Gov. Rick Scott Archives - Page 3 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

‘Progress’ on getting marijuana in Special Session but ‘no deal’ yet

Legislative leaders working behind the scenes are getting closer to putting medical cannabis implementation into the call of this week’s Special Session.

For instance, one senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “some progress” had been made but there was “no deal” as of Monday afternoon.

When this week’s Wednesday-Friday Special Session was announced last Friday, it only included plans to fund education, tourism marketing and economic development.

That’s despite dozens of lawmakers, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who have said the Legislature needs to pass implementing legislation this year for the state’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana.

Lawmakers came to impasse on a bill during the regular session that ended in May. The biggest sticking point was a cap on the number of retail locations licensed growers could have in the state.

In a memo to House members Friday, Corcoran said the House has “communicated to the … Senate that this is an issue we believe must be addressed and that we are prepared to expand the call.” Senate spokeswoman Katie Betta did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, posted on Facebook he has filed the substance for a “comprehensive medical marijuana bill to the legislature’s drafting office … out of an abundance of caution.”

“I remain steadfastly committed to adopting a patient-focused medical marijuana law,” he wrote.

Florida for Care, the group advocating for implementing legislation, sent an email to supporters urging them to contact their legislators to “demand medical marijuana be added to the call for next week’s special session.”

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott said he would be “supportive” of the Legislature adding it to the call of the Special Session. Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam also has come out in support of addressing marijuana in a Special Session.

The amendment was passed in 2016 by just over 71 percent of statewide voters. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law.

Governor signs state budget — minus nearly $12 billion in line item vetoes

Gov. Rick Scott signed a nearly $83 billion state budget Friday, and released a list of line item vetoes amounting to nearly $12 billion.

The vetoes included individual projects worth $409 million — much of the rest represented Scott’s rejection of efforts to take money from dedicated trust funds.

As promised during a morning news conference, Scott vetoed $11.5 billion associated with the Florida Education Finance Program — money for the public schools.

“I am also vetoing General Revenue funds which I believe should be allocated to our sstudents in public schools,” Scott wrote.

“This action can be accomplished without changing the required local effort … previously authorized and agreed upon by the Florida Legislature in the budget,” he added.

In other words, Scott accepted the Legislature’s decision to lower property tax rates for public education, allowing homeowners to benefit by rising property values.

Earlier in the day, Scott and legislative leaders announced plans for a special session next week to add $215 in school spending, or about $100 per student, plus an economics incentives program.

Here’s Scott’s veto message; here’s his list of line item vetoes.

Rick Scott signs 33 bills into law

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday approved another 33 bills from the 2017 Legislative Session, according to an email from his office.

The official list with descriptions follows:

CS/CS/HB 39 Autism Awareness Training for Law Enforcement Officers – This bill requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to enhance Autism Spectrum Disorder training for law enforcement officers.
HB 65 Civil Remedies for Terrorism – This bill creates a civil cause of action for a person injured by an act of terrorism. 
CS/HB 105 Canvassing of Vote-by-Mail Ballots – This bill authorizes the use of a cure affidavit for a vote-by-mail ballot if a voter’s signature does not match the signature in the registration books or precinct registers. This bill also requires supervisors of elections to immediately notify an elector upon receipt of a vote-by-mail ballot with a missing or mismatched signature.
CS/HB 141 Craft Distilleries – This bill allows craft distilleries to sell up to six factory-sealed containers of each branded product in the distiller’s gift shop.
CS/CS/HB 169 Fictitious Name Registration – This bill requires those doing business in Florida under a name other than their legal name to register with the Division of Corporations of the Department of State.
CS/HB 181 Natural Hazards – This bill creates an interagency workgroup under the Florida Division of Emergency Management to share information, coordinate efforts of state agencies and collaborate on the impacts of natural hazards.
HB 207 Agency Inspectors General – This bill prohibits state inspector general contracts from including bonuses for work performance.
CS/CS/HB 209 Medical Faculty and Medical Assistant Certification – This bill expands medical faculty certificates to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
CS/HB 211 Cosmetic Product Registration – This bill reduces the regulatory burden on Florida’s cosmetic manufacturers by restructuring fees and eliminating registration requirements for cosmetic products.
CS/CS/HB 241 Alarm Systems – The bill streamlines permitting of low-voltage electric fences and allows alarm monitors to contact law enforcement directly in certain circumstances.
HB 243 Public Records – This bill provides an exemption from public records requirements for personal identifying and location information of certain investigative personnel of Office of Financial Regulation and their spouses and children.
CS/CS/HB 249 Drug Overdoses – This bill creates guidelines for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to report drug overdoses and requires hospital emergency departments to develop policies to promote the prevention of unintentional drug overdoses.
CS/CS/HB 293 Middle Grades – This bill requires an independent study of other states with high-performing middle school students.
HB 299 Central Florida Expressway Authority – This bill revises provisions governing the Central Florida Expressway Authority to include Brevard County as a member.
CS/HB 6501 Relief of J.D.S. – This bill directs the Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities to provide $950,000 in relief to J.D.S., a woman victimized while living in an Orange County group home.
CS/HB 6503 Relief of Sean McNamee, Todd McNamee and Jody McNamee by the School Board of Hillsborough County – This bill directs the School Board of Hillsborough County to provide $1.7 million in relief to Sean McNamee and his parents for a severe head injury sustained during football practice at Wharton High School.
CS/HB 6507 Relief of Angela Sanford by Leon County – This bill directs Leon County to provide $1.15 million in relief to Angela Sanford for injuries sustained in a car accident caused by collision with an ambulance.
CS/CS/HB 6511 Relief of L.T. – This bill directs the Florida Department of Children and Families to provide $800,000 in relief to L.T., a child formerly in the care of the Department.
CS/CS/HB 6515 Relief of Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling, Sr. – This bill directs Florida State University to provide $1.8 million in relief to Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling, Sr. for the wrongful death of their son, Devaughn Darling, during preseason football training.
CS/CS/HB 6519 Relief of Amie Draiemann O’Brien, Hailey Morgan Stephenson and Christian Darby Stephenson II – This bill directs the Florida Department of Transportation to provide a total of $1,116,940 in relief to the Estate of Christian Darby Stephenson, Amie Draiemann O’Brien, Hailey Morgan Stephenson, and Christian Darby Stephenson II for the wrongful death of Christian Darby Stephenson.
CS/HB 6521 Relief of Mary Mifflin-Gee by the City of Miami – This bill directs the City of Miami to provide $2.3 million in relief to Mary Mifflin-Gee for a brain injury sustained while in the care of Miami paramedics.
CS/CS/HB 6529 Relief of Lillian Beauchamp by the St. Lucie County School District – This bill directs the St. Lucie County School District to provide $1.5 million in relief to Lillian Beauchamp, for the wrongful death of her son, Aaron Beauchamp.
CS/HB 6539 Relief of Eddie Weekley and Charlotte Williams –This bill directs the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to provide $1 million in relief to Eddie Weekley and Charlotte Williams for the disappearance and wrongful death of their son, Franklin Weekley.
CS/HB 6545 Relief of Jerry Cunningham by Broward County – This bill directs Broward County to provide $550,000 in compensation relief to Jerry Cunningham for injuries sustained from a Broward County bus.
CS/HB 6549 Relief of Altavious Carter and Dustin Reinhardt by the Palm Beach County School Board – This bill directs the Palm Beach County School Board to provide $790,000 in relief to Altavious Carter for injuries sustained in a school bus accident and $4.7 million to Dustin Reinhardt for a head injury sustained in auto shop class at Seminole Ridge High School.
HB 7035 OGSR/Nonpublished Reports and Data/Department of Citrus – This bill removes the October 2, 2017 repeal date for public records exemption of any nonpublished reports or data related to research conducted and funded by the Department of Citrus.
HB 7077 Gulf Coast Economic Corridor –  This bill makes changes to the administration of the money recovered from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc.
HB 7079 Trust Funds – This bill creates the Triumph Gulf Coast Trust Fund within the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to administer money recovered from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc.
HB 7087 OGSR/Protective Injunctions for Certain Types of Violence – This bill continues the public record exemption for the identities and location information of victims of domestic or repeat violence requesting notice of service.
HB 7093 OGSR/Agency Personnel Information –This bill revises and reorders existing public records exemptions for specific classes of personnel to extend protections to their spouses and children and amends the requirements to qualify for the exemptions.
HB 7099 Corporate Income Tax – This bill updates the Florida corporate income tax with last year’s changes in the federal corporate income tax code.
HB 7113 OGSR/Donor or Prospective Donor/Publicly Owned Performing Arts Center – This bill continues the public records exemption for identifying information provided by a donor or a prospective donor to a publicly owned performing arts center if the donor or prospective donor wishes to remain anonymous.
HB 7115 Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys – This bill provides for the care, reinterment and memorialization of remains exhumed from the former Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, establishes a memorial at the Capitol Complex in Leon County and the former school in Jackson County and preserves the areas known as Boot Hill Cemetery and the White House.  

Richard Corcoran stresses that incentives package won’t benefit Enterprise Florida

The House released a summary Friday of the economic incentives package unveiled by Gov. Rick Scott and legislative leaders. First on the list — and written in red, boldfaced letters — is what the $85 million program will not be: “a part of Enterprise Florida.”

What the program will do: pay for public infrastructure and workforce training; prohibit funding for any single business; and allow “critical, rapid” infrastructure investments benefiting the broader public.

“The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund will create both physical infrastructure and job training, and put taxpayers in the driver’s seat,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran said in a written statement.

“All Floridians know that Gov. Scott and I are committed to jobs. His willingness to work with us on this new model for economic development demonstrates that commitment, and is greatly appreciated in the House. It’s truly a model for the rest of the nation wrestling with ending corporate welfare.”

Scott, Corcoran, and Senate President Joe Negron announced the initiative that morning, during a news conference in Miami. They agreed to call a special session next week to take up the legislation, and also to add money for public education and Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-promotion organ.

Corcoran led opposition to a Enterprise Florida and additional economic incentives programs during the regular session. Scott traveled the state denouncing Corcoran — and House members who voted with Corcoran — for insufficient fealty to jobs creation.

The speaker stressed in a press release that some incentives did not make the cut. They include tax breaks for TV and movie production and sports stadiums.

The initiative would require that any infrastructure projects be publicly owned, with any lease or sale of public property at fair market value.

Job training programs would be restricted to public colleges or technical centers providing “transferable, sustainable workforce skills, which may not be confined to the skills required by any single employer.”

Investments would target economic growth in specific regions of the state, rather than individual companies.

Corcoran underlined that Visit Florida would be subject to increased financial scrutiny, including annual audits.

“This special session will secure Florida’s place as the premier tourist destination in America, while ensuring that Visit Florida is completely open accountable and transparent to the taxpayer,” Corcoran said.

Rick Scott talks budget, jobs—but not medical marijuana

Gov. Rick Scott talked about education and tourism funding and job training in the upcoming Special Session but did not mention medical marijuana.

Scott spoke briefly with reporters outside an Enterprise Florida meeting in Tallahassee Friday, a few hours after he appeared with legislative leaders in Miami to announce a Special Session next Wednesday-Friday.

“I’ve been talking about this for about seven years now,” he said. “I kept talking about it, and we figured out a way to make sure it’s a win for Florida families … I think everybody wins here: The students win, everybody who wants a better paying job wins.”

Scott said he will veto later Friday the annual education funding bill with the expectation of lawmakers approving a $100-per-student increase in funding across the state.

He expects increased money for his favored agencies, Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA, which handle economic development and tourism marketing, respectively.

The governor did not mention the need to pass an implementing bill for the state’s constitutional amendment on medical marijuana, despite dozens of lawmakers who have said such guidance still needs to be done this year.

Earlier in the day, he did say he would be “supportive” of the Legislature adding it to the “call” of the Special Session.

It includes creation of a Florida Job Growth Grant Fund to provide $85 million for “public infrastructure and workforce training.”

“It’ll be for rural areas, urban areas,” Scott said. “It’ll (also) be for job training and that money will be spent at our state colleges, so it helps our state colleges.”

Scott also was asked about a contentious education bill (HB 7069) that he said he was still “reviewing” though he has not yet been formally sent the measure by the Legislature. The Florida Education Association has called it a “massive giveaway to charter schools” crafted largely behind closed doors.

He was asked about reports that his expected approval of the bill was part of the deal for next week’s Special Session.

“Well, the only person who would know would be me, right?” Scott said. “… I think it’s important we focus on the education system for all students in our state.”

Another $215 million for schools doesn’t go far enough, FEA complains

The Florida Education Association isn’t satisfied with Gov. Rick Scott’s and legislative leaders’ plan to pump another $100 per pupil into public education. The union also wants Scott to veto HB 7069, the Legislature’s big education package.

“The gaping flaws in HB 7069 haven’t changed with this suggested increase in funding,” FEA President Joanne McCall said in a written statement.

“It doesn’t even pay for the massive giveaway to charter schools included in the bill. The governor and the legislative leaders who cooked up these changes and called for a special session are not addressing the needs of the parents and students in this state,” she said.

Scott announced with House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron Friday that the Legislature would convene in special session between June 7 and June 9 to add $215 million in K-12 spending; establish an $85 million Florida Job Growth Fund to promote public infrastructure and individual job training; and boost Visit Florida spending to $76 million.

HB 7069 provides for $419 million in schools spending, including the House’s “Schools of Hope” initiative, steering money to charter schools that take pupils from consistently failing public schools.

“Unless the governor vetoes HB 7069, there isn’t enough money to offset the incredible damage that will hit our public schools,” McCall said.

“The 2.7 million students in our traditional public schools will pay the price so that operators of for-profit charters, that serve a small fraction of that number of students, can get a financial benefit.”

She called the bill a “sneaky” attempt at privatization.

“Parents and taxpayers want stronger traditional public schools, not a parallel school system that divvies up scarce tax dollars,” McCall said.

“This bill will not help our students, our teachers, our school employees or our public schools. It is a wrecking ball aimed directly at our traditional public schools. It is not what Floridians want for their children and their schools.”

Governor signs Grieving Families Act, plus four other bills, into law

Gov. Rick Scott signed five bills into law Wednesday, including legislation providing birth certificates in cases of miscarriage and punishing the desecration of graves.

Scott did not explain his reasons in his transmission letter to the secretary of state.

HB 101, the Grieving Families Act, would give parents the option of receiving a state-issued certificate if a pregnancy is lost between nine weeks and 20 weeks of gestation.

The measure cleared the Senate unanimously and the House over one dissenting vote.

It was worded to ensure it wouldn’t spark a partisan argument over whether the state was trying to define life.

A companion measure, HB 103, providing a public record exemption under the act, also won Scott’s signature.

HB 107 provides felony penalties against anyone willfully damages or removes graves or other final resting places of the dead. The new law exempts legitimate maintenance work or movement of graves and remains when legally authorized.

Scott also signed bills clarifying Florida’s impaired medical practitioner program and tidying up procedures at the Department of Transportation

Andrew Gillum talks policy, disses opponents during Tiger Bay appearance

Andrew Gillum endorsed taxpayer funded economic development programs Wednesday to help the state compete for good-paying jobs — but said the state is falling short on training its residents to perform those jobs.

“What I’m on board with is a diversified approach, including training incentive money for the training of workers. That piece is missing in today’s formula. It doesn’t exist under the current set-up of Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida,” the Tallahassee mayor said.

“I would probably incentivize that piece over any part of the economic development formula. If we don’t have the workforce ready to walk into the jobs, then it’s a fool’s errand to go out and wave tens of millions in front of companies to come here when they can’t find the workforce that they need.”

In remarks to reporters following a speech to the Tallahassee Tiger Bay Club, Gillum promoted “shop 2.0” — “our effort to equip high schoolers, but also folks who want to be retrained in the skills that they need to walk into the jobs that exist today.”

Addressing speculation Gov. Rick Scott might veto the state budget — which finally landed on his desk Wednesday — because of inadequate support for education, Gillum said: “I hope so.”

“I’m a believer in equity funding. Equity means that everybody doesn’t get the same thing — they get what they it is that they need within the public system.”

That includes encouraging good teachers to work in troubled schools and providing adequate social services, he said.

In his prepared remarks, Gillum lit into state and national Republican leaders for failing working families, ignoring climate change, and attacking the Affordable Care Act.

Along with Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have a “credibility problem,” Gillum said

“You can’t say that you care about addressing these issues and then you spend your time making it worse, when they don’t show up in your budget priorities.”

Scott claims to be “the jobs governor.”

“But the truth is, in this economy, too many of us need two or three jobs in order to make those ends meet,” Gillum said

Of Corcoran, a possible GOP candidate for governor, Gillum said: “He’s talked about ending corporate giveaways, even while running the least transparent budget process that we’ve seen in decades in order to pass massive tax cuts for corporations.”

Putnam, a declared candidate in the Republican primary, is “a nice fellow” but, while in Congress, “voted for unfunded corporate tax cuts and risky deregulation on Wall Street, where bankers got rich while the rest of us get stuck with the Great Recession, diminishing paychecks, and a massive housing crisis,” Gillum said.

“I’m not buying this and — I submit to you — neither are Florida voters anymore,” he said.

“We’ve had enough with slogans and shell games, enough with struggling to get ahead, enough with shrinking from our state’s challenges.”

While talking to reporters, Gillum appeared unfazed by a raft of environmentalist endorsements Democratic competitor Gwen Graham picked up this week.

“Gwen Graham is going to be held accountable to her record,” he said. “I disagree with the Keystone Pipeline. She voted for it.”

On climate change, Gillum proposed convening a “panel of experts — professionals who understand what it means to have this existential threat to the state’s economy coming directly at us. We’ve not done any of that.”

Under Scott, “we are now dealing with flooded streets” yet “he has not announced the first effort, the first initiative, to deal with that.”

House releases document listing state budget line items by county

The House released a county-by-county list of budget line items Tuesday, ranging from a $26.8 million loan for a highway project in Alachua County to $64,820 in adult education money in Washington County.

Speaker Richard Corcoran’s office dropped the list without comment, but it followed by four days Florida TaxWatch’s annual list of budgetary “turkeys” — line items included without sufficient public scrutiny or ranking low on the state’s priority lists.

TaxWatch asked Gov. Rick Scott to veto projects totalling $178 million.

“This report was produced prior to the veto process,” the House document notes.

The list includes transportation projects valued at $1 million or more, library, cultural, and historical preservation items, plus beach management projects. It does not include public school money divided among the counties by the state education bureaucracy.

The document contains a second list of projects divided between multiple counties.

Legislature failed transparency test this year, TaxWatch chief Dominic Calabro says

Of the missteps the Legislature committed this year, the most egregious was a failure to live up to its promises that the budget process would be more open and transparent than ever before, according to Florida TaxWatch chief Dominic Calabro.

In an interview tied to TaxWatch’s release of its annual list of budgetary “turkeys,” Calabro praised House Speaker Richard Corcoran especially for subjecting member projects to unprecedented scrutiny.

Where Corcoran fell down, Calabro said, was in failing to collaborate with the Senate leadership under President Joe Negron from the beginning.

“He just threw it out there — we’re going to do this,” Calabro said. “The process requires consensus from both sides at some point.”

The result was an “I win, you lose” atmosphere. “That’s not a way to run the ship of state. The voters really don’t want that. We want the Sunshine State to be the best it can be. That requires principled compromise.”

Still, Calabro sees an opening to improve the process.

“We could learn a lot from this year’s missteps, and have a process that could go on for decades,” he said.

“The next step is to do this in a more collegial, bicameral manner. Because that’s what we have — a bicameral Legislature. The House would be better off. The Senate would be better off. The people of Florida would be better off.”

TaxWatch has identified 111 budgetary turkeys, suggesting around $177.8 million in savings, for the fiscal year that begins on July 1.

TaxWatch, an independent government watchdog organization, has issued its budgetary Turkey List nearly every year since 1983 — although very occasionally the organization found no line items worthy of the approbation, Calabro said.

Governors have tended to follow TaxWatch recommendations in issuing line-item vetoes around 70 percent of the time, Calabro said. Over the years, they have totaled more $3 billion.

Turkeys tend to fall into three major categories. “The first is the old, traditional, flat-out (item) found nowhere in conference — it came out of nowhere,” Calabro said. Next are projects that violate established priorities for state spending. Finally, there’s parochial spending “on local fairs, local nonprofits, things of that nature.”

“There’s probably $500 million to $700 million worth of member projects (each year). One could say well, that’s out of an $83 billion budget. But that’s a pretty high percentage of all the new money we had to spend,” Calabro said.

“That’s money that’s not going to go to great teachers or great principals to get great student outcomes. That’s not going into our universities for world-class education. Obviously, it’s not going into maintaining 115 million tourists a year, who are key to Florida’s economic growth. It’s not going to help us close some big jobs with Enterprise Florida. It’s parochial projects taking priority over the state’s core missions and responsibilities.”

Corcoran opened the session with promises of a vastly more transparent budget process. Members had to file detailed requests for project money, and each required a discrete enacting bill.

By the end of Session, however, Corcoran and Negron huddled behind closed doors to settle major budget disputes, many of them rounded up into massive, must-pass conforming legislation that might or might not have been debated in one chamber of the other.

“It was almost too hard for them to adjust,” Calabro said. Those member requests amounted to nearly $3 billion, he said. “One would think it’s going to be transparent. But it’s so huge, it’s going to fall under its own weight.”

Moreover, the House was forced to compromise on the process with the Senate, which declined to be bound by House procedure.

“They made some good strides. But in the final analysis, by having so many numbers and major dollar amounts kicked upstairs, it gave the strong impression that it was not transparent — it was far less open than prior years.”

Calabro gives Corcoran credit for attempting to get control of the process.

“You want the government to be responsive. You want the Legislature to appropriate money where it needs to be,” he said.

“Instead, all too often, they get caught up in petty parochialism. And that’s what the turkey process for member projects is all about — parochialism that prevents the state from investing in really critical activities.”

Calabro partly blames term limits, which encourage lawmakers “to get all you can while you can.”

“This is supposed to be about good stewardship in lawmaking. Appropriating with a clear public purpose, and clear, accountable benefits to the people of Florida.”

TaxWatch isn’t asking Gov. Rick Scott to veto the entire budget — which would require the Legislature to rewrite it before the new fiscal year opens on July 1.

“There’s a lot of wonderful things that have been done in this budget,” he said — mentioning the Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration plan and Schools of Hope funding for charter schools.

“Do they measure up against the high expectations and standards that were set at the beginning of the Legislative Session? No,” he said.

“It was also the manner in which it played out. It was very confrontational — I think, probably, more confrontational than necessary.”

He cited “the strident language about corporate welfare. The House has been supporting Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida for a long time, and just now did a 180-degree turn.”

Corcoran was right to call out those programs for “some terrible spending practices and a few questionable ones. “The beauty of it was, they got fixed. The governor took corrective action, got spending under control,” ousted the leadership, and clarified that the organizations are subject to the open records laws, Calabro said.

“Every year, items get kicked up to the speaker and president. It was the volume and size — the number of items and the sheer dollar amount that was unusually high. When that happens, that minimizes your representative form of democracy. Because your House members and senators have little or no say. Out of 160 lawmakers, only two make the decisions.”

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