe the current Florida workers’ compensation system provides essential benefits to injured workers in a timely, efficient and economically sound manner, and the wage-replacement benefit system balances the interests of employees and employers. We continue to support the 2003 Florida workers’ compensation reforms that were put in place to protect the interests of employees, as well as help control costs for business owners.

“Workers’ compensation insurers are dedicated to fostering a healthy market for workers’ compensation that accommodates employee and employer needs. If you allow frivolous lawsuits with high dispute resolution costs to disrupt the system, it can be detrimental to the stabilization of the marketplace. It’s important to continue to provide quality care benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost.

“We encourage lawmakers to work toward a solution that protects workers, while fostering a healthy Florida marketplace so the burden of workers’ compensation costs don’t fall on employers and employees.” – Logan McFaddin, regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed a bill to that would bring down the so-called liquor wall and repeal a Prohibition-era law.

“Today members of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee demonstrated their support for common sense, pro-business policies by passing Senate Bill 106, which repeals the Prohibition-era Alcohol Separation Law which requires distilled spirits to be sold separately from beer, wine and groceries. On behalf of Floridians for Fair Business Practices, we applaud their decision.

We commend bill sponsors Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores and Representative Bryan Avila for their diligent efforts to tear down barriers to business growth and expansion. This antiquated law does not demonstrate any benefits to Florida consumers and retailers, and its repeal would mirror society’s desire for convenience in a changing marketplace.  Our coalition is pleased to continue discussing the benefits of passing a repeal to the outdated law with additional committees as this bill is considered in the legislature.” – Richard Turner, general counsel and vice president of government relations of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, and a member of the Floridians for Fair Business Practices coalition.

Sen. Rob Bradley filed a bill to bond money backed with Amendment 1 dollars to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee, a top priority for Senate President Joe Negron.

“We thank Senator Bradley for recognizing that a water crisis anywhere in Florida is a water crisis and filing this important legislation. Coastal communities were under a state of emergency for 242 days in 2016 as a result of Lake Okeechobee discharges. The creation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan nearly two decades ago recognized the great need for a water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades Agricultural Area in order to reduce the harmful discharges to the estuaries and to preserve water for when it’s desperately needed during the dry seasons. … Senator Bradley’s filing of SB 10 today moves us closer to having this critical water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee that will be cost-matched by the federal government, and we applaud him for taking action to respond to Florida’s water crisis this legislative session.” – Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation.

“Senator Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) has shown true leadership for Florida’s coastal communities and the Everglades by filing Senate Bill 10 today. The tragedies facing Florida’s coastal estuaries in 2016 were devastating to local economies and the environment. Floridians are hungry for this type of bold action to save Florida’s Everglades. After hearing from experts about water storage solutions, Sen. Bradley’s actions show that a ‘wait and see’ approach for water storage south of Lake Okeechobee is not acceptable. Audubon looks forward to working with the Florida Senate and House of Representatives to pass SB10.” — Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida’s.

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