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Florida Senate panel calls for tougher sanctions on Iran if nuke talks fail

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A Florida Senate Committee advanced a memorial resolution calling on the U.S. government to increase economic sanctions on Iran if the two nations fail to agree on the Middle Eastern nation’s nuclear program.

While President Obama is already facing strong opposition in the GOP-led Congress, the GOP-led (but bipartisan on this issue) Florida Legislature wants to weigh in with its opinion, and bill sponsor Joseph Abruzzo said today if state lawmakers ultimately approve the memorial, Israel Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer will personally visit the Sunshine State.

The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate Rules Committee on Thursday, with Niceville Republican Don Gaetz citing precedent from two earlier votes in the Legislature when it came to showing disapproval with Iran.

In 2007 the Legislature passed a bill that directed Florida state pension funds to shed over a billion dollars in stocks and bonds held with companies doing business in Iran and Sudan. They followed up in 2011, when the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott signed a new state law prohibiting Florida government entities from contracting with companies invested in Iran’s petroleum energy sector.

Abruzzo added that he’s always revered Florida U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, saying he’s always “guided me on these issues.”

The Miami Democrat added that he’s not optimistic about the Obama administration coming to a successful agreement with Iran, mentioning the fact that two of the P5 + 1 nations that will also be signatories to the agreement are Russia and China. He added that he may add more amendments to the relatively straightforward bill when it makes its way to the Senate floor.

A companion bill is moving through the House sponsored by Republican Erik Fresan and Democrat Doug Rader.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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