Gov. Rick Scott wouldn’t say Tuesday whether he would permanently suspend State Attorney Aramis Ayala.
But Scott insisted his special prosecutor would be the one to seek the death penalty against Markeith Loyd, despite Ayala’s challenge to his order reassigning her.
Under questioning by reporters at the state Capitol, Scott said only: “We are going to review our options.”
Ayala’s “no death penalty” policy has drawn widespread protests, and House member Bob Cortes urged her suspension from office and reassignment of all of her cases.
Scott did not say how long his review would take.
“On Thursday, when I reassigned the case to (5th Judicial Circuit State Attorney) Brad King, she signed off on it. And then, Monday morning, for whatever reason, she changed her mind,” Scott said.
“I’m going to review my options,” Scott said.
Loyd is charged with murdering his pregnant girlfriend Sade Dixon and Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton.
Ayala, state attorney for Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, covering Orange and Osceola counties, said Monday she would challenge Scott’s order in court.
On other topics, the governor criticized the House for — along with a wide range of state economic incentives — voting to eliminate the Florida Defense Alliance, an arm of Enterprise Florida that encourages the military to maintain bases in the state.
“The military has a major presence in our state, with our unified commands and all our military bases, on top of our National Guard. I think it’s important to make sure we continue to help them fulfill their missions, and that’s what this does,” Scott said.
“I would be shocked that anybody would vote to hurt any military base’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
Scott was asked whether he has confidence the House and Senate could agree on a state budget. The chambers are divided on a host of issues, including economic development programs and whether to roll back local property taxes for schools.
He noted that the budget is the only bill the Legislature must pass each year.
“My expectation is they’ll pass a budget. At that point, I’ll review it.”
Scott thanked the Senate for advancing his proposal to require polluters to notify the public of accidental toxic discharges.
“I can’t imaging why anyone doesn’t want to make sure that people have proper notification if there are any spills in their area,” he said.
“With regards to the Everglades, I’m very supportive of trying to figure out how we move water south,” Scott said, pointing to the more than $200 million per year he’s pushed for storm water treatment and other environmental initiatives.
Asked specifically whether he wanted to acquire land south of the lake, Scott said: “Whatever comes to my desk, I’ll review it.”
Of the GOP health care bill in Washington, Scott said, “I’m encouraged,” adding that Republicans in Congress understand their proposal needs improvements and are working on it.
“I want free-market health care. If you allow the private sector to work, make sure we have more competition, make sure people can buy the insurance they want to buy, reward people for taking care of themselves, and sell insurance across state lines, I think the cost of health care would come down.”
Scott spoke after reviewing displays and greeting visitors to National Guard Day at the Capitol. He bestowed the state’s Veteran Service Award on 54 guardsmen and –women, and himself received the Charles Dick Medal of Merit, bestowed by the National Guard Association of the United States upon political leaders who have “distinguished him/herself over an extended period of time in their support to the National Guard.”
People don’t understand how much the Guard does for Florida, Scott said.
“They’ve been deployed over 100 times since 9/11, and we all know they show up any time there’s a disaster in the state, and they do a great job.”