Gov. Rick Scott Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Rick Scott reappoints picks to State University System Board of Governors

Gov. Rick Scott Thursday announced the reappointment of Syd Kitson and Darlene Jordan to the Board of Governors of the State University System.

The move comes after the Florida Senate, which must confirm Scott’s appointments, failed to do so during this year’s Legislative Session.

Kitson, 58, CEO of Kitson & Partners, “had a notable career in the National Football League, playing offensive guard for both the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys,” Scott’s statement said.

Kitson’s term begins June 22 and ends Jan. 6, 2024.

Jordan, 50, the executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, also is a member of the Fordham University Board of Trustees, the Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, the Oxbridge Academy Board of Trustees, the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, and the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

She was previously an assistant attorney general and an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts. Jordan’s term also begins June 22 and ends Jan. 6, 2024.

Scott also appointed Alan Levine, 49, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance and formerly Secretary of Health for Louisiana and Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

His term runs concurrent with Kitson and Jordan.

The Board of Governors is a 17-member board that serves as the governing body for the State University System of Florida, which includes all public universities in the state of Florida.

Rick Scott gets more time to respond to judicial appointments lawsuit

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday granted Gov. Rick Scott‘s request for 14 extra days to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term.

Scott general counsel Daniel Nordby filed the request Wednesday, asking to move the deadline to July 19.

“Multiple extensions of time for the same filing are discouraged,” the court’s order says. “Absent extenuating circumstances, subsequent requests may be denied. All other times are extended accordingly.”

Nordby’s reasons for extension included the need for legal briefings on bills still on the governor’s desk (68 as of Thursday morning), and “official duties associated with Section and Committee meetings at the 2017 Annual Bar Convention,” meeting in Boca Raton this week.

Scott, a Naples Republican, has said he plans to name the replacements for the court’s liberal-leaning trio of Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince.

They face mandatory retirement on the same day—Jan. 8, 2019—that is Scott’s last in office as governor.

The lawsuit by The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause says Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight.

They seek a “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

Rick Scott signs 13 more bills into law

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday evening announced he had signed another 13 bills from the 2017 Legislative Session into law.

Those bills include SB 118, which Scott’s office said would “prevent businesses that publish arrest photos from charging a fee to remove them if requested.”

The measure was aimed at the growing number of websites that showcase booking mugshots and charge people who ask for their photos to be taken down.

But the bill also includes a section on the “administrative sealing of criminal history records” that open government advocates fear could result in the shutting off of booking information of people whose charges are later dismissed.

The First Amendment Foundation had asked Scott to veto the bill, saying it would “create a process by which millions of criminal history records will be automatically sealed,” posing “a significant threat to the public safety.”

“A person could be charged and tried one or more times for a lewd and lascivious act on a child, for example, and if acquitted or found not guilty, that person would not show up on (a) criminal background check,” wrote Barbara Petersen, the foundation’s president. “If that person then applies for a position with a school or day care center, there would be no mention of the charges.”

Scott, however, said that part of the measure “will not take effect” because it depended on passage of a linked bill, SB 450, to become law. That bill, which died in the Rules Committee, would have exempted “personal identifying information of an adult who participates in a civil citation or prearrest diversion program … from public inspection and copying.”

Scott also approved SB 90, the implementing bill for a constitutional amendment passed by voters in August 2016 that exempts solar and renewable energy devices from property taxes.

“The bill removes burdensome taxes on solar installations by exempting 80 percent of their value from the tangible personal property tax,” according to a Friday evening press release from Floridians for Solar Choice. “It also exempts 80 percent of the value of a solar installation from the assessment of real property taxes for commercial properties.”

“Reducing taxes is smart energy policy, and I’m proud to see Gov. Scott sign this important legislation into law,” said Tory Perfetti, chair of Floridians for Solar Choice and Florida director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom.

“This effort has been supported by a historic coalition and unanimous legislative support, along with a resounding public vote,” Perfetti added. “The Sunshine State has spoken, and they said: We want the freedom to choose solar.”

The other bills are listed below, with descriptions provided by the Governor’s Office: 

SB 474 Hospice Care – This bill directs the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and the Agency for Health Care Administration to adopt national hospice outcome measures.
SB 494 Compensation of Victims of Wrongful Incarceration – This bill expands the eligibility requirements of the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act.
SB 724 Estates – This bill revises provisions relating to the elective share of an estate.
SB 1520 Termination of a Condominium Association – This bill revises requirements for the termination of a condominium association.
SB 1694 Support for Parental Victims of Child Domestic Violence – This bill allows the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to coordinate with organizations to enhance resources available to parents who are victims of domestic violence.
SB 1726 Industrial Hemp Pilot Projects – This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to oversee the University of Florida and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in developing industrial hemp pilot projects.
SB 2504 Collective Bargaining – This bill resolves collective bargaining issues.
SB 2506 Clerks of the Court – This bill makes changes to the clerks of court budget process to ensure adequate funding.
SB 2508 Division of State Group Insurance – This bill allows for an audit of dependent eligibility for the state group insurance program and revises pharmacy benefits.
SB 2510 Public Records/ Dependent Eligibility Verification Services – This bill creates a public records exemption for information collected when determining a dependent’s eligibility for the state group insurance program.
SB 2514 Health Care – This bill conforms health care statutes to the funding policies used in the General Appropriations Act.  

Rick Scott orders flags at half-staff for officer from Pinellas

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday ordered flags at half-staff to honor Pinellas County’s Joshua Albert Sanchez Montaad, an Agricultural Law Enforcement Officer who died in a wreck while on duty.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Montaad—a 25-year-old from Safety Harbor—was killed in a single car crash this Tuesday on U.S. 19 in Taylor County.

“His patrol car left the roadway and struck a tree during a period of heavy rain,” the site said. His “vehicle caught fire and became engulfed in flames.” Montaad was pronounced dead at the scene.

Scott ordered the U.S. and state flags at half-staff at the county courthouse in Safety Harbor, at Station 2 of the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement in Rock Bluff, and at Safety Harbor City Hall from sunrise to sunset this Saturday.

“Ann and I are saddened to hear of the tragic death of Officer Montaad and our hearts go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” Scott said in a statement.

“Choosing to serve our state as a law enforcement officer is a heroic and selfless decision, and Joshua will be remembered for his courageous service and commitment to protecting our families and communities,” he said. “We are thankful for the brave law enforcement officers that work each day to keep our state safe and we will continue to pray for their safety.”

Rick Scott asked to respond to judicial appointments lawsuit

The Florida Supreme Court has asked Gov. Rick Scott to respond to a lawsuit claiming he doesn’t have authority to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term.

The court on Friday gave Scott till July 5 to file a response, with the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause having a July 17 deadline to reply to Scott’s filing.

The organizations this week filed a petition for “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

Scott, a Naples Republican, has said he plans to name the replacements for the court’s liberal-leaning trio of Justices R. Fred LewisBarbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince.

They face mandatory retirement on the same day—Jan. 8, 2019—that is Scott’s last in office as governor. He’s term limited next year.

The filing says Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight.

The Supreme Court, in a 2006 advisory opinion, said appellate vacancies may be filled by a governor only “upon the expiration of the term of the judge or justice.”

Advisory opinions, however, “do not constitute binding precedent, though they can be persuasive,” wrote former Justice Gerald Kogan and court spokesman Craig Waters in a 1994 law review article. “They are authorized by the (state) constitution to deal with situations in which the Court’s opinion on an abstract question can advance public interests.”

A Scott spokesman previously declined comment on the suit.

“A prompt, final decision on this pure question of constitutional law … would preempt cynical complaints by anyone dissatisfied with the decision that the case was contaminated by political considerations,” the petition says.

The petitioners also include LWVF President Pamela Goodman, former LWVF president Deirdre Macnab, and Liza McClenaghan, the state chair of Common Cause Florida.

They’re represented by Tallahassee attorneys John S. Mills and Thomas D. Hall, a former Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court.

Personnel note: Karl Rasmussen leaving Governor’s Office

Karl Rasmussen, Gov. Rick Scott‘s deputy chief of staff, is departing the Governor’s Office for a lobbying job at the Meenan Law Firm, name partner Tim Meenan confirmed Friday.

“Watching him from afar, I noticed he is one of the stars in the Capitol,” Meenan said in a phone interview. “He’s quiet, diligent and effective—the first thing you notice about him is his calm demeanor.”

Rasmussen (Source: LinkedIn)

Rasmussen, a deputy chief of staff since late 2014, will focus his lobbying efforts in some of the same subject areas he now covers for the governor, including environment and health care, Meenan said.

Rasmussen was previously the Director of Cabinet Affairs for Scott, according to his resume. Before that, he served as Assistant Director of State Lands, Director of Cabinet Affairs and Cabinet Affairs Liaison at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

He’ll be subject to the state’s 2-year lobbying ban on former employees, Meenan said, meaning Rasmussen can’t immediately lobby former colleagues at the Executive Office of the Governor.

“What clients look for are effective solutions to their problems,” Meenan said. “I think Karl bolsters our ability to really reach into a large number of state agencies and the Legislature.”

He begins as a government consultant for the firm on June 28.

Don’t estoppel believing: Now it’s a law

After years of unsuccessfully fighting its way through the Legislature, the estoppel bill is now law.

Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday signed the measure (SB 398), which overhauls the legal process of estoppel letters. It goes into effect July 1.

“We are grateful for this compromise that will benefit Florida homeowners, associations, and taxpayers,” said Mark Anderson, Executive Director for Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies (CEOMC). “The Florida House, Senate, and Gov. Scott deserve credit for finally getting this across the finish line.”

Estoppel letters, or estoppel certificates, are an obscure part of some real estate closings.

They’re legal documents sent by a homeowners association, detailing any amount owed to the association. Usually, that’s unpaid fines or association fees left by owners who defaulted on their mortgage.

Title agents and Realtors have wanted to shift the cost of preparing such letters from themselves back to the associations. Anderson has said preparing estoppel letters takes time and research, costing anywhere from $15 to $400.

Former state Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami-Dade Democrat, disputed that story when she was in the Legislature, saying all homeowners associations “do is punch a button on a computer … It’s been a ripoff for a while.”

Among other things, the measure allows an association “to charge a maximum fee of $250 for the preparation and delivery of an estoppel certificate, if there are no delinquent amounts owed to the association (and) an additional maximum fee of $150, if there is a delinquent amount owed to the association,” the bill analysis says.

PR man and communications savant Kevin Cate, in an effort to get people to pay attention to the issue, once rebranded it as “smashing the Home Tax.”

Rick Scott to sign controversial education policy bill

Gov. Rick Scott will sign a contentious education policy bill that critics fear will hurt traditional public schools in favor of privately-managed charter schools.

The Governor’s Office on Thursday morning announced he will approve “a major education bill” at Morning Star Catholic School in Orlando, “which serves many children who receive the Gardiner Scholarship,” one of the programs affected by the legislation.

The bill signing is slated for 3:45 p.m., a press release said. It did not mention the bill by name or number, however, though the Governor’s daily schedule does list it as “HB 7069 Signing And Budget Highlight Event.”

The bill’s approval is widely believed to be in return for House Speaker Richard Corcoran‘s support of Scott’s priorities, including full funding of Visit Florida and money for an economic development fund, passed in the recent Special Session.

But it’s been met with vigorous opposition from Democratic lawmakers, newspaper editorial boards and public schools advocates, including the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union.

Among other things, the bill (HB 7069) steers more money to charter schools through a “Schools of Hope” initiative, requires recess in elementary schools, and tinkers with the state’s oft-criticized standardized testing system.

The legislation—a top priority for Corcoranbarely edged out of the Florida Senate on a 20-18 vote where some Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure.

The Senate vote came after intense debate in which opponents contended the legislation was a give-away to charter schools—public schools run by private organizations and sometimes managed by for-profit companies.

Corcoran has said that the changes are even more dramatic than the A+ plan put in place by former Gov. Jeb Bush nearly two decades ago. It created the state’s first voucher program and created the state’s current school grading system.

“It is the greatest public school bill in the history of Florida,” Corcoran said after the bill was sent to Scott.

The nearly 300-page bill includes a long list of education changes that legislators had been considering. But the final bill was negotiated largely out of public view. Some of the final changes drew the ire of the state’s teacher unions, parent groups as well as superintendents of some of Florida’s largest school districts.

Included in the bill is a requirement that elementary schools must set aside 20 minutes each day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade for “free-play recess,” although at the last minute charter schools were exempted from the mandate. The bill includes more than $200 million for teacher and principal bonuses.

Bowing to criticism about Florida’s testing regimen, the measure eliminates the Algebra 2 end-of-course exam and pushes back the date in the school year when students must take Florida’s main standardized test.

Another major part of the bill creates the “Schools of Hope” program that would offer financial incentives to charter school operators who would agree to take students who now attending chronically failing schools, many of them in poor areas and urban neighborhoods. Additionally, up to 25 failing public schools may receive up to $2,000 per student for additional student services.

It extends the Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, expands eligibility for the Gardiner Scholarship Program for disabled students, and requires 20 minutes of recess each day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The bill also requires school districts share capital project tax revenue with charter schools, which Corcoran argued is one of the reasons why some school district officials have come out in opposition to the bill.

Background from The Associated Press was used in this post.

Progressive groups sue over Rick Scott’s judicial appointment power

When Gov. Rick Scott appointed a conservative jurist to the state’s Supreme Court in December, he made clear he wasn’t done.

“I will appoint three more justices the morning I finish my term,” he said, referring to the mandatory retirement in early 2019 of the court’s liberal-leaning triumvirate of Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy A. Quince and R. Fred Lewis.

Now, two progressive organizations are saying to Scott: Prove you can. They say he can’t.

The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause on Wednesday sued Scott in the Supreme Court, saying he doesn’t have the power to name their successors—only the governor elected after Scott does. They filed a petition for “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

The upshot of their argument is that Scott can’t replace the justices in question because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight.

“The Florida Constitution prohibits a governor from making a prospective appointment of an appellate judge to an existing seat before that seat becomes vacant,” the writ argues.

It adds: “A prompt, final decision on this pure question of constitutional law … would preempt cynical complaints by anyone dissatisfied with the decision that the case was contaminated by political considerations.”

“Our office has not officially received the suit,” said Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis, declining comment.

Scott’s addition of former appellate judge C. Alan Lawson to the bench created a three-judge conservative minority, including Justices Ricky Polston and Charles Canady, whose name was on a list of then-GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s “potential Supreme Court picks.”

Assuming the Republican Scott appoints three more conservatives in 2019, the seven-justice court could tilt 6-1 to the right, with current Chief Justice Jorge Labarga remaining. His mandatory retirement is in 2023.

“The Florida Constitution establishes a mandatory retirement age for justices that occurs on or after their 70th birthdays,” the court’s website explains.

Three more conservative judges may well be appointed anyway, even if left to the next governor: Florida hasn’t chosen a Democrat for the Governor’s Mansion since Lawton Chiles was re-elected in 1994.

The lawsuit, however, sticks to a “constitutional question that has plagued this State for decades: When a judicial seat opens on a Florida appellate court due to an expired term coinciding with the election of a new governor, whom does our Constitution authorize to appoint the successor, the outgoing governor or the newly elected governor?”

In December 1998, days before Chiles died in office, he and then Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, a Republican, avoided a crisis by jointly appointing Quince to the court to replace Ben F. Overton.

In 2014, lawmakers placed a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, backed by Republican state Sen. Tom Lee, that would have given Scott the power to name the new justices. But it failed to gain the required 60 percent approval.

“There may be many reasons voters rejected the amendment, there can be no doubt one reason was that a newly-elected governor is not only more accountable, but also better represents the will of the people who just voted than someone elected four years ago,” the writ says.

Ultimately, Scott “lacks authority because the expiring judicial terms run through the last second of the evening of January 8, 2019, by which time his successor will have begun his or her term or, alternatively, if the vacancies occurred earlier in the day, his successor’s term still will have already begun by that time,” it says.

“… (I)f any ambiguity existed in our constitutional scheme, it should be resolved in favor of allowing the incoming governor, who best represents the will of the people, to fill judicial vacancies arising the same day he or she is set to take office.”

The plaintiffs also include LWVF President Pamela Goodman, former LWVF president Deirdre Macnab, and Liza McClenaghan, the state chair of Common Cause Florida. They’re represented by Tallahassee attorneys John S. Mills and Thomas D. Hall, a former Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court.

Rick Scott: No hard feelings between him and Richard Corcoran

Chalk it up to “passion.” Or politics.

Gov. Rick Scott, speaking to reporters after a Wednesday bill signing, explained away the open tension between him and House Speaker Richard Corcoran after the House this year tried to gut VISIT FLORIDA and do away with economic development organization Enterprise Florida, his two favored state agencies.

By the end of the recent Special Session, however, lawmakers agreed to the creation of an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to be controlled by Scott, full funding for tourism marketing, and $50 million to help kick-start repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee.

That deal is said to be in return for Scott’s approval of a controversial education funding policy bill (HB 7069), pushed by the House, that critics say slights traditional public schools in favor of privately-managed charter schools. Scott says he’s still “reviewing” that bill.

“What’s great is that people have passion for what they believe in,” he said. “I know the Speaker has passion for what he believes in; I have passion for what I believe in. Both of us went out there and tried to explain to others (our positions) … but we came together for what is a win for our state.”

Scott in fact went to the districts of House members who supported Corcoran’s plan to defund the agencies and more or less publicly shamed them.

Cut to this week, when Corcoran joined Scott on a “victory tour” to several cities to “celebrate the major wins for Florida families and students during (the) legislative Special Session.”

“I’m proud of the fact we’re able to fully fund VISIT FLORIDA; I’m proud of the fact we have this new development tool, $85 million that’s going to work to get more jobs here; I’m proud that we’re going to partner with the (Donald) Trump administration to help finish the dike,” he said.

Scott was at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to sign a bill (SB 7022) “which provides pay raises for Florida’s sworn state law enforcement officers, correctional officers and state employees,” according to a press release.

“… I’m glad the Speaker believed in all those things and we went to five cities to celebrate that success,” Scott added.

As far as any fight next year for business incentives, which Corcoran calls “corporate welfare,” Scott said he’ll decide then—his last year in office. He’s term limited in 2018.

Till then, “I’m going to keep working hard to get more jobs … I’ll use the tools that we have to call on companies … and I think it’s going to work,” he said.

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