Influence Archives - Page 3 of 351 - Florida Politics

Bill could ease open-carry penalties

The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a bill Tuesday that would reduce penalties for people who have concealed-weapons licenses and openly carry guns.

The bill (SB 148), filed by Sarasota Republican Greg Steube for the 2018 legislative session, stems from a law that bars people from openly carrying guns in Florida. The bill would keep a second-degree misdemeanor penalty for people who do not have concealed-weapons licenses and openly carry guns. But it would lead to reduced penalties for people who have the licenses and openly carry.

In such cases, license-holders could be cited for noncriminal violations that would include a $25 fine for a first violation and a $500 fine on a second violation. They would face second-degree misdemeanor charges on third or subsequent violations.

Under the bill, people with concealed-weapons licenses also could not be arrested or charged if firearms are “temporarily and openly displayed.”

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Joe Negron shuffles Senate leadership ahead of Session

Senate President Joe Negron is shaking up budget-related and other panels, embarking on an aggressive round of leadership changes in advance of the 2018 Legislative Session.

Negron appointed new heads of five budget subcommittees, while changing the leaders of committees that oversee policy areas involving the environment, agriculture, utilities and elections. Also, Negron added members to numerous committees.

“In the era of term limits, I believe it is important for each Senator to be considered for the opportunity to participate in the committee process based on demonstrated competence, expertise, and interest,” Negron, a Stuart Republican, wrote in a Tuesday memo to senators.

Perhaps the biggest changes announced Tuesday will affect appropriations subcommittees, which play an important role in drawing up the state budget.

Negron appointed Sen. Kathleen Passidomo to replace Sen. David Simmons as chair of the Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees public-school funding. Simmons will shift to the chairmanship of the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, replacing Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Similarly, Sen. Rob Bradley will leave the chairmanship of the Environment and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee and become chairman of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Sen. Lauren Book will replace Bradley as leader of the Environment and Natural Resources budget panel.

Sen. Jeff Brandes is shifting from the leadership of the Transportation, Tourism & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee to replace Sen. Aaron Bean as chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

While Grimsley and Bean will stop chairing the budget subcommittees, Negron appointed both to lead policy committees.

Grimsley, who is running for state agriculture commissioner next year, was appointed to chair the Agriculture Committee. In that role, she replaces Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican who was named by Negron to replace Passidomo as head of the Ethics and Elections Committee.

Bean, meanwhile, was appointed chairman of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee. That position was held for much of the 2017 session by former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican who resigned from the Legislature in April amid a controversy about vulgar and racially charged remarks he made at a private club. Sen. Kelli Stargel finished the 2017 session as chair of the committee after Artiles’ resignation.

Negron also named Bradley, who played a key role on Everglades-related issues during the 2017 session, to serve as chairman of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Bradley will replace Book in that role.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Meenan PA could earn as much as $328K in Q2 lobbying compensation

With more than two dozen legislative and executive branch clients, the government affairs team at Meenan PA could bring in at least a quarter of a million dollars in the second quarter of 2017.

The four-person lobby team earned the firm at least $229,000 — an average of $194,000 for legislative work and $35,000 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session.

The firm could earn a maximum of $328,980 — a maximum of $258,987 for legislative work and $69,993 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Led by Timothy Meenan, the team of Stephen McDaniel, Sarah Niewold and Joy Ryan juggled 27 legislative clients and 26 executive branch clients during the second quarter.

Ethos Group clocked in as the top paying client during the second quarter, paying the team $59,000 for legislative work. Three clients — Brookdale Senior Living, Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, and SilverRock Group — paid the firm an average of $25,000 for legislative work; while Tower Hill Insurance Group paid an average of $15,000 for legislative work. Nine more clients reported paying an average of $5,000 for legislative work during the second quarter.

When it comes to executive branch clients, seven clients — AHIP-American’s Health Insurance Plans, Asurion Corporation, Brookdale Senior Living, Inc., Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, Metlife, Prime Therapeutics LLC., and SilverRock Group — paid an average of $5,000 for the team’s services during the second quarter.

Mike Haridopolos could earn nearly $500K for Q2 lobbying fees

Mike Haridopolos is going strong, preparing to report strong second quarter earnings when it comes to his work in both the state’s legislative and executive branches.

Haridolopos earned at least $300,000 — approximately $155,000 for legislative work and $145,000 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session. He could earn a maximum of $429,974 — approximately $219,987 for legislative work and $209,987 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

The former Senate President might be a sole practitioner, but his plate is far from empty. Haridopolos had 20 legislative clients during the second quarter and 22 executive branch clients.

The Stronach Group clocked in as his highest paying client, paying approximately $35,000 for legislative branch work and $35,000 for executive branch work during the second quarter.

Two clients — Floridians for Access to Health Care and Trava — paid an average of $25,000 for legislative work; while two clients — Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and South Central Florida Express — paid an average of $15,000 for legislative work. Eight more clients paid an average of $5,000 for legislative work.

Five clients — CyberFuels Inc., Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Floridians for Access to Health Care Inc., Rivada Networks, and South Central Florida Express Inc. — paid $15,000 for executive branch work during the second quarter; while seven clients paid an average for $5,000 for executive branch work.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the most recent movements — both on and off — of the legislative merry-go-round.

On and off: Barbara Crosier is replacing Michael Poche as policy chief for the House Health Innovation Subcommittee.

Off and on: Alex Bickley changed roles from district secretary to legislative assistant for Lady Lake Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley.

Off: Patricia Gosney is stepping down as a legislative assistant for Plantation Democratic Sen. Lauren Book.

On and off: Marian McBryde is replacing Rhonda Thomas as a legislative assistant for Panama City Republican Sen. George Gainer.

On and off: David Marin is replacing Alessandro D’Amico as a legislative assistant for Hialeah Republican Sen. Rene Garcia.

Off and on: Ella Phillips changed roles from district secretary to legislative assistant for Fort Lauderdale Democrat Sen. Perry Thurston.

Off: Nancy Bernier is stepping down as a legislative assistant for Indialantic Republican Rep. Thad Altman.

Off: Pamela Watt is stepping down as district secretary for Monticello Republican Rep. Hasley Beshears.

Off: Jacob Hawkes is stepping down as secretary for Jacksonville Beach Republican Rep. Cord Byrd.

Off and on: Charles P. Smith is replacing Eddie Metzger as a legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

On: Kevin Deo is the new legislative assistant for Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew.

On and on: Janine Kiray and Coleton Reece are returning as district secretaries for Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

On and off: Bradley Wildman is replacing Natasha Dobkowski as district secretary for Ocala Republican Rep. Stan McClain.

Off: Leanne Roca is stepping down as a legislative assistant for Hialeah Republican Rep. Jose Oliva.

On: Samantha Story is the new district secretary for Palm Coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.

On: Sarah Sims is the new district secretary for Naples Republican Rep. Bob Rommel.

 

Capitol Alliance Group’s Q2 earnings could reach $719K

With a client roster that includes everything from local governments to energy organizations, Capitol Alliance Group posted strong quarterly earnings during the second quarter.

The boutique firm of Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl reported earning at least $460,000 — $230,000 for their legislative work and $230,000 for their executive branch work — during the second quarter of 2017, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session.

Capitol Alliance Group’s maximum earnings could reach $719,588 — a maximum of $359,974 for legislative work and $359,974 for executive branch work — during the three-month period, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com.

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Sharkey and Biehl had 41 legislative clients and 40 executive branch clients during the second quarter. The Energy Freedom Coalition of America clocked in as the top paying legislative client during the second quarter, paying the firm at least $25,000 for its services. The organization was also its top paying executive branch client, also paying an average of $25,000 during the second quarter for Capitol Alliance Group’s services.

Other top legislative and executive branch clients included the City of St. Petersburg, Codio Ltd., First Green Bank, the Leon County Board of Commissioners, Medishine Resources, Space Exploration Technologies, and Tesla Motors. The companies paid the firm an average of $15,000 for both their legislative and executive branch work.

Rick Scott wants tax measure on next year’s ballot

Following the lead of several other states, Gov. Rick Scott wants to make it harder for state legislators to raise taxes or fees.

Scott on Monday said he wants to put a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot that would require any tax or fee hikes to be approved by a supermajority of the Florida Legislature.

Scott, who will be forced out of office by term limits before the amendment would take effect, said he’s pushing for the amendment to protect “future economic growth.” During his time as governor, Scott has pushed for a line of tax cuts, although he has also relied on property tax hikes to help pay for increased school funding.

Florida must prevent “unfair tax increases in the future so our progress is not undone,” Scott said in a statement announcing the proposal. “It is my goal to make it harder for politicians to raise taxes on Florida families and businesses – and that can be achieved with an amendment to our state’s constitution.”

It is not clear how much impact Scott’s proposal would actually have, especially since the governor did not outline many details, including what exactly would be considered a tax or fee hike.

Scott also did not say what type of supermajority would be required. More than a dozen states have similar restrictions according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, including California, but in some states the restriction is limited to a type of tax such as property taxes. The supermajority also varies from a two-thirds vote to a three-fourths vote.

Florida’s last major tax increases were enacted in 2009 when legislators were struggling to balance the budget due to the Great Recession. The GOP-controlled Legislature raised cigarette taxes as well as fees for motorist registration and drivers’ licenses, although lawmakers rolled back the fees a few years later.

The governor – who is expected to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen Bill Nelson next year – said he wants the Legislature to place the amendment on the 2018 ballot. That would require a supermajority vote in both the House and Senate. Top House Republicans, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, said Monday they will back Scott.

“It’s anti-government waste, anti-politician, and anti-pork barrel spending,” said Corcoran, who is considering a run for governor next year. “I’m proud to offer my support to Governor Scott on this bold initiative and will do all I can to see that it is successful.”

Sen. Jack Latvala, a top Senate Republican who jumped into the race for governor last week, said he will look at Scott’s proposal when “specific language” is ready. Latvala said his top priorities right now are having the state respond to opioid overdose deaths and the lack of job growth in rural areas around the state.

Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat, said a supermajority vote should be required for all tax changes, including tax cuts.

“The governor should have the guts to structure his proposed amendment to affect all tax changes,” said Clemens. “Folks have had enough of his tax cuts for the wealthy and privileged. He should have to justify his corporate handouts disguised as tax relief.”

(Reprinted with permission of The Associated Press.)

Becker & Poliakoff could post maximum earnings of $719K in Q2

With nearly 100 legislative clients, the government affairs team at Becker & Poliakoff PA continues to make its mark on the Capitol.

The 10-person lobby team earned the firm at least $465,000 — almost all of it for legislative work — during the second quarter of the year, which included the second half of the 2017 Legislative Session and a brief special session.

The firm could earn a maximum of $729,947 — a maximum of $719,948 for legislative work and $9,999 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

The team of Mario Bailey, Jose Bermudez, Ellyn Bogdanoff, Bernie Friedman, Jose Fuentes, Yeline Goin, Yolanda Cash Jackson, Nicholas Matthews, Jeremy Shir, and Karen Skyers juggled 93 legislative clients and 45 executive branch clients during the second quarter.

Three clients — the Coalition of Franchise Associations, the Florida Association of Jewish Federations, and Florida Memorial University — paid an average of $25,000 for legislative services during the second quarter of 2017. Fourteen firms paid an average of $15,000 for legislative work.

American Clinical Solutions clocked in as the highest paying executive branch client, paying an average of $5,000 for executive services during the second quarter.

The firm, according to LobbyTools, reported median earnings of $555,000 for its legislative lobbying work during the first quarter of 2017.

Brecht Heuchan’s firm could earn up to $189K in Q2

The second quarter was good to Brecht Heuchan.

With eight legislative clients and 10 executive branch clients, The Labrador Company earned at least $130,000 — $70,000 for legislative clients and and $60,000 for executive branch clients — during the second quarter of 2017, which included the second half of the Legislative Session and a brief special session.

Heuchan could earn a maximum of $189,988 — a maximum of $99,944 for legislative work and $89,994 for executive branch work — during the second quarter of the year, according to an analysis of compensation reports conducted by FloridaPolitics.com

Lobbyists who are registered to represent clients before Florida’s legislative or executive branches are required to submit reports detailing their client roster and compensation each quarter. Reports for the second quarter are due to the state on Aug. 14.

Four legislative clients — the Florida Justice Association, The Richman Group of Florida, Inc., and Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., and Wilkes & McHugh PA — paid Heuchan an average of $15,000 for his services during the second quarter; while two clients — Florida for Care, the group behind the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment, and Tarpon Towers II LLC — paid him an average of $5,000 for his services.

Three executive branch clients — AltMed LLC, Parsons Transportation Group, and Tynda Holdings LLC — paid an average of $15,000 for his work during the second quarter; while three other clients — Florida for Care, Florida Patients First, and Richman Group of Florida — paid an average of $5,000 for his services.

marriage wedding

Senate bill would ban marriage by minors

As expected, legislation was filed Monday in the Florida Senate to ban minors from getting married.

The bill (SB 140) repeals language now in state law governing weddings of those under 18, replacing it with, “A license to marry may not be issued to any person under the age of 18.”

It was filed by Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Fort Myers Republican.

Republican Leader and future Senate President Wilton Simpson, who co-introduced the measure, had advocated such a measure after the story of a Tampa Bay-area woman who was “forced to marry her rapist at age 11,” according to 10 News in Sarasota/Tampa Bay.

She “was raped repeatedly as a young girl, became pregnant and had a baby when she was 10 years old,” the report says. “The adults in her life thought it was best she just marry her rapist, who was closely connected to (her) family through their church.”

According to Unchained at Last, the “only nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated to helping women escape or resist arranged/forced marriages,” almost “a quarter-million children at least as young as 10 married in the U.S. between 2000 and 2010.”

In Florida, 16,417 children—one as young as 13—were married in the period of 2000-15, state Vital Statistics data shows, said Fraidy Reiss, the group’s founder and executive director. In one extreme example, a 17-year-old female married an 83-year-old man in 2004, Reiss said.

Overall, Florida data shows 80 percent of minors who marry are girls wed to adult men, she added, tracking the national average.

She called the bill “strong as written,” though she was concerned about outdated language defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional.

“I want to see what her thinking is on that,” Reiss said, referring to Benacquisto.

Otherwise, if passed, the legislation “will benefit children in Florida—especially girls—for years to come,” Reiss said.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons