Richard Corcoran Archives - Page 2 of 31 - SaintPetersBlog

House to Enterprise Florida: Drop dead

The Enterprise Florida economic development organization and a multitude of business incentives would be eradicated under legislation passed by the Florida House Friday.

The bill (HB 7005) passed on an 87-28 vote, with some members voting against their respective parties’ position.

The measure was pushed by Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has derided Enterprise Florida as a dispenser of “corporate welfare.”

But the legislation goes to a Senate that largely backs incentives and wants to keep the organization that, though a public-private partnership, doles out mostly public dollars.

Gov. Rick Scott supports it, saying it helps bring companies and their jobs to the state. The House earlier Friday also voted to overhaul VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s tourism marketing agency.

“Today, politicians in the Florida House passed job-killing legislation,” the governor said in a statement. “We can all agree that VISIT FLORIDA and EFI need to be absolutely accountable and transparent, and both agencies have already taken major steps and implemented reforms to ensure their operations meet our high expectations.

“However, today’s actions by the House curb the mission of VISIT FLORIDA and bury it in more government bureaucracy – along with decimating Florida’s economic toolkit and the very programs which are directly tied to the creation of thousands of jobs for Florida families,” he added.

“Many politicians who voted for these bills say they are for jobs and tourism. But, I want to be very clear: A vote for these bills was a vote to kill tourism and jobs in Florida. I will continue to fight for Florida jobs and never stop standing up for the families and businesses whose livelihood depend on a strong and growing economy,” Scott said.

Jay Fant, a Jacksonville Republican, delivered an impassioned defense of the organization: “I don’t want it to end, I want to keep it going … I want to keep the governor on his plane recruiting companies to this state.”

He added: “Killing this program will hurt people. I will not be a part of this … I want to preserve something that does so much good for our communities.”

But Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat, said the data on the organization’s effectiveness “is not kind,” in fact showing it an “abject failure,” and eliminating it “is not going to kill jobs.”

Legislative chief economist Amy Baker has told lawmakers that state incentive programs are more often losers than winners, with only a few incentives making money for state coffers.

In particular, Orlando Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith derided the Quick Action Closing (QAC) Fund as Scott’s “slush fund.” He can draw up to $2 million from it without legislative approval to entice businesses to the state.

Though the state’s “return on investment” from QAC projects was $1.10 per dollar four years ago, it’s now down to 60 cents per dollar, Baker said last month.

Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican, homebuilder, and chair of the state’s Republican Party, told the chamber how he moved from New York to Florida in 1996 with $1,600 in his pocket.

“I moved for one word: ‘Opportunity,’ not ‘subsidy,’ ” he said.

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Report: Richard Corcoran urges Democratic support of Enterprise Florida bill

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is asking for Democrats support to legislation that would abolish Enterprise Florida, saying if Democrats join the House will be able to override Gov. Rick Scott’s expected veto of the bill.

POLITICO Florida reported that Corcoran asked Democrats for their help to “get a veto-proof majority” during a House Democrats dinner.

The dinner came on the eve of the bill (HB 7005) first hearing by the full House. The House is also expected to discuss a bill (HB 9) today that would tighten restrictions on Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, when it goes into session later today.

There are 41 Democrats in the House, and 79 Republicans. In the Senate, 25 of the 40 members of Republicans. POLITICO Florida writes Corcoran told House Democrats it was time for the Senate, which has stayed out of the fight, to “pony up and say ‘are you going to clean up these agencies.’”

POLITICO also reported Corcoran told Democrats he wants “to vote their conscience.”

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Film Florida gives up the fight for incentives this year

The president of Film Florida, the state’s nonprofit “entertainment production association,” says her group is taking a “step back” from fighting for film and TV show incentives this year.

“For the first time since 2004, Florida does not have a statewide program to entice film, television and digital media projects and companies to our state,” wrote Film Florida President Kelly Paige in a Tuesday email to supporters.

As part of a plan to get rid of business incentives deemed “corporate welfare” by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, legislation would “close the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment (the State Film Office)” and “also end the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption program,” Paige said.

Her group “will continue meeting with and educating legislators so they understand the importance of our industry to Florida’s jobs and tourism economies,” she added.

But “with the philosophical conflict in Tallahassee, we do not believe the time is right for Film Florida to pursue a new program.”

In 2010, lawmakers set aside nearly $300 million for incentives to bring movies and television projects to Florida. That money ran dry soon afterward.

The problem, critics said, was that money was doled out on a “first come, first served” basis. That resulted in available funds being gone within the first year of the program.

The film incentives took the form of tax credits granted a production after it wrapped in the state and underwent a thorough audit, including being able to show it provided jobs for Floridians.

When “the timing is right,” Paige said, the nonprofit has “an innovative plan that will put Floridians to work at home, generate new revenues, increase tourism, and continue the state’s investment in students that earn film or digital media degrees from Florida’s world-renowned colleges, universities and technical schools.”

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Scratched: Judge sides with Richard Corcoran, tosses out Lottery’s $700M contract

A Tallahassee judge has invalidated the Florida Lottery’s $700 million contract for new equipment, essentially agreeing with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the deal last year.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers issued her 15-page order late Tuesday afternoon. She presided over a nonjury trial in the case Monday.

The multiple-year contract involved new equipment for draw and scratch-off tickets. The Lottery is booming — it sold more than $6.2 billion in tickets last year, records show.

“The Florida Lottery continues to make record contributions to our public schools and today’s ruling jeopardizes billions of dollars for Florida students,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “I strongly disagree with today’s decision and we will appeal.”

Corcoran, in a statement joined by House Rules Committee Chairman Jose Oliva and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chris Sprowls, called the decision “a victory for the taxpayer and the rule of law.”

“It reinforces the idea that respecting the separation of powers is not an arcane idea or an out-of-date philosophy,” they said. “In truth it is one of the bedrock principles of our republican government and is essential to protecting the liberties and livelihoods of Floridians.

“No branch of government is above the law and the people’s House will use every power within our means – from the committee room to the courtroom – to ensure those liberties and livelihoods are protected.”

Gievers agreed with House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, who had said the deal broke state law by going “beyond (the Lottery’s) existing budget limitations.”

Because Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT (International Game Technology) contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.

She faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.

A message seeking comment was left for a spokeswoman for Las Vegas-based IGT. Corcoran’s spokesman said a response was coming later Tuesday evening.

The new deal provides much more than equipment, with provisions for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.

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Jose Oliva talks doughnuts and incentives after Rick Scott speech

House Republican leaders defended their assault on Gov. Rick Scott‘s economic development and incentive plans, saying success in business shouldn’t depend on a government handout.

Oliva

Speaker Richard Corcoran and state Rep. Jose Oliva, slated to be speaker in 2018-20, spoke with reporters Tuesday after Scott’s State of the State address before a joint session of the House and Senate.

Florida, like other states, incentivizes businesses to move or expand here through a variety of tax breaks and public-paid subsidies. Scott, a proponent, says spending public dollars on private companies is worth it for the jobs he says they create.

“I will admit it is probably more difficult for people who have never gone hungry, or gone through foreclosure, or seen their family car repossessed, to understand this,” Scott said in his speech.

“If you have never lived through these experiences, it may be harder to understand the urgency,” Scott added. “I am fighting for our state’s job programs because I am fighting for families just like mine growing up.”

Oliva, a cigar company executive, said Scott underestimated House members’ experience.

“Very many of us in that chamber know what it’s like to be poor,” said Oliva, who remains as CEO of Oliva Cigar Co. after selling the company last year to a European concern. “We know what it’s like to have a car repossessed, to have the power cut in your house.

“We also know what it’s like to start a business,” he added. “I don’t know that when I was building my business I would have liked some of my tax dollars to go to help a competitor.”

Scott, who didn’t mention it specifically in his Tuesday speech, often has spoken of a doughnut shop he ran in the 1970s.

“Imagine if the governor, while he had that same doughnut shop, had his tax dollars go to Dunkin’ Donuts so they could come across the street and compete against him?” Oliva said.

Corcoran suggested that Scott doesn’t get the “optimism” of his legislative program.

“We’re saying what makes our country different is when anybody can engage in spirited, civil debate,” he said. “… Yeah, there’s passion and back-and-forth and sometimes quotes you want to take back. At the end of the day, … good things happen.”

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Richard Corcoran: Florida House will ‘govern as we campaigned’

In prepared remarks for his speech Tuesday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran again threw down the gauntlet to Senate leadership and the Governor’s office, offering an unapologetic defense of the House’s approach to state government under his watch.

That said, Corcoran asserts that the House is willing to negotiate, to “come to the table, sit down and work together to ensure real reform and genuine accountability.”

“We don’t believe the House has a monopoly on good ideas.  We’re willing to listen, we’re willing to talk, and we’re willing to enter into good compromise,” Corcoran asserted.

Corcoran said his vision for the Florida House is a pure one: “To govern as we campaigned,” despite the “outrage, vehement opposition and personal attacks” that have resulted from political rivals.

“And so be it. Because everything we have done so far — we have done to keep faith with the voters who sent us here,” Corcoran said.

Among the accomplishments, Corcoran cited: “the toughest ethics and transparency rules of any chamber of any legislature in the United States” and “an end to the shadowy pork barrel budgets that wasted millions in taxpayer money.”

In his prepared remarks, Corcoran also alluded to the House’s focus on Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, two priority incentive projects of Gov. Rick Scott.

“We questioned an agency’s spending and exposed its failures and abuses,” Corcoran said. “We forced another agency into the sunshine, sued a rapper and won, only to reveal even more wasteful spending.”

Of course, there’s more to government in Florida than suing Pitbull.

Corcoran’s remarks also focused on the House’s new insistence that universities, economic development agencies, and tourist development commissions have transparent budgeting, and that state agencies “demonstrate they are obtaining value for taxpayers.”

“We have taken on each of these fights because they were the right thing to do, and we will carry that mission forward,” Corcoran asserted.

Corcoran, over the next 60 days, vows a transformational agenda … and will brook no interference.

“And for those organizations and agencies unwilling to change; who see themselves as being special; as being exempt and above the law, then know this: we will continue to fight for the taxpayers, and we don’t care if that battle takes place in committee rooms or courtrooms,” Corcoran remarked.

“And for anyone waiting for us to slow down, to drop the big ideas, to stop trying to shake up the system, to cower in the face of attacks, or to cave to the demands of special interests; here’s our message to you:  We will not,” Corcoran added.

The Florida House, said Corcoran, “will fight to eliminate waste” from the state budget, which is proposed as the largest budget in Florida history.

The House will not only oppose another property tax increase, Corcoran said, but “will also fight for another $25,000 Homestead Exemption that will give Florida’s homeowners over $700 million in savings.”

The House also will continue its fight for 12-year term limits on appellate judges.

“I’m not saying this is easy. Debate can get intense especially if it’s about something important in people’s lives, but we can be passionate about these issues without ever becoming personal,” Corcoran said.

Indeed, Corcoran believes such robust debate is a hallmark of democracy.

“Many pundits have used the debates between the governor, judiciary, Senate and the House to portend doom.  It is actually just the opposite.  A robust civil debate is a sign that our democracy is working,” Corcoran asserted.

“When we get lazy and start rubber-stamping bills; when we never engage in spirited intellectual debate, that is when people should begin to worry.  Even a special session isn’t a disaster; it’s just a longer, more complicated conversation.  And these issues are so important that sometimes they merit more time.  It’s called the marketplace of ideas,” Corcoran added, “and it makes our country the wonder of the world.”

Corcoran believes that the “greatest accomplishments” this Legislative Session will be bipartisan. And he offered a rhetorical olive branch, of sorts, to the agencies in the crosshairs of the Florida House.

“I also want to deliver a message to all the entities with whom the House has engaged with — we extend our hand to you.  Come to the table, sit down and let’s work together to ensure real reform and genuine accountability. We don’t believe the House has a monopoly on good ideas.  We’re willing to listen, we’re willing to talk, and we’re willing to enter into good compromise,” Corcoran said.

The remarks Corcoran prepared for delivery serve myriad purposes. They establish the Florida House’s positions as rooted in principle while offering a way forward for the kind of negotiation that makes the difference between a successful session and one that fails.

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Guns, gambling and taxes: Legislators return to work

Once the Florida Legislature kicks off its 60-day Session March 7, legislators are expected to pass, or kill, dozens of measures dealing with everything from abortion to gambling and the environment.

So far, more than 2,000 bills have been filed, but in the end, legislators usually pass fewer than 300 pieces of legislation each year.

Here’s a look at some of the top issues this Session:

DEATH PENALTY: Florida legislators are expected to quickly pass a measure that would require a unanimous jury recommendation before the death penalty can be imposed. Last year, the state Supreme Court declared a new law requiring a 10-2 jury vote to impose the death penalty unconstitutional.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Voters last November overwhelmingly approved Amendment 2, which allows higher-strength marijuana to be used for a wider list of medical ailments than had been allowed under state law. Legislators will consider bills to implement the amendment, including possibly expanding who can grow and sell medical marijuana.

GUNS: There are about two dozen gun-related bills that already have been filed and the vast majority would expand gun rights so they can be carried in places that they are now not allowed including university campuses and non-secure areas of airports. Democrats have proposed more restrictions, but they have virtually no chance of passing.

GAMBLING: Top legislative leaders say they would like to come up with a comprehensive overhaul of gambling laws. But so far, the House and Senate are divided on what should be done.

The Senate is considering a bill that would allow slot machines at dog and horse tracks in eight counties outside South Florida. The Senate gambling bill would also allow the Seminole Tribe to offer craps and roulette at its casinos.

The House version would allow the Seminoles to keep blackjack and slot machines at its casinos for 20 years. But it would not allow gambling to expand to other parts of the state.

WATER: Senate President Joe Negron wants to borrow up to $1.2 billion to acquire 60,000 acres of land and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries that have been blamed for toxic algae blooms.

JUDICIAL TERM LIMITS: House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants to impose a 12-year term limit on Supreme Court justices and appeals court judges. The House is backing a constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot that would ask voters to make the change. But it’s unclear if the Senate will consider the proposal.

BUDGET: Florida legislators are required to annually pass a new budget. Gov. Rick Scott has recommended an $83.5 billion budget that includes money for tax cuts, steep reductions for hospitals and uses local tax dollars to boost school spending.

House Republicans are opposed to Scott’s use of local property taxes and they are expected to call for large budget cuts while also increasing spending on education. Senate President Joe Negron wants to eliminate a tax break for the insurance industry and use the money to cut taxes charged on cellphone service and cable television. Negron also wants to boost spending on universities and colleges.

EDUCATION: Legislators are considering several bills dealing with schools, including one that would require elementary schools to set aside 20 minutes each day for “free-play recess.” Another bill would allow high school students to earn foreign language credits if they take courses in computer coding. Legislators are also considering changes to Florida’s high-stakes standardized tests, including pushing back the testing date to the end of the school year.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Negron has called for an overhaul of the state’s colleges and universities that requires the state to cover 100 percent of tuition costs for top performing high school students who attend a university or college. The Senate plan also calls for boosting efforts to recruit and retain university faculty.

ABORTION: Several abortion bills have been filed including one that would make it easier for women to sue physicians for physical or emotional injuries stemming from abortions.

ECONOMIC INCENTIVES: Corcoran wants to scuttle the state’s economic development agency and trim back spending at the state’s tourism marketing outfit. The move is strongly opposed by Gov. Scott who says they help the economy, but Corcoran has criticized the efforts as a form of “corporate welfare.”

HEALTH CARE: Legislators are considering several proposals that would eliminate limits on certain types of health care facilities. They may also overhaul the state worker health insurance program and expand the use of direct primary care agreements between physicians and patients.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Lottery case now in judge’s hands; agency says it did no wrong

The Florida Lottery went on an illegal spending spree when it inked a multiple-year, $700 million contract for new equipment and “blew up” the state’s budget process, a lawyer for House Speaker Richard Corcoran argued Monday. 

The Lottery’s lawyer countered that it takes money to make money, and the agency simply did what lawmakers told it to do: Follow “its singular purpose” of maximizing its revenue for education, Barry Richard said. Lottery proceeds go to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund. 

Both sides gave closing arguments after a one-day, non-jury trial over Corcoran’s contention that the contract with International Game Technology (IGT) went “beyond existing budget limitations,” as House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum told Circuit Judge Karen Gievers.

Instead of first asking for approval from lawmakers in charge of the state’s purse, the Lottery went rogue last year by cutting a deal that costs the agency 37 percent more than a prior equipment contract, Tanenbaum suggested. 

“If you want to do more, you have to ask for permission first,” he said. 

Gievers did not rule immediately from the bench, saying she would take the matter “under advisement” and issue a decision “as quickly as I can.” The 2017 Legislative Session starts Tuesday.

Richard told Gievers the Lottery just followed its legislative mandate to act as an “entrepreneurial business enterprise” that’s allowed to do “alternative procurement” compared to other state agencies.

“The Lottery has done exactly as the Legislature has asked it to do,” he said. The agency surpassed $6.2 billion in sales during 2016, records show.

“It has been extraordinary successful, and the Legislature has never said, ‘You’re making too much money,’ ” Richard argued. 

He further argued Corcoran was overstepping his constitutional bounds: “The Legislature’s function is to appropriate funds and make law. Contracting power is a quintessential power of the executive branch,” he said, granting that legislators can, however, place limits on that power. 

Richard earlier in the day questioned Summer Sylvestri, the Lottery’s procurement director. She explained the agency negotiated a deal based on percentage of lottery ticket sales, and away from a flat rate based on the number of vending machines leased. 

IGT then agreed to come down on the percentage after the Lottery agreed to exercise the first of three available 3-year renewal options on the 10-year deal. That saved the state $18 million, she testified.

The new deal also provides much more than the previous equipment contract, including in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.

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House witness calls Lottery contract “complete departure” from protocol

A multiple-year, $700 million contract for new Florida Lottery equipment is “a complete departure from the way we’ve operated for many years,” a House budget analyst testified Monday.

Bruce Topp, budget chief for the Government Operation and Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, was on the stand for the non-jury trial between the Lottery and House Speaker Richard Corcoran over the contract, made final last year.

Corcoran says the Lottery can’t sign “a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.” The Lottery’s outside counsel counters that the Legislature cannot “micromanage individual contracts.”

Topp told House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum that when he looked over the deal after it was done, he quickly figured it would cost the agency roughly $47.5 million to fund each year.

That’s more than the Lottery’s current appropriation for $34.6 million yearly under the previous equipment contract, he added.

“The quick determination … was that they did not have enough to pay for their contract … That really caught our eye,” Topp said.

With Lottery sales continually increasing, the agency pulled out the stops on a big deal to get new retailer terminals, in-store signage, self-service lottery vending machines, self-service ticket checkers and an upgraded communications network.

For example, the new agreement jumps the number of leased “full-service vending machines” from 500 to 5,000.

Lottery proceeds benefit the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education. The Lottery surpassed $6.2 billion in sales during 2016, it said.

The contract, with International Game Technology (IGT), is for an initial 10-year period, and the Lottery already exercised the first of its three available 3-year renewal options.

In cross-examination, Lottery attorney Barry Richard suggested a fail-safe was built in, that “if the Legislature doesn’t appropriate the funds, the vendor is entitled to nothing.”

But that would lead to a situation in which the agency could be seen as breaking the contract, Topp said, and doing so is a “substantial change in policy.”

Richard also noted that the Legislature has at least five times in the past given the Lottery extra money when it needed to buy more tickets from another vendor after increased sales.

Earlier, JoAnne Leznoff, staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, testified that “multi-year contracts are the norm in state government,” but they must be “within the mission of the agency.”

Lawmakers often amend budgets mid-year for “unforeseen circumstances,” but agencies can’t cut deals by “assum(ing) an increase in their appropriation,” she said. 

Richard was expected to call his witnesses after a midday lunch break. Both sides said they expected to wrap up the case on Monday. It’s not clear whether Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers will rule from the bench by the end of the day.

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Janet Cruz is ready to lead her caucus during what’s expected to be a raucous Session

Speaking to an audience in her home district of Tampa last month, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz feels Florida doesn’t have a spending or revenue problem.

Tallahassee has a “priority problem,” the House District 62 representative said.

She maintains that attitude going into the 2017 regular Legislative Session, which kicks off officially Tuesday.

“The Republicans have continued to focus on massive handouts for the ultrawealthy and the large corporations at the expense of our public education, at the expense of our hospitals, at the expense of our environment, and at the expense of small businesses, which in my opinion is the backbone of this country,” Cruz told FloridaPolitics.com in a phone interview last week.

“All of these issues are about creating good paying jobs that provide economic security for working Floridians and essentially these people are just looking for some economic security, higher wages, better-paying jobs.”

While acknowledging that the Rick Scott versus Richard Corcoran contretemps will entertain Capitol observers this spring, she supports Corcoran’s attempts to kill Enterprise Florida, the public-private agency that entices companies to add jobs in the state.

“I have a hard time stroking million dollars checks for millionaires. I just don’t see it,” she says, referring to the median income in her district being only $39,000.

Cruz is pleased that the bills to defund Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida were decoupled in the past few weeks, because she sees the value of Visit Florida to the Sunshine State, but only if greater oversight is imposed on its management.

“Salaries as a state employee are typically lower than in corporate America, yet for some reason Visit Florida doesn’t quite subscribe to that salary range as a state employee,” she says, referring to the fact that former Visit Florida CEO Will Seccombe made an annual salary of $293,000.

Cruz is one of the leaders of the Tampa Bay area legislative delegation, where transportation remains a central problem plaguing the region. Last month, the entire delegation convened in Clearwater, with much of the discussion on creating a regional transit authority (Clearwater Senator Jack Latvala has just filed a bill in the Senate to do that).

Nevertheless, she remains optimistic about the possibility of establishing such an entity.

For the first time, Cruz agrees with her GOP colleagues in Hillsborough about eliminating the controversial Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, and supports a bill sponsored by Tampa Bay-area Republicans Chris Sprowls and Jamie Grant that would finally enact statewide regulations on transportation network companies.

“It’s finally going to happen, and I think that there were some legislators, including myself, that were resistant,” Cruz says. “Not because I don’t love Lyft or Uber, because I love both of them. Because I didn’t feel that it was fair and the playing field wasn’t level for the taxi companies to follow so many different rules and so many regulations.”

“Then I felt like Uber kind of came in as a bully and said, ‘we’re going to do it our way, and we really care what you have to say, and we’re your local rules and regs are, we’re going to do it our way.’”

Cruz believes it’s still important that Uber drivers have an “advanced level” of background security checks. Uber and Lyft are the future, she says, “so we just have to work on regulating it so that Floridians are safe. That’s my biggest concern.”

(Under the Sprowls-Grant bill, TNC drivers will not be required to have a Level II background check. In a committee hearing last month, Sprowls downplayed the notion that a Level II check is more rigorous than what is in his bill. “The FBI database has 95 million records. These multistage databases that we specifically outline in the bill, have 500 million records,” he said).

Senate President Joe Negron was one of a handful of Florida Republicans who traveled to Washington last week to discuss potential health care changes with their congressional counterparts. He supports a plan being floated that would have the federal government giving a form of a block grant to the state for Medicaid coverage.

Like virtually every Democrat, Cruz would prefer that the Affordable Care Act stay in place, but she’ll reserve judgment if a new GOP plan ends up covering at least as many if not more of her constituents.

That remains extremely dubious, though.

While the Florida Senate overwhelmingly supported a hybrid version of Medicaid expansion a couple of years ago, Cruz’ GOP colleagues in the House overwhelmingly rejected such an idea, which rankles the Tampa Democrat.

“I hear them get so snarky sometimes in the Legislature about folks without health care coverage and it slays me, honestly, because these folks who don’t have coverage end up in the emergency room because that’s their only option, that cost is passed on to us … so it’s like really?” she says. “You’re pushing so hard not to have coverage for working families, yet, believe it or not, you’re paying for it at the end.”

There will be plenty of bills, resolutions and resolution-like memorials in the 2017 session — 39 in all.

Cruz says that the National Rifle Association’s influence on GOP legislators is preventing the Legislature from moving forward on “common sense gun safety reforms.” She’s cognizant of the vast cultural differences that representatives from more rural areas of the state feel about guns as opposed to those from urban regions like Tampa.

“I understand that people have very different perspectives, but nobody is trying to take anyone’s gun away from them,” she insists. “We just want to make sure that campuses and airports are safe.”

Cruz did offer her prediction for the coming session.

“I’m looking forward to working with Speaker Corcoran, watching the sparks fly between the Speaker and the Governor, hoping that session will end on time and we won’t waste taxpayer’s dollars. But we’ll see.”

 

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