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Jack Latvala gets into it with Jeff Brandes over economics incentives bill

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The Senate sent the VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida budget cuts to the Governor Monday on a 29-8 vote, but not before Sen. Jack Latvala, who has supported Gov. Rick Scott on economic incentives, took the opportunity to nitpick.

The House approved the measure earlier in the day.

Latvala started with HB 5501’s formal name: Displaced Homemakers. Among its many provisions, the bill would fold a jobs program for them into standard programs within the Department of Economic Opportunity.

“You know we have a single-subject rule in the Constitution. Could you explain the nexus between displaced homemakers and Visit Florida?” Latvala demanded.

“It’s a good question,” conceded Sen. Jeff Brandes, who presented the bill.

“You’re darned right it’s a good question,” Latvala said.

Brandes: “I’m not here to argue titles with you. I didn’t select the title for this.”

Latvala: “But it’s still titled that.”

Brandes: “That’s correct.”

Latvala: “What do you think the possibility that would have made it into conference … if it had been titled Visit Florida or Enterprise Florida?

Brandes: “Sen. Latvala, I’m not here to have that debate with you. I’m here to present HB 5501 — which we brought up, we stripped everything out of, we put into conference, and that conference committee decided to place these provisions before this body.”

Latvala: “But you cannot make a nexus between displaced homemakers and Visit Florida. You can’t even try.”

Brandes: “Oh, I can try. But I’m not here to make a rational nexus, nor am I here to argue that point.”

Later, Latvala noted that the bill doesn’t allow anyone at Enterprise Florida or Visit Florida to earn more than the salary and benefits paid to the governor.

“It doesn’t say ‘authorized,’ it says ‘paid.’ In the situation where we now have a governor who has not taken a salary, how are we going to determine the compensation for the chief executive of Visit Florida?” Latvala asked.

“Well, they would be the benefits and salary paid to the governor,” Brandes said.

“I don’t know all of his benefits, and I don’t know all of his salary situation. But, evidently, the conference committee believed that was the appropriate dollar amount to use,” he said.

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.

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